Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Mahabharata  Index  Previous  Next 


"Parasara said, 'The sires, the friends, the preceptor, and the spouses of the preceptors of men that are destitute of devotion are unable to give to those men the merits that attach to devotion. Only they that are firmly devoted to such seniors, that speak what is agreeable to them, that seek their welfare, and that are submissive to them in behaviour, can obtain the merit of devotion. The sire is the highest of deities with his children. It is said that the sire is superior to the mother. The attainment of Knowledge is regarded as the highest acquisition. They that have subjugated the objects of the senses (by attainment of Knowledge), acquire what is highest (viz., Emancipation). That Kshatriya prince who, repairing to the field of battle, receives wounds amid fiery shafts flying in all directions and burns therewith, certainly repairs to regions that are unattainable by the very deities and, arrived there, enjoys the felicity of heaven in perfect contentment. A Kshatriya should not, O king, strike one that is fatigued, or one that is frightened, or one that has been disarmed, or one that is weeping, or one that is unwilling to fight, or one that is unequipped with mail and cars and horse and infantry, or one that has ceased to exert oneself in the fight, or one that is ill, or one that cries for quarter, or one that is of tender years, or one that is old. A Kshatriya should, in battle, fight one of his order who is equipped with mail and cars and horse and infantry, who is ready for exertion and who occupies a position of equality. Death at the hands of one that is equal or of a superior is laudable, but not that at the hands of one that is low, or of one that is a coward, or of one that is a wretch. This is well-known. Death at the hands of one that is sinful, or of one that is of low birth and wicked conduct, O king, is inglorious and

p. 363

leads to hell. One whose period of life has run out cannot be rescued by anybody. Similarly, one whose period of life has not been exhausted can never be slain by any one. 1 One should prevent one's affectionate seniors from doing unto one (for one's benefit) such acts as are done by menials, as also all such acts as are fraught with injury to others. One should never desire to extend one's own life by taking the lives of others. 2 When they lay down their lives, it is laudable for all householders observant of the duties of men living in sacred places to lay down their lives on the banks of sacred streams. 3 When one's period of life becomes exhausted, one dissolves away into the five elements. Sometimes this occurs suddenly (through accidents) and sometimes it is brought about by (natural) causes. 4 He who, having obtained a body, brings about its dissolution (in a. sacred place by means of some inglorious accident), becomes invested with another body of a similar kind. Though set on the path of the Emancipation, he yet becomes a traveller and attains to another body like a person repairing from one room into another. 5 In the matter of such a man's attainment of a second body (notwithstanding his death in a sacred spot) the only cause is his accidental death. There is no second cause. That new body which embodied creatures obtain (in consequence of the accidental character of their deaths in sacred places) comes into existence and becomes attached to Rudras and Pisachas. 6 Learned men, conversant with Adhyatma, say that the body is a conglomeration of arteries and sinews and bones and much repulsive and impure matter and a compound of (primal) essences, and the senses and objects of the senses born of desire, all having an outer cover of skin close to them. Destitute (in reality) of beauty and other accomplishments, this conglomeration, through force of the desires of a previous life, assumes a human form. 7 Abandoned by the

p. 364

owner, the body becomes inanimate and motionless. Indeed, when the primal ingredients return to their respective natures, the body mingles with the dust. Caused by its union with acts, this body reappears under circumstances determined by its acts. Indeed, O ruler of the Videhas, under whatever circumstances this body meets with dissolution, its next birth, determined by those circumstances, is seen to enjoy and endure the fruits of all its past acts. Jiva, after dissolution of the body it inhabited, does not, O king, take birth in a different body immediately. It roves through the sky for some time like a spacious cloud. Obtaining a new receptacle, O monarch, it then takes birth again. The soul is above the mind. The mind is above the senses. Mobile creatures, again, are foremost of all created objects. Of all mobile creatures those that have two legs are superior. Amongst two-legged creatures, those that are regenerate are superior. Amongst those that are regenerate they that are possessed of wisdom are superior. Amongst them that are possessed of wisdom they that have succeeded in acquiring a knowledge of the soul are superior. Amongst those that are possessed of a knowledge of the soul, they that are endued with humility are superior. Death follows birth in respect of all men. This is settled. Creatures, influenced by the attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas, pursue acts which have an end. 1 That man is regarded as righteous who meets with dissolution when the Sun is in the northern declension, and at a time and under a constellation both of which are sacred and auspicious. He. is righteous who., having cleansed himself of all sins and accomplished all his acts according to the best of his power and having abstained from giving pain to any man, meets with death when it comes. The death that one meets with by taking poison, by hanging, by burning, at the hands of robbers, and at the teeth of animals, is said to be an inglorious one. 2 Those men that are righteous never incur such or similar deaths even if they be afflicted with mental and physical diseases of the most agonising kind. The lives of the righteous, O king, piercing through the Sun, ascend into the regions of Brahma. The lives of those that are both righteous and sinful rove in the middle regions. The lives of those that are sinful sink into the lowest depths. There is only one foe (of man) and not another. That foe is identifiable with ignorance, O king. Overwhelmed by it, one is led to perpetrate acts that are frightful and exceedingly cruel. That foe for resisting which one should put forth one's power by waiting upon the aged according to the duties laid down in the Srutis--that foe which cannot be overcome except by steady endeavours,--meets with destruction., O king, only when it is crushed by the shafts of wisdom. 3 The man desirous of achieving merit should at first study the Vedas and observe penances, becoming a Brahmacharin. He should next, entering the

p. 365

domestic mode of life, perform the usual Sacrifices. Establishing his race, he should then enter the forest, restraining his senses, and desirous of winning Emancipation. One should never emasculate oneself by abstaining from any enjoyment. Of all births, the status of humanity is preferable even if one has to become a Chandala. Indeed, O monarch, that order of birth (viz., humanity) is the foremost, since by becoming a human being one succeeds in rescuing one's self by meritorious acts. Men always perform righteous acts, O lord, guided by the authority of the Srutis, so that they may not fall away from the status of humanity. That man who, having attained to the status of humanity that is so difficult of attainment, indulges in malice, disregards righteousness and yields himself up to desire, is certainly betrayed by his desires. 1 That man who looks upon all creatures with eyes guided by affection, regarding them worthy of being cherished with loving aid, who disregards all kinds of wealth, who offers them consolation, gives them food, address them in agreeable words, and who rejoices in their happiness and grieves in their griefs, has never to suffer misery in the next world, Repairing to the Saraswati, the Naimisha woods, the Pushkara waters, and the other sacred spots on earth, one should make gifts, practise renunciation, render one's aspect amiable, O king, and purify one's body with baths and penances. Those men who meet with death within their houses should have the rites of cremation performed upon their persons. Their bodies should be taken to the crematorium on vehicles and there they should be burnt according to the rites of purification that have been laid down in the scriptures. Religious rites, beneficial ceremonies, the performance of sacrifices, officiation at the sacrifices of others, gifts, the doing of other meritorious acts, the performance, according to the best of one's power, of all that has been ordained in the case of one's deceased ancestors,--all these one does for benefiting one's own self. The Vedas with their six branches, and the other scriptures, O king, have been created for the good of him who is of stainless acts.'

"Bhishma continued, 'All this was said by that high-souled sage unto the ruler of the Videhas, O king, in days of old for his benefit.'"


363:1 The Burdwan translator wrongly renders the second line of this verse. All the texts read this line in the same way.

363:2 Snigdhais implies affectionate seniors such as mothers, etc.; karmani is explained by the Commentator as abhyanga-karmani, i.e., the rubbing of oil, etc., Such acts, when children are ill, are often done unto them by mothers. This is forbidden, for they are menial offices which seniors should never be permitted to perform.

363:3 Vinasamabhikankhatam is explained in the alternative by the commentator in a very fanciful way. Kriyavatam is explained as 'observant of the duties of Tirthavasins.'

363:4 The commentator is for explaining the second line exoterically.

363:5 Dehat is Deham prapya. Yena is yena pumsa. Upapaditam has reference to panchatwam in the previous verse. The sense of the verse is this: he who meets with a sudden death in a tirtha or sacred place, does not become emancipated but obtains another body in his next life similar to the one he loses. Adhyanam gatakah is that though set or placed on the path of Emancipation, yet he becomes a traveller: his state is due to the inglorious manner of his dissolution.

363:6 The object of this verse is to show that the man dying in a sacred place becomes reborn as a Rudra or a Pisacha and quickly attains to Emancipation in consequence of his contiguity to Siva. Mokshabhuteshu is Moksha-yogyeshu. The neuter form of taddeham is arsha.

363:7 Gunanancha in the second line of verse 14 refers to the objects of the senses, which, as explained in previous Sections, have no independent existence, for they exist only as they exist in desire. The compound of the primal essences and the other things mentioned assumes different shapes through the force of the desires of previous lives.

364:1 Acts are all perishable in respect of their consequences.

364:2 It is difficult to give foreigners an idea of what is called Apamrityu. All deaths that are caused by such accidents as involve ignominy are called Apamrityu. Death from snake-bite, from a fall, by drowning, at the horns of an animal, etc., are instances of Apamrityu.

364:3 Both yasya and sa refer to the foe called Ignorance.' Rajaputra is a vocative. Paraiti is nasyati.

365:1 Vanchate is preceded by kamena understood.

Next: Section CCXCIX