(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Ashtaka asked, 'Who amongst these, O king, both exerting constantly like the Sun and the Moon, first attaineth to communion with Brahma, the ascetic or the man of knowledge?'
"Yayati answered, 'The wise, with the help of the Vedas and of Knowledge, having ascertained the visible universe to be illusory, instantly realises the Supreme Spirit as the sole existent independent essence. While they that devote themselves to Yoga meditation take time to acquire the same knowledge, for it is by practice alone that these latter divest themselves of the consciousness of quality. Hence the wise attain to salvation first. Then again if the person devoted to Yoga find not sufficient time in one life to attain success, being led astray by the attractions of the world, in his next life he is benefited by the progress already achieved, for he devoteth himself regretfully to the pursuit of success. But the man of knowledge ever beholdeth the indestructible unity, and, is, therefore, though steeped in worldly enjoyments, never affected by them at heart. Therefore, there is nothing to impede his salvation. He, however, who faileth to attain to knowledge, should yet devote himself to piety as dependent on action (sacrifices &c.). But he that devoteth himself to such piety, moved thereto by desire of salvation, can never achieve success. His sacrifices bear no fruit and partake of the nature of cruelty. Piety which is dependent on action that proceedeth not from the desire of fruit, is, in case of such men Yoga itself.'
"Ashtaka said, 'O king, thou lookest like a young man; thou art handsome and decked with a celestial garland. Thy splendour is great! Whence dost thou come and where dost thou go? Whose messenger art thou? Art thou going down into the Earth?'
"Yayati said, 'Fallen from heaven upon the loss of all my religious merits, I am doomed to enter the Earth-hell. Indeed, I shall go there after I have finished my discourse with you. Even now the regents of the points of the universe command me to hasten thither. And, O king, I have obtained it as a boon from Indra that though fall I must upon the earth, yet I should fall amidst the wise and the virtuous. Ye are all wise and virtuous that are assembled here.'
"Ashtaka said, 'Thou art acquainted with everything. I ask thee, O king, are there any regions for myself to enjoy in heaven or in the firmament? If there be, then, thou shalt not fall, though falling.'
"Yayati answered, 'O king, there are as many regions for thee to enjoy in heaven even as the number of kine and horses on Earth with the animals in the wilderness and on the hills.'
"Ashtaka said, 'If there are worlds for me to enjoy, as fruits of my religious merits, in heaven, O king, I give them all unto thee. Therefore, though falling, thou shalt not fall. O, take thou soon all those, wherever they be, in heaven or in the firmament. Let thy sorrow cease.'
"Yayati answered, 'O best of kings, a Brahma-knowing Brahmana alone can take in gift, but not one like ourselves. And, O monarch, I myself have given away to Brahmanas as one should. Let no man who, is not a Brahmana and let not the wife of a learned Brahmana ever live in infamy by accepting gifts. While on earth, I ever desired to perform virtuous acts. Having never done so before, how shall I now accept a gift?'
"Pratardana who was amongst them asked, 'O thou of the handsomest form, I am Pratardana by name. I ask thee if there are any worlds for me to enjoy as fruits of my religious merits, in heaven or the firmament? Answer me, thou art acquainted with everything.'
"Yayati said, 'O king, numberless worlds, full of felicity, effulgent like the solar disc, and where woe can never dwell, await thee. If thou dwellest in each but for seven days, they would not yet be exhausted.'
"Pratardana said, 'These then I give unto thee. Therefore, though falling, thou must not fall. Let the worlds that are mine be thine, whether they be in the firmament or heaven. O, soon take them. Let thy woes cease.'
"Yayati answered, 'O monarch, no king of equal energy should ever desire to receive as gift the religious merits of another king acquired by Yoga austerities. And no king who is afflicted with calamity through the fates should, if wise, act in a censurable way. A king keeping his eye fixed for ever on virtue should walk along the path of virtue like myself and, knowing what his duties are, should not act so meanly as thou directest. When others desirous of acquiring religious merits do not accept gifts, how can I do what they themselves do not? On the conclusion of this speech, that best of kings, Yayati, was then addressed by Vasumat in the following words.'"