Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


"Yudhishthira said, 'After doing what acts does a man become liable to perform expiation? And what are those acts which he must do for being freed from sin? Tell me this, O grandsire.'

"Vyasa said, 'Having omitted to do those acts that have been ordained, and done those that have been interdicted, and having behaved deceitfully, a man becomes liable to perform expiation. The person in the observance of the Brahmacharya vow, who rises from bed after the sun has risen or goes to bed while the sun is setting, one who has a rotten nail or black teeth, one whose younger brother weds first, one who weds before his elder brother is wedded, one who has been guilty of the slaughter of a Brahmana, one who speaks ill of others, one who weds a younger sister before the elder sister has been wedded, one who weds an elder sister after having wedded a younger one, one who falls away from a vow, one who slays any one of the regenerate classes, one who imparts a knowledge of the Vedas to a person unworthy of it, one who does not impart a knowledge thereof to a person that is worthy of it, one who takes many lives, one who sells flesh, one who has abandoned his (sacred) fire, one who sells a knowledge of the Vedas,  one who slays his preceptor or a woman, one born in a sinful family, one who slays an animal wilfully,  one who sets fire to a dwelling house, one who lives by deceit, one who acts in opposition to his preceptor, and one who has violated a compact,--these all are guilty of sins requiring expiation. I shall now mention other acts that men should not do, viz., acts that are interdicted by both the world and the Vedas. Listen to me with concentrated attention. The rejection of

one's own creed, the practice of other people's creed, assisting at the sacrifice or the religious rites of one that is not worthy of such assistance, eating of food that is forbidden, deserting one that craves protection, neglect in maintaining servants and dependants, selling salt and treacle (and similar other substances), killing of birds and animals, refusal, though competent, to procreate upon a soliciting woman, omission to present the daily gifts (of handfuls of grass to kine and the like), omission to present the dakshina, humiliating a Brahmana,--these all have been pronounced by persons conversant with duty to be acts that no one should do. The son that quarrels with the father, the person that violates the bed of his preceptor, one that neglects to produce offspring in one's wedded wife, are all sinful, O tiger among men! I have now declared to thee, in brief as also in detail, those acts and omissions by which a man becomes liable to perform expiation. Listen now to the circumstances under which men, by even committing these acts, do not become stained with sin. If a Brahmana well acquainted with the Vedas takes up arms and rushes against thee in battle for killing thee, thou mayst proceed against him for taking his life. By such an act the slayer does not become guilty of the slaughter of a Brahmana.  There is a mantra in the Vedas, O son of Kunti, that lays this down, I declare unto thee only those practices that are sanctioned by the authority of the Vedas. One who slays a Brahmana that has fallen away from his own duties and that advances, weapon in hand, with intent to slaughter, does not truly become the slayer of a Brahmana. In such a case it is the wrath of the slayer that proceeds against the wrath of the slain. A person by drinking alcoholic stimulants in ignorance or upon the advice of a virtuous physician when his life is at peril, should have the regenerating ceremonies performed once more in his case. All that I have told thee, O son of Kunti, about the eating of interdicted food, may be cleansed by such expiatory rites. Connection with the preceptor's wife at the preceptor's command does not stain the pupil. The sage Uddalaka caused his son Swetaketu to be begotten by a disciple. A person by committing theft for the sake of his preceptor in a season of distress is not stained with sin. One, however, that takes to thieving for procuring enjoyments for himself becomes stained. One is not stained by stealing from other than Brahmanas (in a season of distress and for the sake of one's preceptor). Only one that steals under such circumstances without himself appropriating any portion thereof is untouched by sin. A falsehood may be spoken for saving one's own life or that of another, or for the sake of one's preceptor, or for gratifying a woman, or for bringing about a marriage. One's vow of Brahmacharya is not broken by having wet dreams. In such cases the expiation laid down consists in the pouring of libations of clarified butter on the blazing fire. If the elder brother be fallen or has renounced the world, the younger brother does not incur sin by marrying. Solicited by a woman, connection with her is not destructive of virtue. One should not slay or cause to be slain an animal except in a sacrifice. Animals have become sacred (fit for sacrifice) through the kindness manifested towards them by

the Creator himself in the ordinance laid down by him. By making a gift in ignorance to an undeserving Brahmana one does not incur sin. The omission (through ignorance) to behave with liberality towards a deserving person does not lead to sin. By casting off an adulterous wife one does not incur sin. By such treatment the woman herself may be purged while the husband may avoid sin. One who knows the true use of the Soma juice, does not incur sin by selling it.  By dismissing a servant who is incompetent to render service one is not touched by sin. I have now said unto thee those acts by doing which one does not incur sin. I shall now speak to thee of expiation in detail.'"