Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


"Bharadwaja said, 'By what acts does one become a Brahmana? By what, a Kshatriya? O best of regenerate ones, by what acts again does one become a Vaisya or a Sudra? Tell me this, O foremost of speakers.'

"Bhrigu said, 'That person is called a Brahmana who has been sanctified by such rites as those called jata and others; who is pure in behaviour; who is engaged in studying the Vedas; who is devoted to the six well-known acts (of ablutions every morning and evening, silent recitation of mantras, pouring libations on the sacrificial fire, worshipping the deities, doing the duties of hospitality to guests, and offering food to the Viswedevas); who is properly observant of all pious acts; who never takes food without having offered it duly to gods and guests; who is filled with reverence for his preceptor; and who is always devoted to vows and truth. He is called a Brahmana in whom are truth, gifts, abstention from injury to others, compassion, shame, benevolence,  and penance. He who is engaged in the profession of battle, who studies the Vedas, who makes gifts (to Brahmanas) and takes wealth (from those he protects) is called a Kshatriya. He who earns fame from keep of cattle, who is employed in agriculture and the means of acquiring wealth, who is pure in behaviour and attends to the study of the Vedas, is called a Vaisya.  He who takes pleasure in eating every kind of food, who is engaged in doing every kind of work, who is impure in behaviour, who does not study the Vedas, and whose conduct is unclean, is said to be a Sudra. If these characteristics be observable in a Sudra, and if they be not found in a Brahmana, then such a Sudra is no Sudra, and, such a Brahmana is no Brahmana. By every means should cupidity and wrath be restrained. This as also self-restraint, are the highest results of Knowledge. Those two passions (viz., cupidity and wrath), should, with one's whole heart, be resisted. They make their appearance for destroying one's highest good. One should always protect one's prosperity from one's wrath, one's penances from pride; one's knowledge from honour and disgrace; and one's soul from error. That intelligent person, O regenerate one, who does all acts without desire of fruit, whose whole wealth exists for charity, and who performs the daily Homa, is a real Renouncer.  One should conduct oneself as a friend to all creatures, abstaining from all acts of injury. Rejecting the acceptance of all gifts, one

should, by the aid of one's own intelligence, be a complete master of one's passions. One should live in one's soul where there can be no grief. One would then have no fear here and attain to a fearless region hereafter. One should live always devoted to penances, and with all passions completely restrained; observing the vow of taciturnity, and with soul concentrated on itself; desirous of conquering the unconquered senses, and unattached in the midst of attachments. All things that can be perceived by the senses are called Manifest. All, however, that is Unmanifest, that is beyond the ken of the senses, that can be ascertained only by the subtile senses, should be sought to be known.  If there be no faith, one will never succeed in attaining to that subtile sense. Therefore, one should hold oneself in faith. The mind should be united with Prana, and Prana should then be held within Brahma. By dissociating oneself from all attachments, one may obtain absorption into Brahma. There is no need of attending to any other thing. A Brahmana can easily attain to Brahma by the path of Renunciation. The indications of a Brahmana are purity, good behaviour and compassion unto all creatures.'"