Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CXCI

"Bharadwaja said, 'What has been said to be the consequence of gift? What of Righteousness? What of conduct? What of Penances well-performed? What of the study and recitation of the Vedas? And what of pouring libations upon the fire?'

'Bhrigu said, 'By pouring libations on the sacred fire, sin is burnt. By study of the Vedas one obtains blessed tranquillity. By gift, one obtains pleasure and articles of enjoyment. By Penances, one acquires blessed heaven. Gift is said to be of two kinds: gifts for the other world, and those for this. Whatever is given to the good attends the giver in the other world. Whatever is given to those that are not good produces consequences enjoyable here. The consequences of gifts are commensurate with the gifts themselves.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'What course of duties should be performed by whom? What also are the characteristics of duty? How many kinds of duty are there? It behoveth thee to tell me these.' 

"Bhrigu said, 'Those wise men who are engaged in practising the duties laid down for them succeed in obtaining heaven as their reward. By doing otherwise people become guilty of folly.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'It behoveth thee to tell me about the four modes of life that were formerly laid down by Brahman, and the practices ordained for each of them.'

"Bhrigu said, 'In days of yore, the divine Brahman, for benefiting the world, and for the protection of righteousness, indicated four modes of life.  Amongst them, residence in the abode of the preceptor is mentioned as the first (in order of time). He who is in this mode of life should have his soul cleansed by purity of conduct, by Vedic rites, and by restraints and vows and humility. He should worship the morning and evening twilights, the Sun, his own sacred fire, and the deities. He should cast off procrastination and idleness. He should cleanse his soul by saluting his preceptor, by studying the Vedas, and by listening to his preceptor's instructions. He should perform

his ablutions thrice (viz., in the morning, noon, and evening). He should lead a life of celibacy; attend to his sacred fire; dutifully serve his preceptor; daily go out on a round of mendicancy (for supporting himself); and give ungrudgingly unto his preceptor the whole of what is obtained in alms. Willingly accomplishing everything that the commands of his preceptor may indicate, he should be ready to receive such Vedic instruction as his preceptor may give him as a favour.  On this subject there is a verse: That Brahmana who obtains his Veda by attending with reverence upon his preceptor, succeeds in attaining to heaven and obtains the fruition of all his desires. The domestic mode of life is called the second (in point of time). We shall explain to you all the pious acts and indications of that mode. Those who having completed their residence in the preceptor's abode return home, who are of pious conduct, who desire the fruits of a virtuous course of behaviour with spouses in their company, have this mode of life ordained for them. In it Virtue, Wealth, and Pleasure, may all be obtained. It is (thus) suited to the cultivation of the triple aggregate. Acquiring wealth by irreproachable acts, or with wealth of high efficacy which is obtained from recitation of the Vedas, or living upon such means as are utilised by the regenerate Rishis,  or with the produce of mountains and mines, or with the wealth represented by the offerings made in sacrifices and on the termination of vows and other observances, and those made unto deities, the householder should lead this mode of life. That mode of life is regarded as the root of all the others. They who are residents in the abodes of preceptors, they who lead lives of mendicancy, and others who live in the observance of vows and restraints to which they are pledged, derive from this mode the means they live upon, the offerings they make unto the Pitris and the deities, and, in short, their entire support. The third mode of life is called the Forest-life. For those that lead it, there is no storing of wealth and articles.  Generally, these pious and good men, subsisting upon good food, and engaged in studying the Vedas, roam ever the earth for journeying to tirthas and visiting diverse realms. Standing up, advancing forward, sweet speeches uttered in sincerity, gifts according to the measure of the giver's competence, offer of seats and beds of the best kind, and presents of excellent food, are some of the means for showing them regard.

On this subject there is a verse: If a guest turns away from a house with expectations unfulfilled, he is supposed to take away the merits of the householder and leave the latter all his misdeeds. Then again in the domestic mode of life the deities are gratified by sacrifices and other religious rites; the Pitris by the performance of obsequial rites; the Rishis by cultivation of (Vedic) knowledge, by listening to the instructions of preceptors, and by committing to memory the scriptures; and lastly the Creator by begetting children.  On this subject there are two verses: One in the observance of this mode of life should speak upon all creatures words breathing affection and agreeable to the ears. To give pain, to inflict mortifications, and harsh words, are all censurable. Insult, arrogance, and deceit, also should be avoided. Abstention from injury, truth, and absence of wrath, produce the merit of penances in all the (four) modes of life. In the domestic mode of life these are allowed, viz., the use and enjoyment of floral garlands, ornaments, robes, perfumed oils and unguents; enjoyment of pleasures derived from dancing and music, both vocal and instrumental, and all sights and scenes that are agreeable to the sight; the enjoyment of various kinds of viands and drinks belonging to the principal orders of edibles, viz., those that are swallowed, those that are lapped, those that are quaffed, and those that are sucked; and the enjoyment of pleasures derivable from sports and every kind of amusement and the gratification of desires. That man who in the observance of this mode of life seeks the acquisition of the triple aggregate (viz., Religion, Wealth, and Pleasure), with that of the great end of the three attributes of Goodness and Passion and Darkness,  enjoys great happiness here and at last attains to the end that is reserved for persons that are virtuous and good.  Even that householder who observes the duties of his mode of life by following the practice of picking up fallen grains of corn from the cracks of fields and who abandons sensual pleasure and attachment to action, does not find it difficult to obtain heaven.'"