Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CXCII

"Bhrigu said, 'Forest recluses seeking the acquisition of virtue go to sacred waters and rivers and springs, and undergo penances in lone and secluded woods abounding with deer and buffaloes and boars and tigers and wild elephants. They forsake all kinds of robes and food and enjoyments for which people living in society have a taste. They subsist abstemiously upon wild herbs and fruits and roots and leaves of diverse kinds. The bare ground is their seat. They lie down on the bare earth or rocks or pebbles or gravel or sand or ashes. They cover their limbs with grass and animal skins and barks of trees. They never shave their heads and beards or pare their nails. They perform their ablutions at regular intervals. They pour libations on the ground, as also on the sacred fire at the proper time without fail. They never enjoy any rest till completion of their daily gathering of the sacred fuel (for their homa fires) and sacred grass and flowers (for sacrifice and worship) and till they have swept and rubbed clean (their sacrificial altars). They bear without the least regard cold and heat, and rain and wind, and, therefore, the skin of their bodies is cracked all over; and in consequence of observing and laying down for themselves various kinds of rites and vows and acts, their flesh and blood and skin and bones become emaciated.  Endued with great patience and fortitude, they live, always practising the quality of goodness. That person who, with restrained soul, observes such a course of duties originally ordained by regenerate Rishis, burns all his sins like fire and obtains regions of felicity difficult of attainment.'

"I shall now describe the conduct of those called Parivrajakas. That is as follows: freeing themselves from attachment to the sacred fire, wealth, spouse and children, and robes, seats, beds, and such other objects of enjoyment, and breaking the bonds of affection, they roam about, regarding with an equal eye a clump of earth or rock and gold. They never set their hearts on the acquisition or enjoyment of the triple aggregate. They cast an equal eye on foes and friends and neutrals or strangers. They never injure, in thought, word, or deed, immobile things or creatures that are viviparous, or oviparous or born of filth, or called vegetables. They have no homes. They roam over hills and mountains, upon shores of rivers or seas, under shades of trees, and among temples of deities. They may go to towns or villages for residence. In a town, however, they should not live for more than five nights, while in a village their residence should never exceed one night. Entering a town or a village, they should, for the support of life, repair to the abodes of only Brahmanas of liberal deeds.  They should never ask for any alms except what is thrown into the (wooden) bowls they carry. They should free themselves from lust, wrath, pride, cupidity, delusion, miserliness, deceit, slander, vanity, and injury to living creatures. On this subject there are some verses: that person, who, observing the vow of taciturnity, roveth without giving any creature cause of fear, is never inspired with any fear himself by any

creature. That learned person who performs the Agnihotra (not by kindling of, external fire but) with the aid of the fire that is his own body, indeed, who poureth libations into his own mouth and upon the fire that exists in his own body, succeeds in attaining to numerous regions of felicity in consequence of that fire being fed with such libations obtained by a life of eleemosynation. That person of regenerate birth who observes in the aforesaid way this mode of life having Emancipation for its end, with a pure heart and with an understanding freed from resolution, attains to Brahma after the manner of a tranquil ray of light that is not fed by any blazing fuel.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'Beyond this region (that we inhabit) there is a region that we have heard of but never seen. I desire to know all about it. It behoveth thee to describe it to me.'

"Bhrigu said, 'Towards the north, on the other side of Himavat, which is sacred and possessed of every merit, there is a region that is sacred, blessed, and highly desirable. That is called the other world.  The men that inhabit that region are righteous in act, pious, of pure hearts, freed from cupidity and errors of judgment, and not subject to afflictions of any kind. That region is, indeed, equal to heaven, possessed as it is of such excellent attributes. Death comes there at the proper season. Diseases never touch the inhabitants.  Nobody cherishes any desire for the wives of other people. Every one is devoted to his own wife. These people do not afflict or kill one another, or covet one another's things. There no sin occurs, no doubt arises.  There the fruits of all (religious) acts are visible. There some enjoy seats and drinks and viands of the best kind, and live within palaces and mansions. There some, adorned with ornaments of gold, surround themselves with every article of enjoyment. There are, again, some that eat very abstemiously, for only keeping body and soul together. There some, with great toil, seek to hold the life-breaths.  Here (in this region that is inhabited by us), some men are devoted to righteousness and some to deceit. Some are happy and some miserable; some are poor and some rich. Here toil, and fear and delusion, and painful hunger make their appearance. Here cupidity for wealth is also seen, a passion that stupefies even those that are learned amongst men. Here diverse opinions prevail, broached by those that do deeds which are righteous or sinful. That man possessed of wisdom who knows all those opinions which may be divided into two kinds, is never stained by sin. Deceit With fraud, theft, slander, malice, oppression, injury, treachery, and untruth,

and vices that detract from the merit of his penances who practises them. He, on the other hand, possessed of learning, who avoids them, finds the merit of his penances increased. Here there is much reflection about acts that are righteous and those that are unrighteous. This region that we inhabit is the field of action. Having done good and evil here, one obtains good for his good acts and evil for acts that are evil.  Here the very Creator in days of yore, and all the gods with the Rishis, having performed proper penances, become cleansed and attain to Brahma.  The northern portion of the earth is highly auspicious and sacred. Those belonging to this region (that we inhabit) that are doers of righteous deeds or that show regard for yoga, become born in that region. Others (that are of a different disposition) take their births in the intermediate species. Some again, when their allotted periods run out, become lost on earth.  Employed in feeding upon one another and stained by cupidity and delusion, these mea return to this very region without being able to go (after death) to that northern region. Those men of wisdom who with vows and observant of Brahmacharyya listen with veneration to the instructions of preceptors, succeed in knowing the ends reserved for all classes of men. I have now told thee in brief the course of duties ordained by Brahman. He, indeed, is said to be possessed of intelligence who knows what is righteousness and what its reverse in this world.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Thus, O king, did Bhrigu speak unto Bharadwaja of great energy. Of soul highly virtuous, the latter became filled with wonder and worshipped the great sage with veneration. Thus, O monarch, the origin of the universe has been narrated to thee in detail. What, O thou of great wisdom, dost thou wish to hear after this?"'