"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou, O grandsire, art our highest preceptor in the matter of all acts that are difficult of accomplishment (in consequence of the commands of superiors on the one hand and the cruelty that is involved in them on the other). I ask, how should one judge of an act in respect of either one's obligation to do it or of abstaining from it? Is it to be judged speedily or with delay?'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old story of what occurred with respect to Chirakarin born in the race of Angirasa. Twice blessed be the man that reflects long before he acts. One that reflects long before he acts is certainly possessed of great intelligence. Such a man never offends in respect of any act. There was once a man of great wisdom, of the name of Chirakarin, who was the son of Gautama. Reflecting for a long time upon every consideration connected with proposed acts, he used to do all he had to do. He came to be called by the name of Chirakarin because he used to reflect long upon all matters, to remain awake for a long time, to sleep for a long time, and to take a long time in setting himself to the accomplishment of such acts as he accomplished. The clamour of being an idle man stuck to him. He was also regarded as a foolish person, by every person of a light understanding and destitute of foresight. On a certain occasion, witnessing an act of great fault in his wife, the sire Gautama passing over his other children, commanded in wrath this Chirakarin, saying, 'Slay thou this woman.' Having said these words without much reflection, the learned Gautama, that foremost of persons engaged in the practice of Yoga, that highly blessed ascetic, departed for the woods. Having after a long while assented to it, saying, 'So be it,' Chirakarin, in consequence of his very nature, and owing to his habit of never accomplishing any act without long reflection, began to think for a long while (upon the propriety or otherwise of what he was commanded by his sire to do). How shall I obey the command of my sire and yet how avoid slaying my mother? How shall I avoid sinking, like a wicked person, into sin in this situation in which contradictory obligations are dragging me into opposite directions? Obedience to the commands of the sire constitutes the highest merit. The protection of the mother again is a clear duty. The status of a son is fraught with dependence. How shall I avoid being afflicted by sin? Who is there that can be happy after having slain a woman, especially his mother? Who again can obtain prosperity and fame by disregarding his own sire? Regard for the sire's behest is obligatory. The protection of my mother is equally a duty. How shall I so frame my conduct that both obligations may be discharged? The father places his own self within the mother's womb and takes birth as the son, for continuing his practices, conduct, name and race. I have been begotten as a son by both my mother and my father. Knowing as I do my own origin, why should I not have this knowledge (of my relationship with both of them)? The words uttered by the sire while performing the initial rite after birth, and those that were uttered by him on the occasion of the subsidiary rite (after the return from the preceptor's abode) are sufficient (evidence) for settling the reverence due to him and indeed, confirm the reverence actually paid to him. In consequence of his bringing up the son
and instructing him, the sire is the son's foremost of superiors and the highest religion. The very Vedas lay it down as certain that the son should regard what the sire says as his highest duty. Unto the sire the son is only a source of joy. Unto the son, however, the sire is all in all. The body and all else that the son owns have the sire alone for their giver. Hence, the behests of the sire should be obeyed without ever questioning them in the least. The very sins of one that obeys one's sire are cleansed (by such obedience). The sire is the giver of all articles of food, of instructions in the Vedas, and of all other knowledge regarding the world. (Prior to the son's birth) the sire is the performer of such rites as Garbhadhana and Simantonnayana. The sire is religion. The sire is heaven. The sire is the highest penance. The sire being gratified, all the deities are gratified. Whatever words are pronounced by the sire become blessings that attach to the son. The words expressive of joy that the sire utters cleanse the son of all his sins. The flower is seen to fall away from the stalk. The fruit is seen to fall away from the tree. But the sire, whatever his distress, moved by parental affection, never abandons the son. These then are my reflections upon the reverence due from the son to the sire. Unto the son the sire is not an ordinary object. I shall now think upon (what is due to) the mother. Of this union of the five (primal) elements in me due to my birth as a human being, the mother is the (chief) cause as the firestick of fire. The mother is as the fire-stick with respect to the bodies of all men. She is the panacea for all kinds of calamities. The existence of the mother invests one with protection; the reverse deprives one of all protection. The man who, though divested of prosperity, enters his house, uttering the words, 'O mother!'--hath not to indulge in grief. Nor doth decrepitude ever assail him. A person whose mother exists, even if he happens to be possessed of sons and grandsons and even if he counts a hundred years, looks like a child of but two years of age. Able or disabled, lean or robust, the son is always protected by the mother. None else, according to the ordinance, is the son's protector. Then doth the son become old, then doth he become stricken with grief, then doth the world look empty in his eyes, when he becomes deprived of his mother. There is no shelter (protection against the sun) like the mother. There is no refuge like the mother. There is no defence like the mother. There is no one so dear as the mother. For having borne him in her womb the mother is the son's Dhatri. For having been the
chief cause of his birth, she is his Janani. For having nursed his young limbs into growth, she is called Amva. For bringing forth a child possessed of courage she is called Virasu. For nursing and looking after the son she is called Sura. The mother is one's own body. What rational man is there that would slay his mother, to whose care alone it is due that his own head did not lie on the street-side like a dry gourd? When husband and wife unite themselves for procreation, the desire cherished with respect to the (unborn) son are cherished by both, but in respect of their fruition more depends upon the mother than on the sire. The mother knows the family in which the son is born and the father who has begotten him. From the moment of conception the mother begins to show affection to her child and takes delight in her. (For this reason, the son should behave equally towards her). On the other hand, the scriptures declare that the offspring belongs to the father alone. If men, after accepting the hands of wives in marriage and pledging themselves to earn religious merit without being dissociated from them, seek congress with other people's wives, they then cease to be worthy of respect. The husband, because he supports the wife, is called Bhartri, and, because he protects her, he is on that account called Pati. When these two functions disappear from him, he ceases to be both Bhartri and Pati. Then again woman can commit no fault. It is man only that commits faults. By perpetrating an act of adultery, the man only becomes stained with guilt. It has been said that the husband is the highest object with the wife and the highest deity to her. My mother gave up her sacred person to one that came to her in the form and guise of her husband. Women can commit no fault. It is man who becomes stained with fault. Indeed, in consequence of the natural weakness of the sex as displayed in every act, and their liability to solicitation, women cannot be regarded as offenders. Then again the sinfulness (in this case) is evident of Indra himself who (by acting in the way he did) caused the recollection of the request that had been made to him in days of yore by woman (when a third part of the sin of Brahmanicide of which Indra himself was guilty was cast upon her sex). There is no doubt that my mother is innocent. She whom I have been commanded to slay is a woman. That woman is again my mother. She occupies, therefore, a place of greater reverence. The very beasts that are irrational know that the mother is
unslayable. The sire must be known to be a combination of all the deities together. To the mother, however, attaches a combination of all mortal creatures and all the deities. --In consequence of his habit of reflecting long before acting, Gautama's son Chirakarin, by indulging in those reflections, passed a long while (without accomplishing the act he had been commanded by his sire to accomplish). When many days had expired, his sire Gautama's returned. Endued with great wisdom, Medhatithi of Gautama's race, engaged in the practice of penances, came back (to his retreat), convinced, after having reflected for that long time, of the impropriety of the chastisement he had commanded to be inflicted upon his wife. Burning with grief and shedding copious tears, for repentance had come to him in consequence of the beneficial effects of that calmness of temper which is brought about by a knowledge of the scriptures, he uttered these words, 'The lord of the three worlds, viz., Purandara, came to my retreat, in the guise of a Brahmana asking for hospitality. He was received by me with (proper) words, and honoured with a (proper) welcome, and presented in due form with water to wash his feet and the usual offerings of the Arghya. I also granted him the rest he had asked for. I further told him that I had obtained a protector in him. I thought that such conduct on my part would induce him to behave towards me as a friend. When, however, notwithstanding all this, he misbehaved himself, my wife Ahalya could not be regarded to have committed any fault. It seems that neither my wife, nor myself, nor Indra himself who while passing through the sky had beheld my wife (and become deprived of his senses by her extraordinary beauty), could be held to have offended. The blame really attaches to the carelessness of my Yoga puissance. The sages have said that all calamities spring from envy, which, in its turn, arises from error of judgment. By that envy, also, I have been dragged from where I was and plunged into an ocean of sin (in the form of wife-slaughter). Alas, I have slain a woman,--a woman that is again my wife--one, that is, who, in consequence of her sharing her lord's calamities came to be called by the name of Vasita,--one that was called Bharya owing to the obligation I was under of supporting her. Who is there that can rescue me from this sin? Acting heedlessly I commanded the high-souled Chirakarin (to slay that wife of mine). If on the present occasion he proves true to his name then may he rescue me from this guilt. Twice blessed be thou, O Chirakaraka! If on this occasion thou hast delayed accomplishing the work, then art thou truly worthy of thy name. Rescue me, and thy mother, and the penances I have achieved, as also thy own self, from grave sins. Be thou really a Chirakaraka
today! Ordinarily, in consequence of thy great wisdom thou takest a long time for reflection before achieving any act. Let not thy conduct be otherwise today! Be thou a true Chirakaraka today. Thy mother had expected thy advent for a long time. For a long time did she bear thee in her womb. O Chirakaraka, let thy habit of reflecting long before acting be productive of beneficial results today. Perhaps, my son Chirakaraka is delaying today (to achieve my bidding) in view of the sorrow it would cause me (to see him execute that bidding). Perhaps, he is sleeping over that bidding, bearing it in his heart (without any intention of executing it promptly). Perhaps, he is delaying, in view of the grief it would cause both him and me, reflecting upon the circumstances of the case.' Indulging in such repentance, O king, the great Rishi Gautama then beheld his son Chirakarin sitting near him. Beholding his sire come back to their abode, the son Chirakarin, overwhelmed with grief, cast away the weapon (he had taken up) and bowing his head began to pacify Gautama. Observing his son prostrated before him with bent head, and beholding also his wife almost petrified with shame, the Rishi became filled with great joy. From that time the highsouled Rishi, dwelling in that lone hermitage, did not live separately from his spouse or his heedful son. Having uttered the command that his wife should be slain he had gone away from his retreat for accomplishing some purpose of his own. Since that time his son had stood in an humble attitude, weapon in hand, for executing that command on his mother. Beholding that his son prostrated at his feet, the sire thought that, struck with fear, he was asking for pardon for the offence he had committed in taking up a weapon (for killing his own mother). The sire praised his son for a long time, and smelt his head for a long time, and for a long time held him in a close embrace, and blessed him, uttering the words, 'Do thou live long!' Then, filled with joy and contented with what had occurred, Gautama, O thou of great wisdom, addressed his son and said these words, 'Blessed be thou, O Chirakaraka! Do thou always reflect long before acting. By thy delay in accomplishing my bidding thou hast today made me happy for ever.' That learned and best of Rishis then uttered these verses upon the subject of the merits of such cool men as reflect for a long time before setting their hands to any action. If the matter is the death of a friend, one should accomplish it after a long while. If it is the abandonment of a project already begun, one should abandon it after a long while. A friendship that is formed after a long examination lasts for a long time. In giving way to wrath, to haughtiness, to pride, to disputes, to sinful acts, and in accomplishing all disagreeable tasks he that delays long deserves applause. When the offence is not clearly proved against a relative, a friend, a servant, or a wife, he that reflects long before inflicting the punishment is applauded.' Thus, O Bharata, was Gautama pleased with his son, O thou of Kuru's race, for that act of delay on the latter's part in doing the former's bidding. In all acts a man should, in this way, reflect for a long time and then settle what he should do. By conducting himself in this way one is sure to avoid grief for a long time. That man who never nurses his wrath for a long while, who reflects for a long time before setting himself to the performance of any act, never does any act which brings repentance. One should wait for a long while upon those that are aged, and sitting near them show them reverence. One should attend to one's duties for a long time and be engaged for a long while in ascertaining them. Waiting for a long time upon those that are learned, are reverentially serving for a long time those that are good in behaviour, and keeping one's soul for a long while under proper restraint, one succeeds in enjoying the respect of the world for a long time. One engaged in instructing others on the subject of religion and duty, should, when asked by another for information on those subjects, take a long time to reflect before giving an answer. He may then avoid indulging in repentance (for returning an incorrect answer whose practical consequences may lead to sin).--As regards Gautama of austere penances, that Rishi, having adored the deities for a long while in that retreat of his, at last ascended to heaven with his son.'"