Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCXCII

"Parasara said, 'That man who, having obtained this car, viz., his body endued with mind, goes on, curbing with the reins of-knowledge the steeds represented by the objects of the senses, should certainly be regarded as possessed of intelligence. The homage (in the form of devotion to and concentrated meditation on the Supreme) by a person whose mind is dependent on itself and who has cast off the means of livelihood is worthy of high praise,--that homage, namely, O regenerate one, which is the result of instructions received from one who has succeeded in transcending acts but not obtained from the mutual discussion of men in the same state of progress.  Having obtained the allotted period of life, O king, with such difficulty, one should not diminish it (by indulgence of the senses). On the other hand, man should always exert, by righteous acts for his gradual advancement.  Among the six different colours that Jiva attains at different periods of his existence, he who falls away from a superior colour deserves obloquy and censure. Hence, one that has attained to the result of good acts should conduct oneself in such a way as to avoid all acts stained by the quality of Rajas.  Man

attains to a superior colour by righteous acts. Unable to acquire a superior hue, for such acquisition is extremely difficult, a person, by doing sinful acts only slays himself (by sinking into hell and falling down into an inferior colour). All sinful acts that are committed unconsciously or in ignorance are destroyed by penances. A sinful act, however, that is committed knowingly, produces much sorrow. Hence, one should never commit sinful acts which have for their fruit only sorrow. The man of intelligence would never do an act that is sinful in character even if it leads to the greatest advantage, just as a person that is pure would never touch a Chandala.  How miserable is the fruit I see of sinful acts! Through sin the very vision of the sinner becomes perverse, and he confounds his body and its unstable accompaniments with the Soul.  That foolish man who does not succeed in betaking himself to Renunciation in this world becomes afflicted with great grief when he departs to the next world.  An uncoloured cloth, when dirty, can be cleaned, but not a piece of cloth that is dyed with black; even so, O king, listen to me with care, is it the case with sin. That man who, having knowingly committed sin, acts righteously for expiating that sin, has to enjoy and endure the fruits of his good and bad acts separately.  The utterers of Brahma maintain, under the authority of what has been laid down in the Vedas, that all acts of injury committed in ignorance are cancelled by acts of righteousness. A sin, however, that is committed consciously is never cancelled by righteousness. Thus say the regenerate utterers of Brahma who are conversant with the scriptures of Brahmana. As regards myself, my view is that whatever acts are done, be they righteous or sinful, be they done knowingly or otherwise, remain (and are never destroyed unless their fruits are enjoyed or endured).  Whatever acts are done by the mind with full deliberation, produce, according to their grossness or subtility, fruits that are gross or subtile.  Those acts, however, O thou of righteous soul, which are fraught with great injury, if done in ignorance, do without fail produce consequences and even consequences that lead to hell, with this difference that those consequences are disproportionate

in point of gravity to the acts that produce them.  As to those acts (of a doubtful or unrighteous nature) that may be done by the deities or ascetics of reputation, a righteous man should never do their like or, informed of them, should never censure them.  That man who, reflecting with his mind, O king, and ascertaining his own ability, accomplishes righteous acts, certainly obtains what is for his benefit. Water poured into an unbaked vessel gradually becomes less and finally escapes altogether. If kept, however, in a baked vessel, it remains without its quantity being diminished. After the same manner, acts done without reflection with the aid of the understanding do not become beneficial; while acts done with judgment remain with undiminished excellence and yield happiness as their result. If into a vessel containing water other water be poured, the water that was originally there increases in quantity; even so all acts done with judgment, be they equitable or otherwise, only add to one's stock of righteousness. A king should subjugate his foes and all who seek to assert their superiority, and he should properly rule and protect his subjects. One should ignite one's sacred fires and pour libations on them in diverse sacrifices, and retiring in the woods into either one's middle or old age, should live there (practising the duties of the two last modes of life). Endued with self-restraint, and possessed of righteous behaviour, one should look upon all creatures as on one's own self. One should again reverence one's superiors. By the practice of truth and of good conduct, O king, one is sure to obtain happiness.'"