Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Sambhava Parva 27

"Ashtaka said, 'Those cognisant of the Vedas differ in opinion as to how
the followers of each of the four modes of life, viz., Grihasthas,
Bhikshus, Brahmacharins, and Vanaprashthas, should conduct themselves in
order to acquire religious merit."

"Yayati answered, 'These are what a Brahmacharin must do. While dwelling
in the abode of his preceptor, he must receive lessons only when his
preceptor summons him to do so; he must attend to the service of his
preceptor without waiting for the latter's command; he must rise from his
bed before his preceptor riseth, and go to bed after his preceptor hath
gone to bed. He must be humble, must have his passions under complete
control, must be patient, vigilant, and devoted to studies. It is then
only that he can achieve success. It hath been said in the oldest
Upanishad that a grihastha, acquiring wealth by honest means, should
perform sacrifices; he should always give something in charity, should
perform the rites of hospitality unto all arriving at his abode, and
should never use anything without giving a portion thereof to others. A
Muni, without search for woods, depending on his own vigour, should
abstain from all vicious acts, should give away something in charity,
should never inflict pain on any creature. It is then only that he can
achieve success. He, indeed, is a true Bhikshu who doth not support
himself by any manual arts, who possesseth numerous accomplishments, who
hath his passions under complete control, who is unconnected with worldly
concerns, who sleepeth not under the shelter of a householder's roof, who
is without wife, and who going a little way every day, travelleth over a
large extent of the country. A learned man should adopt the Vanaprastha
mode of life after performance of the necessary rites, when he hath been
able to control his appetites for enjoyment and desire of acquiring
valuable possessions. When one dieth in the woods while leading the
Vanaprastha mode of life, he maketh his ancestors and the successors,
numbering ten generations including himself, mix with the Divine essence.'

"Ashtaka asked, 'How many kinds of Munis are there (observers of the vow
of the silence)?'

"Yayati answered, 'He is, indeed, a Muni who, though dwelling in the
woods, hath an inhabited place near, or who, though dwelling in an
inhabited place, hath the woods near.'

"Ashtaka enquired what is meant by Muni.' Yayati replied, 'A Muni
withdrawing himself from all worldly objects liveth in the woods. And
though he might never seek to surround himself with those objects that
are procurable in an inhabited place, he might yet obtain them all by
virtue of his ascetic power. He may truly be said to dwell in the woods
having an inhabited place near to himself. Again a wise man withdrawn
from all earthly objects, might live in a hamlet leading the life of a
hermit. He may never exhibit the pride of family, birth or learning. Clad
in the scantiest robes, he may yet regard himself as attired in the
richest vestments. He may rest content with food just enough for the
support of life. Such a person, though dwelling in an inhabited place,
liveth yet in the woods.

"The person again, who, with passions under complete control, adopt
the vow of silence, refraining from action and entertaining no desire,
achiev success. Why should thou not, indeed, reverence the man who
liveth on clean food, who refrain from ever injuring others, whose
heart is ever pure, who stands in the splendour of ascetic attributes,
who is free from the leaden weight of desire, who abstain from injury
even when sanctioned by religion? Emaciated by austerities and reduced in
flesh, marrow and blood, such a one conquere not only this but the
highest world. And when the Muni sits in yoga meditation, becoming
indifferent to happiness and misery, honour and insult, he then leave
the world and enjoy communion with Brahma. When the Muni taketh food
like wine and other animals, i. e., without providing for it beforehand
and without any relish (like a sleeping infant feeding on the mother's
lap), then like the all-pervading spirit he become identified with the
whole universe and attain to salvation.'"

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