Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Mahabharata  Index  Previous  Next 


"Yudhishthira said, 'I wish to know in detail, O Bharata, where one meets with the high rewards of gifts and sacrifices. Are those rewards earned here or are they to come hereafter? Which amongst these two (viz., Gift and Sacrifice) is said to be productive of superior merit? Unto whom should gifts be made? In what manner are gifts and sacrifices to be made? When also are they to be made? I ask thee all these. O learned sire! Do thou discourse to me on the duty of gifts! Do tell me, O grandsire, what leads to the highest reward, viz., gifts made from the sacrificial platform or those made out of that place? 1

'Bhishma said, 'O son, a Kshatriya is generally employed in deeds of fierceness. In his case, sacrifices and gifts are regarded as cleansing or sanctifying him. They, that are good and righteous, do not accept the gifts of persons of the royal order, who are given to sinful acts. For this reason, the king should perform sacrifices with abundant gifts in the form of Dakshina. 2 If the good and righteous would accept the gifts made unto them, the Kshatriya, O monarch, should incessantly make gifts with devotion and faith unto them. Gifts are productive of great merit, and are highly cleansing. Observant of vows, one should perform sacrifices and gratify with wealth such Brahmanas as are friends of all creatures, possessed

p. 66

of righteousness, conversant with the Vedas, and preeminent for acts, conduct, and penances. If such Brahmanas do not accept thy gifts, no merit becomes thine. Do thou perform sacrifices with copious Dakshina, and make gifts of good and agreeable food unto those that are righteous. By making an act of gift thou shouldst regard thyself as performing a sacrifice. Thou shouldst with gifts adore those Brahmanas who perform sacrifices. By doing this thou will acquire a share in the merits of those sacrifices of theirs. Thou shouldst support such Brahmanas as are possessed of children and as are capable of sending people to Heaven. By conducting thyself in this way thou art sure to get a large progeny--in fact as large a progeny as the Prajapati himself. They that are righteous support and advance the cause of all righteous acts. One should, by giving up one's all, support such men, as also those that do good unto all creatures. Thyself being in the enjoyment of affluence, do thou, O Yudhishthira, make unto Brahmanas gifts of kine and bullocks and food and umbrellas, and robes and sandals or shoes Do thou give unto sacrificing Brahmanas clarified butter, as also food and cars and vehicles with horses harnessed thereto, and dwelling houses and mansions and beds. Such gifts are fraught with prosperity and affluence to the giver, and are regarded as pure, O Bharata. Those Brahmanas that are not censurable for anything they do, and that have no means of support assigned to them, should be searched out. Covertly or publicly do thou cherish such Brahmanas by assigning them the means of support. Such conduct always confers higher benefit upon Kshatriyas than the Rajasuya and the Horse-sacrifices. Cleansing thyself of sin, thou art sure of attaining to Heaven. Filling thy treasury thou shouldst do good to thy kingdom. By such conduct thou art sure to win much wealth and become a Brahmana (in thy next life). Do thou, O Bharata, protect thy own means (of support and of doing acts of righteousness), as also the means of other people's subsistence. Do thou support thy servants as thy own children. Do thou, O Bharata, protect the Brahmanas in the enjoyment of what they have and make gifts unto them of such articles as they have not. Let thy life be devoted to the purpose of the Brahmanas. Let it never be said that thou dost not grant protection to the Brahmanas. Much wealth or affluence, when possessed by a Brahmana, becomes a source of evil to him. Constant association with affluence and prosperity is certain to fill him with pride and cause him to be stupefied (in respect of his true duties). If the Brahmanas become stupefied and steeped in folly, righteousness and duties are sure to suffer destruction. Without doubt, if righteousness and duty come to an end, it will lead to the destruction of all creatures. That king who having amassed wealth makes it over (for safe keep) to his treasury officers and guards, and then commences again to plunder his kingdom, saying unto his officers, 'Do ye bring me as much wealth as you can extort from the kingdom,' and who spends the wealth that is thus collected at his command under circumstances of fear and cruelty, in the performance of sacrifices, should know that those sacrifices of his are never applauded by the righteous. The king

p. 67

should perform sacrifices with such wealth as is willingly paid into his treasury by prosperous and unpersecuted subjects. Sacrifices should never be performed with wealth acquired by severity and extortion. The king should then perform great sacrifices with large presents in the shape of Dakshina, when in consequence of his being devoted to the good of his subjects, the latter bathe him with copious showers of wealth brought willingly by them for the purpose. The king should protect the wealth of those that are old, of those that are minors, of those that are blind, and of those that are otherwise disqualified. The king should never take any wealth from his people, if they, in a season of drought, succeed in growing any corn with the aid of water obtained from wells. Nor should he take any wealth from weeping women. 1 The wealth taken from the poor and the helpless is sure to destroy the kingdom and the prosperity of the king. The king should always make unto the righteous gifts of all enjoyable articles in abundance. He should certainly dispel the fear of famishing which those men may have. 2 There are no men more sinful than those upon whose food children look with wistfulness without being able to eat them duly. If within thy kingdom any learned Brahmana languishes with hunger like any of those children, thou shalt then incur the sin of foeticide for having allowed such an act. King Sivi himself had said this, viz., 'Fie on that king in whose kingdom a Brahmana or even any other man languishes from hunger.' That kingdom in which a Brahmana of the Snataka class languishes with hunger becomes overwhelmed with adversity. Such a kingdom with its king also incurs reproach. That king is more dead than alive in whose kingdom women are easily abducted from the midst of husbands and sons, uttering cries and groans of indignation and grief The subjects should arm themselves to slay that King who does not protect them, who simply plunders their wealth, who confounds all distinctions, who is ever incapable of taking their lead, who is without compassion, and who is regarded as the most sinful of kings. That king who tells his people that he is their protector but who does not or is unable to protect them, should be slain by his combined subjects, like a dog that is affected with the rabies and has become mad. A fourth part of whatever sins are committed by the subjects clings to that king who does not protect, O Bharata. Some authorities say that the whole of those sins is taken by such a king. Others are of opinion that a half thereof becomes his. Bearing in mind, however, the declaration of Manu, it is our opinion that a fourth part of such sins becomes the unprotecting king's. That king, O Bharata, who grants protection to his subjects obtains a fourth part of whatever merits his subjects acquire living under his protection. Do thou, O Yudhishthira, act in such a way that all thy subjects may seek thee as their refuge as long as thou art alive, even as all creatures seek the refuge of the deity of rain or even

p. 68

as the winged denizens of the air seek the refuge of a large tree. Let all thy kinsmen and all thy friends and well-wishers, O scorcher of foes, seek thee as their refuge even as the Rakshasas seek Kuvera or the deities seek Indra as theirs.'"


65:1 Antarvedyan is within the platform; and Anrisamsyatah is vahirvedyan or outside the platform.

65:2 Sacrifices are a means of giving away unto the Brahmanas.

67:1 Weeping women means women of destitute condition and, therefore, unable to pay.

67:2 The first word in the first line is not kshatam but kritam.

Next: Section LXII