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p. 276


"Skanda said, 'I shall now declare a duty that is approved of by me. Do ye listen to it with concentrated attention. That person who takes a little earth from the horns of a bull of blue complexion, smears his body therewith for three days, and then performs his ablutions, acquires great merits. Hear what those merits are. By such an act he would wash away every stain and evil, and attain to sovereign sway hereafter. As many times he takes his birth in this world, so many times does he become celebrated for his heroism. Listen now to another mystery unknown to all. Taking a vessel of copper and placing therein some cooked food after having mixed it with honey, one should offer it as Vali unto the rising moon on the evening of the day when that luminary is at full. Do ye learn, with faith, what the merits are of the person that acts in this way. The Sadhyas, the Rudras, the Adityas, the Viswedevas, the twin Aswins, the Maruts, and the Vasus, all accept that offering. By such an offering Soma increases as also the ocean, that vast receptacle of waters. This duty that is declared by me and that is unknown to all, if performed, is certainly fraught with great happiness.'

"Vishnu said, 'That person who, endued with faith and freed from malice, listens every day with concentrated attention to the mysteries in respect of religion and duty that are preserved by the high-souled deities and those mysteries also of the same kind that are preserved by the Rishis, has never to succumb to any evil. Such a person becomes also freed from every fear. That man who, with his senses under thorough control, reads these sections which treat of these auspicious and meritorious duties, together with their mysteries,--duties that have been declared (by the previous speakers), acquires all the merits that attach to their actual performance. Sin can never overmaster him. Verily, such a man can never be stained with faults of any kind. Indeed, one wins abundant merits by reading these mysteries (as declared), or by reciting them to others, or by hearing them recited. The deities and the Pitris eat, for ever the Havya and the Kavya offered by such a creature. Both these, in consequence of the virtues of the offerer become inexhaustible. Even such is the merit that attaches to the person who, with concentrated attention, recites these mysteries to foremost of Brahmanas on days of the full moon or the new moon. Such a person, in consequence of such an act, becomes steady in the observance of all duties. Beauty of form and prosperity also become his. He succeeds, besides this, in becoming the favourite, for all time, of the Rishis and the deities and the Pitris. If a person becomes guilty of all sins save those which are classed as grave or heinous, he becomes cleansed of them all by only listening to the recitation of these mysteries about religion and duty.'

"Bhishma continued, 'Even these, O king of men, are the mysteries in respect of religion and duty dwelling in the breasts of the deities. Held

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in high respect by all the gods and promulgated by Vyasa, they have now been declared by me for thy benefit. One who is conversant with religion and duty thinks that this excellent knowledge is superior (in value) to even the whole earth full of riches and wealth. This knowledge should not be imparted to one that is bereft of faith, or to one that is an atheist, or to one that has fallen away from the duties of his order, or to one that is destitute of compassion, or to one that is devoted to the science of empty disputations, or to one that is hostile to one's preceptors, or to one that thinks all creatures to be different from oneself.'"

Next: Section CXXXV