Vidura Niti Part 6


Vidura

prosperity (and forgiveness)

That man attains all his objects, who is conversant with remedies to be applied in the future, who is firmly resolved in the present, and who could anticipate in the past how an act begun would end.

That which a man pursues in word, deed and thought, wins him for its own; therefore, one should always seek that which is for his good. Effort after securing what is good, the properties of time, place, and means, acquaintance with the scriptures, activity, straightforwardness, and frequent meetings with those that are good, – these bring about prosperity. Perseverance is the root of prosperity, of gain, and of what is beneficial.

The man that pursues an object with perseverance and without giving it up in vexation, is really great, and enjoys happiness that is unending, O sire, there is nothing more conducive of happiness and nothing more proper for a man of power and energy as forgiveness in every place and at all times. He that is weak should forgive under all circumstances. He that is possessed of power should show forgiveness from motives of virtue; and he, to whom the success or failure of his objects is the same, is naturally forgiving.

That pleasure the pursuit of which does not injure one’s virtue and profit should certainly be pursued to one’s fill. One should not, however, act like a fool by giving free indulgence to his senses.

Prosperity never resides in one who suffers himself to be tortured by a grief, who is addicted to evil ways, who denies Godhead, who is idle, who has not his senses under control, and who is divested of exertion.

The man that is humble, and who from humility is modest is regarded as weak and persecuted by persons of misdirected intelligence. Prosperity never approaches from fear the person that is excessively liberal, that gives away without measure, that is possessed of extraordinary bravery, that practises the most rigid vows, and that is very proud of his wisdom. Prosperity does not reside in one that is highly accomplished, nor in one that is without any accomplishment. She does not desire a combination of all the virtues, nor is she pleased with the total absence of all virtues.Blind, like a mad cow, prosperity resides with some one who is not remarkable. 

The fruits of the Vedas are ceremonies performed before the (Homa) fire; the fruits of an acquaintance with the scriptures are goodness of disposition and conduct. The fruits of women are the pleasures of intercourse and offspring; and the fruits of wealth are enjoyment and charity. He that performs acts tending to secure his prosperity in the other world with wealth acquired sinfully never reaps the fruits of these acts in the other world, in consequence of the sinfulness of the acquisition (spent for the purpose).

In the midst of deserts, or deep woods, or inaccessible fastness, amid all kinds of dangers and alarms or in view of deadly weapons upraised for striking him, he that has strength of mind entertains no fear.

Exertion, self-control, skill, carefulness, steadiness, memory and commencement of act after mature deliberation; – know that these are the roots of prosperity.

Austerities constitute the strength of ascetics; the Vedas are the strength of those conversant with them; in envy lies the strength of the wicked; and in forgiveness, the strength of the virtuous.

These eight, viz., water, roots, fruits, milk, ghee (clarified butter), what is done at the desire of a Brahmana, or at the command of a preceptor, and medicine, are not destructive of a vow.

That which is antagonistic to one’s own self, should never be applied in respect of another. Briefly even this is virtue. Other kinds of virtue there are, but these proceed from caprice. Anger must be conquered by forgiveness; and the wicked must be conquered by honesty; the miser must be conquered by liberality, and falsehood must be conquered by truth.

One should not place trust on a woman, a swindler, an idle person, a coward, one that is fierce, one that boasts of his own power, a thief, an ungrateful person, and an atheist.

Achievements, period of life, fame, and power, – these four always expand in the case of him that respectfully salutes his superiors and waits upon the old.

Do not set thy heart after these objects, which cannot be acquired except by very painful exertion, or by sacrificing righteousness, or by bowing down to an enemy.

A man without knowledge is to be pitied; an act of intercourse that is not fruitful is to be pitied; the people of a kingdom that are without food are to be pitied; and a kingdom without a king is to be pitied.

These constitute the source of pain and weakness to embodied creatures:

1. The rains, decay of hills and mountains

2. Absence of enjoyment, anguish of women

3. And wordy arrows, of the heart.

The scum of the Vedas is want of study; of Brahmanas, absence of vows; of the earth, the Vahlikas; of man, untruth; of the chaste woman, curiosity; of women, exile from home. The scum of gold is silver; of silver, tin; of tin, lead; and of lead, useless dross.

One cannot conquer sleep by lying down; women by desire; fire by fuel; and wine by drinking.

His life is, indeed, crowned with success that has won his friends by gifts, his foes in battle, and wife by food and drink; they who have thousands live; they, who have hundreds, also live. O Dhritarashtra, forsake desire. There is none who cannot manage to live by some means or other. Thy paddy, wheat, gold, animals, and women that are on earth all cannot satiate even one person. Reflecting on this, they that are wise never grieve for want of universal dominion. O king, I again tell thee, adopt an equal conduct towards thy children, i.e., towards the sons of Pandu and thy own sons.

Vidura said: Worshipped by the good and abandoning pride, that good man who pursues his objects without out stepping the limits of his power, soon succeeds in winning fame, for they that are good, when gratified with a person, are certainly competent to bestow happiness on him. He that forsakes, of his own accord, even a great object owing to its being fraught with unrighteousness, lives happily, casting off all foes, like a snake that has cast off its slough. A victory, gained by an untruth, deceitful conduct towards the king, and insincerity of intentions expressed before the preceptor, – these three are each equal to the sin of slaying a Brahmana.

Students

Excessive envy, death, and boastfulness, are the causes of the destruction of prosperity. Carelessness in waiting upon preceptor, haste, and boastlessness, are the three enemies of knowledge.

Idleness, inattention, confusion of the intellect, restlessness, gathering for killing time, haughtiness, pride, and covetousness, -these seven constitute, it is said, the faults of students in the pursuit of learning. How can they that desire pleasure have knowledge? Students, again, engaged in the pursuit of learning, cannot have pleasure. Votaries of pleasure must give up knowledge, and votaries of knowledge must give up pleasure.

Fire is never gratified with fuel (but can consume any measure thereof). The great ocean is never gratified with the rivers it receives (but can receive any number of them). Death is never gratified even with the entire living creatures. A beautiful woman is never gratified with any number of men (she may have).

O king, hope kills patience; Yama (god of death) kills growth; anger kills prosperity; miserliness kills fame; absence of tending kills cattle; one angry Brahmana destroys a whole kingdom.

Let goats, brass, silver, honey, antidotes of poison, birds, Brahmanas versed in the Vedas, old relatives, and men of high birth sunk in poverty, be always present in thy house. O Bharata, Manu has said that goats, bulls, sandal, lyres, mirrors, honey, ghee (clarified butter), iron, copper, conch shells, salagram (the stony image of Vishnu with gold within) and Goro-chana should always be kept in one’s house for the worship of the gods, Brahmanas, and guests, for all those objects are auspicious.

Highest of all teachings

O sire, I would impart to thee another sacred lesson productive of great fruits. And which is the highest of all teachings, viz., virtue should never be forsaken from desire, fear, or temptation, nay, nor for the sake of life itself. Virtue is everlasting; pleasure and pain are transitory; life is, indeed, everlasting but its particular phases are transitory. Forsaking those which are transitory, betake thyself to that which is everlasting, and let contentment be thins, for contentment is the highest of all acquisitions. Behold, illustrious and mighty kings, having ruled lands abounding with wealth and corn, have become the victims of the Universal Destroyer, leaving behind their kingdoms and vast sources of enjoyment.

The son brought up with anxious care, when dead, is taken up and carried away by men (to the burning ground). With the dishevelled hair and crying piteously, they then cast the body into the funeral pyre, as if it were a piece of wood. Others enjoy the deceased’s wealth, while birds and fire feast on the elements of his body. With two only he goes to the other world, viz., his merits and his sins, which keep him company. Throwing away the body, O sire, relatives, friends, and sons retrace their steps, like birds abandoning trees without blossoms and fruits. The person cast into the funeral pyre is followed only by his own acts. Therefore, should men carefully and gradually earn merit of righteousness.

In the world above this, and also in that below this, there are regions of great gloom and darkness. Know, O king, that those are regions where the senses of men are exceedingly afflicted. Oh, let not any of those places to thine.

Carefully listening to these words, if thou can act according to them, thou wilt obtain great fame in this world of men, and fear will not be thine here or hereafter.

O Bharata, the soul is spoken of as a river; religious merit constitutes its sacred baths; truth, its water; self-control, its banks; kindness, its waves. He that is righteous purifies himself by a bath therein, for the soul is sacred, and the absence of desire is the highest merit. O king, life is a river whose waters are the five senses, and whose crocodiles and sharks are desire and anger. Making self-control thy raft, cross thou its eddies which are represented by repeated births.

Worshipping and gratifying friends that are eminent in wisdom, virtue, learning, and years, he that asks their advice about what he should do and should not do, is never misled.

One should restrain one’s lust and stomach by patience; one’s hands and feet by one’s eyes; one’s eyes and ears by one’s mind; and one’s mind and words by one’s acts.

That Brahmana who never omits to perform his ablutions, who always wears his sacred thread, who always attends to the study of the Vedas, who always avoids food that is unclean, who tells the truth and performs acts in honour of his preceptor, never falls off from the region of Brahma.

Having studied the Vedas, poured libations into fire, performed sacrifices, protected subjects, sanctified his soul by drawing weapons for protecting kine (cows) and Brahmanas, and died on the field of battle, the Kshatriya attains to heaven.

Having studied the Vedas, and distributed in proper time his wealth among Brahmnas, Kshatriyas, and his own dependents, and inhaled the sanctified smoke of the three kinds of fires, the Vaisya enjoys heavenly bliss in the other world.

Having properly worshipped Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas in due order, and having burnt his sins by gratifying them, and then peacefully casting off his body, the Sudra enjoys the bliss of heaven.

The duties of the four orders are thus set forth before thee. Listen now to the reason of my speech as I discourse it. Yudhishthira, the son of Pandu, is falling off from the duties of the Kshatriya order. Place him, therefore, O king, in a position to discharge the duties of kings.

Dhritarashtra said: It is even so as you always teach me. O amiable one, my heart also inclines that very way of which you tell me. Although, however, I incline in my mind towards the Pandavas even as you teach me to do, yet as soon as I come in contact with Duryodhana it turns off in a different way. No creature is able to avert fate. Destiny, I think, is certain to take its course. Individual exertion is futile.

From The Mahabharata
Udyoga Parva (Sanat-sujata parva)
Section XLI

Dhritarashtra said: If there is anything still left unsaid by thee, O Vidura, say it then, as I am ready to listen to thee. The discourse is, indeed, charming.

Vidura said: O Dhritarashtra, O thou of the Bharata race, that ancient and immortal Rishi Sanat-sujata who, leading a life of perpetual celibacy, has said that there is no Death. That foremost of all intelligent persons will expound to thee all the doubts in thy mind, both expressed and unexpressed.

Dhritarashtra said: Do thou not know what that immortal Rishi will say unto me? O Vidura, do thou say it, if indeed, thou hast that degree of wisdom.

Vidura said: I am born in the Sudra order and, therefore, do not venture to say more than what I have already said. The understanding, however, of that Rishi, leading a life of celibacy, is regarded by me to be infinite. He that is a Brahmana by birth, by discoursing on even the profoundest mysteries, never incurs the censure of the gods. It is for this alone that I do not discourse to thee, upon the subject.

Dhritarashtra said: Tell me, O Vidura, how with this body of mine I can meet with that ancient and immortal one (Sanat-sujata)?

Vaisampayana said: Then Vidura began to think of that Rishi of rigid vows. And knowing that he was thought of, the Rishi, O Bharata, showed himself there. Vidura then received him with the rites prescribed by ordinance. And then after having rested a while, the Rishi was seated at his ease.

Vidura addressed him, saying: O illustrious one, there is a doubt in Dhritarashtra’s mind which is incapable of being explained away by me. It behoveth thee, therefore, to expound it, so that listening to thy discourse, this chief of men may tide over all his sorrows, and to that gain and loss, what is agreeable and what disagreeable, decrepitude and death, fright and jealousy, hunger and thirst, pride and prosperity, dislike, sleep, lust and wrath, and decrease and increase may all be borne by him.

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