Mahabharata Anusasana Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section LXXIII

"The Grandsire said, 'The questions thou hast asked me in respect of kine, beginning with their gift, are such that there is none else in the three worlds, O thou of a hundred sacrifices, who could put them! There are many kinds of regions, O Sakra, which are invisible to even thee. Those regions are seen by me, O Indra, as also by those women that are chaste and that have been attached to only one husband. Rishis observant of excellent vows, by means of their deeds of righteousness and piety, and Brahmanas of righteous souls, succeed in repairing to them in even their fleshy forms. Men that are observant of excellent vows behold those regions which resemble the bright creations of dreams, aided by their cleansed minds and by that (temporary) emancipation which succeeds the loss of one's consciousness of body.  Listen, O thou of a thousand eyes, to me as I tell thee what the attributes are with which those regions are endued. There the very course of Time is suspended. Decrepitude is not there, nor Fire which is omnipresent in the universe. There the slightest evil does not occur, nor disease, nor weakness of any kind. The kine that live there, O Vasava, obtain the fruition of every desire which they cherish in their hearts. I have direct experience of what I say unto thee. Capable of going everywhere at will and actually repairing from place to place with ease, they enjoy the fruition of wish after wish as it arises in their minds. Lakes and tanks and rivers and forests of diverse kinds, and mansions and hills and all kinds of delightful objects,--delightful, that is, to all creatures,--are to be seen there. There is no region of felicity that is superior to any of these of which I speak. All those foremost of men, O Sakra, who are forgiving unto all creatures, who endure everything, who are full of affection for all things, who render dutiful obedience unto their preceptors, and who are free from pride and vanity, repair to those regions of supreme felicity. He, who abstains from every kind of flesh, who is possessed of a cleansed heart, who is endued with righteousness, who worships his parents with reverence, who is endued with truthfulness of speech and conduct, who attends with obedience upon the Brahmanas, who is faultless in conduct, who never behaves with anger towards kine and towards the Brahmanas, who is devoted to the accomplishment of every duty, who serves his preceptors with reverence, who is devoted for his whole life to truth and to gifts, and who is always forgiving towards all transgression against himself, who is mild and self-restrained, who is full of reverence for the deities, who is hospitable to all guests, who is endued with compassion,--verily, he, who is adorned with these attributes,--succeeds in attaining to the eternal and immutable region of kine. He, who is stained with adultery, sees not such a region; nor he, who is a slayer of his preceptor; nor he, who speaks falsely or indulges in idle boasts; nor he, who always disputes with others; nor he who behaves with hostility towards the Brahmanas. Indeed, that wicked wight, who is stained with such faults

fails to attain even a sight of these regions of felicity; also he that injures his friends; also he that is full of guile; also he that is ungrateful; also he that is a cheat; also he that is crooked in conduct; also he that is a disregarder of religion; also he that is a slayer of Brahmanas. Such men are incapable of beholding in even imagination the region of kine that is the abode of only those who are righteous of deeds. I have told thee everything about the region of kine in minute detail, O chief of the deities! Hear now, O thou of a hundred sacrifices, the merit that is theirs who are engaged in making gifts of kine. He, who make gifts of kine, after purchasing them with wealth obtained by inheritance or acquired lawfully by him, attains, as the fruit of such an act to many regions of inexhaustible felicity. He, who makes a gift of a cow, having acquired it with wealth won at dice, enjoys felicity, O Sakra, for ten thousand years of celestial measure, He, who acquires a cow as his share of ancestral wealth is said to acquire her legitimately. Such a cow may be given away. They that make gifts of kine so acquired obtain many eternal regions of felicity that is inexhaustible. That person, who, having acquired a cow in gift makes a gift of her with a pure heart, succeeds without doubt, O lord of Sachi, in obtaining eternal regions of beatitude. That person, who, with restrained senses speaks the truth from his birth (to the time of his death) and who endures everything at the hands of his preceptor and of the Brahmanas, and who practises forgiveness, succeeds in attaining to an end that is equal to that of kine. That speech which is improper, O lord of Sachi, should, never be addressed to a Brahmana. One, again, should not, in even one's mind, do an injury to a cow. One should, in one's conduct, imitate the cow, and show compassion towards the cow.  Hear, O Sakra, what the fruits are that become his, who is devoted to the duty of truth. If such a person gives away a single cow, that one cow becomes equal to a thousand kine. If a Kshatriya, possessed of such qualifications, makes a gift of a single cow, his merit becomes equal to that of a Brahmana's. That single cow, listen, O Sakra which such a Kshatriya gives away becomes the source of as much merit as the single cow that a Brahmana gives away under similar circumstances. Even this is the certain conclusion of the scriptures. If a Vaisya, possessed of similar accomplishments, were to make a gift of a single cow, that cow would be equal to five hundred kine (in respect of the merit she would produce) If a Sudra endued with humility were to make a gift of a cow, such a cow would be equal to a hundred and twenty-five kine (in respect of the merit it would produce) Devoted to penances and truth, proficient (in the scriptures and all acts) through dutiful services rendered to his preceptor, endued with forgiveness of disposition, engaged in the worship of the deities, possessed of a tranquil soul, pure (in body and mind), enlightened, observant of all duties, and freed from every kind of egotism, that man who makes a gift of a cow unto a Brahmana,

certainly attains to great merit through that act of his, viz., the gift, according to proper rites, of a cow yielding copious milk. Hence, one, with singleness of devotion, observant of truth and engaged in humbly serving one's preceptor, should always make gifts of kine.  Hear, O Sakra, what the merit is of that person, who, duly studying the Vedas, shows reverence for kine, who always becomes glad at sight of kine, and who, since his birth has always bowed his head unto kine. The merit that becomes one's by performing the Rajasuya sacrifice, the merit that becomes one's by making gifts of heaps of gold, that high merit is acquired by a person who shows such reverence for kine. Righteous Rishis and high-souled persons crowned with success have said so. Devoted to truth, possessed of a tranquil soul, free from cupidity, always truthful in speech, and behaving with reverence towards kine with the steadiness of a vow, the man, who, for a whole year before himself taking any food, regularly presents some food to kine, wins the merit, by such an act, of the gift of a thousand kine. That man, who takes only one meal a day and who gives away the entire quantity of his other meal unto kine.--verily, that man, who thus reverences kine with the steadiness of a vow and shows such compassion towards them,--enjoys for ten years' unlimited felicity. That man, who confines himself to only one meal a day and 'with the other meal saved for some time purchases a cow and makes a gift of it (unto a Brahmana), earns, through that gift, O thou of a hundred sacrifices, the eternal merit that attaches to the gift of as many kine as there are hairs on the body of that single cow so given away. These are declarations in respect of the merit that Brahmanas acquire by making gifts of kine. Listen now to the merits that Kshatriyas may win. It has been said that a Kshatriya, by purchasing a cow in this manner and making a gift of it unto a Brahmana, acquires great felicity for five years. A Vaisya, by such conduct, acquires only half the merit of a Kshatriya, and a Sudra, by such conduct, earns half the merit that a Vaisya does. That man, who sells himself and with the proceeds thereof purchases kine and gives them away unto Brahmanas, enjoy felicity in heaven for as long a period as kine are seen on earth. It has been said, O highly blessed one, that in every hair of such kite as are purchased with the proceeds obtained by selling oneself, there is a region of inexhaustible felicity. That man, who having acquired kine by battle makes gifts of them (unto Brahmanas), acquires as much merit as he, who makes gifts of kine after having purchased the same with the proceeds of selling oneself. That man, who, in the absence of kine, makes a gift of a cow made of sesame seeds, restraining his senses the while, is rescued by such a cow from every kind of calamity or distress. Such a man sports in great felicity. The mere gift of kine is not fraught with merit. The considerations of deserving recipients, of time, of the kind of kine, and of the ritual to be observed, should be attended to.

One should ascertain the proper time for making a gift of kine. One should also ascertain the distinctive qualifications of both Brahmanas (who are to receive them) and of kine themselves (which are to be given away). Kine should not be given unto one in whose abode they are likely to suffer from fire or the sun. One, who is rich in Vedic lore, who is of pure lineage, who is endued with a tranquil soul, who is devoted to the performance of sacrifices, who fears the commission of sin, who is possessed of varied knowledge, who is compassionate towards kine, who is mild in behaviour, who accords protection unto all that seek it of him, and who has no means of sustenance assigned unto him, is regarded as a proper person for receiving a gift of kine. Unto a Brahmana who has no means of sustenance, unto him while he is exceedingly afflicted for want of food (in a time, of famine, for example) for purposes of agriculture, for a child born in consequence of Homa, for the purposes of his preceptor, for the sustenance of a child born (in the ordinary course), should a cow be given. Verily, the gift should be made at a proper time and in a proper place . Those kine, O Sakra, whose dispositions are well-known, which have been acquired as honoraria for knowledge, or which have been purchased in exchange for other animals (such as goats, sheep, etc.), or which have been who by prowess of arms, or obtained as marriage-dower; or which have been acquired by being rescued from situations of danger, or which incapable of being maintained by their 'poor owner have been made over for careful keep, to another's house are, for such reasons, regarded as proper objects of gift. Those kine which are strong of body, which have good dispositions, and which emit an agreeable fragrance, are applauded in the matter of gifts. As Ganga is the foremost of all streams, even so is a Kapila cow the foremost of all animals of the bovine breed. Abstaining from all food and living only upon water for three nights, and sleeping for the same period upon the bare earth, one should make gifts of kine unto Brahmanas after having gratified them with other presents. Such kine, freed from every vice should, at the same time, be accompanied by healthy calves that have not been weaned. Having made the gift, the giver should live for the next three days in succession on food consisting only of the products of the cow.  By giving away a cow that is of good disposition, that quietly suffers herself to be milked that always brings forth living and hale calves, and that does not fly away from the owner's abode, the giver enjoys felicity in the next world for as many years as there are hairs on her body. Similarly, by giving unto a Brahmana a bull

that is capable of bearing heavy burden, that is young and strong and docile, that quietly bears the yoke of the plough, and that is possessed of such energy as is sufficient to undergo even great labour one attains to such regions as are his who gives away ten kine. That person, who rescues kine and Brahmanas (from danger) in the wilderness, O Kausika, becomes himself rescued from every kind of calamity. Hear what his merit is.  The merit such a man acquires is equal to the eternal merit of a Horse-sacrifice. Such a person attains to whatever end he desires at the hour of death. Many a region of felicity,--in fact, whatever happiness he covets in his heart,--becomes attainable to him in consequence of such an act of his. Verily, such man, permitted by kine, lives honoured in every region of felicity. That man, who follows kine every day in the woods himself subsisting the while on grass and cowdung and leaves of trees, his heart freed from desire of fruit, his senses restrained from every improper object and his mind purified of all dross,--that man,--O thou of a hundred sacrifices, lives in joy and freed from the dominion of desire in my region or in any other region of happiness that he wishes, in the company of the deities!"