Mahabharata Anusasana Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section LXXIV

"Indra said, 'I wish to know, O Grandsire, what the end is that is attained by him who consciously steals a cow or who sells one from motives of cupidity."

"The Grandsire said, 'Hear what the consequences are that overtake those persons that steal a cow for killing her for food or selling her for wealth, or making a gift of her unto a Brahmana. He, who, without being checked by the restraints of the scriptures, sells a cow, or kills one, or eats the flesh of a cow, or they, who, for the sake of wealth, suffer a person to kill kine,--all these, viz., he that kills, he that eats, and he that permits the slaughter,--rot in hell for as many years as there are hairs on the body of the cow so slain.  O thou of great puissance, those faults and those kinds of faults that have been said to attach to one that obstructs a Brahmana's sacrifice, are said to attach to the sale and the theft of kine. That man, who, having stolen a cow makes a gift of her unto a Brahmana,

enjoys felicity in heaven as the reward of the gift but suffers misery in hell for the sin of theft for as long a period. Gold has been said to constitute the Dakshina, O thou of great splendour, in gifts of kine. Indeed, gold has been said to be the best Dakshina in all sacrifices. By making a gift of kine one is said to rescue one's ancestors to the seventh degree as also one's descendants to the seventh degree. By giving away kine with Dakshina of gold one rescues one's ancestors and descendants of double the number. The gift of gold is the best of gifts. Gold is, again, the best Dakshina. Gold is a great cleanser, O Sakra, and is, indeed, the best of all cleansing objects. O thou of a hundred sacrifices, gold has been said to be the sanctifier of the entire race of him who gives it away. I have thus, O thou of great splendour, told thee in brief of Dakshina.'

"Bhishma said, 'Even this was said by the Grandsire unto Indra, O chief of Bharata's race! Indra imparted it unto Dasaratha, and Dasaratha in his turn unto his son Rama, Rama of Raghu's race imparted it unto his dear brother Lakshmana of great fame. While dwelling in the woods, Lakshmana imparted it unto the Rishis. It has then come down from generation to generation, for the Rishis of rigid vows held it amongst themselves as also the righteous kings of the earth. My preceptor, O Yudhishthira, communicated it to me. That Brahmana, who recites it every day in the assemblies of Brahmanas, in sacrifices or at gifts of kine, or when two persons meet together, obtains hereafter many regions of inexhaustible felicity where he always resides with the deities as his companions. The holy Brahman, the Supreme Lord, had said so (unto Indra on the subject of kine).'"