Aranya parva
(Fifth Chapter -firstpart)

Ugrasravasa, son of Romaharsha (Sooti--the Story Teller) continued to say the story of Mahabharat to Saint Sounaka and other sages and saints at NaimiSaaranya while performing Satra yaga.

Dharmaja requested Saint Markandeya

“O Saint! I want to hear the stories of great women who worshipped their husbands. I also want to know while begetting children, who will suffer much, either father or mother? What is the responsibility of the son towards his parents? How a person who was born in a low caste will attain Punya Lokas, eligible for more virtuous people? Kindly explain me all these things in detail” requested Dharmaja.

Saint Markandeya continued to say:

“Dharmaja!Mother will bear the child in her womb for nine months. Even if she knows that it is dangerous to her life, she will deliver the child. Father will perform all kinds of Yajnas, Yagas, charities, Vratas etc to beget children. Therefore, for the sake of a son, both mother and father will equally strive hard.

Afterbegetting a son, every parent will aspire that their son will be a virtuous man with good habits and have devotion towards them.

Similarly, it is the duty of the son to fulfil the aspirations of his parents and he will be a real son.

Ladies should always respect their husbands and be loyal and faithful towards them. I will tell you one story.

Once, there lived a brahmin called Kousika. He was a very virtous person. He did Tapassu. One day, he was sitting under a tree and was chanting Vedas with great devotion.

At that time, one crane, sitting on a branch of the tree, put shit on him. Kousika grew angry. He looked at the crane with great anger. As a result, the crane fell down and died.

Kousika felt sad about it. “Oh I am a cruel man. Due to my anger, this crane died. I committed great sin.” he cried aloud.

At noon time, he went into the nearby village for alms. He stood in front of a brahmin house and asked for food. The House wife who was inside the house was washing the dish to serve food to Kousika.

In the meanwhile, her husband arrived and asked her to serve food as he was hungry. Immediately, she put hot water for his bathing, served him food, arranged bed and she was caressing his legs gently. After her husband slept, she again washed the dish, and brought food for Kousika.

Kousika grew angry. “O Lady! What is this? You are so proud. You insulted me. You would have told me to go away when I asked for alms. Why you made me to to wait for such a long time. Why you insulted me?” shouted Kousika.

“While bringing food for you, my husband arrived. He was hungry. My duty is to look after my husband and his needs first. That is the reason for delay. It is not my wanton mistake. Kinldy execuse me. Be patient.” requested House wife humbly.

“What! What do you say! Is your husband more respectable than a brahmin. Do you insult Brahmins? Even Devendra himself will worship Brahmins? After all who are you?You insulted Brahmins with great pride. If Brahmins are insulted, their anger will destroy the entire world. You should know it” shouted Kousika.

“I know much about Brahmins and their power and anger. One Brahmin cursed that sea water is not consumable. Another Brahmin burnt away Dandakaaranya! Another brahmin digested Vaataapi in his stomache. I heard all the stories about Brahmins and their power. Why should I insult such Brahmins and invite troubles.

But, as far as I am concerned, my husband is my God. I worship my husband with my mind, word and deeds. I dont find a greater Dharma than this.

O Brahmin Kousika! I know your anger. Due to your anger, one crane also died. I could know this with the power derived by me by worshipping my husband. Hence, it is not proper on your part to be angry upon me.

In everybody’s mind, two great enemies are staying. They are Krodha and Mohaa. Unless they are suppressed, Brahmins cannot attain greatness.Whoever always speaks truth, observe non-violance, worship his parents and teachers, conquer his senses, treat all men like his own men, observe Dharma and does his deeds without passion, such a person will be worshipped as a true Brahmin by all people.For such a Brahmin, his character, his learning Vedas, his virtuous life will be his valuable assets and riches. These are the Dharmas spoken in Vedas.

Dharma is of many kinds. Dharma is subtle. You have learnt Vedas only. But you do not the subtle dharma. Therefore, you have to go to Mithila City. There you can find a person called Dharma Vyadha, a meat vendor, who conquered his senses, always speaks truth, worship his parents with great devotion. You learn from him the subtlety of Dharma. All your doubts will be cleared. I am a lady. I have no such knowledge and intelligence. Therefore, you have to pardon me for my lapses” said the House wife.

“Maa! I became wiser with your words. Now my mind is peaceful. I wish you all the best. Let me go to Midhila” so saying he proceeded to Mithila.

While going, he wondered how she could know about the death of Crane due to his anger. He deeply repented for scolding her in a fit of anger.

He reached the city of Midhila. He enquired about Dharma Vyadha. At last, he could locate his meat shop. Dharma Vyadha was selling meat to customers. Being Brahmin, Kousika could not relish that scene. He stood by the side of the shop.

Dharma Vyadha saw Kousika. Immediately he approached Kousika and bowed before him.

“O GreatMan, I know that at the instance of that virtuous lady, you have come over here. I am very happy. Let us go to my house” so saying Dharma Vyadha led Kousika to his house.
Kousika again wondered how this meat -vendor could know about that virtuous lady and the conversation between them. Dharma Vyadha washed the feet of Kousika, gave cool water and offered him a comfortable seat to relax.

Then Kousika asked Dharma Vyadha “You know all Dharmas. Is it just and proper on your part to kill animals and sell the meat? Is it Dharma?

Dharma vyadha replied: “O Kousika! for Brahmins, learning Vedas, Tapassu, speaking truth, Cleanliness, Brahmacharya are the Dharmas to be adopted; for Kshatriyas-- vigour and valour; for Vysyas--agriculture, rearing of cattle, business are their utmost Dharmas. Similarly, for us selling meat is our Dharma. It is our hereditary business. I am also following the same Dharma.

King Janaka is the king of Midhila. He follows Kshatriya Dharma strictly. Under his rule, everybody should follow his own Dharma. Otherwise, he will not spare his own son. Therefore, I wont leave my own Dharma of selling meat.Though I am selling meat, I will never kill any animal. I will purchase meat in the market and resell the same to my customers and I am living with that money with full contentment.

I will always be humble. I will worship my teachers, elders, guests, Brahmins and deities. I will observe truth and cleanliness. I will give charities to my might. I never feel jealous about others. I will never aspire for anything. I will never find faults with others. I will observe fasting periodically, take limited food. I am married and live only with one wife and meet her only in fertile days. I will never feel happy for flattering. I will never feel sad if anybody curses me. Though I am born in a low caste, I am pure. It is not boasting about myself. As I have to tell you something, I told you.

You have come here to know about Dharma. I will explain as far as my knowledge goes. Living without leaving his Kula Dharma is the Utmost Dharma. Kind-heartedness is a great virtue. The people in the outside world are having several views. We have to respect`others`views`and live with`patience.`

Charity`is a great virtue. Everybody should` observe`it.`One`should always`speak`truth and respect elders. Wants are common`to human beings. But while fulfilling` their`desires one should`follow Dharma.

We have`to feel` good and bad equally.` Helping` those`who`even caused harm`to you is`a greatest virtue. `Whoever`causes harm`to others he`will burn himself with his own sin. One need not punish him separately.

Whoever says that there is no God or that Vedas are not correct are Nastikas. They always critise Dharma. We should never believe those words and leave our Dharma. If anybody commits a sin and if he repents for his own sin, half of his sin will be vanished. If he decides for himself that he will never commit such a sin, the rest of the sin will vanish.

All the sins committed by human beings arise out of Greediness and anger. If any one conquers the greediness and anger, he will be considered to be a great man. Generally, we see some grass or plants grown on deep waters and deep wells, resembling that it is flat ground. Similarly, all bad things always appear to be very good things. One should not be attracted towards those bad things. One should always follow virtuous customs.” said Dharma Vyadha.

Now Kousika intervened and asked Dharmavyadha “What are the virtuous customs?” asked Kousika.

Dharmavyadha continued to say: “Giving charities, always speaking truth, doing penance, performing Yagnas, being good towards others, shedding anger, jealousy and pride, keeping our senses under control, always feeling happiness, learning Vedas, leading simple life, not feeling distressfor each and everything, leading virtuous life, performing pilgrimages, observing cleanliness, kindness towards others, less talking, speaking good, giving shelter to those who approaches us, all these are called virtuous customs to be observed by one and all.

Oh great man Kousika! the happiness you derive in leading virtuous life without jealousy, you will never get in other paths of life. Therefore, one should lead life with kind heart, by observing above virtues, respecting teachers and elders, learning Vedas and cross the ocean which contains crocodiles like wants, anger, delusion. Those are said to be great people.

Amongst all Dharmas, nonviolence is a great dharma. It should be observed coupled with Truth. In virtuous customs, Truth is primary virtue.

There are three kinds of Dharmas. Dharma accepted by Veda; Dharma accepted by scriptures, and Dharma as per virtuous customs and practice. One who studied Vedas, one who followed virtuous path of life, climbs the building of wisdom, looks at the outside world which is drowned in silt and laughs at it.

Just now, you asked me whether I am following the path of violance. Kindly tell me who can distinguish whether this is violance and this is non-violance. For the birth and death of a living being, the deeds in the previous birth are the main cause. One who kills is simply a tool. Fruits, roots, herbs, leaves, animals are meant for eating by living beings.This is acceptable by Vedas. How can we say that it is not correct?

Emperor Sibi cut his own flesh and offered to an eagle(Indra). Did he not attain Punya Lokas? Similarly, King Ranti Deva daily killed thousands of cows and prepared simptuous food and served it to poor. He also attained Punya Lokas. Besides that, during Yajnas and Yagas, cows will be killed as offerings. Therefore, simply consuming meat as food does not amount to killing. Even in annual ceremonies performed in memory of elders, we are serving meat as food to Brahmins and eat the remaining meat. It is an acceptable Dharma.

While farmers are ploughing the land, several ants, insects are being killed. Is it not killing? While we are walking, several insects are being killed under our feet without our knowledge. Is it also called killing? This should be judged by each individual by himself.

It is a fact, that water, earth and space are filled with living beings visible or invisible. Therefore, in every act of ourselves, killing is must. Without killing, one cannot live on the earth. But some are in the illusion that they never kill any living being.

Even the sages and saints who are living in forests and observing penance, also believe that they never kill any living being. But they are daily cutting and consuming fruits, leaves, roots etc. Does it not amount to killing? Because, even in leaves, fruits, and roots, life is there. Therefore, there are none on this earth who never killed any life. What all we have to do is we should never kill any thing knowingly or voluntarily. This amounts to non-violance.

Dharma is multi-faceted. It is very subtle. Highly difficult to understand and digest. Therefore, we have to know Dharma from studying Vedas, from customs and practice followed by our elders. Speaking Truth is a greatest virtue.
But speaking a lie to save the life of a living being is greater than speaking truth. Speaking truth which causes hardship to any living being is equivalent to speaking a lie. Speaking a lie to save the life of a human being or animal while their lives are in danger, or during marriages, is equivalent to speaking truth. These are the suttle dharmas.

Whether it is good or bad, one should follow his own profession of his caste. Because that is the mandate of God.

We have to suffer the result of our deeds done in our previous birth.Nobody can escape that. But some foolish people while they are in troubles, always blame God that God is responsible for his woes.

Similarly, all human beings think that they themselves are doing all these acts and deeds and without them nothing will hapen. This is ignorance. If he does everything wisely and correctly, all such acts and deeds should yield good results. But it is not like that. Some of the deeds and acts done by most virtuous, wise and intelligent people are not yielding good results. But the acts done by bad and cruel minded people are yielding good results.

For some people, even without doing any thing, they will get more wealth and victory. But for some people, even if they toil hard they will not get any favourable result. In the same way, the poorest and penniless will beget children even if they dont want to have. But for rich and wealthy people, even if they perform Vratas and worship many Gods, give their entire wealth to poor as charity, they will never beget a single child.Why all this is happening? It is only due to the good and bad results of their acts and deeds done in their previous births.

If the human beings think that they are not bound by their deeds in their previous births and that they can do what ever they like and in their own way, they should all live happily without any diseases and deaths. But it is not like that. Therefore, we are taking the present birth as a result of our deeds in our previous births.The duties we have to perform also will be determiend by our Karma. Soon after we leave this body, we will go in search of another body according to our karma.

Now I will tell about Jeeva. Jeevaa is pure, eternal and ancient. He will remain for ever. No sin will touch Jeeva.According to the acts done in previous births, Jeeva will atain Deha (physical body). Jeeva will remain in that Deha (body) for some time. The body will die. But the eternal Jeeva will never die. After leaving this body, the Jeeva will get another body according to Karma done in previous births. In that body, he will undergo both happiness and sorrow. Like this, this Jeeva will entangle in many bodies.

O saint Kousika! Now I will tell you about the body attachments as a result of our good and bad deeds (Punya and Papa) in previous births.

If we attain Punya, we will get divinity. If we attain some Punya and soma Papa, we will get human body. If we commit only Papas, we will take birth as animals, insects etc. In this way, the Jeeva will be getting body by body and births and deaths continuously like swimming an ocean. He will never reach the coast.

One who knows about this, he will never commit Papa and does only good deeds and attain Punya, will shed pride, arrogance, jealousy, and egoism and will lead a virtuous life. By observing Dharma always, his mind will be pure. He will know that these desires and sensual pleasures are useless. He will do Tapassu, control his senses, speak always truth and attain divinity.

Now Kousika entertained a doubt. "Dharmavyadha! Kindly tell me what are senses and what will happen if we do not control them? What will happen if we control them?” asked Kousika.

Now Dharmavyadha continued to say: “While we are acting in outside world, we will gather some Vishayas. Mind is root cause for this gathering. The mind is always filled with Wants, desires and anger. Those wants and anger will make us to do some good bad deeds with our sense organs. A human being under the influence of Desires and Anger will be craving for sensual pleasures. Out of desires, greediness will emerge. Greedy man will always be unkind towards others. To fulfill his desires, he will be committing countless sins. He wil never heed any good words. He will always be amidst of bad characters. He thinks one, speaks one and does one. No correlation between one and the other. Such human will always be drowned in sad and sorrow. Therefore, human beings should always follow the path of awareness and shed the sensual pleasures.

O Saint Kousika! You asked me how to conquer senses. I am not eligible to tell you about Brahma. You are a great Brahmin. If you desire, I have no other go but to tell. After saluting all the Great Brahmins, I will tell you about Brahma. Kinldy listen to me carefully” Dharma Vyadha continued to say about Brahma.

“Sky, air, fire, water and earth are five elements. (Pancha Bhootas). These elements have got the characteristics of sound, touch, form, taste and smell. From sky all the other elements will take form in ascending order. Again they will merge one with the other, in descending order. From sky--air, from air--fire, from fire--water, from water--earth. Again earth will merge with water, water with fire, fire with air and air will merge into sky.

At the inception, the sky was without any bounds. Complete darkness. hollowness. From the sky there emerged mighty air with greatest speed. With the combination of the elements and gases in the air, water was formed. When that water was frozen, ice islands and dust clouds were formed. When they were transformed into rocks, this earth was formed. Later the entire earth will be merged in water. severe draught. Hot sun. The entire water will evaporate and transformed into mighty air and merge in the sky.This cycle will be going on forever.

You know that hearing with ears, taste with tongue, seeing with eyes, smelling with nose and feeling with skin are the main works of sense organs.The qualities of Pancha Bhootas (five elements) viz., sound, touch,form,taste and smell are the qualities of sense organs.The root cause for sense organs is mind. There are two more. They are wisdom and selfishness. Total 8.

Satva, Rajas, Tama -- these three qualities are hidden in every human being. This entire world was created from out of nothing and invisible and will again merge into nothing and invisible. Invisible means not to be seen. Not to been seen by eyes, not to be thought by mind.

But this invisibility is manifested in various forms, in both sexes, during our daily acts. In this manner, human beings are able to manifest the invisible. Though it is invisible, but in our thoughts, in our acts, it is manifested in different forms.

The human being is influenced by these five elements viz., sound, touch, taste, form and scent and is addicted to luxurious and wayward life. Hence, the human being shall keep his senses under his control and acquire knowledge and intelligence.Once he attains the knowledge, he will see innerself in each and everybody. This is Tapassu.Turning our mind from sensual pleasures towards highest knowledge itself is complete renunciation. For such a person, there is nothing to be done in this world.

Heaven means controlling our senses from sensual pleasures. If we are unable to control, it is hell.

{The following is the saying in Adharva Veda.

“na mOkshO nabhasaha| napaataaLE na bhootalE |
sarvaaSaasamkshayE chEtaha| kshayO mOksha iteeryatE||

It means Moksha is not either in the sky(AaakaaSa) or deep inside the earth (paataaLa)nor even on this earth. Controlling our mind and averting it from sensual pleasures itself is MOksha.}

Contentment without greediness itself is heaven (svarga). If we crave for each and everything in this world, doing all untoward acts to accomplish our desires, committing sins thus subjecting our mind to sorrow, is itself a real hell.

Our body is a chariot. Our senses are horses. Our Aatma is the driver. Our courage is our reins. A human being shall control his mind, hold the reins, control his sense organs and the speed, and drive the chariot in a safe path. He himself is a real hero.

We are, day in and day out, acting in the outside world. Wherever we go, out mind also will follow us. It is natural. If we are unable to control our sense organs, our intellect will be spoiled. Therefore, whoever controls his sense organs he is a great intellectual.

Now I will tell about Tri Guna (three characterstics). They are satva, rajas, tama. Of those, Tamas is lowest of all and blameworthy. Satva is highest of all and fit for acquiring knowledge and wisdom. Rajas is the admixture of both Satva and Tamas.

Ugly figure, always drowsy, with sorrowful face, and with uncountable desires, illusion on those desires, restlessness. These are the qualities of Tamas.

Over love and affection, desirous of having each and everything, greediness, unable to do his own works, depending on others even for small works,egoism. These are the qualities of Rajas.

Courage, peace, kindness, happiness, interest in learning. These are the qualifies of Satva.

A satvik individual will always acquire knowledge and wisdom. He knows pretty well that what all we see are not true. He will shed all desires. He will be above all. He will suppress his ego and control his senses. He will attain eternal peace.

A satvik individual, though he was born as Sudra, in the next birth, he will born as Vysya and in the next birth as Kshatriya and in the final birth as Brahmin and will attain the Kaivalya (eternal happiness).” said Dharmavyadha.
“In this body, how fire will emanate. In our body, what are the locations of gases. Kindly tell me” asked Kousika.”

"O Kousika! In our body, the Praana fire called Aatma is extended upto our head. The basis for this Atman is navel. This Atma fire is extended from navel upto head. In this fire, Praana Vaayuvu will be running. This is called life. Both Praana Vaayu and Apaana vaayu will foment Praana Fire. In a human being, this Apaana is located in between lower stomach and anus. This will emit waste material and waste water from our body. Udaana Vaayu is located in our neck. It controls our power of actions in our body.Vyaana Vaayu is located in all joints in our body like neck, hands, knees, fingers etc. The last one is Samaana Vaayu. It will digest the food we eat and assimilate it in our blood and send the waste into Apaana. This samaana vaayu is located at navel.This samaana will look after all elements in our body.

Only Great Sages and Saints will know about this Aatma Agni and these Praana, apaana, vyaana, udaana, samaana vaayus.With their constant practice, those Yogis will keep their Aatma in their forehead.

This fire moving in Praana, Apaana and Samaana Vayus is called Jeevaatma.This Jeevaatma will be moving in our body as a lotus leaf in the water. He will not be tainted with any of the good and bad deeds done by the individual. After leaving this body, this Jeevaatma will become Paramaatma.This Paramaatma enters this body as Jeevaatma and will make this lifeless body as Chaitanya. That Paramatma is the Creator of the entire Universe. All the Great Sages and Saints and wise people will recognise the Jeevaatmas in each and every individual, animals and insects as Paramatma.

O Kousika! now I will tell you how this Brahma Vidya will be put in practice. A wise man will never feel either happiness or sorrow. He will never show any interest in both. He will be above happiness and sorrow, likes and dislikes, heat and cold etc. Such virtuous people will take timely food, conquer their senses, does Yoga, and have inner sight and will see Paramatma in his Jeevaatma and attain eternal happiness.

Therefore, Kousika! always shed lust, desire and anger. This is safe. We have to discharge our duties in our day to day life. But we should not show any kind of interest towards the result of our Karmas. We have to shed the results of our Karma. Wise men will always act in the outside world but never aspire for any result. That is the wise path.

Our lives are not eternal and constant. We should move friendly with all. We should be kind towards others. We should content with all what we have. We should not aspire for other wealth. We have to conquer our senses. Those will attain eternal happiness.

O Kousika! I told you what all you have asked. Whatelse you require to be heard” asked Dharmavyadha.

“I learnt many things from you. I have become wiser. Now I know that you are learned” said Kousika.

“You said that I am learned. The root cause for my becoming learned is only one Dharma. I will let you know about it” so saying Dharma Vyadha took Kousika inside his house.

In side the house, in a spacious room, his father and mother were sitting in a comfortable couch. Dharmavyadha bowed before them and asked them about their welfare.

They replied “O my son! while we are having a son like you, whatelse we want. The path of Dharma you are following will always protect you. Due to you, our entire Vamsa became pure and perfect. You are a divine soul in the form of a humanbeing. You are worshipping us more than Parasuraama.” said his father. Dharmavyadha introduced Kousika to his parents.His parents enquired Kousika about his welfare.

Dharmavyadha told Kousika “These are my parents. I beame learned only by serving my parents. All will worship all Gods. I do not know other Gods. My parents are my Gods. I offer them daily fruits and food and clothes. I serve my parents along with my wife and children. My service to my parents is my Yajna.Those who worship their parents, Guru, Fire and their own soul are more virtuous people.

You have come here at the instance of that virtuous lady.I told you what all I know. But I do not like you. Because, your parents have become old. There are none to lookafter them except you. But you left them alone and came away to study Vedas. While coming, you did not even obtain their permission.

You studied Vedas and acquired much knowledge but you behaved towards your parnts cruelly. I do not like that. For your sake, your parents wept and became blind. Don’t you know that? Even now, you please go to your parents and wipe their tears. All the knowledge you acquired by studying Vedas and the Punya you acquired have become waste as you have neglected your parents. Please go and serve your parents. Wish you all the best” said Dharmavyadha.

"You are right. I will go back to my parents and serve them rest of my life. Due to my fortune, I got a friend like you. I am very happy. You taught me many things and I beame pure due to your teachings. All will not get the path of Dharma in this world. One in ten thousand only will follow the path of Dharma. Even that is doubtful. There are none who followed the path of Dharma like you. I never treat you as Sudra. You know past and future. Kindly tell me the reason for this Sudra birth.” asked Kousika.

“Sure I will tell you about my previous birth. In my previous birth, I was a Brahmin. I studied Vedas. One prince was my friend. I also learnt archery. One day, myself and the prince went to forest for hunting.We both killed many animals.The arrow which was released by me hit a saint who was sitting by the side of a bush. He fell down and was rolling on the ground with pain.

“You were born as Brahmin but you are acting like a Kshatriya. You will take birth as a hunter who kills animals.” cursed that Saint.”

I bowedbefore him and prayed “O Saint! It is a mistake done by me. I have not hit you voluntarily. Kindly pardon me”

He showed mercy on me. “My Saapa is irrevocable. Even if you take birth as hunter, but you lead your life as a learned man. You serve your parents and lead a virtuous life. As you will be serving your parents, you will have the knowledge of your previous birth. In the next birth, you will born as a Brahmin.” said that saint.

Then I took out the arrow from the body of the saint and took him to his Ashram and applied medicine to his wounds. He was out of danger. But I got this hunter birth” said Dharmavyadha.

“Even if you are born as a hunter, you are behaving as a Brahmin.No doubt, you are a Brahmin. Even if a person is born as a Brahmin, if he commits sins, he is worst than a Sudra. Even if a person was born as a Sudra, if he follows the path of Truth, cleanliness and virtue, he is equivalent to a good brahmin.

Dont feel sad that you have taken birth as a hunter.By virtue of our good and bad deeds, we will get good and bad life. But very leanred men will feel both of them equally. They drive away bad things by doing good things.

Foolish men will always feel seriously sad if any untoward thing happens. With that, out mental agony will increase. Therefore, wisemen never feel sad when they are in troubles. Similarly, they never feel overjoy whenever they get favourable results.

We should not feel sorry for the past and future deeds. We should always feel happy. If a person is in sorrowful mood, he cannot even perform good deeds because he loses his wisdom. Therefore, one should not feel depressed while in troubles and should try to get rid of those troubles. Therfore, treat all alike and be a wise man” consoled Kousika.

After taking leave from Dharma Vyadha, Kousika proceeded to his place and looked after his parents and served them rest of his life.

Therefore, Dharmaja! I told you about the virtuous ladies who serve their husbands, virtuous people who serve their parents, and how a person born in low caste also follow the virtuous path.” told saint Markandeya.