From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CLVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Addressing King Yudhishthira
Bhishma said: I shall now tell thee of those who are
called good and whose practice are pure.
They who have no fear of an obligation to return to this world (after death), they who have no fear of the next world, they who are not addicted to animal food and who have no liking for what is agreeable and no dislike for what is otherwise, they to whom good behaviour is ever dear, they in whom there is self-restraint, they to whom pleasure and pain are equal, they who have truth for their high refuge, they who give but not take, they who have compassion, they who worship Pitris (deceased ancestors), gods and guests, they who are always ready to exert themselves for the good of others, they who are universal benefactors, they who are possessed of great courage (of mind), they who observe all the duties laid down in the scriptures, they that are devoted to the good of all, they who can give their all and lay down their very lives for others, are regarded as good and virtuous.
Those promoters of righteousness are incapable of being forced away from the path of virtue. Their conduct, conformable to the model set by the righteous men of old, can never be otherwise.
They are perfectly fearless, they are tranquil, they are mild, and they always adhere to the right path. Full of compassion, they are always worshipped by the good. They are free from lust and anger. They are not attached to any worldly object. They have no pride. They are observant of excellent vows. They are always objects of regard. Do thou, therefore, O Yudhishthira, always wait upon them and seek instruction from them. They never acquire virtue for the sake of wealth or of fame. They acquire it on the other hand, because it is a duty like that of cherishing the body.
Fear, wrath, restlessness and sorrow do not dwell in them.
There is not the outward garb of religion for misleading their fellowmen. There is no mystery with them. They are perfectly contented. There is no error of judgment arising from covetousness. They are always devoted to truth and sincerity.
Their hearts never fall from righteousness. Thou should show thy regard for them always, O son of Kunti!
They are never delighted at any acquisition or pained at any loss. Without attachment to anything, and freed from pride, they are wedded to the quality of goodness, and they cast an> equal eye on all. Gain and loss, weal and woe, the agreeable and the disagreeable, life and death, are equal in the eyes of those men of firm tread, engaged in the pursuit of (divine) knowledge, and devoted to the path of tranquillity and righteousness.
Keeping thy senses under restraint and without yielding to heedlessness, thou should always worship those high-souled persons who bear such love for virtue. O blessed one, one’s words become productive of good only through the favour of the gods. Under other circumstances, words produce evil consequence.
[Note: This is how Neelkantha, the scholar and translator of Mahabharata, explains the last line: Bhishma is anxious about the effect of his instructions. Bhishma says that those instructions would bear fruit if the gods will it; otherwise, his words would go for nothing, however carefully he might speak.]
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