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The practice of self-restraint by The Mahabharata

 

The Mahabharata,
Santi Parva Section CCXX
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

King Yudhishthira said: By doing what does one acquire happiness, and what is that by doing which one meets with woe? What also is that, O Bharata, by doing which one becomes freed from fear and sojourns here crowned with success (in respect of the objects of life)?

Bhishma said: The ancients who had their understandings directed to the Srutis (Vedas), highly applauded the duty of self-restraint for all the orders generally but for the Brahmanas in especial. Success in respect of religious rites never occurs in the case of one that is not self-restrained. Religious rites, penances, truth,- all these are established upon self-restraint. Self-restraint enhances one’s energy. Self-restraint is said to be sacred. The man of self-restraint becomes sinless and fearless and wins great results. One that is self-restrained sleeps happily and wakes happily. He sojourns happily in the world and his mind always remains cheerful. Every kind of excitement is quietly controlled by self-restraint. One that is not self-restrained fails in a similar endeavour.

The practice of self-restraint is distinguished above all other virtues.

The man of self-restraint beholds his innumerable foes (in the form of lust, desire and wrath, etc.), as if these dwell in a separate body. Like tigers and other carnivorous beasts, persons destitute of self-restraint always inspire all creatures with dread. For controlling these men, the Self-born (Brahman) created kings. In all the four modes of life, the practice of self-restraint is distinguished above all other virtues. The fruits of self-restraint are much greater than those obtainable in all the modes of life.

I shall now mention to thee the indications of those persons who prize self-restraint highly. They are nobility, calmness of disposition, faith, forgiveness, invariable simplicity, the absence of garrulity, humility, reverence for superiors, benevolence, compassion for all creatures, frankness, abstention from talk upon kings and men in authority, from all false and useless discourses, and from applause and censure of others. The self-restrained man becomes desirous of emancipation and, quietly bearing present joys and griefs, is never exhilarated or depressed by prospective ones.

Destitute of vindictivenes and all kinds of guile, and unmoved by praise and blame, such a man is well-behaved, has good manners, is pure of soul, has firmness or fortitude, and is a complete master of his passions. Receiving honours in this world, such a man in after-life goes to heaven. Causing all creatures to acquire what they cannot acquire without his aid, such a man rejoices and becomes happy.
[Note: Giving food and clothes to the poor and needy in times of scarcity is referred to].
Devoted to universal benevolence, such a man never cherishes animosity for any one. Tranquil like the ocean at a dead calm, wisdom fills his soul and he is never cheerful. Possessed of intelligence, and deserving of universal reverence, the man of self-restraint never cherishes fear of any creature and is feared by no creature in return.

That man who never rejoices even at large acquisitions and never feels sorrow when overtaken by calamity, is said to be possessed of contented wisdom. Such a man is said to be self-restrained. Indeed, such a man is said to be a regenerate being. Versed with the scriptures and endued with a pure soul, the man of self-restraint, accomplishing all those acts that are done by the good, enjoys their high fruits.

They, however, that are of wicked soul never betake themselves to the path represented by benevolence, forgiveness, tranquillity, contentment, sweetness of speech, truth, liberality and comfort. Their path consists of lust and wrath and cupidity and envy of others and boastfulness.

Subjugating lust and wrath, practising the vow of Brahmacharya (celibacy) and becoming a complete master of his senses, the Brahmana, exerting himself with endurance in the austerest of penances, and observing the most rigid restraints, should live in this world, calmly waiting for his time like one seeming to have a body though fully knowing that he is not subject to destruction.

 

 

Published with the kind permission of www.hinduism.co.za.

 

Their ‘Understanding Hinduism’ website is an award winning site featuring a whole host of various articles promoting Hinduism. It truly is a wonderful, thoughtful and thought provoking work and a true beacon for the promotion of Hinduism and Vedic culture in the world today.

 

Please visit their enlightening website at www.hinduism.co.za.

 

Copyright reserved by the author.

 

For more information, please visit this articles web page.
This article was published on Wednesday 27 May, 2009.
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