and other seeds of rice are all living organisms.
What is thy opinion on this matter? Men, O Brahmana,
hunt wild animals and kill them and partake of their
meat; they also cut up trees and herbs; but, O Brahmana,
there are numberless living organisms in trees, in
fruits, as also in water; dost thou not think so?
This whole creation, O Brahmana, is full of animal
life, sustaining itself with food derived from living
organisms. Dost thou not mark that fish preys
upon fish, and that various species of animals prey
upon other species, and there are species the members
of which prey upon each other? Men, O Brahmana,
while walking about hither and thither, kill numberless
creatures lurking in the ground by trampling on them,
and even men of wisdom and enlightenment destroy animal
life in various ways, even while sleeping or reposing
themselves. What hast thou to say to this?—The
earth and the air all swarm with living organisms,
which are unconsciously destroyed by men from mere
ignorance. Is not this so? The commandment
that people should not do harm to any creature, was
ordained of old by men, who were ignorant of the true
facts of the case. For, O Brahmana, there is
not a man on the face of this earth, who is free from
the sin of doing injury to creatures. After full
consideration, the conclusion is irresistible that
there is not a single man who is free from the sin
of doing injury to animal life. Even the sage,
O good Brahmana, whose vow is to do harm to no creature,
doth inflict injury to animal life. Only, on
account of greater needfulness, the harm is less.
Men of noble birth and great qualities perpetrate
wicked acts in defiance of all, of which they are
not at all ashamed. Good men acting in an exemplary
way are not commended by other good men; nor are bad
men acting in a contrary way praised by their wicked
compeers; and friends are not agreeable to friends,
albeit endowed with high qualities; and foolish pedantic
men cry down the virtues of their preceptors.
This reversal of the natural order of things, O good
Brahmana, is seen everywhere in this world. What
is thy opinion as to the virtuousness or otherwise
of this state of things? There is much that can
be said of the goodness or badness of our actions.
But whoever is addicted to his own proper occupation
surely acquires great reputation."’”
“Markandeya continued, ’O Yudhishthira,
the virtuous fowler, eminent in pity, then skilfully
addressed himself again to that foremost of Brahmanas,
saying, “It is the dictum of the aged that the
ways of righteousness are subtle, diverse and infinite.
When life is at stake and in the matter of marriage,
it is proper to tell an untruth. Untruth sometimes
leads to the triumph of truth, and the latter dwindles
into untruth. Whichever conduces most to the
good of all creatures is considered to be truth.
Virtue is thus perverted; mark thou its subtle ways.