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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,884 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1.

SECTION XC

(Sambhava Parva continued)

“Ashtaka said, ’Capable of assuming any form at will, thou hast lived for a million years in the gardens of Nandana.  For what cause, O foremost of those that flourished in the Krita age, hast thou been compelled to leave that region and come hither?’ Yayati answered, ’As kinsmen, friends, and relatives forsake, in this world, those whose wealth disappears so, in the other world, the celestials with Indra as their chief, forsake him who hath lost his righteousness.’  Ashtaka said, ’I am extremely anxious to know how in the other world men can lose virtue.  Tell me also, O king, what regions are attainable by what courses of action.  Thou art acquainted, I know, with the acts and sayings of great beings.”

“Yayati answered, ’O pious one, they that speak of their own merits are doomed to suffer the hell called Bhauma.  Though really emaciated and lean, they appear to grow on Earth (in the shape of their sons and grandsons) only to become food for vultures, dogs, and jackals.  Therefore, O king, this highly censurable and wicked vice should be repressed.  I have now, O king, told thee all.  Tell me what more I shall say.’

“Ashtaka said, ’When life is destroyed with age, vultures, peacocks, insects, and worms eat up the human body.  Where doth man then reside?  How doth he also come back to life?  I have never heard of any hell called Bhauma on Earth!’

“Yayati answered, ’After the dissolution of the body, man, according to his acts, re-entereth the womb of his mother and stayeth there in an indistinct form, and soon after assuming a distinct and visible shape reappeareth in the world and walketh on its surface.  This is that Earth-hell (Bhauma) where he falleth, for he beholdeth not the termination of his existence and acteth not towards his emancipation.  Some dwell for sixty thousand years, some, for eighty-thousand years in heaven, and then they fall.  And as they fall, they are attacked by certain Rakshasas in the form of sons, grandsons, and other relatives, that withdraw their hearts from acting for their own emancipation.’

“Ashtaka asked, ’For what sin are beings, when they fall from heaven, attacked by these fierce and sharp-toothed Rakshasas?  Why are they not reduced to annihilation?  How do they again enter the womb, furnished with senses?’

“Yayati answered, ’After falling from heaven, the being becometh a subtile substance living in water.  This water becometh the semen whence is the seed of vitality.  Thence entering the mother’s womb in the womanly season, it developeth into the embryo and next into visible life like the fruit from the flower.  Entering trees, plants, and other vegetable substances, water, air, earth, and space, that same watery seed of life assumeth the quadrupedal or bipedal form.  This is the case with all creatures that you see.’

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