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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.
the old.  Worship, gift, study,—­sacrifices distinguished by large gifts to the Brahmanas,—­these all equal not in merit even one-sixteenth part of that which is obtainable by the possession of a son.  The merit, O Bhishma, that is acquired by numberless vows and fasts assuredly becomes fruitless in the case of one that is childless.  Thou art childless and old and the expounder of false morality.  Like the swan in the story, thou shalt now die at the hands of thy relatives.  Other men possessed of knowledge have said this of old.  I will presently recite it fully in thy hearing.

“There lived of yore an old swan on the sea-coast.  Ever speaking of morality, but otherwise in his conduct, he used to instruct the feathery tribe.  Practise ye virtue and forego sin,—­these were the words that other truthful birds, O Bhishma, constantly heard him utter And the other oviparous creatures ranging the sea, it hath been heard by us, O Bhishma use for virtue’s sake to bring him food.  And, O Bhishma, all those other birds, keeping their eggs, with him, ranged and dived in the waters of the sea.  And the sinful old swan, attentive to his own pursuits, used to eat up the eggs of all those birds that foolishly trusted in him.  After a while when the eggs were decreasing in number, a bird of great wisdom had his suspicions roused and he even witnessed (the affair) one day.  And having witnessed the sinful act of the old swan, that bird in great sorrow spoke unto all the other birds.  Then, O thou best of the Kurus, all those birds witnessing with their own eyes the act of the old swan, approached that wretch of false conduct and slew him.

“Thy behaviour, O Bhishma, is even like that of the old swan.  These lords of earth might slay thee in anger like those creatures of the feathery tribe slaying the old swan.  Persons conversant with the Puranas recite a proverb, O Bhishma, as regards this occurrence, I shall, O Bharata, repeat it to thee fully.  It is even this:  O thou that supportest thyself on thy wings, though thy heart is affected (by the passions), thou preachest yet (of virtue); but this thy sinful act of eating up the eggs transgresseth thy speech!”

SECTION XLI

“Sisupala said,—­“That mighty king Jarasandha who desired not to fight with Krishna, saying ‘He is a slave,’ was worthy of my greatest esteem.  Who will regard as praiseworthy the act which was done by Kesava, as also by Bhima and Arjuna, in the matter of Jarasandha’s death?  Entering by an improper gate, disguised as a Brahmana, thus Krishna observed the strength of king Jarasandha.  And when that monarch offered at first unto this wretch water to wash his feet, it was then that he denied his Brahmanahood from seeming motives of virtue.  And when Jarasandha, O thou of the Kuru race, asked Krishna and Bhima and Dhananjaya to eat, it was this Krishna that refused that monarch’s request.  If this one is the lord of the universe, as this fool representeth him to be, why doth he not regard himself as a Brahmana?  This, however, surpriseth me greatly that though thou leadest the Pandavas away from the path of the wise, they yet regard thee as honest.  Or, perhaps, this is scarcely a matter of surprise in respect of those that have thee, O Bharata, womanish in disposition and bent down with age, for their counsellor in everything.”

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