The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,884 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1.
will surely perish, and by protecting this single pigeon.  O prince, thou dost not protect many lives.  The virtue that standeth in the way of another virtue, is certainly no virtue at all, but in reality is unrighteousness.  But O king, whose prowess consisteth in truth, that virtue is worthy of the name, which is not conflicting.  After instituting a comparison between opposing virtues, and weighing their comparative merits, one, O great prince, ought to espouse that which is not opposing.  Do thou, therefore, O king, striking a balance between virtues, adopt that which preponderates.’  At this the king said, ’O best of birds, as thou speakest words fraught with much good, I suspect thee to be Suparna, the monarch of birds.  I have not the least hesitation to declare that thou art fully conversant with the ways of virtue.  As thou speakest wonders about virtue, I think that there is nothing connected with it, that is unknown to thee.  How canst thou then consider the forsaking of one, seeking for help, as virtuous?  Thy efforts in this matter, O ranger of the skies, have been in quest of food.  Thou canst, however, appease thy hunger with some other sort of food, even more copious.  I am perfectly willing to procure for thee any sort of food that to thee may seem most tasteful, even if it be an ox, or a boar, or a deer, or a buffalo.’  Thereupon the hawk said, ’O great king, I am not desirous of eating (the flesh of) a boar or an ox or the various species of beasts.  What have I to do with any other sort of food?  Therefore, O bull among the Kshatriyas, leave to me this pigeon, whom Heaven hath today ordained for my food, O ruler of earth, that hawks eat pigeons is the eternal provision.  O prince, do not for support embrace a plantain tree, not knowing its want of strength.’  The king said, ’Ranger of the skies, I am willing to bestow on thee this rich province of my race, or any other thing that to thee may seem desirable.  With the sole exception of this pigeon, which hath approached me craving my protection, I shall be glad to give unto thee anything that thou mayst like.  Let me know what I shall have to do for the deliverance of this bird.  But this I shall not return to thee on any condition whatever.’”

“The hawk said, ’O great ruler of men, if thou hast conceived an affection for this pigeon, then cut off a portion of thine own flesh, and weigh it in a balance, against this pigeon.  And when thou hast found it equal (in weight) to the pigeon, then do thou give it unto me, and that will be to my satisfaction.’  Then the king replied, This request of thine, O hawk, I consider as a favour unto me, and, therefore, I will give unto thee even my own flesh, after weighing it in a balance.’

“Lomasa said, ’Saying this, O mighty son of Kunti, the highly virtuous king cut off a portion of his own flesh, and placed it in a balance, against the pigeon.  But when he found that pigeon exceeded his flesh in weight, he once more cut off another portion of his flesh, and added it to the former.  When portion after portion had been repeatedly added to weigh against the pigeon, and no more flesh was left on his body, he mounted the scale himself, utterly devoid of flesh.

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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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