“Yudhishthira said, ’In this world, you are so learned in the Vedas and Vedangas; tell me (then), what one should do to attain salvation?’
“The serpent replied, ’O scion of the Bharata’s race, my belief is that the man who bestows alms on proper objects, speaks kind words and tells the truth and abstains from doing injury to any creature goes to heaven.’
“Yudhishthira enquired, ’Which, O snake, is the higher of the two, truth or alms-giving? Tell me also the greater or less importance of kind behaviour and of doing injury to no creature.’
“The snake replied, ’The relative merits of these virtues, truth and alms-giving, kind speech and abstention from injury to any creature, are known (measured) by their objective gravity (utility). Truth is (sometimes) more praiseworthy than some acts of charity; some of the latter again are more commendable than true speech. Similarly, O mighty king, and lord of the earth, abstention from doing injury to any creature is seen to be important than good speech and vice-versa. Even so it is, O king, depending on effects. And now, if thou hast anything else to ask, say it all, I shall enlighten thee!’ Yudhishthira said, ’Tell me, O snake, how the incorporal being’s translation to heaven, its perception by the senses and its enjoyment of the immutable fruits of its actions (here below), can be comprehended.’ The snake replied, ’By his own acts, man is seen to attain to one of the three conditions of human existence, of heavenly life, or of birth in the lower animal kingdom. Among these, the man who is not slothful, who injures no one and who is endowed with charity and other virtues, goes to heaven, after leaving this world of men. By doing the very contrary, O king, people are again born as men or as lower animals. O my son, it is particularly said in this connection, that the man who is swayed by anger and lust and who is given to avarice and malice falls away from his human state and is born again as a lower animal, and the lower animals too are ordained to be transformed into the human state; and the cow, the horse and other animals are observed to attain to even the divine state.’ O my son, the sentient being, reaping the fruits of his actions, thus transmigrates through these conditions; but the regenerate and wise man reposes his soul in the everlasting Supreme Spirit. The embodied spirit, enchained by destiny and reaping the fruits of its own actions, thus undergoes birth after birth but he that has lost touch of his actions, is conscious of the immutable destiny of all born beings.