“Yudhishthira said, ’The body and all sorts of dangers and calamities are continually at war with each other. How, therefore, will a person who is totally free from the desire of harming and who on this account will not be able to act, succeed in keeping up his body?’
“Bhishma said, ’One should, when able, acquire merit and act in such a way that one’s body may not languish and suffer pain, and that death may not come.’"
“Yudhishthira said, ’Thou, O grandsire, art our highest preceptor in the matter of all acts that are difficult of accomplishment (in consequence of the commands of superiors on the one hand and the cruelty that is involved in them on the other). I ask, how should one judge of an act in respect of either one’s obligation to do it or of abstaining from it? Is it to be judged speedily or with delay?’
“Bhishma said, ’In this connection is cited the old story of what occurred with respect to Chirakarin born in the race of Angirasa. Twice blessed be the man that reflects long before he acts. One that reflects long before he acts is certainly possessed of great intelligence. Such a man never offends in respect of any act. There was once a man of great wisdom, of the name of Chirakarin, who was the son of Gautama. Reflecting for a long time upon every consideration connected with proposed acts, he used to do all he had to do. He came to be called by the name of Chirakarin because he used to reflect long upon all matters, to remain awake for a long time, to sleep for a long time, and to take a long time in setting himself to the accomplishment of such acts as he accomplished. The clamour of being an idle man stuck to him. He was also regarded as a foolish person, by every person of a light understanding and destitute of foresight. On a certain occasion, witnessing an act of great fault in his wife, the sire Gautama passing over his other children, commanded in wrath this Chirakarin, saying, ‘Slay thou this woman.’ Having said these words without much reflection, the learned Gautama, that foremost of persons engaged in the practice of Yoga, that highly blessed ascetic, departed for the woods. Having after a long while assented to it, saying, ‘So be it,’ Chirakarin, in consequence of his very nature, and owing to his habit of never accomplishing any act without long reflection, began to think for a long while (upon the propriety or otherwise of what he was commanded by his sire to do). How shall I obey the command of my sire and yet how avoid slaying my mother? How shall I avoid sinking, like a wicked person, into sin in this situation in which contradictory obligations are dragging me into opposite directions? Obedience to the commands of the sire constitutes the highest merit. The protection of the mother again is a clear duty. The status of a son is fraught with dependence. How shall I avoid being afflicted by sin? Who