four orders are holy. All the orders bear towards
one another to relation of consanguinity, through the
intermediate classes. They have all sprung from
Brahmanas. In ascertaining (the priority or subsequence
of men in respect of their creation) it will appear
that amongst all the orders the Brahmana was created
first. Originally Saman was one; Yajus was one,
and Rich was one. In this connection, persons
conversant with ancient histories cite a verse, O
king, sung in praise of sacrifice by the Vaikhanasa
Munis on the occasion of performing a sacrifice of
theirs. Before or after sunrise a person of subdued
senses, with heart filled with devotion, poureth libations
on the (sacrificial) fire according to the ordinance.
Devotion is a mighty agent. With regard to homas
again, that variety which is called skanna is the
initial one, while that which is called askanna is
the last (but foremost in point of merit). Sacrifices
are multifarious. Their rites and fruits again
are multifarious. The Brahmana possessed of devotion
who, endued with scriptural learning, who is acquainted
with them all, is competent to perform sacrifices.
That person who desires to perform a sacrifice is
regarded as righteous even if he happens to be a thief,
a sinner, or the worst of sinners. The Rishis
applaud such a man. Without doubt they are right.
This then is the conclusion that all the orders should
always and by every means in their power perform sacrifices.
There is nothing in the three worlds equal to sacrifice.
Therefore, it has been said that every one with heart
free from malice, should perform sacrifices, aided
by devotion which is sacred, to the best of his power
and according as he pleases.’”
“Bhishma said, ’O mighty-armed one, listen
now to me, O thou of prowess incapable of being baffled,
as I mention the names of the four modes of life and
the duties in respect of each. The four modes
are Vanaprastha, Bhaikshya, Garhasthya of great merit,
and Brahmacharya which is adopted by Brahmanas.
Undergoing the purificatory rite in respect of bearing
matted locks, after having gone through the rite of
regeneration and performed for some time the rites
in respect of the sacred fire and studied the Vedas,
one should, with cleansed soul and senses under restraint,
having first carefully performed all the duties of
the mode called Garhasthya, proceed, with or without
his wife, to the woods for adoption of the mode called
Vanaprastha. Having studied the scriptures called
Aranyakas, having drawn up his vital fluid and having
retired from all worldly affairs, the virtuous recluse
may then attain to an absorption with the eternal
Soul knowing no decay. These are the indications
of Munis that have drawn up their vital fluid.
A learned Brahmana, O king, should first practise
and perform them. The Brahmana, O king, that
is desirous of emancipation, it is well known, is competent