“Bhishma said, ’It is laid down from those Brahmanas that are eligible as priests that they should be conversant with the Chhandas including the Samans, and all the rites inculcated in the Srutis, and that they should be able to perform all such religious acts as lead to the prosperity of the king. They should be devotedly loyal and utter agreeable speeches in addressing kings. They should also be friendly towards one another, and cast equal eyes on all. They should be devoid of cruelty, and truthful in speech. They should never be usurers, and should always be simple and sincere. One that is peaceful in temper, destitute of vanity, modest, charitable, self-restrained, and contented, possessed of intelligence, truthful, observant of vows, and harmless to all creatures, without lust and malice, and endued with the three excellent qualities, devoid of envy and possessed of knowledge, deserves the seat of Brahman himself. Persons with such qualities, O sire, are the best of priests and deserve every respect.’
“Yudhishthira said, ’There are Vedic texts about the gift of Dakshina in sacrifices. There is no ordinance, however, which lays down that so much should be given. This ordinance (about the gift of Dakshina) has not proceeded from motives connected with the distribution of wealth. The command of the ordinance, in consequence of the provision in cases of incapacity, is terrible. That command is blind to the competence of the sacrificer. The audition occurs in the Vedas that a person should, with devotion, perform a sacrifice. But what can devotion do when the sacrificer is stained by falsehood?
“Bhishma said, ’No man acquires blessedness or merit by disregarding the Vedas or by deceit or falsehood. Never think that it is otherwise. Dakshina constitutes one of the limbs of sacrifice and conduces to the nourishment of the Vedas. A sacrifice without Dakshina can never lead to salvation. The efficacy, however, of a single Purnapatra is equal to that of any Dakshina, however rich. Therefore, O sire, everyone belonging to the three orders should perform sacrifices. The Vedas have settled that Soma is as the king himself to the Brahmanas. Yet they desire to sell it for the sake of performing sacrifices, though they never wish to sell it for gaining a livelihood. Rishis of righteous behaviour have declared, agreeably to the dictates of morality, that a sacrifice performed with the proceeds of the sale of Soma serves to extend sacrifices. These three, viz., a person, a sacrifice and Soma, must be of good character. A person that is of bad character is neither for this nor for the other world. This audition has been heard by us that the sacrifice which high-souled Brahmanas perform by wealth earned by excessive physical labour, is not productive of great merit. There is a declaration in the Vedas that penances are higher than sacrifices. I shall now speak to thee of penances. O learned prince,