them? They, on the other hand, who have reverence
for gods and guests, who are liberal, who are fond
of good and honest men, go, in consequence of their
acts of charity, along that happy way which belongs
to persons of cleansed souls. They that have
no reverence for virtue are as vile among men as seedless
grains among corn or the gnat among birds. That
which is ordained in consequence of the acts of a
past life pursues the actor even if the latter strives
his best for leaving it behind. It sleeps when
he sleeps and does whatever else he does. Like
his shadow it rests when he rests, proceeds when he
proceeds, and acts when he acts. Whatever acts
a man does he has certainly to obtain the fruits thereof.
Death is dragging all creatures who are surely destined
to fall (into orders of existence they deserve) and
who are surely ’liable to enjoy or suffer that
which has been ordained as the consequence of their
acts. The acts of a past life develop their consequences
in their own proper time even as flowers and fruits,
without extraneous efforts of any kind, never fail
to appear when their proper time comes. After
the consequences, as ordained, of the acts of a past
life, have been exhausted (by enjoyment or sufferings),
honour and disgrace, gain and loss, decay and growth,
no longer flow or appear in respect of any one.
This happens repeatedly. A creature while still
in the mother’s womb enjoys or suffers the happiness
or the misery that has been ordained for him in consequence
of his own acts. In childhood or youth or old
age, at whatever period of life one does an act good
or bad, the consequences thereof are sure to visit
him in his next life at precisely the same period.
As a calf recognises and approaches its parent in the
midst of even a thousand kine, even so the acts of
a past life recognise and visit the doer in his new
life. Washed in water a (dirty) piece of cloth
becomes clean. Similarly, men burning in repentance
obtain endless happiness by proper penances.
Those that can take up their residence in the woods
and by performing austerities for a long period can
wash themselves of their sins, succeed in obtaining
the objects on which they set their hearts. As
no one can mark the track of birds in the sky or of
fishes in the water, similarly, the track of persons
whose souls have been cleansed by knowledge cannot
be marked by any. There is no need of any more
eloquence or any more reference to sinful acts.
Suffice it to say that one should, with proper judgment
and as befits one best, do what is for one’s
good. This is the means by which wisdom and high
felicity may be achieved.’”
“Yudhishthira said, ’Whence has this universe
consisting of mobile and immobile creatures been created?
Whom does it go to when destruction sets in?
Tell me this, O grandsire! Indeed, by whom has
this universe with its oceans, its firmament, its
mountains, its clouds, its lands, its fire, and its
wind, been created. How were all objects created?
Whence this division into separate orders of existence?
Whence are their purity and impurity, and the ordinances
about virtue and vice? Of what kind is the life
of living creatures? Where also do they go who
die. Tell us everything about this and the other