The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,319 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4.

SECTION XIX

“Yudhishthira said, ’I ask, O chief of Bharata’s race, what is the origin of the saying, about discharging all duties jointly at the time of a person’s taking the hand of his spouse in marriage?  Is that saying in respect of discharging all duties together, due only to what is laid down by the great Rishis in days of yore, or does it refer to the duty of begetting offspring from religious motives, or has it reference to only the carnal pleasure that is expected from such union?  I he doubt that fills my mind in this respect is very great.  What is spoken of as joint duties by the sages is in my consideration incorrect.  That which is called in this world the union for practising all duties together ceases with death and is not to be seen to subsist hereafter.  This union for practising all duties together leads to heaven.  But heaven, O grandsire, is attained to by persons that are dead.  Of a married couple it is seen that only one dies at a time.  Where does the other then remain?  Do tell me this.  Men attain to diverse kinds of fruits by practising diverse kinds of duties.  The occupations again, to which men betake themselves are of diverse kinds.  Diverse, again, are the hells to which they go in consequence of such diversity of duties and acts.  Women, in particular, the Rishis have said, are false in behaviour.  When human beings are such, and when women in particular have been declared in the ordinances to be false, how, O sire, can there be a union between the sexes for purposes of practising all duties together?  In the very Vedas one may read that women are false.  The word ‘Duty’, as used in the Vedas, seems to have been coined in the first instance for general application (so that it is applied to practices that have no merit in them).  Hence the application of that word to the rites of marriage is, instead of being correct, only a form of speech forcibly applied where application it has none.[187] The subject seems to me to be inexplicable although I reflect upon it incessantly.  O grandsire, O thou of great wisdom, it behoveth thee to expound this to me in detail, clearly and according to what has been laid down in the Sruti.  In fact, do thou explain to me what its characteristics are, and the way in which it has come to pass!’[188]

“Bhishma said, ’In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between Ashtavakra and the lady known by the name of Disa.  In days of yore Ashtavakra of severe penances, desirous of marriage, begged the high-souled Rishi Vadanya of his daughter.  The name by which the damsel was known was Suprabha.  In beauty she was unrivalled on Earth.  In virtues, dignity, conduct, and manners, she was superior to all the girls.  By a glance alone that girl of beautiful eyes had robbed him of his heart even as a delightful grove in spring, adorned with flowers, robs the spectator of his heart.  The Rishi addressed Ashtavakra and said,—­Yes, I shall bestow my daughter on thee.  Listen, however, to me.  Make a journey to the sacred North.  Thou wilt see many things there!’[189]

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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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