“The Earth said, ’As a clod of mud, when thrown into the great ocean quickly dissolves away, even so every kind of sin disappears in the three high attributes viz., officiation at sacrifices, teaching and receiving of gifts.
“Kasyapa said, ’The Vedas with their six branches, the Sankhya philosophy, the Puranas, and high birth, these fail to rescue a regenerate person if he falls away from good conduct.’
“Agni said, ’That Brahmana who, engaged in study and regarding himself learned, seeks with the aid of his learning to destroy the reputation of others, falls away from righteousness, and comes to be regarded as dissociated from truth. Verily regions of felicity herein-after are never attained to by such a person of destructive genius.’
“Markandeya said, ’If a thousand Horse-sacrifices and Truth were weighed in the balance, I do not know whether the former would weigh even half as heavy as the latter.’
“Bhishma continued, ’Having spoken these words, those four persons, each of whom is endued with immeasurable energy, viz., the goddess Earth, Kasyapa, Agni, and Bhrigu’s son armed with weapons, quickly went away.’
“Yudhishthira said, ’If Brahmanas observant of the vow of Brahmacharyya in this world solicit the offerings one makes (unto one’s deceased ancestors in Sraddhas) I ask, can the Sraddha be regarded well-performed, if the performer actually makes over those offerings unto such Brahmanas.
“Bhishma said, ’If, having practised the vow of Brahmacharyya for the prescribed period (of twelve years) and acquired proficiency in the Vedas and their branches, a Brahmana himself solicits the offering made in Sraddhas and eats the same, he is regarded to fall away from his vow. The Sraddha, however, is not regarded as stained in any way.’
“Yudhishthira said, ’The wise have said that duty of righteousness has many ends and numerous doors. Tell me, O grandsire, what however are the settled conclusions in this matter.’
Bhishma said, ’Abstention from injury to others, truthfulness, the absence of wrath (forgiveness), compassion, self-restraint, and sincerity or candour, O monarch, are the indications of Righteousness. There are persons who wander over the earth, praising righteousness but without practising what they preach and engaged all the while in sin. O king, He who gives unto such persons gold or gems or steeds, has to sink in hell and to subsist there for ten years, eating the while the faeces of such persons as live upon the flesh of dead kine and buffalos, of men called Pukkasas, of others that live in the outskirts of cities and villages, and of men that publish, under the influence of wrath and folly, the acts and the ommissions of others. Those foolish men who do give unto a Brahmana observant of the vow of Brahmacharyya the offerings made in Sraddhas (unto one’s deceased ancestors), have to go, O monarch into regions of great misery.’