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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,319 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 4.
kindness that are natural to the Brahmana.  Hearing these harsh words of the she-ass, Matanga quickly, came down from the car and addressing the she-ass, said,—­Tell me, O blessed dame, by what fault is my mother stained?  How dost thou know that I am a Chandala?  Do thou answer me without delay.  How, indeed, dost thou know that I am a Chandala?  How has my status as a Brahmana been lost?  O thou of great wisdom, tell me all this in detail, from beginning to end.’

“The she-ass said, Begotten thou wert, upon a Brahmana woman excited with desire, by a Sudra following the profession of a barber.  Thou art, therefore, a Chandala by birth.  The status of Brahmana thou hast not at all.’

“Brahmana continued, ’Thus addressed by the she-ass, Matanga retraced his way homewards.  Seeing him return, his father said,—­I had employed thee in the difficult task of gathering the requisites of my intended sacrifice.  Why hast thou come back without having accomplished thy charge?  Is it the case that all is not right with thee?

“Matanga said, ’How can he who belongs to no definite order of birth, or to an order that is very low be regarded as all right and happy?  How, O father, can that person be happy whose mother is stained?  O father, this she-ass, who seems to be more than a human being, tells me that I have been begotten upon a Brahmani woman by a Sudra.  I shall, for this reason, undergo the severest penances.—­Having said these words to his father, and firmly resolved upon what he had said he proceeded to the great forest and began to undergo the austerest of penances.  Setting himself to the performance of those penances for the purpose of happily acquiring the status of a Brahmana, Matanga began to scorch the very deities by the severity of his asceticism.  Unto him thus engaged in penances, the chief of the celestials, viz., Indra, appeared and said,—­Why, O Matanga, dost thou pass thy time in such grief, abstaining from all kinds of human enjoyments?  I shall give thee boons.  Do thou name the boons thou desirest.  Do not delay, but tell me what is in thy breast.  Even if that be unattainable, I shall yet bestow it on thee.’

“Matanga said, ’Desirous of attaining to the status of Brahmana I have begun to practise these penances.  After having obtained it, I shall go home.  Even this is the boon solicited by me.’

“Bhishma continued, ’Hearing these words of his, Purandara said unto him.  The status of a Brahmana, O Matanga, which thou desirest to acquire is really unattainable by thee.  It is true, thou desirest to acquire it, but then it is incapable of acquisition by persons begotten on uncleansed souls.  O thou of foolish understanding, thou art sure to meet with destruction if thou persistest in this pursuit.  Desist, therefore, from this vain endeavour without any delay.  This object of thy desire, viz., the status of a Brahmana, which is the foremost of everything, is incapable of being won by penances.  Therefore, by coveting that foremost status, thou wilt incur sure destruction.  One born as a Chandala can never attain to that status which is regarded as the most sacred among the deities and Asuras and human beings!’”

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