the means of subsistence for such Brahmanas as are
endued with eternal contentment as are thy well-wishers,
and as are gratified by only a little? As women
have one eternal duty, in this world, viz
upon and obedient service to their husbands, and as
such duty constitutes their only end, even so is the
service to Brahmanas Our eternal duty and end.
If, at sight of cruelties and other sinful acts in
Kshatriyas, the Brahmanas, O son, unhonoured by us,
forsake us all, I say, of what use would life be to
us, in the absence of all contact with the Brahmanas,
especially as we shall then have to drag on our existence
without being able to study the Vedas to perform sacrifices,
to hope for worlds of bliss hereafter, and to achieve
great feats? I shall, in this connection, tell
thee what the eternal usage is. In days of yore,
O king, the Kshatriyas used to serve the Brahmanas.
The Vaisya in a similar manner used in those days
to worship the royal order, and the Sudra to worship
the Vaisya. Even this is what is heard. The
Brahmana was like a blazing fire. Without being
able to touch him or approach his presence, the Sudra
used to serve the Brahmana from a distance. It
was only the Kshatriya and the Vaisya who could serve
the Brahmana by touching his person or approaching
his presence. The Brahmanas are endued with a
mild disposition. They are truthful in behaviour.
They are followers of the true religion. When
angry, they are like snakes of virulent poison.
Such being their nature, do thou, O Yudhishthira,
serve and attend upon them with obedience and reverence.
The Brahmanas are superior to even those that are higher
than the high and the low. The energy and penances
of even those Kshatriyas who blaze forth with energy
and might, become powerless and neutralised when they
come in contact with the Brahmanas. My sire himself
is not dearer to me than the Brahmanas. My mother
is not dearer to me than they. My grandsire,
O king, is not dearer, my own self is not dearer, my
life itself is not dearer, O king, to me than the
Brahmanas! On earth there is nothing, O Yudhishthira,
that is dearer to me than thou. But, O chief of
Bharata’s race, the Brahmanas are dearer to me
than even thou. I tell thee truly, O son of Pandu!
I swear by this truth, by which I hope to acquire
all those regions of bliss that have been Santanu’s.
I behold those sacred regions with Brahma shining
conspicuously before them. I shall repair thither,
O son, and reside in them for unending days.
Beholding these regions, O best of the Bharatas (with
my spiritual eyes), I am filled with delight at the
thought of all these acts which I have done in aid
and honour of the Brahmanas, O monarch!’”
“Yudhishthira said, ’Unto which of two
Brahmanas, when both happen to be equally pure in
behaviour, equally possessed of learning and purity,
of birth and blood, but differing from each other
in only this, viz., the one solicits and the
other does not,—I ask, O grandsire, unto
which of these two would a gift be more meritorious?”