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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.

SECTION LXXVI

“Yudhishthira said, ’I desire, O king, to hear thee discourse in detail upon those high ordinances which regulate gifts of kine, for it is by making gifts (of kine) according to those ordinances that one attains to innumerable regions of eternal felicity.’

“Bhishma said, ’There is no gift, O lord of Earth, that is higher in point of merit than the gift of kine.  A cow, lawfully acquired, if given away, immediately rescues the whole race of the giver.  That ritual which sprang for the benefit of the righteous, was subsequently declared for the sake of all creatures.  That ritual has come down from primeval time.  It existed even before it was declared.  Verily, O king, listen to me as I recite to thee that ritual which affects the gift of kine.[366] In days of yore when a number of kine (intended to be given away) was brought (before him), king Mandhatri, filled with doubt in respect of the ritual he should observe (in actually giving them away), properly questioned Vrihaspati (the preceptor of the celestials) for an explanation of that doubt.  Vrihaspati said, ’Duly observing restraints the while, the giver of kine should, on the previous day, properly honour the Brahmanas and appoint the (actual) time of gift.  As regards the kine to be given away, they should be of the class called Rohini.  The kine also should be addressed with the words—­Samange and Vahule—­Entering the fold where the kine are kept, the following Srutis should be uttered,—­The cow is my mother.  The bull is my sire. (Give me) heaven and earthly prosperity!  The cow is my refuge!—­Entering the fold and acting in this way, the giver should pass the night there.’  He should again utter the formula when actually giving away the kine.[367] The giver, thus residing with the kine in the fold without doing anything to restrain their freedom, and lying down on the bare earth (without driving away the gnats and other insects that would annoy him as they annoy the kine), becomes immediately cleansed of all his sins in consequence of his reducing himself to a state of perfect similitude with the kine.  When the sun rises in the morning, thou shouldst give away the cow, accompanied by her calf and a bull.  As the reward of such an act, heaven will certainly become attainable to thee.  The blessings also that are indicated by the Mantras will also be thine.  The Mantras contain these references to kine:  Kine are endued with the elements of strength and energetic exertion.  Kine have in them the elements of wisdom.  They are the source of that immortality which sacrifice achieves.  They are the refuge of all energy.  They are the steps by which earthly prosperity is won.  They constitute the eternal course of the universe.  They lead to the extension of one’s race.  Let the kine (I give away) destroy my sins.  They have that in them which partakes in the nature of both Surya, and Soma.  Let them be aids to my attainment of heaven. 

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