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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 LXXVIII

“Bhishma said, ’In days of yore, king Saudasa born of Ikshvaku’s race, that foremost of eloquent men, on one occasion approached his family priest, viz., Vasishtha, that foremost of Rishis, crowned with ascetic success, capable of wandering through every region, the receptacle of Brahma, and endued with eternal life and put him the following question.’

“Saudasa said, ’O holy one, O sinless one, what is that in the three worlds which is sacred and by reciting which at all times a man may acquire high merit?’

“Bhishma said, ’Unto king Saudasa who stood before him with head bent in reverence, the learned Vasishtha having first bowed unto kine and purified himself (in body and mind), discoursed upon the mystery relating to kine, a topic that is fraught with result highly beneficial to all persons.’

“Vasishtha said, ’Kine are always fragrant.  The perfume emanated by the exudation of the Amytis agallochum issues out of the bodies.  Kine are the great refuge of all creatures.  Kine constitute the great source of blessing unto all.[374] Kine are the Past and the Future.  Kine are the source of eternal growth.  Kine are the root of Prosperity.  Anything given to kine is never lost.  Kine constitute the highest food.  They are the best Havi for the deities.  The Mantras called Swaha and Vashat are forever established in kine.  Kine constitute the fruit of sacrifices.  Sacrifices are established in kine.  Kine are the Future and the Past, and Sacrifice rest on them.  Morning and evening kine yield unto the Rishis, O foremost of men, Havi for use in Homa, O thou of great effulgence.  They who make gift of kine succeed in transcending all sins which they may have committed and all kinds of calamities into which they may fall, O thou of great puissance.  The man possessing ten kine and making a gift of one cow, he possessing a hundred kine and making a gift of ten kine, and he possessing a thousand kine and making a gift of a hundred kine, all earn the same measure of merit.  The man who, though possessed of hundred kine, does not establish a domestic fire for daily worship, that man who though possessed of a thousand kine does not perform sacrifices, and that man who though possessed of wealth acts as a miser (by not making gift and discharging the duties of hospitality), are all three regarded as not worthy of any respect.  Those men who make gift of Kapila king with their calves and with vessel of white brass for milking them,—­kine, that is, which are not vicious and which while given away, are wrapped round with cloths,—­succeed in conquering both this and the other world.  Such persons as succeed in making gift of a bull that is still in the prime of youth, that has all its senses strong, and that may be regarded as the foremost one among hundreds of herds, that has large horns adorned with ornaments (of gold or silver), unto a Brahmana possessed of Vedic

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