for it was by imparting instruction to a low-born
person a Brahmana came to grief. O best of kings,
the Brahmana should never desire to obtain instruction
from, or impart instruction to, a person that belongs
to the lowest order. Brahmanas and Kshatriyas
and Vaisyas, the three orders, are regarded as twice-born.
By imparting instruction unto these, a Brahmana does
not incur any fault. They, therefore, that are
good, should never discourse on any subject, for imparting
any instruction, before persons of the inferior order.
The course of morality is exceedingly subtile and
incapable of being comprehended by persons of uncleansed
souls. It is for this reason that ascetics adopt
the vow of silence, and being respected by all, pass
through Diksha (initiation) without indulging in speech.
For fear of saying what is incorrect or what may offend,
ascetics often forego speech itself. Even men
that are righteous and possessed of every accomplishment,
and endued with truth and simplicity of behaviour,
have been known to incur great fault in consequence
of words spoken improperly. Instruction should
never be imparted on anything unto any person.
If in consequence of the instructions imparted, the
instructed commit any sin, that sin, attaches to the
Brahmana who imparted the instruction. The man
of wisdom, therefore, that desires to earn merit,
should always act with wisdom. That instruction
which is imparted in barter for money always pollutes
the instructor. Solicited by others, one should
say only what is correct after settling it with the
aid of reflection. One should impart instruction
in such a way that one may, by imparting it, earn
merit. I have thus told thee everything respecting
the subject of instructions. Very often persons
become plunged into great afflictions in consequence
of imparting instructions. Hence it is meet that
one should abstain from giving instruction unto others.’”
“Yudhishthira said, ’Tell me, O grandsire,
in what kind of man or woman, O chief of the Bharatas,
does the goddess of prosperity always reside?’
“Bhishma said, ’I shall, in this connection,
narrate to thee what occurred and what I have heard.
Once on a time, beholding the goddess of prosperity
blazing with beauty and endued with the complexion
of the lotus, the princess Rukmini the mother of Pradyumna
that bore the device of the Makara on his banner,
filled with curiosity, asked this question in the
presence of Devaki’s son. Who are those
beings by whose side thou stayest and whom thou favours?
Who again, are those whom thou dost not bless with
favour. O thou that art dear unto Him that is
the lord of all creatures, tell me this truly, O thou
that art equal to a great Rishi in penances and puissance.
Thus addressed by the princess, the goddess of prosperity,
with a face as beautiful as the moon, and moved by
grace, in the presence of him who has Garuda on his
banner, said these words in reply that were sweet