Brahmanas endued with Vedic lore and good conduct for
accepting gifts, the wealth possessed by wealthy people
would be useless. The ignorant Brahmana, by eating
the food that is offered to him, destroys what he
eats (for it produces no merit to him who gives it).
The food that is eaten also destroys the eater (for
the eater incurs sin by eating what is offered to
him). That ought to be properly termed an eatable
which is given away to a deserving man, in all other
cases, he that takes it makes the donor’s gift
thrown away and the receiver is likewise ruined for
his improperly accepting it. The Brahmana possessed
of learning becomes the subjugator of the food that
he eats. Having eaten it, he begets other food.
The ignorant who eats the food offered to him loses
his right to the children he begets, for the latter
become his whose food has enabled the progenitor to
beget them. Even this is the subtle fault that
attaches to persons eating other people’s food
when they have not the puissance to win that food.
The merit which the giver acquires by making the gift,
is equal to what the taker acquires by accepting the
food. Both the giver and the acceptor depend equally
upon each other. Even this is what the Rishis
have said. There where Brahmanas exist, possessed
of Vedic lore and conduct, people are enabled to earn
the sacred fruits of gifts and to enjoy them both here
and hereafter. Those men who are of pure lineage,
who are exceedingly devoted to penances, and who make
gifts, and study the Vedas, are regarded as worthy
of the most reverent worship. It is those good
men that have chalked out the path by treading on
which one does not become stupefied. It is those
men that are the leaders of others to heaven.
They are the men who bear on their shoulders the burden
of sacrifices and live for eternity.”
“Bhishma said, ’Thus addressed, the holy
one replied unto Maitreya, saying ’by good luck,
thou art endued with knowledge. By good luck,
thy understanding is of this kind! They that
are good highly applaud all righteous attributes.
That personal beauty and youth and prosperity do not
succeed in overwhelming thee is due to good luck.
This favour done to thee is due to the kindness of
the deities. Listen to me as I discourse to thee
upon what is even superior (in efficacy) to gift.
Whatever scriptures and religious treatises there
are, whatever (righteous) inclinations are observable
in the world, they have flowed in their due order,
agreeably with the lead of the Vedas, according to
their due order. Following them I applaud gift.
Thou praisest penances and Vedic lore. Penances
are sacred. Penances are the means by which one
may acquire the Vedas and heaven also. With the
aid of penances and of knowledge, one attains to the
highest fruits, we have heard. It is by penances
that one destroys one’s sins and all else that
is evil. It has been heard by us that with whatever