what belongs to a Brahmana. Listen now to another
mystery, unknown to all with regard to religion.
One should, endued with faith, always do the bidding
of one’s preceptor and other seniors. On
the twelfth lunar day, as also on the day of the full
moon, every month, one should make gifts unto Brahmanas
of ghee and the offerings that constitute Akshata.
Listen to me as I say what the measure is of the merit
that such a person acquires. By such an act one
is said to increase Soma and the Ocean. Vasava,
the chief of the celestials, confers upon him a fourth
part of the merits that attach to a Horse-sacrifice.
By making such gifts, a person becomes endued with
great energy and prowess. The divine Soma, well-pleased
with him, grants him the fruition of his wishes.
Listen now to another duty, together with the foundation
on which it rests, that is productive of great merit.
In this age of Kali, that duty, if performed, brings
about much happiness to men. That man who, rising
at early dawn and purifying himself by a bath, attires
himself in white robes and with the concentrated attention
makes gifts unto Brahmanas of vessels full of sesame
seeds, who makes offerings unto the Pitris of water
with sesame seeds and honey, and who gives lamps as
also the food called Krisara acquires substantial merits.
Listen to me as I say what those merits are.
The divine chastiser of Paka has ascribed these merits
to the gift of vessels of copper and brass filled with
sesame seeds. He who makes gifts of kine, he who
makes gifts of land that are productive of eternal
merit, he who performs the Agnishtoma sacrifice with
copious presents in the form of Dakshina to the Brahmanas,
are all regarded by the deities as acquiring, merits
equal to those which one acquires by making gifts
of vessels filled with sesame seeds. Gifts of
water with sesame seeds are regarded by the Pitr is
as productive of eternal gratification to them.
The grandsires all become highly pleased with gifts
of lamps and Krisara. I have thus recited the
ancient ordinance, laid down by the Rishis, that is
highly applauded by both the Pitris and the deities
in their respective regions.’”
“Bhishma said, ’The Rishis there assembled,
together with the Pitris and the deities, then, with
concentrated attention, questioned Arundhati (the
spouse of Vasishtha) who was endued with great ascetic
merit. Possessed of abundant wealth of penances,
Arundhati was equal to her husband, the high-souled
Vasishtha in energy for in both vows and conduct she
was her husband’s equal. Addressing her
they said, ’We desire to hear from thee the
mysteries of duty and religion. It behoveth thee,
O amiable lady, to tell us what thou regardest as
a high mystery.’