Section CCXXI - Yudhishthira's Questions on Penance and Fasting

| Posted in: Hinduism Itihasa

Book index: Mahabharata (English)
This page contains a summary of the Mahabharata Section CCXXI including examples of moral lessons in daily life. The Maha-Bharata is one of the largest epics ever written containing roughly 100,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with the legendary history of ancient India and contains a large number of interwoven tales.

Short summary of the chapter:
In this story from the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira questions Bhishma about the act of consuming the remnants of sacrifices, consisting of meat and wine, for the purpose of obtaining children and heaven. Bhishma explains that those who eat such forbidden food without following Vedic rituals are considered sinful, while those who do so in observance of sacrifices and vows may ascend to heaven but eventually fall. Yudhishthira then asks about the nature of fasting and penance, to which Bhishma emphasizes that true penance involves renouncing acts, humility, and the pursuit of virtue, rather than mere fasting. He explains that one who practices true penance will be constantly fasting, leading a life of Brahmacarya, and always devoted to principles of hospitality and purity.

Bhishma further elaborates on how a person can be considered as always fasting, devoted to celibacy, subsisting on sacrificial remnants, and regardful of guests. He describes the actions and qualities that make one worthy of such titles, such as eating only at fixed hours, speaking truth and adhering to wisdom, practicing charity, and abstaining from sleep during the day. By following these guidelines, one can cultivate a lifestyle of purity, devotion, and self-discipline, ultimately leading to the attainment of heavenly rewards in the next life. Bhishma emphasizes the importance of sharing food with gods, Pitris, servants, and guests as a means to secure happiness and blessings for oneself and future generations. Through these acts of virtue and selflessness, individuals can elevate their spiritual consciousness and secure a divine destiny.

Full English translation:

This page is merely a summary which is automatically generated. If you are looking for authentic sources such as the Sanskrit text or the Full English translation of Mahabharata Section CCXXI - Yudhishthira's Questions on Penance and Fasting, have a look at the following articles:

Section CCXXI, online text

English translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

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Mahabharata (English Summary)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | ISBN-10: 8121505933

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FAQ of Mahabharata, Section CCXXI:

What is the significance of fasting in Vedic sacrifices and vows?

Fasting is considered an impediment to spiritual growth, hindering the acquisition of knowledge of the soul. True penance involves renunciation of actions and humility, leading to eternal virtues and devotion to gods and guests.

How can one be considered as always fasting and devoted to hospitality?

By following strict practices such as eating only twice a day, maintaining celibacy, speaking the truth, and showing charity, one can be regarded as always fasting. By feeding servants, guests, gods, and ancestors before oneself, a person can be seen as devoted to hospitality and virtuous living.

Daily life: Yudhishthira's Questions on Penance and Fasting:

In the story, Bhishma explains that true penance goes beyond mere fasting or following strict dietary rules. It involves acts of kindness, humility, and self-discipline. To apply this wisdom in daily life, one should strive to be honest, seek knowledge, and approach relationships with respect and restraint. Practicing moderation by eating only at regular intervals and ensuring that one’s actions are thoughtful towards others also plays a crucial role. Being charitable, feeding others before oneself, and prioritizing the well-being of guests, servants, and family are actions that lead to spiritual fulfillment and happiness. Rather than exclusively focusing on personal ascetic practices, true virtuous living is achieved through a compassionate lifestyle that respects all beings and the environment, demonstrating that the essence of penance is found in how one treats others and conducts their life responsibly and with kindness.

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