Chapter 23. The ballad of the forbearing Brahman who remained calm and composed in the face of extreme abuse.

In the 23rd chapter, the Lord concedes that there is scarcely any pious soul in this world who can remain calm and composed in mind when agitated by abusive words uttered by the wicked, which wrankle in his heart and torment him. The Lord then narrates the story of a rich brahmin who lived in Avanthi and who was very miserly.

Though a man of means, he would spend money neither on his relatives or friends, nor on himself. His house was devoid of piety and ritual acts. Guests were not honored even with bare words. Members of his family, relatives and servants, therefore, bore ill will towards him. The five claimants to ones wealth viz the gods, the manes, subhuman species, human beings and brahmin seers, were thus alienated by him through denial. Because of their anger, he lost all his wealth, which was forcibly taken away from him by relatives, robbers, providence, the king and other human beings. He became despondent as a result having lost all his wealth and being reduced to a pitiable condition.

In a contrite mood, he regretted that wealth, which had been acquired with such great pain, was used by him neither for religious merit nor for self-gratification. He mused to himself: Generally the riches of misers, never contribute to their bodily comfort or happiness. The reward of a miser is worry and agony in this life and hell after death. Acquisition of wealth, its augmentation and protection involves tiring efforts. Spending and trying to enjoy the wealth is even more excruciating for men and impending loss of the same leads to worries and delusion.

Tendency to misappropiate others property, violence, falsehood, hypocricy, covetousness, anger, pride, arrogance, discord, animosity, distrust, a spirit of rivalry, fondness for women, love of gambling and addiction to wine-these fifteen evils found in men have their source in wealth. Having obtained this human body and that too as a brahmin, one should not waste this opportunity for liberation, in trifles like seeking wealth etc which is sure to land one in misery. Alas, I have frittered away my life in these silly pursuits.

What purpose of a man who is in the process of being devoured by death, could be served by riches or those that confer wealth on him? And what is to be gained by him through enjoyments sought after by the world or those that cater for such enjoyments? Surely Lord Sri Hari by whom I have been reduced to this predicament is pleased with me and it is through His pleasure alone that this despondency has come over me, which will enable me to cross this ocean of samsara. Therefore in what little time left to me, I shall weaken my body through tapas. Resolving thus, the brahmin undid the knots in the shape of ego sense and the feeling of myness existing in his heart and turned himself into a peaceful ascetic subsisting on alms. With his mind, senses and breath fully controlled he traveled the globe and entered the town and villages only for begging of alms and that too incognito and unattached. Seeing his untidy appearance, wicked people ill treated him in numerous insulting ways and mocked at him; others abused him in strong words and threw taunts at him.

In the face of all such indignities heaped at him he was not the least swayed from him firm sattvic path and he sang what has come to be known as Bhikshu Geeta (the song of the mendicant) which is full of wisdom and which concludes that the mind alone is the cause of our joys and sorrows, not people, nor any deity, nor the body, nor the time spirit. After narrating this story, the Lord exhorts Uddhava-“Endowed with an intellect focused on Me, therefore, control the mind by all means; such is the highest consummation of yoga.”

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