Heaven and Hell

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Yudhishthira said: O grandsire, O thou that are possessed of great wisdom and conversant with all the scriptures. I desire to know those excellent ordinances in consequence of which mortal creatures have to travel through their rounds of rebirth. What is that conduct by following which, O king, men succeed in attaining to high Heaven, and what is that conduct by which one sinks in Hell? When abandoning the dead body that is as inert as a piece of wood or clod of earth, people proceed to the other world, what are those that follow them thither?

Bhishma said: Here comes the illustrious Vrihaspati of great intelligence! Do thou ask his blessed self. The subject is an eternal mystery. None else is capable of explaining the matter. There is no speaker like Vrihaspati.

Yudhishthira , approaching the illustrious Vrihaspati, asked him the question in proper form, desirous of knowing the truth.

Yudhishthira said: O illustrious one, thou are conversant with all duties and all the scriptures, Do thou tell me what is truly the friend of mortal creatures? Is the father, or mother, or son, or preceptor, or kinsmen, or relatives, or those called friends, that may be said to truly constitute the friend of the mortal creature? One goes to the next world, leaving one's dead body that is like a piece of wood or a clod of earth. Who is it that follows him thither?

Vrihaspati said: One is born alone, O king, and one dies alone; one crosses alone the difficulties one meets with, and one alone encounters whatever misery falls to one's lot. One has really no companion in these acts. The father, the mother, the brother, the son, the preceptor, kinsmen, relatives, and friends, leaving the dead body as if it were a piece of wood or a clod of earth, after having mourned for only a moment, all turn away from it and proceed to their own concerns. Only righteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them all. Hence, it is plain, that Righteousness is the only friend and...
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