"Yudhishthira said, 'What men, O chief of Bharata's race, are worthy of reverent homage in the three worlds? Tell me this in detail verily. I am never satiated with hearing thee discourse on these topics.'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between Narada and Vasudeva. Beholding Narada on one occasion worshipping many foremost of Brahmanas with joined hands, Kesava addressed him saying, Whom dost thou worship? Whom amongst these
[paragraph continues] Brahmanas, O holy one dost thou worship with so great reverence? If it is a matter that I can heard of, I then wish to hear it. Do, O foremost of righteous men, tell me this!' 1
"Narada said, 'Hear, O Govinda, as to who those are whom I am worshipping, O grinder of foes. Who else is there in this world that so much deserves to hear this? I worship the Brahmanas, O puissant one, who constantly worship Varuna and Vayu and Aditya and Parjanya and the deity of Fire, and Sthanu and Skanda and Lakshmi and Vishnu and the Brahmanas, and the lord of speech, and Chandramas, and the Waters and Earth and the goddess Saraswati. O tiger of Vrishni's race, I always worship those Brahmanas that are endued with penances, that are conversant with the Vedas, that are always devoted to Vedic study, and that are possessed of high worth. O puissant one, I bow down my head unto those persons who are freed from boastfulness, who discharge, with an empty stomach, the rites in honour of the deities, who are always contented with what they have and who are endued with forgiveness. I worship them, O Yadava, that are performers of sacrifices, that are of a forgiving disposition, and self restrained, that are masters of their own senses, that worship truth and righteousness, and that give away land and kine unto good Brahmanas. 2 I bow unto them, O Yadava, that are devoted to the observance of penances, that dwell in forests, that subsist upon fruits and roots, that never store anything for the morrow, and that are observant of all the acts and rites laid down in the scriptures. I bow unto them, O Yadava, that feed and cherish their servants, that are always hospitable to guests, and that eat only the remnants of what is offered to the deities. I worship them that have become irresistible by studying the Vedas, that are eloquent in discoursing on the scriptures, that are observant of the vow of Brahmacharyya, and that are always devoted to the duties of officiating at the sacrifices of others and of teaching disciples. I worship them that are endued with compassion towards all creatures, and that study the Vedas till noon (i.e. till their backs are heated by the sun). I bow unto them, O Yadava, that strive to obtain the grace of their preceptors, that labour in the acquisition of their Vedas, that are firm in the observance of vows, that wait, with dutiful obedience, upon their preceptors and seniors, and that are free from malice and envy. I bow unto them, O Yadava, that are observant of excellent vows, that practice taciturnity, that have knowledge of Brahman, that are firm in truth, that are givers of libations of clarified butter and oblations of meat. I bow to them, O Yadava, that subsist upon eleemosynary alms, that are emaciated for want of adequate food and drink, that have lived in the abodes of their preceptors, that are averse to and destitute of all enjoyments, and that are poor in the goods of this Earth. I bow unto
them, O Yadava, that have no affection for things of this Earth, that have no quarrels to wage with others, that do not clothe themselves, that have no wants, that have become irresistible through the acquisition of the Vedas, that are eloquent in the exposition of righteousness, and that are utterers of Brahma, I bow unto them that are devoted to the practice of the duty of compassion towards all creatures, that are firm in the observance of truth, that are self-restrained, and that are peaceful in their behaviour. I bow unto them, O Yadava, that are devoted to the worship of deities and guests, that are observant of the domestic mode of life, and that follow the practice of pigeons in the matter of their subsistence. 1 I always bow unto those persons whose aggregate of three exists, without being weakened, in all their acts, and who are observant of truth and righteous behaviour, 2 I bow unto them, O Kesava, that are conversant with Brahma, that are endued with knowledge of the Vedas, that are attentive to the aggregate of three, that are free from cupidity, and that are righteous in their behaviour. I bow unto them, O Madhava, that subsist upon water only, or upon air alone, or upon the remnants of the food that is offered to deities and guests, and that are observant of diverse kinds of excellent vows. I always worship them that have no spouses (in consequence of the vow of celibacy they observe), that have spouses and the domestic fire (in consequence of the domestic mode of life they lead), that are the refuge of the Vedas, and that are the refuge of all creatures in the universe (in consequence of the compassion they feel towards them). I always bow unto those Rishis, O Krishna, that are the creators of the universe, that are the elders of the universe, that are the eldest members of the race or the family, that are dispellers of the darkness of ignorance, and that are the best of all persons in the universe (for righteousness of behaviour and knowledge of the scriptures). For these reasons, do thou also, O scion of Vrishni's race, worship every day those regenerate persons of whom I speak. Deserving as they are of reverent worship, they will when worshipped, confer happiness on thee, O sinless one. Those persons of whom I speak are always givers of happiness in this world as well as in the next. Reverenced by all, they move about in this world, and if worshipped by thee are sure to grant thee happiness. They who are hospitable to all persons that come unto them as guests, and who are always devoted to Brahmanas and kine, as also to truth (in speech and behaviour), succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who are always devoted to peacefulness of behaviour, as also they who are freed from malice and envy, and they who are always attentive to the study of the Vedas, succeed in
crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who bow unto all the deities (without showing a preference for any and thereby proving their tolerance), they who betake themselves to one Veda as their refuge, they who are possessed of faith and are self-restrained, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who worship the foremost of Brahmanas with reverence and are firm in the observance of excellent vows and practise the virtue of charity, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who are engaged in the practice of penances, they who are always observant of the vow of celibacy, and they whose souls have been cleansed by penances, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who are devoted to the worship of the deities and guests and dependants, as also of the Pitris, and they who eat the remnant of the food that is offered to deities, Pitris, guests and dependants, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who, having ignited the domestic fire, duly keep it burning and worship it with reverence and they who have duly poured libations (to the deities) in Soma-sacrifices, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles. They who behave as they should towards their mothers and fathers and preceptors and other seniors even as thou, O tiger among the Vrishnis, dost behave, succeed in crossing all calamities and obstacles--Having said these words, the celestial Rishi ceased speaking.'
"Bhishma continued. 'For these reasons, do thou also, O son of Kunti, always worship with reverence the deities, the Pitris, the Brahmanas, and guests arrived at thy mansion and as the consequence of such conduct thou art sure to attain to a desirable end!'"