Q: How should one react to people who insult you by their rudeness and arrogance?
A: If one does not become angry when insulted by another, then he takes away all the pious merit that person may have accumulated by good deeds. In addition he transfers to the abuser his own sinful reactions. After all what is the value of praise or blame when uttered by a vulgar fool? A person who praises someone in his presence but criticizes him behind his back is no better that a dog.
Q: How should one debate with an unscrupulous person?
A: In a debate the tactics of a truthful person are limited, but a deceitful person can utilize any abominable method. However if the truthful person were to use the same tactics as his opponent, he will find himself at a greater disadvantage, for he is acting contrary to his nature. Therefore a truthful and honest person should always avoid an argument with an unscrupulous person.
Q: How should one behave towards a more powerful enemy?
A: Even though the swift current of the river can uproot and carry huge trees, the canes survive since they bend with the current. Similarly in order to survive an enemy more powerful, one must yield while staying firmly anchored to the roots.
Q: What should a weak person do if out of foolishness and pride he provokes a powerful enemy?
A: O King, the weaker person must repent and thus appease the stronger enemy.
Q: What is the origin of all sin?
A: Greed, the hankering to posses more than one’s naturally ordained quota is the origin of all sin. The desire to posses that which belongs to another is insatiable and gives rise to anger, lust, loss of judgment, arrogance, miserliness, lack of compassion, enviousness, mistrust and many other evils. Ignorance is made up of the same material as greed, though if analyzed it can be seen that ignorance also comes from greed. As one’s greed increases, his ignorance also becomes more dense.
Q: What produces the highest merit?
A: Self-restraint surpasses all other activities in this regard and is therefore considered to be the highest virtue. Because self-restraint purifies and controls every aspect of one’s life it is more important than giving in charity and the study of the Vedas. By self-restraint alone one can achieve liberation from the material world. Self-restraint comprises sense-control, freedom from anger, non-enviousness, impartiality, truthfulness, steadiness and contentment. However, the essential quality of self-restraint is austerity. Thus no good can be achieved without austerity.
Questions by Yudhisthira Maharaj
Answers by Grandsire Bhishma