The second question was - "How does man attain heaven which is not open to ordinary mortals?"Yamadharma, who was the Lord of Dharmagave convincing answers to both these questions. His answers ran like this:
"O great sage, everyone has to engage in tapas. They should strive at achiving both internal and external purity, purityof thr body and the mind. They should lead a life of truth and righteousness, serve their parents faithfully and get freedfrom their obligation to their parents."
In answer to the second question, Yamadharma said,"A man should perform yajnas and yagas and satisfy the needy. This wouldmake the god happy. By doing so he entitles himself to reach heaven".
Yudhsitira visited Bhishma lying on the bed of arrows and on the advice of Sri Krishna he asked a number of questions pertaingto a king's duties and his obligations to his subjects and other points relating to indivitual life problems. Many other questions which he asked relate to the preceptor's orders and father's dictates. Sometimes the father who occupies theacharya's position at home orders something against the established customs and pratices. Should the son carry out such orderseven when he knows that ot was wrong? Dharmaja placed this problem before Bhishma. In answer Bhishma refered to sageGowthama and Chirakari's explanations. It happened in TrtaYuga. But what happened then applies to life at all times. Thatwas why Bhishma made references to such happenings.
Once sage Gowthama went to his early morning abltions and bath to the nearby holy lake Ahalyahrada. When he was away fromthe ashram Devendra disguised himself as Gowthama and entered the ashrama and polluted the chastity of devoted Ahalya. Whenthe sage returned he came to know what had happened. He was in a fit of rage and ordered one of his sons Chirakari to killhis mother Ahalya. He said,"Jaheeman Jananim" (kill your mother). He left the place in an angry mood. It was not an ordergiven after thinking about the rights and wrongs of the situation. Chirakari, true to his name, was a person who would notdo anything without thinking about it and discussing its prons and cons.
His problem was 'Piturajnam Katham Kuryam, nahanyam mataram Katham'
How can I carry out my father's order? How can I desist myself from killing my mother?
Finally he decided that it was better to protect the mother rather than carrying out the father's order. Therefore he didnot bother to think it at all.
Long time later, sage Gowthama realized that his wife did not make the mistake knowingly, but he had ordered his son to killher. If the son carried out his order, it would be a great sin. He was very sad and he rushed back to the ashram in thatmood. But Chirakari had not carried out his order.
Gauthama was pleased at his son's decision. The son had not acted on the spur of the moment as he had done. Infact he hadbrought his mother back to life, in a sense. Bhishma narrated this incident to Yudhistira.
Bhishma also told Yudhistira about another point of nuance of dharma in Danadharma Parva. Once sage Gauthama who followedrituals to their letter, asked Dhir Angirara about a detailed description of the hundereds and thousands of holy placesand bathing place and their greatness. In every holy bathing place one must willingly have a holy bath and that would ensureto him the best result. If on the other hand one cannot visit such holy places such a person should think of such a holyplace and have a holy bath in his thoughts. Even then he would get the benefit of having the actual bath. So saying Angirasaconcluded his explanation.
While analysing the benefits of 'giving' Bhishma quoted a discussion that took place between sage Vrishadarbhi and Saptarishis.The sages thought that whatever a king gave as a gift, to the person who received it, appeared as sweet as honey to outwardappearance; but in effect it turned out to be as dangerous as the most terrible poison. While supporting this view oneof the seven sages, Gauthama says,"Man can never satisfy his desire even by receiving everything available in this world"
'Nathalloke dravyamasti, Yallokam prathi poorayet
samudra kalpa purusho na Kodacana pooryathe
(Nothing exists in this world, that can satisfy man's desire. In this desire man is like an ocean. An ocean can never befull. So are man's desires which have no end.)
Everyone appreciated Gauthama's mature thoughts. They came to the conclusion that accepting gifts was not advisable andso hey refused to accept a king's gifts which included golden fruits. Bhishma narrated this incident to Yushishtira.One should not have the wrong notion that these seven sages are always deep in thought, discuss serious problems all the time. They observe the norms of family life, they also serve pithrus, devas, guests and those who come to them seekingshelter. Some times they indulge in lighter aspects of life such as going out for pleasure, merriment and humorous situation.Bhishma narrates to Yudishtira one such lighter aspect of their lives.