Then, the king
asked Markandeya: 'Do you know anybody who is more long-lived than you'? Markandeya
directed the king to an owl. The owl also, did not remember him. The owl asked him to go
to a crane, more long-lived than itself. The crane too did not know the king. It directed
the king to a tortoise. The tortoise was living in a big tank near the Himalayas. The king
asked the tortoise as to whether it remembered him. When the tortoise heard this question,
it thought for a short while and then its eyes were filled with tears.
It became very sad and with a sense of gratitude replied: " How can I
fail to remember him who performed many Yajnas and out of whose gifts this tank in which I
am living was constructed! " "Soon a heavenly chariot came and a voice was heard
in a loud tone thus: ' Go and attain your appropriate place in the Heavens" and
recited the following verse: (1) Maha- bharatha - Vana Parva - Adhyaya 199 - Sloka
13. divam sprsati bhoomimscha sabdah-punyasya karmanah yaavat sa sabdo bhavati
taavat purusha - uchyate.
In the Bhagavad Gita
The next classic is the Bhagavad Gita. It is regarded as one of the greatest books of the
world. This is a poem on the art of life,
which gives the philosophy of conduct. The essence of the Bhagavad Gita is that it
emphasizes the duty of service to others without the least tinge of egoism and without any
desire for reward or benefit to oneself. Even though it is a poem inculcating spirituality
and may be interpreted as laying emphasis on the necessity for the knowledge of the Self
or Atman, still the whole undercurrent of the Bhagavad Gita is the emphasis on the duty of
service to others.