(1) S'rî S'uka said: 'Hearing the narration that is discussed in the assemblies of the saints, inquired Yudhishthhira, the greatest of their lead after him, [Prahlâda] the master of the Daityas so faithful to the Lord who covers the world in a step [Urukrama], greatly pleased again of that son of Brahmâ [Nârada]. (2) S'rî Yudhishthhira said: 'O great Lord, I would like to hear about the sanâtana dharma [the usual, eternal, common duties] of our human society belonging to the ordinance of the statusoriëntations [varnâs'rama] from which the people in general in peace may enjoy the better life. (3) You, my Lord, are directly the son of our original father, the supreme person within this universe [Brahmâ]; of all his sons are you considered the best in austerity, yoga and meditation. (4) Of the ones devoted to Nârâyana being the most learned do you know the most confidential and supreme of dharma; no one of the devoted is as merciful, exalted and peaceful as you are.'
(5) S'rî Nârada said: 'I offer my obeisances to the Supreme Lord Unborn who throughout the universe defends the dharma; I will expound on sanâtana dharma the way I heard it from the mouth of Nârâyana. (6) He who, begotten by Dharma Mahârâja in the womb of Daksha's daughter [Mûrti], descended [as Nârâyana] along with a part of Himself [Nara], executes for the benefit of all people austerities in Badarikâs'rama [the Himalayan resort for meditation]. (7) The root of all dharma, the essence of all vedic knowledge indeed is Bhagavân, the Supreme Being, who with the help of the scriptures is commemorated [with the s'ruti or the Vedas and the smrti or the scriptures following] by all the knowers of the Reality, o King, and by this principle become the mind and soul fully satisfied. (8-12) Truthfulness, compassion, austerity, cleanliness, tolerance, discrimination, composure, continence, nonviolence, celibacy, generosity, scriptural study, rectitude, contentment, service to the holy, gradually cutting with the unnecessary and being critical about the waste of human opposing; gravity, self-search, to share food and drink with all beings, to consider everyone first of all as being part of God and, o Pândava, to listen and to sing with one's fellow man as well as to remember Him who is the shelter of all the great; to be of service, to worship and to propitiate, to be a servant, to be a friend and to be of surrender; for all human beings is this the highest principle: to possess all these thirty characteristics, o King, which please the Soul of All [compare B.G. 12: 13-20]. (13) They who by unbroken reform [with so called samskâras], by accepting a guru and with the support of the Unborn One [Brahmâ], are of worship, study and charity, and whose ways were purified by the birth they took and by what they did, are the twice-born [dvijas] who are advised to behave according the status of their [age-related] spiritual department [or âs'rama]. (14) For the brahmins there are the six to the Vedas [to study and teach, worship and model and give and receive in charity] and for the rest [the other occupations] are there the same six minus the acceptance of charity; the means of livelihood for the rulers who maintain the people consists of levying taxes and such from those who do not belong to the ones motivated inward [the brahmins]. (15) The vais'yas [merchants] are to be engaged in agricultural activities and trade and should always follow what the brahmins teach, while the s'ûdras [the laborers] for their livelihood as their master of instruction have to accept the three types of twice-born ones above them. (16) Of the four different means of existence for the learned brahmin, of a livelihood achieved without effort [s'âlîna], what one gets as a mendicant [yâyâvara], what one finds as leftovers in the fields [s'ila], or what is not wanted by others in shops [uñchana] are to this the latter means better than the former. (17) Except for times of emergency, may a lower man for his livelihood when everything is secure not take to the higher of each status and certain occupation. (18-20) By rita or amrita one may live, by mrita or pramrita or even by satyânrita, but never by living as a dog. Rita is the living on leftovers one says, of amrita is what is obtained without begging, of mrita is the begging as a mendicant while pramrita, so is recalled, is of the eating of one's own field. To be of satyânrita is to trade but to be of service to the low is for the brahmins and the kshatriyas well acquainted with the Veda the reprehensible business of dogs [s'va-vrittih] that should be given up; the wise and the leaders of state represent all the gods [see also B.G. 4: 13]. (21) The brahmin is known for his control of mind and senses, his penance, cleanliness, peacefulness, forgiveness, straightforwardness, spiritual knowledge and compassion, his service to the Absolute of the Lord and his truthfulness. (22) A kshatriya makes his mark with fighting skill, heroism, resolution, strength, charity, restraint, forgiveness, loyalty to the brahminical, being well tempered and loving the truth. (23) A vais'ya is known for his devotion unto the godly, the guru and the Godhead, the three virtues [of dharma, artha and kâma], his following to the injunctions and his constant effort and expertise. (24) Of the s'ûdra is there obedience, cleanliness, service to the master, single-mindedness, sacrifice without further prayer, truthfulness, protection of cows and brahmins and certainly no misappropriation.
(25) Following him in his vows, being regular, favorably disposed to her husband as well as to his friends and relatives and readiness one finds with a woman in divine respect with her husband [see too B.G. 1: 40]. (26-27) She is of cleaning, mopping and decorating the house as a housewife and is personally finely dressed in her clothes and has her household articles always clean; to the small and great desires of her husband is she a chaste and modest woman of sense control as well as of controlled speech and she is veritable, pleasing, loving and of respect for her husband when it is called for. (28) Of contentment, not greedy, expert in serving, knowing what is dharma, kind, speaking the truth, attentive, pure and affectionate, should she worship the husband as long as he is straight with her. (29) Any woman who accepts her husband as the Supreme Personality is of service exactly like the Goddess of Fortune; devoted is she to the spirit of Hari with her husband in the spiritual world of Vaikunthha just like Lakshmî enjoying the eternal herself. (30) Of the ones born from a mix of class [pratilomaja with a lower man and anulomaja with a higher man] is there according the family tradition the duty not to be of the theft and sin of the lower outcast.
(31) In general is the dharma to one's own material position in society in every age [yuga] by the brahmin recognized, o King, as being auspicious for as well one's present life as the life hereafter [see also B.G. 3: 25]. (32) Existing from one's occupation according one's own mode of action may one with heartening one's own business in giving up the karma that belongs to that particular way, gradually attain the transcendental position. (33-34) A field over and over cultivated may exhausted fall barren not being suitable for further harvesting from seeds sown; similarly with a mind full of lusty desires over and over [in one's position] enjoying the objects of one's desires may one become dispassionate, o King, like small drops of ghee that are lost in a fire (35) And if with a person the symptoms indicating a certain class other than his own are observed, should one for sure also designate him according that observation [in other words: he who behaves like a brahmin e.g. must be considered as one].'