The Mahabharata Home
"Bharadwaja said, 'If it is the wind that keeps us alive, if it is the wind that causes us to move and exert, if it is the wind that causes us to breathe and to speak, then it seems that life is worth little. If the animal heat (that digests all food) be of the nature of fire, and if it is that fire which assists at digestion by dissolving the food we take, then life is worth little. When an animal dies, that which is called its life is never seen leaving it. Only the breath leaves it, and the internal heat becomes extinguished. If life were nothing else, than wind, or if life depended only on the wind, then it could have been seen like the external sea of air, and when passing out it would have mingled with that air. If life dependest upon air, and if it ended with the escape of that air from the body, it would then mingle with another portion of air (that exists externally) like a portion of water escaping into the great ocean and thereby only changing the place of its residence. If a quantity of water be thrown into a well, or if the flame of a lamp be thrown into a blazing fire, either of them, entering a homogeneous element, loses its independent or separate existence. If life were air, it also, when the animal died, would mingle with the great ocean of air outside. How can we say that there is life in this animal body which is made up of the five (primal) elements? If one of those elements disappear, the union of the other four becomes dissolved. The element of water drieth up if food be not taken. The element of air disappears if the breath be restrained. The element of space disappears if the excretions cease. So also the element of fire becomes extinguished if food does not go in. The element of earth breaks in pieces in consequence of diseases, wounds, and other sufferings. If only one of the five becomes afflicted, the union, being dissolved, the five go away into five different directions. When the body which is a union of the elements, becomes separated into five ingredients, whither doth life go? What doth it then know? What doth it then hear? What doth it then say? This cow (that is given away to a holy Brahmana), it is said, will rescue me in the other world. The animal, however, that is given away, itself dies. Whom then will this cow rescue? The taker of the cow (in gift) and the
giver are both equal (in being both subject to death). Both of them meet with extinction in this world. How then will they meet again? How will the person that has been eaten up by birds, or that has been broken in pieces by a fall from a mountain summit, or that has been consumed by fire, regain life? The root of a tree that has been cut down does not grow up again. Only the seeds put forth sprouts. Where is the person who having died comes back (to some sort of new existence)? Only seeds were originally created. All this universe is the result of seeds in succession. They that die, die to perish Seeds result from seeds.'"
Next: Section CLXXXVII