The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Once more, laughing at Vali who was sighing like a snake, Sakra addressed him for saying something more pointed than what had said before. 3
"Sakra said, 'Formerly, attended by a train consisting of thousands of vehicles and kinsmen, thou usedst to make thy progresses, scorching all the worlds with thy splendour and regarding us as nought. Thou art now, however, deserted by both kinsmen and friends. Beholding this miserable plight that has overtaken thee, dost thou or dost thou not indulge in grief? Formerly, all the worlds were under thy sway and great was thy joy. I ask, dost thou or dost thou not indulge in grief now, for this fall of thine in respect of external splendour?'
"Vali said, 'Considering all this to be transitory,--due, indeed, to the course of time,--I do not, O Sakra, indulge in grief. These things have an end. These bodies that creatures have, O chief of celestials, are all transitory. For that reason, O Sakra, I do not grieve (for this asinine form of mine). Nor is this form due to any fault of mine. The animating principle and the body come into existence together, in consequence of their own nature. They grow together, and meet with destruction together. Having obtained this form of existence I have not been permanently enslaved by it. Since I know this, I have no cause for sorrow in consequence of that knowledge. As the final resting-place of all rivers is the ocean, even so the end of all embodied creatures is death. Those persons that know this well are never stupefied, O wielder of the thunderbolt! They, however, who are overwhelmed with Passion and loss of judgment, do not know this, they whose understanding is lost, sink under the weight of misfortune. A person who acquires a keen understanding succeeds in destroying all his sins. A sinless person acquires the attribute of Goodness, and having acquired it becomes cheerful. They, however, that deviate from the attribute of Goodness, and obtain repeated rebirths, are obliged to indulge in sorrow and grief, led on by desire and the objects of the senses. Success or the reverse, in respect of the attainment of all objects of desire, life or death, the fruits of action that are represented by pleasure or pain, I neither dislike nor like. When one slays another, one slays only that other's body. That man, who thinks that it is he who slays another, is himself slain. Indeed, both of them are ignorant of the truth, viz., he who slays and he who is slain. 1 That person, O Maghavat, who having killed or vanquished any one brags of his manliness, should know that he is not the actor but the act (of which he boasts) has been accomplished by a real agent (who is different). When the question comes as to who is it that causes the creation and the destruction of things in the world, it is generally regarded that some person (who has himself been caused or created) has caused the act (of creation or destruction). Know, however, that the person who is so regarded
has (as already said) a creator. Earth, light or heat, space, water, and wind constituting the fifth--from these do all creatures spring. (When this is known to me) what sorrow can I feel (for this change in my condition)? one that is possessed of great learning, one that has not much of learning, one that is possessed of strength, one that is destitute of strength, one that is possessed of personal beauty, and one that is very ugly, one that is fortunate and one that is not blessed by fortune, are all swept away by Time, which is too deep to be fathomed, by its own energy. When I know that I have been vanquished by Time, what sorrow can I feel (for this alteration in my circumstances)? One that burns anything burns a thing that has been already burnt. One that slays, only slays a victim already slain. One that is destroyed has been before destroyed. A thing that is acquired by a person is that which is already arrived and intended for his acquisition. This Time is like an ocean. There is no island in it. Where, indeed, is its other shore? Its boundary cannot be seen. Reflecting even deeply, I do not behold the end of this continuous stream that is the great ordainer of all things and that is certainly celestial. If I did not understand that it is Time that destroys all creatures, then, perhaps, I would have felt the emotions of joy and pride and wrath, O lord of Sachi! Hast thou come here to condemn me, having ascertained that I am now bearing the form of an ass that subsists upon chaff and that is now passing his days in a lonely spot remote from the habitations of men? If I wish, even now I can assume various awful forms beholding any one of which thou wouldst beat a hasty retreat from my presence. It is Time that gives everything and again takes away everything. It is Time that ordains all things. Do not, O Sakra, brag of thy manliness. Formerly, O Purandara, on occasions of my wrath everything used to become agitated. I am acquainted, however, O Sakra, with the eternal attributes of all things in the world. Do thou also know the truth. Do not suffer thyself to be filled with wonder. Affluence and its origin are not under one's control. Thy mind seems to be like that of a child. It is the same as it was before. Open thy eyes, O Maghavat, and adopt an understanding established on certitude and truth. The gods, men, the Pitris, the Gandharvas, the snakes, and the Rakshasas, were all under my sway in days gone by. Thou knowest this, O Vasava! Their understandings stupefied by ignorance, all creatures used to flatter me, saying, 'Salutations to that point of the compass whither Virochana's son Vali may now be staying!' O lord of Sachi, I do not at all grieve when I think of that honour (which is no longer paid to me). I feel no sorrow for this fall of mine. My understanding is firm in this respect, viz., that I will live obedient to the sway of the Ordainer. It is seen that some one of noble birth, possessed of handsome features, and endued with great prowess, lives in misery, with all his counsellors and friends. This happens because of its having been ordained. 1 Similarly, some one born in an ignoble race, devoid of knowledge, and with even a stain on his birth, is seen, O Sakra, to live in happiness with all his counsellors and friends.
This also happens because of its having been ordained. An auspicious and beautiful woman, O Sakra, is seen to pass her life in misery. Similarly, an ugly woman with every inauspicious mark is seen to pass her days in great happiness. That we have now become so is not due to any act of ours, O Sakra! That thou art now so is not due, O wielder of the thunderbolt, to any act of thine. Thou hast not done anything, O thou of hundred sacrifices, in consequence of which thou art now enjoying this affluence. Nor have I done anything in consequence of which I have now been divested of affluence, Affluence and its reverse come one after another. I now behold thee blazing with splendour, endued with prosperity, possessed of beauty, placed at the head of all the deities, and thus roaring at me. This would never be but for the fact of Time standing near after having assailed me. Indeed, if Time had not assailed me I would have today killed thee with only a blow of my fists notwithstanding the fact of thy being armed with the thunder. This, however, is not the time for putting forth my prowess. On the other hand, the time that has come is for adopting a behaviour of peace and tranquillity. It is Time that establishes all things. Time works upon all things and leads them to their final consummation. 1 I was the worshipped lord of the Danavas. Burning all with my energy, I used to roar in strength and pride. When Time hath assailed even myself, who is there whom he will not assail? Formerly, O chief of the deities, singly I bore the energy of all the twelve illustrious Adityas with thyself amongst them. It was I that used to bear up water and then to shower it as rain, O Vasava! It was I that used to give both light and heat unto the three worlds. It was I that used to protect and it was I that used to destroy. It was I that gave and it was I that took. It was I that used to bind and it was I that used to unbind. In all the worlds I was the one puissant master. That sovereign sway which I had, O chief of the celestials, is no more. I am now assailed by the forces of Time. Those things, therefore, are no longer seen to shine in me. I am not the doer (of acts that are apparently done by me). Thou art not the doer (of acts done by thee). None else, O lord of Sachi, is the doer (of those acts). It is Time, O Sakra, that protects or destroys all things. 2 Persons conversant with the Vedas say that Time (Eternity) is Brahma. The fortnights and months are his body. That body is invested with days and nights as its robes. The seasons are his senses. The year is his mouth. Some people, in consequence of their superior intelligence, say that all this (the entire universe) should be conceived as Brahma. The Vedas, however, teach, that the five sheaths that invest the Soul should be regarded as Brahma. Brahma is deep and inaccessible like a vast ocean of waters. It hath been said that it hath neither beginning nor end, and that it is both indestructible and destructible. 3 Though it is without attributes by itself, yet it enters all existent objects and as such assumes attributes. Those
persons that are conversant with truth regard Brahma as eternal. Through the action of Ignorance, Brahma causes the attributes of materiality to invest the Chit or Soul which is immaterial spirit (having knowledge only for its attribute). That materiality, however, is not the essential attribute of the Soul, for upon the appearance of a knowledge of the true cause of everything, that materiality ceases to invest the Soul. 1 Brahma in the form of Time is the refuge of all creatures. Where wouldst thou go transcending that Time? Time or Brahma, indeed, cannot be avoided by running nor by staying still. All the five senses are incapable of perceiving Brahma. Some have said that Brahma is Fire; some that he is Prajapati; some that he is the Seasons; some that he is the Month; some that he is the Fortnight; some that he is the Days; some that he is the Hours; some that he is the Morning; some that he is the Noon; some that he is the Evening; and some that he is the Moment. Thus diverse people speak diversely of him who is single. Know that he is Eternity, under whose sway are all things. Many thousands of Indras have passed away, O Vasava, each of whom was possessed of great strength and prowess. Thou also, O lord of Sachi, shalt have to pass away after the same manner. Thee, too, O Sakra, that art possessed of swelling might and that art the chief of the deities, when thy hour comes, all-powerful Time will extinguish! Time sweeps away all things. For this reason, O Indra, do not brag. Time is incapable of being quieted by either thee or me or by those gone before us. This regal prosperity that thou hast attained and that thou thinkest to be beyond comparison, had formerly been possessed by me. It is unsubstantial and unreal. She does not dwell long in one place. Indeed, she had dwelt in thousands of Indras before thee, all of whom, again, were very much superior to thee. Unstable as she is, deserting me she hath now approached thee, O chief of the deities! Do not, O Sakra, indulge in such brag again. It behoveth thee to become tranquil. Knowing thee to be full of vanity, she will very soon desert thee.'"
129:3 Pravyaharaya is explained by the commentator as prakrishtokaye.
130:1 I follow Nilakantha's gloss in rendering this verse. Hatam is explained as nirjivam deham, i.e., the body divested of Soul. He who slays another is himself slain, means that a person who regards his own self as the slayer is steeped in ignorance, for the Soul is never an actor. By thinking that he is the actor a person invests his Soul with the attributes of the body and the senses. Such a man (as already said) is Hatah or slain (i.e., steeped in ignorance). Comparing this with verse 19 of Sec. 11 of the Gita, we find that the same thing is asserted therein a slightly different way. 'He who regards the Soul as the slayer and he who regards it as slain are both mistaken. The Soul does not slay nor is slain.'
131:1 Compare this with the saying usually credited to Napoleon that St. Helena was written in the book of Fate.
132:1 The original, if literally rendered, would be 'Time cooks everything.'
132:2 Bhujyante is explained by the commentator as equivalent to palyante or samhriyante.
132:3 Brahma is indestructible as jiva or Soul, and is destructible as displayed in the form of not-Self.
133:1 I expand verse 50 for giving its sense as a literal version would be unintelligible.
Next: Section CCXXV