The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'I shall now tell thee, how, when his day is gone and his night
comes, he withdraws all things unto himself, or how the Supreme Lord, making this gross universe exceedingly subtile, merges everything into his Soul. When the time comes for universal dissolution, a dozen Suns, and Agni with his seven flames, begin to burn. The whole universe, wrapt by those flames, begins to blaze forth in a vast conflagration. All things mobile and immobile that are on the earth first disappear and merge into the substance of which this planet is composed. After all mobile and immobile objects have thus disappeared, the earth, shorn of trees and herbs, looks naked like a tortoise shell. Then water takes up the attribute of earth, viz., scent. When earth becomes shorn of its principal attribute, that element is on the eve of dissolution. Water then prevails. Surging into mighty billows and producing awful roars, only water fills this space and moves about or remains still. Then the attribute of water is taken by Heat, and losing its own attribute, water finds rest in that element. Dazzling flames of fire, ablaze all around, conceal the Sun that is in the centre of space. Indeed, then, space itself, full of those fiery flames, burns in a vast conflagration. Then Wind comes and takes the attribute, viz., form of Heat or Light, which thereupon becomes extinguished, yielding to Wind, which, possessed of great might, begins to be awfully agitated. The Wind, obtaining its own attribute, viz., sound, begins to traverse upwards and downwards and transversely along all the ten points. Then Space takes the attribute, viz., sound of Wind, upon which the latter becomes extinguished and enters into a phase of existence resembling that of unheard or unuttered sound. Then Space is all that remains, that element whose attribute, viz., sound dwells in all the other elements, divested of the attributes of form, and taste, and touch, and scent, and without shape of any kind, like sound in its unmanifest state of existence. Then sound, which is the attribute of space, is swallowed up by Mind which is the essence of all things that are manifest. Thus Mind which in itself is unmanifest withdraws all that is manifested by Mind. This withdrawal of Mind as displayed into Mind as undisplayed or subtile, is called the destruction of the vast external universe. 1 Then Chandrama's having made Mind (thus) withdraw its attribute into itself, swallows it up. When Mind, ceasing to exist, thus enters into Chandramas, the other attributes that are owned by Iswara are all that remain. This Chandramas, which is called also Sankalpa, is then, after a very long time, brought under Iswara's sway, then reason being that that Sankalpa has to perform a very difficult act, viz., the destruction of Chitta or the faculties that are employed in the process called judgment. When this has been effected, the condition reached is said to be of high Knowledge.
[paragraph continues] Then Time swallows up this Knowledge, and as the Sruti declares, Time itself, in its turn, is swallowed up by Might, or Energy. Might or energy, however, is (again) swallowed up by Time, which last is then brought under her sway by Vidya. Possessed of Vidya, Iswara then swallows up non-existence itself into his Soul. That is Unmanifest and Supreme Brahma. That is Eternal, and that is the Highest of the High. Thus all existent creatures are withdrawn into Brahma. Truly hath this, which should be conceived (with the aid of the scriptures) and which is a topic of Science, been thus declared by Yogins possessed of Supreme Souls, after actual experience. Even thus doth the Unmanifest Brahma repeatedly undergo the processes of Elaboration and Withdrawal (i.e., Creation and Destruction), and even thus Brahman's Day and Night each consist of a thousand yugas.'" 1
162:1 From what has been said in the previous Sections, the reader will have no difficulty in understanding what is meant by abhivyaktatmakam manah. It is mind that is the essence of all that is abhivyakta or manifest. That mind swallows up the attribute of Space. Hence it is avyaktam, that swallows up the manaso vyaktam. This swallowing up is Brahmah sampratisancharah or destruction of the outward universe in its manifest vastness. The commentator gives the substance of the verse in these words: manahkalpito virat manasi eva liyate. From the verses that follow it would seem that the object of this section is to describe the yogin's pratyahara and not the actual dissolution of the universe.
163:1 Verses 16 and 17 are exceedingly difficult. The commentator has shown great learning in expounding them. Unfortunately, the subject is a yoga mystery, and the explanation and illustrations of the commentator refer to things beyond the reach of ordinary experience and intelligence. The words Chandramas, Kala, and Valam, and Akasa also and Ghosa (in verse 17), are technical terms of yoga. I referred the passage to more than one learned Pundit. My referees are of opinion that a yoga mystery is here expounded, which yogins alone can understand. European scholars will probably smile at the statement that there is a hidden meaning in these words. Most readers will take the verses for nonsense. Reflection, however, has convinced me that yoga is not nonsense. One who has not studied the elements of Geometry or Algebra, cannot, however intelligent, hope to understand at once a Proposition of the Principia or the theorem of De Moivre. Failing to give the actual sense, I have contented myself with giving a verbal translation.
Next: Section CCXXXIV