The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, The next morning, king Janaka, O Bharata, accompanied by his minister and the whole household, came to Suka, placing his priest in the van. Bringing with him costly seats and diverse kinds of jewels and gems, and bearing the ingredients of the Arghya on his own head, the monarch approached the son of his reverend preceptor. The king, taking with his own hands, from the hands of his priest, that seat adorned with many gems, overlaid with an excellent sheet, beautiful in all its parts, and exceedingly costly, presented it with great reverence to his preceptor's son Suka. After the son of (the Island-born) Krishna had taken his seat on it, the king worshipped him according to prescribed rites. At first offering him water to wash his feet, he then presented him the Arghya and kine. The ascetic accepted that worship offered with due rites and mantras. That foremost of regenerate persons, having thus accepted the worship
offered by the king, and taking the kine also that were presented to him, then saluted the monarch. Possessed of great energy, he next enquired after the king's welfare and prosperity. Indeed, O king, Suka embraced in his enquiry the welfare of the monarch's followers and officers also. Receiving Suka's permission, Janaka sat down with all his followers. Endued with a high soul and possessed of high birth, the monarch, with joined hands, sat down on the bare ground and enquired after the welfare and unabated prosperity of Vyasa's son. The monarch then asked his guest the object of his visit.
"Suka said, Blessed be thou, my sire said unto me that his Yajamana, the ruler of the Videhas, known all over the world by the name of Janaka, is well-versed in the religion of Emancipation. He commanded me to come to him without delay, if I had any doubts requiring solution in the matter of the religion of either Pravritti or Nivritti. He gave me to understand that the king of Mithila would dispel all my doubts. I have, therefore, come hither, at the command of my sire, for the purpose of taking lessons from thee. It behoveth thee, O foremost of all righteous persons, to instruct me! What are the duties of a Brahmana, and what is the essence of those duties that have Emancipation for their object. How also is Emancipation to be obtained? Is it obtainable by the aid of knowledge or by that of penances?
'Janaka said, Hear what the duties are of a Brahmana from the time of his birth. After his investiture, O son, with the sacred-thread, he should devote his attention to the study of the Vedas. By practising penances and dutifully serving his preceptor and observing the duties of Brahmacharyya, O puissant one, he should pay off the debt he owes to the deities and the Pitris, and cast off all malice. Having studied the Vedas with close attention and subjugated his senses, and having given his preceptor the tuition fee, he should, with the permission of his preceptor, return home. Returning home, he should betake himself to the domestic mode of life and weeding a spouse confine himself to her, and live freeing himself from every kind of malice, and having established his domestic fire. Living in the domestic mode, he should procreate sons and grandsons. After that, he should retire to the forest, and continue to worship the same fires and entertain guests with cordial hospitality. Living righteously in the forest, he should at last establish his fire in his soul, and freed from all pairs of opposites, and casting off all attachments from the soul, he should pass his days in the mode called Sannyasa which is otherwise called the mode of Brahma.
"'Suka said, If one succeeds in attaining to an understanding cleansed by study of the scriptures and to true conceptions of all things, and if the heart succeeds in freeing itself permanently from the effects of all pairs of opposites, is it still necessary for such a person to adopt, one after another, the three modes of life called Brahmacharyya, Garhastya, and Vanaprastha? This is what I ask thee. It behoveth thee to tell me. Indeed, O ruler of men, do tell me this according to the true import of the Vedas!
"'Janaka said, Without the aid of an understanding cleansed by study of the scriptures and without that true conception of all things which is known by the name of Vijnana, the attainment of Emancipation is impossible. That cleansed understanding, again, it is said, is unattainable without one's connection with a preceptor. The preceptor is the helmsman, and knowledge is the boat (aided by whom and which one succeeds in crossing the ocean of the world). After having acquired that boat, one becomes crowned with success. Indeed, having crossed the' ocean, one may abandon both. For preventing the destruction of all the worlds and for preventing the destruction of acts (upon which the world depend), the duties appertaining to the four modes of life were practised by the wise of old. By abandoning acts, good and bad, agreeably to this order of acts one succeeds, in course of many birth, in attaining to Emancipation. 1 That man who, through penances performed in course of many births, succeeds in obtaining a cleansed mind and understanding and soul, certainly becomes able to attain to Emancipation (in a new birth) in even the very first mode viz., Brahmacharyya. 2 When, having attained to a cleansed understanding, Emancipation becomes his and in consequence thereof he becomes possessed of knowledge in respect of all visible things, what desirable object is there to attain by observing the three other modes of life? 3 One should always cast off faults born of the attributes of Rajas and Tamas. Adhering to the path of Sattwa, one should know Self by Self. 4 Beholding one's self in all creatures and all creatures in one's self, one should live (without being attached to anything) like aquatic animals living in water without being drenched by that element. He who succeeds in transcending all pairs of attributes and resisting their influence, succeeds in casting off all attachments, and attains to infinite felicity in the next world, going thither like a bird soaring into the sky from below. In this connection, there is a saying sung of old by king Yayati and borne in remembrance, O sire, by all persons conversant with the scriptures bearing upon Emancipation. The effulgent ray (i.e., the Supreme Soul) exists in one's Soul and not anywhere else. It exists equally in all creatures. One can see it oneself if one's heart be devoted to Yoga. When a person lives in such a way that another is not inspired with fear at his sight, and when a person is not himself inspired with fear at the sight of others, when a person ceases to cherish desire and hate, he is then said to attain to Brahma. When a person ceases to entertain a sinful attitude towards all creatures in thought, word, and deed, he is then said to attain to Brahma. 5 By restraining the mind and the soul, by casting off malice
that stupefies the mind, and by throwing off desire and stupefaction, one is said to attain to Brahma. When a person assumes an equality of attitude in respect of all objects of hearing and vision (and the operations of the other senses) as also in respect of all living creatures, and transcends all pairs of opposites, he is then said to attain to Brahma. When person casts an equal eye upon praise and dispraise, gold and iron, happiness and misery, heat and cold, good and evil, the agreeable and the disagreeable, life and death, he is then said to attain to Brahma. One observing the duties of the mendicant orders should restrain one's senses and the mind even like a tortoise withdrawing its out-stretched limbs. 1 As a house enveloped in darkness is capable of being seen with the aid of a lighted lamp, after the same manner can the soul be seen with the aid of the lamp of the understanding. O foremost of intelligent persons, I see that all this knowledge that I am communicating to thee dwells in thee. Whatever else should be known by one desirous of learning the religion of Emancipation is already known to thee. O regenerate Rishi, I am convinced that through the grace of thy preceptor and through the instructions thou hast received, thou hast already transcended all objects of the senses. 2 O great ascetic, through the grace of that sire of thine, I have attained to omniscience, and hence I have succeeded in knowing thee. Thy knowledge is much greater than what thou thinkest thou hast. Thy perceptions also that result from intuition are much greater than what thou thinkest thou hast. Thy puissance also is much greater than thou art conscious of. Whether in consequence of thy tender age, or of the doubts thou hast not been able to dispel, or of the fear that is due to the unattainment of Emancipation, thou art not conscious of that knowledge due to intuition although it has arisen in thy mind. After one's doubts have been dispelled by persons like us, one succeeds in opening the knots of one's heart and then, by a righteous exertion one attains to and becomes conscious of that knowledge. As regards thyself, thou art one that hast already acquired knowledge. Thy intelligence is steady and tranquil. Thou art free from covetousness. For all that, O Brahmana, one never succeeds in attaining to Brahma, which is the highest object of acquisition, without exertion. Thou seest no distinction between happiness and misery. Thou art not covetous. Thou hast no longing for dancing and song. Thou hast no attachments. Thou hast no attachment to friends. Thou hast no fear in things that inspire fear. O blessed one, I see that thou castest an equal eye upon a lump of gold and a clod of earth. Myself and other persons possessed of wisdom, behold thee established in the highest and indestructible path of tranquillity. Thou stayest, O Brahmana, in those
duties which obtain for the Brahmana that fruit which should be his and which is identical with the essence of the object represented by Emancipation. What else hast thou to ask me?'"
89:1 It is certain that one must abandon all acts before one can attain to Emancipation. But then acts should not be cast off all at once. It is according to this order that they should be abandoned, i.e., in the order of the several modes.
89:2 The karanas are the inner faculties.
89:3 i.e., when Emancipation and omniscience have been attained in the very first mode of life, no further need exists for conforming to the three other modes of life.
89:4 i.e., behold the Supreme Soul by his own Soul.
89:5 Instead of papakam some texts read pavakam, meaning of the nature of fire.
90:1 After manasa, saha is understood. It does not mean that the senses are to be restrained by the mind, but the words imply that the mind and the senses are to be restrained. K. P. Singha renders the line correctly. The Burdwan translator, as usual, is careless.
90:2 K. P. Singha skips over this verse.
Next: Section CCCXXVIII