The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Discontent, heedless attachment to earthly goods, the absence of tranquillity, might, folly, vanity, and anxiety,--affected by these sins, O Bhima, thou covetest sovereignty. Freed from desire, prevailing over joy and grief and attaining to tranquillity, strive thou to be happy. That peerless monarch who will govern this unbounded earth, will have but one stomach. Why dost thou then applaud this course of life? One's desires, O bull of Bharata's race, are incapable of being filled in a day, or in many months. Desire, which is incapable of gratification, cannot, indeed, be fitted in course of one's whole life. Fire, when fed with fuel, blazeth forth; when not so fed, it is extinguished. Do thou, therefore, extinguish with little food the fire in thy stomach when it appears. He that is bereft of wisdom seeks much food for his stomach. Conquer thy stomach first. (Thou shalt then be able to conquer the Earth). The earth being conquered, that which is for thy permanent good will then be won by thee. Thou applaudest desires and enjoyments and prosperity. They, however, that have renounced all enjoyments and reduced their bodies by penances, attain to regions of beatitude. The acquisition and preservation of kingdom is attended with both righteousness and unrighteousness. The desire for them exists in thee. Free thyself, however, from thy great burthens, and adopt renunciation. The tiger, for filling one stomach of his, slaughters many animals. Other animals destitute of strength and moved by covetousness live upon the tiger's prey. 2 If kings, accepting earthly
possessions, practise renunciation, they can never have contentment. Behold the loss of understanding that is noticeable in them. As a matter of fact, however, they who subsist on leaves of trees, or use two stones only or their teeth alone for husking their grain, or live upon water only or air alone, succeed in conquering hell. 1 That king who rules this wide unbounded earth, and that person who regards gold and pebbles equally, amongst these two, the latter is said to have attained the object of his life and not the former. Depending, therefore, upon that which is the eternal refuge of joy both here and hereafter, cease thou to act and hope with respect to thy wishes and cease to bear attachment to them. They that have given up desire and enjoyment have never to grieve. Thou, however, grievest for enjoyments. 2 Discarding desire and enjoyment, thou mayst succeed in liberating thyself from false speech. 3 There are two well-known paths (for us), viz., the path of the Pitris and the path of the gods. They that perform sacrifices go by the Pitri-path, while they that are for salvation, go by the god-path. 4 By penances, by Brahmacharya, by study (of the Vedas), the great Rishis, casting off their bodies, proceeded to regions that are above the power of Death. Worldly enjoyments have been styled as bonds, They have also been called Action. Liberated from those two sins (viz., bonds and action), one attains to the highest end. Mention is made of a verse sung (of old) by Janaka who was freed from the pairs of opposites, liberated from desire and enjoyments, and observant of the religion of Moksha. That verse runs thus: 'My treasures are immense, yet I have nothing! If again the whole of Mithila were burnt and reduced to ashes, nothing of mine will be burnt!' As a person on the hill-top looketh down upon men on the plain below, so he that has got up on the top of the mansion of knowledge, seeth people grieving for things that do not call for grief. He, however, that is of foolish understanding, does not see this. He who, casting his eyes on visible things, really seeth them, is said to have eyes and understanding. The faculty called understanding is so called because of the knowledge and comprehension it gives of unknown and incomprehensible things. He who is acquainted with the words of persons that are learned, that are of cleansed souls, and that have attained to a state of Brahma, succeeds in obtaining great honours. When one seeth creatures of infinite diversity to be all one and the same and to be but diversified emanations from the same essence, one is then said to have attained Brahma. 5 Those who reach this high
state of culture attain to that supreme and blissful end, and not they who are without knowledge, or they who are of little and narrow souls, or they who are bereft of understanding, or they who are without penances. Indeed, everything rests on the (cultivated) understanding!'"
30:2 The Bengal tiger acts as a fisher to both animals and men. When the tiger goes on a fishing expedition, what it usually does is to catch large fishes from shallow streams and throw them landwards far from the water's edge. The poor beast is very often followed, unperceived, by the smaller carnivorous animals, and sometimes by bands of fishermen. I have seen large fishes with the claw-marks of the tiger on them exposed for sale in a village market.
31:1 The sense seems to be that unless kings perform such penances they cannot escape hell. Such penances, however, are impossible for them as long as they are in the midst of luxuries. To accept wealth and not use it, therefore, is impracticable.
31:2 i.e., Thou art not liberated from desire.
31:3 The false speech, in this instance, consists in professing one's self to be really unattached white enjoying wealth and power, i.e., the hypocritical profession of renunciation in the midst of luxuries. As already said by Yudhishthira, such renunciation is impracticable.
31:4 The path of the Pitris means the course of Vedic rites by which one attains to bliss hereafter. The path of the gods means the abandonment of religious rites for contemplation and pious conduct.
31:5 This truth has been expressed in various forms of language in various passages of the Mahabharata. The fact is, the unification of infinite variety and its identification with the p. 32 Supreme Soul is attainment of Brahma. One, therefore, that has attained to Brahma ceases to regard himself as separate from the rest of the universe. Selfishness, the root of sin and injury, disappears from him.
Next: Section XVIII