The Mahabharata Home
"YUDHISHTHIRA SAID, 'THOU hast, O grandsire, discoursed upon the auspicious duties (of person in distress) connected with the duties of kings. It behoveth thee now, O king, to tell me those foremost of duties which belong to those who lead the (four) modes of life.'
"Bhishma said, 'Religion hath many doors. The observance of (the duties prescribed by) religion can never be futile. Duties have been laid down with respect to every mode of life. (The fruits of those duties are invisible, being attainable in the next world.) The fruits, however, of Penance directed towards the soul are obtainable in this world. 1 Whatever be the object to which one devotes oneself, that object, O Bharata, and nothing else, appears to one as the highest of acquisitions fraught with the greatest of blessings. When one reflects properly (one's heart being purified by such reflection), one comes to know that the things of this world are as valueless as straw. Without doubt, one is then freed from attachment in respect of those things. When the world, O Yudhishthira, which is full of defects, is so constituted, every man of intelligence should strive for the attainment of the emancipation of his soul.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O grandsire, by what frame of soul should one kill one's grief when one loses one's wealth, or when one's wife, or son, or sire, dies.'
"Bhishma said, 'When one's wealth is lost, or one's wife or son or sire is dead, one certainly says to oneself 'Alas, this is a great sorrow!' But then one should, by the aid of reflection, seek to kill that sorrow. In this connection is cited the old story of the speech that a regenerate friend of his, coming to Senajit's court, made to that king. Beholding the monarch agitated with grief and burning with sorrow on account of the death of his son, the
[paragraph continues] Brahmana addressed that ruler of very cheerless heart and said these words, 'Why art thou stupefied? Thou art without any intelligence. Thyself an object of grief, why dost thou grieve (for others)? A few days hence others will grieve for thee, and in their turn they will be grieved for by others. Thyself, myself, and others who wait upon thee, O king, shall all go to that place whence all of us have come.'
"Senajit said, 'What is that intelligence, what is that penance, O learned Brahmana, what is that concentration of mind, O thou that hast wealth of asceticism, what is that knowledge, and what is that learning, by acquiring which thou dost not yield to sorrow?'
"The Brahmana said, 'Behold, all creatures,--the superior, the middling, and the inferior,--in consequence of their respective acts, are entangled in grief. I do not regard even my own self to be mine. On the other hand, I regard the whole world to be mine. I again think that all this (which I see) is as much mine as it belongs to others. Grief cannot approach me in consequence of this thought. Having acquired such an understanding, I do not yield either to joy or to grief. As two pieces of wood floating on the ocean come together at one time and are again separated, even such is the union of (living) creatures in this world. Sons, grandsons, kinsmen, relatives are all of this kind. One should never feel affection for them, for separation with them is certain. Thy son came from an invisible region. He has departed and become invisible. He did not know thee. Thou didst not know him. Who art thou and for whom dost thou grieve? Grieve arises from the disease constituted by desire. Happiness again results from the disease of desire being cured. From joy also springs sorrow, and hence sorrow arises repeatedly. Sorrow comes after joy, and joy after sorrow. The joys and sorrows of human beings are revolving on a wheel. After happiness sorrow has come to thee. Thou shalt again have happiness. No one suffers sorrow for ever, and no one enjoys happiness for ever. The body is the refuge of both sorrow and happiness. 1 Whatever acts an embodied creature does with the aid of his body, the consequence thereof he has to suffer in that body. Life springs with the springing of the body into existence. The two exist together, and the two perish together. 2 Men of uncleansed souls, wedded to worldly things by various bonds, meet with destruction like embankments of sand in water. Woes of diverse kinds, born of ignorance, act like pressers of oil-seeds, for assailing all creatures in consequence of their attachments. These press them like oil-seeds in the oil-making machine represented by the round of rebirths (to which they are subject). Man, for the sake of his wife (and others), commits numerous evil acts, but suffers singly diverse kinds of misery both in this and the next world. All men, attached to children and wives and kinsmen and relatives, sink in the miry sea of grief like wild elephants, when destitute of strength, sinking in a miry slough. Indeed. O lord, upon loss of wealth or
son or kinsmen or relatives, man suffers great distress, which resembles as regards its power of burning, a forest conflagration. All this, viz., joy and grief, existence and non-existence, is dependent upon destiny. One having friends as one destitute of friends, one having foes as one destitute of foes, one having wisdom as one destitute of wisdom, each and every one amongst these, obtains happiness through destiny. Friends are not the cause of one's happiness. Foes are not the cause of one's misery. Wisdom is not competent to bring an accession of wealth; nor is wealth competent to bring an accession of happiness. Intelligence is not the cause of wealth, nor is stupidity the cause of penury. He only that is possessed of wisdom, and none else, understands the order of the world. Amongst the intelligent, the heroic, the foolish, the cowardly, the idiotic, the learned, the weak, or the strong, happiness comes to him for whom it is ordained. Among the calf, the cowherd that owns her, and the thief, the cow indeed belongs to him who drinks her milk. 1 They whose understanding is absolutely dormant, and they who have attained to that state of the mind which lies beyond the sphere of the intellect, succeed in enjoying happiness. Only they that are between the two classes, suffer misery. 2 They that are possessed of wisdom delight in the two extremes but not in the states that are intermediate. The sages have said that the attainment of any of these two extremes constitutes happiness. Misery consists in the states that are intermediate between the two. 3 They who have succeeded in attaining to real felicity (which samadhi can bring), and who have become free from the pleasures and pains of this world, and who are destitute of envy, are never agitated by either the accession of wealth or its loss. They who have not succeeded in acquiring that intelligence which leads to real felicity, but who have transcended folly and ignorance (by the help of a knowledge of the scriptures), give way to excessive joy and excessive misery. Men destitute of all notions of right or wrong, insensate with pride and with success over others, yield to transports of delight like the gods in heaven. 4 Happiness must end in misery. Idleness is misery; while cleverness (in action) is the cause of happiness. Affluence and prosperity dwell in one possessed of cleverness, but not in one that is idle. Be it happiness or be it misery, be it agreeable or be it disagreeable, what comes to one should be enjoyed or
endured with an unconquered heart. Every day a thousand occasions for sorrow, and hundred occasions for fear assail the man of ignorance and folly but not the man that is possessed of wisdom. Sorrow can never touch the man that is possessed of intelligence, that has acquired wisdom, that is mindful of listening to the instructions of his betters, that is destitute of envy, and that is self-restrained. Relying upon such an understanding, and protecting his heart (from the influences of desire and the passions), the man of wisdom should conduct himself here. Indeed, sorrow is unable to touch him who is conversant with that Supreme Self from which everything springs and unto which everything disappears. 1 The very root of that for which grief, or heartburning, or sorrow is felt or for which one is impelled to exertion, should, even if it be a part of one's body, be cast off. That object, whatever it may be in respect of which the idea of meum is cherished, becomes a source of grief and heart-burning. Whatever objects, amongst things that are desired, are cast off become sources of happiness. The man that pursues objects of desire meets with destruction in course of the pursuit. Neither the happiness that is derived from a gratification of the senses nor that great felicity which one may enjoy in heaven, approaches to even a sixteenth part of the felicity which arises from the destruction of all desires. The acts of a former life, right or wrong, visit, in their consequences, the wise and the foolish, the brave and the timid. It is even thus that joy and sorrow, the agreeable and the disagreeable, continually revolve (as on a wheel) among living creatures. Relying upon such an understanding, the man of intelligence and wisdom lives at ease. A person should disregard all his desires, and never allow his wrath to get the better of him. This wrath springs in the heart and grows there into vigour and luxuriance. This wrath that dwells in the bodies of men and is born in their minds, is spoken of by the wise as Death. When a person succeeds in withdrawing all his desires like a tortoise withdrawing all its limbs, then his soul, which is self-luminous, succeeds in looking into itself. 2 That object, whatever it may be, in respect of which the idea of meum is cherished, becomes a source of grief and heart-burning. 3 When a person himself feels no fear, and is feared by no one, when he cherishes no desire and no aversion, he is then said to attain to the state of Brahma. Casting off both truth and falsehood, grief and joy, fear and courage, the agreeable and the disagreeable, thou mayst become of tranquil soul. When a person abstains from doing wrong to any creature, in thought, word, or deed, he is then said to attain to a state of Brahma. True happiness is his who can cast off that thirst which is incapable of being cast off by the misguided, which does not decay with decrepitude, and which is regarded as a fatal disease. In this connection, O king, are heard
the verses sung by Pingala about the manner in which she had acquired eternal merit even at a time that had been very unfavourable. A fallen woman of the name of Pingala, having repaired to the place of assignation, was denied the company of her lover through an accident. At that time of great misery, she succeeded in acquiring tranquillity of soul.'
"Pingala said, 'Alas, I have for many long years lived, all the while overcome by frenzy, by the side of that Dear Self in whom there is nothing but tranquillity. Death has been at my door. Before this, I did not, however approach that Essence of Purity. I shall cover this house of one column and nine doors (by means of true Knowledge). 1 What woman is there that regards that Supreme Soul as her dear lord, even when He comes near? 2 I am now awake. I have been roused from the sleep of ignorance. I am no longer influenced by desire. Human lovers, who are really the embodied forms of hell, shall no longer deceive me by approaching me lustfully. Evil produces good through the destiny or the acts of a former life. Roused (from the sleep of ignorance), I have cast off all desire for worldly objects. I have acquired a complete mastery over my senses. One freed from desire and hope sleeps in felicity. Freedom from every hope and desire is felicity. Having driven off desire and hope, Pingala sleeps in felicity.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Convinced with these and other words uttered by the learned Brahmana, king Senajit (casting off his grief), experienced delight and became very happy.'"
1:1 It is very difficult to literally translate such verses. The word Dharma is sometimes used in the sense of Religion or the aggregate of duties. At other times it simply means a duty or the course of duties prescribed for a particular situation. Tapah is generally rendered penance. Here, however, it has a direct reference to sravana (hearing), manana (contemplation), and nididhyasana (abstraction of the soul from everything else for absolute concentration). The Grammar of the second half of the first line is Sati apretya etc., Sat being that which is real, hence, the Soul, or the Supreme Soul, of which every individual Soul is only a portion.
2:1 And not the Soul, as the commentator explains. With the death of the body joy and grief disappear.
2:2 The art by which the body could, as in Egypt, be preserved for thousands of years was not known to the Rishis.
3:1 The commentator explains the sense of this as follows; The cow belongs to him who drinks her milk. Those who derive no advantage from her have no need for showing her any affection. One should not covet what is above one's want, It has been said, that (to a thirsty or hungry or toil-worn man), a little quantity of vaccine milk is of more use than a hundred kine; a small measure of rice more useful than a hundred barns filled with grain; half a little bed is of more use than a large mansion.
3:2 I follow Nilakantha in rendering this verse. His interpretation is plausible. Mudatamah, according to him, are those who are in deep sleep. There are four stages of consciousness. These are (1) wakefulness, (2) dream, (3) dreamless or deep slumber, and (4) Turiya or absolute Samadhi (which the Yogin only can attain to).
3:3 The two extremes, of course, are dreamless slumber and Turiya or Samadhi. The two intermediate ones are wakefulness and sleep with dream.
3:4 Pride in consequences of having insulted or humiliated others; and success over others such as victories in, battle and other concerns of the world.
4:1 The first half of the second line is read variously. The sense, however, in effect, remains unaltered. What is said here is that man who succeeds in attaining to a state of Brahma by true Samadhi or abstraction from the world, can never be touched by grief.
4:2 In all treatises on Yoga it is said that when the first stage is passed, the neophyte succeeds in looking at his own self. The meaning seems to be that he experiences a sort of double existence so that he succeeds in himself looking at his own self.
4:3 This is the same as 46. The Bombay edition does not repeat it.
5:1 The house referred to is the body. The single column on which it is supported is the backbone, and the nine doors are the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, etc. etc.
5:2 The sense is that women always regard their human lovers as dear without regarding the Supreme Being to be so, although He is always with them.
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