The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'If any person, desiring to accomplish acts (of charity and sacrifices), fails to find (the necessary) wealth, and thirst of wealth overwhelms him, what is that which he must do for obtaining happiness?'
"Bhishma said, 'He that regards everything (viz., joy and sorrow, honour and insult, etc.,) with an equal eye, that never exerts himself (for gratifying his desire for earthly possessions), that practises truthfulness of speech, that is freed from all kinds of attachment, and that has no desire for action, is, O Bharata, a happy man. These five, the ancients say, are the means for the acquisition of perfect tranquillity or emancipation. These are called Heaven. These are Religion. These constitute the highest happiness. In this connection is cited the old narrative of what Manki had sung, when freed from attachments, Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! Desirous of wealth, Manki found that he was repeatedly doomed to disappointments. At last with a little remnant of his property he purchased a couple of young bulls with a yoke for training them (to agricultural labour). One day the two bulls properly tied to the yoke, were taken out for training (in the fields). Shying at the sight of a camel that was lying down on the road, the animals suddenly ran towards the camel, and fell upon its neck. Enraged at finding the bulls fall upon its neck, the camel, endued with great speed, rose up and ran at a quick pace, bearing away the two helpless creatures dangling on either side of its neck. Beholding his two bulls thus borne away by that strong camel, and seeing that they were at the point of death, Manki began to say, 'If wealth be not ordained by destiny, it can never be acquired by even a clever man exerting himself with attention and confidence and accomplishing with skill all that is necessary towards that end. I had, before this, endeavoured by diverse means and devotion to earn wealth. Behold this misfortune brought about by destiny to the property I had! My bulls are borne away, rising and falling, as the camel is running in an uneven course. This occurrence seems to be an accident. 1 Alas, those dear bulls of mine are dangling on the camel's neck like a couple of gems! This is only the result of Destiny. Exertion is futile in what is due to Chance. Or, if the existence of anything like Exertion
[paragraph continues] (as an agent in the production of results) be admitted, a deeper search would discover Destiny to be at the bottom. 1 Hence, the person that desires happiness should renounce all attachment. The man without attachments, no longer cherishing any desire for earning wealth, can sleep happily. Ho, it was well said by Suka while going to the great forest from his father's abode, renouncing everything! 2--Amongst these two, viz., one who obtains the fruition of all his wishes, and one who casts off every wish, the latter, who renounces all, is superior to the former who obtains the fruition of all. No one could ever attain to the end of desire. 3 Only he that is destitute of knowledge and judgments feels an avidity for protecting his body and life.--Forbear from every desire for action. O my Soul that art possessed by cupidity, adopt tranquillity by freeing thyself from all attachments! Repeatedly hast thou been deceived (by desire and hope). How is it that thou dost not still free thyself from attachments? If I am not one that deserves destruction at thy hands, if I am one with whom thou shouldst sport in delight, then, O my wealth-coveting Soul, do not induce me towards cupidity. Thou hast repeatedly lost thy hoarded wealth. O my wealth-coveting and foolish Soul, when wilt thou succeed in emancipating thyself from the desire of wealth? Shame on my foolishness! I have become a toy of thine! It is thus that one becomes a slave of others. No one born on earth did ever attain to the end of desire, and to one that will take birth will succeed in attaining to it. Casting off all acts, I have at last been roused from sleep. I am now awake. Without doubt, O Desire, thy heart is as hard as adamant, since though affected by a hundred distresses, thou does not break into a hundred pieces! I know thee, O Desire, and all those things that are dear to thee! Seeking what is dear to thee, I shall feel happiness in my own Self. 4 O Desire, I know thy root. Thou springest from Will. 5--I shall, therefore, avoid Will. Thou shalt then be destroyed with thy roots. The desire for wealth can never be fraught with happiness. If acquired, great is the anxiety that the acquirer feels. If lost after acquisition, that is felt as death. Lastly, respecting acquisition itself, it is very uncertain. Wealth cannot be got by even the surrender of one's person. What can be more painful than this? When acquired, one is never gratified with its measure, but one continues to seek it. Like the sweet water of the Ganges, wealth only increases one's hankering. It is my destruction. I am now awakened. Do thou,
[paragraph continues] O Desire, leave me! Let that Desire which has taken refuge in this my body,--this compound of (five) elements,--go whithersoever it chooses and live happily whithersoever it likes. 1 Ye all that are not of the Soul, I have no joy in you, for ye follow the lead of Msire and Cupidity! Abandoning all of you I shall take refuge in the quality of Goodness. 2 Beholding all creatures in my own body and my own mind, and devoting my reason to Yoga, my life to the instructions of the wise, and soul to Brahma, I shall happily rove through the world, without attachment and without calamities of any kinds, so that thou mayst not be able to plunge me again into such sorrows! 3 If I continue to be agitated by thee, O Desire, I shall necessarily be without a path (by which to effect my deliverance). Thou, O Desire, art always the progenitor of thirst, of grief, and of fatigue and toil. I think the grief that one feels at the loss of wealth is very keen and far greater than what one feels under any other circumstances. Kinsmen and friends disregard him that has lost his wealth. With various kinds of humiliation that number by thousands, there are many faults in property that are more painful still. On the other hand, the very small happiness that resides in wealth is mingled with pain and sorrow. 4 Robbers slay, in the sight of all, the person that is possessed of wealth, or afflict him with various kinds of severity, or always fill him with fear. At last, after a long time, I have understood that the desire for wealth is fraught with sorrow. Whatever the object, O Desire, upon which thou settest thy heart, thou forcest me to pursue it! Thou art without judgment. Thou art a fool. Thou art difficult of being contented. Thou canst not be gratified. Thou burnest like fire. Thou dost not enquire (in pursuing an object) whether it is easy or difficult of attainment. Thou canst not be filled to the brim, like the nether region. Thou wishest to plunge me into sorrow. From this day, O Desire, I am incapable of living with thee! I who had felt despair, at first, at the loss of my property, have now attained to the high state of perfect freedom from attachments. At this moment I no longer think of thee and thy train. I had, before this, felt great misery on thy account. I do not (now) regard myself as destitute of intelligence. Having adopted Renunciation in consequence of loss of my property, I can now rest, freed from every kind of fever. I cast thee off, O Desire, with all the passions of my heart. Thou shalt not again dwell with me or sport with me. I shall forgive them that will slander or
speak ill of me. I shall not injure even when injured. If anybody from aversion speaks disagreeable words of me, disregarding those words I shall address him in agreeable speeches. In contentment of heart and with all my senses at case, I shall always live upon what may be got by me. I shall not contribute to the gratification of the wishes entertained by thee that art my foe. Freedom from attachment, emancipation from desire, contentment, tranquillity, truth, self-restraint, forgiveness, and universal compassion are the qualities that have now I come to me. Therefore, let Desire, cupidity, thirst, miserliness avoid me. I have now adopted the path of Goodness. Having cast off Desire and Cupidity, great is my happiness now. I shall no longer yield to the influence of Cupidity and no longer suffer misery like a person of uncleansed soul. One is sure to obtain happiness according to the measure of the desires he may be able to cast off. Truly, he who yields himself up to Desire always suffers misery. Whatever passions connected with Desire are cast off by a person, all appertain to the quality of Passion. Sorrow and shamelessness and discontent all arise from Desire and Wealth. Like a person plunging in the hot season into a cool lake, I have now entered into Brahma, I have abstained from work. I have freed myself from grief. Pure happiness has now come to me. The felicity that results from the gratification of Desire, or that other purer felicity which one enjoys in heaven, does not come to even a sixteenth part of that which arises upon the abandonment of all kinds of thirst! Killing the principle of desire, which with the body makes an aggregate of seven, and which is a bitter foe, I have entered the immortal city of Brahma and shall pass my days there in happiness like a king!' Relying upon such intelligence, Manki freed himself from attachments, casting off all desires and attaining to Brahma that abode of the highest felicity. Indeed, in consequence of the loss of his two bulls Manki attained to immortality. Indeed, because he cut the very roots of desire, he attained, through that means, to high felicity.'"
10:1 Kakataliyam is, literally, 'after the manner of the crow and the palmyra fruit.' The story is that once when a crow perched upon a palmyra tree a fruit (which had been ripe) fell down. The fruit fell because of its ripeness. It would be a mistake to accept the sitting of the crow as the cause of the fall. The perching was only an accident. Yet men very frequently, in tracing causes, accept accidents for inducing causes. Such men are said to be deceived by 'the fallacy of the crow and the palmyra fruit.'
11:1 Exertion to be successful must depend on circumstances. The combination of circumstances is destiny.
11:2 It is difficult to resist the belief that many of the passages of the Santi are later additions. Suka was the son of Vyasa. To quote a saying of Suka (or, as he was called Sukadeva Goswamin), if Vyasa was the real writer of this passage, is rather suspicious.
11:3 i.e., arrive at such a point that nothing was left for him to desire.
11:4 i.e., with, the view of doing thee good, I shall emancipate myself from all attachments and enjoy the blessedness of tranquillity.
11:5 Here the theory of desire seems to be reversed. Desire is mere wish after anything. When its gratification is sought, the form it assumes is that of determination or will. If, however, Kama be taken as the formulated desire after specific objects, then, perhaps, the Will may be regarded as its foundation, at least, in respect of the distress and difficulties that come in its train.
12:1 I think the Bombay reading of this verse is incorrect. Bhuttagramah (nom. sing.) should be Bhutagramam (accusative sing.). The Yah is Kamah. It is Desire that is exhorted to go away whithersoever it chooses. If the elements be thus exhorted, then it is death that the speaker desires. This would be inconsistent with the spirit of the passage.
12:2 The use of the plural Yushmashu might lead at first sight to take it as standing for the elements. It is plain, however, that it refers to all attributes that are founded on Rajas and Tamas.
12:3 Beholding all creatures in my own body and mind i.e., identifying myself with all creatures or never taking them as distinct and separated from me: in other words, professing and practising the principle of universal love.
12:4 The two lines are antithetical. What is said here is that though there is misery in property, there is no real happiness in affluence. Hence Nilakantha is right in supposing that the last word of the first line is not dhane but adhane the Sandhi being Arsha.
Next: Section CLXXVIII