The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou hast discoursed on the four modes of life and their duties. Thou hast also spoken of the duties of kings. Thou hast recited many histories of diverse kinds and connected with diverse topics. I have also heard from thee, O thou of great intelligence, many discourses connected with morality. I have, however, one doubt. It behoveth thee to resolve it. I wish, O Bharata, to hear of the fruits that silent Reciters of sacred mantras acquire (by their practice). What are the fruits that have been indicated for such men? What is that region to which they go after death? It behoveth thee also, O sinless one, to tell me all the rules that have been laid down in respect of such silent recitation? When the word Reciter is uttered, what shall I understand by it? Is such a man to be regarded as following the ordinances of Sankhya or yoga or work? 2 Or, is such a man to be regarded as observing the ordinances about (mental) sacrifices? How is the path of the Reciters to be called? Thou art, as I think, of universal knowledge. Tell me all this.'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old history of what transpired between Yama, Time, and a certain Brahmana. Sages conversant with the means of attaining to Emancipation have spoken of two methods, viz., the Sankhya and the yoga. Amongst these, in the former, which is otherwise called the Vedanta, Renunciation has been preached with respect to silent recitation. The declarations of the Vedas preach Abstention (from rites), are fraught with tranquillity, and are concerned with Brahma. 3 Indeed, the two paths spoken of by sages bent on achieving what is for their good, viz., Sankhya and yoga, are such that they are both concerned and again
unconcerned (with silent recitations). 1 The manner in which silent recitation is connected (with each of the two paths) and the cause I shall now explain. In both as in the case of silent recitation, are needed the subduing of the senses and the fixing of the mind (after withdrawal from external objects); as also truth keeping up of the (sacred) fire, residence in solitude, meditation, penance, self-restraint, forgiveness, benevolence, abstemiousness in respect of food, withdrawal from worldly attachments, the absence of talkativeness, and tranquillity. These constitute a sacrifice in acts (leading to the fruition of desire about heaven or felicity in next life). 2 Listen now to the course that consists of abstention (from acts). The manner in which the acts of the Reciter observing the vow of Brahmacharya may cease, I will presently declare. Such a person should conduct himself in every way according to what has been (already) said by me. 3 Betaking himself to the path of abstention, he should seek to extinguish his dependence on both the External and the Internal. Sitting on kusa grass, with kusa in hand, and binding his coronal locks with kusa, he should surround himself with kusa and have kusa for robes. Bowing unto all earthly concerns, he should take leave of them and never think of them. Assuming equability by the aid of his mind, he should fix his mind on the mind itself. Reciting the highly beneficial composition (viz., the Gayatri), he meditates with the aid of his intellect on Brahma alone. Afterwards he leaves off even that, being then absorbed in concentrated contemplation. 4 In consequence of his dependence on the strength of the Gayatri which he recites, this concentrated contemplation will come of itself. By penances he attains to purity of soul, and self-restraint, and cessation of aversion and desire. Freed from attachment and delusion, above the influence of all pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, joy and sorrow, etc.), he never grieves and never suffers himself to be drawn towards worldly objects. He does not regard himself as the actor nor as the enjoyer or sufferer of the consequences of his acts. He never, through selfishness, fixes his mind on anything. Without being employed in the acquisition of wealth, he abstains also from disregarding or insulting others, but not from work. The work in which he is employed is that of meditation; he is devoted to meditation, and seeks meditation unalterably. By meditation he succeeds in bringing about concentrated contemplation, and then gradually leaves off meditation itself. In that state he enjoys the felicity which attaches to the abandonment of all things. Having thoroughly mastered the principle of desire he casts off his life-breaths and then enters into the Brahmic body. Or, if he does not
desire to enter into the Brahmic body, he at once goes upwards into the region of Brahma and has never to undergo rebirth. Having become tranquillity's self, and being freed from all kinds of calamity, such a person, by depending upon his own intelligence, succeeds in attaining to that Soul which is pure and immortal and which is without a stain.'"
52:2 Sankhya is understood by the commentator as implying Vedanta-vichara.
52:3 This verse is a triplet. The commentator explains that Vedanta in the second line means Sankhya. I think, this is said because of the agreement between the Vedanta and the Sankhya in this respect notwithstanding their difference in other respects. The object of the verse is to say that according to the Sankhya, there is no necessity for silent recitation of mantras. Mental meditation, without the utterance of particular words, may lead to Brahma.
53:1 Both declare, as the commentator explains, that as long as one does not succeed in beholding one's Soul, one may silently recite the Pranava or the original word Om. When, however, one succeeds in beholding one's Soul, then may one give up such recitation.
53:2 There are two paths which one in this world may follow. One is called Pravritti dharma and the other Nrivritti dharma. The first is a course of actions; the second of abstention from actions. The attributes indicated in 10 and 11 belong to the first course or path. They are, therefore, called Pravartaka yajna or Sacrifice having its origin in Pravritti or action.
53:3 i.e., he should first cleanse his heart by observing the virtues above enumerated.
53:4 Samadhi is that meditation in which the senses having been all withdrawn into the mind, the mind, as explained previously, is made to dwell on Brahma alone.
Next: Section CXCVII