The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou hast said that as regards Reciters, they obtain this very high end. 1 I beg to enquire whether this is their only end or there is any other to which they attain.'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen with concentrated attention, O puissant monarch, to the end that silent Reciters attain, and to the diverse kinds of hell into which they sink, O bull among men! That Reciter who does not at first conduct himself according to the method that has been laid down, and who cannot complete the ritual or course of discipline laid down, has to go to hell. 2 That Reciter who goes on without faith, who is not contented with his work, and who takes no pleasure in it, goes to hell, without doubt. They who follow the ritual with pride in their hearts, all go to hell. That Reciter who insults and disregards others has to go to hell. That man who betakes himself to silent recitation under the influence of stupefaction and from desire of fruit, obtains all those things upon which his heart becomes set. 3 That Reciter whose heart becomes set upon the attributes that go by the name of divinity, has to incur hell and never becomes freed from it. 4 That Reciter who betakes himself to recitation under the influence of attachments (to earthly objects such as wealth, wives etc.) obtain those objects upon which their hearts are set. That Reciter of wicked understanding and uncleansed soul who sets himself to his work with an unstable mind, obtains an unstable end or goes into hell. That Reciter who is not endued with wisdom and who is foolish, becomes stupefied or deluded; and in consequence of such delusion
has to go to hell where he is obliged to indulge in regrets. 1 If a person of even firm heart, resolving to complete the discipline, betakes himself to recitation, but fails to attain to completion in consequence of his having freed himself from attachments by a violent stretch without genuine conviction of their inutility or harmful character, he also has to go to hell 2.
"Yudhishthira said, 'When the Reciter attains to the essence of that which exists in its own nature (without being anything like created or born objects), which is Supreme, which is indescribable and inconceivable, and which dwells in the syllable om forming the subject of both recitation and meditation (indeed, when Reciters to a state of Brahma), why is it that they have again to take birth in embodied forms?'
"Bhishma, said, 'In consequence of the absence of true knowledge and wisdom, Reciters obtain diverse descriptions of hell. The discipline followed by Reciters is certainly very superior. These, however, that I have spoken of, are the faults that appertain to it.'"
54:1 The end declared by Bhishma in the previous section is the success of yoga, or freedom from decrepitude and death, or death at will, or absorption into Brahma, or independent, existence in a beatific condition.
54:2 It should be noted that 'hell,' as here used, means the opposite of Emancipation. Reciter may attain to the joys of heaven, but compared to Emancipation, they are hell, there being the obligation of rebirth attached to them.
54:3 Even this is a kind of hell, for there is re-birth attached to it.
54:4 Aiswvarya or the attributes of godhead are certain extraordinary powers attained by yogins and Reciters. They are the power to become minute or huge in shape, or go whither soever one will, etc. These are likened to hell, because of the obligation of re-birth that attaches to them. Nothing less than Emancipation or the absorption into the Supreme Soul is the end that should be striven for.
Next: Section CXCVIII