The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Tell me, O sire, of that high yoga by which, O Bharata, I may obtain Emancipation, O foremost of speakers, I desire to know everything about that yoga truly.'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between a preceptor and his disciple on the subject of Emancipation. There was a regenerate preceptor who was the foremost of Rishis. He looked like a mass of splendour. Possessed of a high soul, he was firm in truth and a complete master of his senses. Once on a time, a disciple of great intelligence and close attention, desirous of obtaining what was for his highest good, touched the preceptor's feet, and standing with joined hands before him, said, If, O illustrious one, thou hast been gratified with the worship I have offered thee, it behoveth thee to solve a great doubt of mine. Whence am I and whence art thou? Tell me this fully. Tell me also what is the final cause. Why also, O best of regenerate ones, when the material cause in all beings is the same, their origin and destruction happen in such dissimilar ways? It beseems thee, O thou of great learning, also to explain the object of the declarations in the Vedas (about difference of rites in respect of different classes of men), the meaning of the injunctions of the Smritis and of those injunctions which apply to all cases of men.' 1
"The preceptor said, 'Listen, O disciple, O thou of great wisdom! This that thou hast asked me is undisclosed in the very Vedas and is the highest subject for thought or discourse. It is called Adhyatma and is the most valuable of all branches of learning and of all sacred institutes. Vasudeva is the Supreme (cause) of the universe. He is the origin of the Vedas (viz., Om). He is Truth, Knowledge, Sacrifice, Renunciation, Self-restraint, and Righteousness. Persons conversant with the Vedas know Him as All-pervading, Eternal, Omnipresent, the Creator and the Destroyer, the Unmanifest, Brahma, Immutable. Hear now the story of Him who took his birth in Vrishni's race. A Brahmana should hear of the greatness of that God of gods, viz., Him called Vishnu of immeasurable energy, from the lips of Brahmanas. A person of the royal order should hear it from persons of that order. One who is a Vaisya should hear it from Vaisyas, and a high-souled Sudra should hear it from
[paragraph continues] Sudras. Thou deservest to hear it. Listen now to the auspicious account of Krishna, that narrative which is the foremost of all narratives. Vasudeva is the wheel of Time, without beginning and without end. Existence and Non-existence are the attributes by which His real nature is known. The universe revolves like a wheel depending upon that Lord of all beings. O best of men, Kesava, that foremost of all beings, is said to be that which is Indestructible, that which is Unmanifest, that which is Immortal, Brahma, and Immutable. The highest of the high, and without change or deterioration himself, he created the Pitris, the gods, the Rishis, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Nagas, the Asuras, and human beings. It is He who also created the Vedas and the eternal duties and customs of men. Having reduced everything into non-existence, he once more, in the beginning of a (new) yuga, creates Prakriti (primordial matter). As the diverse phenomena of the several seasons appear one after another according to the season that comes, after the like manner creatures start forth into existence at the beginning of every (celestial) yuga. Corresponding with those creatures that start into life is the knowledge of rules and duties that have for their object the regulation of the world's course. 1 At the end of every (celestial) yuga (when universal destruction sets in) the Vedas and all other scriptures disappear (like the rest). In consequence of the grace of the Self-born, the great Rishis, through their penances, first re-acquire the lost Vedas and the scriptures. The Self-born (Brahman) first acquired the Vedas. Their branches called the Angas were first acquired by (the celestial preceptor) Vrihaspati. Bhrigu's son (Sukra) first acquired the science of morality that is so beneficial for the universe. The science of music was acquired by Narada; that of arms by Bharadwaja; the history of the celestial Rishis by Gargya: that of medicine by the dark-complexioned son of Atri. Diverse other Rishis, whose names are connected therewith, promulgated diverse other sciences such as Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Patanjala, etc. Let that Brahma which those Rishis have indicated by arguments drawn from reason, by means of the Vedas, and by inferences drawn from the direct evidence of the senses, be adored., Neither the gods nor the Rishis were (at first) able to apprehend Brahma which is without beginning and which is the highest of the high. Only the divine creator of all things, viz., the puissant Narayana, had knowledge of Brahma. From Narayana, the Rishis, the foremost ones among the deities and the Asuras, and the royal sages of old, derived the knowledge of that highest remedy of the cure of sorrow. When primordial matter produces existences through the action of the primal energy, the universe
with all its potencies begins to flow from it. From one lighted lamp thousands of other lamps are capable of being lighted. After the same manner, primordial matter produces thousands of existent things. In consequence, again, of its infinity primordial matter is never exhausted. From the Unmanifest flows the Understanding determined by acts. The Understanding produces Consciousness. From Consciousness proceeds Space. From Space proceeds Wind. From the Wind proceeds Heat. From Heat proceeds Water, and from Water is produced the Earth. These eight constitute primordial Prakriti. The universe rests on them. From those Eight have originated the five organs of knowledge, the five organs of action, the five objects of the (first five) organs, and the one, viz., the Mind, forming the sixteenth, which is the result of their modification. The ear, the skin, the two eyes, the tongue, and the nose are the five organs of knowledge. The two feet, the lower duct, the organ of generation, the two arms, and speech, are the five organs of action. Sound, touch, form, taste, and smell are the five objects of the senses, covering all the things. The Mind dwells upon all the senses and their objects. In the perception of taste, it is the Mind that becomes the tongue, and in speech it is the Mind that becomes words. Endued with the different senses, it is the Mind that becomes all the objects that exist in its apprehension. These sixteen, existing in their respective forms, should be known as deities. These worship Him who creates all knowledge and dwells within the body. Taste is the attribute of water; scent is the attribute of earth; hearing is the attribute of space; vision is the attribute of fire or light; and touch should be known as the attribute of the wind. This is the case with all creatures at all times. The Mind, it has been said, is the attribute of existence. Existence springs from the Unmanifest (of Prakriti) which, every intelligent person should know, rests in That which is the Soul of all existent beings. These existences, resting upon the supreme Divinity that is above Prakriti and that is without any inclination for action, uphold the entire universe of mobiles and immobiles. This sacred edifice of nine doors 1 is endued with all these existences. That which is high above them, viz., the Soul, dwells within it, pervading it all over. For this reason, it is called Purusha. The Soul is without decay and not subject to death. It has knowledge of what is manifest and what is unmanifest. It is again all-pervading, possessed of attributes, subtile, and the refuge of all existences and attributes. As a lamp discovers all objects great or small (irrespective of its own size), after the same manner the Soul dwells in all creatures as the principle of knowledge (regardless of the attributes or accidents of those creatures). Urging the ear to hear what it hears, it is the Soul that hears. Similarly, employing the eye, it is the Soul that sees. This body furnishes the means by which the Soul derives knowledge. The bodily organs are not the doers, but it is the Soul that is the doer of all acts. There is fire in wood, but it can never be seen by cutting open a piece of wood. After the same manner, the Soul dwells within the body, but it can never be seen by dissecting the body. The fire that dwells in wood may be seen by
employing proper means, viz., rubbing the wood with another piece of wood. After the same manner, the Soul which dwells within the body may be seen by employing proper means, viz., yoga. Water must exist in rivers. Rays of light are always attached to the sun. After the same manner, the Soul has a body. This connection does not cease because of the constant succession of bodies that the Soul has to enter. 1 In a dream, the Soul, endued with the fivefold senses, leaves the body and roves over wide areas. After the same manner, when death ensues, the Soul (with the senses in their subtile forms) passes out of one body for entering another. The Soul is bound by its own former acts. Bound by its own acts done in one state of existence, it attains to another state. Indeed, it is led from one into another body by its own acts which are very powerful in respect of their consequences. How the owner of a human body, leaving off his body, enters another, and then again into another, how, indeed, the entire range of beings is the result of their respective acts (of past and present lives), I will presently tell you.'"
88:1 The sense is that when all men are equal in respect of their material cause, why are such differences in the srutis and the smritis about the duties of men?
89:1 The meaning seems to be this: in the beginning of every celestial yuga, i.e., when the Supreme Being awaking from sleep desires to create creatures anew, an creatures or beings start again into life. With such starting of every being, the rules that regulate their relations and acts also spring up, for without a knowledge of those rules, the new creation will soon be a chaos and come to an end. Thus when man and woman start into life, they do not eat each other but combine to perpetuate the species. With the increase of the human species, again, a knowledge springs up in every breast of the duties of righteousness and of the diverse other practices, all of which help to regulate the new creation till the Creator himself, at the end of the yuga, once more withdraws everything into himself.
90:1 i.e., the body.
91:1 What is meant seems to be this: there can be no river without water. A river cannot exist without water. When a river is mentioned, water is implied. The connection between a river and water is not an accident but a necessary one. The same may be said of the sun and its rays. After the same manner, the connection between the Soul and the body is a necessary one and not an accident. The Soul cannot exist without a body. Of course, the ordinary case only is referred to here, for, by yoga, one can dissociate the Soul from the body and incorporate it with Brahma.
Next: Section CCXI