The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'From the attribute of Passion arises delusion or loss of judgment. From the attribute of Darkness, O bull of Bharata's race, arise
wrath and cupidity and fear and pride. When all these are destroyed, one becomes pure. By obtaining purity, a person succeeds in arriving at the knowledge of the Supreme Soul which is resplendent with effulgence, incapable of deterioration, without change, pervading all things, having the unmanifest for his refuge, and the foremost of all the deities. Invested in His maya, men fall away from knowledge and become senseless, and in consequence of their knowledge being darkened, yield to wrath. 1 From wrath, they become subject to desire. From desire spring cupidity and delusion and vanity and pride and selfishness. From such selfishness proceeds various kinds of acts. 2 From acts spring diverse bonds of affection and from those bonds of affection spring sorrow or misery and from acts fraught with joy and sorrow proceeds the liability to birth and death. 3 In consequence of the obligation of birth, the liability is incurred of a residence within the womb, due to the union of vital seed and blood. That residence is defiled with excreta and urine and phlegm, and always fouled with blood that is generated there. Overwhelmed by thirst, the Chit-Soul becomes bound by wrath and the rest that have been enumerated above. It seeks, however, to escape those evils. In respect of this, women must be regarded as instruments which set the stream of Creation agoing. By their nature, women are Kshetra, and men are Kshetrajna in respect of attributes. For this reason, persons of wisdom should not pursue women in especial (among other objects of the world). 4 Indeed, women are like frightful mantra-powers. They stupefy persons reft of wisdom. They are sunk in the attribute of Passion. They are the eternal embodiment of the senses. 5
[paragraph continues] In consequence of the keen desire that men entertain for women, off-spring proceed from them, due to (the action of) the vital seed. As one casts off from one's body such vermin as take their birth there but as are not on that account any part of oneself, even so should one cast off those vermin of one's body that are called children, who, though regarded as one's own, are not one's own in reality. From the vital seed as from sweat (and other filth) creatures spring from the body, influenced by the acts of previous lives or in the course of nature. Therefore, one possessed of wisdom should feel no regard for them. 1 The attribute of Passion rests on that of Darkness. The attribute of Goodness, again, rests on that of Passion. Darkness which is unmanifest overspreads itself on Knowledge, and causes the phenomena of Intelligence and Consciousness. 2 That knowledge possessing the attributes of Intelligence and Consciousness has been said to be the seed of embodied Souls. That, again, which is the seed of such knowledge is called the Jiva (or Chit-Soul). 3 In consequence of acts and the virtue of time, the Soul goes through birth and repeated rounds of rebirth. As in a dream the Soul sports as if invested with a body which, of course, is due to the action of the mind, after the same manner, it obtains in the mother's womb a body in consequence of attributes and propensities having (past) acts for their origin. Whatever senses while it is there, are awakened by past acts as the operating cause, become generated
in Consciousness in consequence of the mind co-existing with attachments. 1 In consequence of the past thoughts of sound that are awakened in it, the Soul, subjected to such influences, receives the organ of hearing. Similarly, from attachment to forms, its eye is produced, and from its longing after scent its organ of smelling. From thoughts of touch it acquires the skin. In the same way the five-fold breaths are acquired by it, viz., Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, and Samana, which contribute to keep the body agoing. Encased in body with all limbs fully developed in consequence (as shown above) of past acts, the Soul takes birth, with sorrow, both physical and mental, in the beginning, middle, and end. It should be known that sorrow springs from the very fact of acceptance of body (in the womb). It increases with the idea of Self. From renunciation of these (attachments which are the cause of birth), sorrow meets with an end. He that is conversant with sorrow's end attains to Emancipation. 2 Both the origin and the destruction of the senses rest in the attribute of Passion. The man of wisdom should act with proper scrutiny with the aid of the eye constituted by the scriptures. 3 The senses of knowledge, even if they succeed in earning all their objects, never succeed in overwhelming the man that is without thirst. The embodied Soul, by making its senses weak, escapes the obligation or rebirth.'" 4
97:1 In the Srutis it is said that Brahma has two attributes, Vidya (Knowledge), and Avidya (Ignorance) with Maya (delusion). it is in consequence of this Maya that chit-souls or jivas become attached to worldly things. It is in consequence of this Maya that persons, even when they understand that all is nought, cannot totally dissociate themselves from them.
97:2 Mana is explained by the commentator as worship of one's own self; Darpa is freedom from all restraints; and Ahankara is a complete disregard of others and centering all thoughts on ones own self. Here Ahankara is not Consciousness.
97:3 Kritalakshanah is explained by the Commentator as Kritaswikarah.
97:4 The force of the simile lies in this: Prakriti binds Kshetrajna or the Soul and obliges it to take birth, etc. Women are Prakriti, men are Souls. As the Soul should seek to avoid the contact of Prakriti and strive for emancipation, even so should men seek to avoid women. It should be added that women, in almost all the dialects of India derived from Sanskrit, are commonly called Prakriti or symbols of Prakriti, thus illustrating the extraordinary popularity of the philosophical doctrine about Prakriti and Purusha.
97:5 Kritya is mantra-power or the efficacy of Atharvan rites. What is said here is that women are as frightful as Atharvan rites which can bring destruction upon even unseen foes. Rajasi antarhitah means that they are sunk so completely in that attribute as to become invisible, i.e., completely enveloped by that attribute.
98:1 The sense is this: parasitical vermin spring from sweat and other filth emitted by the body. Children spring from the vital seed. In the former case, it is Swabhava (nature) that supplies the active energy. In the latter, the undying influence of previous acts and propensities supply the active force. One's offspring, therefore, are like parasitical vermin on one's body. Wisdom should teach disregard or indifference for either.
98:2 This is a repetition of what has been asserted in various forms before. Rajas (passion) is the cause of Pravritti or propensity for acts. Sattwa (goodness) is enlightenment or the higher aspirations that lead to Brahma. Both rest on Tamas (Darkness), the first immediately, the last mediately. Chit or Jiva is pure Knowledge. When overtaken by Tamas or Avyakta, it becomes clothed with that existence which is called life or which we realise in the world, the conditions of that life being Consciousness and Intelligence.
98:3 The Chit or Soul is all-Knowledge. When overspread with Ignorance or Darkness, it becomes manifested by Intelligence and Consciousness, i.e., assumes a form or body. Knowledge overspread by Darkness, therefore, or Knowledge with the attributes of Intelligence and Consciousness, is the cause of Chit or soul or Jiva assuming a body. Such knowledge, therefore, is called the seed of the body. Then, again, the tadvijam (the second expression), i.e., the foundation on which knowledge overspread by ignorance (or knowledge with the attributes of intelligence and consciousness) rests, is, of course, pure Knowledge or chit or jiva or Soul as it existed before life. It is only another form of repeating a statement made several times before. Both the vernacular translators have misunderstood the last half of the second line.
99:1 The meaning, of course, is that while in the mother's womb, the Soul remembers the acts of past lives, and those acts influence and determine the growth of its senses as also the character it will display in its new life.
99:2 I do not follow Nilakantha in his grammatical exposition of the second line. That exposition seems to be very far-fetched. Besides tebhyah tyagat for tesham tyagat is no violence to grammar, the use of the ablative in this sense not being infrequent in these writings.
99:3 Women have before (vide verse 9 of this section) been said to be the embodiment of the senses and as antarhitah in Rajas or Passion. The senses, therefore, are, it is concluded here, originated in Rajas. By the destruction, again, of Rajas, they may be destroyed. What is wanted, therefore, is the conquest of Rajas or Passion. This may be effected with the aid of the eye whose vision has been sharpened by scriptural knowledge.
99:4 After indriyartham, as explained by the commentator, prapyapi is understood. There are two classes of indriyas, viz., those of knowledge and those for the performance of acts. Escapes the obligation of rebirth, i.e., attains to Emancipation.
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