The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is also cited the old narrative of the discourse between him of a hundred sacrifices and the Asura Namuchi, O Yudhishthira. When the Asura Namuchi, who was conversant with the birth and the death of all creatures, was sitting, divested of prosperity but untroubled at heart like the vast ocean in perfect stillness, Purandara addressed him these: words, 'Fallen off from thy place, bound with cords, brought under the sway of thy foes, and divested of prosperity, dost thou, O Namuchi, indulge in grief or passest thou thy days cheerfully?'
"Namuchi answered, 'By indulging in such sorrow as cannot be warded off one only wastes one's body and gladdens one's foes. Then, again, no one can lighten another's sorrow by taking any portion of it upon oneself. For these reasons, O Sakra, I do not indulge in sorrow. All this that thou seest hath one end. 1 Indulgence in sorrow destroys personal comeliness, prosperity, life, and virtue itself, O chief of the deities! Without doubt, suppressing that sorrow which comes upon oneself and which is born of an improper disposition of the mind, one possessed of true knowledge should reflect in one's mind of that which is productive of the highest good and which dwells in the heart itself. 2 When one sets one's mind upon what is for one's highest good, without doubt, the result that takes place is that one's objects are all accomplished. 3 There is One Ordainer, and no second. His control extends over the
being that lies within the womb. Controlled by the great Ordainer I go on as He sets me on, like water running along a downward path. Knowing what is existence and what is emancipation, and understanding also that the latter is superior to the former, I do not, however, strive for attaining to it. Doing acts that tend towards the direction of virtue and also those that tend towards the opposite direction, I go on as He sets me on. One gets those things that are ordained to be got. That which is to happen actually happens. One has repeatedly to reside in such wombs in which one is placed by the Ordainer. One has no choice in the matter. That person is never stupefied, who when placed in any particular condition, accepts it as that which he was ordained to be placed in. Men are affected by pleasure and pain that come by turns in course of Time. There is no personal agency (in the matter of pleasure or pain to any one). In this lies sorrow, viz., that he that dislikes sorrow regards himself as the actor. 1 Amongst Rishis, gods, great Asuras, persons fully conversant with the three Vedas, and ascetics in the forest, who is there whom calamities do not approach? Those, however, that are conversant with the Soul and that which is not-Soul never fear calamities. The person of wisdom, naturally standing immovable like Himavat, never gives way to wrath; never suffers himself to be attached to the objects of the senses; never languishes in sorrow or rejoices in happiness. When overwhelmed with even great afflictions, such a person never gives way to grief. That person is a very superior one whom even great success cannot gladden and even dire calamities cannot afflict, and who bears pleasure and pain, and that which is between them both, with an unmoved heart. Into whatever condition a person may fall, he should summon cheerfulness without yielding to sorrow. Indeed, even thus should one drive off from one's self one's swelling grief that is born in one's mind and that is (if not dispelled) sure to give pain. That assembly of learned persons engaged in the discussion of duties based upon both the Srutis and the Smritis is not a good assembly,--indeed, that does not deserve to be called by the name of assembly,--entering which a wicked man does not become penetrated with fear (born of his wicked deeds). That man is the foremost of his species who having dived into and enquired after righteousness succeeds in acting according to the conclusions to which he arrives. 2 The acts of a wise man are not easily comprehensible. He that is wise, is never Stupefied when afflictions come upon him. Even if he falls away from his position like Gautama in his old age, in consequence of the direct calamity, he does not suffer himself to be stupefied. 3 By any of these, viz., mantras,
strength, energy, wisdom, prowess, behaviour, conduct, or the affluence of wealth, can a person acquire that which has not been ordained to be acquired by him? What sorrow then is there for the non-acquisition of that upon which one has set one's heart? Before I was born, they that have the matter in their hands had ordained what I am to do and suffer. I am fulfilling what was thus ordained for me. What then can death do to me? One obtains only that which has been ordained to be obtained. One goes thither whither it was ordained that one is to go. Those sorrows and joys are obtained that are ordained to be obtained. That man who knowing this fully, does not suffer himself to be stupefied, and who is contented under both happiness and sorrow, is regarded as the foremost of his species.'"
136:1 i.e., all things are destructible instead of being eternal.
136:2 The commentator explains that Hridyam means Hritstham swarupam. By Kalyanam, of course, Moksha or Emancipation is intended.
136:3 As explained in previous verses, one striving to attain Emancipation must set himself to yoga. As a consequence of yoga, one acquires (without wishing for them) many wonderful powers. The accomplishment of one's objects then follows as a matter of course.
137:1 The sense is this: a wise man never regards himself as the actor; and hence never feels sorrow. Whatever sorrow overtakes him he views unmoved and takes it as the result of what had been ordained. Not so the foolish man. He deems himself to be the actor and looks upon sorrow as the result of his own acts. Hence, he cannot view it unmoved. Sorrow, therefore, lies in one's regarding oneself as the actor; the true view being that one instead of being an actor is only an instrument in the hands of the great Ordainer.
137:2 The object of this verse is to show that right conclusions in respect of duties are very rare.
137:3 This is a hard hit, The listener, viz., Indra, had violated, under circumstances of the most wicked deception, the chastity of Gautama's spouse Ahalya. Gautama had to punish his p. 138 wife by converting her into a stone. This punishment, however, reacted upon Gautama inasmuch as it put a stop to his loading any longer a life of domesticity. In spite of such a dire affliction Gautama did not suffer his cheerfulness to depart from his heart. The effect of the allusion is to tell Indra that the speaker is not like him but like Gautama, i.e., that Namuchi was not the slave of his passions but that he was the master of his senses and the how.
Next: Section CCXXVII