The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'If Emancipation be desirable, then knowledge should be acquired. For a person who is borne now up and now down along the stream of Time or life, knowledge is the raft by which he can reach the shore. Those wise men who have arrived at certain conclusions (regarding the character of the soul and that which is called life) by the aid of wisdom, are able to assist the ignorant in crossing the stream of time or life with the raft of knowledge. They, however, that are ignorant, are unable save either themselves or others. He who has freed himself from desire and all other faults, and who has emancipated himself from all attachments, should attend to, these two and ten requirements of yoga, viz., place, acts, affection, objects, means, destruction, certainty, eyes, food, suppression, mind and survey. 1
[paragraph continues] He who wishes to obtain superior Knowledge, should, by the aid of his understanding, restrain both speech and mind. He who wishes to have tranquillity, should, by the aid of his knowledge, restrain his soul. Whether he becomes compassionate or cruel, whether he becomes conversant with all the Vedas or ignorant of the Richs, whether he becomes righteous and observant of sacrifices or the worst of sinners, whether he becomes eminent for prowess and wealth or plunged into misery, that person who directs his mind towards these (attributes that I have spoken of), is sure to cross the ocean of life which is so difficult to cross. Without speaking of the results of the attainment of Brahma by yoga, it may be said that he who sets himself to only enquiring after the Soul transcends the necessity of observing the acts laid down in the Vedas. The body with jiva within it is an excellent car. When sacrifices and religious rites are made its upastha, shame its varutha, Upaya and Apaya its kuvara, the breath called Apana its aksha, the breath called Prana its yuga, knowledge and the allotted period of existence its points for tying the steeds, heedfulness its handsome vandhura, the assumption of good behaviour its nemi, vision, touch, scent, and hearing its four steeds, wisdom its nabhi, all the scriptures its pratoda, certain knowledge of the scriptural declarations its driver, the soul its firmly-seated rider, faith and self-restraint its fore-runners, renunciation its inseparable companion following behind and bent upon doing it good, purity the path along which it goes, meditation (or union with Brahma) its goal, then may that car reach Brahma and shine there in effulgence. 1 I shall now tell thee the speedy means that should be adopted by the person who would equip his car in such a fashion for passing through this wilderness of the world in order to reach the goal
constituted by Brahma that is above decrepitude and destruction. To set the mind upon one thing at a time is called Dharana. 1 The Yogin observing proper vows and restraints, practises in all seven kinds of Dharana. There are, again, as many kinds of Dharanas arising out of these, upon subjects that are near or remote. 2 Through these the Yogin gradually acquires mastery over Earth, Wind, Space, Water, Fire, Consciousness, and Understanding. After this he gradually acquires mastery over the Unmanifest. 3 I shall now describe to thee the conceptions in their order that are realised by particular individuals amongst those that are engaged in yoga according to the rules and ordinances that have been laid down. I shall tell thee also of the nature of the success that attaches to yoga commenced (according to rules) by him who looks within his own self. 4 The Yogin, that abandons his gross body, following the instructions of his preceptor, beholds his soul displaying the following forms in consequence of its subtility. To him in the first stage, the welkin seems to be filled with a subtile substance like foggy vapour. 5 Of the Soul which has been freed from the body, even such becomes the form. When this fog disappears, a second (or new) form becomes visible. For, then, the Yogin beholds within himself, in the firmament of his heart, the form of Water. After the disappearance of water, the form of Fire displays itself. When this disappears, the form that becomes perceivable is that of Wind as effulgent as a well-tempered weapon of high polish. Gradually, the form displayed by Wind becomes like that of the thinnest gossamer. Then having acquired whiteness, and also, the subtlety of air, the Brahman's soul is said to attain the supreme whiteness and subtlety of Ether. Listen to me as I tell thee the consequences of these diverse conditions when they occur. That Yogin who has been able to achieve the conquest of the earth-element, attains by such lordship to the power of Creation. Like a second Prajapati endued with a nature that is perfectly imperturbable, he can from his own
body create all kinds of creatures. With only his toe, or with his hand or feet, that person can singly cause the whole Earth to tremble who has achieved the lordship of the Wind. Even this is the attribute of the Wind as declared in the Sruti. The Yogin, who has achieved the lordship of Space, can exist brightly in Space in consequence of his having attained to uniformity with that element, and can also disappear at will. By lordship over Water, one can (like Agastya) drink up rivers, lakes, and oceans. By lordship over Fire, the Yogin becomes so effulgent that his form cannot be looked at. He becomes visible only when he extinguishes his consciousness of individuality,--these five elements come within his sway. When the Understanding, which is the soul of the five elements and of the consciousness of individuality, 1 is conquered the Yogin attains to Omnipotence, and perfect Knowledge (or perception freed from doubt and uncertainty with respect to all things), comes to him. In consequence of this, the Manifest becomes merged into the Unmanifest or Supreme Soul from which the world emanates and becomes what is called Manifest. 2 Listen now to me in detail as I expound the science of the Unmanifest. But first of all listen to me about all that is Manifest as expounded in the Sankhya system of philosophy. In both the Yoga and the Sankhya, systems, five and twenty topics of knowledge have been treated in nearly the same way. Listen to me as I mention their chief features. That has been said to be Manifest which is possessed of these four attributes, viz., birth, growth, decay, and death. That which is not possessed of these attributes is said to be Unmanifest. Two souls are mentioned in the Vedas and the sciences that are based upon them. The first (which is called Jivatman) is endued with the four attributes already mentioned, and has a longing for the four objects or purposes (viz., Religion, Wealth, Pleasure and Emancipation). This soul is called Manifest, and it is born of the Unmanifest (Supreme Soul). It is both Intelligent and non-Intelligent. I have thus told thee about Sattwa (inert matter) and Kshetrajna (immaterial spirit). Both kinds of Soul, it is said in the Vedas, become attached to objects of the senses. The doctrine of the Sankhyas is that one should keep oneself aloof or dissociated from objects of the senses. That Yogin who is freed from attachment and pride, who transcends all pairs of opposites, such as pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc., who never gives way to wrath or hate, who never speaks an untruth, who, though slandered or struck, still shows friendship for the slanderer or the striker, who never thinks of doing ill to others, who restrains the three, viz., speech, acts, and mind, and who behaves uniformly towards all creatures, succeeds in approaching the presence of Brahman. That person who cherishes no desire for earthly objects, who is not unwilling to take what comes, who is dependent on earthly objects to only that extent which is necessary for
sustaining life, who is free from cupidity, who has driven off all grief, who has restrained his senses, who goes through all necessary acts, who is regardless of personal appearance and attire, whose senses are all collected (for devotion to the true objects of life), whose purposes are never left, unaccomplished, 1 who bears himself with equal friendliness towards all creatures, who regards a clod of earth and a lump of gold with an equal eye, who is equally disposed towards friend and foe, who is possessed of patience, who takes praise and blame equally, 2 who is free from longing with respect to all objects of desire, who practises Brahmacharya, and who is firm and steady in all his vows and observances, who has no malice or envy for any creature in the universe, is a Yogin who according to the Sankhya system succeeds in winning Emancipation. Listen now to the way and the means by which a person may win Emancipation through Yoga (or the system of Patanjali). That person who moves and acts after having transcended the puissance that the practice of Yoga brings about (in the initial stages), succeeds in winning Emancipation. 3 I have thus discoursed to thee on those topics (viz., Emancipation according to the Sankhya system and that according to the Yoga system) which are dissimilar if the speaker be disposed to treat them as such (but which in reality, are one and the same). 4 Thus can one transcend all pairs of opposites. Thus can one attain to Brahma.'" 5
168:1 The place should be a level spot, not impure (such as a crematorium, etc.), free from kankars, fire, and sand, etc.; solitary and free from noise and other sources of disturbance. Acts include abstention from food and sports and amusements, abstention from all kinds of work having only worldly objects to accomplish, abstention also from sleep and dreams. Affection means that for good disciples or for progress in yoga. Objects refer to sacred fuel, water, and suppression of expectancy and anxiety, etc. Means refer to the seat to be used, the manner of sitting, and the attitude of the body. Destruction refers to the conquest of desire and attachments, i.e., renunciation of all attractive things. Certainty means the p. 169 unalterable belief that what is said about yoga in the Vedas and by preceptors is true. The nom. sing. inflection stands for the instrumental plural. Eyes include the other senses. All these should be restrained. Food means pure food. Suppression refers to the subjugation of our natural inclination towards earthly objects. Mind here has reference to the regulation of the will and its reverse, viz., irresolution. Survey means reflection on birth, death, decrepitude, disease, sorrow, faults, etc. In giving these meanings, I, of course, follow Nilakantha.
169:1 Notwithstanding Nilakantha's gloss which shows great ingenuity and which has been apparently followed by both of them, the Vernacular translators have misunderstood Portions of these verses which sketch out the course of life which one desirous of attaining to Emancipation or Brahma is to follow. Particular virtues or attributes have been represented as particular limbs of the car. It does not appear that there is (except in one or two instances), any especial aptitude in any of those virtues or attributes for corresponding with One instead of with another limb of the figurative car. Upastha is that part of the car on which the driver sits. Varutha is the wooden fence round a car for protecting it against the effects of collision. Shame is the feeling that withdraws us from all wicked acts. Kuvara is the pole to which the yoke is attached. Upaya and Apaya, which have been called the kuvara, are 'means' and destruction'--explained in verse above. Aksha is the wheel. Yuga is the yoke. Vandhura is that part of yuga where it is attached to the pole, i.e., its Middle, about which appears something like a projecting knob. Nemi is the circumference of the wheel. Nabhi is the central portion of the car upon which the rider or warrior is seated. Pratoda is the goad with which the driver urges, the steeds. The commentator explains that jiva-yuktah means having such a jiva as is desirous of attaining to Emancipation or Moksha. Such elaborate figures are favourite conceits of Oriental poets.
170:1 Adopting the Kantian distribution of the mental phenomena, viz., the three great divisions of Cognitive faculties, Pleasure and Pain, and Desire and Will, Sir William Hamilton subdivides the first (viz., the Cognitive faculties), into the acquisitive faculty, the retentive faculty, the reproductive faculty, the representative faculty, and reason or judgment by which concepts are compared together. Dharana corresponds with the exercise of the Representative faculty or the power by which the mind is held to or kept employed upon a particular image or notion. It is this faculty that is especially trained by yogins. Indeed, the initial stop consists in training it to the desirable extent.
170:2 The seven kinds of Dharanas appertain respectively to Earth, Wind, Space, Water, Fire, Consciousness and Understanding.
170:3 All these have been explained lower down.
170:4 The construction of both these lines is difficult to understand. The prose order of the line is 'yogatah yuktesu (madhye) yasya yatha, etc., vikrama (tatha vakshyami); atmani pasyatah (janasya) yuktasya yogasya (yatha) siddhi (tatha vakshyami).' Yogatah means upayatah, i.e., according to rules and ordinances. Vikrama is used in a peculiar sense, viz., anubhavakramah, i.e., the order of conception or conceptions in other order Atmani pasyatah means 'of him who looks into himself,' i.e., who withdraws his mind from the outer world and turns it to view his own self. Without Nilakantha's aid, such verses would be thoroughly unintelligible.
170:5 Pasyatah means 'of that which sees,' i.e., of the Atman or Soul.
171:1 The Understanding is called the soul of the five elements and of the consciousness of individuality because these six things rest on it or have it for their refuge. The reader will easily understand this from what has been said in the previous Sections.
171:2 It is from the Unmanifest or the Supreme Soul that the world or all that is Manifest, springs or emanates. The Yogin, in consequence of his superior knowledge, apprehends all that is Manifest to be but the Unmanifest Supreme Soul.
172:1 Na kritina, i.e., kriti eva. 'Nirakriti' is regardless of dress and appearance. K.P. Singha wrongly translates both these words.
172:2 i.e., who has neither friend nor foe. This means that he regards all creatures with an equal eye, showing particular favour to none, and having no dislike for any. Coldness of heart is not implied, but impartial and equal benevolence for all. Taking praise and blame equally, i.e., never rejoicing at praise nor grieving at blame.
172:3 It is said that with the practice of Yoga, during the first stages, certain extraordinary powers come to the Yogin whether he wishes for them or not. In a previous Section it has been said that that Yogin who suffers himself to be led away by these extraordinary acquisitions, goes to hell, i.e., fails to attain to Emancipation beside which heaven itself with the status of Indra is only hell. Hence, he who transcends the puissance that Yoga brings about becomes Emancipate.
172:4 Dhirah is explained as dhyanavan. Santi has reference to Emancipation, for it is Emancipation alone that can give tranquillity or final rest. The commentator points out that in this verse the speaker shows a decided preference for the Sankhya philosophy.
172:5 Vide Gita, verses 4 and 5, Chapter V.
Next: Section CCXXXVII