The Mahabharata Home
"Vyasa said, 'There is a wonderful tree, called Desire, in the heart of a man. It is born of the seed called Error. Wrath and pride constitute its large trunk. The wish for action is the basin around its foot (for holding the water that is to nourish it). Ignorance is the root of that tree, and heedlessness is the water
that gives it sustenance. Envy constitutes its leaves. The evil acts of past lives supply it with vigour. Loss of judgment and anxiety are its twigs; grief forms its large branches; and fear is its sprout. Thirst (after diverse objects) that is (apparently) agreeable forms the creepers that twine round it on every side. Excessively greedy men, bound in chains of iron, sitting around that fruit-yielding tree, pay their adorations to it, in expectation of obtaining its fruit. 1 He who, subduing those chains, cutteth down that tree and seeks to cast off both sorrow and joy, succeeds in attaining to the end of both. 2 That foolish man who nourishes this tree by indulgence in the objects of the senses is destroyed by those very objects in which he indulges after the manner of a poisonous pill destroying the patient to whom it is administered. 3 A dexterous person, however, by the aid of Yoga, forcibly teareth up and cutteth with the sword of samadhi, the far-reaching root of this tree. 4 One who knows that the end of all acts undertaken from only the desire of fruit is rebirth or chains that bind, succeeds in transcending all sorrow. The body is said to be a city. The understanding is said to be its mistress. The mind dwelling within the body is the minister of that mistress whose chief function is to decide. The senses are the citizen that are employed by the mind (upon the service of the mistress). For cherishing those citizens the mind displays a strong inclination for acts of diverse kinds. In the matter of those acts, two great faults are observable, viz., Tamas and Rajas. 5 Upon the fruits of those acts rest those citizens along with the chiefs of the city (viz., Mind, Understanding, and Consciousness). 6 The two faults (already spoken of) live upon the fruits of those acts that are accomplished by forbidden means. This being the case, the understanding, which of itself is unconquerable (by either Rajas or Tamas), descends to a state of equality with the mind (by becoming as much tainted as the mind that serves it). Then again the senses, agitated by
the stained mind, lose their own stability. Those objects again for whose acquisition the understanding strives (regarding them to be beneficial) become productive of grief and ultimately Meet with destruction. Those objects, after destruction, are recollected by the mind, and accordingly they afflict the mind even after they are lost. The understanding is afflicted at the same time, for the mind is said to be different from the understanding only when the mind is considered in respect of its chief function of receiving impressions about whose certainty it is no judge. In reality, however, the mind is identical with the understanding. 1 The Rajas (productive of only sorrow and evil of every kind) that is in the understanding then overwhelms the Soul itself that lies over the Rajas-stained understanding like an image upon a mirror. 2 It is the mind that first unites in friendship with Rajas. Having united itself, it seizes the soul, the understanding, and the senses (like a false minister seizing the king and the citizens after having conspired with a foe) and makes them over to Rajas (with which it has united itself).'"
216:1 Atikramanti is understood at the end of the verse. Vajropamani is explained by the commentator as 'so undying that they are not destroyed at even the universal destruction; hence, of course, the karana bodies.' The karana bodies are the potentialities, existing in the tanmatra of the elemental substances, of forming diverse kinds of linga bodies in consequence of the acts of Jiva in previous periods of existence.
216:2 Etat is: maduktam vakyam; yogam implies yogapradhanam. Samadhau samam has reference to 'yogam.' What are the speaker wishes to say in this verse is that dhyana is not laid down for Sannyasins alone but it is laid down for all others as well.
216:3 Pradhanam is Avidya or Ignorance. Viniyoga is Viparinama. The particle anu always interpreted as 'following' the scriptures or some special branch of knowledge that treats of the subject spoken of.
217:1 The correct reading is ayasaih meaning 'made of iron,' and not 'ayasaih.' K.P. Singha adheres to the incorrect reading. The chains of iron here are either the diverse longings cherished by worldly men, or, perhaps, the bodies with which men are invested.
217:2 The dual genitive duhkhayoh is used because worldly sukha also is regarded as duhkha. 'Tyajamannah' is equivalent to 'tyaktum ichccha.' It is an instance of hetau sanach.
217:3 Yena is explained as Stryadina hetuna. 'Sah' is: Stryadih: Samrohati is: Vardhayati. 'Tam' is: Vardhakam.
217:4 'Uddhriyate' is literally 'tears up.' The use of the word 'asina' suggests also 'cutting.' The root of the tree, of course, is Avidya or Ignorance.
217:5 K.P. Singha wrongly translates the first line. The Burdwan translator quotes the gloss without understanding it. The first half of the first line, literally rendered, is 'the senses are the mind-citizens,' meaning, as the commentator rightly explains, that they are citizens under the lead of the mind. 'Tadartham' means 'for the sake of the senses,' i.e., 'for cherishing them.' Prakritih is mahati kriya pravrittih, Tadartham is kriyaphalam, i.e., happiness or misery. The meaning, in brief, is this: the body is a city. The understanding is its mistress. The mind is her principal servitor. The senses are the citizens under the lead of the mind. In order to cherish the senses the mind engages in acts productive of visible and invisible fruits i.e., sacrifices and gifts, and the acquisition of houses and gardens, etc. Those acts are liable to two faults, viz., Rajas and Tamas. The senses (both in this life and the succeeding ones) depend upon the fruits (happiness or misery) of those acts.
217:6 The meaning is this: the senses, the mind, the understanding, etc., are all due to acts. These, therefore, are said to rest upon acts and draw their sustenance therefrom.
218:1 I expand the first line of 14 for giving the meaning clearly.
218:2 The sense is that the understanding, being stained or afflicted, the Soul also becomes stained or afflicted. Enam is atmanam. Vidhritam is 'placed like an image upon a mirror.'
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