The Mahabharata Home
"Kapila said, 'Beholding that all the fruits that are attainable by acts are terminable instead of being eternal, Yatis, by adopting self-restraint and tranquillity, attain to Brahma through the path of knowledge. There is nothing in any of the worlds that can impede them (for by mere fiats of their will they crown all their wishes with success). They are freed from the influence of all pairs of opposites. They never bow down their heads to anything or any creature. They are above all the bonds of want. Wisdom is theirs. Cleansed they are from every sin. Pure and spotless they live and rove about (in great happiness). They have, in their own understandings, arrived at settled conclusions in respect of all destructible objects and of a life of Renunciation (by comparing the two together). Devoted to Brahma, already become like unto Brahma, they have taken refuge in Brahma. Transcending grief, and freed from (the equality of) Rajas, theirs are acquisitions that are eternal. When the high end that is these men's is within reach of attainment, what need has one for practising the duties of the domestic mode of life?' 2
"Syumarasmi said, 'If, indeed, that be the highest object of acquisition, if that be truly the highest end (which is attained by practising Renunciation) then the importance of the domestic mode of life becomes manifest, because without the domestic mode no other mode of life ever becomes possible. Indeed, as all living creatures are able to live in consequence of their dependence on their respective mothers, after the same manner the three other
modes of life exist in consequence of their dependence upon the domestic mode. The householder who leads the life of domesticity, performs sacrifices, and practises penances. Whatever is done by anybody from desire of happiness has for its root the domestic mode of life. All living creatures regard the procreation of offspring as a source of great happiness. The procreation of offspring, however, becomes impossible in any other mode of life (than domesticity). Every kind of grass and straw, all plants and herbs (that yield corn or grain), and others of the same class that grow on hills and mountains, have the domestic mode of life for their root. Upon those depend the life of living creatures. And since nothing else is seen (in the universe) than life, domesticity may be looked upon as the refuge of the entire universe. 1 Who then speaks the truth that says that domesticity cannot lead to the acquisition of Emancipation? Only those that are destitute of faith and wisdom and penetration, only those that are destitute of reputation that are idle and toil-worn, that have misery for their share in consequence of their past acts, only those that are destitute of learning, behold the plenitude of tranquillity in a life of mendicancy. The eternal and certain distinctions (laid down in the Vedas) are the causes that sustain the three worlds. That illustrious person of the highest order who is conversant with the Vedas, is worshipped from the very date of his birth. Besides the performance of Garbhadhana, Vedic mantras become necessary for enabling persons of the regenerate classes to accomplish all their acts in respect of both this and the other world. 2 In cremating his body (after death), in the matter of his attainment of a second body, in that of his drink and food after such attainment, in that of giving away kine and other animals for helping him to cross the river that divides the region of life from that of Yama, in that of sinking funeral cakes in water--Vedic mantras are necessary. Then again the three classes of Pitris, viz., the Archishmats, the Varhishads, and the Kravyads, approve of the necessity of mantras in the case of the dead, and mantras are allowed to be efficient causes (for attainment of the objects for which these ceremonies and rites have been directed to be performed). When the Vedas say this so loudly and when again human beings are said to owe debts to the Pitris, the Rishis, and the gods, how can any one attain to Emancipation? 3 This false doctrine (of incorporeal existence called Emancipation), apparently dressed in colours of truth, but subversive of the real purport of
the declarations of the Vedas, has been introduced by learned men reft of prosperity and eaten up by idleness. That Brahmana who performs sacrifices according to the declarations of the Vedas is never seduced by sin. Through sacrifices, such a person attains to high regions of felicity along with the animals he has slain in those sacrifices, and himself, gratified by the acquisition of all his wishes succeeds in gratifying those animals by fulfilling their wishes. By disregarding the Vedas, by guile, or by deception, one never succeeds in attaining to the Supreme. On the other hand, it is by practising the rites laid down in the Vedas that one succeeds in attaining to Brahma.'
"Kapila said, '(If acts are obligatory, then) there are the Darsa, the Paurnamasa, the Agnihotra, the Chaturmasya, and other acts for the man of intelligence. In their performance is eternal merit. (Why then perform acts involving cruelty)? Those that have betaken themselves to the Sannyasa, mode of life, that abstain from all acts, that are endued with patience, that are cleansed (of wrath and every fault), and that are conversant with Brahma, succeed by such knowledge of Brahma in paying off the debts (thou speakest of) to the gods (the Rishis, and the Pitris) represented to be so very fond of libations poured in sacrifices. 1 The very gods become stupefied in tracing the track of that trackless person who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures and who looks upon all creatures with an equal eye. Through instructions received from the preceptor one knows that which dwells within this frame to be of a four-fold nature, having besides four doors and four mouths. In consequence of (their possession of) two arms, the organ of speech, the stomach, and the organ of pleasure, the very gods are said to have four doors. One should, therefore, strive one's best to keep those doors under control. 2 One should
not gamble with dice. One should not appropriate what belongs to another. One should not assist at the sacrifice of a person of ignoble birth. One should not, giving way to wrath, smite another with hands or feet. That intelligent man who conducts himself in this way is said to have his hands and feet well-controlled. One should not indulge in vociferous abuse or censure. One should not speak words that are vain. One should forbear from knavery and from calumniating others. One should observe the vow of truthfulness, be sparing of speech, and always heedful.' By conducting oneself in this way one will have one's organ of speech well-restrained. One should not abstain entirely from food. One should not eat too much. One should give up covetousness, and always seek the companionship of the good. One should eat only so much as is needed for sustaining life. By conducting oneself in this way one succeeds in properly controlling the door represented by one's stomach. One should not, O hero, lustfully take another wife when one has a wedded spouse (with whom to perform all religious acts). One should never summon a woman to bed except in her season. One should confine oneself to one's own wedded spouse without seeking congress with other women. By conducting oneself in this way one is said to have one's organ of pleasure properly controlled. That man of wisdom is truly a regenerate person who has all his four doors, viz., the organ of pleasure, the stomach, the two arms (and two feet), and the organ of speech, properly controlled. Everything becomes useless of that person whose doors are not well-controlled. What can the penance of such a man do? What can his sacrifices bring about? What cart be achieved by his body? The gods know him for a Brahmana who has cast off his upper garment, who sleeps on the bare ground, who makes his arm a pillow, and whose heart is possessed of tranquillity. 1 That person who, devoted to contemplation, singly enjoys all the happiness that wedded couples enjoy, and who turns not his attention to the joys and griefs of others, should be known for a Brahmana. 2 That man who rightly understands all this as it exists in reality and its multiform transformations, and who knows what the end is of all created objects, is known by the gods for a Brahmana. 3 One who hath no fear from any creature and from whom no
creature hath any fear and who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures, should be known for a Brahmana. Without having acquired purity of heart which is the true result of all pious acts such as gifts and sacrifices, men of foolish understandings do not succeed in obtaining a knowledge of what is needed in making one a Brahmana even when explained by preceptors. Destitute of a knowledge of all this, these men desire fruits of a different kind, viz., heaven and its joys. 1 Unable to practise even a small part of that good conduct which has come down from remote times, which is eternal, which is characterised by certitude, which enters as a thread in all our duties, and by adopting which men of knowledge belonging to all the modes of life convert their respective duties and penances into terrible weapons for destroying the ignorance and evils of worldliness, men of foolish understandings regard acts that are productive of visible fruits, that are fraught with the highest puissance, and that are deathless, as fruitless after all and as deviations (from the proper course) not sanctioned by the scriptures. In truth, however, that conduct, embracing as it does practices the very opposite of those that are seen in seasons of distress, is the very essence of heedfulness and is never affected by lust and wrath and other passions of a similar kind. 2 As regards sacrifices again, it is very difficult to ascertain all their particulars. If ascertained, it is very difficult to observe them in practice. If practised, the fruits to which they lead are terminable. Mark this well. (And marking this, do thou betake thyself to the path of knowledge).'
"Syumarasmi said, 'The Vedas countenance acts and discountenance them.
[paragraph continues] Whence then is their authority when their declarations thus contradict each other? Renunciation of acts, again, is productive of great benefit. Both these have been indicated in the Vedas. Do thou discourse to me on this subject, O Brahmana!'
"Kapila said, 'Betaking yourselves to the path of the good (viz., Yoga), do you even in this life realise its fruits by the direct evidence of your senses. What, however, are the visible results of those other objects which you (men of acts) pursue?'
"Syumarasmi said, 'O Brahmana, I am Syumarasmi by name. I have come here for acquiring knowledge. Desirous of doing good to myself I have started this conversation in artless candour and not from desire of disputation. The dark doubt has taken possession of my mind. O illustrious one, solve it to me. Thou hast said that they who take the path of the good (viz., Yoga), by which Brahma is attained, realise its fruits by the direct evidence of their senses. What, indeed, is that which is so realisable by the direct evidence of the senses and which is pursued by yourselves? Avoiding all sciences that have disputation only for their foremost object, I have so studied the Agama as to have July mastered their true meaning. By Agama I understand the declarations of the Vedas. I also include la that word those sciences based on logic which have for their object the bringing out of the real meaning of the Vedas. 1 Without avoiding the duties laid down for the particular mode of life which one may lead, one should pursue the practices laid down in Agama. Such observance of the practices laid down in Agama crowns one with success. In consequence of the certainty of the conclusions of Agama, the success to which the latter leads may be said to be almost realisable by direct evidence. As a boat that is tied to another bound for a different port, cannot take its passengers to the port they desire to reach, even so ourselves, dragged by our acts due to past desires, can never cross the interminable river of birth and death (and reach the heaven of rest and peace we may have in view). Discourse to me on this topic, O illustrious one! Teach me as a preceptor teaches a disciple. No one can be found amongst men that has completely renounced all worldly objects, nor one that is perfectly contented with oneself, nor one that has transcended grief, nor one that is perfectly free from disease, nor one that is absolutely free from the desire to act (for one's own benefit), nor one that has an absolute distaste for companionship, nor one that has entirely abstained from acts of every kind. Even men like yourself are seen to give way to joy and indulge in grief as persons like ourselves. Like other creatures the senses of persons like yourselves have their functions and objects. Tell me, in what then, if we are to investigate the question of happiness, does pure felicity consist for all the four orders of men and all the four modes of life who and which have, as regards their inclinations, the same resting ground.'
"Kapila said, 'Whatever the Sastras according to which one performs the acts one feels inclined to do, the ordinances laid down in it for regulating those acts never become fruitless. Whatever again the school of opinion according to which one may conduct oneself, one is sure to attain to the highest end by only observing the duties of self-restraint of Yoga. Knowledge assists that man in crossing (this interminable river of life and death) who pursues knowledge. That conduct, however, which men pursue after deviating from the path of knowledge, afflicts them (by subjecting them to the evils of life and death). It is evident that ye are possessed of knowledge and dissociated from every worldly object that may produce distress. But have any of you at any time succeeded in acquiring that knowledge in consequence of which everything is capable of being viewed as identical with one Universal Soul? 1 Without a correct apprehension of the scriptures, some there are, fond only of disputation, who, in consequence of being overwhelmed by desire and aversion, become the slaves of pride and arrogance. Without having correctly understood the meaning of scriptural declarations, these robbers of the scriptures, these depredators of Brahma, influenced by arrogance and error, refuse to pursue tranquillity and practise self-restraint. 2 These men behold fruitlessness on every side, and if (by chance) they succeed in obtaining the puissance of knowledge they never impart it to others for rescuing them. Made up entirely of the quality of Tamas, they have Tamas only for their refuge. One becomes subject to all the incidents of that nature which one imbibes. Accordingly, of him who hath Tamas for his refuge, the passions of envy, lust, wrath, pride, falsehood, and vanity, continually grow, for one's qualities have one's nature for their spring. Thinking in this strain and beholding these faults (through the aid of instructions secured from preceptors), Yatis, who covet the highest end, betake themselves to Yoga, leaving both good and ill.' 3
"Syumarasmi said, 'O Brahmana, all that I have said (about the laudable character of acts and the opposite character of Renunciation) is strictly conformable to the scriptures. It is, however, very true that without a correct apprehension of the meaning of the scriptures, one does not feel inclined to obey what the scriptures really declare. Whatever conduct is consistent with equity is consistent with the scriptures. Even that is what the Sruti declares. Similarly, whatever conduct is inconsistent with equity is inconsistent with the scriptures. This also is declared by the Sruti. It is certain that no one can do an act that is scriptural by transgressing the scriptures. That again is
unscriptural which is against the Vedas. The Sruti declares this. Many men, who believe only what directly appeals to their senses, behold only this world (and not what is addressed in the scriptures to Faith). They do not behold what the scriptures declare to be faults. They have, accordingly, like ourselves, to give way to grief. Those objects of the senses with which men like you are concerned are the same with which other living creatures are concerned. Yet in consequence of your knowledge of the soul and their ignorance of it, how vast is the difference that exists between you and them! All the four orders of men and all the four modes of life, however different their duties, seek the same single end (viz., the highest happiness). Thou art possessed of unquestioned talents and abilities. For ascertaining that particular course of conduct (amongst those various duties) which is well calculated to accomplish the desired end, thou hast, by discoursing to me on the Infinite (Brahma), filled my soul with tranquillity. As regards ourselves, in consequence of our inability to understand the Soul we are destitute of a correct apprehension of the reality. Our wisdom is concerned with things that are low, and we are enveloped in thick darkness. (The course of conduct, however, that thou hast indicated for enabling one to attain to Emancipation, is exceedingly difficult of practice). Only he who is devoted to Yoga, who has discharged all his duties, who is capable of roving everywhere depending only on his own body, who has brought his soul under perfect control, who has transcended the requirements of the science of morality and who disregards the whole world (and everything belonging to it), can transgress the declarations of the Vedas with respect to acts, and say that there is Emancipation. 1 For one, however, who lives in the midst of relatives, this course of conduct is exceedingly difficult to follow. Gift, study of the Vedas, sacrifices, begetting offspring, simplicity of dealing, when by practising even these no one succeeds in attaining to Emancipation, fie on him who seeks to attain to it, and on Emancipation itself that is sought! It seems that the labour spent upon attaining to it is all fruitless. One becomes chargeable with atheism if one disregards the Vedas by not doing the acts they direct. O illustrious one, I desire to hear without delay about that (Emancipation) which comes in the Vedas after the declarations in favour of acts. Do tell me the truth, O Brahmana! I sit at thy feet as a disciple. Teach me kindly! I wish to know as much about Emancipation as is known to thee, O learned one!'
259:2 For, as the commentator explains, one who has acquired an empire does not seek the dole of charity. In view of the high end that Renunciation is certain to bring, what need has a person of the domestic mode of life which leads to rewards that are insignificant compared to the other.
260:1 Varhi is grass or straw. Oshadhi here implies paddy and other grain. Vahiranya adrija implies 'other kinds of Oshadhi born on mountains,' i.e., the Soma and other useful hill plants and shrubs. Teshamapi mulam garhastyam should be supplied after the first line. Domesticity is the root of these, because these are cultivated or collected by persons leading the domestic mode of life. The argument in the second line is this: Oschadhibhyah pranah, pranat vahihna kinchit drisyate, atah viswasyapi mulam garhastyam.
260:2 Literally rendered, the words are,--'Without doubt, Vedic mantras enter into persons of the regenerate classes in respect of acts whose effects are seen and acts whose effects instead of being seen depend upon the evidence of the scriptures.' Practically, what is said here is that all the acts of a Brahmana are performed with the aid of Vedic mantras.
260:3 Mantras are necessary in cremating a Brahmana's dead body. Mantras are needed for assisting the dead spirit to attain to a brilliant form (either in the next world or in this if there p. 261 be rebirth). These mantras are, of course, uttered in Sraddhas. After the dead spirit has been provided, with the aid of mantras, with a body, food and drink are offered to him with the aid of mantras. Kine and animals are given away by the representatives of the dead for enabling the dead ancestor to cross the Vaitarani (the river that flows between the two worlds) and for enabling him to become happy in heaven. The funeral cake, again, according to the ordinance, is sunk in water for making it easily attainable by him to whom it is offered. By becoming a human being one inherits three debts. By study he pays off his debt to the Rishis: by the performance of sacrifices he pays off his debt to the gods, and by begetting children he frees himself from the debt he owes to the Pitris. The argument then is this: when the Vedas, which are the words of Supreme Godhead, have laid down these mantras for the attainment of such objects in the next world, how can Emancipation, which involves an incorporeal existence transcending the very Karana (form) be possible? The very declarations of the Vedas in favour of acts are inconsistent with incorporeal existence or with the negation of existence with dual consciousness of knower and known.
261:1 The mention of 'Devan' as the commentator points out--Rishis and also Pitris. The amrita here that these covet is, of course, the Sacrificial libation. 'Brahma-sanjnitah' implies 'conversant with Brahma,' for the Srutis say that 'Brahmavid Brahmaiva bhavati.'
261:2 The terseness of the original has not been removed in the translation. Enam is the universal Soul dwelling within this physical frame. It refers to the person who constitutes himself to be the soul of all creatures or one who is conversant with Brahma or has become Brahma itself. That soul is said to have a fourfold nature, viz., it is virat (all-embracing), sutra (fine as the finest thread and pervading everything), antaryamin (possessed of omniscience), and suddha (stainless). Its four mouths, by which are meant the four sources of enjoyment or pleasure, are the body, the senses, the mind, and the understanding. What the p. 262 speaker wishes to point out by this is the Bhotkritwa (power of enjoyment) of the Soul. The Kartritwa (power of action) is then pointed out by the mention of the doors which are the two arms, the organ of speech, the stomach and the organ of the pleasure (generation). These last operate as doors for shutting or confining the soul within its chamber. They are the screens or avaranas that conceal its real nature. The very gods feel their force, being unable to transcend them or their demands. He who would transcend them and shine in his own stainless nature should seek to control or restrain them. Practically, it is Yoga that is recommended for enabling one to attain to the position of the universal Soul.
262:1 'One who has cast off his upper garment' is one who clothes himself very scantily only for the sake of decency and not for splendour.
262:2 Dwandwarama very likely means here the joys of wedded couples and not 'the pleasures derived from pairs of opposites'. The sense seems to be this that man is a Brahmana who, without marrying succeeds in enjoying singly all the felicity that attaches to married life.
262:3 In reality all things are, of course, Brahma. Their external aspects are only transformations. p. 263 The end of all creatures is death and rebirth till absorption takes place into Brahma by means of Yoga.
263:1 The original is very terse. I have expanded it, following the commentator. Dana-yajna kriya phalam is chitta suddhi of purity or heart; antarena is equivalent to vina; anujananti governs Brahmanyam understood. Anyat phalam in the second line implies heaven and its joys (which satisfy ordinary men). The practice anu before jananti is taken to imply gurum anu, i.e., following the instructions of preceptors.'
263:2 These three verses run together and are extremely abstruse. There can be no doubt that the commentator is right. The construction is this: Yam sadacharam asritya samsritanam swakarmabhih (sahitam) tapah ghoratwam agatam, tam (sadacharam) puranam puranam saswatam dhruvam dharmeshu cha sutritamkitichit charitum asaknuvantah phalavanti vyushtimanti dhruvam cha karmani (mudah) vigunani, etc., pasyanti. The second line of 36 stands by itself as an explanatory sentence referring to some of the characteristics of the sadachara that is spoken of. Samsritanam, refers to men observing the different modes of life; ghoratwam agatam is samsarandhakaranasakam bhavati. What is meant by this is that the penances of such men, along with the duties they are called upon to observe by the particular mode of life they follow, become a terrible weapon, in consequence of their sadacharah, for destroying the evils of worldliness. The sadacharah spoken of here is nishkamadharmah. The latter is no new-fangled theory of men of learning but is puranam saswatam, and dhruvam. The phalavanti vyushtimanti, and dhruva karmani which fools regard to be vigyunani and anaikatitikani are, of course, those acts which are included within the word 'Yoga.' In brief, the speaker, in these three verses, wishes to inculcate that wise men, whatever their mode of life, observe its duties. But by virtue of the nishkama dharma they follow, they convert those duties and their penances into efficient means for dispelling the darkness of ignorance. Fools, on the other hand, unable to practise that nishkama dharma, look upon it and Yoga itself as fruitless and valueless although the rewards these confer are visible.
264:1 The sciences that have disputation only for their foremost object, are, according to the commentator, the sciences of the Lokayatikas, the Saughatas (or Buddhists), the Kapalikas, etc. The other sciences based on Logic that are included within the word Agama are the two Mimamsas, Sankhya, and Patanjala.
265:1 Aikatmyam is explained by the commentator as Eka eva dwaita darsana hina atma yatra bhavati. Practically, it is that state of the mind in which one perceives one's identity with everything in the universe. This is that true knowledge which brings about Emancipation or is Emancipation itself.
265:2 They are called 'robbers of the scriptures' because they always seek to rob the scriptures of their true meaning. They are 'depredators of Brahma' because they deny the very existence of Godhead. Nirarambhah is Camadyarambha-sunyah.
265:3 The particle anu means 'following the instructions of preceptors.' Samyame refers to Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Some texts read Siddhante for samyame.
266:1 What is intended to be said here is that only a life of Renunciation, so hard to follow, can lead to Emancipation. The Burdwan translator makes nonsense of the second line of 64 by connecting it with the first line of 65, K.P. Singha omits it entirely.
Next: Section CCLXX