The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Thou hast said, O grandsire, the Emancipation is to be won by means and not otherwise. I desire to hear duly what those means are.'
"Bhishma said, 'O thou of great wisdom, this enquiry that thou hast addressed to me and that is connected with a subtle topic, is really worthy of thee, since thou, O sinless one, always seekest to accomplish all thy objects by the application of means. That state of mind which is present when one sets oneself to make an earthen jar for one's use, disappears after the jar has been completed. After the same manner, that cause which urges persons who regard virtue as the root of advancement and prosperity ceases to operate with them that seek to achieve Emancipation. 1 That path which leads to the Eastern Ocean is not the path by which one can go to the Western Ocean. There is only one path that leads to Emancipation. (It is not identical with any of those that lead to arty other object of acquisition). Listen to me as I discourse on it to thee in detail. One should, by practising forgiveness, exterminate wrath, and by abandoning--all purposes, root out desire. By practising the quality of Sattwa 2 one should conquer sleep. By heedfulness one should keep off fear, and by contemplation of the Soul one should conquer breath. 3 Desire, aversion, and lust, one should dispel by patience; error, ignorance, and doubt, by study of truth. By pursuit after knowledge one should avoid insouciance and inquiry after things of no interest. 4 By frugal and easily digestible fare one should drive off all disorders and diseases. By contentment one should dispel greed and stupefaction of judgment, and all worldly concerns should be avoided by a knowledge of the truth. 5 By practising benevolence one should conquer iniquity, and by regard for all creatures one should acquire virtue. One should avoid expectation by the reflection that it is concerned with the future; and one should cast off wealth by abandoning desire itself. The man of intelligence should abandon affection by recollecting that everything (here) is transitory. He should subdue hunger by practising Yoga. By practising benevolence one should keep off all ideas of self-importance, and drive off all sorts of craving by adopting contentment. By exertion one should subdue procrastination, and by certainty all kinds of doubt, by taciturnity, loquaciousness, and by courage, every kind of fear. 6 Speech and mind are to be subdued by the Understanding,
and the Understanding, in its turn, is to be kept under control by the eye of knowledge. Knowledge, again, is to be controlled by acquaintance with the Soul, and finally the Soul is to be controlled by the Soul. 1 This last is attainable by those that are of pure-acts and endued with tranquillity of soul, 2 the means being the subjugation of those five impediments of Yoga of which the learned speak. By casting off desire and wrath and covetousness and fear and sleep, one should, restraining speech, practise what is favourable to Yoga, viz., contemplation, study, gift, truth, modesty, candour, forgiveness, purity of heart, purity in respect of food, and the subjugation of the senses. By these one's energy is increased, sins are dispelled, wishes crowned with fruition, and knowledge (of diverse kinds) gained. When one becomes cleansed of one's sins and possessed of energy and frugal of fare and the master of one's senses, one then, having conquered both desire and wrath, seeks to attain to Brahma. The avoidance of ignorance (by listening to and studying the scriptures), the absence of attachment (in consequence of Renunciation) freedom from desire and wrath (by adoption of contentment and forgiveness), the puissance that is won by Yoga, the absence of pride and haughtiness, freedom from anxiety (by subjugation of every kind of fear), absence of attachment of anything like home and family,--these constitute the path of Emancipation. That path is delightful, stainless, and pure. Similarly, the restraining of speech, of body, and of mind, when practised from the absence of desire, constitutes also the path of Emancipation.'" 3
280:1 What is said in this verse is this: when a man wants an earthen jar, he works for creating one. When he has got one, he no longer finds himself in the same state of mind, his want having been satisfied. Similarly, with men desirous of heaven and earthly prosperity as the reward of virtue, the means is Pravritti or acts. This or these cease to operate with those who having acquired such virtue set themselves for the achievement of Emancipation, for with them the religion of Nivritti is all in all.
280:2 i.e., by abandoning all kinds of idleness, as explained by the commentator.
280:3 i.e., by Yoga-meditation one should regulate and finally suspend one's breath. The Yogin can suspend all physical functions and yet live on from age to age.
280:4 Nidra here is explained as ananusandhana or the absence of inquisitiveness or curiosity. By pratibha is meant inquiry after improper things or things that are of no interest.
280:5 The truth is that the world is unreal and has no end.
280:6 Hunger is to be subdued by Yoga, i.e., by regulating the wind within the body. Doubt is to be dispelled by certainty; this implies that certain knowledge should be sought for by driving off doubt. The commentator thinks that this means that all sceptical conclusions should be dispelled by faith in the scriptures. By 'fear,' in this verse, is meant the source p. 281 of fear, or the world. That is to be conquered by the conquest of the six, i.e., desire, wrath, covetousness, error, pride, and envy.
281:1 What is laid down here is the same course of training that is indicated for Yoga. First, the senses are to be merged into the mind, then the mind is to be merged into the Understanding, then the Understanding is to be merged into the Soul or what is known as the Ego. This Ego is to be merged at last into the Supreme Soul. When the Ego is understood, it comes to be viewed as Brahma.
281:2 'Pure acts' are, of course, those that are included in 'Nishkama dharmah,' and 'tranquillity of soul' is the cleansing of the soul by driving away all passions and desires.
281:3 Such restraint of speech, etc., or niyamah is yogah. Kamaoanyatha is kama-vaiparityena. The sense, the commentator adds, is that one should not desire 'yoga-siddhi,' for then, as has been repeatedly indicated in the previous Sections, the Yogin would fall into hell and succeed not in attaining to Emancipation, heaven itself being hell in comparison with the felicity of Emancipation. K.P. Singha quietly skips over the last line and the Burdwan translator offers a ridiculously incorrect version.
Next: Section CCLXXV