The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse that took place between Narada and Asita-Devala. Once on a time Narada, beholding that foremost of intelligent men, viz., Devala of venerable years,
seated at his ease, questioned him about the origin and the destruction of all creatures.'
"Narada said, 'Whence, O Brahmana, hath this universe, consisting of mobile and immobile objects, been created? When again doth the all-embracing destruction come, into whom doth it merge? Let thy learned self discourse to me on this.'
"Asita said, 'Those from which the Supreme Soul, when the time comes, moved by the desire of existence in manifold, forms, creates all creatures, are said by persons conversant with objects to be the five great essences. 1 (After this) Time, impelled by the Understanding creates other objects from those (five primal essences).' 2 He that says that there is anything else besides these (i.e., the five primal essences, Kala, and the Understanding), says what is not true. Know, O Narada, that these five are eternal, indestructible, and without beginning and without end. With Kala as their sixth, these five primal essences are naturally possessed of mighty energy. Water, Space, Earth, Wind, and Heat,--these are those five essences. Without doubt, there is nothing higher or superior to these (in point of puissance or energy). The existence of nothing else (than five) can be affirmed by any one agreeably to the conclusions derivable from the Srutis or arguments drawn from reason. If any one does assert the existence of anything else, then his assertion would verily be idle or vain. Know that these six enter into the production of all effects. That of which are all these (which thou perceivest) is called Asat. 3 These five, and Kala (or Jiva), the potencies of past acts, and ignorance,--these eight eternal essences are the causes of the birth and destruction of all creatures. 4 When creatures are destroyed it is into these that they enter; and when they take birth, it is again from them they do so. Indeed, after destruction, a creature resolves itself into those five primal essences. His body is made of earth; his ear has its origin in space; his eye hath light for its cause; his life (motion) is of wind, and his blood is of water, without doubt. The two eyes, the nose, the two ears, the skin, and the tongue (constituting
the fifth), are the senses. These, the learned know, exist for perception of their respective objects. 1 Vision, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting are the functions of the senses. The five senses are concerned with five objects in five ways. Know, by the inference of reason, their similitude of attributes. 2 Form, scent, taste, touch, and sound, are the five properties that are (respectively) apprehended by the five senses in five different ways. These five properties, viz., form, scent, taste, touch, and sound, are not really apprehended by the senses (for these are inert), but it is the Soul that apprehends them through the senses. That which is called Chitta is superior to the multitude of senses. Superior to Chitta is Manas. Superior to Manas is Buddhi, and superior to Buddhi is Kshetrajna. 3 At first a living creature perceives different objects through the senses. With Manas he reflects over them, and then with the aid of Buddhi he arrives at certitude of knowledge. Possessed of Buddhi, one arrives at certainty of conclusions in respect of objects perceived through the senses. The five senses, Chitta, Mind and Understanding (which is the eighth in the tale),--these are regarded as organs of knowledge by those conversant with the science of Adhyatma. The hands, the feet, the anal duct, the membrum virile, the mouth (forming the fifth in the tale), constitute the five organs of action. The mouth is spoken of as an organ of action because it contains the apparatus of speech, and that of eating. The feet are organs of locomotion and the hands for doing various kinds of work. The anal duct and the membrum, virile are two organs that exist for a similar purpose, viz., for evacuation. The first is for evacuation of stools, the second for that of urine as also of the vital seed when one feels the influence of desire. Besides these, there is a sixth organ of action. It is called muscular power. These then are the names of the six organs of action according to the (approved) treatises bearing on the subject. I have now mentioned to thee the names of all the organs of knowledge and of action, and all the attributes of the five (primal) essences. 4 When in consequence of the organs being fatigued, they cease to perform their respective functions, the owner of those organs, because of their suspension, is said to sleep. If, when the functions of these organs are suspended, the functions of the mind do not cease, but on the other hand the mind continues to concern itself with its objects, the condition of consciousness is called Dream. During
wakefulness there are three states of the mind, viz., that connected with Goodness, that with Passion, and that with Darkness. In dream also the mind becomes concerned with the same three states. Those very states, when they appear in dreams, connected with pleasurable actions, come to be regarded with applause. Happiness, success, knowledge, and absence of attachment are the indications of (the wakeful man in whom is present) the attribute of Goodness. Whatever states (of Goodness, Passion, or Darkness) are experienced by living creatures, as exhibited in acts, during their hours of Wakefulness, reappear in memory during their hours of steep when they dream. The passage of our notions as they exist during wakefulness into those of dreams, and that of notions as they exist in dreams into those of wakefulness, become directly apprehensible in that state of consciousness which is called dreamless slumber. That is eternal, and that is desirable. 1 There are five organs of knowledge, and five of actions; with muscular power, mind, understanding, and Chitta, and with also the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas, the tale, it has been said, comes up to seventeen. The eighteenth in the enumeration is he who owneth the body, Indeed, he who lives in this body is eternal. All those seventeen (with Avidya or Ignorance making eighteen), dwelling in the body, exist attached to him who owns the body. When the owner disappears from the body, those eighteen (counting Avidya) cease to dwell together in the body. Or, this body made up of the five (primal) essences is only a combination (that must dissolve away). The eighteen attributes (including Avidya), with him that owneth the body, and counting stomachic heat numbering twentieth in the tale, form that which is known as the Combination of the Five. There is a Being called Mahat, which, with the aid of the wind (called Prana), upholds this combination containing the twenty things that have been named, and in the matter of the destruction of that body the wind (which is generally spoken of as the cause) is only the instrument in the hands of that same Mahat. Whatever creature is born is resolved once more into the five constituent elements upon the exhaustion of his merits and demerits; and urged again by the merits and demerits won in that life enters into another body resulting from his acts. 2 His abodes always resulting from Avidya, desire, and acts, he migrates from body to body, abandoning one after another repeatedly, urged on by Time, like a person abandoning house after house in succession. They that are wise, and
endued with certainty of knowledge, do not give way to grief upon beholding this (migration). Only they that are foolish, erroneously supposing relationships (where relationship in reality there is none) indulge in grief at sight of such changes of abode. This Jiva is no one's relation; there is none again that may be said to belong to him. He is always alone, and he himself creates his own body and his own happiness and misery. This Jiva is never born, nor doth he ever die. Freed from the bond of body, he succeeds sometimes in attaining to the highest end. Deprived of body, because freed through the exhaustion of acts from bodies that are the results of merits and demerits, Jiva at last attains to Brahma. For the exhaustion of both merits and demerits, Knowledge has been ordained as the cause in the Sankhya school. Upon the exhaustion of merit and demerit, when Jiva attains to the status of Brahma, 1 (they that are learned in the scriptures) behold (with the eye of the scriptures) the attainment of Jiva to the highest end.'"
282:1 Yebhyah means 'the materials from which. (Srijati) has Paramatma for its nominative (understood). Kale is the time of creation as selected by the Supreme Soul in his own wisdom. Bhavaprachoditah is 'induced by the desire of becoming many, or led by the desire of existence as many or in infinite diversity.'
282:2 Kala here is, perhaps, the embodiment of the abstract idea of life of living creatures. Impelled by the Understanding, Kala or life sets itself to the creation of other creatures. These last also are equally the result of the same five primal essences.
282:3 The construction of the second line is this: etan shad abhinivrittan (sarveshu karyeshu anugatam) vettha; then ete yasya rasayah (karyani, tat asat). The sense of the last clause is that all this is the effect of those primal essences. All this, therefore, is of those essences. The latter are included in the word asat, or unreal, as distinguished from sat or real of substantial. The soul is sat, everything else is asat.
282:4 In previous Sections it has been explained how when the Chit, which has pure knowledge for its attribute, becomes invested with Ignorance, it begins to attract the primal essences towards itself in consequence of the potencies of past acts and take birth in various shapes. (The idea of past acts is due to the infinite cycles of creation and destruction, the very first creation being inconceivable). The causes of creation are, therefore, the five primal essences, Jiva (or chit), the potencies of past acts, and Ignorance.
283:1 Jnanani is Jnana-karanani, i.e., perceptions for causes of perception.
283:2 The second line of 13 is very condensed. The meaning is this: the eye is the sense of vision. Vision or sight is its function. The object it apprehends is form. The eye has light for its cause, and form is an attribute of light. Hence the eye seizes or apprehends form. By the inference of reason, there is similitude, in respect of attribute or property, between the eye, vision, and form. The commentator explains this clearly Drashtri-darsanadrisya nam trayanamapi gunatamatyam upapannam. This is indicated with a little variation in the next verse. K.P. Singha skips over the line. The Burdwan translator gives an incorrect version.
283:3 Manas is mind, Buddhi is Understanding, and Kshetrajna is the Soul. What, however, is Chitta is difficult to ascertain, unless it means vague or indefinite perception. In some systems of philosophy the Chitta is placed above the Understanding.
283:4 The Bengal reading yathagantam is preferable to the Bombay reading yatha mama.
284:1 The first line of 27 is grammatically connected with the last line of 26. The second line of 27 is very abstruse. The grammatical construction is this: tayorbhavayogamanam (sushuptau) pratyaksham (drishtam); (tadeva) nityam, ipsitam (cha). What is meant by this is that in ordinary men, the notions during wakefulness are not the notions they cherish during dreams: nor are their notions during dreams identifiable with those they entertain while wakeful. There is similarity but not identity. In eternal Sushupti, however, which is Emancipation, the notions of wakefulness pass into those of dream and those of dream pass into those of wakefulness, i.e., both (or, rather, the same, for there is then perfect identity between them) become directly apprehensible in Sushupti or Emancipation. Sushupti Or Emancipation, therefore, is a state, in which there is neither the consciousness of wakefulness nor that of dream, but both run together, their differences disappearing totally.
284:2 This is a triplet.
285:1 Brahmabhava is explained as follows: when one succeeds in understanding Brahma, one is said to attain to Brahma, as the Srutis declare. The commentator explains that Pasyanti is used with reference to those that are learned in the scriptures. They behold the attainment of the highest end by Jiva not with their physical eyes but with the eye of the scriptures, for they that are themselves emancipated cannot be said to behold the emancipation of another. This is grave trifling for explaining the use of the word pasyanti.
Next: Section CCLXXVI