The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'Living creatures always stand in fear of sorrow and death. Tell me, O grandsire, how the occurrence of these two may be prevented.'
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection, O Bharata, is cited the old narrative of the discourse between Narada and Samanga.'
"Narada said, '(While others salute their superiors by only a bend of the head) thou salutest thy superiors by prostrating thyself on the ground till thy chest comes into contact with the ground. Thou seemest to be engaged in crossing (the river of life) with thy hands. 1 Thou seemest to be always free from sorrow and exceedingly cheerful. I do not see that thou hast the least anxiety. Thou art always content and happy and thou seemest to sport (in felicity) like a child.'
"Samanga said, 'O giver of honours, I know the truth about the Past, the Present, and the Future. Hence I never become cheerless. 2 I know also what the beginning of acts is in this world, what the accession of their fruits, and how varied are those fruits. Hence I never yield to sorrow. 3 Behold, the illiterate, the destitute, the prosperous, O Narada, the blind, idiots and madmen, and ourselves also, all live. 4 These live by virtue of their acts of past lives. The very deities, who exist freed from diseases, exist (in that state) by virtue of their past acts. The strong and the weak, all, live by virtue of past acts. It is fitting, therefore, that thou shouldst hold us in esteem. The owners of thousands live. The owners of hundreds also live. They that are overwhelmed with sorrow live. Behold, we too are living! When we, O Narada, do not give way to grief, what can the practice of the duties (of religion) or the observance of (religious) acts do to us? And since all joys and sorrows also are not unending, they are, therefore, unable to agitate us at all. 5 That for which men
are said to be wise, indeed, the very root of wisdom, is the freedom of the senses from error. It is the senses that yield to error and grief. One whose senses are subject to error can never be said to have attained wisdom. That pride which is indulged in by a man subject to error is only a form of the error to which he is subject. As regards the man of error, he has neither this world nor the next. It should be remembered that griefs do not last for ever and that happiness cannot be had always. 1 Worldly life with all its vicissitudes and painful incidents, one like me would never adopt. Such a one would not care for desirable objects of enjoyments, and would not think at all of the happiness their possession may bring about, or, indeed, of the griefs that present themselves. 2 One capable of resting on one's own self would never covet the possessions of others; would not think of gains unacquired, would not feel delighted at the acquisition of even immense wealth; and would not yield to sorrow at the loss of wealth. Neither friends, nor wealth, nor high birth, nor scriptural learning, nor mantras, nor energy, can succeed in rescuing one from sorrow in the next world. It is only by conduct that one can attain to felicity there. The Understanding of the man unconversant with Yoga can never be directed towards Emancipation. One unconversant with Yoga can never have happiness. Patience and the resolution to cast off sorrow, these two indicate the advent of happiness. Anything agreeable leads to pleasure. Pleasure induces pride. Pride, again, is productive of sorrow. For these reasons, I avoid all these. Grief, Fear, Pride,--these that stupefy the heart,--and also Pleasure and Pain, I behold as (an unconcerned) witness since my body is endued with life and moves about. 3 Casting off both wealth and pleasure, and thirst and error, I wander over the earth, freed from grief and every kind of anxiety of heart. Like one that has drunk nectar I have no fear, here or hereafter, of death, or iniquity, or cupidity, or anything of that kind. I have acquired this knowledge, O Brahmana, as the result of my severe and indestructible penances. It is for this reason, O Narada, that grief, even when it comes to me, does not succeed in afflicting me.'"
333:1 i.e., in even thy direst distress thou dependest on thyself. To cross the fearful river of life without a raft and with the aid of only one's bare arms implies great self-dependence.
333:2 That which did not exist and will not exist, exists not at the present moment. Everything, therefore, which is of the nature of asat is non-existent. Our sorrows are connected with the asat. Knowing this, I have cast off all sorrows.
333:3 I have understood that acts are for sorrow; that the fruits also of acts are for sorrow in spite of the apparent character of some; and that the fruits of acts are varied, sometimes other fruits appearing than those expected. Hence, I do not indulge in sorrow, for I avoid acts and do not grieve for not obtaining the fruits of acts or for the accession of fruits other than those apparently agreeable.
333:4 The sense is that we who avoid acts, are not dead; in fact, we live quite as others do; and those others, how unequally circumstanced! The Burdwan translator makes nonsense of the first line simple though it is.
333:5 Ignorance lies at the root of sorrow. By casting off ignorance, we have avoided sorrow. Hence, neither religion or religious acts such as Sacrifices, etc., can do us any good or harm. As regards happiness and misery again, these two cannot agitate us at all, since we know their value, both being ephemeral in comparison with the period for which we are to exist.
334:1 Hence, no one should indulge in pride, saying, 'I am happy,' nor yield to sorrow, saying, 'I am miserable.' Both happiness and misery are transitory. The man of wisdom should never suffer himself to be agitated by these transitory states of his mind.
334:2 The first word is read either as bhavatmakam or bhavatmakam. The first means samsararupam; the second, drisyatmakam.
334:3 I am obliged to behold them because I am a living being having a body, but then I behold them as an unconcerned witness.
Next: Section CCLXXXVIII