The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'How, O grandsire, should a king like us behave in this world, keeping in view the great object of acquisition? What attributes, again, should he always possess so that he may be freed from attachments?'
"Bhishma said, 'I shall in this connection recite to thee the old narrative that was uttered by Arishtanemi unto Sagara who had sought his counsel.'
"Sagara said, 'What is that good, O Brahmana, by doing which one may
enjoy felicity here? How, indeed, may one avoid grief and agitation? I wish to know all this!'
"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed by Sagara, Arishtanemi of Tarkshya's race, conversant with all the scriptures, regarding the questioner to be every way deserving of his instructions, said these words, 1 'The felicity of Emancipation is true felicity in the world. The man of ignorance knows it not, attached as he is to children and animals and possessed of wealth and corn. An understanding that is attached to worldly objects and a mind suffering from thirst,--these two baffle all skilful treatment. The ignorant man who is bound in the chains of affection is incapable of acquiring Emancipation. 2 I shall presently speak to thee of all the bonds that spring from the affections. Hear them with attention. Indeed, they are capable of being heard with profit by one that is possessed of knowledge. Having procreated children in due time and married them when they become young men, and having ascertained them to be competent for earning their livelihood, do thou free thyself from all attachments and rove about in happiness. When thou seest thy dearly-cherished wife grown old in years and attached to the son she has brought forth, do thou leave her in time, keeping in view the highest object of acquisition (viz., Emancipation). Whether thou obtainest a son or not, having during the first years of thy life duly enjoyed with thy senses the objects that are addressed to them, free thyself from attachments and rove about in happiness. Having indulged the senses with their objects, thou shouldst suppress the desire of further indulging them. Freeing thyself then from attachments, thou shouldst rove in felicity, contenting thyself with what is obtained without effort and previous calculation, and casting an equal eye upon all creatures and objects. 3 Thus, O son, have I told thee in brief (of what the way is for freeing thyself from attachments). Hear me now, for I shall presently tell thee, in detail, the desirability of the acquisition of Emancipation. 4 Those persons who live in this world freed from attachments and fear, succeed in obtaining happiness. Those persons, however, who are attached to worldly objects, without doubt, meet with destruction. Worms and ants (like men) are engaged in the acquisition of food and are seen to die in the search. They that are freed from attachments are happy, while they that are attached to worldly objects meet with destruction. If thou desirest to attain to Emancipation thou shouldst never bestow thy thoughts on thy relatives, thinking,--How shall these exist without me?--A living creature takes birth by himself, and grows by himself, and obtains happiness and misery, and death by himself. In this world people enjoy and obtain food and raiment and other acquisitions earned by their parents or themselves. This is the result of the acts of past lives, for
nothing can be had in this life which is not the result of the past. All creatures live on the Earth, protected by their own acts, and obtaining their food as the result of what is ordained by Him who assigns the fruits of acts. A man is but a lump of clay, and is always himself completely dependent on other forces. One, therefore, being oneself so, in firm, what rational consideration can one have for protecting and feeding one's relatives? When thy relatives are carried away by Death in thy very sight and in spite of even thy utmost efforts to save them, that circumstance alone should awaken thee. In the every lifetime of thy relatives and before thy own duty is completed of feeding and protecting them, thyself mayst meet with death and abandon them. After thy relatives have been carried away from this world by death, thou canst not know what becomes of them there,--that is, whether they meet with happiness or misery. This circumstance ought to awaken thee. When in consequence of the fruits of their own acts thy relatives succeed in maintaining themselves in this world whether thou livest or diest, reflecting on this thou shouldst do what is for thy own good. 1 When this is known to be the case, who in the world is to be regarded as whose? Do thou, therefore, set thy heart on the attainment of Emancipation. Listen now to what more I shall say unto thee. That man of firm Soul is certainly emancipated who has conquered hunger and thirst and such other states of the body, as also wrath and cupidity and error. That man is always emancipated who does not forget himself, through folly, by indulging in gambling and drinking and concubinage and the chase. That man who is really touched by sorrow in consequence of the necessity there is of eating every day and every night for supporting life, is said to be cognisant of the faults of life. One who, as the result of careful reflection, regards his repeated births to be only due to sexual congress with women, is held to be freed from attachments. That man is certainly emancipated who knows truly the nature of the birth, the destruction, and the exertion (or acts) of living creatures. That man becomes certainly freed who regards (as worthy of his acceptance) only a handful of corn, for the support of life, from amidst millions upon millions of carts loaded with grain, and who disregards the difference between a shed of bamboo and reeds and a palatial mansion. 2 That man becomes certainly freed who beholds the
world to be afflicted by death and disease and famine. 1 Indeed, one who beholds the world to be such succeeds in becoming contented; while one who fails to behold the world in such a light, meets with destruction. That man who is contented with only a little is regarded as freed. That man who beholds the world as consisting of eaters and edibles (and himself as different from both) and who is never touched by pleasure and pain which are born of illusion, is regarded as emancipate. That man who regards a soft bed on a fine bedstead and the hard soil as equal, and who regards good sali rice and hard thick rice as equal, is emancipated. That man who regards linen and cloth made of grass as equal, and in whose estimation cloth of silk and barks of trees are the same, and who sees no difference between clean sheep-skin and unclean leather, is emancipated That man who looks upon this world as the result of the combination of the five primal essences, and who behaves himself in this world, keeping this notion foremost, is emancipated. That man who regards pleasure and pain as equal, and gain and loss as on a par, in whose estimation victory and defeat differ not, to whom like and dislike are the same, and who is unchanged under fear and anxiety, is wholly emancipated. That man who regards his body which has so many imperfections to be only a mass of blood, urine and excreta, as also of disorders and diseases, is emancipated. That man becomes emancipated who always recollects that this body, when overtaken by decrepitude, becomes assailed by wrinkles and white hairs and leanness and paleness of complexion and a bending of the form. That man who recollects his body to be liable to loss of virility, and weakness of sight, and deafness, and loss of strength, is emancipated. That man who knows that the very Rishis, the deities, and the Asuras are beings that have to depart from their respective spheres to other regions, is emancipated. That man who knows that thousands of kings possessed of even great offence and power have departed from this earth, succeeds in becoming emancipated. That man who knows that in this world the acquisition of objects is always difficult, that pain is abundant, and that the maintenance of relatives is ever attended with pain, becomes emancipated. 2 Beholding the abundant faults of children and of other men, who is there that would not adore Emancipation? That man who, awakened by the scriptures and the experience of the world, beholds every human concern in this world to be unsubstantial, becomes emancipated. Bearing in mind those words of mine, do thou conduct thyself like one that has become emancipated, whether it is a life of domesticity that thou wouldst lead or pursue emancipation without suffering thy understanding to be confounded.' 3 Hearing these words of his
with attention, Sagara, that lord of earth, acquired those virtues which are productive of Emancipation and continued, with their aid to rule his subjects.'"
339:1 Kamesah is possessor of all objects of desire or enjoyment. The sense is this: where the king, casting off desire, wins prosperity for himself; i.e., though possessed of wealth, is not attached to wealth. The expression may also mean 'master of desire,' i.e., where the king casts off desire and masters his desires without allowing the latter to master him.
339:2 Pratyupasthite is pritipatwena upasthite, i.e., hiyantanesati.
339:3 I am not sure that I have understood aright the second line of this verse. It may also mean, 'No one is able to enumerate all that is beneficial for the Soul in consequence of the wideness of subject.
339:4 Vrittam has uddisya understood after it. The Bombay text reads pranihitatmanah; the Bengal reading is pranihitatmanah. If the Bengal reading be accepted, it would mean 'whose soul is fixed or established on Yoga.' Tapasa is explained by the commentator as swadharmena, in view of the question of Galava which Narada answers. The sense, however, would remain unaltered if it be taken as standing for Self-control or penances.
340:1 Sampadam is explained by the commentator as upadesa-yogyata-sriyam.
340:2 Some texts read sakyam; the reading sakyah also occurs. If the former be accepted, it must be taken as referring to tadawayam as the commentator explains. No alteration in sense occurs by adhering to the one reading or the other.
340:3 In the second line some of the Bengal texts read lobheshu. The correct reading is lokeshu. Both the vernacular translators adhere to the wrong reading.
340:4 Mokshartha is moksha-prayojanah.
341:1 The argument contained in these verses is this: as thou dost not know what becomes of thy relatives when they die, thou canst not help them then. It seems plain, therefore, that when thou shalt die thy relatives will not be able to do thee any good. Hence, thou gainest nothing by bestowing thy thoughts on thy relatives, forgetting thy own great concern, viz., the acquisition of Emancipation. Similarly, when thy relatives live and suffer irrespective of thy life or death, and thou too must enjoy or endure irrespective of their existence or efforts, it is meant that thou shouldst not be forgetful of thy own highest good by busying thyself with the concerns of thy relatives.
341:2 The sense is that one who takes only a handful of corn for the support of life even when millions upon millions of carts loaded with corn await his acceptance, is certainly to be regarded as freed. Literally rendered, the second line is--'who beholds a shed of bamboo or reeds in a palace,' meaning, of course, as put above, 'one who sees no difference between the two.'
342:1 Avritti is want of the means of sustaining life: thence, scarcity or famine.
342:2 The sense is that as the maintenance of wives and children is painful, one should withdraw from the world and retire into solitude.
342:3 The sense seems to be this: Is it a life of domesticity that thou wouldst lead? There is no harm in thy doing this, provided thou behavest in the way pointed out. Is it Emancipation that thou wouldst pursue (in the usual way), i.e., by retiring into solitude and betaking thyself to Sannyasa? Thou mayst then behave in the way pointed out, and, indeed, that is the way of Sannyasa which leads to Emancipation.
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