The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Once again Janaka, the ruler of Mithila, questioned the high-souled Parasara endued with certain knowledge in respect of all duties.'
"Janaka said, 'What is productive of good? What is the best path (for living creatures)? What is that which being accomplished is never destroyed? What is that spot repairing whither one has not to come back? Tell me all this, O thou of high intelligence!'
"Parasara said, 'Dissociation (from attachments) is the root of what is good. 1 Knowledge is the highest path. Penances practised are never destroyed, Gifts also, made to deserving persons, are not lost. When one, breaking the bonds of sin, begins to take pleasure in righteousness, and when one makes that highest of all gifts, viz., the pledge of harmlessness unto all creatures, then does one achieve success. He who gives away thousands of kine and hundreds of horses (to deserving persons), and who gives unto all creatures the pledge of harmlessness, receives in return the pledge of harmlessness from all. One may live in the midst of all kinds of wealth and enjoyment, yet, if blessed with intelligence, one does not live in them: while he that is destitute of intelligence lives wholly in objects of enjoyment that are even unsubstantial. 2 Sin cannot attach to a man of wisdom even as water cannot drench the leaves of the lotus. Sin adheres more firmly to him who is without attachment even as lac and wood adhere firmly to each other. Sin, which cannot be extinguished except by endurance of its fruits, never abandons the doer. Verily, the doer, when the time comes, has to endure the consequences arising from it. 3 They, however, that are of cleansed souls and that realise the existence of Brahma, are never afflicted by the fruits of their acts. Heedless in respect of one's senses of knowledge and of action, one that is not conscious of one's wicked acts, and whose heart is attached to both good and bad, becomes afflicted with great fear. One who at all times becomes entirely freed from attachments and who completely subjugates the passion of wrath, is never stained by sin even if he lives in the enjoyment of worldly objects. As a dyke built across a river, if not washed away, causes the waters thereof to swell up, even so the man who, without being attached to objects of enjoyments, creates the dyke of righteousness whose materials consist of the limitations set down in the scriptures, has never to languish. On the other hand, his merits and penances increase. As the pure gem (called Suryakanta) absorbs and attracts to itself, the rays of the Sun, even so, O tiger among kings, does Yoga proceed by help of concentrated attention. 4 As sesame seeds, in consequence of their repeated intermingling with (fragrant) flowers, become in respect of quality very agreeable, even so the quality of Sattwa arises in men in proportion to the measure of their association with persons of cleansed souls. 5 When one becomes desirous of dwelling in heaven, one
casts off one's spouses and wealth and rank and vehicles and diverse kinds of good acts. Indeed, when one attains to such a frame of mind, one's understanding is said to be dissociated from the objects of the senses. That man (on the other hand) who, with understanding attached to the objects of the senses, becomes blind to what is for his real good, is dragged (to his ruin) by his heart which runs after all worldly objects, like a fish (dragged to its ruin) by the bait of meat. Like unto the body that is made up of different limbs and organs, all mortal creatures exist depending upon one another. They are as destitute of vigour as the pith of the banana plant. (Left to themselves) they sink in the world's ocean like a boat (made of weak materials). There is no fixed time for the acquisition of righteousness. Death waits for no man. When man is constantly running towards the jaws of Death, the accomplishment of righteous acts is proper at all times. Like a blind man who, with attention, is capable of moving about his own house, the man of wisdom, with mind set on Yoga, succeeds in proceeding along the track (he should follow). 1 It has been said that death arises in consequence of birth. Birth is subject to the sway of death. One unacquainted with the course of the duties of Emancipation revolves like a wheel between birth and death, unable to free oneself from that fate. One who walketh along the track recommended by the understanding earns happiness both here and hereafter. The Diverse are fraught with misery, while the Few are productive of happiness. Fruits represented by the not-Soul are said to constitute the Diverse. Renunciation is (said to constitute the Few and that is) productive of the soul's happiness. 2 As the lotus stalk quickly leaves the mire attached to it, even so the Soul can speedily cast off the mind. 3 It is the mind that at first inclines the Soul to Yoga. The latter then merges the former into itself. When the Soul achieves success in Yoga, it then beholds itself uninvested with attributes. 4 Engaged amid the objects of the senses, one who regards such engagement to be one's employment falleth away from one's true employment in consequence of such devotion to those objects. The soul of the wise man attains, through its
righteous acts, to a state of high felicity in heaven, while that of the man who is not possessed of wisdom sinks very low or obtains birth among intermediate creatures. As a liquid substance, if kept in a baked earthen vessel, does not escape therefrom but remains undiminished, after the same manner one's body with which one has undergone austerities enjoys (without rejecting) all objects of enjoyment (up to what are contained in the region of Brahma himself). Verily, that man who enjoys worldly objects can never be emancipated. That man, on the other hand, who casts off such objects (in this world), succeeds in enjoying great happiness hereafter. Like one afflicted with congenital blindness and, therefore, incapable of seeing his way, the sensualist, with soul confined in an opaque case, seems to be surrounded by a mist and fails to see (the true object for which he should strive). As merchants, going across the sea, make profits proportioned to their capital, even so creatures, in this world of mortals, attain to ends according to their respective acts. Like a snake devouring air, Death wanders in this world made up of days and nights in the form of Decrepitude and devours all creatures. A creature, when born, enjoys or endures the fruits of acts done by him in his previous lives. There is nothing agreeable or disagreeable which one enjoys or endures without its being the result of the acts one has done in one's previous lives. Whether lying or proceeding, whether sitting idly engaged in his occupations, in whatever state a man may be, his acts (of past lives) good or bad always approach him. One that has attained to the other shore of the ocean, wishes not to cross the main for returning to the shore whence he had sailed. 1 As the fisherman, when he wishes, raises with the help of his chord his boat sunk in the waters (of a river or lake), after the same manner the mind, by the aid of Yoga-contemplation, raises Jiva sunk in the world's ocean and unemancipated from consciousness of body. 2 As all rivers running towards the ocean, unite themselves with it, even so the mind, when engaged in Yoga, becomes united with primal Prakriti. 3 Men whose minds become bound by diverse chains of affection, and who are engulfed in ignorance, meet with destruction like houses of sand in water. 4 That embodied creature who regards his body as only a house and purity (both external and internal) as its sacred water, and who walks along the path of the understanding, succeeds
in attaining to happiness both here and hereafter. 1 The Diverse are productive of misery; while the Few are productive of happiness. The Diverse are the fruits represented by the not-Soul. Renunciation (which is identical with Few) is productive of the soul's benefit. 2 One's friends who spring up from one's determination, and one's kinsmen whose attachment is due to (selfish) reasons, one's spouses and sons and servants, only devour one's wealth. Neither the mother, nor the father, can confer the slightest benefit upon one in the next world. Gifts constitute the diet upon which one can subsist. Indeed, one must have to enjoy the fruits of one's own acts. 3 The mother, the son, the sire, the brother, the wife, and friends, are like lines traced with gold by the side of gold itself. 4 All acts, good and bad, done in past lives come to the doer. Knowing that everything one enjoys or endures at present is the result of the acts of past lives, the soul urges the understanding on different directions (so that it may act in such a way as to avoid all unpleasant fruits). Relying on earnest endeavour, and equipped with proper aids, he who sets himself to accomplish his tasks never meets with failure. As the rays of light never abandon the Sun, even so prosperity never abandons one who is endued with undoubting faith. That act which a man of stainless soul does with faith and earnestness, with the aid of proper means, without pride, and with intelligence, becomes never lost. A creature obtains from the very time of his abode in the mother's womb all his own acts good and bad that were achieved by him in his past lives. Death, which is irresistible, aided by Time which brings about the destruction of life, leads all creatures to their end like wind scattering the dust of sawed timber. 5 Through acts good and bad performed by himself in his past lives, man obtains gold and animals and spouses, and children, and honour of birth, and possessions of value, and his entire affluence.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Thus addressed conformably to the truth by the
sage, Janaka, that foremost of righteous persons, O king, heard everything the Rishi said and obtained great happiness from it.'"
366:1 It has been explained in previous sections that sreyas or nisreyas means good or excellent as applied to moral merit.
366:2 By buddhiman is meant the man who is freed from attachment. Similarly, by durbuddhih is meant the man who is the slave of attachments.
366:3 Karanapekshi is thus explained by the commentator: karanaphaladanatmika kriya tannirvittyapekshi. The sense is that sin can never be destroyed except by endurance of its fruits.
366:4 The sense is that after the manner of the fabulous gem, Jiva attracts to itself, through Yoga, the status of Brahma.
366:5 The Burdwan translator, without understanding the commentary, makes utter nonsense of this verse. K.P. Singha is not far wrong, but he does not bring out the principal point which is sought to be inculcated here. Sesame seeds are repeatedly mixed with fragrant The more they are so mixed the more fragrant do they become. After the same p. 367 manner, men acquire the quality of Sattwa by associating with persons of cleansed souls. The measure of Sattwa is dependent on the measure of the association.
367:1 The track is that of Knowledge. Vide verse 3 above.
367:2 Having used the words vistaran (Diverse) and samkshepah (Few), in the second line of this triplet, the speaker explains their meaning in the third. By 'Diverse' is meant all those fruits that consist of unstable enjoyments; hence, the diverse acts laid down in the Vedas and other scriptures. By 'Few' is meant Renunciation, or abstention from acts. What is said, therefore, in this verse is this: they that betake themselves to acts, which for their fruits all sorts of enjoyment, meet with misery; while they that abstain from acts or practise Renunciation meet with happiness. Both the vernacular versions are incorrect.
367:3 It is difficult to understand what is meant by this verse. By progress in Yoga, the Soul can certainly cast off the mind and other attributes by which it is invested. The simile is unintelligible. The stalk of the lotus has its roots in mire. Does the first line mean, therefore, that the stalk speedily springs upwards and leaves the mire at its roots?
367:4 The commentator explains that the intention of this verse is to explain that the universe which is created by the mind is destroyed afterwards by the mind itself.
368:1 The sense is that one who has cast off objects of enjoyment and become emancipated, does not obtain rebirth.
368:2 I follow the commentator in his exposition of this verse. The practice of fishermen (in India) is to sink their boats when they leave them for their homes, and to raise them again when they require them the next day. They do not leave their boats afloat for fear of the injury the waves may do to them by tossing them too much.
368:3 By Prakriti here is meant the harmony of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. As long as these three qualities are in harmony with one another, i.e., as long as there is no preponderance in any of them over the other two, so long there cannot be creation or the operations of the buddhi or understanding.
368:4 In this verse the word Prakriti is used in an entirely different sense. It means here Ignorance.
369:1 Sariragriha-sanjnasya is 'of one who regards his body to be an accompaniment of the Soul instead of regarding it to be the Soul.' 'Who regards purity as its sacred water', i.e., who, without resorting to the sacred waters whither others go for cleansing themselves, thinks that purity, both internal and external, is capable of cleansing him.
369:2 Vide note to verse 21 above.
369:3 The object of the verse is to show that one should not, for the sake of friends and kinsmen and spouses and children, abstain from pursuing one's true end. The practice of charity again is the true diet which supports a man.
369:4 Astapadapada is a weight of gold. The word, as used in this verse, means a quantity of gold. Whether the reading be mudreva or sutrena, the sense remains unchanged. What is said here is that the mother, etc., are like lines traced with gold by the side of real gold; i.e., the mother, etc., are of no value or use in the acquisition of prosperity. K.P. Singha misses the meaning. The Burdwan translator, however, makes a most ridiculous exhibition of himself. Without understanding the commentary at all, in fact, not having been able to read the words of the commentary aright, he has produced a ridiculous jargon that is utterly unintelligible. Daksha is a vocative, meaning 'possessed of cleverness.' The words he daksha yatha, etc., of the commentator are read by the Burdwan Pundit as: deha-kshaya, etc.'
369:5 Apariharavan is incapable of being resisted. Samagatih as wind. Asmasara-vihitam is 'made by means of iron or the saw.' Asmasara stands here for krakacha or karapatra.
Next: Section CCC