The Mahabharata Home
SANTI PARVA PART III
YUDHISHTHIRA SAID, 'O king thou hast duly propounded unto me, in the way in which it should be, the path of Yoga which is approved by the wise, after the manner of a loving preceptor unto his pupil. I ask now about the principles of the Sankhya philosophy. Do thou discourse to me on those principles in their entirety. Whatever knowledge exists in the three worlds is known to thee!'
"Bhishma said, 'Listen now to what the subtile principles are of the followers of the Sankhya doctrine have been established by all the great and puissant Yatis having Kapila their first. In that doctrine O chief of men, no errors are discoverable. Many, indeed, are its merits. In fact, there is no fault in it. Comprehending with the aid of knowledge that all objects exist with faults, indeed, understanding that the objects--so difficult to cast off--with which human beings and Pisachas and Rakshasas and Yakshas and snakes and Gandharvas and pitris and those that are wandering in the intermediate orders of beings (such as birds and animals) and great birds (such as Garuda and others) and the Maruts and royal sages and regenerate sages and Asuras and Viswedevas and the celestial Rishis and Yogins invested with supreme puissance and the Prajapatis and Brahman himself are engaged, and understanding truly what the highest limit is of one's period of existence in this world, and apprehending also the great truth. O foremost of eloquent men, about what is called felicity here, having a clear knowledge of what the sorrows are that overtake when the hour comes all those that are concerned with (transitory) objects and knowing full well the sorrows of those that have fallen into the intermediate orders of being and of those that have sunk into hell, perceiving all the merits and all the faults of heaven, O Bharta, and all the demerits that attach to the declarations of the Vedas and all the excellencies that are connected with them recognising the faults and merits of the Yoga and the Sankhya systems of philosophy, realizing also that the quality of Sattwa has ten properties, that of Rajas has nine, and that of Tamas has eight, that the Understanding has seven properties, the Mind has six, and Space has five, and once more conceiving that the Understanding has four properties and Tamas has three, and the Rajas has two and Sattwa has, one, and truly apprehending the path that is followed by all objects when destruction overtakes
them and what the course is of self knowledge, the Sankhyas, possessed of knowledge and experience and exalted by their perceptions of causes, and acquiring thorough auspiciousness, attain to the felicity of Emancipation like the rays of the Sun, or the Wind taking refuge in Space. 1 Vision is attached to form; the sense of scent to smell, the ear to sound, the tongue to juices, and the skin (or body) to touch. The wind has for its refuge Space. Stupefaction has Tamas (Darkness) for its refuge. Cupidity has the objects of the senses for its refuge. Vishnu is attached to (the organs of) motion. Sakra is attached to (the organs of) strength. The deity of fire is attached to the stomach, Earth is attached to the Waters. The Waters have Heat (or fire) for their refuge. Heat attaches itself to the Wind; and the wind has Space for its refuge; and Space has Mahat for its refuge, and Mahat has the Understanding for its foundation. The Understanding has its refuge in Tamas; Tamas has Rajas for its refuge; Rajas is founded upon Sattwa; and Sattwa is attached to the Soul. The soul has the glorious and puissant Narayana for its refuge. That glorious deity has Emancipation for his refuge. Emancipation is independent of all refuge. Knowing that this body, that is endued with six and ten possessions, is the result of the quality of Sattwa, understanding fully the nature of the physical organism and the character of the Chetana that dwells within it, recognising the one existent Being that live in the body viz., the Soul, which stands aloof from every concern of the body and in which no sin can attach, realising the nature of that second object, viz.; the acts of persons attached to the objects of the senses, understanding also the character of the senses and the sensual objects which have their refuge in the Soul, appreciating the difficulty of Emancipation and the scriptures that bear upon it knowing fully the nature of the vital breaths called Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana, as also the two other breaths, viz., the one going downward and the other moving upward indeed, knowing those seven breaths ordained to accomplish seven different functions, ascertaining the nature of the
[paragraph continues] Prajapatis and the Rishis and the high paths, many in number, of virtue or righteousness, and the seven Rishis and the innumerable royal Rishis, O scorcher of foes, and the great celestial Rishis and the other regenerate Rishis endued with the effulgence of the Sun, beholding all these falling away from their puissance in course of many long ages, O monarch, hearing of the destruction of even of all the mighty beings in the universe, understanding also the inauspicious end that is attained, O king, by creatures of sinful acts, and the miseries endured by those that fall into the river Vaitarani in the realms of Yama, and the inauspicious wanderings of creatures through diverse wombs, and the character of their residence in the unholy uterus in the midst of blood and water and phlegm and urine and faeces, all of foul smell, and then in bodies that result from the union of blood and the vital seed, of marrow and sinews, abounding with hundreds of nerves and arteries and forming an impure mansion of nine doors, comprehending also what is for his own good what those divers combinations are which are productive of good beholding the abominable conduct of creatures whose natures are characterised by Darkness or Passion or Goodness, O chief of Bharata's race--conduct that is reprehended, in view of its incapacity to acquire Emancipation, by the followers of the Sankhya doctrine who are fully conversant with the Soul, beholding the swallowing up of the Moon and the Sun by Rahu, the falling of stars from their fixed positions and the diversions of constellations from their orbits, knowing the sad separation of all united objects and the diabolical behaviour of creatures in devouring one another, seeing the absence of all intelligence in the infancy of human beings and the deterioration and destruction of the body, marking the little attachment creatures have to the quality of Sattwa in consequence of their being overwhelmed by wrath and stupefaction, beholding also only one among thousands of human beings resolved to struggle after the acquisition of Emancipation, understanding the difficulty of attaining to Emancipation according to what is stated in the scriptures, seeing the marked solicitude that creatures manifest for all unattained objects and their comparative indifference to all objects that have been attained marking the wickedness that results from all objects of the senses O king and the repulsive bodies, O son of Kunti, of persons reft of life, and the residence, always fraught with grief, of human beings, O Bharata, in houses (in the midst of spouses and children), knowing the end of those terrible and fallen men who become guilty of slaying Brahmanas, and of those wicked Brahmanas that are addicted to the drinking of alcoholic stimulants, and the equally sad end of those that become criminally attached to the spouses of their preceptors, and of those men, O Yudhishthira, that do not properly reverence their mothers, as also of those that have no reverence and worship to offer to the deities, understanding also, with the help of that knowledge (which their philosophy imparts), the end that of all perpetrators of wicked acts, and the diverse ends that overtake those who have taken birth among the intermediate orders, ascertaining the diverse declarations of the Vedas, the
courses of seasons, the fading of years, of months, of fortnights, and of days, beholding directly the waxing and the waning of the Moon, seeing the rising and the ebbing of the seas, and the diminution of wealth and its increase once more, and the separation of united objects, the lapse of Yugas, the destruction of mountains, the drying up of rivers, the deterioration of (the purity of) the several orders and the end also of that deterioration occurring repeatedly, beholding the birth, decrepitude, death, and sorrows of creatures, knowing truly the faults attaching to the body and the sorrows to which human beings are subject, and the vicissitudes to which the bodies of creatures are subject, and understanding all the faults that attach to their own souls, and also all the inauspicious faults that attach to their own bodies (the followers of the Sankhya philosophy succeed in attaining to Emancipation).
"Yudhishthira said, 'O thou of immeasurable energy, what are those faults that thou seest attaching to one's body? It behoveth thee to ex-pound this doubt to me fully and truly'?
"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O slayer of foes! The Sankhyas or followers of Kapila, who are conversant with all paths and endued with wisdom, say that there are five faults, O puissant one, in the human body. They are Desire and Wrath and Fear and Sleep and Breath. These faults are seen in the bodies of all embodied creatures. Those that are endued with wisdom cut the root of wrath with the aid of Forgiveness. Desire is cut off by casting off all purposes. By cultivation of the quality of Goodness (Sattwa) sleep is conquered, and Fear is conquered by cultivating Heedfulness. Breath is conquered by abstemiousness of diet O king. Truly understanding gunas by the aid of hundreds of gunas, hundreds of faults, and diverse causes by hundreds of causes, ascertaining that the world is like the froth of water, enveloped by hundreds of illusions flowing from Vishnu, like a painted edifice, and as unsubstantial as a reed, beholding it to be (as terrible as) a dark pit, or as unreal as bubbles of water, for the years that compose its age are as shortlived (compared to the duration of eternity) as bubbles, seeing it exposed to immediate destruction, bereft of happiness, having certain ruin for its end and from which it can never escape, sunk in Rajas and Tamas, and utterly helpless like an elephant sunk in mire,--noting all this--the Sankhyas, O king, endued with great wisdom, casting off all affections arising from one's relation towards one's children, by the aid, O king, of that extensive and all-embracing knowledge which their system advocates and cutting off quickly, with the weapon of knowledge and the bludgeon of penances, O Bharata, all inauspicious scents born of Rajas and all scents of a like nature arising from Tamas and all auspicious scents arising from Sattwa and all pleasures of the touch (and of the other senses) born of the same three qualities and inhering to the body, indeed, O Bharata, aided by the Yoga of knowledge, these Yatis crowned with success,--cross the Ocean of life. That Ocean, so terrible has sorrow for its waters. Anxiety and grief constitute its deep lakes. Disease and death are its gigantic alligators.
[paragraph continues] The great fears that strike the heart at every step are its huge snakes. The deeds inspired by Tamas are its tortoises. Those inspired by Rajas are its fishes. Wisdom constitutes the raft for crossing it. The affections entertained for objects of the senses are its mire. Decrepitude constitutes its region of grief and trouble. 1 Knowledge, O chastiser of foes, is its island. Acts constitute its great depth. Truth is its shores. Pious observances constitute the verdant weeds floating on its bosom. 2 Envy constitutes its rapid and mighty current. The diverse sentiments of the heart constitute its mines. The diverse kinds of gratification are its valuable gems. Grief and fever are its winds. Misery and thirst are its mighty eddies. Painful and fatal diseases are its huge elephants. The assemblage of bones are its flights of steps, and phlegm is its froth. Gifts are its pearl-banks. The lakes of blood are its corals. Loud laughter constitutes its roars. Diverse sciences are its impassability. Tears are its brine. Renunciation of company constitutes the high refuge (of those that seek to cross it). Children and spouses are its unnumbered leeches. Friends and kinsmen are the cities and towns on its shores. Abstention from injury, and Truth, are its boundary line. Death is its storm-wave. The knowledge of Vedanta is its island (capable of affording refuge to those that are tossed upon its waters). Acts of compassion towards all creatures constitute its life-buoys, 3 and Emancipation is the priceless commodity offered to those voyaging on its waters in search of merchandise. Like its substantive prototype with its equine head disgorging flames of fire, this ocean too has its fiery terrors. Having transcended the liability, that is so difficult to transcend, of dwelling within the gross body, the Sankhyas enter into pure space. 4 Surya then bears, with his rays, those righteous men that are practicers of the Sankhya doctrines. Like the fibres of the lotus-stalk conveying water to the flower into which they all converge. Surya, drinking all things from the universe, conveys them unto those good and wise men. 5 There attachments
all destroyed, possessed of energy, endued with wealth of penances, and crowned with success, these Yatis, O Bharata, are born by that wind which is subtile, cooling, fragrant, and delicious to the touch, O Bharata! In fact, that wind which is the best of the seven winds, and which blows in regions of great felicity, conveys them, O son of Kunti, to that which is the highest end in space. 1 Then space into which they are carried, O monarch, conveys them to the highest end of Rajas. 2 Rajas then bear them to the highest end of Sattwa. Sattwa then bears them, O thou of pure soul, to the Supreme and puissant Narayana. The puissant and pure-souled Narayana at last, through himself, bears them to the Supreme Soul. Having reached the Supreme Soul, those stainless persons who have (by that time) become the body of (what is called). That attain to immortality, and they have never afterwards to return from that position. O King! That is the highest end, O son of Pritha, which is attained by those high-souled men who have transcended the influence of all pairs of opposites.'"
Yudhishthira said, 'O sinless one, have those persons of firm vows after they have attained to that excellent position which is fraught with puissance and felicity, any recollection of their lives including birth and death? It behoveth thee to tell me properly what the truth is in respect, O thou of Kuru's race. I do not think it proper to question any one else than thee! Observing the scriptures bearing upon Emancipation, I find this great fault in the subject (for certain scriptures on the topic declare that consciousness disappears in the emancipate state, while other scriptures declare the very reverse of this). If, having attained to this high state, the Yatis continue to live in consciousness, it would seem. O king, that the religion of Pravritti is superior. If, again, consciousness disappears from the emancipate state and one who has become emancipate only resembles a person sunk in dreamless slumber, then nothing can be more improper than to say that there is really no consciousness in Emancipation (for of all that happens in dreamless slumber is that one's consciousness is temporarily overshadowed and suspended, but never lost, for it returns when one awakes from that slumber).' 3
"Bhishma said, 'However difficult it may be to answer it, the question which thou hast asked, O son, is proper. Verily, the question is of such a kind that even they that are possessed of great learning become stupefied in answering it, O chief of Bharata's race. For all that, hear what the truth is as expounded by me. The high-souled followers of Kapila have set their high understandings on this point. The senses of knowledge, O King, planted in the bodies of embodied creatures, are employed in their
respective functions of perception. They are the instruments of the Soul, for it is through them that subtile Being perceives. 1 Disunited with the Soul, the senses are like lumps of wood, and are without doubt, destroyed (in respect of the functions they serve) like the froth that is seen on the bosom of the ocean. 2 When the embodied creature, O scorcher of foes, sinks into sleep along with his senses, the subtile Soul then roves among all subjects like the wind through space. 3 The subtile Soul, during slumber, continues to see (all forms) and touch all objects of touch, O king, and taken in other perceptions, as well as when it is awake. In consequence of their inability to act without their director, the senses, during sleep, all become extinguished in their respective places (and lose their powers) like snakes deprived of poison. 4 At such times, the subtile Soul, repairing into the respective place of all the senses, without doubt, discharges all their functions. 5 All the qualities of Sattwa, all the attributes of the Under-standing, O Bharata, as also those of Mind, and space, and Wind, O thou of righteous soul, and all the attributes of liquid substances, of Water, O Partha, and Of Earth,--these senses with these qualities,--O Yudhishthira, which inhere to Jiva-souls, are along with the Jiva-soul itself, overwhelmed by the Supreme Soul or Brahma. Acts also, good and bad, overwhelm that Jiva-soul. Like disciples waiting upon their preceptor with reverence, the senses too wait upon the Jiva-soul transcends Prakriti, it attains to Brahma that is without change, that is highest, that is Narayana, that is beyond all pairs of opposites, and that transcends Prakriti. Freed from both merit and demerit, the Jiva-soul entering the Supreme Soul which is divested of all attributes, and which is the home of all auspiciousness, does not return thence, O Bharata. What remains, O son, is the mind with the senses, O Bharata. These have to come back once more at the appointed season for doing the bidding
of their great master. 1 Soon after, O son of Kunti, (when this body is cast off) the Yati striving after Emancipation, endued as he is with knowledge and desirous as he is of Guna, succeeds in attaining to that Peace of Emancipation which is his who becomes bodiless. 2 3 The Sankhyas, O king, are endued with great wisdom. They succeed in attaining to the highest end by means of this kind of knowledge. There is no knowledge that is equal to this. Do not yield to any kind of doubt. The knowledge which is described in the system of the Sankhyas is regarded as the highest. That knowledge is immutable and is eternally fixed. It is eternal Brahma in fulness. It has no beginning, middle and end. It transcends all pairs of opposites. It is the cause of the creation of the universe. It stands in fulness. It is without deterioration of any kind. It is uniform, and everlasting. Thus are its praises sung by the wise. From it flow creation and destruction and all modifications. The great Rishis speak of it and applaud it in the scriptures. All learned Brahmanas and all righteous men regard it as flowing from Brahma, Supreme, Divine, Infinite, Immutable, and Undeteriorating. All Brahmanas again that are attached to objects of the senses adore and applaud it by ascribing to it attributes that belong to illusion. 4 The same is the view of Yogins well observant of penances and meditation and of Sankhyas of immeasureable insight. The Srutis declare, O son of Kunti, that the Sankhya form of philosophy is the form of that Formless one. The cognitions (according to that philosophy) have, O chief of Bharata's race, been said to be the knowledge of Brahma. 5
"There are two kinds of creatures on Earth, O lord of Earth, viz., mobile and immobile. Of these that are mobile are superior, That high knowledge, O king, which exists in persons conversant with Brahma, and that which occurs in the Vedas, and that which is found in other scriptures, and that in Yoga, and that which may be seen in the diverse
[paragraph continues] Puranas, are all, O monarch, to be found in Sankhya philosophy. 1 Whatever knowledge is seen to exist in high histories whatever knowledge occurs, O king, in the sciences appertaining to the acquisition of wealth as approved by the wise, whatever other knowledge exists in this world,--all these,--flow, O high-souled monarch, from the high knowledge that occurs among the Sankhyas. Tranquillity of soul, high puissance, all subtile knowledge of which the scriptures speak, penances of subtile force, and all kinds of felicity, O king, have all been duly ordained in the Sankhya system. Failing to acquire, O son of Pritha, that complete knowledge which is recommended by their system, the Sankhyas attain to the status of deities and pass many years in felicity. Lording it over the celestials as they will, they fall, upon the expiration of the allotted period, among learned Brahmanas and Yatis. 2 Casting off this body, those regenerate ones that follow the Sankhya system enter into the superior state of Brahma like the celestials entering into the firmament by devoting themselves wholly to that adorable system which is theirs and which is worshipped by all wise men. Those regenerate persons that are devoted to the acquisition of that knowledge which is recommended in the Sankhya system, even if they fail to attain to eminence, are never seen to fall among intermediate creatures, or to sink into the status of sinful men. That high-souled person who is fully conversant with the vast, high, ancient, ocean-like, and immeasurable Sankhya system that is pure and liberal and agreeable, becomes, O king, equal to Narayana. I have now told thee, O god among men, the truth about the Sankhya system. It is the embodiment of Narayana, of the universe as it exists from the remotest time. 3 When the time of Creation comes, He causes the Creation to start into life, and when the time comes for destruction, He swallows up everything. Having withdrawn everything into his own body he goes to sleep,--that inner Soul of the universe.'" 4
2:1 The ten properties included in Sattwa or Goodness are gladness, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, fame, righteousness, contentment, faith, sincerity, liberality, and lordship. The nine properties included in Rajas or Passion are belief in the deities, (ostentatious) charity, enjoyment and endurance of happiness and sorrow, disunion, exhibition of manliness, lust and wrath, intoxication, pride, malice, and disposition to revile. The eight qualities included in Tamas or Darkness are unconsciousness, stupefaction, excess of stupefaction, muddiness of the understanding; blindness (of results), sleep, heedlessness, and procrastination. The seven incidents of Buddhi or the Understanding are Mahat, consciousness, and the five subtile essences. The six incidents of Mind are Mind and the five senses. The five incidents appertaining to Space are space, water, wind, light, and earth. According to a different school of philosophy, Buddhi, or the Under-standing is said to have four incidents appertaining to it, viz., doubt, ascertainment, pride, and memory. Tames (darkness) also is otherwise regarded to have only three incidents, viz., inability of comprehension, partial comprehension, and totally erroneous comprehension. Rajas (Passion) is (according to this school) regarding as having only the two incidents of inclination (to act) and sorrow. Sattwa has but one incident viz., Enlightenment.
5:1 'Durga' is an inaccessible region such as a forest or wilderness which cannot be passed through except with great pain and danger.
5:2 The correct reading seems to be sthira-vratati-samkulam.
5:3 Udadhi is, literally, a water-jar. In this country most people, while swimming, use water jars as buoys. The mouth of jar being dipped into the water the air confined within it serve to support heavy weights. I have heard that the most rapid currents are crossed by milkmaids in this way, all the while bearing milk pails on their heads.
5:4 In the second line of 72, dustaram janma means janma-yuktam dustaram.
5:5 The sense seems to be that by practising the Sankhya doctrine men cease to have any regard for even their gross bodies. They succeed in realising their existence as independent of all earthly or heavenly objects. What is meant by the Sun bearing them in his rays and conveying to them all things from every part of the universe is that these men acquire great puissance. This is not the puissance of Yoga but of knowledge. Everything being regarded as unsubstantial and transitory, the position of Indra himself, or of Brahman, is looked upon as desirable and unworthy of acquisition. Sincere conviction of this kind and the course of conduct that is confirmable to it is literally puissance of the highest kind, for all the purposes of puissance are capable of being served by it.
6:1 This is taken as meaning that the Sankhyas are conveyed to the firmament of the heart. Perhaps, what is intended by it is that they become withdrawn from external objects and even the impressions of all external things.
6:2 Perhaps, this means the pleasures of heaven.
6:3 i.e., they who have identified themselves with Brahma.
7:1 Yudhisthira's question seems to be this. Is there or is there not consciousness in the emancipate state? Different scriptures answer this question differently. If it be said that there is consciousness in that state, then why discard heaven and its pleasures, or the religion of Pravritti or acts which lead to those pleasures? Where is the necessity then of Sannyasa or the religion of Nivritti or abstention from all acts? On the supposition of there being consciousness in the emancipate state, the Religion of Pravritti should be taken as superior. If, on the other hand, the existence of consciousness be denied, that would be an error. Dnkshataram is ayuktaram.
7:2 Although I make use of the word 'perceive' yet remembering that the mind is included among the senses and regarded as the sixth sense, the functions of recollection, representation, etc., are also implied by the word pasyati. The Burdwan translator gives a ridiculously erroneous version of this verse.
7:3 The commentator explains that the simile of the froth is introduced in consequence of its disappearance with the disappearance of water. K. P. Singha is incorrect in taking the instance of froth as illustrative of the quickness of the destruction.
7:4 Sarvatra does not mean 'through every part of the sleeper's body' as. K. P. Singha takes it, but sarvavishaye as the commentator correctly explains it.
7:5 Iha is sapne Anisah is nasti isah or pravartaah yasya.
8:1 For the Soul, in dreams, sees and hears and touches and smells etc., precisely as it does while awake.
8:2 The sense seems to be that a person who becomes emancipate in this life becomes so in Samadhi. When the state of Samadhi is over, his mind and senses return; and returning they do the bidding of the Supreme, i.e., bring about both happiness and misery, which, of course, are the consequences of the acts of past lives though that happiness and misery are not felt. In the next verse is said that these men very soon leave their bodies and become freed from rebirth.
8:3 There are two kinds of Emancipation: one is attainable here, in this body, it is Jivan-mukti; the other is Videha-kaivalya or that which becomes one's when one is bodiless. In 98, Jivan-mukti has been spoken of. In this verse, the observations apply to Videha-kaivalya.
8:4 Vadanti is stuvanti. Such men hymn its praises by regarding it as Supreme Deity possessed of attributes. Those attributes, of course, are the result of illusion, for in its real nature there can be no attributes in Brahma.
8:5 Brahma is knowledge without duality i.e., knowledge without the consciousness of knower and known. The knowledge or cognition of an object, when object is annihilated, assumes the form of that knowledge which is called Brahma.
9:1 The commentator explains that the object of this verse is to show that among mobile creatures those endued with knowledge are superior, and among all kinds of knowledge, the knowledge occurring in the Sankhya system is the highest.
9:2 i.e., if in consequence of any defect of practice or Sadhana, the Sankhyas fail to attain to Emancipation, they at least become translated into gods.
9:3 i.e., it is everything.
9:4 That Narayana who does all this is the embodiment of the Sankhya system.
Next: Section CCCIII