The Mahabharata Home
'"Janaka said, O holy one, it has been said that the relation between male and female is like that which subsists between the Indestructible and the destructible (or Purusha and Prakriti). Without a male, a female can never conceive. Without a female a male also can never create form. In consequence of their union with each other, and each depending upon the attributes of the other, forms (of living creatures) are seen to flow. This is the case with all orders of being. Through each other's union for purposes of (sexual) congress, and through each depending upon the attributes of the others, forms (of living creatures) flow in menstrual seasons. I shall tell to thee the indications thereof. Hear what the attributes are that belong to the sire and what those are that belong to the mother. Bones, sinews and marrow, O regenerate one, we know, are derived from the sire. Skin, flesh, and blood, we hear are derived from the mother. Even this, O foremost of regenerate persons, is what may be read of in the Vedas and other scriptures. Whatever is read as declared in the Vedas and in other scriptures is regarded as authority. The authority, again, of the Vedas and other scriptures (not inconsistent with the Vedas), is eternal. If Prakriti and Purusha be always united together in this way by each opposing and each depending on the other's attributes, I see, O holy one, that Emancipation cannot exist. Thou, O holy one, art possessed of spiritual vision so that thou seest all things as if they are present before thy eyes. If, therefore, there be any direct evidence of the existence of Emancipation, do thou, speak of it to me. We are desirous of attaining to Emancipation. Indeed, we wish to attain to That which is auspicious, bodiless, not subject to decrepitude, eternal beyond the ken of the senses, and having nothing superior to it.
'"Vasishtha said, What thou sayest about the indications of the Vedas and the other scriptures (in respect of the matter) is even so. Thou takest those indications in the way in which they should be taken. Thou bearest, however, in thy understanding, only the texts of the Vedas and the other scriptures. Thou art not, O monarch, truly conversant with the real meaning of those texts. That person who bears in his understanding merely the texts of the Vedas and the other scriptures without being conversant with the true sense or meaning of those texts, bears them fruitlessly. Indeed, one who holds the contents of a work in memory without comprehending their meaning is said to bear an useless burden.
[paragraph continues] He, however, who is conversant with the true meaning of a treatise, is said to have studied that treatise to purpose. Questioned regarding the meaning of a text, it behoveth one to communicate that meaning which he has comprehended by a careful study. That person of dull intelligence who refuses to expound the meanings of texts in the midst of a conclave of the learned, that person of foolish understanding, never succeeds in expounding the meaning correctly. 1 An ignorant person, going to expound the true meaning of treatises, incurs ridicule. Even those possessed of a knowledge of the Soul have to incur ridicule on such occasions (if what they go to explain has not been acquired by study). Listen now to me, O monarch, as to how the subject of Emancipation has been explained (by preceptors to disciple from days of old) among highsouled persons conversant with the Sankhya and the Yoga systems of philosophy. That which the Yogin, behold is precisely that which the Sankhyas arrive after to attain. He who sees the Sankhya and the Yoga systems to be one and the same is said to be endued with intelligence. Skin, flesh, blood, fat, bile, marrow, and sinews, and these senses (of both knowledge and action), about which thou wert speaking unto me, exist. Objects flow from objects; the senses from the senses. From body one obtains a body, as a seed is obtained from seed. When the Supreme Being is without senses, without seed, without matter, without body, He must be divested of all attributes! and in consequence of His being so, how, indeed, can He have attributes of any kind? Space and other attributes arise from the attributes of Sattwa and Rajas and Tamas, and disappear ultimately in them. Thus the attributes arise from Prakriti. Skin, flesh, blood, fat, bile, marrow, bones, and sinews,--these eight that are made of Prakriti, know, O king, may sometimes be produced by the vital seed alone (of the male). The Jiva-soul and the universe are said to both partake of Prakriti characterised by the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. The Supreme Soul is different from both the Jiva-soul and the universe. As the seasons though unendued with forms, are nevertheless inferred from the appearance of particular fruits and flowers, after the same manner, Prakriti, though formless, is inferred from the attributes of Mahat and the rest that spring from it. In this way from the existence of Chaitanya in the body, the Supreme Soul, divested of all attributes whatever and perfectly stainless, is inferred. Without beginning and destruction, without end, the overseer of all things, and auspicious, that Soul, only in consequence of its identifying itself with the body and other attributes, comes to be taken as invested with attributes. Those persons that are truly conversant with attributes know that only objects endued with attributes can have attributes but that That which transcends all attributes can have none. When the Jiva-soul conquers all attributes born
of Prakriti and which it assumes under error, only then does it behold the Supreme Soul. Only the highest Rishis conversant with the Sankhya and the Yoga systems know that Supreme Soul which Sankhya and Yogins and believers in all other systems say is beyond the Understanding, which is regarded as Knower and endued with the highest wisdom in consequence of its casting off all consciousness of identification with Prakriti, which transcends the attribute of Ignorance or Error, which is Unmanifest, which is beyond all attributes, which is called the Supreme, which is dissociated from all attributes, which ordains all things, which is Eternal and Immutable, which overrules Prakriti and all the attributes born of Prakriti, and which, transcending the four and twenty topics of enquiry, forms the twenty-fifth. When men of knowledge, who stand in fear of birth, of the several conditions of living consciousness, and of death, succeed in knowing the Unmanifest, they succeed in understanding the Supreme Soul at the same time. An intelligent man regards the unity of Jiva-soul with the Supreme Soul as consistent with the scriptures and as perfectly correct, while the man destitute of intelligence looks upon the two as different from each other. This forms the distinction between the man of intelligence and man that is destitute of it. The indications of both Kshara and Akshara (destructible and indestructible) have now been said unto thee. Akshara is Oneness or Unity, while multiplicity or variety is said to be Kshara. When one begins to study and understands properly the five and twenty topics of enquiry, one then comprehends that the Oneness of the Soul is consistent with the scriptures and its multiplicity is what is opposed to them. These are the several indications of what is included in the tale of topics or principles created and what transcends that tale. The wise have said that the tale of topics numbers only five and twenty. That which transcends the topics is beyond that number and forms the twenty-sixth. The study or comprehension of created things (numbered five and twenty) according to their aggregates (of five) is the study and comprehension of topics. Transcending these is That which is eternal.'"
19:1 The sense seems to be that the obligation to explain a treatise in the midst of a conclave always stimulates the best faculties, and if it is a conclave of the learned the friction of intellects is sure to bring out the correct sense.
Next: Section CCCVII