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The Mahabharata
of Krishna - Dwaipayana Vyasa
translated by
Kisari Mohan Ganguli

[pub. between 1883 and 1896]

01 - Adi Parva
02 - Sabha Parva
03 - Vana Parva
04 - Virata Parva

05 - Udyoga Parva
06 - Bhishma Parva
07 - Drona Parva
08 - Karna Parva
09 - Shalya Parva
10 - Sauptika Parva
11 - Stri Parva
12 - Santi Parva
13 - Anusasana Parva
14 - Aswamedha Parva
15 - Asramavasika Parva
16 - Mausala Parva
17 - Mahaprasthanika Parva
18 - Svargarohanika Parva

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"'Vasishtha said, I have thus far discoursed to thee on the Sankhya philosophy. Listen now to me as I tell thee what is Vidya (knowledge) and what is Avidya (Ignorance), one after the other. The learned say that that Prakriti, which is fraught with the attributes of Creation and Destruction, is called Avidya; while Purusha, who is freed from the attributes of Creation and Destruction and who transcends the four and twenty topics or principles, is called Vidya. Listen to me first as I tell thee what is Vidya among successive sets of other things, as expounded in the Sankhya philosophy. Among the senses of knowledge and those of action, the senses of knowledge are said to constitute what is known as Vidya. Of the senses of knowledge and their object, the former constitute Vidya as has been heard by us. Of objects of the senses and the mind, the wise have said that the mind constitute Vidya. Of mind and the five subtile essences, the five subtile essences constitutes Vidya. Of the five subtile essences and Consciousness, Consciousness constitutes Vidya. Of Consciousness and Mahat, Mahat, O king, is Vidya. Of all the topics or principles beginning with Mahat, and Prakriti, it is Prakriti, which is unmanifest and supreme, that is called Vidya. Of Prakriti, and that called Vidhi which is Supreme, the latter should be known as Vidya. Transcending

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[paragraph continues] Prakriti is the twenty-fifth (called Purusha) who should be known as Vidya. Of all knowledge that which is the Object of Knowledge has been said to be the Unmanifest, O king. 1 Again, Knowledge has been said to be Unmanifest and the Object of knowledge to be that which transcends the four and twenty. Once more, Knowledge has been said to be Unmanifest, and the Knower is that which transcends the four and twenty. I have now told thee what is truly the import of Vidya and Avidya. Listen now to me as I tell thee all that has been said about the Indestructible, and the Destructible. Both Jiva and Prakriti have been said to be Indestructible, and both of them have been said to be Destructible. I shall tell thee the reason of this correctly as I have understood it. Both Prakriti and Jiva are without beginning and without end or destruction. Both of them are regarded as supreme (in the matter of Creation). Those that are possessed of knowledge say that both are to be called topics or principles. In consequence of its attributes of (repeated) Creation and Destruction, the Unmanifest (or Prakriti) is called Indestructible. That Unmanifest becomes repeatedly modified for the purpose of creating the principle. And because the principles beginning with Mahat are produced by Purusha as well, and because also Purusha and the Unmanifest are mutually dependant upon each other, therefore is Purusha also, the twenty-fifth, called Kshetra (and hence Akshara or Indestructible). 2 When the Yogin withdraws and merges all the principles into the Unmanifest Soul (or Brahma) then the twenty-fifth (viz., Jiva or Purusha) also, with all those principles disappears into it. When the principles become merged each into its progenitor, then the one that remains is Prakriti. When Kshetrajna too, 3 O son, becomes merged into his own producing cause then (all that remains is Brahma and, therefore) Prakriti with all the principles in it becomes Kshara (or meets with destruction), and attains also to the condition of being without attributes in consequence of her dissociation from all the principles. Thus it is that Kshetrajna, when his knowledge of Kshetra disappears, becomes, by his nature, destitute of attributes, as it has been heard by us. When he becomes Kshara he then assumes attributes. When, however, he attains to his own real nature, he then succeeds in understanding his own condition of being really destitute of attributes. By casting off Prakriti and beginning to realise that he is different from her, the intelligent Kshetrajna then comes to be regarded as pure and stainless. When Jiva ceases to exist in a state of union with

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[paragraph continues] Prakriti, then does he become identifiable with Brahma. When, however, he exists united with Prakriti, he then, O king, seems to be different from Brahma. Indeed, when Jiva shows no affection for Prakriti and her principles, he then succeeds in beholding the Supreme and having once beheld Him wishes not to fall away from that felicity. When the knowledge of truth dawns upon him, Jiva begins to lament in this strain: Alas, how foolishly have I acted by falling through ignorance, into this frame composed of Prakriti like a fish entangled in a net! Alas, through ignorance, I have migrated from body to body like a fish from water to water thinking that water is the element in which alone it can live. Indeed, like a fish that does not know anything else than water to be its element, I also have never known anything else than children and spouses to be my own! Fie on me that through ignorance, I have been repeatedly migrating from body to body in forgetfulness (of the Supreme Soul)! The Supreme Soul alone is my friend. I have capacity for friendship with Him. Whatever be my nature and whoever I may be, I am competent to be like Him and to attain an identity with Him. I see my similarity with Him. I am indeed, like Him. He is stainless. It is evident that I am of the same nature. Through ignorance and stupefaction, I have become associated with inanimate Prakriti. Though really without attachments, I have passed this long time in a state of attachment with Prakriti. Alas, by her was I so long subdued without having been able to know it. Various are the forms--high, middling, and low, that Prakriti assume. Oh, how shall I dwell in those forms? 1 How shall I live conjointly with her? In consequence only of my ignorance I repair to her companionship. I shall now be fixed (in Sankhya or Yoga). I shall not longer keep her companionship. For having passed so long a time with her, I should think that I was so long deceived by her, for myself being really exempt from modification, how could I keep company with one that is subject to modification? She cannot be held to be responsible for this. The responsibility is mine, since turning away from the Supreme Soul I become of my own accord attached to her. In consequence of that attachment, myself, though formless in reality, had to abide in multifarious forms. Indeed, though formless by nature I become endued with forms in consequence of my sense of meum, and thereby insulted and distressed. In consequence of my sense of meum, concerning the result of Prakriti, I am forced to take birth in diverse orders of Being. Alas, though really destitute of any sense of meum, yet in consequence of affecting it, what diverse acts of an evil nature have been committed by me in those orders which I took birth while I remained in them with a soul that had lost all knowledge! I have no longer anything to do with him who, with essence made up of consciousness, divides herself into many fragments and who seeks to unite me with them. It is only now that I have been awakened and have understood that I am by nature without any sense of meum and without that

p. 27

consciousness which creates the forms of Prakriti that invests me all around. Casting off that sense of meum which I always have with respect to her and whose essence is made up of consciousness, and casting off Prakriti herself, I shall take refuge in Him who is auspicious. I shall be united with Him, and not with Prakriti which is inanimate. If I unite with Him, it will be productive of my benefit. I have no similarity of nature with Prakriti!--The twenty-fifth, (viz., Jiva), when he thus succeeds in understanding the Supreme, becomes able to cast off the Destructible and attain to identity with that which is Indestructible and which is the essence of all that is auspicious, Destitute of attributes in his true nature and in reality Unmanifest, Jiva becomes invested with what is Manifest and assumes attributes. When he succeeds in beholding that which is without attributes and which is the origin of the Unmanifest, he attains, O ruler of Mithila, to identify the same.

"'I have now told thee what the indications are of what is Indestructible and what is Destructible, according to the best of my knowledge and according to what has been expounded in the scriptures. I shall now tell thee, according to what I have heard, as to how Knowledge that is subtile, stainless, and certain arises. Do thou listen to me. I have already discoursed to thee what the Sankhya and the Yoga systems are according to their respective indications as expounded in their respective scriptures. Verily, the science that has been expounded in Sankhya treatises is identical with what has been laid down in the Yoga scriptures. The knowledge, O monarch, which the Sankhya preach, is capable of awakening every one. In the Sankhya scriptures, that Knowledge has been inculcated very clearly for the benefit of disciples. The learned say that this Sankhya system is very extensive. Yogin have great regard for that system as also for the Vedas. In the Sankhya system no topic or principle transcending the twenty-fifth is admitted. That which the Sankhyas regard-as their highest topic of principles has been duly described (by me). In the Yoga philosophy, it is said that Brahma, which is the essence of knowledge without duality, becomes Jiva only when invested with Ignorance. In the Yoga scriptures, therefore, both Brahma and Jiva are spoken of,--'"


25:1 Hence, as the commentator explains, by knowing what is called the Unmanifest one is capable of attaining to omniscience.

25:2 What is stated here is this, the Unmanifest or Prakriti, by modification, produces Mahat and the other principles. But the agency of Purusha also is necessary for such production, for Prakriti can do nothing without Purusha, and Purusha also can do nothing without Prakriti. The principles of Mahat and the rest, therefore, may be said to have their origin as much in Purusha as in Prakriti. Beside, the two being naturally dependent on each other, if Prakriti be called Kshara, Purusha also may be so called.

25:3 i.e., Jiva or Purusha.

26:1 High, such as gods, middling, such as human beings and low, such as animals.

Next: Section CCCIX