The Mahabharata Home
"'Yajnavalkya said, That which is without attributes, O son, can never be explained by ascribing attributes to it. Listen, however, to me as I expound to thee what is possessed of attributes and what is devoid of them. High-souled Munis conversant with the truth regarding all the topics or principles say that when Purusha seizes attributes like a crystal catching the reflection of a red flower, he comes to be called as possessed of attributes; but when freed from attributes like the crystal freed from reflection, he comes to be viewed in his real nature, that is, as beyond all
attributes. 1 Unmanifest Prakriti is by her nature endued with attributes. She cannot transcend them. Destitute of intelligence by nature, she becomes attached to attributes. Unmanifest Prakriti cannot know anything, while Purusha, by his nature, is possessed of knowledge,--There is nothing higher than myself,--even this is what Purusha is always conscious of. For this reason the unmanifest (or Prakriti), although naturally inanimate and unintelligent, still becomes animate and intelligent in consequence of her union with Purusha who is Eternal and Indestructible instead of remaining in her own nature due to destructibility. 2 When Purusha, through ignorance, repeatedly becomes associated with attributes, he fails to understand his own real nature and therefore he fails to attain to Emancipation. In consequence Purusha's lordship over the principles that flow from Prakriti, he is said to partake of the nature of those principles. In consequence also of his agency in the matter of creation, he is said to possess the attribute of creation. In consequence of his agency in the matter of Yoga, he is said to possess the attribute of Yoga. For his lordship over those particular principles known by the name of Prakriti, he is said to possess the nature of Prakriti. 3 For his agency in the matter of creating the seeds (of all immobile objects), he is said to partake of the nature of those seeds. And because he causes the several principles or attributes to start into life, he is, therefore, said to be subject to decay and destruction (for those principles themselves are subject thereto). In consequence, again, of his being the witness of everything, and in consequence also of there being nothing else than he, as also for his consciousness of identity with Prakriti, Yatis crowned with ascetic success, conversant with Adhyatma, and freed from fever of every kind, regard him as existing by himself without a second, immutable, unmanifest (in the form of Cause), unstable, and manifest (in the form of effects). This is what has been heard by us. Those Sankhyas, however, that depend upon Knowledge only (for their Emancipation) and the practice of compassion for all creatures, say that it is Prakriti which is One but Purushas are many. 4 As a matter of fact, Purusha is different from Prakriti which though unstable, still appears as stable. As a blade of reed is different from its outer cover, even so is Purusha different from Prakriti. Indeed, the worm that is ensconced within the Udumvara should be known as
different from the Udumvara. Though existing with the Udumvara, the worm is not to be regarded as forming a portion of the Udumvara. The fish is distinct from the water in which it lives, and the water is distinct from the fish that lives in it. Though the fish and water exist together, yet it is never drenched by water. The fire that is contained in an earthen sauce pan is distinct from the earthen sauce pan, and the sauce pan is distinct from the fire it contains. Although the fire exists in and with the sauce pan, yet it is not to be regarded as forming any part of it. The lotus-leaf that floats on a piece of water is distinct from the piece of water on which it floats. Its co-existence with water does not make it a portion of the water. The perennial existence of those objects in and with those mentioned, is never correctly understood by ordinary people. They who behold Prakriti and Purusha in any other light are said to possess a vision that is incorrect. It is certain that they have repeatedly to sink into terrible hell. I have thus told thee the philosophy of the Sankhyas that excellent science by which all things have been correctly ascertained. Ascertaining the nature of Purusha and Prakriti in this way, the Sankhyas attain to Emancipation. I have also told thee of the systems of those others that are conversant with the great principles of the universe. I shall now discourse to thee on the science of the Yogins.'"
42:1 I expand this verse for bringing out the meaning. A verbal rendering will become unintelligible.
42:2 This is a difficult verse, I am not sure that I have understood it correctly. The sense to be that Prakriti, which is really unintelligent and incapable of enjoyment or endurance, becomes intelligent and capable of enjoyment or endurance in consequence of being united with Purusha who is intelligent. Thus when pleasurable or painful sensation are felt, it is the body that seems to feel it only in consequence of the Soul that presides over it.
42:3 The first line of 7 is the same in sense as the second line of 8. In the Bombay text, only the second line of 8 occurs, while the first line of 7 has been justly omitted. In fact, Tattwa and the Prakriti are the same thing.
42:4 This refers to the opinion of the atheistic Sankhyas.
Next: Section CCCXVII