The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Hearing these words of their preceptor, Vyasa's disciples endued with energy, became filled with joy and embraced one another. Addressing one another, they said,--That which has been said by our illustrious preceptor in view of our future good, will live in our remembrance and we shall certainly act according to it.--Having said this unto one another with joyful hearts, the disciples of Vyasa, who were thorough masters of words, once more addressed their preceptor and said,--If it pleases thee, O puissant one, we wish to descend from this mountain to the Earth, O great ascetic, for the purpose of subdividing the Vedas!--Hearing these words of his disciples, the puissant son of Parasara replied unto them in these beneficial words that were fraught, besides, with righteousness and profit,--You may repair to the Earth or to the regions of the celestials, as ye like. You should always be heedful, for the Vedas are such that they are always liable to be misunderstood! 1--Permitted by their preceptor of truthful speech, the disciples left him after circumambulating him and bowing their heads unto him. Descending upon the Earth they performed the Agnishtoma and other sacrifices; and they began to officiate at the sacrifices of Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and Vaidyas. Happily passing their days in the domestic mode of life, they were treated by the Brahmanas with great respect. Possessed of great fame and prosperity, they were employed in teaching and officiating in sacrifices. After his disciples had gone away, Vyasa remained in his asylum, with only his son in his company. Passing his days in anxious thoughtfulness, the great Rishi, possessed of wisdom, kept silent, sitting in a retired corner of the asylum. At that time Narada of great ascetic merit came to that spot for seeing Vyasa, and addressing him, said these words of melodious sound.
"'Narada said, O regenerate Rishi of Vasishtha's race, why are Vedic sounds silent now? Why art thou sitting silent and alone engaged in meditation like one taken up with an engrossing thought? Alas, shorn of Vedic echoes, this mountain hath lost its beauty, even as the Moon
shorn of splendour when assailed by Rahu or enveloped in dust. 1 Though inhabited by the celestial Rishis, yet shorn of Vedic sounds, the mountain no longer looks beautiful now but resembles a hamlet of Nishadas. 2 The Rishis, the deities, and the Gandharvas, too, no longer shine as before in consequence of being deprived of Vedic sound!--Hearing these words of Narada, the Island-born Krishna answered, saying,--O great Rishi, O thou art conversant with the declarations of the Vedas, all that thou hast said is agreeable to me and it truly behoves thee to say it unto me! Thou omniscient, thou hast seen everything. Thy curiosity also embraces all things within its sphere. All that has ever occurred in the three worlds is well known to thee. Do thou then, O regenerate Rishi, set thy commands on me. O, tell me what I am to do! Tell me, O regenerate Rishi, what should now be done by me. Separated from my disciples, my mind has become very cheerless now.
'Narada said, The stain of the Vedas is the suspension of their recitation. The stain of the Brahmanas is their non-observance of vows. The Valhika race is the stain of the Earth. Curiosity is the stain of women. Do thou with thy intelligent son recite the Vedas, and do thou with the echoes of Vedic sounds dispel the fears arising from Rakshasas:
"Bhishma continued, 'Hearing these words of Narada, Vyasa, the foremost of all persons conversant with duties and firmly devoted to Vedic recitation, became filled with joy and answered Narada, saying,--So be it--With his son Suka, he set himself to recite the Vedas in a loud sonorous voice, observing all the rules of orthoepy and, as it were, filling the three worlds with that sound. One day as sire and son, who were well-conversant with all duties, were engaged in reciting the Vedas, a violent wind arose that seemed to be impelled by the gales that blow on the bosom of the ocean. Understanding from this circumstance that the hour was suited to sacred recitation. Vyasa immediately bade his son to suspend the recitation. Suka, thus forbidden by his sire, became filled with curiosity. He asked his sire, saying,--O regenerate one, whence is this wind? It behoveth thee to tell me everything about the conduct of the Wind.--Hearing this question of Suka, Vyasa became filled with amazement. He answered Suka, by telling him that an omen which indicated that the recitation of the Vedas should be suspended.--Thou hast obtained spiritual vision. Thy mind too has, of itself, become cleansed of every impurity. Thus hast been freed from the attributes of Passion and Darkness. Thou stayest now in the attributes of Goodness. Thou beholdest now thy Soul with thy Soul even as one beholds one's own shadow in a mirror. Staying thyself on thy own Soul, do thou reflect on the Vedas. The path of the Supreme Soul is called Deva-yana (the path of the
gods). The path that is made up of the attribute of Tamas is called Pitri-yana (the path of Pitris). These are the two paths in the world hereafter. By one, people go to heaven. By the other, people go to hell. The winds blow on the Earth's surface and in the welkin. There are seven courses in which they blow. Listen to me as I recount them one after another. The body is furnished with the senses are dominated over by the Sadhyas and many great beings of mighty strength. These gave birth to an invincible son named Samana. From Samana sprang a son called Udana. From Udana sprang Vyana arose Apana, and lastly from Apana sprung the wind called Prana. That invincible scorcher of all foes, viz., Prana, became childless. I shall now recite to thee the different functions of those winds. The wind is the cause of the different functions of all living creatures, and because living creatures are enabled to live by it, therefore is the wind called Prana (or life). That wind which is the first in the above enumeration and which is known by the name of Pravaha (Samana) urges, along the first course, masses of clouds born of smoke and heat. Coursing through the welkin, and coming into contact with the water contained in the clouds, that wind displays itself in effulgence among the darts of lightning. 1 The second wind called Avaha blows with a loud noise. It is this wind that causes Soma and the other luminaries to rise and appear. Within the body (which is a microcosm of the universe) that wind is called Udana by the wise. That wind which sucks up water from the four oceans, and having sucked it up imparts it to the clouds in the welkin, and which, having imparted it to the clouds present them to the deity of rain, is third in the enumeration and known by the name of Udvaha. That wind which supports the clouds and divided them into diverse portions, which melts them for pouring rain and once more solidifies them, which is perceived as the sound of the roaring clouds, which exists for the preservation of the world by itself assuming the form of the clouds, which bears the cars of all celestial beings along the sky, is known by the name of Samvaha. The fourth in the enumeration, it is endued with great strength so that it is capable of ending the very mountains. The fifth wind is fraught with great force and speed. It is dry and uproots and breaks down all trees. Existing with it, the clouds come to be called by the name of Valahaka. That wind causes calamitous phenomena of many kinds, and produces roaring sounds in the firmament. It is known by the name of Vivaha. The sixth wind bears all celestial waters in the firmament and prevents them from falling down. Sustaining the sacred waters of the celestial Ganga, that wind blows, preventing them from having a downward course. Obstructed by that wind from a distance, the Sun, which is really the source of a thousand rays, and which enlightens the
world, appears as a luminous body of but one ray. Through the action of that wind, the Moon, after waning, wanes again till he displays his full disc. That wind is known, O foremost of ascetics, by the name Parivaha. 1 That wind which takes away the life of all living creatures when the proper hour comes, whose track is followed by Death and Surya's son Yama, which becomes the source of that immortality which is attained by Yogins of subtile sight who are always engaged in Yoga meditation, by whose aid the thousands of grandsons of Daksha, that lord of creatures, by his ten sons, succeeded in days of old in attaining to the ends of the universe, whose touch enables one to attain to Emancipation by freeing oneself from the obligation of returning so the world,--that wind is called by the name of Paravaha. The foremost of all winds, it is incapable of being resisted by anybody. Wonderful are these winds all of whom are the sons of Diti. Capable of going everywhere and upholding all things, they blow all around thee without being attached to thee at any time. This, however, is exceedingly wonderful viz., that this foremost of mountains should thus be suddenly shaken by that wind which has begun to blow. This wind is the breath of Vishnu's nostrils. When urged forth with speed, it begins to blow with great force at which the whole universe becomes agitated. Hence, when the wind begins to blow with violence, persons conversant with the Vedas do not recite the Vedas. The Vedas are a form of wind. If uttered with force, the external wind becomes tortured."
"Having said these words, the puissant son of Parasara bade his son (when the wind had ceased) to go on with his Vedic recitation. He then left that spot for plunging into the waters of the celestial Ganga.'" 2
94:1 The sense is that if the Vedas are not constantly studied, they are likely to be forgotten.
95:1 Upaplava is Rahu or the ascending node. In many parts of Upper India, during the hot months in particular, large quantities of dust are raised by whirl winds in the afternoon or at evening called Andhi the clouds of dust cover the moon for hours together.
95:2 The lowest order of men, living by slaying animals.
96:1 The verse in the Bengal texts is a triplet. In the Bombay edition, the third line is excluded from verse 36. There is no inconvenience in this, only, it should be cons-trued as referring to the wind called Samana or Pravaha.
97:1 Some texts read Jaytamvarah. If this be accepted, it should be an adjective of Parivaha, meaning the foremost of all in the strength or energy.
97:2 The sacred river Ganga has it is said, three courses or streams. One flows on the surface of the Earth; the second flows through the nether regions, and the third flows through heaven.
Next: Section CCCXXX