The Mahabharata Home
"'Narada said, By listening to such scriptures as are blessed, as bring about tranquillity, as dispel grief, and as are productive of happiness, one attains to (a pure) understanding, and having attained to it obtains to high 'felicity. A thousand causes of sorrow, a hundred causes of fear, from day to day, afflict one that is destitute of understanding, but not one that is possessed of wisdom and learning. Do thou, therefore, listen to some old narratives as I recite them to you, for the object of dispelling thy griefs. If one can subjugate one's understanding, one is sure to attain to happiness. By association of what is undesirable and dissociation from what is agreeable, only men of little intelligence, become subject to mental sorrow of every kind. When things have become past, one should not grieve, thinking of their merits. He that thinks of such past things with affection can never emancipate himself. One should always seek to find out the faults of those things to which one begins to become attached. One should always regard such things to be fraught with much evil. By doing so, one should soon free oneself therefrom. The man who grieves for what is past fails to acquire either wealth or religious merit or fame.
[paragraph continues] That which exists no longer cannot be obtained. When such things pass away, they do not return (however keen the regret one may indulge in for their sake). Creatures sometimes acquire and sometimes lose worldly object. No man in this world can be grieved by all the events that fall upon him. Dead or lost, he who grieves for what is past, only gets sorrow for sorrow. Instead of one sorrow, he gets two. 1 Those men who, beholding the course of life and death in the world with the aid of their intelligence, do not shed tears, are said to behold properly. Such persons have never to shed tears, (at anything that may happen). When any such calamity comes, productive of either physical or mental grief, as is incapable of being warded off by even one's best efforts, one should cease to reflect on it with sorrow. This is the medicine for sorrow, viz., not to think of it. By thinking of it, one can never dispel it; on the other hand, by thinking upon sorrow, one only enhances it. Mental griefs should be killed by wisdom; while physical grief should be dispelled by medicines. This is the power of knowledge. One should not, in such matters, behave like men of little understandings. Youth, beauty, life, stored wealth, health, association with those that are loved,--these all are exceedingly transitory. One possessed of wisdom should never covet them. One should not lament individually for a sorrowful occurrence that concerns an entire community. Instead of indulgence in it when grief comes, one should seek to avert it and apply a remedy as soon as one sees the opportunity for doing it. There is no doubt that in this life the measure of misery is much greater than that of happiness. There is no doubt in this that all men show attachment for objects of the senses and that death is regarded as disagreeable. That man who casts off both joy and sorrow, is said to attain to Brahma. When such a man departs from this world, men of wisdom never indulge in any sorrow on his account. In spending wealth there is pain. In protecting it there is pain. In acquiring it there is pain. Hence, when one's wealth meets with destruction, one should not indulge in any sorrow for it. Men of little understanding, attaining to different grades of wealth, fail to win contentment and at last perish in misery. Men of wisdom, however, are always contented. All combinations are destined to end in dissolution. All things that are high are destined to fall down and become low. Union is sure to end in disunion anti life is certain to end in death. Thirst is unquenchable. Contentment is the highest happiness. Hence, persons of wisdom regard contentment to be the most precious wealth. One's allotted period of life is running continually. It stops not in its course for even a single moment. When one's body itself is not durable, what other thing is there (in this world) that one should reckon as durable? Those persons who, reflecting on the nature of all creatures and concluding that it is beyond the grasp of the mind, turn their attention to the highest path, and, setting out, achieve a
fair progress in it, have not to indulge in sorrow. 1 Like a tiger seizing and running away with its prey, Death seizes and runs away with the man that is employed in such (unprofitable) occupation and that is still unsatiated with objects of desire and enjoyment. One should always seek to emancipate oneself from sorrow. One should seek to dispel sorrow by beginning one's operations with cheerfulness, that is, without indulging in sorrow the while, having freed oneself from a particular sorrow, one should act in such a way as to keep sorrow at a distance by abstaining from all faults of conduct. 2 The rich and the poor alike find nothing in sound and touch and form and scent and taste, after the immediate enjoyment thereof. 3 Before union, creatures are never subject to sorrow. Hence, one that has not fallen off from one's original nature, never indulges in sorrow when that union comes to an end. 4 One should restrain one's sexual appetite and the stomach with the aid of patience. One should protect one's hands and feet with the aid of the eye. One's eyes and ears and the other senses should be protected by the mind. One's mind and speech should be ruled with the aid of wisdom. Casting off love and affection for persons that are known as well as for those that are unknown, one should conduct oneself with humility. Such a person is said to be possessed of wisdom, and such a one surely finds happiness. That man who is pleased with his own Soul 5 who is devoted to Yoga, who depends upon nothing out of self, who is without cupidity, and who conducts himself without the assistance of anything but his self, succeeds in attaining to felicity.'"
103:1 Sorrow increases by indulgence.
104:1 This is a very doubtful verse. The commentator is silent. I follow the meaning as it lies on the surface. The object of the verse seems to be this: there are men that are employed in reflecting upon the nature of things: these should know that such occupation is useless, for truly the nature of things is beyond the grasp of the mind. The greatest philosopher is ignorant of all the virtues of a blade of grass, the purpose for which it exists, the changes that it undergoes every instant of time and from day to day. Those men, however, who have such unprofitable occupation for walking along the highest path (the path, that is, which leads to Brahma) free themselves from grief.
104:2 I am not sure that I have understood this verse correctly.
104:3 What is intended to be said is that the gratification of the senses leaves nothing behind. The pleasure lasts as long as the contact continues of the objects with the senses. The Burdwan translator, not suspecting that the word used is adhana, gives a ridiculous version.
104:4 What is said here is this: a man has spouses and children, or wealth, etc.: there was no sorrow when these were not: with his union with these his sorrow commences. Hence, when these things disappear, an intelligent man should not indulge in any sorrow. Bonds or attachments are always productive of grief. When bonds are severed or destroyed, there ought to be no grief.
104:5 i.e., whose pleasures do not depend upon external objects such as spouses and children.
Next: Section CCCXXXII