The Mahabharata Home
"'Narada said, When the vicissitudes of happiness and sorrow appear or disappear, the transitions are incapable of being prevented by either wisdom or policy or exertion. Without allowing oneself to fall away from one's true nature, one should strive one's best for protecting one's own Self. He who betakes himself to such care and exertion, has never to languish. Regarding Self as something dear, one should always seek to rescue oneself from decrepitude, death, and disease. Mental and physical diseases afflict the body, like keen-pointed shafts shot from the bow by a strong bowman. The body of a person that is tortured by thirst, that is agitated by agony, that is perfectly helpless, and that is desirous of prolonging his life, is dragged towards destruction. 1 Days and nights are ceaselessly running bearing away in their current the periods of life of all human beings. Like currents of rivers, these flow ceaselessly without ever turning back. 2 The ceaseless succession of the lighted and the dark fortnights is wasting all mortal creatures without stopping for even a moment in this work. Rising and setting day after day, the Sun, who is himself undecaying, is continually cooking the joys and sorrows of all men. The nights are ceaselessly going away, taking with them the good and bad incidents that befall man, that depend on destiny, and that are unexpected by him. If the fruits of man's acts were not dependent on other circumstances, then one would obtain whatever object one would desire. Even men of restrained senses, of cleverness, and of intelligence, if destitute of acts, never succeed in earning any fruits. 3 Others, though destitute of intelligence and unendued with accomplishments of any kind, and who are really the lowest of men, are seen, even when they do not long after success, to be crowned with the fruition of all their desires. 4 Some one else, who is always ready to do acts of injury to all creatures, and who is engaged in deceiving all the world, is seen to wallow in happiness. Some one that sits idly, obtains great prosperity; while another, by exerting earnestly, is seen to miss desirable fruits almost within his reach. 5 Do thou ascribe it as one of the faults of man! The vital seed, originating in one's nature from sight of one person, goes to another person. When imparted to the womb, it sometimes produces an embryo and sometimes fails. When sexual congress fails, it resembles a mango tree that puts forth a great many flowers
without, however, producing a single fruit. 1 As regards some men who are desirous of having offspring and who, for the fruition of their object, strive heartily (by worshipping diverse deities), they fail to procreate an embryo in the womb. Some person again, who fears the birth of an embryo as one fears a snake of virulent poison, finds a long-lived son born unto him and who seems to be his own self come back to the stages through which he has passed. Many persons with ardent longing for offspring and cheerless on that account, after sacrificing to many deities and undergoing severe austerities, at last beget children, duly borne for ten long months (in the wombs of their spouses), that prove to be veritable wretches of their race. Others, who have been obtained through virtue of such blessed rites and observances, at once obtain wealth and grain and diverse other sources of enjoyment earned and stored by their sires. In an act of congress, when two persons of opposite sexes come into contact with one another, the embryo takes birth in the womb, like a calamity afflicting the mother. Very soon after the suspension of the vital breaths, other physical forms possess that embodied creature whose gross body has been destroyed but whose acts have all been performed with that gross body made of flesh and phlegm. 2 Upon the dissolution of the body, another body, which is as much destructible as the one that is destroyed, is kept ready for the burnt and destroyed creature (to migrate into) even as one boat goes to another for transferring to itself the passengers of the other. 3 In consequence of an act of congress, a drop of the vital seed, that is inanimate, is cast into the womb. I ask thee, through whose or what care is the embryo kept alive? That part of the body into which the food that is eaten goes and where it is digested, is the place where the embryo resides, but it is not digested there. In the womb, amid urine and faeces, one's sojourn is regulated by Nature. In the matter of residence therein or escape therefrom, the born creature is not a free agent. In fact, in these respects, he is perfectly helpless. Some
embryos fall from the womb (in an undeveloped state). Some come out alive (and continue to live). While as regards some, they meet with destruction in the womb, after being quickened with life, in consequence of some other bodies being ready for them (through the nature of their acts). 1 That man who, in an act of sexual congress, injects the vital fluid, obtains from it a son or daughter. The offspring thus obtained, when the time comes, takes part in a similar act of congress. When the allotted period of a person's life is at its close, the five primal elements of his body attain to the seventh and the ninth stages and then cease to be. The person, however, undergoes no change. 2 Without doubt, when persons are afflicted by diseases as little animals assailed by hunters, they then lose the powers of rising up and moving about. If when men are afflicted by diseases, they wish to spend even vast wealth, physicians with their best efforts fail to alleviate their pain. Even physicians, that are well-skilled and well-up in their scriptures and well-equipt with excellent medicines, are themselves afflicted by disease like animals assailed by hunters. Even if men drink many astringents and diverse kinds of medicated ghee, they are seen to be broken by decrepitude like trees by strong elephants. When animals and birds and beasts of prey and poor men are afflicted by ailments, who treats them with medicines? Indeed, these are not seen to be ill. Like larger animals assailing smaller ones, ailments are seen to afflict even terrible kings of fierce energy and invincible prowess. All men, reft of the power of even uttering cries indicate of pain, and overwhelmed by error and grief, are seen to be borne away along the fierce current into which they have been thrown. Embodied creatures, even when seeking to conquer nature, are unable to conquer it with the aid of wealth, of sovereign power, or of the austerest penances. 3 If all attempts men make were crowned with success, then men would never be subject to decrepitude, would never come upon anything disagreeable, and lastly would be crowned with fruition in respect of all their wishes. All men wish to attain to gradual superiority of position. To gratify this wish they strive to the
best of their power. The result, however, does not agree with wish. 1 Even men that are perfectly heedful, that are honest, and brave and endued with prowess, are seen to pay their adorations to men intoxicated with the pride of affluence and with even alcoholic stimulants. 2 Some men are seen whose calamities disappear before even these are marked or noticed by them. Others there are who are seen to possess no wealth but who are free from misery of every kind. A great disparity is observable in respect of the fruits that wait upon conjunctions of acts. Some are seen to bear vehicles on their shoulders, while some are seen to ride on those vehicles. All men are desirous of affluence and prosperity. A few only have cars (and elephants and steeds) dragged (or walking) in their processions. Some there are that fail to have a single spouse when their first-wedded ones are dead; while others have hundreds of spouses to call their own. Misery and happiness are the two things that exist side by side. Men have either misery or happiness. Behold, this is a subject of wonder! Do not, however, suffer thyself to be stupefied by error at such a sight! Cast off both righteousness and sin! Cast off also truth and falsehood! Having cast off truth and falsehood, do thou then cast off that with whose aid thou shalt cast off the former! O best of Rishis, I have now told thee that which is a great misery! With the aid of such instructions, the deities (who were all human beings) succeeded in leaving the Earth for becoming the denizens of heaven!
"'Hearing these words of Narada Suka, endued with great intelligence and possessed of tranquillity of mind, reflected upon the drift of the instructions he received, but could not arrive at any certainty of conclusion. He understood that one suffers great misery in consequence of the accession of children and spouses; that one has to undergo great labour for the acquisition of science and Vedic lore. He, therefore, asked himself, saying,--What is that situation which is eternal and which is free from misery of every kind but in which there is great prosperity?--Reflecting for a moment upon the course ordained for him to run through, Suka, who was well acquainted with the beginning and the end of all duties, resolved to attain to the highest end that is fraught with the greatest felicity. He questioned himself, saying,--How shall I, tearing all attachments and becoming perfectly free, attain to that excellent end? How, indeed, shall I attain to that excellent situation whence there is no return into the ocean of diverse kinds of birth! I desire to obtain that condition of existence whence there is no return! Casting off all kinds of attachments, arrived at certainty by reflection with the aid of the mind, I shall attain to that end! I shall attain to that situation in which thy
[paragraph continues] Soul will nave tranquillity, and when I shall be able to dwell for eternity without being subject to decrepitude or change. It is, however, certain that that high end cannot be attained without the aid of Yoga. One that has attained to the state of perfect knowledge and enlightenment never receives an accession of low attachments through acts. 1 I shall, therefore, have recourse to Yoga, and casting off this body which is my present residence, I shall transform myself into wind and enter that mass of effulgence which is represented by the sin. 2 When Jiva enters that mass of effulgence, he no longer suffers like Shoma who, with the gods, upon the exhaustion of merit, falls down on the Earth and having once more acquired sufficient merit returns to heavens. 3 The moon is always seen to wane and once more wax. Seeing this waning and waxing that go on repeatedly, I do not wish to have a form of existence in which there are such changes. The Sun warms all the worlds by means of his fierce rays. His disc never undergoes any diminution. Remaining unchanged, he drinks energy from all things. Hence, I desire to go into the Sun of blazing effulgence. 4 There I shall live, invincible by all, and in my inner soul freed from all fear, having cast off this body of mine in the solar region. With the great Rishis I shall enter the unbearable energy of the Sun. I declare unto all creatures, unto these trees, these elephants, these mountains, the Earth herself, the several points of the compass, the welkin, the deities, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Pisachas, the Uragas, and the Rakshasas, that I shall, verily, enter all creatures in the world. 5 Let all the gods with the Rishis behold the prowess of my Yoga today!--Having said these words, Suka, informed Narada of world wide celebrity of his intention. Obtaining Narada's permission, Suka then proceeded to
where his sire was. Arrived at his presence, the great Muni, viz., the high-souled and Island-born Krishna, Suka walked round him and addressed him the usual enquiries. Hearing of Suka's intention, the highsouled Rishi became highly pleased. Addressing him, the great Rishi said,--O son, O dear son, do thou stay here to-day so that I may behold thee for some time for gratifying my eyes,--Suka, however, was indifferent to that request. Freed from affection and all doubt, he began to think only of Emancipation, and set his heart on the journey. Leaving his sire, that foremost of Rishis then proceeded to the spacious breast of Kailasa which was inhabited by crowds of ascetics crowned with success.'"
105:1 Vidhitsabhih is pipasabhih. It comes from dhe meaning drinking.
105:2 Vyasa lived in northern India and was evidently unacquainted with the tides that appear in the Bengal rivers.
105:3 The object of this verse is to show the utility and necessity of acts. Without acting no one, however clever, can earn any fruit. Both the vernacular translators give ridiculous versions of this plain aphorism.
105:4 Asi is used in the sense of akansha.
105:5 Naprapyanadhigachchati is na aprayam etc.
106:1 I do not quite understand in what the fault lies that is referred to here. Perhaps the sense is this. In Hindu philosophy, the vital seed is said to be generated by the sight of a desirable woman. When sexual congress takes place with one whose sight has not originated the vital seed but with another it fails to be productive. Whoever indulges in such intercourse is to blame.
106:2 Parasarirani has prapnuvanti understood after it. Chinnavijam means whose seed has broken, that is the creature whose gross body has met with destruction. The gross body is called the Vijam or seed of (heaven and hell). The sense of the verse is that every one, after death, attains to a new body. A creature can never exist without the bonds of body being attached to him. Of course, the case is otherwise with persons who succeed in achieving their Emancipation by the destruction of all acts. The Burdwan translator, following the commentator faithfully, renders this verse correctly. K. P. Singha skips over it entirely.
106:3 This is a not a difficult verse. Then, again, the commentator explains it carefully. K. P. Singha gives a ridiculous version. The Burdwan translator is correct. Nirddagdham and vinasyantam imply the dying or dead. Jivar paradeham chalachalam ahitam bhavati means another body, as much subject to destruction, is kept ready.
107:1 I expand this verse a little for bringing out its meaning. What is said here is that some come out of the womb alive; some die there before being quickened with life, the reason being that their acts of past lives bring for them other bodies even at that stage.
107:2 This verse is certainly a 'crux.' The commentator, I think, displays considerable ingenuity in explaining it. The order of the words is Gatayushah tasya sahajatasya pancha saptamim navamim dasam prapnuvanti; tatah na bhavanti; sa na. The ten stages of a person's life are (1) residence within the womb, (2) birth, (3) infancy, up to 5 years, (4) childhood, up to 12 years, (5) Pauganda up to 16 years, (6) youth, up to 48 years, (7) old age, (8) decrepitude, (9) suspension of breath, (10) destruction of body.
107:3 Niyuktah means employed. I take it to imply employed in the task of conquering Nature. It may also mean, set to their usual tasks by the influence of past acts. Nature here means, of course the grand laws to which human existence is subject, viz., the law of birth, of death, of disease and decrepitude etc.
108:1 Uparyupari implies gradual superiority. If one becomes wealthy, one desires to be a councillor; if a councillor, one wishes to be prime minister; and so on. The sense of the verse is that man's desire to rise is insatiable.
108:2 The reading I prefer is asathah and not sathah. If the latter reading be kept, it would mean of both descriptions are seen to pay court to the wicked.
109:1 Avavandhah is low attachments, implying those that appertain to the body. In fact, the acquisition of the body itself is such an attachment. What is said here is that Jiva who has become enlightened becomes freed from the obligation of rebirth or contact with body once more.
109:2 The mass of effulgence constituting the Sun is nothing else than Brahma. Brahma is pure effulgence. Savitri-mandala-madhyavartir-Narayanah does not mean a deity with a physical form in the midst of the solar effulgence but incorporeal and universal Brahma. That effulgence is adored in the Gayatri.
109:3 The commentator takes Shomah to mean Shomagath Jivah. He does not explain the rest of the verse. The grammatical construction presents no difficulty. If, Shomah be taken in the sense in which the Commentator explains it, the meaning would be this. He who enters the solar effulgence has not to undergo any change, unlike Shomah and the deities who have to undergo changes, for they fall down upon the exhaustion of their merit and re-ascend when they once more acquire merit. Both the vernacular translators have made a mess of the verse. The fact is, there are two paths, archiradi-margah and dhumadi-margah. They who go by the former, reach Brahma and have never to return. While they who go by the latter way, enjoy felicity for some time and then come back.
109:4 Here, the words Sun and Moon are indicative of the two different paths mentioned in the note immediately before.
109:5 What Suka says here is that he would attain to universal Brahma and thus identify himself with all things.
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