The Mahabharata Home
"--The Brahmana said, 'The acts, good and bad, that a Jiva does are not subject to destruction. Upon attainment of body after body, those acts produce fruits corresponding with them. 1 As a fruit-bearing tree, when the season comes of productivity, yields a large quantity of fruit, similarly merit, achieved with a pure heart, yields a large crop (of felicity). After the same fashion, sin, done with a sinful heart, produces a large crop of misery. The Soul (or Jiva), placing the mind ahead, addresses himself to action. Hear then how Jiva, equipt with all his acts and overwhelmed with lust and wrath, enters the womb. The vital seed, mixed with blood, enters the womb of females and becomes the field (of Jiva), good or bad, born of (his) acts. In consequence of his subtlety and the condition of being unmanifest, Jiva does not become attached to anything even after attaining to a body. Therefore, he is called Eternal Brahman. 2 That (viz., Jiva or Brahman) is the seed of all creatures. It is in consequence of Him that living creatures live. That Jiva, entering all the limbs of the foetus part by part, accepting the attribute of mind, and residing within all the regions that belong to Prana, supports (life). In consequence of this, the foetus becoming endued with mind begins to move its limbs. 3 As liquified iron, poured (into a mould), takes the form of the mould, know that the entrance of Jiva into the foetus is even such. As fire, entering a mass of iron, heats it greatly, do thou know that the manifestation of Jiva in the foetus is such. As a lamp, burning in a room, discovers (all things within it), after the
same manner mind discovers the different limbs of the body. 1 Whatever acts, good or bad, Jiva does in a former body, have certainly to be enjoyed or endured by him. By such enjoyment and endurance former acts are exhausted, and other acts, again, accumulate, till Jiva succeed in acquiring a knowledge of the duties included in that contemplation which leads to Emancipation. Regarding this, I shall tell thee those acts by which Jiva, O best of men, while coursing through a repeated round of re-births, becomes happy, Gifts, observances of austerity, Brahmacharyya, bearing Brahman according to the ordinances laid down, self-restraint, tranquillity, compassion for all creatures, restraint of passions, abstentions from cruelty as also from appropriating what belongs to others, refraining from doing even mentally all acts that are false and injurious to living creatures on the Earth, reverently serving mother and father, honouring deities and guests, worship of preceptors, pity, purity, constant restraint of all organs, and causing of all good acts, are said to constitute the conduct of the good. From observance of such conduct, arises Righteousness which protects all creatures eternally. Such conduct one would always behold among persons that are good. Verily, such conduct resides there eternally. That course of practices to which persons of tranquil souls adhere indicates Righteousness. Among them is thrown that course of practices which constitutes eternal Righteousness. He who would betake himself to that Righteousness would never have to attain to a miserable end. It is by the conduct of the good that the world is restrained in the paths of Righteousness when it falls away. He that is a Yogin is Emancipated, and is, therefore, distinguished above these (viz., the good). 2 Deliverance from the world takes place, after a long time, of one who acts righteously and well on every occasion as he should. A living creature thus always meets with the acts done by him in a former life. All these acts constitute the cause in consequence of which he comes into this world in a state different from his true form. 3 There is a doubt in the world as regards the question. By what was the acceptance (by Jiva) of a body first determined. The Grandsire of all the worlds, viz., Brahma having first formed a body of his own, then created the three worlds, in their entirety, of mobile and immobile creatures. Having first himself assumed a body, he then created Pradhana. That Pradhana is the material cause of all embodied creatures, by whom is all this covered and whom all came to know as the highest. This that is seen is said to be destructible; while the other is immortal and indestructible. This that (is seen) is said to be Kshara (the destructible); that, however, which is Para (the other) is the Immortal, (as also) Akshara (the Indestructible). Of each Purusha taken distributively, the whole is duality among these three. 4 Seen first (to appear in an embodied form)
[paragraph continues] Prajapati (then) created all the primal elements and all immobile creatures. Even this is the ancient audition. Of that (acceptance of body), the Grandsire ordained a limit in respect of time, and migrations among diverse creatures and return or rebirth. All that I say is proper and correct, like to what a person who is endued with intelligence and who has seen his soul, would say on this topic of previous births. 1 That person who looks upon pleasure and pain as inconstant, which, indeed, is the correct view, who regards the body as an unholy conglomeration, and destruction as ordained in action, and who remembers that what little of pleasure there is, is really all pain, will succeed in crossing this terrible ocean of worldly migration that is so difficult to cross. Though assailed by decrepitude and death and disease, he that understands Pradhana beholds with all equal eye that Consciousness which dwells in all beings endued with consciousness. Seeking the supreme seat, he then becomes utterly indifferent to all (other) things. O best of men, I shall now impart instruction to thee, agreeably to truth, concerning this. Do thou, O learned Brahmana, understand in completeness that which constitutes the excellent knowledge, as I declare it, of that indestructible seat.--'"
29:1 Pachante is phalam prayachhanti.
29:2 Nilakantha explains this verse in a different way. According to him it means,--'in consequence of his subtlety and imperceptibility, Jiva does not become attached to anything. For this reason, one possessed of a knowledge of Brahman, having become cognisant of Brahman and attained the great object of his desire, succeeds in becoming so (i.e., dissociated from all things). This interpretation seems to be a little far-fetched.
29:3 Chetasa indicates upadhibhutena, for previously, Jiva was without upadhi. Pranasthaneshu implies Indriyagolokeshu or those vital parts which constitute the seats of the senses. Chetana does not, I think, mean 'consciousness.' It implies mind.
30:1 Causes them to grow. I do not follow Nilakantha here.
30:2 Nilakantha points out that one of the cha's indicates the reason or cause. Hence, the use of 'therefore' in the text.
30:3 Vikrita does not necessarily mean degraded. It implies 'changed or altered.' Jiva, who is pure and immaculate, takes birth in this world, failing away from his true status of Brahman owing to his acts. Acts, again, are eternal, no beginning being conceivable.
30:4 Parantwa-maritam-aksharam indicates two things, viz., Amritam and Aksharam. The p. 31 first line speaks of Kshara, or the material case, or body; then of that which is para or other. This other is of two kinds, viz., Amritam or suddha-chaitanyam, implying Brahman in its condition of purity; and Aksharamt or Jiva as existing in the material case. In the second line, trayanam refers to Kshara, Amrita, and Akshara. Mithunam is duality, referring to that which is composed of Kshara and Akshara. What is stated in this verse is that every Purusha is a duality, made up of Kshara and Akshara. Telang gives a different version of the verse. He ignores the word trayanam totally, and takes Mithunam as implying a couple (male and female). All the texts I have seen contain trayanam.
31:1 Atra purvajamnani (vishaye) yatha kaschit Medhavi etc., (vadet). seems to be the correct order of the words. Telang translates the first line differently.
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