The Mahabharata Home
"The Brahmana said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative, O lady, of the discourse between a Brahmana and (king) Janaka. King Janaka (on a certain occasion), desirous of punishing him, said unto a Brahmana who had become guilty of some offence, 'Thou shalt not dwell within my dominions.' Thus addressed, the Brahmana replied unto that best of kings, saying, 'Tell me, O king, what the limits are of the territories subject to thee. I desire, O lord, to dwell within the dominions of another king. Verily, I wish to obey thy behest, O lord of Earth, agreeably to the scriptures.--Thus addressed by that celebrated Brahmana, the king, hearing repeated and hot sighs, said not a word in reply. Like the planet Rahu overwhelming the Sun, a cloudedness of understanding suddenly overwhelmed that king of immeasurable energy as he sat plunged in thought. When that cloudedness of understanding passed away and the king became comforted, he spoke after a short while these words unto that Brahmana.'
"Janaka said, 'Although a (large) inhabited tract is subject to me within this ancestral kingdom of mine, yet I fail to find my dominion, searching through the whole Earth. When I failed to find it on the Earth, I then searched Mithila (for it). When I failed to find it in Mithila, I then searched for it among my own children. When I failed to find it even there, a cloudedness of understanding came over me. After that cloudedness of understanding passed away, intelligence came back to me. Then I thought that I have no dominion, or that everything is my dominion. Even this body is not mine, or the whole Earth is mine. At the same time, O best of regenerate persons, I think that that is as much mine as it is of others. Do thou, therefore, dwell (here) as long as thy
choice leads thee, and do thou enjoy as long as thou pleasest.'
"The Brahmana said, 'When there is a large inhabited tract in thy ancestral kingdom, tell me, depending upon what understanding, has the idea of meum been got rid of by thee. What also is that understanding depending upon which thou hast come to the conclusion that everything constitutes thy dominion? What, indeed, is the notion through which thou hast no dominion, or everything is thy dominion?'
"Janaka said, 'All conditions here, in all affairs, have been understood by me to be terminable. Hence, I could not find that which should be called mine. 1 (Considering) whose is this, I thought of the Vedic text about anybody's property, I could not, therefore, find, by my understanding, what should be (called) mine. 2 Depending upon this notion, I got rid of idea of mineness. Hear now what that notion is depending upon which I came to the conclusion that I have dominion everywhere. I do not desire for my own self those smells that are even in my nose. Therefore, the earth, subjugated by me, is always subject to me. 3 I do not desire for my own self those tastes that exist in contact with even my tongue. Therefore, water, subjugated by me, is always subject to me. I do not desire for my own self the colour or light that appertains to my eye. Therefore, light subjugated by me, is always subject to me. I do not desire for my own self those sensations of touch which are in contact with even my skin. Therefore, the wind, subjugated by me, is always subject to me. I do not desire for my own self those sounds which are in contact with even my ear. Therefore sounds, subjugated by me, are always subject to me. I do not desire for my own self the mind that is always in my mind. Therefore the mind, subjugated by me, is subject to me. All these acts of mine are for the sake of the deities, the Pitris, the Bhutas, together with guests. 4--The Brahmana then, smiling, once more said unto Janaka,--Know that I am Dharma, who have come here today for examining thee. Thou art verily the one person for setting this wheel in motion, this wheel that has the quality of Goodness for its circumference, Brahmin for its nave, and the understanding for its spokes, and which never turns back!'" 5
55:1 think Telang renders this verse wrongly. Samhatadehabandhanah does not mean 'with bodily frame destroyed' but 'with bodily frame united.' If samhata be taken as destroyed, the compound bhinna-vikirna-dehah in the second line would be a useless repetition. The meaning is that with bodily frame or the bonds of body united, he takes birth. When he dies, that frame becomes dismembered and scattered.
56:1 The conditions referred to are affluence and indigence, as explained by Nilakantha.
56:2 This is, rather, obscure. Nilakantha observes that the Vedic text referred to is: 'Do not covet anybody's property.' What Janaka says seems to be this: Thinking of this prohibition about coveting other people's property, I thought how could it be ascertained what belongs to others.
56:3 The sense seems to be this: the property of smell attaches to earth. I do not desire smell for my own enjoyment. If it is perceived, it is perceived by the organ of smell. The earth, therefore, is subject to me, not I to the earth. I have transcended my sensations, and, therefore, the objects to which they inhere. The whole world represents only the objects of the sensations. The latter being mastered, the whole world has been mastered by me.
56:4 i.e., I live and act for these and not my own self.
56:5 Nilakantha's reading is erroneous, Brahma-labhasya should be Brahmana-bhasya. So also durvarasya is incorrect. Nemi may also mean the line or track that is made by a wheel as it moves. If taken in this sense, it would mean 'that is confined to, or that cannot deviate from the track constituted by goodness'. The nave, Brahman, is, of course, the Vedas.
Next: Section XXXIII