The Mahabharata Home
"The Brahmana said, 'I do not, O timid one, move in this world in that manner which thou, according to thy own understanding, censurest. I am a Brahmana possessed of Vedic knowledge, I am emancipated. I am a forest recluse. I am an observer of the duties of a house-holder. I observe vows. I am not what thou seest me in good and bad acts. By me is pervaded everything that exists in this universe. Whatever creatures exist in the world, mobile or immobile, know that I am the destroyer of them all, even as fire is (the destroyer) of all kinds of wood. Of sovereignty over the whole Earth or over Heaven (on the one hand), or this knowledge (of my identity with the universe), this knowledge is my wealth. 1 This is the one path for Brahmanas, by which they who understand it proceed to house-holds, or abodes in the forest, or residence with preceptors, or among mendicants. 2 With numerous unconfused symbols, only one knowledge is worshipped. Those who, whatever the symbols and modes of life to which they adhere, have acquired an understanding having tranquillity for its essence, attain to that one entity even as numerous rivers all meeting the Ocean. 3 The path is traversable with the aid of the understanding and not of this body. Actions have both beginning and end, and the body has actions for its bonds. 4 Hence, O blessed lady, thou needst have no apprehension in respect of the world hereafter. With thy heart intent upon the real entity, it is my soul into which thou wilt come.'"
57:1 The sense seems to be this. The sovereignty of the whole Earth or of Heaven, and this knowledge of my identity with the universe--of these two alternatives, I would freely choose the latter. Hence, he says--'This knowledge is my wealth.'
57:2 These are different modes of life.
57:3 The sense is this: the knowledge to be acquired is that all is one. Diverse ways there are for acquiring it. Those, again, that have attained to tranquillity have acquired it.
57:4 Actions are perishable and can lead to no lasting result. It is by the understanding that that knowledge, leading to what is permanent, is to be attained.
Next: Section XXXIV