The Mahabharata Home
"Brahmana said, 'I shall now tell you truly about all that which has a beginning, middle, and end, and which is endued with name and characteristics, together with the means of apprehension. It has been said that the Day was first, Then arose Night. The Months are said to have the lighted fortnights first. The constellations have Sravana for their first; the Seasons have that of dews (viz., Winter) for their first. Earth is the source of all smells; and Water of all tastes. The solar light is the source of all colours: the Wind of all sensations of touch. Likewise, of sound the source is space (or Ether). These are the qualities of elements. I shall, after this, declare that which is the first and the highest of all entities. The sun is the first of all lighted bodies. Fire is said to be the first of all the elements. Savitri is the first of all branches of learning. Prajapati is the first of all the deities. The syllable Om is the first of all the Vedas, and the life-wind Prana is the first of all winds. All that is called Savitri which is prescribed in this world. 1 The Gayatri is the first of all metres; of all (sacrificial) animals the first is the goat. Kine are the first of all quadrupeds. The twiceborn ones are the first of all human beings. The hawk is the first of all birds. Of sacrifices the first is the pouring of clarified butter on the fire. Of all reptiles the first, O foremost of regenerate ones, is the snake. The Krita is the first of all the Yugas; there is no doubt in this. Gold is the first of all precious things. Barley is the first of all plants. Food is the first of all things to be eaten or swallowed. Of all liquid substances to be drunk, water is the foremost. Of all immobile entities without distinction, Plaksha is said to be the first, that ever holy field of Brahman. Of all the Prajapatis I am the first. There is no doubt in this. Of inconceivable soul, the self-existent Vishnu is said to be my superior. 2 Of all the mountains the great Meru is said to be the first-born. Of all the cardinal and subsidiary points of the horizon, the eastern is said to be the foremost and first-born. Ganga of three courses is said to be the firstborn of all rivers. Likewise, of all wells and reservoirs of waters, the ocean is said to be the first-born. Iswara is the supreme Lord of all the deities and Danavas and ghostly beings and Pisachas, and snakes and Makshasas and human beings and Kinnaras and Yakshas. The great Vishnu, who is full of Brahma, than whom there is no higher being in the three worlds, is the first of all the universe. Of all the modes of life, that of the householder is the first. Of this there is no doubt. The Unmanifest is the source of all the worlds as, indeed, that is the end of every thing. Days end with the sun's setting and Nights with the sun's rising. The end of pleasure is always sorrow, and the end of sorrow is always pleasure. All accumulations have exhaustion for their end, and all ascent have falls for their end. All associations have dissociations
for their end, and life has death for its end. All action ends in destruction, and all that is born is certain to meet with death. Every mobile and immobile thing in this world is transient. Sacrifice, gift, penances, study, vows, observances,--all these have destruction for their end. Of Knowledge, there is no end. Hence, one that is possessed of a tranquil soul, that has subjugated his senses, that is freed from the sense of meum, that is devoid of egoism, is released from all sins by pure knowledge.'"
75:1 As explained by Nilakantha, the word Savitri is used here to imply all forms of worship observed by Brahmanas, etc, and the Mlecchas as well. This turning back to explain a word used before is said to be an instance of "looking back like the lion".
75:2 Telang, I think, renders this verse wrongly. In the first line it is said that Brahman is superior to the Prajapatis. In the second it is pointed out that Vishnu is superior to Brahman.
Next: Section XLV