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Chapter 148

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

Vaisampayana continued, “Thus addressed, the powerful Bhimasena of mightyarms, affectionately, and with a cheerful heart, bowed unto his brother,Hanuman, the monkey-chief, and said in mild words, ‘None is morefortunate than I am; now have I seen my elder brother. It is a greatfavour shown unto me; and I have been well pleased with thee. Now I wishthat thou mayst fulfil this desire of mine. I desire to behold. O hero,that incomparable form of thine, which thou at that time hadst had, inbounding over the main, that abode of sharks and crocodiles. Thereby Ishall be satisfied, and also believe in thy words.’ Thus addressed, thatmighty monkey said with a smile, ‘That form of mine neither thou, not anyone else can behold. At that age, the state of things was different, anddoth not exist at present. In the Krita age, the state of things was one;and in the Treta, another; and in the Dwapara, still another. Diminutionis going on this age; and I have not that form now. The ground, rivers,plants, and rocks, and siddhas, gods, and celestial sages conform toTime, in harmony with the state of things in the different yugas.Therefore, do not desire to see my former shape, O perpetuator of theKuru race. I am conforming to the tendency of the age. Verily, Time isirresistible’ Bhimasena said, ‘Tell me of the duration of the differentyugas, and of the different manners and customs and of virtue, pleasureand profit, and of acts, and energy, and of life and death in thedifferent yugas.’ Thereupon Hanuman said, ‘O child, that yuga is calledKrita when the one eternal religion was extant. And in that best ofyugas, every one had religious perfection, and, therefore, there was noneed of religious acts. And then virtue knew no deterioration; nor didpeople decrease. It is for this that this age is called Krita (perfect).But in time the yuga had come to be considered as an inferior one. And, Ochild, in the Krita age, there were neither gods, nor demons, norGandharvas, nor Yakshas, nor Rakshasas, nor Nagas. And there was nobuying and selling. And the Sama, the Rich, and the Yajus did not exist.And there was no manual labour. And then the necessaries of life wereobtained only by being thought of. And the only merit was in renouncingthe world. And during that yuga, there was neither disease, nor decay ofthe senses. And there was neither malice, nor pride, nor hypocrisy, nordiscord, nor ill-will, nor cunning, nor fear, nor misery, nor envy, norcovetousness. And for this, that prime refuge of Yogis, even the SupremeBrahma, was attainable to all. And Narayana wearing a white hue was thesoul of all creatures. And in the Krita Yuga, the distinctivecharacteristics of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras werenatural and these ever stuck to their respective duties. And then Brahmawas the sole refuge, and their manners and customs were naturally adaptedto the attainment of Brahma and the objects of their knowledge was thesole Brahma, and all their acts also had reference to Brahma. In this wayall the orders attained merit. And one uniform Soul was the object oftheir meditation; and there was only one mantra (the Om), and there wasone ordinance. And although of different characteristics, all of themfollowed a single Veda; and they had one religion. And according to thedivisions of time, they led the four modes of life, without aiming at anyobject, and so they attained emancipation. The religion consisting in theidentification of self with Brahma indicates the Krita Yuga. And in theKrita Yuga, the virtue of the four orders is throughout entire infour-fold measure. Such is the Krita Yuga devoid of the three qualities.Do thou also hear from me of the character of the Treta Yuga. In thisage, sacrifices are introduced, and virtue decreaseth by a quarter. AndNarayana (who is the Soul of all creatures) assumeth a red colour. Andmen practise truth, and devote themselves to religion and religiousrites. And thence sacrifices and various religious observances come intoexistence. And in the Treta Yuga people begin to devise means for theattainment of an object; and they attain it through acts and gifts. Andthey never deviate from virtue. And they are devoted to asceticism and tothe bestowal of gifts. And the four orders adhere to their respectiveduties; and perform rites. Such are the men of the Treta Yuga. In theDwapara Yuga, religion decreaseth by one half. And Narayana weareth ayellow hue. And the Veda becometh divided into four parts. And then somemen retain (the knowledge of) the four Vedas, and some of three Vedas,and some of one Veda, while others do not know even the Richs. And on theShastras becoming thus divided, acts become multiplied. And largelyinfluenced by passion, people engage in asceticism and gifts. And fromtheir incapacity to study the entire Veda, it becomes divided intoseveral parts. And in consequence of intellect having decreased, few areestablished in truth. And when people fall off from truth, they becomesubject to various diseases; and then lust, and natural calamities ensue.And afflicted with these, people betake themselves to penances. And somecelebrate sacrifices, desiring to enjoy the good things of life, orattain heaven. On the coming of the Dwapara Yuga, men become degenerate,in consequence of impiety. O son of Kunti, in the Kali Yuga a quarteronly of virtue abideth. And in the beginning of this iron age, Narayanaweareth a black hue. And the Vedas and the institutes, and virtue, andsacrifices, and religious observances, fall into disuse. And (then) reigniti[41], and disease, and lassitude, and anger and other deformities, andnatural calamities, and anguish, and fear of scarcity. And as the yugaswane, virtue dwindles. And as virtue dwindles away, creatures degenerate.And as creatures degenerate, their natures undergo deterioration. And thereligious acts performed at the waning of the yugas, produce contraryeffects. And even those that live for several yugas, conform to thesechanges. O represser of foes, as regards thy curiosity to know me, I saythis,–Why should a wise person be eager to know a superfluous matter?(Thus), O long-armed one, have I narrated in full what thou hadst askedme regarding the characteristics of the different yugas. Good happen tothee! Do thou return.'”

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