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Chapter 210

Mahabharata English - ARANYAKA PARVA

“Markandeya continued, ‘O Bharata, the Brahmana, thus interrogated by thevirtuous fowler, resumed again this discourse so pleasing to the mind.The Brahmana said, ‘O best of the cherishers of religion, it is said thatthere are five great elements; do thou describe to me in full theproperties of any one of the five.’ The fowler replied, ‘The earth,water, fire, air and sky all have properties interlapping each other. Ishall describe them to thee. The earth, O Brahmana, has five qualities,water four, fire three and the air and sky together three also. Sound,touch, form, odour and taste–these five qualities belong to earth, andsound, touch, form and taste, O austere Brahmana, have been described tothee as the properties of water, and sound, touch and form are the threeproperties of fire and air has two properties sound and touch, and soundis the property of sky. And, O Brahmana, these fifteen propertiesinherent in five elements, exist in all substances of which this universeis composed. And they are not opposed to one another; they exist, OBrahmana, in proper combination. When this whole universe is thrown intoa state of confusion, then every corporeal being in the fulness of time,assumes another corpus. It arises and perishes in due order. And thereare present the five elementary substances of which all the mobile andimmobile world is composed. Whatever is perceptible by the senses, iscalled vyakta (knowable or comprehensible) and whatever is beyond thereach of the senses and can only be perceived by guesses, is known to beavyakta (not vyakta). When a per on engages in the discipline ofself-examination, after having subdued the senses which have of their ownproper objective play in the external conditions of sound, form, &c, thenhe beholds his own spirit pervading the universe, and the universereflected in itself. He who is wedded to his previous karma, althoughskilled in the highest spiritual wisdom, is cognisant only of his soul’sobjective existence, but the person whose soul is never affected by theobjective conditions around, is never subject to ills, owing to itsabsorption in the elementary spirit of Brahma. When a person has overcomethe domination of illusion, his manly virtues consisting of the essenceof spiritual wisdom, turn to the spiritual enlightenment which illuminesthe intelligence of sentient beings. Such a person is styled by theomnipotent, intelligent Spirit as one who is without beginning andwithout end, self-existent, immutable, incorporeal and incomparable.This, O Brahmana, that thou hast enquired of me is only the result ofself discipline. And this self-discipline can only be acquired bysubduing the senses. It cannot be otherwise, heaven and hell are bothdependent on our senses. When subdued, they lead to heaven; when indulgedin, they lead to perdition. This subjugation of the senses is the highestmeans of attaining spiritual light. Our senses are at the (cause) root ofour spiritual advancement as also at the root of our spiritualdegradation. By indulging in them, a person undoubtedly contracts vices,and by subduing these, he attains salvation. The self-restrained personwho acquires mastery over the six senses inherent in our nature, is nevertainted with sin, and consequently evil has no power over him. Man’scorporeal self has been compared to a chariot, his soul to a charioteerand his senses to horses. A dexterous man drives about without confusion,like a quiet charioteer with well-broken horses. That man is an excellentdriver who knows how to patiently wield the reins of those wildhorses,–the six senses inherent in our nature. When our senses becomeungovernable like horses on the high road, we must patiently rein themin; for with patience, we are sure to get the better of them. When aman’s mind is overpowered by any one of these senses running wild, heloses his reason, and becomes like a ship tossed by storms upon the highocean. Men are deceived by illusion in hoping to reap the fruits of thosesix things, whose effects are studied by persons of spiritual insight,who thereby reap the fruits of their clear perception.”

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