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Chapter 16

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“Janamejaya said, “When the high-souled Kesava and Arjuna after slayingtheir enemies repaired to the assembly rooms, what conversation, Oregenerate one, took place between them?’

Vaisampayana said, “The son of Pritha (Arjuna), having recovered his ownkingdom, joyously spent his time, without doing anything else, in thecompany of Krishna, his heart filled with delight, in that palace ofcelestial beauty. One day, those two listlessly proceeded to a particularpart of the palace that looked, O king, like a veritable portion ofHeaven. Themselves filled with delight, they were then surrounded bytheir relatives and attendents. Pandu’s son, Arjuna, filled with joy inthe company of Krishna, surveyed that delightful mansion, and thenaddressed his companion, saying, ‘O–mighty-armed one, thy greatnessbecame known to me upon the approach of the battle. O son of Devaki, thyform also, as the Lord of the universe, then became known to me! What thyholy self said unto me at that time, O Kesava, through affection, has allbeen forgotten by me, O chief of men, in consequence of the fickleness ofmy mind. Repeatedly, however, have I been curious on the subject of thosetruths. Thou again, O Madhava, wilt repair to Dwaraka soon.’

Vaisampayana continued, ‘Thus addressed by him, Krishna of mighty energy,that foremost of speakers, embraced Phalguna and replied unto him asfollows.

‘Vasudeva said, ‘I made thee listen to truths that are regarded asmysteries. I imparted to thee truths that are eternal. Verily, Idiscoursed to thee on Religion in its true form and on all the eternalregions. It is exceedingly disagreeable to me to learn that thou didstnot, from folly, receive what I imparted. The recollection of all that Itold thee on that occasion will not come to me now. Without doubt, O sonof Pandu, thou art destitute of faith and thy understanding is not good.It is impossible for me, O Dhananjaya, to repeat, in detail, all that Isaid on that occasion. That religion (about which I discoursed to theethen) is more than sufficient for understanding Brahma. I cannotdiscourse on it again in detail. I discoursed to thee on Supreme Brahma,having concentrated myself in Yoga. I shalt now, however, recite to theean old history upon the same topic. O foremost of all persons, observantof duty, listen to everything I now say, so that, with an understandingadapted to my teaching, thou mayst succeed in attaining to the highestend. O chastiser of foes, on one occasion, a Brahmana came to us from theregions of Heaven. Of irresistible energy, he came from the regions ofthe Grandsire. He was duly reverenced by us. Listen. O son of Pritha,without yielding to scruples of any kind, to what he, O chief ofBharata’s race, said, in answer to our enquiries, agreeably to heavenlyforms.’

The Brahmana said, That which thou askest me, O Krishna, connected withthe religion of Moksha (Emancipation), led by thy compassion for allcreatures (and not for thy own good),–that, indeed, which destroys alldelusion, O thou that art possessed of supreme puissance[6] I shall nowtell thee duly, O slayer of Madhu. Do thou listen with concentratedattention as I discourse to thee, O Madhava. A Brahmana of the name ofKasyapa, possessed of penances and the foremost of all persons conversantwith duties, came to a certain other Brahmana who had become conversantwith all the mysteries of religion.[7] Indeed, the latter had masteredall the knowledge which the scriptures teach respecting the departure andreappearance of beings and possessed that direct knowledge of all thingswhich Yoga gives. He was well skilled in the truths of all topicsrelating to the world. He had mastered the truth about pleasure and pain.He knew the truth about birth and death, and understood the distinctionsbetween merit and demerit. He was a beholder of the ends attained to byembodied creatures high and low in consequence of their acts. He livedlike one emancipated from the world. Crowned with ascetic success andpossessed of perfect tranquillity of soul, he had all his senses undercomplete control. He seemed to blaze with the resplendence of Brahma andwas capable of going everywhere at will. He knew the science ofdisappearing at will from before the eyes of all. He used to rove in thecompany of invisible Siddhas and celestial musicians. He used to sit andconverse with them on some spot retired from the bustle of humanity. Hewas as unattached to all things as the wind. Kasyapa having heard of himtruly, desired to see him. Possessed of intelligence, that foremost ofall Brahmanas, approached the sage. Himself possessed of penances,Kasyapa, moved by the desire of acquiring merit, fell, with a rapt heart,at the feet of the sage when he had seen all those wonderful attributes.Filled with wonder at the sight of those extraordinary accomplishments,Kasyapa began to wait upon that foremost of all Brahmanas, with thedutiful reverence of a disciple waiting upon his preceptor and succeededin propitiating him. By his devotion, O scorcher of foes, rendering tohint the obedience due from a disciple to a preceptor, Kasyapa gratifiedthat Brahmana who possessed all these accomplishments and was endued,besides, with scriptural learning and excellent conduct. Gratified withKasyapa, that Brahmana one day addressed him cheerfully and spoke asfollows, with an eye to the highest success. Listen to those words, OJanarddana, as I repeat them.

“–‘The ascetic crowned with success said,’–By diverse acts, O son, asalso by the aid of merit, mortal creatures attain to diverse ends hereand residence in Heaven. Nowhere is the highest happiness; nowhere canresidence be eternal. There are repeated falls from the highest regionsacquired with such sorrow. In consequence of my indulgence in sin, I hadto attain to diverse miserable and inauspicious ends, filled as I waswith lust and wrath, and deluded by cupidity. I have repeatedly undergonedeath and rebirth. I have eaten diverse kinds of food, I have sucked atdiverse breasts. I have seen diverse kinds of mothers, and diversefathers dissimilar to one another. Diverse kinds of happiness have beenmine and diverse kinds of misery, O sinless one. On diverse occasionshave I been separated from what was agreeable and united with what wasdisagreeable. Having earned wealth with great toil I have had to put upwith its loss. Insults and excessive misery I have received from king andrelatives. Mental and physical pain, of great severity, have been mine.Humiliations I have undergone, and death and immurement undercircumstances of great severity. Falls into Hell have been mine, andgreat tortures in the domains of Yama. Decrepitude and diseases haverepeatedly assailed me, and calamities, as frequent, in copious measure.In this world I have repeatedly undergone all those afflictions that flowfrom a perception of all pairs of opposites. After all this, one day,overwhelmed with sorrow, blank despair came upon me. I took refuge in theFormless. Afflicted as I was with great distress, I gave up the worldwith all its joys and sorrows.[8] Understanding then this path, Iexercised myself in it in this world. Afterwards, through tranquillity ofsoul, I attained to this success that thou seest. I shall not have tocome to this world again (after my departure hence). Verily, till Iattain to absorption into eternal Brahman, till, in fact, the finaldissolution of the universe, I shall look on those happy ends that willbe mine, and on those beings that constitute this universe.[9] Havingacquired this excellent success, I shall, after departing from thisworld, proceed, to what is above it (i.e., Satyaloka) and thence to whatis higher (i.e., absorption into Brahman). Verily, I shall attain to thecondition, which is unmanifest aspect of Brahman. Let no doubt be thineas regards this. O scorcher of foes, I shall not return to this world ofmortal creatures. O thou of great wisdom, I have become gratified withthee. Tell me what I shall do for thee. The time has come for theaccomplishment of that purpose for which thou hast come hither. Verily, Iknow that object for which thou hast sought me. I shall soon depart fromthis world. Hence it is that I have given thee this hint. O thou of greatwisdom and experience, I have been highly gratified with thee for thybehaviour. Do thou question me. I shall discourse on what is beneficialto thee, agreeably to thy desire. I think thy intelligence is great.Indeed, I applaud it much, for it was with the aid of that intelligencethat thou wert able to recognise me. Surely, O Kasyapa, thou artpossessed of great intelligence.’

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