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Chapter 22

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“The Brahmana said, ‘In this connection is cited the ancient story, Oblessed one, of what the institution is of the seven sacrificing priests.The nose, the eye, the tongue, the skin, and the ear numbering the fifth,the mind, and the understanding,–these are the seven sacrificing priestsstanding distinctly from one another. Dwelling in subtle space, they donot perceive one another. Do thou, O beautiful one, know thesesacrificing priests that are seven by their nature.'”

“The Brahmana’s wife said, ‘How is it that dwelling in subtle space,these do not perceive one another? What are their (respective) natures, Oholy one? Do thou tell me this, O lord.'”

“The Brahmana said, ‘Not knowing the qualities (of any object) isignorance (of that object); while knowledge of the qualities is (called)knowledge (of the object which possesses those qualities). These sevennever succeed in apprehending or knowing the qualities of one another.The tongue, the eye, the ear too, the skin, the mind, and theunderstanding, do not succeed in apprehending smells. It is the nosealone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the ear also, the skin,the mind, and the understanding, never succeed in apprehending colours.It is the eye alone that apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the eyetoo, the ear, the understanding, and the mind, never succeed inapprehending sensations of touch It is the skin alone that apprehendsthem. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the mind, and theunderstanding, never succeed in apprehending sounds. It is the ear alonethat apprehends them. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the ear,and the understanding never succeed in apprehending doubt. It is the mindthat apprehends it. The nose, the tongue, the eye, the skin, the ear, andthe mind, never succeed in apprehending determination (certainty inrespect of knowledge). It is the understanding alone that apprehends it.In this connection, is cited, O beautiful lady, this ancient narrative ofa discourse between the senses and the mind.’

“The mind said, ‘The nose does not smell without me. (Without me) thetongue does not apprehend taste. The eye does not seize colour, the skindoes not feel touch, the ear does not apprehend sound, when deprived ofme. I am the eternal and foremost one among all the elements. It alwayshappens that destitute of myself, the senses never shine, likehabitations empty of inmates or fires whose flames have been quenched.Without me, all creatures fail to apprehend qualities and objects, witheven the senses exerting themselves, even as fuel that is wet and dry(failing to ignite a fire).’

“Hearing these words, the Senses said, ‘Even this would be true as thouthinkest in this matter, if, indeed, thou couldst enjoy pleasures withouteither ourselves or our objects.[63] What thou thinkest, would be true,if, when we are extinct, there be gratification and support of life, anda continuation of thy enjoyments, or, if, when we are absorbed andobjects are existing, thou canst have thy enjoyments by thy desire alone,as truly as thou hast them with our aid. If, again, thou deemest thypower over our objects to be always complete, do thou then seize colourby the nose, and taste by the eye. Do thou also take smell by the ear,and sensations of touch by the tongue. Do thou also take sounds by theskin, and likewise touch by the understanding. They that are powerful donot own the dominion of any rules. Rules exist for those only that areweak. Do thou seize enjoyments unenjoyed before; it behoves thee not toenjoy what has been tasted before (by others). As a disciple repairs to apreceptor for the sake of (acquiring) the Srutis, and then, havingacquired the Srutis, dwells on their import (by obeying theirinjunctions), even so dost thou regard as thine those objects which areshown by us, past or future, in sleep or in wakefulness. Of creatures,again, that are of little intelligence, when their mind becomesdistracted and cheerless, life is seen to be upheld upon our objectsdischarging their functions.[64] It is seen also that a creature, afterhaving formed even innumerable purposes and indulged in dreams, whenafflicted by the desire to enjoy, runs to objects of sense at once.[65]One entering upon enjoyments depending on mental purposes alone andunconnected with actual objects of sense, always meets with death uponthe exhaustion of the life-breaths, like an enkindled fire upon theexhaustion of fuel. True it is that we have connections with ourrespective attributes; true it is, we have no knowledge of one another’sattributes. But without us thou canst have no perception. Without us nohappiness can come to thee.'”

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