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Chapter 28

Mahabharata English - ASWAMEDHA PARVA

“The Brahmana said, ‘I do not smell scents. I do not perceive tastes. Ido not see colours. I do not touch. I do not likewise hear the diversesounds (that arise). Nor do I entertain purposes of any kind. It isNature that desires such objects as are liked; it is Nature that hatessuch objects as are disliked. Desire and aversion spring from Nature,after the manner of the upward and the downward life-winds when soulshave entered animate bodies. Separated from them are others; in them areeternal dispositions; (these as also) the soul of all creatures, Yoginswould behold in the body. Dwelling in that, I am never attached toanything through desire and wrath, and decrepitude and death. Not havingany desire for any object of desire, and not having any aversion for anyevil, there is no taint on my natures, as there is no taint of a drop ofwater on (the leaves of) the lotus. Of this constant (principle) whichlooks upon diverse natures, they are inconstant possessions.[77] Thoughactions are performed, yet the assemblage of enjoyments does not attachitself to them, even as the assemblage of rays of the sun does not attachto the sky. In this connection is recited an ancient story of a discoursebetween an Adhwaryu and a Yati. Do thou hear it, O glorious lady.Beholding an animal sprinkled with water at a sacrificial ceremony, aYati said unto the Adhwaryu seated there these words in censure,–This isdestruction of life! unto him the Adhwaryu said in reply,–This goat willnot be destroyed. The animal (sacrificed) meets with great good, if theVedic declaration on this subject be true. That part of this animal whichis of earth will go to earth. That part of this one which is born ofwater, will enter into water. His eye will enter the sun; his ear willenter the different points of the horizon; his life-winds will enter thesky. I who adhere to the scriptures incur no fault (by assisting at thekilling of this animal).’

“The Yati said, ‘If thou beholdest such good to the goat in thisdissociation with (his) life-winds, then this sacrifice is for the goat.What need hast thou for it? Let the brother, father, mother, and friend(of this goat) give thee their approval in this. Taking him (to them) dothou consult them. This goat is especially dependent. It behoveth thee tosee them who can give their consent in this. After hearing their consent;the matter will become fit for consideration. The life-winds of this goathave been made to return to their respective sources. Only the inanimatebody remains behind. This is what I think. Of those who wish to enjoyfelicity by means of the inanimate body (of an animal) which iscomparable with fuel, the fuel (of sacrifice) is after all the animalhimself. Abstention from cruelty is the foremost of all deities. Eventhis is the teaching of the elders. We know this is the proposition,viz.,–No slaughter (of living creatures).–If I say anything further,(it will then appear that) diverse kinds of faulty actions are capable ofbeing done by thee. Always abstaining from cruelty to all creatures iswhat meets with our approbation. We establish this from what is directlyperceptible. We do not rely on what is beyond direct perception.’

“The Adhwaryu said, ‘Thou enjoyest the properties of smell which belongto the earth. Thou drinkest the tastes which appertain to water. Thouseest colours which belong to lighted bodies. Thou touchest theproperties which, have their origin in wind. Thou hearest the soundswhich have their origin in space (or ether). Thou thinkest thoughts withthe mind. All these entities, thou art of opinion, have life. Thou dostnot then abstain from taking life. Really, thou art engaged in slaughter.There can be no movement without slaughter. Or, what dost thou think, Oregenerate one.’

“The Yati said, ‘The Indestructible and the Destructible constitute thedouble manifestation of the soul. Of these the Indestructible is existed.The Destructible is said to be exceedingly non-existent.[78] Thelife-wind, the tongue, the mind, the quality of goodness, along with thequality of passion, are all existent. The Atman is above these forms andhence is without duality and hope. As regards one that is freed fromthese existent objects, that transcends all pairs of opposites, that doesnot cherish any expectation, that is alike to all creatures, that isliberated from the idea of meum, that has subjugated his self, and thatis released from all his surroundings,–for him no fear exists from anysource!'[79]

“The Adhwaryu said, ‘O foremost of intelligent men, one should residewith those that are good. Hearing thy opinion my understanding shineswith light. O illustrious one, I come to thee, believing thee to be agod; and I say I have no fault, O regenerate one, by performing theserites with the aid of Mantras!'[80]

“The Brahmana continued, ‘With this conclusion, the Yati remained silentafter this. The Adhwaryu also proceeded with the great sacrifice, freedfrom delusion. The Brahmanas understand Emancipation, which isexceedingly subtle, to be of this kind and having understood it, theylive accordingly directed by the Kshetrajna, that beholder of alltopics.'”

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