Chapter 30

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

“The Holy One said,–‘Regardless of fruit of action, he that performs theactions which should be performed, is a renouncer and devotee, and notone who discards the (sacrificial) fire, nor one that abstains fromaction.[191] That which has been called renunciation, know that, O son ofPandu, to be devotion, since nobody can be a devotee who has notrenounced (all) resolves.[192] To the sage desirous of rising todevotion, action is said to be the means; and when he has risen todevotion, cessation of action is said to be the means. When one is nolonger attached to the objects of the senses, nor to actions, and whenone renounces all resolves, then is. One said to have risen to devotion.One should raise (his ) self by self; one should not degrade (his) self;for one’s own self is one’s friend, and one’s own self is one’senemy.[193] To him (only) who has subjugated his self by his self is selfa friend. But to him who has not subjugated his self, his self behavesinimically like an enemy. The soul of one who has subjugated his self andwho is in the enjoyment of tranquillity, is steadily fixed (on itself)amid cold and heat, pleasure and pain, and also honour and dishonour.That ascetic is said to be devoted whose mind is satisfied with knowledgeand experience, who hath no affection, who hath subjugated his senses,and to whom a sod, a stone and gold are alike. He, who views equallywell-wishers, friends, foes, strangers that are indifferent to him, thosewho take part with both sides, those who are objects of aversion, thosewho are related (to him), those who are good, and those who are wicked,is distinguished (above all others). A devotee should always fix his mindon contemplation, remaining in a secluded place alone, restraining bothmind and body, without expectations (of any kind), and without concern(with anything).[194] Erecting his seat immovably on a clean spot, nottoo high nor too low, and spreading over it a piece of cloth, adeer-skin, or blades of Kusa grass, and there seated on that seat, withmind fixed on one object, and restraining the functions of the heart andthe senses, one should practise contemplation for the purification ofself. Holding body, head, and neck even, unmoved and steady, and castinghis glance on the tip of his nose, and without looking about in any ofthe different directions, with mind in tranquillity, freed from fear,observant of the practices of Brahmacharins, restraining the mind, withheart fixed on me, the devotee should sit down, regarding me as theobject of his attainment. Thus applying his soul constantly, the devoteewhose heart is restrained, attains to that tranquillity which culminatesin final absorption and assimilation with me. Devotion is not one’s, OArjuna, who eateth much, nor one’s who doth not eat at all; nor one’s whois addicted to too much sleep, nor one’s who is always awake, devotionthat is destructive of misery is his who is temperate in food andamusements, who duly exerts himself temperately in all his works, and whois temperate in sleep and vigils. When one’s heart, properly restrained,is fixed on one’s own self, then, indifferent to all objects of desire,he is one called a devotee.[195] As a lamp in a windless spot doth notflicker, even that is the resemblance declared of a devotee whose hearthath been restrained and who applieth his self to abstraction. That(condition) in which the mind, restrained by practice of abstraction,taketh rest, in which beholding self by self, one is gratified withinself; in which one experienceth that highest felicity which is beyond the(sphere of the) senses and which the understanding (only) can grasp, andfixed on which one never swerveth from the truth; acquiring which oneregards no other acquisition greater than it, and abiding in which one isnever moved by even the heaviest sorrow; that (Condition) should be knownto be what is called devotion in which there is a severance of connectionwith pain. That devotion should be practised with perseverance and withan undesponding heart.[196] Renouncing all desires without exception thatare born of resolves, restraining the group of the senses on all sides bymind alone, one should, by slow degrees, become quiescent (aided) by(his) understanding controlled by patience, and then directing his mindto self should think of nothing.[197] Wheresoever the mind, which is (bynature) restless and unsteady, may run, restraining it from those, oneshould direct it to self alone. Indeed, unto such a devotee whose mind isin tranquillity, whose passions have been suppressed, who hath become onewith Brahma and who is free from sin, the highest felicity cometh (of hisown accord). Thus applying his soul constantly (to abstraction), thedevotee, freed from sin, easily obtaineth that highest happiness, viz.,with Brahma. He who hath devoted his self to abstraction casting an equaleye everywhere, beholdeth his self in all creatures and all creatures inhis self. Unto him who beholdeth me in everything and beholdetheverything in me. I am never lost and he also is never lost to me.[198]He who worshippeth me as abiding in all creatures, holding yet that allis one, is a devotee, and whatever mode of life he may lead, he liveth inme. That devotee, O Arjuna, who casteth an equal eye everywhere,regarding all things as his own self and the happiness and misery ofothers as his own, is deemed to be the best.’

“Arjuna said, ‘This devotion by means of equanimity which thou hastdeclared, O slayer of Madhu,–on account of restlessness of the mind I donot see its stable presence.[199] O Krishna, the mind is restless,boisterous, perverse, and obstinate. Its restraint I regard to be asdifficult of accomplishment as the restraint of the wind.’

“The Holy One said, ‘Without doubt, O thou of mighty arms the mind isdifficult of subjugation and is restless. With practice, however, O sonof Kunti, and with the abandonment of desire, it can be controlled. It ismy belief that by him whose mind is not restrained, devotion is difficultof acquisition. But by one whose mind is restrained and who is assiduous,it is capable of acquisition with the aid of means.’

“Arjuna said, ‘Without assiduity, though endued with faith, and with mindshaken off from devotion, what is the end of him, O Krishna, who hath notearned success in devotion? Fallen off from both,[200] is he lost like aseparated cloud or not, being as he is without refuge, O thou of mightyarms, and deluded on the path leading to Brahma? This my doubt, OKrishna, it behoveth thee to remove without leaving anything. Besidesthee, no dispeller of this doubt is to be had.[201]

“The Holy One said, ‘O son of Pritha, neither here, nor hereafter, dothruin exist for him, since none, O sire, who performs good (acts) comes byan evil end. Attaining to the regions reserved for those that performmeritorious acts and living there for many many years, he that hathfallen off from devotion taketh birth in the abode of those that artpious and endued with prosperity, or, he is born even in the family ofdevotees endued with intelligence. Indeed, a birth such as this is moredifficult of acquisition in this world. There in those births heobtaineth contact with that Brahmic knowledge which was his in his formerlife; and from that point he striveth again, O descendant of Kuru,towards perfection. And although unwilling, he still worketh on inconsequence of that same former practice of his. Even one that enquirethof devotion riseth above (the fruits of) the Divine Word.-[202] Strivingwith great efforts, the devotee, cleaned of all his sins, attaineth toperfection after many births, and then reacheth the supreme goal. Thedevotee is superior to ascetics engaged in austerities; he is esteemed tobe superior to even the man of knowledge. The devotee is superior tothose that are engaged in action. Therefore, become a devotee, O Arjuna.Even amongst all the devotees, he who, full of faith and with inner selfresting on me, worshippeth me, is regarded by me to be the most devout.”

Chapter 31
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