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Chapter 42

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

“Arjuna said, ‘Of renunciation, O thou of mighty arms, I desire to knowthe true nature, and also of abandonment, O lord of the sensesdistinctly, O slayer of Kesi.'[293]

“The Holy One said, ‘The rejection of the works with desire is known bythe learned as renunciation. The abandonment of the fruit of all work,the discerning call abandonment. Some wise men say that work (itself)should be abandoned as evil; others (say) that the works of sacrifice,gifts, and penance, should not be abandoned. As to that abandonment,listen to my decision, O best of the sons of Bharata, for abandonment, Otiger among men, hath been declared to be of three kinds. The works ofsacrifice, gifts, and penance should not be abandoned. They should,indeed, be done. Sacrifice, gift, and penance, are the purifications ofthe wise. But even those works should be done, abandoning attachment andfruit. This, O son of Pritha, is my excellent and decided opinion. Therenunciation of an act prescribed (in the scriptures) is not proper. Itsabandonment (is) from delusion, (and) is (therefore,) declared to be ofthe quality of darkness.[294] (Regarding it) as (a source of) sorrow,when work is abandoned from (fear of) bodily pain, one making such anabandonment which is of the quality of passion never obtaineth the fruitof abandonment. (Regarding it) as one that should be done, when[295] workthat is prescribed (in the scriptures) is done, O Arjuna, abandoningattachment and fruit also, that abandonment is deemed to be of thequality of goodness. Possessed of intelligence and with doubts dispelled,an abandoner that is endowed with the quality of goodness hath noaversion for an unpleasant action and no attachment to pleasant(ones).[296] Since actions cannot be absolutely abandoned by an embodiedperson, (therefore) he who abandons the fruit of actions is truly said tobe an abandoner. Evil, good and mixed-action hath (this) three-fold fruithereafter for those that do not abandon. But there is none whatever forthe renouncer.[297] Listen from me, O thou of mighty arms, to those fivecauses for the completion of all actions, declared in the Sankhyatreating of the annihilation of actions.[298] (They are) substratum,agent, the diverse kinds of organs, the diverse efforts severally, andwith them the deities as the fifth.[299] With body, speech, or mind,whatever work, just or the reverse, a man undertakes, these five are itscauses. That being so, he that, owing to an unrefined understanding,beholdeth his own self as solely the agent, he, dull in mind, beholdethnot. He that hath no feeling of egoism, whose mind is not sullied, he,even killing all these people, killeth not, nor is fettered (byaction).[300]–Knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower, formthe three-fold impulse of action. Instrument, action, and the agent, formthe three-fold complement of action.[301] Knowledge, action, and agent,are declared in the enumeration of qualities to be three-fold, accordingto the difference of qualities. Listen to those also duly.[302] That bywhich One Eternal Essence is viewed in all things, undivided in thedivided, know that to be knowledge having the quality of goodness. Thatknowledge which discerneth all things as diverse essences of differentkinds in consequence of their separateness, know that that knowledge haththe quality of passion. But that which is attached to (each) singleobject as if it were the whole, which is without reason, without truth,and mean, that knowledge hath been said to be of the quality of darkness.The action which is prescribed (by the scriptures), (done) withoutattachment, performed without desires and aversion, by one who longethnot for (its) fruit, is said to be of the quality of goodness. But thataction which is done by one seeking objects of desire, or by one filledwith egoism, and which is attended with great trouble, is said to be ofthe quality of passion. That action which is undertaken from delusion,without regard to consequences, loss, injury (to others), and (one’s own)power also, is said to be of the quality of passion. The agent who isfree from attachment, who never speaketh of himself, who is endued withconstancy and energy, and is unmoved by success and defeat, is said to beof the quality of goodness. The agent who is full of affections, whowisheth for the fruit of actions, who is covetous, endued with cruelty,and impure, and who feeleth joy and sorrow, is declared to be of thequality of passion.[303] The agent who is void of application, withoutdiscernment, obstinate, deceitful, malicious, slothful, desponding, andprocrastinating, is said to be of the quality of darkness.[304] Hear now,O Dhananjaya, the three-fold division of intellect and constancy,according to their qualities, which I am about to declare exhaustivelyand distinctly. The intellect which knoweth action and inaction, whatought to be done and what ought not to be done, fear and fearlessness,bondage and deliverance, is, O son of Pritha, of the quality of goodness.The intellect by which one imperfectly discerneth right and wrong, thatwhich ought to be done and that which ought not to be done, is, O son ofPritha, of the quality of passion. That intellect which, shrouded bydarkness, regardeth wrong to be right, and all things as reversed, is, Oson of Pritha, of the quality of darkness. That unswerving constancy bywhich one controls the functions of the mind, the life-breaths, and thesenses, through devotion, that constancy, is, O son of Pritha, of thequality of goodness.[305] But that constancy, O Arjuna, by which oneholds to religion, desire, and profit, through attachment, desiringfruit, that constancy, O son of Pritha, is of the quality of passion.That through which an undiscerning person abandons not sleep, fear,sorrow, despondency, and folly, that constancy is deemed to be of thequality of darkness. Hear now from me, O bull of Bharata’s race, of thethree kinds of happiness. That in which one findeth pleasure fromrepetition (of enjoyment), which bringeth an end to pain, which is likepoison first but resembleth nectar in the end, that happiness born of theserenity produced by a knowledge of self, is said to be of the quality ofgoodness.[306] That which is from the contact of the senses with theirobjects which resembleth nectar first but is like poison in the end, thathappiness is held to be of the quality of passion. That happiness whichin the beginning and its consequences deludeth the soul, and springethfrom sleep, indolence, and stupidity, that is described to be of thequality of darkness. There is not, either on earth or heaven among thegods, the entity that is free from these three qualities born of nature.The duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and of Sudras also, Ochastiser of foes, are distinguished by (these three) qualities born ofnature. Tranquillity, self-restraint, ascetic austerities, purity,forgiveness, rectitude, knowledge, experience, and belief (in anexistence hereafter),–these are the duties of Brahmanas, born of (theirproper) nature. Bravery, energy, firmness, skill, not flying away frombattle, liberality, the bearing of a ruler,–these are the duties ofKshatriyas, born of (their proper) nature. Agriculture, tending ofcattle, and trade, are the natural duties of Vaisyas. Of Sudras also, thenatural duty consists in servitude. Every man, engaged in his own duties,attains to perfection. Hear now how one obtains perfection by applicationto his duties. Him from whom are the movements of all beings, Him by whomall this is pervaded, worshipping him by (the performance of) one’s ownduty, one obtaineth perfection. Better is one’s own duty though performedfaultily than another’s duty well-performed. Performing the dutyprescribed by (one’s own) nature, one incurreth no sin. One must notabandon, O son of Kunti, one’s natural duty though tainted with evil, forall actions are enveloped by evil like fire by smoke. He whose mind isunattached everywhere, who hath subdued his self, and whose desire hathdeparted, obtaineth, through renunciation, the supreme perfection offreedom from work. Learn from me, only in brief, O son of Kunti, how one,having obtained (this kind of) perfection, attaineth to Brahma which isthe supreme end of knowledge. Endued with a pure mind, and restraininghis self by constancy, renouncing sound and other objects of sense, andcasting off affection and aversion, he who resideth in a lonely place,eateth little, and restraineth speech, body, and mind, who is ever intenton meditation and abstraction, who hath recourse to indifference, who,abandoning egoism, violence, pride, lust, wrath, and (all) surroundings,hath been freed from selfishness and is tranquil (in mind), becometh fitfor assimilation with Brahma. Becoming one with Brahma, tranquil inspirit, (such a) one grieveth not, desireth not; alike to all beings, heobtaineth the highest devotion to Me. By (that) devotion he trulyunderstandeth Me. What I am, and who I am; then understanding Me truly,he entereth into Me forthwith. Even performing all actions at all timeshaving refuge in Me, he obtaineth, through my favour, the seat that iseternal and imperishable. Dedicating in thy heart all actions to Me,being devoted to Me, resorting to mental abstraction, fix thy thoughtsconstantly on Me. Fixing thy thoughts on Me, thou wilt surmount alldifficulties through my grace. But if from self-conceit thou wilt notlisten, thou wilt (then) utterly perish. If, having recourse toself-conceit, thou thinkest–I will not fight,–that resolution of thinewould be vain, (for) Nature will constrain thee. That which, fromdelusion, thou dost not wish to do, thou wilt do involuntarily, bound bythy own duty springing from (thy own) nature. The Lord, O Arjuna,dwelleth in the region of the heart of beings, turning all beings as ifmounted on a machine, by his illusive power. Seek shelter with Him inevery way, O Bharata. Through his grace thou wilt obtain supremetranquillity, the eternal seat. Thus hath been declared to thee by Me theknowledge that is more mysterious than any (other) matter. Reflecting onit fully, act as thou likest. Once more, listen to my supernal words, themost mysterious of all. Exceedingly dear art thou to Me, therefore, Iwill declare what is for thy benefit. Set thy heart on Me, become Mydevotee, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me. Then shalt thou come to Me. Ideclare to thee truly, (for) thou art dear to Me. Forsaking all(religious) duties, come to Me as thy sole refuge. I will deliver theefrom all sins. Do not grieve. This is not to be ever declared by thee toone who practiseth no austerities, to one who is not a devotee, to onewho never waiteth on a preceptor, nor yet to one who calumniateth Me. Hewho shall inculcate this supreme mystery to those that are devoted to Me,offering Me the highest devotion, will come to Me, freed from (all his)doubts.[307] Amongst men there is none who can do Me a dearer servicethan he, nor shall any other on earth be dearer to Me than he. And he whowill study this holy converse between us, by him will have been offeredto Me the sacrifice of knowledge. Such is my opinion. Even the man who,with faith and without cavil, will hear it (read), even he freed (fromre-birth), will obtain of the blessed regions of those that perform piousacts. Hath this, O son of Pritha, been heard by thee with mind undirectedto any other objects? Hath thy delusion, (caused) by ignorance, beendestroyed, O Dhananjaya?’

“Arjuna said, ‘My delusion hath been destroyed, and the recollection (ofwhat I am) hath been gained by me, O Undeteriorating one, through thyfavour. I am now firm. My doubts have been dispelled. I will do thybidding.'”

Sanjaya continued, “Thus I heard this converse between Vasudeva and thehigh-souled son of Pritha, (that is) wonderful and causeth the hair tostand on end. Through Vyasa’s favour heard I this supreme mystery, this(doctrine of) Yoga, from Krishna himself, the Lord of Yoga, who declaredit in person. O King recollecting and (again) recollecting this wonderful(and) holy converse of Kesava and Arjuna, I rejoice over and over again.Recollecting again and again that wonderful form also of Hari, great ismy amazement, O king, and I rejoice ever more. Thither where Krishna, theLord of Yoga (is), thither where the great bowman (Partha) is, thither,in my opinion, are prosperity, and victory, and greatness, and eternaljustice[308]'”

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