Chapter 280

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Usanas said, ‘I bow to that divine and illustrious and puissant Beingwho holds this earth with the firmament in his arms. I shall speak tothee of the pre-eminent greatness of that Vishnu whose head, O best ofthe Danavas, is that Infinite place (called Emancipation).’

“While they were thus conversing with each other there came unto them thegreat sage Sanatkumara of righteous soul for the purpose of dispellingtheir doubts. Worshipped by the prince of Asuras and by the sage Usanas,that foremost of sages sat down on a costly seat. After Kumara of greatwisdom had been seated (at his ease), Usanas said unto him, ‘Discourse tothis chief of the Danavas on the pre-eminent greatness of Vishnu.’Hearing these words, Sanatkumara uttered the following, fraught withgrave import, upon the pre-eminent greatness of Vishnu unto theintelligent chief of the Danavas, ‘Listen, O Daitya, to everything aboutthe greatness of Vishnu. Know, O scorcher of foes, that the entireuniverse rests on Vishnu. O thou of mighty arms, it is He who creates allcreatures mobile and immobile. In course of Time it is He, again, whowithdraws all things and in Time it is He who once more casts them forthfrom Himself. Into Hari all things merge at the universal destruction andfrom Him all things again come forth. Men possessed of scriptural lorecannot obtain him by such lore. Nor can He be obtained by Penances, norby Sacrifices. The only means by which He can be attained is byrestraining the Senses. Nor that sacrifices are entirely useless towardssuch an end. For one, by relying upon both external and internal acts,and upon one’s own mind, can purify (them) by one’s own understanding. Bysuch means, one succeeds in enjoying infinity in the world.[1353] As agoldsmith purifies the dross of his metal by repeatedly casting it intothe fire with very persistent efforts of his own, after the same mannerJiva succeeds in cleaning himself by his course through hundreds ofbirths. Some one may be seen to purify himself in only one life by mightyefforts. As one should with care wipe stains from off one’s person beforethey become thick, after the same manner one should, with vigorousefforts, wash off one’s faults.[1354] By mixing only a few flowers withthem, grains of sesame cannot be made to cast off their own odour (andbecome at once fragrant). After the same manner, one cannot, by cleansingone’s heart only a little, succeed in beholding the Soul. When, however,those grains are perfumed repeatedly with the aid of a large quantity offlowers, it is then that they cast off their own odour and assume that ofthe flowers with which they are mixed. After this manner, faults, in theform of attachments to all our environments, are dispelled by theunderstanding in course of many lives, with the aid of a large dose ofthe attribute of the Sattwa, and by means of efforts born ofpractice.[1355] Listen, O Danava, by what means creatures attached toacts and those unattached to them attain the causes that lead to theirrespective states of mind.[1356] Listen to me with undivided attention. Ishall, in their due order, discourse to thee, O puissant Danava, as tohow creatures betake themselves to action and how they give upaction.[1357] The Supreme Lord creates all creatures mobile and immobile.He is without beginning and without end. Unendued with attributes of anykind, he assumes attributes (when he chooses to create). He is theuniversal Destroyer, the Refuge of all things, the Supreme Ordainer, andpure Chit.[1358] In all creatures it is He who dwells as the mutable andthe immutable. It is He who, having eleven modifications for His essence,drinketh this universe with His rays.[1359] Know that the Earth is Hisfeet. His head is constituted by Heaven. His arms, O Daitya, are theseveral points of the compass or the horizon. The intermediate space isHis ears. The light of His eye is the Sun, and His mind is in the Moon.His understanding dwells always in Knowledge, and His tongue is inWater.[1360] O best of Danavas, the Planets are in the midst of Hisbrows. The starts and constellations are from the light of His eyes. TheEarth is in His feet. O Danava! Know also that the attributes of Rajas,Tamas, and Sattwa are of Him. He is the fruit (or end) of all the modesof life, and He it is who should be known as the fruit (or reward) of all(pious) acts (such as Japa and Sacrifice, etc.).[1361] The Highest andImmutable, He is also the fruit of abstention from all work. The Chandasare the hair on His body, and Akshara (or Pranava) is His word. Thediverse orders (of men) and the modes of life are His refuge. His mouthsare many. Duty (or religion) is planted in his heart. He is Brahma; He isthe highest Righteousness; He is Sat and He is Asat;[1362] He is Sruti;He is the scriptures; He is the Sacrificial vessel; He is the six and tenRitwijes; He is all the Sacrifices; He is the Grandsire (Brahman); He isVishnu; He is the twin Aswins; and He is Purandara;[1363] He is Mitra; Heis Varuna; He is Yama; He is Kuvera the lord of treasures. Although theRitwijes seem to behold Him as separate, He is, however, known to them asone and the same. Know that this entire universe is under the control ofOne divine Being.[1364] The Veda that is in the soul, O prince ofDaityas, regards the unity of various creatures. When a living creaturerealises this unity in consequence of true knowledge, he is then said toattain to Brahma. The period of time for which one creation exists or forwhich if ceases to exist is called a Kalpa. Living creatures exist for athousand millions of such Kalpas. Immobile creatures also exist for anequal period. The period for which a particular creation exists ismeasured by many thousands of lakes (in the following way), O Daitya!Conceive a lake that is one Yojana in width, one Krosa in depth, and fivehundred Yojanas in length. Imagine many thousands of such lakes. Seekthen to dry up those lakes by taking from them, only once a day, as muchwater as may be taken up with the end of a single hair. The number ofdays would pass in drying them up completely by this process representsthe period that is occupied by the life of one creation from its firststart to the time of its destruction.[1365] The highest Evidence (for allthings) says that creatures have six colours, viz., Dark, Tawny, Blue,Red, Yellow, and White. These colours proceed from mixtures in variousproportions of the three attributes of Rajas, Tamas, and Sattwa. WhereTamas predominates, Sattwa falls below the mark, and Rajas keeps to themark, the result is the colour called Dark. When Tamas predominates asbefore, but the relations between Sattwa and Rajas are reversed, theresult is the colour called Tawny. When Rajas predominates, Sattwa fallsbelow the mark, and Tamas keeps to the mark, the result is the colourcalled Blue. When Rajas predominates as before and the proportion isreversed between Sattwa and Tamas, the result is the intermediate colourcalled Red. That Colour is more agreeable (than the preceding one). WhenSattwa predominates, Rajas falls below the mark and, Tamas keeps to themark, the result is the colour called Yellow. It is productive ofhappiness. When Sattwa predominates and the proportion is reversedbetween Rajas and Tamas, the result is the colour called White. It isproductive of great happiness.[1366] The White is the foremost colour. Itis sinless in consequence of its being free from attachment and aversion.It is without grief, and free from the toil involved in Pravritti. Hence,White, O prince of Danavas, leads to success (or Emancipation). Jiva, ODaitya, having undergone thousands of births derived through the womb,attains to success.[1367] That success is the identical end which thedivine Indra declared after having studied many auspicious spiritualtreatises and which has for its essence the apprehension of the Soul. Theend again that creatures obtain is dependent oil their colour, andcolour, in its turn, depends upon the character of the Time that sets in,O Daitya![1368] The stages of existence, O Daitya, through which Jivamust pass are not unlimited. They are fourteen hundreds of thousands illnumber. In consequence of them Jiva ascends, stays, and falls down as thecase may be.[1369] The end that is attained by a Jiva of dark flue isvery low, for he becomes addicted to acts that lead to hell and then hasto rot in hell.[1370] The learned say that in consequence of hiswickedness, the continuance (in such form) of a Jiva is measured by manythousands of Kalpas.[1371] Having passed many hundred thousands of yearsin that condition, Jiva then attains to the colour called Tawny (andbecomes born as an intermediate creature). In that condition he dwells(for many long years), in perfect helplessness. At last when his sins areexhausted (in consequence of his having endured all the misery they arecapable of bringing), his mind, casting off all attachments, cherishesRenunciation.[1372] When Jiva becomes endued with the quality of Sattwa,he then dispels everything connected with Tamas by the aid of hisintelligence, and exerts (for achieving what is for his good). As theresult of this, Jiva attains to the colour called Red. If the quality ofSattwa, however, be not gained, Jiva then travels in a round of rebirthsin the world of inert, having attained to the colour called Blue.[1373]Having attained to that end (viz., Humanity) and having been afflictedfor the duration of one creation by the bonds born of his own acts, Jivathen attains to the colours called Yellow (or becomes a Deity). Existingin that condition for the space of a hundred creations, he then leaves it(for becoming a human being) to return to it once more.[1374] Havingattained to the Yellow colour, Jiva exists for thousands of Kalpas,sporting as a Deva. Without, however, being emancipated (even then), hehas to stay in hell, enjoying or enduring the fruits of his acts of pastKalpas and wandering through nine and ten thousand courses.[1375] Knowthat Jiva becomes freed from the hell (of acts) as represented by heavenor godship. After the same manner, Jiva gets, off from the other births(corresponding with the other colours). Jiva sports for many long Kalpasin the world of Devas. Falling thence, he once more obtains the status ofHumanity. He then stays in that condition for the space of a hundred andeight Kalpas. He then attains once more to the status of a Deva. If whilein the status of humanity (for the second time) he falleth through (evilacts as represented by) Kala (in the form of Kali), he then sinks intothe Dark colour and thus occupies the very lowest of all stages ofexistence.

“I shall tell thee now, O foremost of Asuras, how Jiva succeeds ineffecting his Emancipation. Desirous of Emancipation, Jiva, relying uponseven hundred kinds of acts every one of which is characterised by apredominance of the attribute of Sattwa, gradually courses through Redand Yellow and at last attains to White. Arrived here, Jiva travelsthrough several regions that are most adorable and that have the Eightwell-known regions of felicity beneath them, and all the while pursuesthat stainless and effulgent form of existence which is Emancipation’sself.[1376] Know that the Eight (already referred to and) which areidentical with the Sixty (subdivided into) hundreds, are, unto those thatare highly effulgent, only creations of the mind (without having any realor independent existence). The highest object of acquisition with onethat is White of hue, is that condition (called Turiya) which transcendsthe three other states of consciousness, viz., Wakefulness and Dream andDreamless slumber.[1377] As regards that Yogin who is unable to abandonthe felicities that Yoga-puissance brings about, he has to dwell (in oneand the same body) for one century of Kalpas in auspiciousness and afterthat in four other regions (called Mahar, Jana, Tapas, and Satya). Eventhat is the highest end of one belonging to the sixth colour, and who isUnsuccessful though crowned with success, and who has transcended allattachments and passions.[1378] That Yogin, again, who falls off fromYoga practices after having attained the measure of eminence describedalready resides in heaven for a century of Kalpas with the, unexhaustedremnant of his past acts (to be exhausted by enjoyment or endurance asthe case may be), and with the seven (viz., the five senses of knowledgeand mind and understanding) purged of all stains in consequence of theirpredisposition or proneness towards the attribute of Sattwa. And theexpiry of that period, such a person has to come to the world of menwhere he attains to great eminence.[1379] Turning back from the world ofmen, he departs for attaining to new forms of existence that run higherand higher in the upward scale. While engaged in this, he courseththrough seven regions for seven times, his puissance being alwaysincreased in consequence of his Samadhi and the re-awakening fromit.[1380] The Yogin who is desirous of final Emancipation suppresses byYoga-knowledge the seven, and continues to dwell in the world of life,freed from attachments; and taking those seven for certain means ofgrief, he casts them off and attains afterwards to that state which isIndestructible and Infinite. Some say that that is the region ofMahadeva; some, of Vishnu; some, of Brahman; some, of Sesha; some, ofNara; some, of the effulgent Chit; and some, of the All-pervading.[1381]When universal destruction comes, those persons who have succeeded incompletely consuming by Knowledge their gross and subtle and karanabodies, always enter into Brahma. All their Senses also which have actionfor their essence and which are not identical with Brahma, merge into thesame. When the time of universal destruction comes, those Jivas who haveattained to the position of Devas and who have an unexhausted remnant ofthe fruits of acts to enjoy or endure, revert to those stages of life inthe subsequent Kalpa which had been theirs in the previous one. This isdue to the similarity of every successive Kalpa to every previous one.Those again whose acts, at the time of universal destruction, have beenexhausted by enjoyment or endurance in respect of their fruits, fallingdown from heaven, take birth among men, in the subsequent Kalpa, forwithout Knowledge one cannot destroy one’s acts in even a hundred Kalpas.All superior Beings again, endued with similar powers and similar forms,revert to their respective destinies at a new creation after a universaldestruction, ascending and descending precisely in the same manner asduring the creation that is dissolved.[1382] As regards, again, theperson who is conversant with Brahma, as long as he continues to enjoyand endure the unexhausted remnant of his acts of previous Kalpas, it issaid that all creatures and the two stainless sciences live in his body.When his Chitta becomes cleansed by Yoga, and when he practises Samyama,this perceptible universe appears to him as only his own fivefoldsenses.[1383] Enquiring with a cleansed mind, Jiva attains to a high andstainless end. Thence he attains to a spot which knows no deterioration,and thence attains to eternal Brahma that is so difficult ofacquisition.[1384] Thus, Of thou of great might, I have discoursed tothee of the eminence of Narayana!’

“Vritra said, ‘These words of thine, I see, perfectly according with thetruth. Indeed, when this is so, I have no (cause of grief). Havinglistened to thy words, O thou of great powers of mind, I have becomefreed from sorrow and sin of every kind. O illustrious Rishi, O holy one,I see this wheel of Time, endued with mighty energy, of the mosteffulgent and Infinite Vishnu, has been set in motion. Eternal is thatstation, from which all kinds of creation spring. That Vishnu is theSupreme Soul. He is the foremost of Beings. In Him this entire universerests.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said these words, O son of Kunti, Vritra castoff his life-breaths, uniting his soul (in Yoga, with the supreme Soul),and attained to the highest station.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Tell me, O grandsire, whether this Janardana(Krishna) is that illustrious and puissant Lord of whom Sanatkumara spokeunto Vritra in days of old.’

“Bhishma said, ‘The Highest Deity, endued with the six attributes of(puissance, etc.) is at the Root. Staying there, the Supreme Soul, withhis own energy, creates all these diverse existent things.[1385] Knowthat this Kesava who knows no deterioration is from His eighth portion.Endued with the highest Intelligence, it is this Kesava who creates thethree worlds with an eighth portion (of His energy). Coming immediatelyafter Him who lies at the Root, this Kesava who is eternal (compared withall other existent things), changes at the end of each Kalpa. He,however, who lies at the Root and who is endued with supreme might andpuissance, lies in the waters when universal destruction comes (in theform of the potential Seed of all things). Kesava is that Creator of pureSoul who courseth through all the eternal worlds.[1386] Infinite andEternal as He is, He fills all space (with emanations from Himself) andcourseth through the universe (in the form of everything that constitutesthe universe). Freed as He is from limitations of every kind such as thepossession of attributes would imply, he suffers himself to be investedwith Avidya and awakened to Consciousness, Kesava of Supreme Soul createsall things. In Him rests this wondrous universe in its entirety.’

“Yudhishthira said, ‘O thou that art conversant with the highest objectof knowledge, I think that Vritra saw beforehand the excellent end thatawaited him. It is for this, O grandsire, that he was happy and did notyield to grief (in view of his coming Death). He who is White of hue, whohas taken birth in a pure or stainless race, and who has attained to therank of a Sadhya, doth not, O sinless one, come back (into the world forre-birth). Such a person, O grandsire, is freed from both hell and thestatus of all intermediate creatures. He, however, who has attained toeither the Yellow or the Red hue, is seen sometimes to be overwhelmed byTamas and fall among the order of Intermediate creatures. As regardsourselves, we are exceedingly afflicted and attached to objects that areproductive of sorrow or indifference or joy. Alas, what will the end beto which we shall attain? Will it be the Blue or the Dark which is thelowest of all hues?’

“Bhishma continued, ‘Ye are Pandavas. Ye have been born in a stainlessrace. Ye are of rigid vows. Having sported in joy in the regions of thegods, ye shall come back to the world of men. Living happily as long asthe creation lasts, all of you at the next new creation will be admittedamong the gods, and enjoying all kinds of felicities ye will at last benumbered among the Siddhas. Let no fear be yours. Be you cheerful.'”

Chapter 281
Chapter 279
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