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Chapter 308

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“‘Vasishtha said, I have thus far discoursed to thee on the Sankhyaphilosophy. Listen now to me as I tell thee what is Vidya (knowledge) andwhat is Avidya (Ignorance), one after the other. The learned say thatthat Prakriti, which is fraught with the attributes of Creation andDestruction, is called Avidya; while Purusha, who is freed from theattributes of Creation and Destruction and who transcends the four andtwenty topics or principles, is called Vidya. Listen to me first as Itell thee what is Vidya among successive sets of other things, asexpounded in the Sankhya philosophy. Among the senses of knowledge andthose of action, the senses of knowledge are said to constitute what isknown as Vidya. Of the senses of knowledge and their object, the formerconstitute Vidya as has been heard by us. Of objects of the senses andthe mind, the wise have said that the mind constitute Vidya. Of mind andthe five subtile essences, the five subtile essences constitutes Vidya.Of the five subtile essences and Consciousness, Consciousness constitutesVidya. Of Consciousness and Mahat, Mahat, O king, is Vidya. Of all thetopics or principles beginning with Mahat, and Prakriti, it is Prakriti,which is unmanifest and supreme, that is called Vidya. Of Prakriti, andthat called Vidhi which is Supreme, the latter should be known as Vidya.Transcending Prakriti is the twenty-fifth (called Purusha) who should beknown as Vidya. Of all knowledge that which is the Object of Knowledgehas been said to be the Unmanifest, O king.[1627] Again, Knowledge hasbeen said to be Unmanifest and the Object of knowledge to be that whichtranscends the four and twenty. Once more, Knowledge has been said to beUnmanifest, and the Knower is that which transcends the four and twenty.I have now told thee what is truly the import of Vidya and Avidya. Listennow to me as I tell thee all that has been said about the Indestructible,and the Destructible. Both Jiva and Prakriti have been said to beIndestructible, and both of them have been said to be Destructible. Ishall tell thee the reason of this correctly as I have understood it.Both Prakriti and Jiva are without beginning and without end ordestruction. Both of them are regarded as supreme (in the matter ofCreation). Those that are possessed of knowledge say that both are to becalled topics or principles. In consequence of its attributes of(repeated) Creation and Destruction, the Unmanifest (or Prakriti) iscalled Indestructible. That Unmanifest becomes repeatedly modified forthe purpose of creating the principle. And because the principlesbeginning with Mahat are produced by Purusha as well, and because alsoPurusha and the Unmanifest are mutually dependant upon each other,therefore is Purusha also, the twenty-fifth, called Kshetra (and henceAkshara or Indestructible).[1628] When the Yogin withdraws and merges allthe principles into the Unmanifest Soul (or Brahma) then the twenty-fifth(viz., Jiva or Purusha) also, with all those principles disappears intoit. When the principles become merged each into its progenitor, then theone that remains is Prakriti. When Kshetrajna too,[1629] O son, becomesmerged into his own producing cause then (all that remains is Brahma and,therefore) Prakriti with all the principles in it becomes Kshara (ormeets with destruction), and attains also to the condition of beingwithout attributes in consequence of her dissociation from all theprinciples. Thus it is that Kshetrajna, when his knowledge of Kshetradisappears, becomes, by his nature, destitute of attributes, as it hasbeen heard by us. When he becomes Kshara he then assumes attributes.When, however, he attains to his own real nature, he then succeeds inunderstanding his own condition of being really destitute of attributes.By casting off Prakriti and beginning to realise that he is differentfrom her, the intelligent Kshetrajna then comes to be regarded as pureand stainless. When Jiva ceases to exist in a state of union withPrakriti, then does he become identifiable with Brahma. When, however, heexists united with Prakriti, he then, O king, seems to be different fromBrahma. Indeed, when Jiva shows no affection for Prakriti and herprinciples, he then succeeds in beholding the Supreme and having oncebeheld Him wishes not to fall away from that felicity. When the knowledgeof truth dawns upon him, Jiva begins to lament in this strain: Alas, howfoolishly have I acted by falling through ignorance, into this framecomposed of Prakriti like a fish entangled in a net! Alas, throughignorance, I have migrated from body to body like a fish from water towater thinking that water is the element in which alone it can live.Indeed, like a fish that does not know anything else than water to be itselement, I also have never known anything else than children and spousesto be my own! Fie on me that through ignorance, I have been repeatedlymigrating from body to body in forgetfulness (of the Supreme Soul)! TheSupreme Soul alone is my friend. I have capacity for friendship with Him.Whatever be my nature and whoever I may be, I am competent to be like Himand to attain an identity with Him. I see my similarity with Him. I amindeed, like Him. He is stainless. It is evident that I am of the samenature. Through ignorance and stupefaction, I have become associated withinanimate Prakriti. Though really without attachments, I have passed thislong time in a state of attachment with Prakriti. Alas, by her was I solong subdued without having been able to know it. Various are theforms–high, middling, and low, that Prakriti assume. Oh, how shall Idwell in those forms?[1630] How shall I live conjointly with her? Inconsequence only of my ignorance I repair to her companionship. I shallnow be fixed (in Sankhya or Yoga). I shall not longer keep hercompanionship. For having passed so long a time with her, I should thinkthat I was so long deceived by her, for myself being really exempt frommodification, how could I keep company with one that is subject tomodification? She cannot be held to be responsible for this. Theresponsibility is mine, since turning away from the Supreme Soul I becomeof my own accord attached to her. In consequence of that attachment,myself, though formless in reality, had to abide in multifarious forms.Indeed, though formless by nature I become endued with forms inconsequence of my sense of meum, and thereby insulted and distressed. Inconsequence of my sense of meum, concerning the result of Prakriti, I amforced to take birth in diverse orders of Being. Alas, though reallydestitute of any sense of meum, yet in consequence of affecting it, whatdiverse acts of an evil nature have been committed by me in those orderswhich I took birth while I remained in them with a soul that had lost allknowledge! I have no longer anything to do with him who, with essencemade up of consciousness, divides herself into many fragments and whoseeks to unite me with them. It is only now that I have been awakened andhave understood that I am by nature without any sense of meum and withoutthat consciousness which creates the forms of Prakriti that invests meall around. Casting off that sense of meum which I always have withrespect to her and whose essence is made up of consciousness, and castingoff Prakriti herself, I shall take refuge in Him who is auspicious. Ishall be united with Him, and not with Prakriti which is inanimate. If Iunite with Him, it will be productive of my benefit. I have no similarityof nature with Prakriti!–The twenty-fifth, (viz., Jiva), when he thussucceeds in understanding the Supreme, becomes able to cast off theDestructible and attain to identity with that which is Indestructible andwhich is the essence of all that is auspicious, Destitute of attributesin his true nature and in reality Unmanifest, Jiva becomes invested withwhat is Manifest and assumes attributes. When he succeeds in beholdingthat which is without attributes and which is the origin of theUnmanifest, he attains, O ruler of Mithila, to identify the same.

“‘I have now told thee what the indications are of what is Indestructibleand what is Destructible, according to the best of my knowledge andaccording to what has been expounded in the scriptures. I shall now tellthee, according to what I have heard, as to how Knowledge that issubtile, stainless, and certain arises. Do thou listen to me. I havealready discoursed to thee what the Sankhya and the Yoga systems areaccording to their respective indications as expounded in theirrespective scriptures. Verily, the science that has been expounded inSankhya treatises is identical with what has been laid down in the Yogascriptures. The knowledge, O monarch, which the Sankhya preach, iscapable of awakening every one. In the Sankhya scriptures, that Knowledgehas been inculcated very clearly for the benefit of disciples. Thelearned say that this Sankhya system is very extensive. Yogin have greatregard for that system as also for the Vedas. In the Sankhya system notopic or principle transcending the twenty-fifth is admitted. That whichthe Sankhyas regard-as their highest topic of principles has been dulydescribed (by me). In the Yoga philosophy, it is said that Brahma, whichis the essence of knowledge without duality, becomes Jiva only wheninvested with Ignorance. In the Yoga scriptures, therefore, both Brahmaand Jiva are spoken of,–‘”

Chapter 309
Chapter 307

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