“Yudhishthira said, ‘How was Suka, the son of Vyasa, in days of old, wonover to Renunciation? I desire to hear thee recite the story. Mycuriosity in this respect is irrepressible. It behoveth thee, O thou ofKuru’s race, to discourse to me on the conclusions in respect of theUnmanifest (Cause), the Manifest (Effects), and of the Truth (or Brahma)that is in, but unattached to them, as also of the acts of the self-bornNarayana, as they are known to thy understanding.
“Bhishma said, ‘Beholding his son Suka living fearlessly as ordinary mendo in practices that are considered harmless by them, Vyasa taught himthe entire Vedas and then discoursed to him one day in these words:’Vyasa said, O son, becoming the master of the senses, do thou subdueextreme cold and extreme heat, hunger and thirst, and the wind also, andhaving subdued them (as Yogins do), do thou practise righteousness. Dothou duly observe truth and sincerity, and freedom from wrath and malice,and self-restraint and penances, and the duties of benevolence andcompassion. Rest thou on truth, firmly devoted to righteousness,abandoning all sort of insincerity and deceit. Do thou support thy lifeon what remains of food after feeding gods and guests. Thy body is astransitory as the froth on the surface of water. The Jiva-soul is sittingunattached in it as a bird on a tree. The companionship of all agreeableobject is exceedingly short-lived. Why then, O son, dost thou sleep insuch forgetfulness? Thy foes are heedful and awake and ever ready (tospring on thee) and always watchful of their opportunity. Why art thou sofoolish as not to know this? As the days are going one afteranother, the period of thy life is being lessened. Indeed when thy lifeis being incessantly shortened, why dost thou not run to preceptors (forlearning the means of rescue)? Only they that are destitute of faith (inthe existence of next life) set their hearts on things of this world thathave the only effect of increasing flesh and blood. They are totallyunmindful of all that is concerned with the next world. Those men thatare stupefied by erroneous understandings display a hatred forrighteousness. The man who walks after those misguided persons that havebetaken themselves to devious and wrong paths is afflicted equally withthem. They however, that are contented, devoted to the scriptures, enduedwith high souls, and possessed of great might, betake themselves to thepart of righteousness. Do thou wait upon them with reverence and seekinstruction from them. Do thou act according to the instructions receivedfrom those wise men whose eyes are set upon righteousness. Withunderstanding cleansed by such lessons and rendered superior, do thouthen restrain thy heart which is ever ready to deviate from the rightcourse. They whose understandings are always concerned with the present,who fearlessly regard the tomorrow as something quite remote,–they whodo not observe any restrictions in the matter of food,–ate reallysenseless persons that fail to understand that this world is only a fieldof probation. Repairing to the fight of steps constituted byRighteousness, do thou ascend those steps one after another. At presentthou art like a worm that is employed in weaving its cocoon round itselfand thereby depriving itself of all means of escape. Do thou keep to thyleft, without any scruple, the atheist who transgresses all restraints,who is situated like a house by the side of a fierce and encroachingcurrent, (for the destruction he courts), and who (to others) seems tostand like a bamboo with its tall head erected in pride. Do thouwith the raft of Yoga, cross the ocean of the world whose waters areconstituted by thy five senses. Having Desire and Wrath and Death for itsfierce monsters, and owning birth for its vortex. Do thou cross, with theraft of Righteousness, the world that is affected by Death and afflictedby Decrepitude, and upon which the thunder-bolts constituted by days andnights are falling incessantly. When death is seeking thee at allmoments, viz., when thou art sitting or lying down, it is certain thatDeath may get thee for his victim at any time. Whence art thou to obtainthy rescue! Like the she-wolf snatching away a lamb. Death snatches awayone that is still engaged in earning wealth and still unsatisfied in theindulgence of his pleasures. When thou art destined to enter into thedark, do thou hold up the blazing lamp made of righteous understandingand whose flame has been well-husbanded out. Failing into various formsone after another in the world of men, a creature obtains the status ofBrahmanhood with great difficulty. Thou hast obtained that status. Dothou then, O son endeavour to maintain it (properly). A Brahmanhath not been born for the gratification of desire. On the other hand,his body is intended to be subjected to mortification and penances inthis world so that incomparable happiness may be his in the next world.The status of Brahmanhood is acquired with the aid of long-continued andaustere penances. Having acquired that status, one should never wasteone’s time in the indulgence of one’s senses. Always engaged in penancesand self-restraint and desirous of what is for thy good, do thou live andact, devoted to peace and tranquillity. The period of life, of every man,is like a steed. The nature of that steed is unmanifest. The (sixteen)elements (mentioned before) constitute its body. Its nature isexceedingly subtile. Kshanas, and Trutis, and Nimeshas are the hair onits body. The twilights constitute its shoulder joints; The lighted andthe dark fortnights are its two eyes of equal power. Months are its otherlimbs. That steed is running incessantly. If thy eyes be not blind,beholding then that steed incessantly moving forward in its invisiblecourse, do thou set thy heart on righteousness, after hearing what thypreceptors have to say on the question of the next world. They that fallaway from righteousness and that conduct themselves recklessly, thatalways display malice towards others and betake themselves to evil waysare obliged to assume (physical) bodies in the regions of Yama and sufferdiverse afflictions, in consequence of their unrighteous acts of diversekind. That king who is devoted to righteousness and who protectsand chastises the good and the wicked with discrimination, attains tothose regions that belong to man of righteous deeds. By doing diversekinds of good acts, he attains to such felicity as is faultless and as isincapable of being attained to by undergoing even thousands ofbirths. Furious dogs of frightful mien, crows of iron beaks, flocksof ravens and vultures and other birds, and blood-sucking worms, assailthe man who transgresses the commands of his parents and preceptors whenhe goes to hell after death. That sinful wretch who, in consequenceof his recklessness, transgresses the ten boundaries that have been fixedby the Self-born himself, is obliged to pass his time in great afflictionin the wild wastes that occur in the dominions of the king ofPitris. That man who is tainted with cupidity, who is in love withuntruth, who always takes a delight in deception and cheating, and whodoes injuries to others by practising hypocrisy and deception, has to goto deep hell and suffer great woe and affliction for his acts ofwickedness. Such a man is forced to bathe in the broad river calledVaitarani whose waters are scalding, to enter into a forest of treeswhose leaves are as sharp as swords, and then to lie down on a bed ofbattle-axes. He has thus to pass his days in frightful hell in greataffliction. Thou beholdest only the regions of Brahman and other deities,but thou art blind to that which is the highest (viz., Emancipation).Alas, thou art ever blind also to that which brings Death on its train(viz., decrepitude and old age). Go (along the path ofEmancipation)! Why tarriest thou? A frightful terror, destructive of thyhappiness, is before thee! Do thou take prompt steps for achieving thyEmancipation! Soon after death thou art sure to be taken before Yama athis command. For obtaining felicity in the next world, strive to attainto righteousness through the practice of difficult and austere vows. Thepuissant Yama, regardless of the sufferings of others, very soon takesthe lives of all persons, that is of thyself and thy friends. There isnone capable of resisting him. Very soon the wind of Yama will blowbefore thee (and drive thee to his presence). Very soon wilt thou betaken to that dread presence all alone. Do thou achieve what will be forthy good there. Where now is that Death-wind which will blow before theevery soon? (Art thou mindful of it?) Very soon will the points of thecompass, when that moment arrives, begin to whirl before thy eyes. (Artthou mindful of that?) O son, soon (when that moment comes) will thyVedas disappear from thy sight as thou goest helplessly into that dreadpresence. Do thou, therefore, set thy heart on Yoga abstraction which ispossessed of great excellence. Do thou seek to attain that one onlytreasure so that thou mayst not have to grieve at the recollection (afterDeath) of thy former deeds good and bad all of which are characterised byerror. Decrepitude very soon weakens thy body and robs thee of thystrength and limbs and beauty. Do thou, therefore, seek that one onlytreasure. Very soon the Destroyer, with Disease for his charioteer, willwith a strong hand, for taking thy life, pierce and break thy body. Dothou, therefore practise austere penance. Very soon will, those terriblewolves that reside within thy body, assail thee from every side. Do thouendeavour, therefore, to achieve acts of righteousness. Very soonwilt thou, all alone, behold a thick darkness, and very soon wilt thoubehold golden trees on the top of the hill. Do thou, therefore, hasten toachieve acts of righteousness. Very soon will those evil companionsand foes of thine, (viz., the senses), dressed in the guise of friends,swerve thee from correct vision. Do thou, then, O son, strive to achievethat which is of the highest good. Do thou earn that wealth which has nofear from either kings or thieves, and which one has not to abandon evenat Death. Earned by one’s own acts, that wealth has never to be dividedamong co-owners. Each enjoys that wealth (in the other world) which eachhas earned for himself. O son, give that to others by which they may beable to live in the next world. Do thou also set thyself to theacquisition of that wealth which is indestructible and durable. Do notthink that thou shouldst first enjoy all kinds of pleasures and then turnthy heart on Emancipation, for before thou art satiated with enjoymentthou mayst be overtaken by Death. Do thou, in view of this, hasten to doacts of goodness. Neither mother, nor son, nor relatives, nor dearfriends even when solicited with honours, accompany the man that dies. Tothe regions of Yama one has to go oneself, unaccompanied by any one. Onlythose deeds, good and bad, that one did before death accompany the manthat goes to the other world. The gold and gems that one has earned bygood and bad means do not become productive of any benefit to one whenone’s body meets with dissolution. Of men that have gone to the otherworld, there is no witness, better than the soul, of all act done orundone in life. That when the acting-Chaitanya (Jiva-soul) enters intothe witness-Chaitanya the destruction of the body takes place, is seen byYoga-intelligence when Yogins enter the firmament of their hearts.Even here, the god of Fire, the Sun and the Wind,–these three reside inthe body. These, beholding as they do all the practices of one’s lifebecome one’s witnesses. Days and Nights,–the former characterised by thevirtue of displaying all things and the latter characterised by thevirtue of concealing all things,–are running incessantly and touchingall things (and thereby lessening their allotted periods of existence).Do thou, therefore, be observant of the duties of thy own order.The road in the other world (that leads to the regions of Yama), isinfested by many foes (in the form of iron-beaked birds and wolves) andby many repulsive and terrible insects and worms. Do thou take care ofthy own acts, for only acts will accompany you along that road. These onehas not to share one’s acts with others, but every one enjoys or enduresthe fruits of those acts which every one has himself performed. AsApsaras and great Rishis attain to fruits of great felicity, after thesame manner, men of righteous deeds, as the fruits of their respectiverighteous acts, obtain in the other world cars of transcendent brightnessthat move everywhere at the will of the riders. Men of stainless deedsand cleansed souls and pure birth obtain in the next world fruits thatcorrespond with their own righteous acts in this life. By walking alongthe high road constituted by the duties of domesticity, men acquire happyends by attaining to the region of Prajapati or Vrihaspati or of him of ahundred sacrifices. I can give thee thousands and thousands ofinstructions. Know, however, that the puissant cleanser (viz.,Righteousness), keeps all foolish persons in the Dark. Thou hastpassed four and twenty years. Thou art now full five and twenty years ofage. Thy years are passing away. Do thou beg in to lay thy store ofrighteousness. The Destroyer that dwells within error and heedlessnesswill very soon deprive thy senses of their respective powers. Do thoubefore that consummation is brought about, hasten to observe thy duties,relying on thy body alone. When it is thy duty to go along thatroad in which thyself only shalt be in front and thyself only in therear, what need then hast thou with either thy body or thy spouse andchildren? When men have to go individually and without companionsto the region of Yama, it is plain that in view of such a situation ofterror, thou shouldst seek to acquire that one only treasure (viz.,Righteousness or Yogasamadhi). The puissant Yama, regardless of theafflictions of others, snatches, away the friends and relatives of one’srace by the very roots. There is no one that can resist him. Do thou,therefore, seek to acquire a stock of righteousness I impart to theethese lessons, O son, that are all agreeable with the scriptures Ifollow. Do thou observe them by acting according to their import. He whosupports his body by following the duties laid down for his own order,and who makes gifts for earning whatever fruits may attach to such acts,becomes freed from the consequences that are born of ignorance anderror. The knowledge which a man of righteous deeds acquires fromVedic declarations leads to omniscience. That omniscience is identicalwith the science of the highest object of human acquisition (viz.,Emancipation). Instruction, imparted to the grateful, became beneficial(in consequence of their leading to the attainment of that highest objectof human acquisition). The pleasure that one takes in living amidstthe habitations of men is truly a fast-binding cord. Breaking that cord,men of righteous deeds repair to regions of great felicity. Wicked men,however, fail to break that bond. What use hast thou of wealth, O son, orwith relatives, or with children, since thou hast to die: Do thou employthyself in seeking for thy soul which is hidden in a cave. Where have allthy grandsires gone? Do that today which thou wouldst keep for tomorrow.Do that in the forenoon which thou wouldst keep for the afternoon. Deathdoes not wait for any one, to see whether one has or has not accomplishedone’s task. Following the body after one’s death (to the crematorium),one’s relatives and kinsmen and friends come back, throwing it on thefuneral pyre. Without a scruple do thou avoid those men that aresceptics, that are destitute of compassion, and that are devoted towicked ways, and do thou endeavour to seek, without listlessness orapathy, that which is for thy highest good. When, therefore, the world isthus afflicted by Death, do thou, with thy whole heart, achieverighteousness, aided all the while by unswerving patience. That man whois well conversant with the means of attaining to Emancipation and whoduly discharges the duties of his order, certainly attains to greatfelicity in the other world. For thee that dost not recognise death inthe attainment of a different body and that dost not deviate from thepath trod by the righteous, there is no destruction. He that increasesthe stock of righteousness is truly wise. He, on the other hand, thatfalls away from righteousness is said to be a fool. One that is engagedin the accomplishment of good deeds attains to heaven and other rewardsas the fruits of those deeds; but he that is devoted to wicked deeds hasto sink in hell. Having acquired the status of humanity, so difficult ofacquisition, that is the stepping-stone to heaven, one should fix one’ssoul on Brahma so that one may not fall away once more. That man whoseunderstanding, directed to the path of heaven, does not deviatetherefrom, is regarded by the wise as truly a man of righteousness andwhen he dies his friends should indulge in grief. That man whoseunderstanding is not restless and which is directed to Brahma and who hasattained to heaven, becomes freed from a great terror (viz., hell). Theythat are born in retreats of ascetics and that die there, do not earnmuch merit by abstaining all their life from enjoyments and theindulgence of desire. He, however, who though possessed of objects ofenjoyment casts them off and engages himself in the practice of penances,succeeds in acquiring everything. The fruits of the penances of such aman are, I think, much higher. Mothers and sires and sons and spouses, byhundreds and thousands, every one had and will have in this world. Who,however, were they and whose are we? I am quite alone. I have no one whomI may call mine. Nor do I belong to any one else. I do not see thatperson whose I am, nor do I see him whom I may call mine. They havenothing to do with thee. Thou hest nothing to do with them. Allcreatures take birth agreeably to their acts of past lives. Thou alsoshalt have to go hence (for taking birth in a new order) determined bythy own acts. In this world it is seen that the friends and followers ofonly those that are rich behave towards the rich with devotion. Thefriends and followers of those, however, that are poor fall away duringeven the life-time of the poor. Man commits numerous evil acts for thesake of his wife (and children). From those evil acts he derives muchdistress both here and hereafter. The wise man beholds the world of lifedevastated by the acts performed by every living being. Do thou,therefore, O son, act according to all the instructions I have giventhee! The man possessed of true vision, beholding this world to be only afield of action, should, from desire of felicity in the next world, doacts that are good. Time, exerting his irresistible strength, cooks allcreatures (in his own cauldron), with the aid of his ladle constituted bymonths and seasons, the sun for his fire, and days and nights for hisfuel, days and nights, that is that are the witnesses of the fruits ofevery act done by every creature. For what purpose is that wealth whichis not given away and which is not enjoyed? For what purpose is thatstrength which is not employed in resisting or subjugating one’s foes?For what purpose is that knowledge of the scriptures which does not impelone to deeds of righteousness? And for what purpose is that soul whichdoes not subjugate the senses and abstain from evil acts? “Bhishmacontinued, ‘Having heard these beneficial words spoken by the Island-born(Vyasa), Suka, leaving his sire, proceeded to seek a preceptor that couldteach him the religion of Emancipation.'”