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Chapter 332

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“‘Narada said, When the vicissitudes of happiness and sorrow appear ordisappear, the transitions are incapable of being prevented by eitherwisdom or policy or exertion. Without allowing oneself to fall away fromone’s true nature, one should strive one’s best for protecting one’s ownSelf. He who betakes himself to such care and exertion, has never tolanguish. Regarding Self as something dear, one should always seek torescue oneself from decrepitude, death, and disease. Mental and physicaldiseases afflict the body, like keen-pointed shafts shot from the bow bya strong bowman. The body of a person that is tortured by thirst, that isagitated by agony, that is perfectly helpless, and that is desirous ofprolonging his life, is dragged towards destruction.[1769] Days andnights are ceaselessly running bearing away in their current the periodsof life of all human beings. Like currents of rivers, these flowceaselessly without ever turning back.[1770] The ceaseless succession ofthe lighted and the dark fortnights is wasting all mortal creatureswithout stopping for even a moment in this work. Rising and setting dayafter day, the Sun, who is himself undecaying, is continually cooking thejoys and sorrows of all men. The nights are ceaselessly going away,taking with them the good and bad incidents that befall man, that dependon destiny, and that are unexpected by him. If the fruits of man’s actswere not dependent on other circumstances, then one would obtain whateverobject one would desire. Even men of restrained senses, of cleverness,and of intelligence, if destitute of acts, never succeed in earning anyfruits.[1771] Others, though destitute of intelligence and unendued withaccomplishments of any kind, and who are really the lowest of men, areseen, even when they do not long after success, to be crowned with thefruition of all their desires.[1772] Some one else, who is always readyto do acts of injury to all creatures, and who is engaged in deceivingall the world, is seen to wallow in happiness. Some one that sits idly,obtains great prosperity; while another, by exerting earnestly, is seento miss desirable fruits almost within his reach.[1773] Do thou ascribeit as one of the faults of man! The vital seed, originating in one’snature from sight of one person, goes to another person. When imparted tothe womb, it sometimes produces an embryo and sometimes fails. Whensexual congress fails, it resembles a mango tree that puts forth a greatmany flowers without, however, producing a single fruit.[1774] As regardssome men who are desirous of having offspring and who, for the fruitionof their object, strive heartily (by worshipping diverse deities), theyfail to procreate an embryo in the womb. Some person again, who fears thebirth of an embryo as one fears a snake of virulent poison, finds along-lived son born unto him and who seems to be his own self come backto the stages through which he has passed. Many persons with ardentlonging for offspring and cheerless on that account, after sacrificing tomany deities and undergoing severe austerities, at last beget children,duly borne for ten long months (in the wombs of their spouses), thatprove to be veritable wretches of their race. Others, who have beenobtained through virtue of such blessed rites and observances, at onceobtain wealth and grain and diverse other sources of enjoyment earned andstored by their sires. In an act of congress, when two persons ofopposite sexes come into contact with one another, the embryo takes birthin the womb, like a calamity afflicting the mother. Very soon after thesuspension of the vital breaths, other physical forms possess thatembodied creature whose gross body has been destroyed but whose acts haveall been performed with that gross body made of flesh and phlegm.[1775]Upon the dissolution of the body, another body, which is as muchdestructible as the one that is destroyed, is kept ready for the burntand destroyed creature (to migrate into) even as one boat goes to anotherfor transferring to itself the passengers of the other.[1776] Inconsequence of an act of congress, a drop of the vital seed, that isinanimate, is cast into the womb. I ask thee, through whose or what careis the embryo kept alive? That part of the body into which the food thatis eaten goes and where it is digested, is the place where the embryoresides, but it is not digested there. In the womb, amid urine andfaeces, one’s sojourn is regulated by Nature. In the matter of residencetherein or escape therefrom, the born creature is not a free agent. Infact, in these respects, he is perfectly helpless. Some embryos fall fromthe womb (in an undeveloped state). Some come out alive (and continue tolive). While as regards some, they meet with destruction in the womb,after being quickened with life, in consequence of some other bodiesbeing ready for them (through the nature of their acts).[1777] That manwho, in an act of sexual congress, injects the vital fluid, obtains fromit a son or daughter. The offspring thus obtained, when the time comes,takes part in a similar act of congress. When the allotted period of aperson’s life is at its close, the five primal elements of his bodyattain to the seventh and the ninth stages and then cease to be. Theperson, however, undergoes no change.[1778] Without doubt, when personsare afflicted by diseases as little animals assailed by hunters, theythen lose the powers of rising up and moving about. If when men areafflicted by diseases, they wish to spend even vast wealth, physicianswith their best efforts fail to alleviate their pain. Even physicians,that are well-skilled and well-up in their scriptures and well-equiptwith excellent medicines, are themselves afflicted by disease likeanimals assailed by hunters. Even if men drink many astringents anddiverse kinds of medicated ghee, they are seen to be broken bydecrepitude like trees by strong elephants. When animals and birds andbeasts of prey and poor men are afflicted by ailments, who treats themwith medicines? Indeed, these are not seen to be ill. Like larger animalsassailing smaller ones, ailments are seen to afflict even terrible kingsof fierce energy and invincible prowess. All men, reft of the power ofeven uttering cries indicate of pain, and overwhelmed by error and grief,are seen to be borne away along the fierce current into which they havebeen thrown. Embodied creatures, even when seeking to conquer nature, areunable to conquer it with the aid of wealth, of sovereign power, or ofthe austerest penances.[1779] If all attempts men make were crowned withsuccess, then men would never be subject to decrepitude, would never comeupon anything disagreeable, and lastly would be crowned with fruition inrespect of all their wishes. All men wish to attain to gradualsuperiority of position. To gratify this wish they strive to the best oftheir power. The result, however, does not agree with wish.[1780] Evenmen that are perfectly heedful, that are honest, and brave and enduedwith prowess, are seen to pay their adorations to men intoxicated withthe pride of affluence and with even alcoholic stimulants.[1781] Some menare seen whose calamities disappear before even these are marked ornoticed by them. Others there are who are seen to possess no wealth butwho are free from misery of every kind. A great disparity is observablein respect of the fruits that wait upon conjunctions of acts. Some areseen to bear vehicles on their shoulders, while some are seen to ride onthose vehicles. All men are desirous of affluence and prosperity. A fewonly have cars (and elephants and steeds) dragged (or walking) in theirprocessions. Some there are that fail to have a single spouse when theirfirst-wedded ones are dead; while others have hundreds of spouses to calltheir own. Misery and happiness are the two things that exist side byside. Men have either misery or happiness. Behold, this is a subject ofwonder! Do not, however, suffer thyself to be stupefied by error at sucha sight! Cast off both righteousness and sin! Cast off also truth andfalsehood! Having cast off truth and falsehood, do thou then cast offthat with whose aid thou shalt cast off the former! O best of Rishis, Ihave now told thee that which is a great misery! With the aid of suchinstructions, the deities (who were all human beings) succeeded inleaving the Earth for becoming the denizens of heaven!

“‘Hearing these words of Narada Suka, endued with great intelligence andpossessed of tranquillity of mind, reflected upon the drift of theinstructions he received, but could not arrive at any certainty ofconclusion. He understood that one suffers great misery in consequence ofthe accession of children and spouses; that one has to undergo greatlabour for the acquisition of science and Vedic lore. He, therefore,asked himself, saying,–What is that situation which is eternal and whichis free from misery of every kind but in which there is greatprosperity?–Reflecting for a moment upon the course ordained for him torun through, Suka, who was well acquainted with the beginning and the endof all duties, resolved to attain to the highest end that is fraught withthe greatest felicity. He questioned himself, saying,–How shall I,tearing all attachments and becoming perfectly free, attain to thatexcellent end? How, indeed, shall I attain to that excellent situationwhence there is no return into the ocean of diverse kinds of birth! Idesire to obtain that condition of existence whence there is no return!Casting off all kinds of attachments, arrived at certainty by reflectionwith the aid of the mind, I shall attain to that end! I shall attain tothat situation in which thy Soul will nave tranquillity, and when I shallbe able to dwell for eternity without being subject to decrepitude orchange. It is, however, certain that that high end cannot be attainedwithout the aid of Yoga. One that has attained to the state of perfectknowledge and enlightenment never receives an accession of lowattachments through acts.[1782] I shall, therefore, have recourse toYoga, and casting off this body which is my present residence, I shalltransform myself into wind and enter that mass of effulgence which isrepresented by the sin.[1783] When Jiva enters that mass of effulgence,he no longer suffers like Shoma who, with the gods, upon the exhaustionof merit, falls down on the Earth and having once more acquiredsufficient merit returns to heavens.[1784] The moon is always seen towane and once more wax. Seeing this waning and waxing that go onrepeatedly, I do not wish to have a form of existence in which there aresuch changes. The Sun warms all the worlds by means of his fierce rays.His disc never undergoes any diminution. Remaining unchanged, he drinksenergy from all things. Hence, I desire to go into the Sun of blazingeffulgence.[1785] There I shall live, invincible by all, and in my innersoul freed from all fear, having cast off this body of mine in the solarregion. With the great Rishis I shall enter the unbearable energy of theSun. I declare unto all creatures, unto these trees, these elephants,these mountains, the Earth herself, the several points of the compass,the welkin, the deities, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Pisachas, theUragas, and the Rakshasas, that I shall, verily, enter all creatures inthe world.[1786] Let all the gods with the Rishis behold the prowess ofmy Yoga today!–Having said these words, Suka, informed Narada of worldwide celebrity of his intention. Obtaining Narada’s permission, Suka thenproceeded to where his sire was. Arrived at his presence, the great Muni,viz., the high-souled and Island-born Krishna, Suka walked round him andaddressed him the usual enquiries. Hearing of Suka’s intention, thehighsouled Rishi became highly pleased. Addressing him, the great Rishisaid,–O son, O dear son, do thou stay here to-day so that I may beholdthee for some time for gratifying my eyes,–Suka, however, wasindifferent to that request. Freed from affection and all doubt, he beganto think only of Emancipation, and set his heart on the journey. Leavinghis sire, that foremost of Rishis then proceeded to the spacious breastof Kailasa which was inhabited by crowds of ascetics crowned withsuccess.'”

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