Janamejaya said, “The illustrious Hari becomes gracious unto them thatare devoted to him with their whole souls. He accepts also all worshipthat is offered to Him agreeably to the ordinance. Of those persons thathave burnt off their fuel, and that are divested of both merit anddemerit, that have attained the Knowledge as handed down from preceptorto preceptor–such persons always attain to that end which is called thefourth, viz., the essence of the Purushottama or Vasudeva,–throughthe three others. Those persons, however, that are devoted to Narayanawith their whole souls at once attain to the highest end Withoutdoubt, the religion of devotion seems to be superior (to that ofKnowledge) and is very dear to Narayana. These, without going through thethree successive stages (of Aniruddha, Pradyumna, and Sankarshana), atonce attain to the immutable Hari. The end that is attained by Brahmanas,who, attending to due observances, study the Vedas with the Upanishadsaccording to the rules laid down for regulating such study, and by thosethat adopt the religion of Yatis, is inferior, I think, to that attainedby persons devoted to Hari with their whole souls. Who first promulgatedthis religion of Devotion? Was it some deity or some Rishi that declaredit? What are the practices of those that are said to be devoted withtheir whole souls? When did those practices begin? I have doubts on thesetopics. Do thou remove those doubts. Great is nay curiosity to hear theeexplain the several points.”
Vaisampayana said, “When the diverse divisions of the Pandava and theKuru armies were drawn up in the array for the battle and when Arjunabecame cheerless, the holy one himself explained the question of what isthe end and what is not the end attained by persons of differentcharacters. I have before this recited to thee the words of the holy one.The religion preached by the holy one on that occasion is difficult ofcomprehension. Men of uncleansed souls cannot apprehend it at all. Havingcreated this religion in days of yore, viz., in the Krita age, in perfectconsonance with the Samans, it is borne, O king, by the Supreme Lord,viz., Narayana, himself. This very topic was raised by the highly blessedPartha to Narada (for the latter’s discourse) in the midst of the Rishisand in the presence of Krishna and Bhishma. My preceptor, viz., theIsland-born Krishna heard what Narada said. Receiving it from thecelestial Rishis, O best of kings, my preceptor imparted it to me inexactly the same way in which he had obtained it from the celestialRishi. I shall now recite it to thee, O monarch, in the same way as ithas been received from Narada. Listen, therefore, to me. In that Kalpawhen Brahma the Creator, O king, took his birth in the mind of Narayanaand issued from the latter’s mouth, Narayana himself performed, OBharata, his Daiva and Paitra rites in accordance with this religion.Those Rishis that subsist upon the froth of water then obtained it fromNarayana. From the froth-eating Rishis, this religion was obtained bythose Rishis that go by the name of Vaikanasas. From the Vaikanasas,Shoma got it. Afterwards, it disappeared from the universe. After thesecond birth of Brahma, viz., when he sprang from the eyes of Narayana, Oking, the Grandsire (that is. Brahma) then received this religion fromShoma. Having received it thus, Brahma imparted this religion, which hasNarayana for its soul, unto Rudra. In the Krita age of that ancientKalpa, Rudra, devoted to Yoga, O monarch, communicated it to all thoseRishis that are known by the name of Valikhilyas. Through the illusion ofNarayana, it once more disappeared from the universe. In the third birthof Brahma, which was due to the speech of Narayana, this religion oncemore sprang up, O king, from Narayana himself. Then a Rishi of the nameof Suparna obtained it from that foremost of Beings. The Rishi Suparnaused to recite this excellent religion, this foremost of cults, threetimes during the day. In consequence of this, it came to be called by thename of Trisauparna in the world. This religion has been referred to inthe Rigveda. The duties it inculcates are exceedingly difficult ofobservance. From the Rishi Suparna, this eternal religion was obtained, Oforemost of men, by the God of wind, that sustainer of the lives of allcreatures in the universe. The God of wind communicated it unto suchRishis as subsist upon what remains of sacrificial offerings afterfeeding guests and others. From those Rishis this excellent religion wasobtained by the Great Ocean. It once more disappeared from the universeand became merged into Narayana. In the next birth of the high-souledBrahman when he Sprang from the ear of Narayana, listen, O chief of men,to what happened in that Kalpa. The illustrious Narayana, otherwisecalled Hari, when he resolved upon Creation, thought of a Being who wouldbe puissant enough to create the universe. While thinking of this, aBeing sprang from his ears competent to create the universe. The Lord ofall called him by the name of Brahma. Addressing Brahma, the SupremeNarayana said unto him,–Do thou, O son, create all kinds of creaturesfrom thy mouth and feet. O thou of excellent vows, I shall do what willbe beneficial for thee, for I shall impart to thee both energy andstrength sufficient to render thee competent for this task. Do thoureceive also from me this excellent religion known by the name ofSattwata. Aided by that religion do thou create the Krita age and ordainit duly. Thus addressed, Brahma bowed his head unto the illustrious Hari,the god of the gods and received from him that foremost of all cults withall its mysteries and its abstract of details, together with theAranyakas,–viz., that cult, which sprang from the mouth of Narayana.Narayana then instructed Brahma of immeasurable energy in that cult, andaddressing him, said,–Thou art the creator of the duties that are to beobserved in the respective Yugas. Having said this unto Brahma, Narayanadisappeared and proceeded to that spot which is beyond the reach ofTamas, where the Unmanifest resides, and which is known by the men ofacts without desire of fruits. After this, the boon-giving Brahma, theGrandsire of the worlds, created the different worlds with their mobileand immobile creatures. The age that first commenced was highlyauspicious and came to be called by the name of Krita. In that age, thereligion of Sattwa existed, pervading the entire universe. With theaid of that primeval religion of righteousness, Brahma, the Creator ofall the worlds, worshipped the Lord of all the deities, viz., thepuissant Narayana, otherwise called Hari. Then for the spread of thatreligion and desirous of benefiting the worlds, Brahman instructed thatManu who is known by the name of Swarochish in that cult.Swarochish-Manu, that Lord of all the worlds, that foremost of allpersons endued with puissance, then cheerfully imparted the knowledge ofthat cult to his own son, O king, who was known by the name ofSankhapada. The son of Manu, viz., Sankhapada, communicated the knowledgeof that to his own son Suvarnabha who was the Regent of the cardinal andsubsidiary points of the compass. When, upon the expiration of the KritiYuga, the Treta came, that cult once more disappeared from the world. Ina subsequent birth of Brahman, O best of kings, viz., that which wasderived from the nose of Narayana. O Bharata, the illustrious andpuissant Narayana or Hari with eyes like lotus petals, himself sang thisreligion in the presence of Brahma. Then the son of Brahma, created by afiat of his will, viz., Sanatkumara, studied this cult. From Sanatkumara,the Prajapati Virana, in the beginning of the Krita age, O tiger amongKurus, obtained this cult. Virana having studied it in this way, taughtit to the ascetic Raivya. Raivya, in his turn, imparted it to his son ofpure soul, good vows, and great intelligence, viz., Kukshi, thatrighteous Regent of the cardinal and subsidiary points of the compass.After this, that cult, born of the mouth of Narayana, once moredisappeared from the world. In the next birth of Brahma, viz., that whichhe was derived from an egg which sprang from Hari, this cult once moreissued from the mouth of Narayana. It was received by Brahma, O king, andpractised duly in all its details by him. Brahma then communicated it, Omonarch, to those Rishis that are known by the name of Varhishada. Fromthe Varhishadas it was obtained by a Brahmana well-versed in theSama-Veda, and known by the name of Jeshthya. And because he waswell-versed with the Samans, therefore was he known also by the name ofJeshthya-Samavrata Hari. From the Brahmana known by the name ofJeshthya, this cult was obtained by a king of the name of Avikampana.After this, that cult, derived from the puissant Hari, once moredisappeared from the world. During the seventh birth of Brahma due to thelotus, O king, that sprang from the navel of Narayana, this cult was oncemore declared by Narayana himself, unto the Grandsire of pure soul, theCreator of all the worlds, in the beginning of this Kalpa. The Grandsiregave it in days of yore to Daksha (one of his sons created by a fiat ofhis will). Daksha, in his turn, imparted it to the eldest of all the sonsof his daughters, O monarch, viz., Aditya who is senior in age toSavitri. From Aditya, Vivaswat obtained it. In the beginning of the TretaYuga, Vivaswat imparted the knowledge of this cult to Manu. Manu, for theprotection and support of all the worlds, then gave it to his sonIkshaku. Promulgated by Ikshaku, that cult over-spreads the wholeworld. When the universal destruction comes, it will once more return toNarayana and be merged in Him. The religion which is followed andpractised by the Yatis, has, O best of kings, been narrated to theebefore this in the Hari Gita, with all its ordinances in brief. Thecelestial Rishi Narada got it from that Lord of universe, viz., Narayanahimself, O king, with all its mysteries and abstract of details. Thus, Omonarch, this foremost of cults is primeval and eternal. Incapable ofbeing comprehended with ease and exceedingly difficult of beingpractised, it is always upheld by persons wedded to the attribute ofSattwa. It is by means of acts that are well-performed and accomplishedwith a full knowledge of duties and in which there is nothing of injuryto any creature,–that Hari the Supreme Lord becomes gratified. Somepersons adore Narayana as possessed of only one form, viz., that ofAniruddha. Some adore Him as endued with two forms, viz., that ofAniruddha and Pradyumna. Some adore Him as having three forms, viz.,Aniruddha, Pradyumna, and Sankarshana. A fourth class adore him asconsisting of four forms, viz., Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Sankarshana, andVasudeva. Hari is Himself the Kshetrajna (Soul). He is without parts(being ever full). He is the Jiva in all creatures, transcending the fiveprimal elements. He is the Mind, O monarch, that directs and controls thefive senses. Endued with the highest intelligence. He is the Ordainer ofthe universe, and the Creator thereof. He is both active and inactive. Heis both Cause and the Effect. He is the one immutable Purusha, who sportsas He likes, O king. Thus have I recited to thee the religion ofdesireless Devotees, O best of kings, incapable of being comprehended bypersons of uncleansed souls but this I acquired through the grace of mypreceptor. Persons are very rare, O king, that are devoted to Narayanawith whole souls. If, O son of Kuru’s race the world had been full ofsuch persons, that are full of universal compassion, that are endued withknowledge of the soul, and that are always employed in doing good toothers, then the Krita age would have set in. All men would have betakenthemselves to the accomplishment of acts without desire of fruit. It waseven in this way, O monarch, that, that foremost of regenerate persons,(viz., the illustrious Vyasa), my preceptor, fully conversant with allduties, discoursed unto king Yudhishthira the just on this religion ofDevotion, in the presence of many Rishis and in the hearing of Krishnaand Bhishma. He had obtained it from the celestial Rishi Narada enduedwith wealth of penances. Those persons that are devoted to Narayana withtheir whole souls and are desireless succeed in attaining to the regionof that highest of deities, identical with Brahma, pure in complexion,possessed of the effulgence of the moon and endued with immutability.
Janamejaya said, “I see that those regenerate persons whose souls havebeen awakened practise diverse kinds of duties. Why is it that otherBrahmanas instead of practising those duties betake themselves to theobservance of other kinds of vows and rites?”
Vaisampayana said, “Three kinds of disposition, O monarch, have beencreated in respect of all embodied creatures, viz., that which relates tothe attribute of Sattwa, that which relates to the attribute of Rajas,and lastly that which relates to the attribute of Tamas, O Bharata. Asregards embodied creatures, O perpetuator of Kuru’s race, that person isthe foremost who is wedded to the attribute of Sattwa, for, O tiger amongmen, it is certain that he will attain to Emancipation. It is with theaid of this very attribute of Sattwa that one endued therewith succeedsin understanding the person that is conversant with Brahma. As regardsEmancipation, it is entirely dependent upon Narayana. Hence it is thatpersons striving after Emancipation are regarded as made up of theattribute of Sattwa. By thinking of Purushottama the foremost of Beings,the man that is devoted with his whole soul to Narayana, acquires greatwisdom. Those persons that are endued with wisdom, that have betakenthemselves to the practices of Yatis and the religion ofEmancipation,–those persons of quenched thirst, always find that Harifavours them with the fruition of their desire. That man subject tobirth (and death) upon whom Hari casts a kind eye should be known asendued with the attribute of Sattwa and devoted to the acquisition ofEmancipation. The religion followed by a person that is devoted with hiswhole soul to Narayana is regarded as similar or equal in merit to thesystem of the Sankhyas. By adopting that religion one attains to thehighest end and attains to Emancipation which has Narayana for its soul.That person upon whom Narayana looks with compassion succeeds in becomingawakened. No one, O king, can become awakened through his ownwishes. That nature which partakes of both Rajas and Tamas is said to bemixed. Hari never casts a kind eye upon the person subject to birth (anddeath) that is endued with such a mixed nature and that has, on thataccount, the principle of Pravritti in him. Only Brahma, the Grandsire ofthe worlds, looks upon the person that is subject to birth and deathbecause of his mind being overwhelmed with the two inferior attributes ofRajas and Tamas. Without doubt, the deities and the Rishis arewedded to the attributes of Sattwa, O best of kings. But then they thatare divested of that attribute in its subtile form are always regarded tobe of mutable nature”.
Janamejaya said, “How can one that is fraught with the principle ofchange succeed in attaining to that Purushottama (the foremost ofPurusha)? Do tell me all this, which is, no doubt, known to thee. Do thoudiscourse to me also of Pravritti in due order.”
Vaisampayana said, “That which is the twenty-fifth (in the enumeration oftopics as made in the Sankhya system) viz., when it becomes able toabstain entirely from acts, succeeds in attaining to the Purushottamawhich is exceedingly subtile, which is invested with the attribute ofSattwa (in its subtile form), and which is fraught with the essencessymbolised by three letters of the alphabet (viz., A, U, and M). TheSankhya system, the Aranyaka-Veda, and the Pancharatra scriptures, areall one and the same and form parts of one whole. Even this is thereligion of those that are devoted with their whole souls to Narayana,the religion that has Narayana for its essence. As waves of theocean, rising from the ocean, rush away from it only to return to it inthe end, even so diverse kinds of knowledge, springing from Narayana,return to Narayana in the end. I have thus explained to thee, O son ofKuru’s race, what the religion of Sattwa is. If thou beest competent forit, O Bharata, do thou practise that religion duly. Even thus did thehighly-blessed Narada explain to my preceptor,–the Island-bornKrishna–the eternal and immutable course, called Ekanta, (ending in One)followed by the Whites as also by the yellow-robed Yatis. Vyasagratified with Dharma’s son Yudhishthira, imparted this religion to kingYudhishthira the just who was possessed of great intelligence. Derivedfrom my preceptor I have also communicated it to thee! O best of kings,this religion is for these reasons, exceedingly difficult of practice.Others, hearing it, become as much confounded as thou hast sufferedthyself to be. It is Krishna who is the protector of the universe and itsbeguiler. It is He who is the destroyer and the cause, O monarch.”