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Chapter 42

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the illustrious and wise king Dhritarashtra,having applauded the words spoken by Vidura, questioned Sanat-sujata insecret, desirous of obtaining the highest of all knowledge. And the kingquestioned the Rishi saying, ‘O Sanat-sujata, I hear that thou art of theopinion that there is no Death. Again it is said that the gods and theAsuras, practise ascetic austerities in order to avoid death. Of thesetwo opinions, then, which is true?’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Some say, death is avertable by particular acts;others’ opinion there is no death; thou hast asked me which of these istrue. Listen to me, O king, as I discourse to thee on this, so that thydoubts may be removed. Know, O Kshatriya, that both of these are true.The learned are of opinion that death results from ignorance. I say thatignorance is Death, and so the absence of ignorance (Knowledge) isimmortality. It is from ignorance that the Asuras became subject todefeat and death, and it is from the absence of ignorance that the godshave attained the nature of Brahman. Death doth not devour creatures likea tiger; its form itself is unascertainable. Besides this, some imagineYama to be Death. This, however, is due to the weakness of the mind. Thepursuit of Brahman or self-knowledge is immortality. That (imaginary) god(Yama) holdeth his sway in the region of the Pitris, being the source ofbliss to the virtuous and of woe to the sinful. It is at his command thatdeath in the form of wrath, ignorance, and covetousness, occurreth amongmen. Swayed by pride, men always walk in unrighteous path. None amongstthem succeeds in attaining to his real nature. With their understandingclouded, and themselves swayed by there passions, they cast off theirbodies and repeatedly fall into hell. They are always followed by theirsenses. It is for this that ignorance receives the name of death. Thosemen that desire the fruits of action when the time cometh for enjoyingthose fruits, proceed to heaven, casting off their bodies. Hence theycannot avoid death. Embodied creatures, from inability to attain theknowledge of Brahman and from their connection with earthly enjoyments,are obliged to sojourn in a cycle of re-births, up and down and around,The natural inclination of man towards pursuits that are unreal is alonethe cause of the senses being led to error. The soul that is constantlyaffected by the pursuit of objects that are unreal, remembering only thatwith which it is always engaged, adoreth only earthly enjoyments thatsurround it. The desire of enjoyments first killeth men. Lust and wrathsoon follow behind it. These three, viz., the desire of enjoyments, lust,and wrath, lead foolish men to death. They, however, that have conqueredtheir souls, succeed by self-restraint, to escape death. He that hathconquered his soul without suffering himself to be excited by hisambitious desire, conquereth these, regarding them as of no value, by theaid of self-knowledge. Ignorance, assuming the form of Yama, cannotdevour that learned man who controlled his desires in this manner. Thatman who followeth his desires is destroyed along with his desires. He,however, that can renounce desire, can certainly drive away all kinds ofwoe. Desire is, indeed, ignorance and darkness and hell in respect of allcreatures, for swayed by it they lose their senses. As intoxicatedpersons in walking along a street reel towards ruts and holes, so menunder the influence of desire, misled by deluding joys, run towardsdestruction. What can death do to a person whose soul hath not beenconfounded or misled by desire? To him, death hath no terrors, like atiger made of straw. Therefore, O Kshatriya, if the existence of desire,which is ignorance, is to be destroyed, no wish, not even the slightestone, is either to be thought of or pursued. That soul, which is in thybody, associated as it is with wrath and covetousness and filled withignorance, that is death. Knowing that death arises in this way, he thatrelies on knowledge, entertaineth no fear of death. Indeed, as the bodyis destroyed when brought under the influence of death, so death itselfis destroyed when it comes under the influence of knowledge.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘The Vedas declare the emancipating capacity ofthose highly sacred and eternal regions, that are said to be obtainableby the regenerate classes by prayers and sacrifices. Knowing this, whyshould not a learned person have recourse to (religious) acts?'[3]

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Indeed, he that is without knowledge proceedeththither by the path indicated by thee, and the Vedas also declare thatthither are both bliss and emancipation. But he that regardeth thematerial body to be self, if he succeeds in renouncing desire, at onceattaineth emancipation (or Brahman). If, however, one seekethemancipation without renouncing desire, one must have to proceed alongthe (prescribed) route of action, taking care to destroy the chances ofhis retracing the routes that he hath once passed over.'[4]

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Who is it that urgeth that Unborn and Ancient One?If, again, it is He that is all this Universe in consequence of Hishaving entered everything (without desire as He is) what can be Hisaction, or his happiness? O learned sage, tell me all this truly.'[5]

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘There is great objection in completely identifying(as here) the two that are different Creatures always spring from theunion of Conditions (with what in its essence is without Conditions).This view doth not detract from the supremacy of the Unborn and theAncient One. As for men, they also originate in the union of Conditions.All this that appears is nothing but that everlasting Supreme Soul.Indeed, the universe is created by the Supreme Soul itself undergoingtransformations. The Vedas to attribute this power (ofself-transformation) to the Supreme Soul. For the identity, again, of thepower and its possessor, both the Vedas and others are the authority.'[6]

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘In this world, some practise virtue, and somerenounce action or Karma (adopting what is called Sannyasa Yoga).(Respecting those that practise virtue) I ask, is virtue competent todestroy vice, or is it itself destroyed by vice?’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘The fruits of virtue and of (perfect) inaction areboth serviceable in that respect (i.e., for procuring emancipation).Indeed, both are sure means for the attainment of emancipation. The man,however, that is wise, achieveth success by knowledge (inaction). On theother hand, the materialist acquireth merit (by action) and (as theconsequence thereof) emancipation. He hath also (in course of hispursuit) to incur sin. Having obtained again fruits of both virtue andvice which are transitory, (heaven having its end as also hell in respectof the virtuous and the sinful), the man of action becometh once moreaddicted to action as the consequence of his own previous virtues andvices. The man of action, however, who possesseth intelligence,destroyeth his sins by his virtuous acts. Virtue, therefore, is strong,and hence the success of the man of action.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me, according to their gradation, of thoseeternal regions that are said to be attainable, as the fruits of theirown virtuous acts, by regenerate persons, engaged in the practice ofvirtue. Speak unto me of others’ regions also of a similar kind. Olearned sire, I do not wish to hear of actions (towards which man’s heartnaturally inclineth, however interdicted or sinful they may be).’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Those regenerate persons that take pride in theirYoga practices, like strong men in their own strength, departing hence,shine in the region of Brahman. Those regenerate persons that proudlyexert in performing sacrifices and other Vedic rites, as the fruit ofthat knowledge which is theirs, in consequence of those acts, freed fromthis world, proceed to that region which is the abode of the deities.There are others, again, conversant with the Vedas, who are of opinionthat the performance of the sacrifices and rites (ordained by the Vedas)is obligatory (their non-performance being sinful). Wedded to externalforms, though seeking the development of the inner self (for theypractise these rites for only virtue’s sake and not for theaccomplishment of particular aims), these persons should not be regardedvery highly (although some respect should be theirs). Wherever, again,food and drink worthy of a Brahmana are abundant, like grass and reeds ina spot during the rainy season, there should the Yogin seek for hislivelihood (without afflicting the householder of scanty means); by nomeans should he afflict his own self by hunger and thirst. In a place,where there may be both inconvenience and danger to one, for one’saversion, to disclose one’s superiority, he that doth not proclaim hissuperiority is better than he that doth. The food offered by that personwho is not pained at the sight of another disclosing his superiority, andwho never eateth without offering the prescribed share to Brahmanas andguests, is approved by the righteous. As a dog oftentimes devoureth itsown evacuations to its injury, so those Yogins devour their own vomit whoprocure their livelihood by disclosing their pre-eminence. The wise knowhim for a Brahmana, who, living in the midst of kindred, wishes hisreligious practices to remain always unknown to them. What other Brahmanadeserveth to know the Supreme Soul, that is unconditioned, withoutattributes, unchangeable, one and alone, and without duality of any kind?In consequence of such practices, a Kshatriya can know the Supreme Souland behold it in his own soul. He that regardeth the Soul to be theacting and feeling Self,–what sins are not committed by that thief whorobbeth the soul of its attributes? A Brahmana should be withoutexertion, should never accept gifts, should win the respect of therighteous, should be quiet, and though conversant with the Vedas shouldseem to be otherwise, for then only may he attain to knowledge and knowBrahman. They that are poor in earthly but rich in heavenly wealth andsacrifices, become unconquerable and fearless, and they should beregarded as embodiments of Brahman. That person even, in this world, who(by performing sacrifices) succeedeth in meeting with the gods thatbestow all kinds of desirable objects (on performers of sacrifices), isnot equal to him that knoweth Brahman for the performer of sacrificeshath to undergo exertions (while he that knoweth Brahman attaineth to Himwithout such exertions). He was said to be really honoured, who,destitute of actions, is honoured by the deities. He should never regardhimself as honoured who is honoured by others. One should not, therefore,grieveth when one is not honoured by others. People act according totheir nature just as they open and shut their eyelids; and it is only thelearned that pay respect to others. The man that is respected shouldthink so. They again, in this world, that are foolish, apt to sin, andadepts in deceit, never pay respect to those that are worthy of respect;on the other hand, they always show disrespect to such persons. Theworld’s esteem and asceticism (practices of Mauna), can never existtogether. Know that this world is for those that are candidates foresteem, while the other world is for those that are devoted toasceticism. Here, in this world, O Kshatriya, happiness (the world’sesteem) resides in worldly prosperity. The latter, however, is animpediment (to heavenly bliss). Heavenly prosperity, on the other hand,is unattainable by one that is without true wisdom. The righteous saythat there are various kinds of gates, all difficult of being guarded,for giving access to the last kind of prosperity. These are truth,uprightness, modesty, self-control, purity of mind and conduct andknowledge (of the Vedas). These six are destructive of vanity andignorance.'”

Chapter 43
Chapter 41

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