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Chapter 43

Mahabharata English - UDYOGA PARAVA

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘What is the object of asceticism (mauna)? Of thetwo kinds of mauna (viz., the restraining of speech and meditation),which is approved by thee? O learned one, tell me the true aspect ofmauna. Can a person of learning attain to a state of quietude andemancipation (moksha) by that mauna? O Muni, how also is asceticism(mauna) to be practised here?’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Since the Supreme Soul cannot be penetrated by boththe Vedas and the mind, it is for this that Soul itself is called mauna.That from which both the Vedic syllable Om and this one (ordinary sounds)have arisen, that One, O king, is displayed as the Word.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Is he that knoweth both the Rig and the YajusVedas, is he that knoweth the Sama Veda, sullied by sins or not when hecommiteth sins?’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘I tell thee truly that the man that hath notrestrained his senses is not rescued from his sinful acts by either theSama or the Rig, or the Yajus Veda. The Vedas never rescue from sin thedeceitful person living by deceit. On the other hand, like newfledgedbirds forsaking their nest, the Vedas forsake such a person at the end.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O thou that hast restrained thy senses, if, indeed,the Vedas are not competent to rescue a person without the aid of virtue,whence then is this delusion of the Brahmanas that the Vedas are alwaysdestructive of sins?’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘O magnanimous one, this universe hath sprung fromthat Supreme Soul by the union of Conditions respecting name, form, andother attributes. The Vedas also, pointing it out duly, declare the same,and inculcate that the Supreme Soul and the universe are different andnot identical. It is for attaining to that Supreme Soul that asceticismand sacrifices are ordained, and it is by these two that the man oflearning earneth virtue. Destroying sin by virtue, his soul isenlightened by knowledge. The man of knowledge, by the aid of knowledge,attaineth to the Supreme Soul. Otherwise, he that coveteth the fourobjects of human pursuit, taking with him all that he doth here, enjoyeththeir fruits hereafter, and (as those fruits) are not everlasting comethback to the region of action (when the enjoyment is over). Indeed, thefruits of ascetic austerities performed in this world have to be enjoyedin the other world (as regards those persons who have not obtained themastery of their souls). As regards those Brahmanas employed in asceticpractices (who have the mastery of their souls), even these regions arecapable of yielding fruits.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O Sanat-sujata, how can ascetic austerities whichare all of the same kind, be sometimes successful and sometimesunsuccessful? Tell us this in order that we may know it!’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘That asceticism which is not stained by (desire andother) faults is said to be capable of procuring emancipation, and is,therefore, successful, while the asceticism that is stained by vanity andwant of true devotion is regarded unsuccessful. All thy enquiries, OKshatriya, touch the very root of asceticism. It is by asceticism thatthey that are learned, know Brahman and win immortality!’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘I have listened to what thou hast said aboutasceticism unstained by faults, and by which I have succeeded in knowingan eternal mystery. Tell me now, O Sanat-sujata, about asceticism that isstained by faults!’

“Sanat-sujata said, ‘O king, the twelve, including anger, as also thethirteen kinds of wickedness, are the faults of asceticism that isstained. Anger, lust, avarice, ignorance of right and wrong, discontent,cruelty, malice, vanity, grief, love of pleasure, envy, and speaking illof others, are generally the faults of human beings. These twelve shouldalways be avoided by men. Any one amongst these can singly effect thedestruction of men, O bull among men. Indeed, every one of these wait foropportunity in respect of men, like a hunter expectant of opportunitiesin respect of deer. Assertion of one’s own superiority, desire ofenjoying others’ wives, humiliating others from excess of pride,wrathfulness, fickleness, and refusing to maintain those worthy of beingmaintained, these six acts of wickedness are always practised by sinfulmen defying all dangers here and hereafter. He that regards thegratification of lust to be one of life’s aims, he that is exceedinglyproud, he that grieves having given away, he that never spends money, hethat persecutes his subjects by exacting hateful taxes, he that delightsin the humiliation of others, and he that hates his own wives,–theseseven are others that are also called wicked. Righteousness, truth(abstention from injury and truthfulness of speech), self-restraint,asceticism, delight in the happiness of others, modesty, forbearance,love of others, sacrifices, gifts, perseverance, knowledge of thescriptures,–these twelve constitute the practices of Brahmanas. He thatsucceeds in acquiring these twelve, becomes competent to sway the entireearth. He that is endued with three, two, or even one, of these, shouldbe regarded of heavenly prosperity. Self-restraint, renunciation, andknowledge of Self,–in these are emancipation. Those Brahmanas that areendued with wisdom, say, that these are attributes in which truthpredominates. Self-restraint is constituted by eighteen virtues. Breachesand non-observance of ordained acts and omissions, falsehood, malice,lust, wealth, love of (sensual) pleasure, anger, grief, thirst, avarice,deceit, joy in the misery of others, envy, injuring others, regret,aversion from pious acts, forgetfulness of duty, calumniating others, andvanity-he that is freed from these (eighteen) vices; is said by therighteous to be self-restrained. The eighteen faults (that have beenenumerated) constitute what is called mada or pride. Renunciation is ofsix kinds. The reverse of those six again are faults called mada. (Thefaults, therefore, that go by the name of mada are eighteen and six). Thesix kinds of renunciation are all commendable. The third only isdifficult of practice, but by that all sorrow is overcome. Indeed, ifthat kind of renunciation be accomplished in practice, he thataccomplishes it overcomes all the pairs of contraries in the world.

‘The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. They are these: Thefirst is never experiencing joy on occasions of prosperity. The second isthe abandonment of sacrifices, prayers, and pious acts. That which iscalled the third, O king, is the abandonment of desire or withdrawingfrom the world. Indeed, it is in consequence of this third kind ofrenunciation of desire, which is evidenced by the abandonment of allobjects of enjoyment (without enjoying them) and not their abandonmentafter having enjoyed them to the fill, nor by abandonment afteracquisition, nor by abandonment only after one has become incompetent toenjoy from loss of appetite. The fourth kind of renunciation consists inthis: One should not grieve nor suffer his self to be afflicted by griefwhen one’s actions fail, notwithstanding one’s possession of all thevirtues and all kinds of wealth. Or, when anything disagreeable happens,one feeleth no pain. The fifth kind of renunciation consists in notsoliciting even one’s sons, wives, and others that may all be very dear.The sixth kind consists in giving away to a deserving person whosolicits, which act of gifts is always productive of merit. By theseagain, one acquires the knowledge of Self. As regards this lastattribute, it involves eight qualities. These are truth, meditation,distinction of subject and object, capacity for drawing inferences,withdrawal from the world, never taking what belongeth to others, thepractices of Brahmacharya vows (abstinence), and non-acceptance (ofgifts).

‘So also the attribute of mada (the opposite of dama or self-restraint)hath faults which have all been indicated (in the scriptures). Thesefaults should be avoided. I have spoken (to thee) of renunciation andself-knowledge. And as, self-Knowledge hath eight virtues, so the want ofit hath eight faults. Those faults should be avoided. O Bharata, he thatis liberated from this five senses, mind, the past and the future,becomes happy. O king, let thy soul be devoted to truth; all the worldsare established on truth; indeed, self-control, renunciation, andself-knowledge are said to have truth for their foremost attribute.Avoiding (these) faults, one should practise asceticism here. TheOrdainer hath ordained that truth alone should be the vow of therighteous. Asceticism, that is dissociated from these faults and enduedwith these virtues, becomes the source of great prosperity, I have nowbriefly told these about that sin-destroying and sacred subject whichthou hadst asked me and which is capable of liberating a person frombirth, death, and decrepitude.’

“Dhritarashtra said, ‘With Akhyana (Puranas) as their fifth, the Vedasdeclare the Supreme Soul to be this universe consisting of mobile andimmobile things. Others regard four God-heads; and others three; othersagain regard two; and others only one; and others regard Brahman alone asthe sole existent object (there being nothing else possessing a separateexistence). Amongst these, which should I know to be really possessed ofthe knowledge of Brahman.’

“Sanat-sujata, ‘There is but one Brahman which is Truth’s self. It isfrom ignorance of that One, that god-heads have been conceived to bediverse. But who is there, O king, that hath attained to Truth’s self orBrahman? Man regardeth himself wise without knowing that One Object ofknowledge, and from desire of happiness is engaged in study and thepractices of charity and sacrifices. They have deviated from Truth(Brahman) and entertain purposes corresponding (with their state) andhence relying on the truth of Vedic texts thereof perform sacrifices.Some perform (or attain the object of) sacrifices by the mind(meditation), some by words (recitation of particular prayers, or Yapa);and some by acts (actual consummation of the Yatishtoma and other costlyrites). The person, however, who seeketh Brahman through Truth, obtainethhis desired objects at home. When however, one’s purposes become abortive(through absence of knowledge of Self), one should adopt vows of silenceand such like, called Dikshavrata. Indeed, Diksha cometh from the rootDiksha, meaning the observance of vows. As regards those that haveknowledge of Self, with them Truth is the highest object of pursuit.’

‘The fruits of knowledge are visible; asceticism yieldeth fruitshereafter. A Brahmana who (without knowledge and asceticism) hath onlyread much should only be known as a great reader. Therefore, O Kshatriya,never think that one can be a Brahman (Brahman-knowing) by only readingthe scriptures. He, on the other hand, should be known by thee to bepossessed of the knowledge of the Brahman who doth not deviate fromTruth. O Kshatriya, the verses that were recited by Atharvan to aconclave of great sages, in days of old, are known by the name ofChhandas. They are not be regarded as acquainted with the Chhandas whohave only read through the Vedas, without having attained to theknowledge of Him who is known through the Vedas. The Chhandas, O best ofmen, become the means of obtaining Brahman independently and without thenecessity of anything foreign. They cannot be regarded as acquainted withthe Chhandas who are acquainted only with the modes of sacrifice enjoinedin the Vedas. On the other hand, having waited upon those that areacquainted with the Vedas, have not the righteous attained to the Objectthat is knowable by the Vedas? There is none who hath truly caught thesense of the Vedas or there may be some who have, O king, caught thesense. He that hath only read the Vedas, doth not know the Objectknowable by them. He, however, that is established in Truth, know theObject knowable by the Vedas. Amongst those faculties which lead toperception of the body as the acting agent, there is none by which trueknowledge may be acquired. By the mind alone one cannot acquire theknowledge of Self and Not-Self. Indeed, he that knoweth Self also knowethwhat is Not-self. He, on the other hand, that knoweth only what isNot-self, doth not know Truth. He, again, that knoweth the proofs,knoweth also that which is sought to be proved. But what that Object inits nature is (which is sought to be proved) is not known to either theVedas or those that are acquainted with the Vedas. For all that, however,those Brahmanas that are (truly) acquainted with the Vedas succeed inobtaining a knowledge of the Object knowable (by the Vedas) through theVedas. As the branch of a particular tree is sometimes resorted to forpointing out the lunar digit of the first day of the lighted fortnight sothe Vedas are used for indicating the highest attributes of the SupremeSoul. I know him to be a Brahmana (possessing a knowledge of Brahman) whoexpoundeth the doubts of others, having himself mastered all his owndoubts, and who is possessed of the knowledge of Self. One cannot findwhat the Soul is by seeking in the East, the South, the West, the North,or in the subsidiary directions or horizontally. Very rarely can it befound in him who regardeth this body be to Self. Beyond the conception ofeven the Vedas, the man of Yoga-meditation only can behold the Supreme.Completely restraining all thy senses and thy mind also seek thou thatBrahman which is known to reside in thy own Soul. He is not a Muni whopractiseth only Yoga-meditation; nor he who liveth only in the woods(having retired from the world). He, however, is a Muni and is superiorto all who knoweth his own nature. In consequence of one’s being able toexpound every object (Vyakarana), one is said to be endued with universalknowledge (Vaiyakarana); and, indeed, the science itself is calledVyakarana owing to its being able to expound every object to its veryroot (which is Brahman). The man who beholdeth all the regions as presentbefore his eyes, is said to be possessed of universal knowledge. He thatstayeth in Truth and knoweth Brahman is said to be a Brahmana, and aBrahmana, possesseth universal knowledge. A Kshatriya also, thatpractises such virtues, may behold Brahman. He may also attain to thathigh state by ascending step by step, according to what is indicated inthe Vedas. Knowing it for certain, I tell thee this.'”



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