Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra The story of Matanga, including the commentary of Nimbarka and sub-commentary of Srinivasa known as Vedanta-parijata-saurabha and Vedanta-kaustubha resepctively. Also included are the comparative views of important philosophies, viz., from Shankara, Ramanuja, Shrikantha, Bhaskara and Baladeva.

The story of Mātaṅga

This appendix was extracted from a footnote belonging to Vedānta-kaustubha verse 2.2.37:

“[...] Moreover, it is clearly demonstrated in the Mahābhārata in the story of the Mātaṅga, distressed by the sharp words of a she-ass and so on, that it is very difficult for a man of another caste to obtain Brāhmaṇa-hood even by means of penance accumulated through thousands of years. [...]”

The story of Mātaṅga and the she-ass is as follows:

Once Mātaṅga, who was endowed with all qualities and equal to a Brāhmaṇa by all means, while travelling on a swift chariot drawn by a young ass and its mother, mercilessly pierced the young ass in the nose again and again. Thereupon its mother, being much grieved, said to him that such an act certainly behoved a person who was born of a Brāhmaṇa mother and a Gaṇḍāla father, but had he been the son of a Brāhmaṇa father his act would have been otherwise. Much aggrieved at this painful information, Mātaṅga determined to attain Brāhmaṇa-hood, left home immediately and engaged himself in a severe penance. Therefore Indra being pleased personally appeared before him to offer him a boon. Mātaṅga asked for Brāhmaṇa-hood, which however, Indra declined to grant by reason of the fact that he was the son of a Caṇḍāla.

In spite of Indra’s straight denial, Mātaṅga went on performing austereties for a hundred years, standing on one leg only. Very much pleased, Indra appeared once again only to go back after saying that it was impossible for a Gaṇḍāla to acquire Brāhmaṇa-hood, and that Mātaṅga was most unwise to undergo penance for it. This time Mātaṅga went on performing penance for a thousand years in the same way. Disappointed once more, he performed the severest penance by standing on one finger only. But in spite of this he was never able to attain his heart’s desire, simply because he was a Caṇḍāla by birth.

Vide, Mahābhārata (Asiatic Society edition) 13.1870 ff., pp. 85 ff., vol. 4.

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