Section CCXVII - Bhishma's Teachings on Attaining Brahma and Emancipation

| Posted in: Hinduism Itihasa

Book index: Mahabharata (English)
This page contains a summary of the Mahabharata Section CCXVII including examples of moral lessons in daily life. The Maha-Bharata is one of the largest epics ever written containing roughly 100,000 Sanskrit verses. It deals with the legendary history of ancient India and contains a large number of interwoven tales.

Short summary of the chapter:
Bhishma, in his discourse, emphasizes the importance of understanding the four topics of dreams, dreamless slumber, Brahma with attributes, and Brahma transcending all attributes in order to truly know Brahma. He explains that knowledge of the manifest (body) and the unmanifest (chit-soul) is essential for spiritual growth, and that following the religion of Pravritti leads to rebirth while Nivritti leads to the highest end of spiritual realization. Bhishma delves into the nature of Prakriti and Purusha, stating that both are eternal, indestructible, and beyond comprehension by ordinary means. He also highlights the importance of yoga in realizing knowledge and attaining liberation.

Bhishma discusses the practice of yoga as a means to achieve inner purification and spiritual enlightenment. He explains that acts destructive of passion and darkness constitute true yoga, and that abstaining from injury and practicing celibacy are forms of bodily yoga. By restraining the mind and speech, one can achieve mental yoga, while consuming food obtained from noble sources aids in spiritual progress. Bhishma emphasizes the importance of knowledge gained through yoga, leading to the gradual fading of sins and eventual liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Bhishma elaborates on the journey of the embodied soul after death, explaining that the soul, when divested of Rajas, assumes a subtle form with sensory perception before merging back into Prakriti. He discusses the significance of knowledge of Brahma in breaking free from the cycle of birth and death, and the attainment of Emancipation through renunciation and devotion to the highest truth. Bhishma underscores the diversity in worship practices, emphasizing the ultimate goal of realizing Brahma as the Supreme Divinity and attaining liberation.

Bhishma concludes by stating that those who follow the path of knowledge, detach themselves from worldly desires, and approach Brahma with purity and contentment ultimately reach the highest state of eternal bliss. He explains that understanding the nature of desire and the universe's interconnectedness is crucial for overcoming attachment and attaining liberation. Bhishma attributes the teachings to the divine Rishi Narayana, highlighting the compassion and wisdom inherent in the means for acquiring immortality. He leaves his listeners with a profound understanding of the path to realization and liberation, emphasizing the importance of knowledge, detachment, and devotion to the ultimate truth.

Full English translation:

This page is merely a summary which is automatically generated. If you are looking for authentic sources such as the Sanskrit text or the Full English translation of Mahabharata Section CCXVII - Bhishma's Teachings on Attaining Brahma and Emancipation, have a look at the following articles:

Section CCXVII, online text

English translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

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Mahabharata (English Summary)

by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | ISBN-10: 8121505933

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FAQ of Mahabharata, Section CCXVII:

What are the four topics mentioned by Bhishma in the story?

Bhishma mentioned dreams, dreamless slumber, Brahma with attributes, and Brahma transcending attributes as the four topics one must know to understand Brahma.

What is the religion of Pravritti and Nivritti according to the story?

Pravritti implies rebirth or return, while Nivritti leads to the eternal Brahma. The Creator Brahma described Pravritti, which deals with rebirth, and Nivritti, which leads to the ultimate end.

How can one attain high prosperity according to the story?

One should purify their mind, practice austerity, and dedicate themselves to yoga without desiring fruits. Understanding yoga is essential for achieving knowledge and transcending passions and darkness.

What is the significance of knowledge, yoga, and Brahma in the story?

Knowledge leads to Emancipation, yoga helps to control the body and mind, and worshipping Brahma in different forms can lead to the highest end. Recognizing the interconnectedness of desire, Prakriti, and Purusha is crucial for attaining Emancipation.

Daily life: Bhishma's Teachings on Attaining Brahma and Emancipation:

To weave the rich tapestry of wisdom from the text into the fabric of daily life, one begins with the practice of self-awareness and discernment between the transient nature of the physical body and the timeless essence of the soul. This mindfulness leads one to recognize the constant play of dreams, waking states, and deeper, attribute-free consciousness. Engaging in this reflective process, an individual understands the fleeting pleasures and sorrows of life as merely surface waves over the ocean of eternal Brahma.

In practical terms, this awareness cultivates a life of simplicity and detachment, where actions are performed without a heavy investment in their outcomes, acknowledging their role in the greater dance of creation and dissolution. Such a perspective fosters a state of equanimity towards life’s vicissitudes, encouraging one to live ethically and with compassion, yet without being overly entangled in the web of desires and aversions.

The practice of yoga and meditation emerge as vital tools in this quest, helping to still the mind and bring it into alignment with the unmanifest, allowing the practitioner to experience a foretaste of the ultimate unity with Brahma. This disciplined approach gradually refines one's being, peeling away the layers of ignorance and unveiling the inherent bliss of the soul.

Ultimately, by consistently embodying these principles, an individual quietly transforms, becoming a conduit for the divine, living in the world but not of it. This transformation is not an escape from life but an embrace of its deepest reality, culminating in the realization that one is fundamentally inseparable from the infinite expanse of Brahma, achieving a state of serene liberation while engaged in the dynamic play of existence.

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