The Anugītā

1882 | 64,929 words

Volume 8, The Sacred Books of the East. This part Contains the english translation of the Anugita (a portion of the Ashvamedhika Parva from the Mahabharata)....

Chapter VIII

The Brāhmaṇa said:

On this, too, they relate an ancient story, O beautiful one! (showing) of what description is the institution of the five sacrificial priests. The learned know this to be a great principle, that the Prāṇa and the Apāna, and the Udāna, and also the Samāna and the Vyāna, are the five sacrificial priests.

The Brāhmaṇa's wife said:

My former belief was that the sacrificial priests were seven. by (their) nature[1]. State how the great principle is that there are verily five sacrificial priests[2].

The Brāhmaṇa said:

The wind prepared by the Prāṇa afterwards becomes the Apāna. The wind prepared in the Apāna then works as the Vyāna. The wind prepared by the Vyāna works as the Udāna. And the wind prepared in the Udāna is produced as Samāna[3]. They formerly went to the grandsire, who was born first, and said to him, 'Tell us which is greatest among us. He shall be the greatest among us[4].'

Brahman said:

He, verily, is the greatest, who being extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct; and on whose moving about, they again move about. (Now) go where (you) like.

The Prāṇa said:

When I am extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct; and on my moving about, they again move about. I am the greatest. See I am extinct!

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Then the Prāṇa became extinct, and again moved about. Then the Samāna and Udāna also[5], O beautiful one! spoke these words, 'You do not pervade all this here as we do. You are not the greatest among us, O Prāṇa, because the Apāna is subject to you[6].' The Prāṇa again moved about[7], and the Apāna[8] said to him.

The Apāna said:

When I am extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct; and on my moving about, they again move about. I am the. greatest. See I am extinct!

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Then the Vyāna and the Udāna addressed him who was speaking (thus): 'You are not the greatest, O Apāna! because the Prāṇa is subject to you.' Then the Apāna moved about, and the Vyāna spoke to him: 'I am the greatest among (you) all. Hear the reason why. When I am extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct.

And on my moving about, they again move about. I am the greatest. See I am extinct!'

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Then the Vyāna became extinct, and again moved about. And the Prāna and Apāna, and the Udāna, and the Samāna, spoke to him, 'You are not the greatest among us, O Vyāna! because the Samāna[9] is subject to you.' The Vyāna moved about again, and the Samāna spoke again. 'I am the greatest among (you) all. Hear the reason why. When I am extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct; and on my moving about, they again move about. I am the greatest. See I am extinct!' Then the Samāna moved about, and the Udāna said to him: 'I am the greatest among (you) all. Hear the reason why. When I am extinct, all the life-winds in the body of living creatures become extinct; and on my moving about, they again move about. I am the greatest. See I am extinct!' Then the Udāna became extinct, and again moved about. And the Prāṇa and Apāna, and the Samāna, and the Vyāna also, spoke to him: 'O Udāna! you are not the greatest. The Vyāna[10] only is subject to you.'

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Then Brahman, the lord of (all) creatures, said. to them who were assembled together: You are all greatest, and not greatest[11]. You are all possessed of one another's qualities[12]. All are greatest in their own spheres, and all support one another. There is one unmoving[13] (life-wind). There are others moving about, (which are) five, owing to (their) specific qualities. My own self is one only[14], (but) accumulated in numerous (forms). Being friendly with one another, and pleasing one another, go away happily. Welfare be to you! Support one another.'

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

As stated in the last chapter; some MSS. read 'your' for 'my' at the beginning of the sentence.

[2]:

Arjuna Miśra says that in this Pañcahotṛ-vidhāna the five chief Hotṛs only are stated for briefly explaining the Prāṇāyāma.

[3]:

Arjuna Miśra says, 'The wind going to the Prāṇa, and being obstructed in upward progress by the Prāṇa, goes to the Apāna, and then unable to go upwards or downwards, enters the passages or nāḍīs of the body and becomes Vyāna. In the same way Udāna, by the collision of the two, produces sound in the throat, and depends on Prāṇa and Apāna; so, too, the Samāna dwelling in the navel and kindling the gastric fire is also dependent on those two.' The meaning seems to be that one life-wind is distributed in the different places, and gets different names, as stated, in the order mentioned. See Maitrī, p. 28.

[4]:

A similar visit on the part of the Prāṇas (who, however, are not there the life-winds only, but the Prāṇa life-wind and the active organs) to Prajāpati is mentioned at Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad, p. 1016, and Chāndogya, p. 297. Cf. also Praśna, p. 178; Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 317; and Kauṣītaki, p. 63. See also, generally, as to the life-winds and their functions, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 280, and Śaṅkara's comment there; Yoga-sūtras III, 38, and comment; Cowell's note at Maitrī, p. 247; Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa Dharma), chap. 184, st. 24-25; chap. 185, st. 1 seq.; and p. 258 supra.

[5]:

Arjuna Miśra says, Vyāna and Apāna also by force of the two 'ands' which occur in the original; and so in other places too.

[6]:

Arjuna Miśra says on this, 'The Prāṇa moves upwards through the help of the Apāna. If it moved downwards, it would be simply absorbed into the Apāna.'

[7]:

I. e. recommenced its, proper operation in its proper place.

[8]:

And the other life-winds also, Arjuna Miśra says, the name Prāṇa being merely 'indicative,' as the phrase is, of the class to which it belongs.

[9]:

Because the Samāna helps in the digestion of the food which afterwards goes to the Vyāna for distribution through the nāḍīs.

[10]:

Because the Udāna is able to generate sound after the nāḍīs are filled up by the Vyāna.

[11]:

'Not greatest' because none of them is independent of the other. 'Greatest' Arjuna Miśra renders by 'superior to objects.'

[12]:

This is not quite clear. I presume it means that each one has the generic qualities which make the others great in their own spheres; but the specific qualities are different.

[13]:

The one life-wind is supposed, here to be generally unmoving, but its distribution among the different parts of the body as specified, for instance, in the commentary on the Yoga-sūtra III, 38, gives it the different names. The expression does not seem to be quite accurate for this, which nevertheless seems to be the true, sense.

[14]:

Another reading is, 'That one is my own self.' Cf. Maitrī, pp. 28 seq., 105, and Bṛhadāraṇyaka p. 169.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: