The Anugita

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)....

Janamejaya[1] said:

What conversation, O twice-born one[2] I took place between the high-souled Kesava and Arjuna, while they dwelt in that palace[3] after slaying their enemies?

Vaiśampāyana said:

The son of Pṛthā, after becoming possessed of his kingdom (in an) undisturbed (state), enjoyed himself in the company of Kṛṣṇa, full of delight in that heavenly palace. And once, O king! they happened to go, surrounded by their people, and rejoicing, to a certain portion of the palace which resembled heaven. Then Arjuna, the son of Pāṇḍu, having surveyed with delight that lovely palace, in the company of Kṛṣṇa, spoke these words: 'O you of mighty arms! O you whose mother is Devakī[4]! when the battle was about to commence, I became aware of your greatness, and that divine form of yours[5]. But that, O Kesava! which through affection (for me) you explained before[6], has all disappeared, O tiger-like man! from my degenerate mind. Again and again, however, I feel a curiosity about those topics. But (now), O Mādhava! you will be going at no distant date to Dvārakā.

Vaiśampāyana said

Thus addressed, that best of speakers, Kṛṣṇa, possessed of great glory, replied in these words after embracing Arjuna.

Vāsudeva said:

From me, O son of Prithā! you heard a mystery, and learnt about the eternal[7] (principle), about piety in (its true) form, and about all the everlasting worlds[8]. It is excessively disagreeable to me, that you should not have grasped it through want of intelligence. And the recollection (of it) now again is not possible (to me). Really, O son of Pāndu! you are devoid of faith and of a bad intellect. And, O Dhanañjaya! it is not possible for me to repeat in full (what I said before). For that doctrine was perfectly adequate for understanding the seat,[9] of the Brahman. It is not possible for me to state it again in full in that way. For then accompanied by my mystic power[10], I declared to you the Supreme Brahman. But I shall relate an ancient story upon that subject, so that adhering to this knowledge, you may attain the highest goal. O best of the supporters of piety! listen to all that I say. (Once), O restrainer of foes! there came from the heavenly world and the world of Brahman[11], a Brāhmaṇa difficult to withstand[12], and he was (duly) honoured by us. (Now) listen, without entertaining any misgivings, O chief of the descendants of Bharata! O son of Pṛthā! to what he said on being interrogated by us according to heavenly rules[13].

The Brāhmaṇa said:

O Kṛṣṇa! O destroyer of Madhu! I will explain to you accurately what you, out of compassion for (all) beings[14], have asked me touching the duties (to be Performed) for final emancipation. It is destructive of delusion, O Lord! Listen to me with attention[15], as I relate it, O Mādhava! A certain Brāhmaṇa named Kāśyapa, who had performed (much) penance, and who best understood piety, approached a certain twice-born. (person) who had learnt the Scriptures relating to (all) duties[16], having heard (of him, as one) who had over and over again gone through all knowledge and experience about coming and going[17], who was well versed in the true nature of all worlds[18], who knew about happiness and misery[19], who knew the truth about birth and death[20], who was conversant with merit and sin, who perceived the migrations of embodied (souls) of high and low (degrees) in consequence of (their) actions, who moved about like an emancipated being, who had reached perfection[21], who was tranquil, whose senses were restrained, who was illumined with the Brahmic splendour[22], who moved about in every direction, who understood concealed movements[23], who was going in company of invisible Siddhas and celestial singers[24], and conversing and sitting together (with them) in secluded (places), who went about as he pleased, and was unattached (anywhere) like the wind. Having approached him, that talented ascetic possessed of concentration (of mind), that best of the twice-born, wishing to acquire piety, fell at his feet, after seeing that great marvel. And amazed on seeing that marvellous man, the best of the twice-born, Kāśyapa, pleased the preceptor by his great devotion. That was all appropriate[25], (being) joined to sacred learning and correct conduct. And, O terror of your foes! he pleased that (being) by (his purity of) heart and behaviour (suitable) towards a preceptor[26]. Then being satisfied and pleased, he spoke to the pupil these words, referring to the highest perfection: Hear (them) from me, O Janārdana!

The Siddha said:

Mortals, O dear friend[27]! by their actions which are (of) mixed (character), or which are meritorious and pure, attain to this world as the goal, or to residence in the world of the gods[28]. Nowhere is there everlasting happiness; nowhere eternal residence[29]. Over and over again is there a downfall from a high position attained with difficulty. Overcome by lust and anger, and deluded by desire, I fell into uncomfortable and harassing states (of life), in-consequence of (my) committing sin. Again and again death, and again and again birth[30]. I ate numerous (kinds of) food, sucked at various breasts, saw various mothers, and fathers of different sorts; and, O sinless one! (I saw) strange pleasures and miseries. Frequently (I suffered) separation from those I loved, association with those I did not love. Loss of wealth also came on me, after I had acquired that wealth with difficulty; ignominies full of affliction from princes and likewise from kinsmen; excessively poignant pain, mental and bodily. I also underwent frightful indignities, and fierce deaths and captivities; (I had a) fall into hell, and torments in the house of Yama[31]. I also suffered much from old age, continual ailments, and numerous misfortunes flowing from the pairs of opposites[32]. Then on one occasion, being much afflicted with misery, I abandoned the whole course of worldly life, through indifference (to worldly objects), al, taking refuge with the formless (principle)[33]. Having learnt about this path in this world, I exercised myself (in it), and hence, through favour of the self[34], have I acquired this perfection[35]. I shall not come here again[36]; I am surveying the worlds, and the happy migrations[37] of (my) self from the creation of beings to (my attaining) perfection. Thus, O best of the twice-born! have I obtained this highest perfection. From here I go to the next[38] (world), and from there again to the still higher (world)--the imperceptible seat of the Brahman. Have no doubt on that, O terror of your foes[39]! I shall not come back to this mortal world. I am pleased with you, O you of great intelligence! Say, what can I do for you? The time is now come for that which you desired in coming to me. I know for what you have come to me. But I shall be going away in a short time, hence have I given this hint to you. I am exceedingly pleased, O clever one! with your good conduct. Put (your) questions without uneasiness, I will tell (you) whatever you desire. I highly esteem your intelligence, and greatly respect it, inasmuch as you have made me out[40]; for, O Kāśyapa! you are (a) talented (man).

Footnotes and references:


This is the prince to whom the Mahābhārata, as we have it, purports to have been related.


I. e. Vaiśampāyana, who relates the Mahābhārata to Janamejaya.


This appears to have been situated at Indraprastha, and to have been the one built for the Pāṇḍavas by the demon Maya, as related in the Sabhā Parvan.


This is a rather unusual form of address.


Cf. Bhagavadgītā, chapters X and XI passim.


I. e. in the Bhagavadgītā.


This may also be taken with piety thus: 'and learnt about the eternal piety in (its true) form.'


As to the plural, see Śaṅkara on Muṇḍaka, p. 320.


Cf. Gītā, p. 78. For 'understanding' here we might, perhaps, substitute 'attaining.' The original word means both understanding and attaining.


Cf. Gītā, p. 182.


This seems to mean not the Supreme Brahman, but the Creator.


Cf. Sanatsujātīya, p. 161, 'not to be shaken.'


I suppose this to mean according to the forms proper in the case of such a being as the one in question. Cf. Gītā, p. 62, and note there.


This is not easy to understand. Perhaps the allusion is to the doctrine at Gītā, pp. 54, 55.


Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 447.


I. e. all prescribed acts of piety.


As to knowledge and experience, cf. Gītā, p. 57; and as to coming and going, cf. ibid. p. 84.


I. e. as stated, for instance, at Gītā, p. 79, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 613.


Cf. infra, p. 245.


Cf. Gītā, pp. 48, 103.


Cf. Gītā, passim.


Cf. Sanatsugātīya, p. 162.


I. e. moving about so as not to be seen by everybody.


Literally, 'holders of wheels,' which Arjuna Miśra interprets to mean 'Cāraṇas.' At Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa Dharma) CCXLIV, 26 Nīlakaṇṭha renders Cakradhara by Cakravartin or Emperor.


I. e. as Kāśyapa was possessed of Vedic lore, and behaved as he ought to behave in his capacity of pupil, it was natural that the other should be pleased.


See p. 176 seq. supra.


The same word as at Gītā, p. 72.


Cf. Chāndogya-upaniṣad, pp. 356-359, and Gītā, p. 84.


See Gītā, p. 76, and cf. Kaṭha, p. 90.


For the whole of this passage, c.f.; Maitrī-upaniṣad, p. 8.


See Manu VI, 61.


See Gītā, p. 48.


Taking refuge, says Nīlakaṇṭha, in the belief of my being identical with the Brahman, which is to be comprehended by means of the profound contemplation called Asamprajñāta Samādhi.


I. e., says Nīlakanṭha, the mind, and he cites Maitrī, p. 179. Cf. Kaṭha, p. 108. The rendering at p. 192 supra will also suit (through the self becoming placid). This placidity is defined at Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa Dharma) CCXLVII, 11, with which cf. Gītā, p. 69. See Gītā, p. 51.


As above described.


Cf. Chāndogya, p. 628; see also ibid. p. 282.


He calls them happy because they have ended happily, I presume. 'Surveying the worlds' Nīlakaṇṭha takes to be an index of omniscience. Cf. Sanatsujātīya, p. 174. See also Yoga-sūtras III, 25, and commentary there.


I. e. the world of Brahman, or the Satyaloka; and the next step is assimilation into the Brahman.


So read all the copies I have seen, though Kāśyapa is the person addressed.


This was difficult, as the Siddha possessed extraordinary powers, such as that of concealed movement, &c.

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