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)....

Vāsudeva[1] said

Then grasping his feet, Kāśyapa, asked questions very difficult to explain, and all of them that (being), the best of the supporters of piety, did explain.

Kāśyapa, said:

How does the body perish, and how, too, is it produced? How does one who moves in this harassing course of worldly life become freed? And (how) does the self, getting rid of nature, abandon the body (produced) from it[2]? And how, being freed from the body, does he attain to the other[3]? How does this man enjoy the good and evil acts done by himself? And where do the acts of one who is released from the body remain?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Thus addressed, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi! that Siddha answered these questions in order. Hear me relate what (he said).

The Siddha said:

When those actions, productive of long life and fame[4], which a man performs here, are entirely exhausted, after his assumption of another body, he performs (actions of an) opposite character, his self being overcome at the exhaustion of life[5]. And his ruin being impending, his understanding goes astray. Not knowing his own constitution,[6], and strength, and likewise the (proper) season, the man not being self-controlled, does unseasonably what is injurious to himself When he attaches himself to numerous very harassing (actions); eats too much[7], or does not eat at all; when he takes bad food, or meat[8], or drinks, or (kinds of food) incompatible with one another, or heavy food in immoderate quantities, or without (previously taken food) being properly digested; or takes too much exercise, or is incontinent; or constantly, through attachment to action, checks the regular course (of the excretions[9]); or takes juicy food[10]; or sleeps by day[11]; or (takes food) not thoroughly prepared; (such a man) himself aggravates the disorders orders (in the body) when the time comes[12]. By aggravating the disorders (in) his own (body), he contracts a disease which ends in death, or he even engages in unreasonable (acts), such as hanging[13] (oneself). From these causes, the living[14] body of that creature then perishes. Learn about that correctly as I am about to state it. Heat being kindled in the body, and being urged by a sharp wind[15], pervades the whole frame, and, verily, checks the (movements of all the) life-winds. Know this truly, that excessively powerful heat, if kindled in the body, bursts open the vital parts-the seats of the Soul[16]. Then the soul, full of torments, forthwith falls away from the perishable (body). Know, O best of the twice-born! that (every) creature leaves the body, when the vital parts are burst open, its self being overcome with torments. All beings are constantly distracted with birth and death; and, O chief of the twice-born! are seen abandoning (their) bodies; or entering the womb on the exhaustion of (their previous) actions[17]. Again, a man suffers similar torments, having his joints broken and suffering from cold, in consequence of water[18]. As the compact association of the five elements is broken up, the wind in the body, distributed within the five elements[19], between the upward and downward life-winds, being aggravated by cold, and urged by a sharp wind[20], goes upwards[21], abandoning the embodied (self) in consequence of pain. Thus it[22] leaves the body, which appears devoid of breath. Then devoid of warmth, devoid of breath, devoid of beauty, and with consciousness destroyed, the man, being abandoned by the Brahman[23], is said to be dead. (Then) he ceases to perceive (anything) with those very currents[24] with which the supporter of the body[25] perceives objects of sense. In the same way, it is the eternal soul which preserves in the body the life-winds which are produced from food[26]. Whatever (part of the body) is employed in the collection[27] of that, know that to be a vital part, for thus it is seen (laid down) in the Scriptures. Those vital parts being wounded, that (wind) directly comes out therefrom, and entering the bosom of a creature obstructs the heart[28]. Then the possessor of consciousness knows nothing[29]. Having his knowledge enveloped by darkness[30], while the vitals are still enveloped, the soul[31], being without a fixed seat, is shaken about by the wind. And then he heaves a very deep and alarming gasp, and makes the unconscious body quiver as he goes out (of it). That soul, dropping out of the body, is surrounded on both sides by his own actions[32], his own pure and meritorious, as also his sinful (ones). Brāhmaṇas, possessed of knowledge, whose convictions are correctly (formed) from sacred learning, know him by (his) marks as one who has performed meritorious actions or the reverse. As those who have eyes see a glow-worm disappear here and there in darkness, so likewise do those who have eyes of knowledge. Such a soul, the Siddhas see with a divine eye, departing (from the body), or coming to the birth, or entering into a womb[33]. Its three descriptions[34] of seats are here learnt from the Scriptures. This world is the world of actions[35], where creatures dwell. All embodied (selfs), having here performed good or evil (actions), obtain (the fruit). It is here they obtain higher or lower enjoyments by their own actions. And it is those whose actions here are evil, who by their actions go to, hell. Harassing is that lower place where men are tormented. Freedom from it is very difficult, and the self should be specially protected from it. Learn from me now the seats in which creatures going up[36] dwell, and which I shall describe truly. Hearing this, you will learn the highest knowledge, and decision regarding action[37]. All (the worlds in) the forms of stars, and this lunar sphere[38], and also this solar sphere which shines in the world by its own lustre, know these to be the seats of men who perform meritorious actions. All these, verily, fall down again and again in consequence of the exhaustion of their actions[39] . And there, too, in heaven, there are differences of low, high, and middling,[40]. Nor, even there, is there satisfaction, (even) after a sight of most magnificent splendour. Thus have I stated to you these seats distinctly. I will after this (proceed to) state to you the production of the fœtus[41]. And, O twice-born one! hear that attentively from me as I state it.

Footnotes and references:


Sic in MSS.


Cf. as to getting rid of nature, Gītā, pp. 75-106. As to the body produced from nature, cf. ibid. p. 112, and pp. 317-318 infra.


I. e. the Brahman, says Nīlakaṇṭha.


One reading omits 'fame,' as to which cf. Taittirīya-upaniṣad, p. 129; Chāndogya, pp. 122-227. As to long life, cf. Chāndogya, p. 272; exhausted, i.e. by enjoyment of fruit in another world.


Cf. Śārīraka Bhāṣya, p. 753 seq., where we have a slightly different view.


Arjuna Miśra renders the original, sattva, by svabhāva.


Cf. for all this, Gītā, pp. 62, 69, 118, which passages, however, are from a slightly different point of view. See also Khāndogya, p. 526.


A various reading here excludes meat. But cf. Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 23; Gautama II, 13.


So says Nīlakaṇṭha.


I. e. which turns to juice in digestion, much juice being a cause of indigestion, say the commentators.


This is doubtful. The sense may be, 'who takes juicy or not thoroughly prepared food by day and night.' But see Āśvalāyana Grihya-sūtra, p. 90; Āpastamba I, 1, 2, 24; Gautama II, 13.


The time of destruction, says Arjuna Miśra.


Which, say the commentators, leads to death, even without any disease.


So I construe the original, having regard to the question, I how does the body perish?' The other reading, which is in some respects better, is equivalent to 'the life falls away from the body of that creature.'


This is different, as the commentators point out, from the ordinary life-winds.


The original here is jīva, not ātman, which we have rendered 'self.' This refers rather to the vital principle. As to the seats, cf. Yājñavalkya Smṛti III, 93 seq.


I adopt the reading karmaṇām, which I find in one of the MSS. I consulted. I think it probable that that was the reading before the commentators. The other reading is marmaṇām.


Having spoken of heat, he now speaks of the effects of cold. I am not sure if the water here refers to the water of the juicy' substances before referred to.


This means, I presume, within the dissolving body. Cf. Maitrī-upaniṣad, p. 42.


See note  4, last page.


To the head, Arjuna Miśra.


That is, the wind, I suppose, and then the breath departs from the body, and the man is said to die. 'Devoid of beauty,' further on, means, disfigured in the state of death.


I. e. the mind, Arjuna Miśra.


The senses. Cf. Śvetāśvatara, p. 288.


See and cf. p. 262 infra.


This, says Arjuna Miśra, is in answer to the possible question why this 'sharp wind' does not work with the life-winds. The answer is, that such working requires the presence of the soul, which Arjuna Miśra says here means 'mind.' As to production from food,' cf. Chāndogya, p. 421 seq., and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka, p. 893.


Collection of that = turning the food into semen, says Arjuna Miśra, who adds, 'in, those vital parts, which are useful for this purpose, the life-wind dwells.'


Arjuna Miśra renders this to mean 'mind.'


As the mind is obstructed, says Arjuna Miśra. The possessor of consciousness = the self, Arjuna.


I. e. pain, Arjuna Miśra.


I. e. mind, Arjuna Miśra.


Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 843.


See Aitareya-upaniṣad, p. 222, and Śaṅkara's commentary there. The coming to the birth is the coming out of the womb into the world. Cf. also Gītā, p. 112.


As stated further on, viz. this world, the next world, and the womb. With this compare Chāndogya, p. 359.


Cf. our Bhartṛhari (Bombay series), Notes (Nītiśataka), p. 27.


Cf. on this and lower place,' Gītā, p. 109; Sāṅkhya Kārikā, 44.


The readings here are most unsatisfactory. The meaning of the printed reading adopted above would seem to be, 'decision as to what actions should be performed,' &c.


Cf. Gītā, p. 81, and Sanatsujātīya, p. 158.


Cf. Gītā, p. 84.


Arjuna Miśra says, 'In heaven = in the next world, low = inferior(?), high = heaven, and middling = the space below the skies (antarikṣa).' For the three degrees of enjoyment in heaven, see Yogavāsiṣṭha I, 35 seq.


This is the third of the three seats above referred to.

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