There is no destruction here of actions good or not good. Coming to one body after another they become ripened in their respective ways. As a fruitful (tree) producing fruit may yield much fruit, so does merit performed with a pure mind become expanded. Sin, too, performed with a sinful mind, is similarly (expanded). For the self engages in action, putting forward this mind. And now further, hear how a man, overwhelmed with action, and enveloped in desire and anger, enters a womb. Within the womb of a woman, (he) obtains-as the result of action a body good or else bad, made up of virile semen and blood. Owing to (his) subtlety and imperceptibility, though he obtains a body appertaining to the Brahman, he is not attached anywhere; hence is he the eternal Brahman. That is the seed of all beings; by that all creatures exist. That soul, entering all the limbs of the fœtus, part by part, and dwelling in the seat of the life-wind, supports (them) with the mind. Then the fœtus, becoming possessed of consciousness, moves about its limbs. As liquefied iron being poured out assumes the form of the image, such you must know is the entrance of the soul into the fœtus. As fire entering a ball of iron, heats it, such too, you must understand, is the manifestation of the soul in the fœtus. And as a blazing lamp shines in a house, even so does consciousness light up bodies. And whatever action he performs, whether good or bad, everything done in a former body must necessarily be enjoyed (or suffered). Then that is exhausted, and again other (action) is accumulated, so long as the piety which dwells in the practice of concentration of mind for final emancipation has not been learnt. As to that, O best (of men)! I will tell you about that action by which, verily, one going the round of various births, becomes happy. Gifts, penance, life as a Brahmacārin, adherence to prescribed regulations, restraint of the senses, and also tranquillity, compassion to (all) beings, self-restraint, and absence of cruelty, refraining from the appropriation of the wealth of others, not acting dishonestly even in thought towards (any) being in this world, serving mother and father, honouring deities and guests, honouring preceptors, pity, purity, constant restraint of the organs, and causing good to be done; this is said to be the conduct of the good. From this is produced piety, which protects people to eternity. Thus one should look (for it) among the good, for among them it constantly abides. The practice to which the good adhere, points out (what) piety (is). And among them dwells that (course of) action which constitutes eternal piety. He who acquires that, never comes to an evil end. By this are people held in check from making a slip in the paths of piety. But the devotee who is released is esteemed higher than these. For the deliverance from the course of worldly life of the man who acts piously and well, as he should act, takes place after a long time. Thus a creature always meets with (the effects of) the action performed (in a) previous (life). And that is the sole cause by which he comes here (in a) degraded (form). There is in the world a doubt as to what originally was the source from which he became invested with a body. And that I shall now proceed to state. Brahman, the grandfather of all people, having Made a body for himself, created the whole of the three worlds, moving and fixed. From that he created the Pradhāna, the material cause of all embodied (selfs), by which all this is pervaded, and which is known in the world as the highest. This is what is called the destructible; but the other is immortal and indestructible. And Prajāpati, who had been first created, created all creatures and (all) the fixed entities, (having) as regards the moving (creation), a pair separately for each (species). Such is the ancient (tradition) heard (by us). And as regards that, the grandsire fixed a limit of time, and (a rule) about migrations among (various) creatures, and about the return. What I say is all correct and proper, like (what may be said by) any talented person who has in a former birth perceived the self. He who properly perceives pleasure and pain to be inconstant, the body to be an unholy aggregate, and ruin to be connected with action, and who remembers that whatever little there is of happiness is all misery, he will cross beyond the fearful ocean of worldly life, which is very difficult to cross. He who understands the Pradhāna, (though) attacked by birth and death and disease, sees one (principle of) consciousness in all beings possessed of consciousness. Then seeking after the supreme seat, he becomes indifferent to everything. O best (of men)! I will give you accurate instruction concerning it. Learn from me exhaustively, O Brāhmaṇa! the excellent knowledge concerning the eternal imperishable seat, which I am now about to declare.
Footnotes and references:
Cf. Maitrī-upaniṣad, p. 53, and Muṇḍaka, p. 270. And see generally as to this passage, Śārīraka Bhāṣya, pp. 751-760.
I. e. they yield their respective fruits; cf. Maitrī, p. 43, and Chāndogya, p. 358.
This explains, say the commentators, how even a little merit or sin requires sometimes more than one birth to enjoy and exhaust,
As a king performs sacrifices 'putting forward' a priest, Arjuna Miśra; and cf. Dhammapada, the first two verses.
Arjuna Miśra has tathā, 'in the same way,' instead of this, and renders it to mean 'putting forward' the mind.
Hence he does not get rid of birth and death.
Good = of gods or men; bad = of the lower species of creatures, Arjuna.
He, in the preceding sentences, according to Arjuna Miśra, means the self, through the mind, or 'putting forward' the mind, as said above. In this sentence, he takes 'he' to mean the mind itself; Brahman = the self; and the mind, he says, is called the Brahman, as it, like the self, is the cause of the Caitanya, intelligence, in all creatures.
I. e. the heart.
Arjuna Miśra says that the. soul at the beginning of the sentence means the mind, and mind here means knowledge or intelligence. Cf. p. 238 supra.
In the mould of which, that is to say, it is poured.
Cf. Gītā, p. 106. The three similes, says Nīlakaṇṭha, show that the soul pervades the whole body, is yet imperceptible, and also unattached to the body. Arjuna Miśra's explanation is different, but I prefer Nīlakaṇṭha's.
I. e. by the enjoyment or suffering.
I. e. while he does not possess the knowledge which leads to the piety necessary as a preliminary for final emancipation, and which ultimately destroys action. Cf. Gītā, p. 62.
I. e. keeping the senses of hearing &c. from all operationsp. 243 save those relating to the Brahman. Tranquillity is the same thing as regards the mind.
This I take to mean restraint of the active organs, such as speech, &c. 'Self-restraint' is rendered by Nīlakaṇṭha to mean 'concentration of mind.'
Cf. Maitrī, p. 57; Chāndogya, p. 136; and Gītā, pp. 103, 119.
Cf. Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 2; I, 1, 20, 7; Śakuntalā, p. 30 (Williams).
Cf. Gītā, p. 72.
By this, i.e. by the practice of the good, Arjuna Miśra.
From delusion, Arjuna Miśra; emancipated by force of his devotion, Nīlakantha.
Cf. Gītā, p. 73; Chāndogya, pp. 136, 137.
Scil. the action.
I.e. animate and inanimate. 'A body for himself' = undeveloped Ākāśa, Nīlakaṇṭha. But see Sāṅkhya-sāra, p. 19, and Sāṅkhya Prav. Bhāṣya I, 122, and III, 10.
Cf. inter alia Gītā, p. 58 and note, and Sāṅkhya-sāra, p. 11. As to the words at the beginning of this sentence, 'from that,' cf. Taittirīya-upaniṣad, p. 67, where everything is derived from Ākāśa, mentioned in the last note, and Ākāśa from the Brahman.
Cf. Gītā, p. 113, where there are three principles distinguished from each other.
I. e. the self, Arjuna Miśra.
A pair, i. e. a male and female for each species, such as man, &c., Arjuna Miśra.
Prajāpati fixed the limit of life for every 'moving' creature, and the rule as to going from one species of body into another, and as to going from one world to another. As to a part of 'the ancient tradition,' the first stanza of the Muṇḍaka-upaniṣad may be compared.
Arjuna Miśra says the strength of the impression in the former birth would give him this knowledge in the subsequent birth.
Cf. Sanatsujātīya, p. 155.
Cf. inter alia p. 256 infra.
Cf. Gītā, p. 79.
Otherwise called Prakṛti, or nature.
Cf. Gītā, p. 124.
Cf. Gītā, p. 111.