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)....

On this[1], too, O chief of the descendants of Bharata! they relate this ancient story, (in the form of) a dialogue, which occurred, O son of Pṛthā! between a husband and wife. A Brāhmaṇa's wife, seeing the Brāhmaṇa her husband, who had gone through all knowledge and experience[2], seated in seclusion, spoke to him (thus): 'What world, indeed, shall I go to, depending on you as (my) husband, you who live renouncing (all) action, and who are harsh and undiscerning[3]. We have heard that wives attain to the worlds acquired by (their) husbands. What goal, verily, shall I reach, having got you for my husband?' Thus addressed, that man of a tranquil self, spoke to her with a slight smile: 'O beautiful one! O sinless one! I am not offended at these words of yours. Whatever action there is, that can be caught (by the touch)[4], or seen, or heard, that only do the men of action engage in as. action. Those who are devoid of knowledge only lodge[5] delusion in themselves by means of action. And freedom from action is not to be attained in this world even for an instant[6]. From birth to the destruction of the body, action, good or bad, by act, mind or speech[7], does exist among (all) beings. While the paths[8] (of action), in which the materials are visible, are destroyed by demons[9], I have perceived by means of the self the seat abiding in the self[10]--(the seat) where dwells the Brahman free from the pairs of opposites, and the moon together with the fire[11], upholding (all) beings (as) the mover of the intellectual principle[12]; (the seat) for which[13] Brahman and others concentrating (their minds) worship that indestructible (principle), and for which learned men have their senses restrained, and their selfs tranquil, and (observe) good vows. It is not to be smelt by the nose, and not to be tasted by the tongue. It is not to be touched by the sense of touch, but is to be apprehended by the mind. It cannot be conquered by the eyes,, and is entirely beyond the senses of hearing. It is devoid of smell, devoid of taste and touch, devoid of colour and sound, and imperishable[14]. (It is that) from which (this whole) expanse[15] (of the universe) proceeds, and on which it rests. From this the Prāṇa, Apāna, Samāna, Vyāna, and Udāna also proceed, and into it they enter[16]. Between the Samāna and the Vyāna, the Prāṇa and the Apāna moved. When that[17] is asleep, the Samāna and Vyāna also are absorbed[18]; and between the Prāṇa and the Apāna dwells the Udāna pervading (all). Therefore the Prāṇa and the Apāna do not forsake a sleeping person. That is called the Udāna, as the life-winds are controlled[19] (by it). And therefore those who study the Brahman engage in penance[20] of which I am the goal[21]. In the interior[22], in the midst of all these (life-winds) which move about in the body and swallow up one another[23], blazes the Vaiśvāna fire[24] sevenfold. The nose, and the tongue, and the eye, and the skin, and the ear as the fifth, the mind and the understanding, these are the seven tongues[25] of the blaze of Vaiśvānara. That which is to be smelt, that which is to be drunk, that which is to be seen, that which is to be touched, and likewise that which is to be heard, and also that which is to be thought of, and that which is to be understood, those are the seven (kinds of) fuel for me[26]. That which smells, that which cats, that which sees, that which touches, and that which hears. as the fifth, that which thinks, and that which understands, these are the seven great officiating priests[27]. And mark this always, O beautiful one! The learned sacrificers throwing (in) due (form) the seven offerings into the seven fires in seven ways, produce them in their wombs[28]; (namely), that which is to be smelt, that which is to be drunk, that which is to be seen, that which is to be touched, and likewise that which is to be heard, that which is to be thought of, and also that which is to be understood. Earth, air, space, water, and light as the fifth, mind and understanding, these seven, indeed, are named wombs. All the qualities which stand[29] as offerings are absorbed into the mouth of the fire[30]; and having dwelt within that dwelling are born in their respective wombs[31]. And in that very (principle), which is the generator of all entities, they remain absorbed during (the time of) deluge. From that[32] is produced smell; from that is produced taste; from that is produced colour; from that touch is produced; from that is produced sound; from that doubt[33] is produced; from that is produced determination. This (is what) they know as the sevenfold production. In this very way was it[34] comprehended by the ancients. Becoming perfected by the perfect sacrifice[35], they were perfectly filled with light.'

Footnotes and references:


I. e. the questions at p. 252, Nīlakaṇṭha; more probably, perhaps, the 'doctrine' mentioned at p. 254 is what is alluded to.


Cf. Gītā, p. 57 and note.


Nīlakaṇṭha says this means 'ignorance that the wife has no other support.' Arjuna Miśra interprets kīnāśa to mean 'indigent' instead of 'harsh.'


So Arjuna Miśra. Nīlakanṭha's reading and his interpretation of the passage are different.


I follow Arjuna Miśra; the original literally means 'restrain.'


Cf. Gītā, pp. 52, 53; see also, as to freedom from action, Gītā, p. 127.


I. e. thought, word, and deed. I have in the text kept to a more literal rendering.


This is Nīlakaṇṭha's reading and interpretation. Arjuna Miśra reads 'actions visible and invisible.'


Cf. inter alia Kumāra-sambhava II, 46.


I. e. says Arjuna Miśra, the safe place, within the body; and says Nīlakaṇṭha, the seat called Avimukta, between the nose and the brows; as to which cf. Gītā, p. 67. In the Kenopaniṣad (p. 220) the word āyatana is used to signify a means to the attainment of the Brahman.


The moon and fire constitute the universe, says Arjuna Miśra. Cf. Gītā, p. 113. Nīlakanṭha interprets this more mystically as referring to the Iḍā and Piṅgalā arteries.


So Nīlakaṇṭha, but he takes it to stand for 'vāyu' or wind, as a distinct principle. The sense is by no means clear. But the moon being the deity of the mind also may, perhaps, be described as she is here, on that account.


This is Arjuna Miśra's interpretation of the original locative.


Cf. note  4, p. 247 supra, and p. 253.


Arjuna Miśra says this means the five great elements, the eleven organs (active and perceptive, and the mind), the life-wind, and the individual soul.


The Prāṇa is at the nose, the Apāna at the arms, the Samāna at the navel, the Vyāna pervades the whole body, and the Udāna is at all the joints; cf. Yoga-sūtra III, 38 seq. Nīlakaṇṭha says this explains how the 'expanse' (meaning, he says, the operations of the creation, &c.) 'proceeds' from the Brahman. See on the life-winds, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 667; Chāndogya, pp. 42-188; Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī, p. 96; Vedānta Paribhāṣā, p. 45; p. 271 infra.


The self, Arjuna Miśra. Nīlakaṇṭha says, the Prāṇa accompanied by the Apāna.'


I. e. into the Prāṇa and Apāna, Arjuna Miśra.


Nīlakaṇṭha derives the word thus, utkarsheṇa ānayati.


I. e. the subjugation of the life-winds as indicated at Gītā, p. 61.


The meaning of the passage as a whole is not very clear, and the commentators afford but little help. The sense appears to be this: The course of worldly life is due to the operations of the life-winds which are attached to the self and lead to its manifestations as individual souls. Of these, the Samāna and Vyāna are p. 259 controlled and held under check by the Prāṇa and Apāna, into which latter the former are absorbed in sleep. The latter two are held in check and controlled by the Udāna, which thus controls all. And the control of this, which is the control of all the five, and which is otherwise called penance, destroys the course of worldly life, and leads to the supreme self.


I. e. within the body.


As explained in note  8, p. 258.


This, says Nīlakaṇṭha, explains the word 'I' in the sentence preceding. Vaisvānara is a word often used to denote the self. The Viṣamaślokī derives it thus, 'that which saves all beings from hell;' see the Prasna-upaniṣad, pp. 167-188 (where seven tongues are also referred to); Muṇḍaka, p. 292; Chāndogya, p. 364; Māndukya, p. 341.


Cf. Taittirīya-āranyaka, p. 802.


I. e. the Vaisvānara. Cf. Taittirīya-āranyaka, p. 803 and gloss.


These I take to be the powers of hearing, &c., which are presided over by the several deities; or, better, Perhaps, they may mean the soul distinguished as so many with reference to these several powers; cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 169; Maitrī, p,. 96; Prasna, pp. 214, 215; Kauṣītaki, p. 96; Aitareya, p. 187; Chāndogya, p. 616. The latter sense is accepted by Arjuna Miśra.


The next clause explains this; that which is to be smelt is earth, and so on throughout. The men who sacrifice all sensuous objects, get such powers that they can create the objects whenever they like. As to 'in their wombs,' see Yoga Bhāṣya, p. 108.


I. e. are so treated in the above allegory.


I. e. the Brahman.


I. e. when the sacrificer wishes, as stated in note  1.


That principle--viz. the Brahman.


This is the operation of the mind, see Gītā, p. 57 note.


The Brahman, Arjuna Miśra. Or it may be the 'sevenfold production.'


The wholesale sacrifice of all sensuous perceptions. The p. 262 root corresponding with perfect occurs three times in the original, hence the repetition of perfect above.

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