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)....

The Brāhmaṇa said: On this, too, they relate this ancient story. Learn now of what description is the institution of the ten sacrificial priests[1]. The ear[2], the tongue, the nose, the two feet, the two hands, speech, the genital organ, and the anus, these, verity, are ten sacrificial priests, O beautiful one! Sound, touch, colour, and taste, smell, words, action, motion, and the discharge of semen, urine, and excrement, these are the ten oblations. The quarters, wind, sun, moon, earth and fire, and Viṣṇu also, Indra, Prajāpati, and Mitra, these, O beautiful one! are the ten fires[3]. The ten organs are the makers of the offering; the offerings are ten, O beautiful one! Objects of sense, verily, are the fuel; and they are offered up into the ten fires. The mind is the ladle[4]; and the wealth is the pure, highest knowledge}[5]. (Thus) we have heard, was the universe duly divided[6]. And the mind, which is the instrument of knowledge, requires everything knowable[7] (as its offering). The mind is within the body the upholder of the frame, and the knower is the upholder of the body[8]. That[9] upholder of the body is the Gārhapatya fire; from that another is produced, and the mind which is the Āhavanīya; and into this the offering is thrown. Then the lord of speech was produced[10]; that (lord of speech) looks up to the mind. First, verily, are words produced; and the mind runs after them.

The Brāhmaṇa's wife said:

How did speech come into existence first, and how did the mind come into existence afterwards, seeing that words are uttered (after they have been) thought over by the mind? By means of what experience does intelligence come to the mind, and (though) developed, does not comprehend[11]? What verily obstructs it?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

The Apāna becoming lord changes it into the state of the Apāna in consequence. That is called the movement of the mind, and hence the mind is in need (of it)[12]. But since you ask me a question regarding speech and mind, I will relate to you a dialogue between themselves. Both speech and mind went to the self of all beings[13] and spoke (to him thus), 'Say which of us is superior; destroy our doubts, O lord!' Thereupon the lord positively said to speech, 'Mind (is superior).' But speech thereupon said to him, 'I, verily, yield (you) your desires[14].'

The Brāhmaṇa[15] said:

Know, that (in) my (view), there are two minds[16], immovable and also movable. The immovable, verily, is with me; the movable is in your dominion. Whatever mantra, or letter, or tone goes to your dominion, that indeed is the movable mind[17]. To that you are superior. But inasmuch, O beautiful one I as you came personally to speak to me (in the way you did)[18], therefore, O Sarasvatī! you shall never speak after (hard) exhalations[19]. The goddess speech, verily, dwelt always between the Prāṇa and Apāna[20]. But, O noble one! going with the Apāna wind[21], though impelled, (in consequence of) being without the Prāṇa, she ran up to Prajāpati, saying, 'Be pleased[22], O venerable sir!' Then[23] the Prāṇa appeared again nourishing speech. And therefore speech never speaks after (hard) exhalation. It is always noisy or noiseless. Of those two, the noiseless is superior to the noisy[24] (speech). This excellent (speech), like a cow, yields milk[25], and speaking of the Brahman it always produces the eternal (emancipation). This cow-like speech, O you of a bright smile! is divine, with divine[26] power. Observe the difference of (its) two subtle, flowing (forms)[27].

The Brāhmaṇa's wife said:

What did the goddess of speech say on that occasion in days of old, when, though (she was) impelled with a desire to speak, words could not be uttered?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

The (speech) which is produced in the body by means of the Prāṇa[28], and which then goes into the Apāna, and then becoming assimilated with the Udāna leaves the body[29], and with the Vyāna envelopes all the quarters[30], then (finally) dwells in the Samāna[31]. So speech formerly spoke. Hence the mind is distinguished by reason of its being immovable, and the goddess distinguished by reason of her being movable[32].

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Taittirīya-brāhmaṇa, p. 411, and Āraṇyaka, p. 281.


Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 459. The reading in the printed edition of Bombay is defective here.


See p. 337 seq., where all this is more fully explained. And cf. the analogous Buddhistic doctrine stated at Lalita Vistara (Translation by Dr. R. Mitra), p. 11.


See Taittirīya-āraṇyaka loc. cit., and cf. Gītā, p. 61. 'The wealth' probably means the Dakṣiṇā to be given to the priests, which is mentioned at Gītā, p. 119.


The 'priests' here being the senses, the knowledge would accrue to them, as to which cf. Gītā, p. 108.


See note  3.


Each sense can only offer up its own perceptions--the mind offers up all knowledge whatever.


Arjuna Miśra says this is an implied simile, the mind is an upholder of the body as the, 'knower' or self is.


Arjuna Miśra says this means 'the mind.' I think it better to take it here as the self (see p. 238 supra), to which the 'mind' and the 'other,' mentioned further on, would be subordinate; the 'other' Arjuna Miśra renders by the 'group of the senses.' The senses are compared to fires at Gītā, p. 61. The passage at Taittirīya-āranyaka above cited refers only to the Gārhapatya and Āhavanīya fires. Nīlakaṇṭha's text and explanation of this passage are, to my mind, not nearly so satisfactory as Arjuna Miśra's.


In the Taittirīya-brāhmana and Āraṇyaka loc. cit., the equivalent of the original word for 'lord of speech' here occurs, viz. Vākpati for Vācaspati here; but that is there described as the Hotṛ priest, and speech itself as the Vedī or altar. The commentator there interprets 'lord of speech' to mean the wind which causes vocal activity, and resides in the throat, palate, &c. As to mind and speech, see also Chāndogya, pp. 285-441, and comments of Śaṅkara there. The meaning of this passage, however, is not by any means clear to my mind. The Daśahotṛ mantras in the Taittirīya are stated to be the mantras of the Iṣṭi, or sacrifice, performed by Prajāpati for creation. It is possible, then, that the meaning here is, that speech which is to be learnt by the pupil, as stated further on--namely, the Vedas--was first produced from that Iṣṭi (cf. Kullūka on Manu I, 21). But to understand that speech, mind is necessary; hence it is said to look up to the mind. The Brāhmaṇa's, wife, however, seems to understand speech as ordinary speech, hence her question.


This, again, is to my mind very hard to understand. The original word for 'intelligence' is mati, which at Chāndogya, p. 514, Śaṅkara interprets thus: 'intelligence is pondering, application to (literally, respect for) the subject of thought.' The original for 'developed,' Arjuna Miśra renders by 'mixed or assimilated with;' and 'does not comprehend,' he takes to mean 'does not understand--speech or words.' This question appears to suggested by the last words of the, previous speech.


These two sentences are again very obscure. Nīlakaṇṭha, as usual, deserts his original, giving peculiar meanings to the words without producing any authority. Arjuna Miśra is very meagre, and besides the MS. is very incorrect. See p. 264, note  5 infra.


I. e. Prajāpati, says Arjuna Miśra, which seems to be justified by the sequel. Nīlakaṇṭha takes it to mean the individual self, which doubtless is its meaning elsewhere, e.g. Maitrī, p. 56.


I. e. speech conveys information on all matters, Arjuna Miśra; p. 264 as the means of acquiring desired fruit, visible or invisible, is learnt by speech, Nīlakaṇṭha. Cf. as to all this, Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad, pp. 50 seq. and 261.


I. e. Nīlakaṇṭha says, 'the Brāhmaṇa named mind,' alluding apparently to p. 310 infra. But the reading of some of the MSS., viz. Brahman for the Brāhmaṇa, seems preferable, having regard to what follows. Apparently, the Brāhmaṇa's own speech should begin at 'The goddess speech' further on.


Nīlakaṇṭha says, immovable = to be understood by the external senses; movable = not perceptible by senses, such as heaven, &c., which is not quite intelligible. Arjuna Miśra says, the immovable mind is that of the teacher, which is fixed, as it has not to learn or acquire anything, while that of the pupil is movable as acquiring new impressions and knowledge.


I. e. it is the movable mind which takes cognisance of the significations of all mantras (sacred texts), letters, tones, in which, I presume, sacred instruction is conveyed. To this mind, speech is superior, as that mind only works on what speech places before it; but the mind which is 'with' Prajāpati, is superior to speech as it is not dependent on speech like the other.


I. e. proudly, about her being the giver of desires to Brahman.


I. e., says Arjuna Miśra, the words will not come out with the Prāṇa life-wind and convey any sense to the hearer, but will be absorbed down into the Apāna life-wind, and not be articulated as speech at all. Cf. Kauṣītaki, p. 41; Kaṭha, p. 184 (with glosses); and Chāndogya, p. 42.


I. e., I presume, was dependent on the two life-winds named. Cf. p. 353 infra. For this sense of the word 'between,' see p. 258 supra, and Chāndogya-upaniṣad, p. 623.


And not with the Prāṇa, so as to be articulated. Cf. p. 264.


I. e. to withdraw the 'curse' pronounced, as above stated.


After the curse was withdrawn, says Arjuna Miśra. Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 317.


Since, says Arjuna Miśra, noiseless speech is the source of all words--Vāṇmaya. Perhaps we may compare Aitareya-brāhmana (Haug), p. 47.


Viz. Vāṇmaya; milk, as a source of pleasure.


I. e. enlightening, Arjuna Miśra. But, perhaps, the translation should be, 'has powers divine and not divine.' As to this, cf. Sāṅkhya Bhāṣya on III, 41, and Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī, p. 118, and Wilson's Sānkhya Kārikā, p. 37 (Sanskrit), and Śvetāśvatara, p. 284 (gloss).


Arjuna Mitra refers to a 'Śatapatha text' in praise of the subtle speech. I cannot trace the text. But see Nirukta (Roth), pp. 167-187.


Chāndogya, p. 285, and the passage there quoted by Śaṅkara as well as Ānandagiri's gloss. And see, p. 353 infra.


Viz. the part of it which specially appertains to speech--the throat, &c.


All the nāḍīs or passages of the body, Arjuna Miśra.


I. e. at the navel in the form of sound., as the material cause of all words. There and in that condition speech dwells after going through the body, as above stated. There, adds Arjuna Miśra, devotees are to meditate on speech.


This is not quite clear, but the meaning seems to be, that the merit of the immovable mind consists in its unchangeability, and that of speech in being the cause of variations in the movable mind by conveying new knowledge and new impressions. Cf. on this result, Chāndogya-upaniṣad, p. 482.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: