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, a dialogue between Nārada and the sage Devamata.

Devamata said:

When a creature is about to be born, what comes into existence first, his Prāṇa, or Apāna, or Samāna, or Vyāna, or else Udāna?

Nārada said:

By whichever the creature is produced, that which is other than this first comes to him. And the pairs of the life-winds should be understood, which (move) upwards, or downwards, or transversely.

Devamata said:

By which (of the life-winds) is a creature produced? and which (of them) first comes to him? Explain to me also the pairs of the life-winds, which (move) upwards, or downwards, or transversely.

Nārada said:

Pleasure is produced from a mental operation[1], and (it) is also produced from a sound, (it) is also produced from taste, and (it) is also produced from colour, and (it) is also produced from touch, and (it) is also produced from smell. This is the effect[2] of the Udāna; the pleasure is produced from union[3]. From desire the semen is produced; and from the semen is produced menstrual excretion. The semen and the blood are produced by the Samāna and the Vyāna in common[4]. From the combination of the semen and the blood, the Prāṇa comes first into operation; and the semen being developed by the Prāṇa, the Apāna then comes into operation. The pair Prāṇa and Apāna go upwards and downwards, and the Samāna and Vyāna are called the pair (moving) transversely. It is the teaching of the Veda, that the fire verily is all the deities[5], and knowledge (of it) arises among Brāhmaṇas, being accompanied by intelligence[6]. The smoke of that (fire), which is of excellent glory, (appears) in the shape of (the quality of) darkness; (its) ashes, (the quality of) passion; and (the quality of) goodness is that in connexion with it[7], in which the offering is thrown. Those who understand the sacrifice understand the Samāna and the Vyāna as the principal (offering). The Prāṇa and Apāna are portions[8] of the offering of clarified butter, and between them is the fire. That is the excellent seat of the Udāna as understood by Brāhmaṇas[9] As to that which is distinct from these pairs[10], hear me speak about that. Day and night are a pair, between them is the fire. That is the excellent seat of the Udāna as understood by Brāhmaṇas. That which exists and that which does not exist are a pair, between them is the fire. That is the excellent seat of the Udāna as understood by Brāhmaṇas. The two--good and evil--:are a pair, between them is the fire. That is the excellent seat of the Udāna as understood by Brāhmaṇas. First[11], the Samāna and Vyāna, their function[12] is performed: then, secondly, the Samāna comes into operation again. Then the Vāmadevya[13] for tranquillity, and tranquillity is the eternal Brahman. This is the excellent seat of the Udāna as understood by Brāhmaṇas.

Footnotes and references:


I. e. desire. 'Sound' = recollection of a woman's voice; taste,' scil. of chastity; 'colour' = the beauty of a woman, Arjuna Miśra Cf. Āpastamba I, 2, 7, 8, and Lalita Vistara, p. 19.


Literally, 'form,' which Arjuna Miśra interprets to mean effect, and adds, 'The Udāna causes mental activity, and by mental activity sound &c. are apprehended.'


I. e. of Udāna and mind, Arjuna Miśra; adding, 'the result is that a creature is produced by the Udāna.'


Or, perhaps, generally, that is to say, the store of them, the specific semen being produced from desire, as before stated. The Samāna's function is the digestion of food, and that of the Vyāna is the distribution of the digested food to the whole body through the nāḍīs, hence the proposition in the text.


Cf. inter alia, Aitareya-brāhmaṇa (Haug's ed.), p. 1.


Arjuna Miśra says intelligence means 'discussion, or argument.' The connexion of this with what has gone before, according to Arjuna Miśra, is this, that the author having first stated the five Hotṛs fully, now explains in what the Prāṇa and Apāna are to be offered up for acquiring the Prāṇāyāma. The fire he takes to mean the self. Cf. what has been said about Vaisvānara above, p. 259.


That is to say, the flame, 'take it. 'He is drawing out here the figure of the fire.


These are only a subordinate part of the offering, called Ājyabhāga. They are called subordinate, I suppose, as the operations of the Samāna and Vyāna are more practically important for vitality. The fire is the self. The place of the principal offering is between the Ājyabhāgas, as stated by Arjuna Miśra.


The Udāna is here treated as the life-wind into which the others are to be offered up. See p. 258, and note  8 there.


The next three sentences seem to indicate what is to be destroyed in common with the life-winds. One has to get rid of all notions about day and night, good and evil, existence and non-existence, and then final emancipation is reached. The fire, which is common to all the passages, stands for the self; into that apparently all the ideas of time, and good and evil, and so forth, are to be offered as the life-winds are; and that fire stands in the place of p. 277 the Udāna, for this purpose, as into the last all the other life-winds have to be offered. As to that which exists, &c., cf. Gītā, p. 103, and p. 370, note  9 infra. As to good and evil and generally, cf. Chāndogya, p. 60; Kauṣītaki, p. 19. They are nothing to one who knows the Brahman. Day and night Arjuna Miśra takes to mean the Iḍā and Piṅgalā nāḍīs, between which is the Suṣumṇā, as they are connected with the sun and moon. But the sense of the whole passage is far from clear.


Arjuna Miśra understands these to be three Savanas.


Of taking into the nāḍīs the food digested in the night, this is the morning Savanas; the afternoon Savana is the kindling of the gastric fire for digesting new food.


The Vāmadevya is a sūkta beginning 'Kayā naś citrā' (Rv. IV, 31, 1). The singing of it is the third Savana, Arjuna Miśra. And see Taittirīya-āranyaka, p. 889.

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