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)....

Chapter XXI

Brahman said:

That unperceived (principle), all-pervading, everlasting, and immutable, which is in a state of equilibrium[1], should be understood (to become) the city of nine portals, consisting of three qualities, and five constituent principles[2], encircled by the, eleven[3], consisting of mind[4] as the distinguishing power, and of the understanding as ruler, this is (an aggregate made up of) eleven[5]. The three currents[6] which are within this (city) support (it)[7] again and again, and those three channels run on, being constituted by the three qualities. Darkness, passion, and goodness, these are called the three qualities, which are all coupled with one another, and likewise serve one another, which depend on one another, and attend on one another, and are joined to one another[8]. And the five constituent principles (are made up of) the three qualities. Goodness is the match of darkness, and passion is the match of goodness; and goodness is also the match of passion, and darkness the match of goodness. Where darkness is restrained, passion there prevails. Where passion is restrained, goodness there prevails[9]. Darkness should be understood to consist in obscurity. It has three qualities[10], and is called delusion. Its characteristic is also impiety, and it is constant in sinful actions. This is the nature of darkness; it also appears combined (with others). Passion is said to consist in activity, and is the cause of successive[11] (acts). When it prevails, its characteristic, among all beings, appears to be production[12]. Light, lightness[13], faith, such is stated to be the nature of goodness (prevailing) among all beings, as accepted by good men. The true nature of their characteristics, in aggregation and separation, will now be stated together with the reasons; learn those accurately. Delusion, ignorance, want of liberality, indecision about actions[14], sleep, haughtiness[15], fear, avarice, grief, finding fault with good acts, want of memory[16], immaturity (of intellect), nihilism[17], blindness, behaviour of the lowest[18] quality, pride of performance without (actual) performance, pride of knowledge without (actual) knowledge, unfriendliness, evil disposition, want of faith, deluded convictions, want of straightforwardness, want of knowledge[19], sinful action, want of knowledge (of the subtle principle), stolidity[20], lassitude, want of self-restraint, going into inferior ways; all these qualities, O Brāhmaṇas! are celebrated as being dark. And whatever other states of mind, connected with delusion, are found in various places in this world, all these are dark qualities. Constant talk in disparagement of gods Brāhmaṇas and Vedas, want of liberality, vanity, delusion[21], anger, want of forgiveness likewise, and also animosity towards people, this is considered to be dark conduct. Whatever vain[22] actions (there are), and whatever vain gifts, and vain eating, that is considered to be dark conduct. Reviling, and want of forgiveness, animosity, vanity, want of faith also, this is considered to be dark conduct. And whatever such people there are in this world, doers of sinful acts. who break through (all) regulations, they are all held to be dark. I will state the wombs appointed for these (men) of sinful actions. They go to the hell, (namely) the brute (species), to be born in the lower hell[23]; (or become) the immovable entities[24], animals, beasts of burden, demons, and serpents, and worms, insects, birds, and also creatures born from eggs, and all quadrupeds, and idiots, deaf and dumb men, and whatever others are attacked by diseases generated by sin[25]. These dark, evil-conducted men, who are sunk in darkness, who bear the marks of their own actions, the current of whose (thoughts) is downwards[26], sink into darkness. I will now proceed to state their improvement and ascent; how, becoming men of meritorious actions, they attain to the worlds of those who perform good acts[27]. Resorting to a contrary[28] (course of life), and growing old in (good) actions[29], they exert themselves, and through the ceremonies (performed for them) by benevolent Brāhmaṇas devoted to their own duties, they go upwards to the same world (as the Brāhmaṇas)--the heaven of the gods. Such is the Vedic text. Resorting to a contrary[30] (course of life), and growing old in their own duties, they become men in this world whose nature is to return[31]. Coming to a sinful womb, as Cāndālas[32], or deaf, or lisping men, they attain to higher and higher castes in order; going beyond the Śūdra womb, and (beyond) whatever other dark qualities there are which abide in the quality of darkness[33] in the current (of this world). Attachment to objects of desire is laid down to be the great delusion. There, sages and saints and gods become deluded, wishing for pleasure. Darkness[34], delusion, the great delusion, the great obscurity called anger, and death the blinding obscurity; anger is called the great obscurity. I have now duly described to you, O Brāhmaṇas! this quality of darkness, in full and accurately with reference to its nature, and also its qualities, and also. its source. Who, indeed, understands this properly; who, indeed, perceives this properly? The definition of the essence of darkness is, that one sees the real in what is unreal. The qualities of darkness have been described to you in many ways. And darkness in its higher and lower[35] (forms) has been accurately stated. The man who always understands these qualities gets rid of all dark qualities.

Footnotes and references:


See Gītā, p. 107, and Sāṅkhya-sāra, p. 11, and note  2, p. 331 infra.


The five gross elements of which the body is composed (cf. Mahābhārata, Śānti Parvan, Mokṣa Dharma, chap. 183, st. 1 seq.) are developments of the unperceived principle, the Prakriti. Cf. Gītā, p. 112, where the words 'which remain (absorbed) in nature' have been inadvertently omitted after 'with the mind as the sixth.' As to the nine portals cf. Gītā, p. 65.


The five active organs, the five perceptive senses, and the mind.


This Arjuna Miśra takes to mean 'egoism.' Nīlakaṇṭha takes the usual meaning, and adds, objects are produced from mental operations; 'distinguishing,' that is, manifesting as distinct entities.


The eleven are, according to Arjuna Miśra, the three qualities, the five gross elements, the group of organs and senses as one, egoism, and understanding.


Viz. the nāḍīs, Iḍā, Piṅgalā, and Suṣumṇā, Arjuna Miśra, who adds that they are respectively of the quality of darkness, passion, and goodness.


The three nāḍīs, says Arjuna Miśra, support the life-winds. Nīlakaṇṭha takes the three currents to be the threefold inclination of the mind, viz. towards a pure piety, towards injuring other living creatures, and towards that mixed piety which requires the destruction of life for its performance. Nīlakaṇṭha also has a different reading from Arjuna Miśra, which means 'are replenished' instead of 'support.' And the three channels are, according to Nīlakaṇṭha, the Saṃskāras, or effects of previous actions of piety or impiety.


Coupled = always existing in association with one another; serving = being necessary to the operations of one another; depending = supporting one another like three staves, says Nīlakaṇṭha; p. 319 upholding, says Arjuna Miśra, as the total absence of one would lead to the absence of the others also; attending = becoming subordinate to whichever of them is dominant for the time being; joined = so as to become one organic whole Cf. as to all this, Yoga-sūtra II, 18, and commentary, p. 101; Sāṅkhya-kārikā, Kārikā 12, With Vācaspati Miśra's comments on it.


Cf. Gītā, p. 108, and the quotation in the Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī, p. 64.


I. e. characteristics, viz. obscurity (which seems to stand for ignorance), delusion (which is false knowledge), and impiety (doing that which is known to be sinful and wrong).


The original means, according to Nīlakaṇṭha, wrong, unlawful conduct. As to all this cf. Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa), chap. 194, St. 29.


I. e. apparently perpetually doing something. Cf. Gītā, p. 108.


Cf. as to this, and generally also, Sāṅkhya-kārikā 13, and commentary of Vācaspati Miśra (p. 64). The blazing upward., of fire is said to illustrate the lightness of the quality of goodness which belongs to fire.


According to Gītā, p. 108, doing nothing--stolid laziness--is a mark of darkness. Cf. generally on this passage Gītā, pp. 107, 118, 124 seq.; Maitrī, p. 49.


The same word as at Gītā, pp. 116, 125 (headstrong in the latter passage should have been haughty). Cf. as to the word, Chāndogya, p. 383.


Cf. Gītā, p. 51.


The opposite of the belief mentioned at Gītā, p. 126.


The same word as at Gītā, p. 109. But the commentators render it here by hiṃsra, i. e. destructive.


I am not sure about the original word here, and the word next but one after this. The latter Arjuna Miśra renders by sūkṣmatattvāvedanam, which I have translated above in the text. The former seems to mean general unintelligence.


Heaviness and dulness, induced by indolence, &c., Nīlakaṇṭha. Lassitude is drooping from despondency. Going into inferior ways, Arjuna Miśra says, means falling into the inferior castes; Nīlakaṇṭha says it means love for base actions.


Not being cognisant of one's own shortcomings, Arjuna Miśra.


Cf. Gītā, p. 83.


Cf. Gītā p. 116.


Such as trees and so forth, which are also forms of life.


This is alluded to in some Smritis too. And cf. Chāndogya, p. 158, and the quotation in the commentary of Sāṅkhya-sūtra V, 122.


Such, says Nīlakaṇṭha, as to fit them for the nether world See Tattvakaumudi, p.113. As to marks, cf. p. 239 supra.


Cf. Gītā, p. 130.


I. e. contrary to that already described as dark.


Nīlakaṇṭha renders this to mean 'destroyed for Agnihotra. and such ceremonies,' like the goat referred to above at p. 290.


See note  7 on last page. The sequence of ideas seems not to be properly brought out here. In the course of transmigration after their course of conduct is altered they become men, and then proceed to heaven. This seems the real sense here.


To return to life and death, and so on, until they fit themselves for final emancipation. Cf. Āpastamba II, 5, 11, 10-11.


Cf. Chāndogya, p. 359.


This is not very clear, and the commentators give but little help. The meaning probably is, that they gradually, in course of improvement, cross beyond the Sūdra caste, and all those qualities or tempers of mind, and so forth, which have been stated to appertain to the quality of darkness.


Cf. Sāṅkhya-kārikā pp. 47, 48, and Vācaspati's comment. There these are identified with the 'afflictions' of the Yoga-sāstra--ignorance, self-consciousness, affection, aversion, persistent attachment, and they are five divisions of false knowledge, or the quality of darkness, as it is here called. See, too, Śvetāśvatara (comm.), p. 284.


Generally and specifically, says Arjuna Miśra.

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