I will state truly all about that which has a beginning, middle, and end, and about the means for its comprehension, together with names and characteristics. It is stated that day was first and then night; that months have the bright first, the Nakṣatras Śravana as the first (among them), and the seasons the winter as the first (among them). The earth is the source of smells, water of tastes, the light (of) the sun is the source of colours, the wind is stated to be the source of (the feelings of) touch; likewise space is the source of sound. These are the qualities of the elements. Now I shall proceed to state the highest and first of all entities. The sun is the first among shining bodies; fire is said to be the first of the elements; Sāvitrī of all branches of learning; Prajāpati of deities; the syllable Om of all the Vedas; and the Prāṇa life-wind, of all words; whatever is prescribed in this world, all that is called Sāvitrī. The Gāyatrī is the first among metres; among (sacrificial) animals, the goat is mentioned (as the first). Cows are the first among quadrupeds, and the twice-born among men. The Śyena is first among birds; among sacrifices, the offering (into the fire) is the best; and among all reptiles, O best of the twice-born! the snake is the highest. Of all ages the Kṛta is the first, there is no doubt of that., Among all precious things, gold (is the first),and among vegetable (products) likewise the barley seed. Among all things to. be eaten or swallowed food is the highest; and of all liquid substances which are to be drunk, water is the best. And among all immovable entities, without distinction, the Plakṣa, the ever holy field of Brahman, is stated to be the first. I, too, (am the first) among all the patriarchs, there is no doubt of that. And the unthinkable, self-existent Viṣṇu is stated to be my own self. Of all mountains, the great Meru is stated to be the first-born. And among all quarters and sub-quarters, likewise, the eastern quarter is the first. Likewise the Gaṅgā going in three paths is stated to be the first-born among rivers. And likewise of all wells and reservoirs of water, the ocean is the first-born. And of all gods, Dānavas, Bhūtas, Piśācas, snakes, and Rakṣases, and of men, Kinnaras, and Yakṣas, Īśvara is the lord. The great Viṣṇu, who is full of the Brahman, and than whom there is no higher being in these three worlds, is the source of all the universe. Of all orders, that of householders (is the first), there is no doubt of that. The unperceived is the source of the worlds; and the same is also the end of everything. Days end with (the sun's) setting; the night ends with (the sun's) rising; the end of pleasure is ever grief; the end of grief ever pleasure. All accumulations end in exhaustion; all ascents end in falls; all associations end in dissociations; and life ends in death. All action ends in destruction; death is certain for whatever is born; (everything) movable or immovable in this world is ever transient. Sacrifice, gift, penance, study, observances, and regulations, all this ends in destruction. There is no end for knowledge. Therefore one whose self is tranquil, whose senses are subjugated, who is devoid of (the idea that this or that is) mine, who is devoid of egoism, is released from all sins by pure knowledge.
Footnotes and references:
Which has birth &c., Nīlakaṇṭha, i.e. all the creation, I presume.
The names, that is to say, of the various elements, and their qualities.
This must mean fortnights.
This is specified, says Arjuna Miśra, as the six months of the northern solstice are caused by the sun being at this Nakṣatra. As to those six months, cf. Gītā, p. 81. For the same reason, Arjuna Miśra adds, the winter season is mentioned as the best.
The word ādi, literally beginning, is used in the whole of this passage in different senses; it means the source, it means the best, and it means the first in order.
This should be compared with the enumeration at p. 345 supra, and that in the Gītā there referred to.
Cf. p. 346 supra. Nīlakaṇṭha takes fire to mean the gastric fire, and bhūta, rendered by us elements, to mean the species of beings born from eggs and wombs.
The famous verse 'Tat savitur,' &c. See inter alia Brihadāranyaka, p. 999; Āpastamba I, 1, 1, 9; Manu II, 77 seq., 104-170.
See pp. 264, 265 supra.
Here he turns back to the Sāvitrī, 'looking back in the manner of the lion,' says Nīlakaṇṭha, and for purposes of upāsanā. He does not give up the thread of his discourse entirely, but simply interjects this little clause. Nīlakaṇṭha adds, Sāvitrī here includes every mode of worship prescribed for Brāhmaṇas, &c., and even for Mlekkhas. Cf. note 3, and Gautama.(Bühler's ed.), p. 74 note.
Cf. Chāndogya, p. 109, and Śaṅkara's commentary. Arjuna Miśra compares this text, Tasmādeṣa eteṣām paśunām sreṣṭhatamogab. Where it occurs I know not.
Cf. Sānti Parvan (Rājadharma), chap. II, st. 11.
I. e. Vāsuki, Nīlakaṇṭha. More probably it refers to the species.
As it is used in various ceremonies.
I. e. the Creator; his field means, I presume his special seat.
Beings from whom all creatures were born. See inter alia Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa Dharma), chap. 208, st. 5; Manu I, 34.
At p. 347 the north is mentioned. Arjuna Miśra has 'ūrdhva,' or upward here, and yet 'north' before. Is the north the best as the seat of the higher world mentioned at Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa Dharma), chap. 192, st. 8 seq.?
I. e. Rudra, says Nīlakaṇṭha.
Viz. Brahmacārin, householder, forester, and Samnyāsin. Cf. Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa),ch. 191, st. 10; Manu VI, 89; Gautama, p. 190.
These stanzas also occur in the Śānti Parvan, chap. 27, st. 31 seq. (Rājadharma). A part of them appears to be quoted in Sāṅkhya-sūtra V, 80. And the commentator Vijñāna Bhikṣu introduces it with the expression 'iti śrūyate.' But it is not a Vedic text.
Cf. Gītā, p. 45.
All this is action, the fruit of which is perishable; the fruit of knowledge, on the other hand, is everlasting.