by Kisari Mohan Ganguli | 2,566,952 words | ISBN-10: 8121505933
The English translation of the Mahabharata is a large text describing ancient India. It is authored by Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa and contains the records of ancient humans. Also, it documents the fate of the Kauravas and the Pandavas family. Another part of the large contents, deal with many philosophical dialogues such as the goals of life. Book...
"Jajali said, 'This course of duty that you, O holder of scales, preachest, closes the door of heaven against all creatures and puts a stop to the very means of their subsistence. From agriculture comes food. That food offers subsistence even to you. With the aid of animals and of crops and herbs, human beings, O trader, are enabled to support their existence. From animals and food sacrifices flow. Your doctrines smack of atheism. This world will come to an end if the means by which life is supported have to be abandoned.'
"Tuladhara said, 'I shall now speak on the object of the means of sustenance. I am not, O Brahmana, an atheist. I do not blame Sacrifices. The man, however, is very rare that is truly conversant with Sacrifice. I bow to that Sacrifice which is ordained for Brahmanas. I bow also to them that are conversant with that Sacrifice. Alas, the Brahmanas, having given up the Sacrifice that is ordained for them, have betaken themselves to the performance of Sacrifices that are for Kshatriyas. Many persons of faith, O regenerate one, that are covetous and fond of wealth, without having understood the true meaning of the declarations of the Srutis, and proclaiming things that are really false but that have the show of truth, have introduced many kinds of Sacrifices, saying, 'This should be given away in this Sacrifice. This other thing should be given away in this other Sacrifice. The first of this is very laudable.' The consequence, however, of all this, O Jajali, is that theft and many evil acts spring up. It should be known that only that sacrificial offering which was acquired by righteous means can gratify the gods. There are abundant indications in the scriptures that the worship of the deities may be accomplished with vows, with libations poured on the fire, with recitations or chanting of the Vedas, and with plants and herbs. From their religious acts unrighteous persons get wicked offspring. From covetous men are born children that are covetous, and from those that are contented spring children that are contented. If the sacrificer and the priest suffer themselves to be moved by desire of fruit (in respect of the Sacrifices they perform or assist in), their children take the stain. If, on the other hand, they do not yield to desire of fruit, the children born to them become of the same kind. From Sacrifices spring progeny like clear water from the firmament. The libations poured on the sacrificial fire rise up to the Sun. From the Sun springs rain. From rain springs food. From food are born living creatures. In former days, men righteously devoted to Sacrifices used to obtain therefrom the fruition of all their wishes. The earth yielded crops without tillage. The blessing uttered by the Rishis produced herbs and plants. The men of former times never performed Sacrifices from desire of fruits and never regarded themselves as called upon to enjoy those fruits. Those who somehow perform sacrifices, doubting the while their efficacy take birth in their next lives as dishonest, wily, and greedy men exceedingly covetous of wealth. That man who by the aid of false reasoning holds up all the authoritative scriptures as fraught with evil, is certain to go, for such sinful act of his, into the regions of the sinful. Such a man is certainly possessed of a sinful soul, O foremost of Brahmanas, and always remains here, bereft of wisdom. That man who regards those acts obligatory which have been laid down in the Vedas and directed to be accomplished every day, who is penetrated with fear if he fails to accomplish them any day, who takes all the essentials of Sacrifice as identical with Brahma, and who never regards himself as the actor, is truly a Brahmana. If the acts of such a person become incomplete, or if their completion be obstructed by all unclean animals, even then those acts are, as heard by us, of superior efficacy. If, however, those acts are done from desire of fruit (and their completion be obstructed by such impediments), then expiation would become necessary. They who covet the acquisition of the highest object of life (viz., Emancipation), who are bereft of cupidity in respect of all kinds of worldly wealth, who discard all provision for the future, and who are freed from envy, betake themselves to practice of truth and self-restraint as their Sacrifice. They that are conversant with the distinction between body and soul, that are devoted to Yoga, and that meditate on the Pranava, always succeed in gratifying others. The universal Brahma (viz., Pranava), which is the soul of the deities, dwells in him who is conversant with Brahma. When, therefore, such a man eats and is gratified, all the deities, O Jajali, become gratified and are contented. As one who is gratified with all kinds of taste feels no desire for any particular taste, after the same manner one who is gratified with knowledge has everlasting gratification which to him is a source of perfect bliss. Those wise men who are the refuge of righteousness and whose delight is in righteousness, are persons that have certain knowledge of what is to be done and what should not be done. One possessed of such wisdom always regards all things in the universe to have sprung from his own Self. Some that are endued with knowledge, that strive to reach the other shore (of this ocean of life), and that are possessed of faith, succeed in attaining to the region of Brahman, which is productive of great blessings, highly sacred, and inhabited by righteous persons,—a region which is freed from sorrow, whence there is no return, and where there is no kind of agitation or pain. Such men do not covet heaven. They do not adore Brahma in costly sacrifices. They walk along the path of the righteous. The Sacrifices they perform are performed without injury to any creature. These men know trees and herbs and fruits and roots as the only sacrificial offerings. Covetous priests, for they are desirous of wealth, never officiate at the sacrifices of these (poor) men. These regenerate men, although all their acts have been completed, still perform sacrifices from desire of doing good to all creatures and constituting their own selves as sacrificial offerings. For this reason, grasping priests officiate at the Sacrifices of only those misguided persons who, without endeavouring to attain to Emancipation, seek for heaven. As regards those, however, that are really good, they always seek, by accomplishing their own duties, to cause others to ascend to heaven. Looking at both these kinds of behaviour, O Jajali, I have (abstained from injuring any creature in the world and have) come to regard all creatures with an equal heart. Endued with wisdom, many foremost of Brahmanas perform Sacrifices (which with respect to their fruits are of two kinds, for some of them lead to Emancipation whence there is no return, and others lead to regions of bliss whence there is return). By performing those Sacrifices, they proceed, O great ascetic, along paths trodden by the gods. Of one class of Sacrificers (viz., they who sacrifice from desire of fruit) there is return (from the region which they reach). Of those, however, that are truly wise (viz., those who sacrifice without being urged thereto by desire of fruit), there is no return. Although both classes of sacrificers, O Jajali, proceed along the path trodden by the deities (in consequence of the sacrifices they perform), yet such is the difference between their ultimate ends. In consequence of the success that attends the purposes formed in the mind of such men, bulls, without being forced thereto, willingly set their shoulders to the plough for assisting at tillage and to the yoke for dragging their cars, and kine pour forth milk from udders untouched by human hands. Creating sacrificial stakes (and other necessaries of Sacrifice) by simple flats of the will, they perform many kinds of Sacrifice well-completed with abundant presents. One who is of such a cleansed soul may slaughter a cow (as an offering in Sacrifice). They, therefore, that are not of that kind should perform Sacrifices with herbs and plants (and not animals). Since Renunciation has such merit, it is for that reason that I have kept it before my eyes in speaking to you. The gods know him for a Brahmana who has given up all desire of fruit, who has no exertion in respect of worldly acts, who never bows down his head unto any one, who never utters the praises of others, and who is endued with strength though his acts have all been weakened. What, O Jajali, will be the end of him who does not recite the Vedas, unto others, who does not perform Sacrifices (properly), who does not make gifts unto (deserving) Brahmanas, and who follows an avocation in which every kind of desire is indulged? By properly reverencing, however, the duties that appertain to Renunciation, one is sure of attaining to Brahma.'
"Jajali said, 'We had never before, O son of a trader, heard of these recondite doctrines of ascetics that perform only mental Sacrifices. These doctrines are exceedingly difficult of comprehension. It is for this reason that I ask you (about them). The sages of olden days were not followers of those doctrines of Yoga. Hence, the sages that have succeeded them have not propounded them (for general acceptance). If you sayest that only men of brutish minds fail to achieve sacrifices in the soil of the Soul, then, O son of a trader, by what acts would they succeed in accomplishing their happiness? Tell me this, O you of great wisdom! Great is my faith in your words.'
"Tuladhara said, ’sometimes sacrifices performed by some persons do not become sacrifices (in consequence of the absence of faith of those that perform them). These men, it should be said, are not worthy of performing any sacrifice (internal or external). As regards the faithful, however, only one thing, viz., the cow, is fit for upholding all sacrifices by means of full libations of clarified butter, milk, and curds, the hair at end of her tail, her horns, and her hoofs. (The Vedas declare that sacrifices cannot be performed by an unmarried man). In performing sacrifices, however, according to the mode I have pointed out (viz., by abstaining from slaughter of animals and dedicating only clarified butter, etc.), one may make Faith one’s wedded wife, for dedicating such (innocent) offerings to the deities. By duly reverencing such sacrifices, one is sure to attain to Brahma. To the exclusion of all animals (which are certainly unclean as offering in sacrifices), the rice-ball is a worthy offering in sacrifices. All rivers are as sacred as the Sarasvati, and all mountains are sacred. O Jajali, the Soul is itself a Tirtha. Do not wander about on the earth for visiting sacred places. A person, by observing these duties (that I have spoken of and that do not involve injury to other creatures), and by seeking the acquisition of merit agreeably to his own ability, certainly succeeds in obtaining blessed regions hereafter.'
Footnotes and references:
The fact is, all Sacrifices, in which injury is done to animal and vegetable life are Sacrifices for Kshatriyas. The only Sacrifice that Brahmanas should perform is Yoga.
Sacrifices are always attractive for the fame they bring. Their performance depends upon wealth. The acquisition of wealth leads to the commission of many evil acts.
The sense is that in former days when the true meaning of Sacrifice was understood and all men performed them without being urged by the desire of fruit, the beneficial consequences that flowed were the production of crops without tillage (and without injury to animals that live in holes and burrows). The good wishes the Rishis cherished for all creatures were sufficient to produce herbs and plants and trees. May not this be taken as an indication of the traditional idea of the happiness of Eden before the fall of man?
'Bereft of wisdom' is explained by the commentator as implying the non-attainment of emancipation.
This verse is exceedingly terse and condensed. In the second line, the words Brahmana vartate loke, literally rendered, mean 'who believes that only Brahma exists in the world.' The commentator takes these words as implying 'who regards every essential of Sacrifice as Brahma.' Although I have followed the commentator, yet I think his interpretation to be rather far-fetched. Why may not the words be taken in a literal sense? He who takes Brahma to be all things and all things to be Brahma, becomes sinless and deserves to be called a Brahmana. The last word of the second tine simply means 'who does not regard his own self as the actor.' The view expressed in the Gita is that we should do all acts believing ourselves to be only agents or instruments of the Supreme deity. Acts are His, we are only His tools. Such a conviction is sure to guard us against all evil acts.
What is said in verse 17 is that when Sacrifices are done from a sense of duty, notwithstanding their incompleteness, they become efficacious. It is only when they are performed from desire of fruit that expiation becomes necessary if their completion be obstructed by any cause. Having thus applauded the Sacrifices (represented by acts) of the truly wise, other kinds of Sacrifices are indicated in verse 18. K.P. Singha translates 18 correctly. The Burdwan version is erroneous.
Swayajna is literally ’sacrifice in one’s own self'; hence, Yoga, Brahmam vedam is Pranava or Om.
K.P. Singha erroneously translates this verse. The Burdwan version, so far as it goes, is correct. Sarvam Brahma is explained as Pranava, which is akhilam daivatam, for the Srutis declare that Omkarah sarvadaivatyah, Brahmani is Brahmavidi. What is intended to be said in this verse is that when such a man eats and is gratified, the whole universe becomes gratified. In the Vana Parvam, Krishna, by swallowing a particle of pottage gratified the hunger of thousands of Durvasa’s pupils.
Such a man regards all things as Brahma, and himself as Brahma.
K.P. Singha blunders in rendering the second half of the first line. Yasah, the commentator explains, is Mahadyasah or Brahma. 'The path of the righteous,' the commentator thinks, is Yoga.
i.e., they perform mental Sacrifices.
'For the reason,' i.e., because they cannot officiate at the Sacrifices of those that are truly good. In the second line (28 is a triplet), the nominative sadhavah is understood. The meaning is that such men, that is, the truly good, accomplish their own duties not for benefiting their own selves but for the good of others. What is said in the third line is that p. 241 observing both kinds of behaviour, i.e., that of the good and that of the misguided, I follow the path of the former by abstaining from every kind of injury.
Yajneshu is 'among Sacrifices.' Yani has reference to the different kinds of the Sacrifices, viz., those performed from desire of fruit and consequently productive of Return, and those not performed from desire of fruit and consequently leading to Emancipation. Tena stands for tena Yajnena. What the speaker wishes to lay down is that only a certain class of sacrificers succeed in attaining to an end whence there is no return.
The sense seems to be that they perform mental Sacrifices, and not actual sacrifices after having created by Yoga-power all the necessary articles.
The sin of slaughtering a cow will not touch such a person, his soul being above the influence of acts.
i.e., I have for this reason spoken in praise of Renunciation and not that frame of mind in which one acts from desire of fruit.
These are, of course, the indications of complete Renunciation. Such a man never bends his head to another and never flatters another, for he is above all want.
Verse 35 is a triplet. In the first two lines the speaker says that one who does not accomplish the acts specified, fails to attain to a desirable end. In the last line, idam, refers to the duties of a true Brahmana or the indications of the Renunciation as laid down in verse 34. Daivatam kritwa, is explained by the commentator as Daivatamiva sevaniyam kritwa, Yajnam is Vishnu or Brahma as the Srutis declare.
The Munis referred to in the first line are those mentioned in verse 31 above. They are the atmayajins or mental sacrificers. Kashtam is gahanam. Asya in the second line refers to the particular Yoga of those Munis. Lest the Yoga propounded by Tuladhara be regarded as altogether new, a circumstance that would detract from their merit, the commentator explains the words natah as preceded by Avekshamana api understood.
Yasmin here is equivalent to Yadi, it being, as the commentator explains, Vibhaktipratirupakam avyayam. Eva is equivalent to Evam, meaning Twaduktaprakarena; atmatirtha means atmaiva tirtham or Yajnabhumistatra. Prapnuyat in the second line stands for prapnuyuh. The use of the singular for the plural is arsha.
What is said here is this: the sacrifices of some men become lost through absence of faith. These men, it is plain, are not worthy of performing any kind of sacrifice internal or external. The performance of sacrifice, however, is easy. The cow and her products can minister to all sacrifices. In the case of those that are able, full libations of clarified butter, of milk, and of curds, are sufficient to enable them to perform whatever sacrifice they wish. As regards those that are poor, the dust of a cow’s hoof and the water in which a cow’s tail and horns have been washed, are quite sufficient to enable them to perform their sacrifices. Purnahuti should not, I think, be taken as different from clarified butter, etc.
All these verses are exceedingly terse. Anena vidhina is the mode which the speaker himself advocates, viz., the performance of sacrifices without slaughter of animals. Niyojayan is an instance hetau satri. After prakaroti Sraddham is understood. Ishtam here means Yagam. Yajunam (as in verse 35 above) is Brahma.
The soul is itself a tirtha. A tirtha, of course, is a spot containing sacred water. One should seek the acquisition of merit in the soul instead of going to places called sacred and lying in different parts of the earth. 'According to his own ability' means 'according to the best of his power.' If one can perform a sacrifice with clarified butter, one should not do it with the dust of a cow’s hoofs.
This concludes Section CCLXIII of Book 12 (Shanti Parva) of the Mahabharata, of which an English translation is presented on this page. This book is famous as one of the Itihasa, similair in content to the eighteen Puranas. Book 12 is one of the eighteen books comprising roughly 100,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.