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...
'"Janaka said, You have, O foremost of Rishis, said that Unity is the attribute of that which is Akshara (Indestructible) and variety or multiplicity is the attribute of what is known as Kshara (Destructible). I have not, however, clearly understood the nature of these two. Doubts are still lurking in my mind. Ignorant men look upon the Soul as endued with the incident of multiplicity. They, however that are possessed of knowledge and wisdom regard the Soul to be one and the same. I how-ever, have a very dull understanding. I am, therefore, unable to comprehend how all this can happen. The causes also that you have assigned for the unity and the multiplicity of Akshara and Kshara I have almost forgotten in consequence of the restlessness of my understanding. I therefore, desire to hear you once more discourse to me on those same incidents of unity and multiplicity, on him who is knowing, on what is destitute of knowledge, on Jiva-soul, Knowledge, Ignorance. Akshara, Kshara, and on the Sankhya and the Yoga systems, in detail and separately and agreeable to the truth.
"'Vasishtha said, I shall tell you what you askest! Listen however, to me, O monarch, as I expound to you the practices of Yoga separately. Contemplation, which constitutes an obligatory practices with Yogins, is their highest puissance. Those conversant with Yoga say that Contemplation is of two kinds. One is the concentration of the mind, and the other is called Pranayama (regulation of breath). Pranayama is said to be endued with substance; while concentration of mind is unendued with it. Excepting the three times when a man passes urine and stools and eats, one should devote the whole of his time to contemplation. With-drawing the senses from their objects by the aid of the mind, one possessed of intelligence, having made oneself pure, should agreeably to the two and twenty modes of transmitting the Prana breath, unite the Jiva-soul with That which transcends the four and twentieth topic (called Ignorance or Prakriti) which is regarded by the wise as dwelling in every part of the body and as transcending decay and destruction. It is by means of those two and twenty methods that the Soul may always be known, as heard by us. It is certain that this practice of Yoga is his whose mind is never affected by evil passions. It is not any other person’s. Dissociated from all attachments, abstemious in diet, and subduing all the senses, one should fix one’s mind on the Soul, during the first and the last part of the night, after having, O king of Mithila, suspended the functions of the senses, quieted the mind by the understanding, and assumed a posture as motionless as that of a block of stone. When men of knowledge, conversant with the rules of Yoga, become as fixed as a stake of wood, and as immovable as a mountain, then are they said to be in Yoga. When one does not hear, and smell, and taste, and see; when one is not conscious of any touch; when one’s mind becomes perfectly free from every purpose; when one is not conscious of any thing, when one cherishes no thought; when one becomes like a piece of wood, then is one called by the wise to be in perfect Yoga. At such a time one shines like a lamp that burns in a place where there is no wind; at such a time one becomes freed even from one’s subtile form, and perfectly united with Brahma. When one attains to such progress, one has no longer to ascend or to fall among intermediate beings. When persons like ourselves say that there has been a complete identification of the Knower, the Known, and K now-ledge, then is the Yogin said to behold the Supreme Soul. While in Yoga, the Supreme Soul displays itself in the Yogin’s heart like a blazing fire, or like the bright Sun, or like the lightning’s flame in the sky. That Supreme Soul which is Unborn and which is the essence of nectar, that is seen by high-souled Brahmanas endued with intelligence and wisdom and conversant with the Vedas, is subtiler than what is subtile and greater than what is great. That Soul, though dwelling in all creatures, is not seen by them. The creator of the worlds, He is seen only by a person endued with wealth of intelligence when aided by the lamp of the mind. He dwells on the other share of thick Darkness and transcends him called Isvara. Persons conversant with the Vedas and endued with omniscience call Him the dispeller of Darkness, stainless, transcending Darkness, without attributes and endued therewith.
"'This is what is called the Yoga of Yogins. What else is the indication of Yoga? By such practices do Yogins succeeded in beholding the Supreme Soul that transcends destruction and decay. This much that I have told you in detail concerns about the science of Yoga. I shall now discourse to you of that Sankhya philosophy by which the Supreme Soul is seen through the gradual destruction of errors. The Sankhyas, whose system is built on Prakriti, say that Prakriti, which is Unmanifest, is the foremost. From Prakriti, they say, O monarch, the second principle called Mahat, is produced. It is heard by us that from Mahat flows the third principle called Consciousness. The Sankhyas blessed with sight of the Soul say that from Consciousness flow the five subtile essence of sound, form, touch, taste, and scent. All these eight they call by the name of Prakriti. The modifications of these eight are sixteen in number. They are the five gross essence of space, light, earth, water, and wind, and the ten senses of action and of knowledge including the mind. Men of wisdom devoted to the Sankhya path and conversant with all its ordinances and dispensations regard these four and twenty topics as embracing the whole range of Sankhya enquiry. That which is produced becomes merged in the producing. Created by the Supreme Soul one after another, these principles are destroyed in a reverse order. At every new Creation, the Gunas start into existence in the lateral order (as stated above), and (when Destruction comes) they merge, (each into its progenitor) in a reverse order, like the waves of the ocean disappearing in the ocean that gives them birth. O best of kings, this is the manner in which the Creation and the Destruction of Prakriti takes place. The Supreme Being is all that remains when Universal Destruction takes place, and it is He that assumes multifarious forms when Creation starts into life. This is even so, O king, as ascertained by men of knowledge. It is Prakriti that causes the Overpresiding Purusha to thus assume diversity and revert back to unity. Prakriti also herself has the same indications. Only fully conversant with the nature of the topics of enquiry knows that Prakriti also assumes the same kind of diversity and unity, for when Destruction comes she reverts into unity and when Creation flows she assumes diversity of form. The Soul makes Prakriti, which contains the principles of production or growth, to assume manifold forms. Prakriti is called Kshetra (or soil). Transcending the four and twenty topics or principles is the Soul which is great. It presides over that Prakriti or Kshetra. Hence, O great king, the foremost of Yatis say that the Soul is the Presider. Indeed, it has been heard by us that in consequence of the Soul’s presiding over all Kshetras He is called the Presider. And because He knows that Unmanifest Kshetra, He is, therefore, also called Kshetrajna (Knower of Kshetra). And because also the Soul enters into Unmanifest Kshetra (viz., the body), therefore he is called Purusha. Kshetra is something quite different from Kshetrajna. Kshetra is Unmanifest. The Soul, which transcends the four and twenty principles, is called the Knower. Knowledge and the object known are different from each other. Knowledge, again, has been said to be Unmanifest, while the object of knowledge is the Soul which transcends the four and twenty principles. The Unmanifest is called Kshetra. Sattva (understanding), and also Isvara (the supreme Lord), while Purusha, which is the twenty-fifth principle has nothing superior to it and is not a principle (for it transcends all principles and is only called a principle conventionally). This much O king, is an account of the Sankhya philosophy. The Sankhyas called the cause of the universe, and merging all the grosser principles into the Chit behold the Supreme Soul. Rightly studying the four and twenty topics along with Prakriti, and ascertaining their true nature, the Sankhyas succeed in beholding That which transcends the four and twenty topics or principles. Jiva in reality is that very Soul which transcends Prakriti and is beyond the four and twenty topics. When he succeeds in knowing that Supreme Soul by dissociating himself from Prakriti, he then becomes identifiable with the Supreme Soul. I have now told you every thing about the Sankhya System truly. Those who are conversant with this philosophy succeed in attaining are subject to error have direct cognisance of Brahma. They that succeed in attaining to tranquillity. Indeed, as men whose understanding are subject to error have direct cognisance of Brahma. They that succeed in attaining to that state have never to come back to this world after the dissolution of their bodies; while as regards those that are said to be emancipate in this life, puissance, and that indescribable felicity which attaches itself to Samadhi, and immutability, become theirs, in consequence of their having attained to the nature of the Indestructible. They who behold this universe as many (instead of seeing it as one and uniform) are said to see incorrectly. These men are blind to Brahma. O chastiser of foes, such persons have repeatedly to come back into the world and assume bodies (in diverse orders of Being). They who are conversant with all that has been said above become possessed of omniscience, and accordingly when they pass from this body no longer become subject to the control of any more physical frames. All things, (or the entire universe), have been said to be the result of the Unmanifest. The Soul, which is the twenty-fifth, transcends all things. They who know the Soul have no fear of returning to the world.'"
Footnotes and references:
For enables them to conquer Ignorance.
The two and twenty sanchodans of Preranas are the two and twenty modes of transmitting the Prana breath from the toe of the foot to the crown of the head. That which transcends Prakriti is the Supreme Soul.
The reading I adopt is na-kathyate.
Atmanah is Isvarat parah.
Parisankhyadarsanam is explained by the commentator thus: Parisankhyanam, is parivarianam, i.e., the gradual pravilapam of errors; Lena darsanam or sakshatkaram.
The commentator explains that nistattvah means nirgatam tattvam aparoksham yasmat.
This concludes Section CCCVII 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.