The Sanatsujatiya

1882 | 19,694 words

Volume 8, The Sacred Books of the East. This part Contains the english translation of the Sanatsujatiya (a portion of the Udyoga Parva from the Mahabharata)....

Chapter III

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said:

Who possesses this taciturnity[1], and which of the two[2] is taciturnity? Describe, O learned person! the condition of taciturnity here. Does a learned man reach taciturnity[3] by taciturnity? And how, O sage! do they practise taciturnity in this world.

Sanatsujāta said:

Since the Vedas, together with the mind[4], fail to attain to him, hence (is he) taciturnity[5]--he about whom the words of the Vedas were uttered[6], and who, O king! shines forth as consubstantial[7] with them.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said:

Does[8] the twice-born person who studies the Ṛk and the Yajus texts, and the Sāma-veda, committing sinful (acts), become tainted, or does he not become tainted?

Sanatsujāta said

Not the Sāman texts, nor yet the Ṛk Texts, nor the Yajus texts[9] save him, O acute sir! from sinful action. I do not tell you an untruth. The Chandas do not save a sinful deceitful[10] man who behaves deceitfully[11]. At the time of the termination (of his life), the Chandas abandon[12] him, as birds who have got wings (abandon their) nest.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said

If, O acute sir! the Vedas are not able to save one who understands the Vedas, then whence is this eternal talk[13] of the Brāhmaṇas?

Sanatsujāta said:

O you of great glory! this universe becomes manifest through his special forms--names[14] and the rest. The Vedas proclaim (his form) after describing (it) well[15], and (they[16] also) state his difference from the universe. For that[17] are this penance and sacrifice prescribed. By these a learned man acquires merit, and afterwards destroying sin by merit[18], he has his self illuminated by knowledge. By knowledge the learned man attains the self[19]. But, on the other hand, one who wishes for the fruit--heaven[20]--takes with him[21] all that he has done in this (world), enjoys it in the next, and then returns to the path[22] (of this world). Penance is performed in this world; the fruit is enjoyed elsewhere. But the penance of Brāhmaṇas is further developed[23]; that of others remains only as much (as when first performed).

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said:

How does the pure penance become developed and well developed[24]? O Sanatsujāta! tell (me.) how I should understand that, O Lord!

Sanatsujāta said:

This penance, free from sin[25], is called pure[26]; and this pure penance becomes developed and well developed, not otherwise[27]. All this[28], O Kṣatriya!

has for its root that penance about which you question me. By penance[29], those conversant with the Vedas attained immortality, after departing from this world.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said.

I have heard about penance free from sin, O Sanatsujāta! Tell me what is the sin (connected) with penance, so that I may understand the eternal mystery[30].

Sanatsujāta said:

The twelve beginning with wrath, and likewise the seven cruelties, are the defects (connected) with it; and there are (stated) in the Sāstras twelve merits (connected) with it, beginning with knowledge, which are known to the twice-born, and may be developed. Wrath, desire[31], avarice, delusion[32], craving[33], mercilessness, censoriousness, vanity, grief[34], attachment[35], envy[36], reviling others--these twelve should always be avoided by a man of high qualifications[37]. These, O king of kings! attend each and every man, wishing to find some opening[38], as a hunter (watches) animals. [Boastful, lustful, haughty, irascible, unsteady[39], one who does not protect (those dependent[40] on him), these six sinful acts are performed by sinful men who are not afraid (even) in the midst of great danger[41].] One whose thoughts are (all) about enjoyments, who prospers by injuring (others), who repents of generosity, who is miserly, who is devoid of the power[42] (of knowledge), who esteems the group[43] (of the senses), who hates his wife[44]--these seven, different (from those previously mentioned), are the seven forms of cruelty. Knowledge, truth, self-restraint, sacred learning, freedom from animosity (towards living beings), modesty[45], endurance[46], freedom from censoriousness, sacrifice, gift, courage}[47], quiescence[48],these are the twelve great observances[49] of a Brāhmaṇa. Whoever is not devoid of these twelve can govern this whole world, and those who are possessed of three, two, or even one (of these) become, in (due) course, distinguished (for knowledge) and identified with the Brahman[50]. [Self-restraint, abandonment[51], and freedom from heedlessness--on these depends immortality. And the talented Brāhmaṇas say that truth is chief over them.] Self-restraint has eighteen defects; if (any one of them is) committed, it is an obstacle (to self-restraint), They are thus stated. 'Untruthfulness, backbiting, thirst[52], antipathy (to all beings), darkness[53], repining[54], hatred[55] of people, haughtiness, quarrelsomeness, injuring living creatures, reviling others, garrulity, vexation[56], want of endurance[57], want of courage[58], imperfection[59], sinful conduct, and slaughter. That is called self-restraint by the good, which is free from these defects. Frenzy has eighteen defects[60]; and abandonment is of six kinds. The contraries of those which have been laid down[61] are stated to be the defects of frenzy. Abandonment of six kinds is excellent. Of those six, the third is hard to achieve. With it one certainly crosses beyond all misery without distinction[62]. That being achieved, (everything) is accomplished[63]. The (first is the) giving away of sons and wealth to a deserving man who asks (for them); the second is gifts at Vedic ceremonies, and gifts at ceremonies laid down in the Smṛtis[64]. The abandonment of desires, O king of kings! by means of indifference (to worldly objects) is laid down as the third[65]. With these one should become free from heedlessness. That freedom from heedlessness, too, has eight characteristics, and is (a) great (merit). Truthfulness, concentration, absorbed contemplation, reflexion[66], and also indifference (to worldly objects), not stealing[67], living the life of a Brahmacārin, and likewise freedom from all belongings[68]. Thus have the defects of self-restraint been stated; one should avoid those defects. Freedom from (those) defects is freedom from heedlessness; and that, too, is deemed to have eight characteristics[69]. Let truth be your (very) self, O king of kings! On truth all the worlds rest[70]. Truth is said to be their main (principle). Immortality, depends on truth[71]. Getting rid of (these) defects, one should practise the observance of penance. This is the conduct prescribed by the Creator. Truth is the solemn vow of the good. The pure penance, which is free from these defects, and possessed of these characteristics, becomes developed, and well developed[72]. I will state to you, in brief, O king of kings! what you ask of me. This (observance)[73] is destructive of sin, and pure, and releases (one) from birth and death and old age[74]. If one is free from the five senses, and also from the mind[75], O descendant of Bharata! also from (thoughts regarding) the past and the future[76], one becomes happy.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said:

Some people make great boasts in consequence of (their knowing) the Vedas with the Ākhyānas as the fifth[77]; others, likewise, are (masters) of four Vedas; others, too, of three Vedas; others are (masters) of two Vedas, and of one Veda; and others of no Veda[78]. Tell me which of these is the greatest, whom I may know (to be) a Brāhmaṇa.

Sanatsujāta said:

Through ignorance of the one Veda[79]--the one truth--O king of kings! numerous Vedas came into existence. Some[80] only adhere to the truth. The fancies of those who have fallen away from the truth are abortive, and through ignorance of the truth, ceremonies become amplified[81]. One should under stand a Brāhmaṇa, who (merely) reads much, to be a man of many words[82]. Know him only to be the (true) Brāhmaṇa, who swerves not from the truth[83]. O you who are the highest among men[84]! the Chandas, indeed, refer of themselves[85] to it. Therefore, studying them, the learned persons who understand the Chandas, attain to the Veda, not that which is to be known[86]. Among the Vedas, there is none which understands[87]. By the unintelligent[88], one understands not the Veda, nor the object of knowledge[89]. He who knows the Veda knows the object of knowledge. He who knows the object of knowledge[90] knows not the truth. He who understands the Vedas understands also the object of knowledge; but that[91] is not understood by the Vedas or by those who understand the Vedas. Still the Brāhmaṇas who understand the Vedas, understand the Veda by means of the Vedas[92]. As the branch of a tree with regard to the part of a portion of the glorious[93] one, so, they declare, are the Vedas with regard to the subject of understanding the supreme self. I understand him to be a Brāhmaṇa who is ingenious, and explains[94] (Vedic texts). He who apprehends (those texts) thus[95], does verily know that supreme (principle). . One should not go in search of it among (things) antagonistic[96] to it at all. Not looking (for him there) one sees that Lord by means of the Veda[97]. Remaining quiet, one should practise devotion, and should not even form a wish in the mind[98]. To him, the Brahman presents[99] itself, and directly afterwards he attains to the perfect[100] (one). By taciturnity[101], verily, does one become a sage; (one does) not (become) a sage by dwelling in a forest[102]. And he is called the highest sage, who understands that indestructible (principle). One is called an analyser[103] (also) in consequence of analysing all objects. The analysis (is) from that as the root; and as he makes (such an) analysis, hence is he so (called). The man who sees the worlds directly sees everything[104]. A Brāhmaṇa, verily, adhering to the truth, understands it, and becomes omniscient. I say to you, O learned person! that adhering to knowledge and the rest[105] in this way, one sees the Brahman, O Kṣatriya! by means of a course (of study) in the Vedas[106].

Footnotes and references:


I. e. that spoken of in the last chapter.


Viz. mere silence, or the contemplation of the self after restraining all the senses. In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad, Śaṅkara (p. 605) renders the original word, mauna, to mean, 'The fruit of the destruction of the consciousness of anything other than the self.' And his commentator makes it clearer thus: 'The conviction in the mind that one is the self--the supreme Brahman--and that there is nothing close existing but oneself.'


I. e. the highest seat--the Brahman; for mind, sense, &c. are all non-existent there. Cf. Kaṭha, p. 151, and Maitrī, p. 161


Cf. Kenopaniṣad, p. 39; Kaṭha, p. 152; Taittirīya, p. 119.


'Taciturnity is his name,' says Nīlakaṇṭha.


Or, says Śaṅkara, 'who is the author of the Vedas.'


I. e. 'with the Vedas,' says Nīlakaṇṭha, Om, the quintessence of the Vedas, being a name of the Brahman (as to which cf. Gītā, p. 79, and Maitrī, p. 84). Śaṅkara takes the whole expression to mean jyotirmaya, consisting of light. Nīlakaṇṭha says this stanza answers the five following questions put in the stanza preceding, viz. of what use is taciturnity? which of the two is taciturnity? &c., as above. The first four questions are answered by the first two lines of this stanza--the substance of the answer being, that the use of taciturnity is to attain the seat which is not to be grasped even by the mind, that taciturnity includes both restraint of mind and of the external senses. By means of such restraint, the external and internal worlds cease to be perceived as existing, and the highest goal is attained.


This question arises naturally enough on Nīlakaṇṭha's interpretation of the preceding stanza, the meaning of which is in substance that the Vedas cannot grasp the Brahman fully, but they are of use towards a rudimentary comprehension of it, as is said further on, see p. 172 infra.


Cf. Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad, p. 339; see, too, Nṛsiṃha Tāpinī, pp. 81-98.


I. e. one who parades his piety.


I. e. hypocritically.


I. e. do not rise to his memory--Nīlakaṇṭha, citing Gītā, p. 78 supra.


Scil. about the veneration due to one who has studied the Vedas--Nīlakaṇṭha, citing one or two passages in point.


The universe consists of 'names and forms,' the reality being the Brahman only. Cf. Chāndogya, p. 407 seq.


Śaṅkara refers to Taittirīya-upaniṣad, p. 68; Chāndogya, p. 596 seq. &c.


Śaṅkara takes this to mean 'sages,' who, according to him, state the difference. He quotes Parāśara for this.


I.e. the Brahman, that is to say, for attaining to it. Penance = cāndrāyaṇa and other observances; sacrifice = jyotiṣṭoma, &c.


Cf. p. 158 supra, and Taittirīya-āraṇyaka, p. 888.


Cf. Śvetāśvatara, p. 327; Muṇḍaka, p. 323.


So Śaṅkara. Nīlakaṇṭha takes the original word to mean 'the group of the senses,' and the whole phrase to mean 'enjoyments of sense.' Nīlakaṇṭha is supported by a passage further on, p. 167. But as to 'those who wish for heaven,' cf. Gītā, pp. 48-84.


I. e. in the form of merit, &c.


Cf. Gītā, p. 84.


Cf. Chāndogya, p. 23. Brāhmaṇas = those that know the Brahman. See p. 171 infra.


I am not quite sure about the meaning of the original here. Ṛdha, which I have rendered 'developed,' Nīlakaṇṭha understands to mean 'what is performed merely for show.' What has been rendered 'well developed' in the text, Nīlakaṇṭha takes to mean performed from some desire,' &c.


Anger, desire, &c.


The original is kevala. Nīlakaṇṭha says it is so called as being a means of kaivalya, 'final emancipation.'


I. e. not that which is not free from sin, which latter is not developed at all.


All objects of enjoyment, Nīlakaṇṭha.


Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 899. Tapas is variously rendered. See inter alia, Praśna, pp. 162-70; Śvetāśvatara, p. 307; Muṇḍaka, pp. 270-280, 311-314; Chāndogya, p. 136; Anugītā, pp. 247, 339.


I. e. Brahma-vidyā, or science of the Brahman, Nīlakaṇṭha; the Brahman itself, Śaṅkara.


I. e. lust.


Want of discrimination between right and wrong.


Desire to taste worldly objects.


For the loss of anything desired.


Desire to enjoy worldly objects. The difference between this and craving, according to Śaṅkara, appears to be between merely tasting and continual enjoyment. According to Nīlakaṇṭha, the former is a desire which is never contented; the latter is merely a general liking.


Impatience of other people's prosperity; censoriousness being the pointing out of flaws in other people's merits; and reviling being an ignoring of the merits and merely abusing.


Scil. for attaining to the Brahman.


Some weak point by which they may attack a man.


Fickle in friendship, &c.


Such as a wife, &c.


Connected with this or the next world, Nīlakaṇṭha. This and a stanza further on I place within brackets, as it is not quite certain whether Śaṅkara's copy had them, though they are now in some of our copies of the text with his commentary. See Introduction.


Cf. Muṇḍaka, p. 319; Chāndogya, p. 494.


See note , at page 165.


The wife having no other protector.


See note , at page 162.


Of pairs of opposites, such as heat and cold, &c.


Restraint of senses in presence of their objects.


Cf. Gītā, pp. 69, 70.


Which are serviceable in attaining the highest goal.


The original is the word 'taciturnity' as at p. 162 supra.


Offering one's acts to God (Nīlakaṇṭha), as to which cf. Gītā, p. 64. See also p. 182 infra for this stanza.


I. e. for objects of sense.




Discontent even when one obtains much.


This is active; antipathy is passive only.


Of oneself, by brooding on evil. Cf. Taittirīya, p. 119. One copy of Śaṅkara's commentary says this means 'thinking ill of others without cause.'


Of pairs of opposites.


Restraint of senses in presence of their objects.


I. e. of piety, knowledge, and indifference to worldly objects.


I. e. qualities which destroy it.


Scil. as defects of self-restraint, viz. untruthfulness, &c.


Scil. any distinction as to physical, mental, or that which is caused by superhuman agency.


Literally, 'all is conquered.' Everything that needs to be done is done. Cf. Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 155; Muṇḍaka, p. 317.


Another interpretation of iṣṭapūrta is 'offerings to gods, and 'offerings to the manes;' a third 'sacrifices, &c., and works of charity, such as digging tanks and wells;' for a fourth, see Śaṅkara on Muṇḍaka, p. 291.


Each of the three classes mentioned contains two sub-classes, and so the six are made up. It is not quite easy to see the two heads under the third class; but perhaps indifference, and the consequent abandonment of desire, may be the two intended. To indicate that, I have adopted the construction which takes the words 'by means of indifference' with abandonment, instead of with 'gifts at Vedic ceremonies,' &c. Śaṅkara seems to understand 'giving away of wealth' with the words 'by means of indifference,' and thus to constitute the second head under the third class. But he is not quite clear.


Concentration = fixing the mind continuously on some object, such as the being in the sun, &c.; contemplation is that in which one identifies oneself with the Brahman; reflexion as to what one is, whence one comes, and so forth.


Śaṅkara says this may refer to the 'stealing' mentioned at p. 160. The life of a Brahmacārin is here taken to mean p. 170 continence by the commentators, as also at Muṇḍaka, p. 311 inter alia. See also Chāndogya, p. 533.


Son, wife, home, &c.; as to which cf. Gītā, p. 103, and Nṛsiṃha Tāpinī, p. 198, commentary.


The eight mentioned already.


Cf. Taitt. Āraṇ. p. 885.


Cf. Muṇḍaka, p. 312; Śānti Parvan (Mokṣa), chap. 199, st. 64 seq. Immortality = final emancipation.


p. 165 supra.


Of penance, that is to say.


Cf. Gītā, p. 109 for the collocation.


Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 151; Maitrī, p. 161. Śaṅkara, seems to take the five and the senses separately; the five meaning the five classes of sensuous objects.


Past losses and future gains, Nīlakaṇṭha.


Cf., as to this, Max Müller's Ancient Sanskrit Literature, p. 38 seq.; and Chāndogya, pp. 164, 474, 493; Bṛhadāraṇyaka, pp. 456, 687, 926; Maitrī, p. 171; Nrisimha Tāpinī, p. 105.


The original is 'void of Ṛks.' The commentators give no explanation. Does it mean those who abandon the karma-mārga? Heretics who reject all Vedas are scarcely likely to be referred to in this way. Nīlakaṇṭha's interpretation of all this is very different. See his gloss.


Saṅkara gives various interpretations of this. Perhaps the best is to take it as meaning knowledge. 'The one knowledge--the one truth'--would then be like the famous text--Taittirīya, p. 56--'The Brahman is truth, knowledge,' &c.


For this phrase cf. Gītā, p. 73.


Those who do not understand the Brahman lose their natural power of obtaining what they wish, and so go in for various ceremonies for various special benefits. Cf. Chāndogya, p. 541; Gītā, p. 47; and p. 184 infra.


Cf. Bṛhadāranyaka, p. 893.


Ibid. p. 636.


Literally, 'highest among bipeds,' a rather unusual expression.


Nīlakaṇṭha says, 'The part of the Vedas which teaches the p. 172 knowledge of the supreme is enough by itself for its purpose; it is not like the part about rites, &c., which rites must be performed before they serve any useful purpose.' The Jñānakānda is enough by itself for understanding the Brahman. Śaṅkara compares Gītā, p. 113, and Kaṭha, p. 102.


The Veda = the Brahman, as above, cf. Śvetāśvatara, p. 372 and commentary; that which is to be known = the material world, which is a subject for human knowledge.


Scil. understands the Veda--the Brahman.


'The mind,' says Nīlakaṇṭha; literally, 'that which is to be understood.'


Because a real knowledge of it requires a knowledge of the Brahman. As to the next clause cf. inter alia Chāndogya, p. 384; Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 450.


This is the converse of the last sentence, as to which cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 925.


The supreme.


The apparent contradiction is explained in the next sentence.


I. e. the moon. This refers to the well-known śākhācandranyāya. As the small digit of the moon, which cannot be perceived by itself, is pointed out as being at the tip of a branch of a tree pointing towards the moon, so the Vedas are of use as pointing towards the Brahman, though inaccurately and imperfectly.


Scil. in the manner just indicated.


As giving an idea of the Brahman. The first step to a knowledge of the Brahman is to 'hear' about it from Vedic texts. Cf. Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 925.


Such as the body, the senses, &c., which must be distinguished as quite distinct from the self, though most often confounded with it.


Such passages, namely, as 'Thou art that, I am the Brahman,' &c.


About the objects of the senses.


Cf. Kaṭha, p. 55.


Cf. Chāndogya, p. 516. The Bhūman there is the same as the Bahu here, viz. the Brahman. Śaṅkara says expressly in his comment on the Upaniṣad text, that Bahu and Bhūman, among other words, are synonyms.


Self-restraint, as explained before at p. 163.


Though this is not unimportant, as may be seen from the contrast between town and forest at Chāndogya, p. 340. See also Maitrī, p. 100; Muṇḍaka, p. 240. As to the 'highest sage,' see Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 899, where the passage about 'sacrifice, gift, penance' should be compared with Gītā, p. 122.


The construction in the original is not quite clear. I understand the sense to be as follows: In the science of the soul, the p. 174 analyser (the word is the same as the word for grammarian) is he who analyses objects, not words merely. Now the true analysis of objects reduces them all to the Brahman (cf. Chāndogya, p. 407; Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 152); and the sage understands this, and makes the analysis accordingly, so he is rightly called an analyser.


This again is not clear, and the discrepancies of the MSS. make it more perplexing. The meaning, I take to be, that a man may perceive all material things, such as the worlds, Bhūr, &c. (as the commentators put it), but to be really omniscient, you must have knowledge of the truth--the Brahman. See Sabhā Parvan, chapter V, stanza 7. And see, too, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, p. 613.


P. p. 167 supra.


Hearing the Vedāntas--Upaniṣads,' &c,, says Śaṅkara. See note supra, p. 173.

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