Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


"Bhrigu said, 'There is no destruction of the living creature, or of what is given, or of our other acts. The creature that dies only goes into another form. The body along dissolves away. The living creature, though depending upon the body, does not meet with destruction when the body is destroyed. It is not seen after the destruction of the physical frame just as fire is not seen after the consumption of the fuel with which it was ignited.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'If there is no destruction of the living creature like that of fire, I submit, fire itself is not seen after consumption of the fuel (that ignited it). When the supply of fuel is stopped, the fire becomes extinguished, and, as far as I know, becomes annihilated. That should surely be regarded to have met with destruction which has no longer any action, which furnishes no proof of its existence, and which no longer occupies any space.'

"Bhrigu said, 'It is true that upon the consumption of fuel fire is no longer seen. It mingles with space because there is no longer any visible object in which to inhere, and hence it becomes incapable of perception by us. Similarly, upon leaving the body, the creature lives in space, and cannot be seen in consequence of its extreme subtility as is doubtless the case with fire. It is fire or heat that sustains the breaths called Prana and the others. Know that that heat (thus existing) is called life or the living agent. That heat which is the sustainer of the breaths, becomes extinguished in consequence of the suppression of breath. Upon that heat in the physical frame being extinguished, the frame itself loses animation. Falling down, it is transformed into earth, for that is its ultimate destination. The breath that is in all mobile and immobile objects mingles with space, and the heat that is in them follows that breath. These three (viz., space, air, and tire), mingle together. The other two (viz., water and earth), exist together in the form of earth. There is wind where space is, and there is fire where wind is. They are formless, it should be known, and become endued with form only in respect of embodied creatures.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'If in the physical frames of all living creatures there are heat, wind, earth, space and water, what, then, are the indications of living agent? Tell me these, O sinless one! I desire to know the nature of the life that is in the bodies of living beings,--bodies made up of the five primal elements, engaged in the five acts, endued with the five senses and possessed of animation. Upon the dissolution of the body which is a union of flesh and blood, and a mass of fat, sinews and bones, that which is the living agent cannot be seen. If this body, composed of the five elements, be destitute of what is called life, who or what then is that which feels misery upon the appearance of either bodily or mental pain? The living agent hears what is said, with the aid of the ears. It, however, happens again, O great Rishi, that the same agent hears not when the Mind is otherwise engaged. It seems, therefore, that that which is called the living agent serves no purpose. The whole scene that the living agent sees with eyes acting in concert with the mind, the eye beholds not, even when lying before it, if the mind be otherwise engaged. Then again, when it is under the influence of sleep, that agent neither sees nor smells, nor hears, nor speaks, nor experiences the perceptions of touch and taste. Who or what then is that which feels joy, becomes angry, gives way to sorrow, and experiences tribulation? What is that which wishes, thinks, feels aversion, and utters words?'

"Bhrigu said, 'The mind also is made of the five elements in common with the body. For this reason it is of no consequence with respect to the acts mentioned by thee. Only the one internal Soul sustaineth the body. It is he that perceives smell, taste, sound, touch and form and other properties (that exist in external nature). That Soul, pervading all the limbs, is the witness (of the acts) of the mind endued with five attributes and residing within the body composed of the five elements. It is he who feels pleasure and pain, and when separated from him the body no longer experiences them. When there is no longer any perception of form or of touch, when there is no heat in the fire that resides within the body,--indeed, when that animal heat becomes extinguished,--the body, in consequence of its abandonment by the Soul, meets with destruction. The whole universe is composed of water. Water is the form of all embodied creatures. In that water is the Soul which is displayed in the mind. That Soul is the Creator Brahman who exists in all things. When the Soul becomes endued with vulgar attributes, it comes to be called Kshetrajna. When freed from those attributes, it comes to be called Paramatman or Supreme Soul. Know that Soul. He is inspired with universal benevolence. He resides in the body like a drop of water in a lotus. Know well that which is called Kshetrajna and which has universal benevolence. Darkness, Passion, and Goodness are the attributes of the living agent. The learned say that the Soul has Consciousness and exists with the attributes of life. The soul exerts and causes everything to exert. Persons that have a knowledge of the Soul say that the Soul is different from life. It is the Supreme Soul that has created the seven worlds and sets them agoing. There is no destruction of the living agent when the dissolution of the body takes place. Men destitute of intelligence say that it dies. That is certainly untrue. All that the living agent does is to go from one unto another body. That which is called death is only the dissolution of the body. It is thus that the Soul, wrapped in diverse forms, migrates from form to form, unseen and unnoticed by others. Persons possessed of true Knowledge behold the Soul by their keen and subtile intelligence. The man of wisdom, living on frugal fare, and with heart cleansed of all sins, devoting himself to yoga meditation, succeeds every night, before sleep and after sleep, in beholding his Soul by the aid of his Soul.  In consequence of a contented heart, and by abandoning all acts good and bad, one can obtain infinite happiness by depending upon one's own Soul. The king, of fiery effulgence, residing within the mind is called the living agent. It is from that Lord of everything that this creation has sprung. Even this is the conclusion to be arrived at in the enquiry into the origin of creatures and the soul.'