Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCI

"Yudhishthira said, 'What are the fruits of the yoga represented by Knowledge, of all the Vedas, and of the (various) observances and vows? How also may the creature-soul be known? Tell us, this, O grandsire!'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse between that lord of creatures, viz., Manu, and the great Rishi, Vrihaspati. In days of old, the foremost of celestial Rishis, viz., Vrihaspati, who was a disciple of Manu, bowed to his preceptor and addressing that lord and first of all creatures, said, 'What is the cause (of the universe)? Whence have the ordinances (about sacrifices and other pious observances) flowed? What are those fruits which the learned say are attached to Knowledge? Tell me also truly, O illustrious one, what is that which the very, Vedas have not been able to reveal? What are those fruits which are adored by eminent personages conversant with the science of Artha, with the Vedas, and with the Mantras, through sacrifices and plentiful gifts of kine? Whence do those fruits arise? Where are they to be found? Tell me also this old history, viz., whence have the earth, all earthly objects, wind, sky, aquatic creatures, water, heaven, and the denizens of heaven, all sprung? Man's inclinations tend towards that object about which he seeks knowledge. I have no knowledge of that Ancient and Supreme one. How shall I rescue myself from a false display of inclinations towards Him?  The Riks, all the Samanas, all the Yajuses, the Chhandas, Astronomy, Nirukta, Grammar, Sankalpa, and Siksha, I have studied. But I pave no knowledge of the nature of the great creatures (the five primal elements) that enter into the composition of everything.  Tell me all I have asked thee, by using only simple assertions and distinguishing

adjectives or attributes. Tell me what the fruits are of Knowledge and what those fruits that are attached to sacrifices and other religious rites. Explain to me how also an embodied being departs from his body and how he attains to another body.'

"Manu said, 'That which is agreeable to one is said to constitute one's happiness. Similarly, that which is disagreeable to one is said to constitute one's misery.--By this I shall obtain happiness and keep off misery--from a sentiment like this flow all religious acts. The efforts for the acquisition of Knowledge, however, arise from a sentiment for avoiding both happiness and misery.  The ordinances about sacrifices and other observances, that occur in the Vedas, are all connected with desire. He, however, who liberates himself from desire, succeeds in attaining to Brahma. That man who, from desire of winning happiness, walks in the path of acts which are of diverse kinds, has to go to hell.' 

"Vrihaspati said, 'Men's aspirations are concerned with the acquisition of the agreeable which ends in happiness, and the avoidance of the disagreeable which brings misery. Such acquisition and such avoidance again are accomplished by acts.' 

"Manu said, 'It is by liberating oneself from acts that one succeeds in entering into Brahma. The ordinances about acts have flowed for that very end.  The ordinances about acts tempts only those whose hearts are not free from desire. By liberating oneself from acts (as already said) one acquires the highest state. One desirous of felicity (Emancipation), betaking oneself to religious rites, becomes purified (from attachments) by acts having for their object the purification of the soul, and at last wins great splendour. By liberating oneself from acts, one acquires the highest end, viz., Brahma, which is very much above the reward that acts give. Creatures have all been created by Mind and Act. These again are the two best paths adored by all. Outward acts produce fruits that are transitory as also eternal. For acquiring the latter there is no other means than abandonment of fruits by the mind.  As the eye, when night passes away and the veil of darkness is removed from it, leads its possessor by its own power, so the Understanding, when it

becomes endued with Knowledge, succeeds in beholding all evils that are worthy of avoidance.  Snakes, sharp-pointed kusa blades, and pits, men avoid when they perceive them lie on their way. If some tread upon or fall into them, they do so through ignorance. Behold the superiority of the fruits of knowledge (over those of ignorance). Mantras applied duly, sacrifices, the presents called Dakshina, gift of food, and concentration of the mind (for divine contemplation),--these are the five acts that are said to be productive of fruits, there being none else. Acts have (the three) attributes (of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas) for their soul. The Vedas say this. (The Vedas consist of Mantras). The Mantras, therefore, have the same three attributes, since it is with Mantras that acts are to be accomplished. The ritual also must be liable to the same three attributes. The fruits of action depend upon the mind. It is the embodied creature that enjoys those fruits.  All excellent kinds of sound, form, taste, touch, and scent, are the fruits of acts, being attainable in the region of acts (i.e., heaven). As regards, however, the fruits of knowledge, man acquires them even here before death.  Whatever acts are accomplished by means of the body, one enjoys the fruits thereof in a state of physical existence. The body is, indeed, the framework to which happiness inheres, as also the framework to which misery inheres.  Whatever acts are accomplished by means of words, their fruits are to be enjoyed in a state in which words can be spoken. Similarly, whatever acts are accomplished by the mind, their fruits are enjoyed in a state in which one is not freed from the mind.  Devoted to the fruits of acts, whatever kind of acts (Sattwika or

Rajasika or Tamasika) a person covetous of fruits accomplishes, the fruits, good or bad, that he actually enjoys partake of their character. Like fishes going against a current of water, the acts of a past life come to the actor. The embodied creature experiences happiness for his good acts, and misery for his evil ones. Him from whom this universe hath sprung. Him by knowing whom persons of cleansed souls transgress this world, Him who has not been expressed by Vedic mantras and words. I will now indicate. Listen to me as I speak of that highest of the high. Himself liberated from the several kinds of taste and scent, and sound and touch and form. He is incapable of being grasped by the senses, unmanifest, without colour, the One, and He has created the five kinds of objects  for His creatures. He is neither female, nor male, nor of the neuter sex. He is neither existent, nor non-existent, nor existent-nonexistent.  Only those that are acquainted with Brahma behold Him. He knoweth no direction."'