Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCIII

"Manu said, 'The mind united with the senses, recollects after a long time the impressions of the objects received in the past. When the senses are all suspended (in respect of their functions),  the Supreme (the Soul), in the form of the Understanding, exists in its own true nature. When the Soul (at such a time) does not in the least regard all those objects of the senses in respect of their simultaneity or the reverse in point of time but mustering them from all directions holds them before it together, it necessarily happens that he wanders among all things that are incongruous. He is, therefore, the (silent) Witness. Hence the Soul encased in body is something having a distinct and independent existence.  There is Rajas, there is Tamas, and there is Sattwa, the third. There are again three states of the understanding, viz., waking, dreaming, and sound sleep. The Soul has knowledge of the pleasures and pains, which are all contradictory, of those states, and which partake of the nature of the threefold attributes first mentioned.  The Soul enters the senses like the wind entering the fire in a piece of wood.  One cannot behold the form of the Soul by one's eye, nor can the sense of touch, amongst the senses, apprehend it. The Soul is not, again, an object of apprehension by the ear. It may, however, be seen by the aid of the Srutis and the instructions of the wise. As regards the senses, that particular sense which apprehends it loses upon such apprehension its existence as a sense.  The senses cannot themselves apprehend their respective forms by themselves. The Soul is omniscient (inasmuch as it apprehends both the knower and the known). It beholds all things. Being omniscient, it is the Soul that beholds the senses (without, as already said, the senses being able to apprehend it). Nobody has seen the other side of the Himavat mountains, nor the reverse of the moon's disc. Yet it cannot be said that these do not

exist. Similarly, though never apprehended by the senses, yet nobody can say that the Soul, which dwells in all creatures, which is subtile, and which has knowledge for its essence, does not exist. People see the world reflected on the moon's disc in the form of spots. Though seeing, they do not know that it is the world that is so reflected there. Even such is the knowledge of the Soul. That knowledge must come of itself. The Soul depends upon the Soul itself. Men of wisdom, reflecting on the formlessness of visible objects before birth and after destruction, behold by the aid of intelligence, the formlessness of objects that have apparent forms, So also although the Sun's motion cannot be seen, yet persons, by watching its rising and setting, conclude that the sun has motion.  Similarly, those who are endued with wisdom and learning behold the Soul by the aid of the lamp of intelligence, though it is at a great distance from them, and seek to merge the fivefold elements, which are near, into Brahma.  Verily, an object cannot be accomplished without the application of means. Fishermen catch fish by means of nets made of strings. Animals are captured by employing animals as are the means. Birds are caught by employing birds as the means. Elephants are taken by employing elephants. In this way, the Soul may be apprehended by the principle of knowledge. We have heard that only a snake can see a snake's legs. After the same manner one beholds, through Knowledge, the Soul encased in subtile form and dwelling within the gross body. People cannot, through their senses, know the senses. Similarly, mere Intelligence at its highest cannot behold the Soul which is supreme. The moon, on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight, cannot be seen in consequence of its form being hid. It cannot be said, however, that destruction overtakes it, Even such is the case with the Soul dwelling in the body. On the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight, the gross body of the moon becomes invisible. After the same manner, the Soul, when liberated from the body, cannot be apprehended. As the moon, gaining another point in the firmament begins to shine once more, similarly, the Soul obtaining a new body, begins to manifest itself once more. The birth, growth and disappearance of the moon can all be directly apprehended by the eye. These phenomena, however, appertain to the gross form of that luminary. The like are not the attributes of the Soul. The moon, when it shows itself after its disappearance on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight, is regarded as the same luminary that had become invisible. After the same manner, notwithstanding the changes

represented by birth, growth and age, a person is regarded as the same individual without any doubt of his identity. It cannot be distinctly seen how Rahu approaches and leaves the moon. After the same manner, the Soul cannot be seen how it leaves one body and enters another.  Rahu becomes visible only when it exists with the sun or the moon. Similarly, the Soul becomes an object of apprehension only when it exists with the body. When liberated from the sun or the moon, Rahu can no longer be seen. Similarly, the Soul, liberated from the body, can no longer be seen. Then again, as the moon, even when it disappears on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight, is not deserted by the constellations and the stars, the Soul also, even though separated from the body, is not deserted by the fruits of the acts it has achieved in that body.'"