Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCXIX

"Bhishma said, 'Janadeva of the race of Janaka, thus instructed by the great Rishi Panchasikha, once more asked him about the topic of existence or nonexistence after death.'

"Janadeva said, 'O illustrious one, if no person retains any knowledge after departing from this state of being, if, indeed, this is true, where then is the difference between Ignorance and Knowledge? What do we gain then by knowledge and what do we lose by ignorance? Behold, O foremost of regenerate persons, that if Emancipation be: such, then all religious acts and vows end only in annihilation. Of what avail would then the distinction be between heedfulness and heedlessness? If Emancipation means dissociation from all objects of pleasurable enjoyment or an association with objects that are not lasting, for what then would men cherish a desire for action, or, having set themselves to action, continue to devise the necessary means for the accomplishment of desired ends? What then is the truth (in connection with this topic)?'

"Bhishma continued, 'Beholding the king enveloped in thick darkness, stupefied by error, and become helpless, the learned Panchasikha tranquillised him by once more addressing him in the following words, 'In this (Emancipation) the consummation is not Extinction. Nor is that consummation any kind of Existence (that one can readily conceive). This that we see is a union of body, senses, and mind. Existing independently as also controlling one another, these go on acting. The materials that constitute the body are water, space, wind, heat, and earth. These exist together (forming the body) according to their own nature. They disunite again according to their own nature. Space and wind and heat and water and earth,--these five objects in a state of union constitute the body. The body is not one element. Intelligence, stomachic heat, and the vital breaths, called Prana, etc., that are all wind,--these three are said to be organs of action. The senses, the objects of the senses (viz., sound, form, etc.), the power (dwelling in those objects) in consequence of which they become capable of being perceived, the faculties (dwelling in the senses) in consequence of which they succeed in perceiving them, the mind, the vital breaths called Prana, Apana and the rest, and the various juices and humours that are the results of the digestive organs, flow from the three organs already named.  Hearing, touch, taste, vision, and scent,--these are the five senses. They have derived their attributes from the mind which, indeed, is their cause. The mind, existing as an attribute of Chit has three states, viz., pleasure, pain, and absence of both pleasure and pain. Sound, touch, form, taste, scent, and the objects to which they inhere,--these till the moment of one's death are causes for the production of one's knowledge. Upon the senses rest all acts (that lead to heaven), as also renunciation (leading to the attainment of Brahma), and also the ascertainment of truth in respect of all topics of enquiry. The learned say that ascertainment (of truth) is the highest object of existence, and that it is the seed or root of Emancipation; and with respect to Intelligence, they say that leads to Emancipation and Brahma.  That person who regards this union of perishable attributes (called the body and the objects of the senses) as the Soul, feels, in consequence of such imperfection of knowledge, much misery that proves again to be unending. Those persons, on the other hand, who regard all worldly objects as not-Soul, and who on that account cease to have any affection or attachment for them, have never to suffer any sorrow for sorrow, in their case stands in need of some foundation upon which to rest. In this connection there

exists the unrivalled branch of knowledge which treats of Renunciation. It is called Samyagradha. I shall discourse to thee upon it. Listen to it for the sake of thy Emancipation. Renunciation of acts is (laid down) for all persons who strive earnestly for Emancipation. They, however, who have not been taught correctly (and who on that account think that tranquillity may be attained without renunciation) have to bear a heavy burthen of sorrow. Vedic sacrifices and other rites exist for renunciation of wealth and other possessions. For renunciation of all enjoyments exist vows and fasts of diverse kinds. For renunciation of pleasure and happiness, exist penances and yoga. Renunciation, however, of everything, is the highest kind of renunciation. This that I shall presently tell thee is the one path pointed out by the learned for that renunciation of everything. They that betake themselves to that path succeed in driving off all sorrow. They, however, that deviate from it reap distress and misery.  First speaking of the five organs of knowledge having the mind for the sixth, and all of which dwell in the understanding, I shall tell thee of the five organs of action having strength for their sixth. The two hands constitute two organs ok action. The two legs are the two organs for moving from one place to another. The sexual organ exists for both pleasure and the continuation of the species. The lower duct, leading from the stomach downwards, is the organ for expulsion of all used-up matter. The organs of utterance exist for the expression of sounds. Know that these five organs of action appertain or belong to the mind. These are the eleven organs of knowledge and of action (counting the mind). One should quickly cast off the mind with the understanding.  In the act of hearing, three causes must exist together, viz., two ears, sound, and the mind. The same is the case with the perception of touch; the same with that of form; the same with that of taste and smell.  These fifteen accidents or attributes are needed for the several kinds of perception indicated. Every man, in consequence of them, becomes conscious of three separate things in respect of those perceptions (viz., a material organ, its particular function, and the mind upon which that function acts). There are again (in respect of all perceptions of the mind) three classes, viz., those that appertain to Goodness, those that appertain to Passion, and those that appertain to Darkness. Into them run, three kinds of consciousness, including all feelings and emotions. Raptures, satisfaction, joy, happiness, and tranquillity, arising in the mind from any Perceptible cause or in the absence of any apparent cause, belong to the attribute of Goodness. Discontent, regret, grief, cupidity, and vindictiveness, causeless or occasioned by any perceptible cause, are the indications of the attribute known as Passion. Wrong judgment, stupefaction, heedlessness, dreams, and sleepiness, however caused, belong to the attribute of Darkness. Whatever state of consciousness exists, with respect to either the body or the mind, united with joy or satisfaction, should be regarded as due to the quality

of Goodness. Whatever state of consciousness exists united with any feeling of discontent or cheerlessness should be regarded as occasioned by an accession of the attribute of Passion into the mind. Whatever state, as regards either the body or the mind, exists with error or heedlessness, should be known as indicative of Darkness which is incomprehensible and inexplicable. The organ of hearing rests on space; it is space itself (under limitations); (Sound has that organ for its refuge). (Sound, therefore, is a modification of space). In perceiving sound, one may not immediately acquire a knowledge of the organ of hearing and of space. But when sound is perceived, the organ of hearing and space do not long remain unknown. (By destroying the ear, sound and space, may be destroyed; and, lastly, by destroying the mind all may be destroyed). The same is the case with the skin, the eyes, the tongue, and the nose constituting the fifth. They exist in touch, form, taste, and smell. They constitute the faculty of perception and they are the mind.  Each employed in its own particular function, all the five organs of action and five others of knowledge exist together, and upon the union, of the ten dwells the mind as the eleventh and upon the mind the understanding as the twelfth. If it be said that these twelve do not exist together, then the consequence that would result would be death in dreamless slumber. But as there is no death in dreamless slumber, it must be conceded that these twelve exist together as regards themselves but separately from the Soul. The co-existence of those twelve with the Soul that is referred to in common speech is only a common form of speech with the vulgar for ordinary purposes of the world. The dreamer, in consequence of the appearance of past sensual impressions, becomes conscious of his senses in their subtile forms, and endued as he already is with the three attributes (of goodness, passion, and darkness), he regards his senses as existing with their respective objects and, therefore, acts and moves about with an imaginary body after the manner of his own self while awake.  That dissociation of the Soul from the understanding and i the mind with the senses, which quickly disappears, which has no stability, and which the mind causes to arise only when influenced by darkness, is felicity that partakes, as the learned say, of the nature of darkness and is experienced in this gross body only. (The felicity of Emancipation certainly differs from it).  Over the felicity of Emancipation also, the felicity, viz., which is awakened by the inspired teaching of the Vedas and in which no one

sees the slightest tincture of sorrow,--the same indescribable and truth concealing darkness seems to spread itself (but in reality the felicity of Emancipation is unstained by darkness).  Like again to what occurs in dreamless slumber, in Emancipation also, subjective and objective existences (from Consciousness to objects of the senses, all included), which have their origin in one's acts, are all discarded. In some, that are overwhelmed by Avidya, these exist, firmly grafted with them. Unto others who have transcended Avidya and have won knowledge, they never come at any time.  They that are conversant with speculations about the character of Soul and not-Soul, say that this sum total (of the senses, etc.) is body (kshetra). That existent thing which rests upon the mind is called Soul (kshetrajna). When such is the case, and when all creatures, in consequence of the well-known cause (which consists of ignorance, desire, and acts whose beginning cannot be conceived), exist, due also to their primary nature (which is a state of union between Soul and body), (of these two) which then is destructible, and how can that (viz., the Soul), which is said to be eternal, suffer destruction?  As small rivers falling into larger ones lose their forms and names, and the larger ones (thus enlarged) rolling into the ocean, lose their forms and names too, after the same manner occurs that form of extinction of life called Emancipation.  This being the case, when jiva which is characterised by attributes, is received into the Universal Soul, and when all its attributes disappear, how can it be the object of mention by differentiation? One who is conversant with that understanding which is directed towards the accomplishment of Emancipation and who heedfully seeks to know the Soul, is never soiled by the evil fruits of

his acts even as a lotus leaf though dipped in water is never soaked by it. When one becomes freed from the very strong bonds, many in number, occasioned by affection for children and spouses and love for sacrifices and other rites, when one casts off both joy and sorrow and transcends all attachments, one then attains to the highest end and entering into the Universal Soul becomes incapable of differentiation. When one has understood the declarations of the Srutis that lead to correct inferences (about Brahma) and has practised those auspicious virtues which the same and other scriptures inculcate, one may lie down at ease, setting at nought the fears of decrepitude and death. When both merits and sins disappear, and the fruits, in the form of joy and sorrow, arising therefrom, are destroyed, men, unattached to everything, take refuge at first on Brahma invested with personality, and then behold impersonal Brahma in their understandings.  Jiva in course of its downward descent under the influence of Avidya lives here (within its cell formed by acts) after the manner of a silk-worm residing within its cell made of threads woven by itself. Like the freed silk-worm again that abandons its cell, jiva also abandons its house generated by its acts. The final result that takes place is that its sorrows are then destroyed like a clump of earth falling with violence upon a rocky mass.  As the Ruru casting off its old horns or the snake casting off its slough goes on without attracting any notice, after the same manner a person that is unattached casts off all his sorrows. As a bird deserts a tree that is about to fall down upon a piece of water and thus severing itself from it alights on a (new) resting place, after the same manner the person freed from attachments casts off both joy and sorrow and dissociated even from his subtile and subtiler forms attains to that end which is fraught with the highest prosperity.  Their own ancestor Janaka, the chief of Mithila, beholding his city burning in a conflagration, himself proclaimed, 'In this conflagration nothing of mine is burning.' King Janadeva, having listened to these words capable of yielding immortality and uttered by Panchasikha, and arriving at the truth after carefully reflecting upon everything that the latter had said, cast off his sorrows and lived on in the enjoyment of great felicity. He who reads this discourse, O king, that treat of emancipation and who always reflects upon it, is never pained by any calamity, and freed from sorrow, attains to emancipation like Janadeva, the ruler of Mithila after his meeting with Panchasikha.'"