Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCLV

"Bhishma said, 'Do thou, O son, O sinless one, listen once more, with feelings of great pride, to the words that fell from the lips of the Island-born Rishi on the subject of the enumeration of the entities. Like unto a blazing fire (for having transcended all ignorance), the great Rishi said these words unto his son who resembled a fire wrapped in smoke.  Instructed by what he said, I also, O son, shall again expound to thee that certain knowledge (which dispels ignorance). The properties possessed by earth are immobility, weight, hardness, productiveness, scent, density, capacity to absorb scents of all kinds, cohesion, habitableness (in respect of vegetables and animals), and that attribute of the mind which is called patience of the capacity to bear. The properties of water are coolness, taste, moisture, liquidity, softness, agreeableness, tongue, fluidity, capacity to be congealed, and power to melt many earthly products.  The properties of fire are irresistible energy, inflammability, heat, capacity t o soften, light, sorrow, disease, speed, fury, and invariably upward motion. The properties of the wind are touch that is neither hot nor cool, capacity to assist the organ of speech, independence

(in respect of motion), strength, celerity, power to assist all kinds of emission or discharge, power to raise other objects, breaths inhaled and exhaled, life (as the attribute of Chit) and birth (including death). The properties of space are sound, extension, capacity of being enclosed, absence of refuge for resting upon absence of all necessity for such refuge, status of being unmanifest, capacity for modification, incapacity for producing resistance, material cause for producing the sense of hearing, and the unoccupied portions of the human body. These are the fifty properties, as declared, that constitute, the essence of the five elementary entities.  Patience, reasoning or disputation, remembrance, forgetfulness or error, imagination, endurance, propensity towards good, propensity towards evil, and restlessness,--these are the properties of the mind. Destruction of both good and evil thoughts (i.e., dreamless slumber), perseverance, concentration, decision, and ascertainment of all things resting upon direct evidence, constitute the five properties of the understanding.'

"Yudhishthira said, 'How can the understanding be said to have five properties? How again, can the five senses be spoken of as properties (of the five elementary entities)? Expound to me, O grandsire, all this that seems to be very abstruse.'

"Bhishma said, 'The understanding is said to possess altogether sixty properties, for the understanding includes the five elements.  All those properties exist in a state of union with the Soul. The Vedas declare, O son, that the elements, their (fifty) properties (together with the mind and the understanding and their nine and five properties) are all created by Him who is above all deterioration. These (one and seventy) entities, therefore, are not eternal (like the Soul). The theories contradicting the Revelation that have in the previous Vedas, O son, been placed before thee (about the origin of the Universe and its other incidents) are all defective in the eye of reason. Carefully attending, however, in this world to all that I have said unto thee about the Supreme Brahma, do thou, after attaining to the puissance that the knowledge of Brahma offers, seek to win tranquillity of heart.'"