Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCCIX

"'Vasishtha said, Listen now to me as I discourse to thee on Buddhas (Supreme Soul) and Abuddha (Jiva) which is the dispensation of attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. Assuming many forms (under the influence of illusion) the Supreme Soul, becoming Jiva, regards all those forms as real,  In consequence of (his regarding himself identical with) such transformations, Jiva fails to understand the Supreme Soul, for he bears the attributes (of Sattwa and Rajas and Tamas) and creates and with-draws into himself what he creates. Ceaselessly for his sport, O monarch, does Jiva undergo modifications, and because he is capable of understanding the action of the Unmanifest, therefore is he called Budhyamana (the Comprehender).  The Unmanifest or Prakriti can at no time comprehend Brahma which is really without attributes even when it manifests itself with attributes. Hence is Prakriti called Unintelligent. There is a declaration of the Srutis to the effect that if ever Prakriti does succeed in knowing the twenty-fifth (i.e., Jiva) Prakriti then (instead of being something differentiated from Jiva) becomes identified with Jiva who is united with her. (As regards, however, the Supreme Soul, which is ever disunited and dissociated, and which transcends the twenty-fifth Prakriti can never comprehend it). In consequence of this (viz., his attachment to or union with Prakriti), Jiva or Purusha, who is not manifest and which in his real nature is not subject to modifications, comes to be called as the Unawakened or Ignorant. Indeed because the twenty-fifth can comprehend the Unmanifest, he is therefore, called Budhyamana (or Comprehender). He cannot, however, readily comprehend the twenty-sixth, which is stainless, which is Knowledge without duality, which is immeasurable, and which is eternal. The twenty-sixth, however, can know both Jiva and Prakriti, numbering the twenty-fifth and the twenty-fourth respectively. O thou of great effulgence, only men of wisdom succeed in knowing that Brahma which is Unmanifest, which inheres in its real nature to all that is seen and unseen, and which, O son is the one independent essence in the universe.  When Jiva considers himself different from what he truly is (i.e. when he regards himself as fat or lean, fair or dark a Brahmana or a Sudra), it is only then that he fails to know the Supreme Soul and himself and Prakriti with which he is united. When Jiva succeeds in understanding Prakriti (and knowing that she is something different from him) then he is said to be restored to his true nature and then does he attain to that high understanding which is pure and stainless and which is concerned with Brahma. When Jiva succeeds, O tiger among kings, in attaining to that excellent understanding, he then attains to that Pure

Knowledge (without duality) which is called the twenty-sixth or (Brahma). He then casts off the Unmanifest or Prakriti which is fraught with the attributes of Creation and Destruction. When Jiva succeeds in knowing Prakriti which is unintelligent and subject to the action of the three attributes of Sattwa, and Rajas and Tamas, he then becomes destitute of attributes himself. In consequence of his thus understanding the Unmanifest (to be something different from him), he succeeds in acquiring the nature of the Supreme Soul. The learned say that when he is freed from the attributes of Sattwa and Rajas and Tamas and united in the nature with the Supreme Soul then does Jiva become identified with that Soul. The Supreme Soul is called Tattwa as well as Not-Tattwa, and transcends decay and destruction.  O giver of honours, the Soul, though it has the manifest principles (viz. the body) for its resting place, yet it cannot be said to have acquired the nature of those principles. The wise say that including the Jiva soul there are five and twenty principles in all. Indeed, O son, the Soul is not to be regarded as possessed of any of the principles (Mahat and the rest). Endued with Intelligence, it transcends the principles. It casts off quickly even that principle which is the indication of the Knowing or awakened one.  When Jiva comes to regard himself as the twenty-sixth which is divested of decay and destruction, it is then that, without doubt, he succeeds by his own force in attaining to similarity with the twenty-sixth. Though awakened by the twenty-sixth which is Pure Intelligence, Jiva still becomes subject to Ignorance. This is the cause of Jiva, multifariousness (in respect of forms) as explained in the Srutis and the Sankhya scriptures. When Jiva, who is endued with Chetana and Unintelligent Prakriti, loses all Consciousness of a distinct or individual Self, then does he, losing his multifariousness, resumes his Oneness. O ruler of Mithila, when Jiva, who is found to be in union with happiness and misery and who is seldom free from the consciousness of Self, succeeds in attaining to a similarity with the Supreme Soul which is beyond the reach of the understanding, then does he becomes freed from virtue and vice. Indeed, when Jiva, attaining to the twenty-sixth which is Unborn and Puissant and which is dissociated from all attachments, succeeds in comprehending it thoroughly, he himself becomes possessed of puissance and entirely casts off the Unmanifest or Prakriti. In consequence of understanding the twenty-sixth, the four and twenty principles seems to Jiva to be unsubstantial or of no value. I have thus told thee, O sinless one, according to the indication of the Srutis, the nature of the Unintelligent or Prakriti, and of Jiva, so also of that which is Pure Knowledge viz., the Supreme Soul, agreeable

to the truth. Guided by the scriptures, variety and oneness are thus to be understood. The difference between the gnat and the Udumvara, or that between the fish and water, illustrates the difference between the Jiva-soul and the Supreme Soul.  The Multiplicity and Oneness of these two are then understood in this way. This is called Emancipation, viz., this comprehension or knowledge of oneself as something distinct from Unintelligent or Unmanifest Prakriti. The twenty-fifth, which resides in the bodies of living creatures, should be emancipated by making him know the Unmanifest or the Supreme Soul which transcends the understanding. Indeed, that twenty-fifth is capable of attaining to Emancipation in this way only and not through any other means, it is certain. Though really different from the Kshetra in which he resides for the time being, he partakes of the nature of that Kshetra in consequence of his union with it.  Uniting with what is Pure, he becomes Pure. Uniting with the Intelligent, he becomes Intelligent. By uniting, O foremost of men, with one that is Emancipate, he becomes Emancipated. By uniting with one that has been freed from attachments of every kind, he becomes freed from all attachments. By uniting with one striving after Emancipation, he himself, partaking of the nature of his companion, strives after Emancipation. By uniting with one of pure deeds he becomes pure and of pure deeds and endued with blazing effulgence. By uniting with one of unstained soul, he becomes of unstained soul himself. By uniting with the One independent Soul, he becomes One and Independent. Uniting with One that is dependent on One's own Self, he becomes of the same nature and attains to Independence.

"'--O monarch, I have duly told thee all this that is perfectly true. Candidly have I discoursed to thee on this subject, viz., the Eternal and Stainless and Primeval Brahma. Thou mayst impart this high knowledge, capable of awakening the soul, unto that person, O king, who though not conversant with the Vedas is nevertheless, humble and has a keen desire for acquiring the knowledge of Brahma. It should never be imparted unto one that is wedded to falsehood, or one that is cunning or roguish, or one that is without any strength of mind or one that is of crooked understanding, or one that is jealous of men of knowledge, or one that gives pain to others. Listen to me as I say who they are unto whom this knowledge may safely be communicated. It should be given to one that is endued with faith, or one that is possessed of merit, or one that always abstains from speaking ill of others, or one that is devoted to penances

from the purest of motives, or one that is endued with knowledge and wisdom, or one that is conversant of the sacrifices and other rites laid down in the Vedas, or one that is possessed of a forgiving disposition, or one that is inclined to take compassion on and do good to all creatures; or one that is fond of dwelling in privacy and solitude, or one that is fond of discharging all acts laid down in the scriptures, or one that is averse to quarrels and disputes, or one that is possessed of great learning or one endued with wisdom or one possessed of forgiveness and self-restraint and tranquillity of soul. This high knowledge of Brahma should never be communicated to one that is not possessed of such qualifications. It has been said that by imparting this knowledge to one that cannot be regarded as fit receptacle for holding it no advantage or good fruit can arise. Unto one that is not observant of any vows and restraints, this high knowledge should never be communicated even if he gives in exchange the whole Earth full of gems and wealth of every kind. Without doubt, however, O king, this knowledge should be given to one that has conquered one's senses. O Karala, let no fear be thine any longer, since thou halt heard all this regarding high Brahma from me today! I have discoursed to thee duly about high and holy Brahma that is without beginning and middle (and end) and that is capable of dispelling all kinds of grief. Beholding Brahma whose sight is capable of dispelling both birth and death, O king which is full of auspiciousness, which removes all fear, and which benefit, and having acquired this essence of all knowledge, cast off all error and stupefaction today! I had acquired this knowledge from the eternal Hiranyagarbha himself, O king, who communicated it to me for my having carefully gratified that great Being of every superior Soul. Asked by thee today, I have, O monarch, communicated the knowledge of eternal Brahma to the just as I had myself acquired it from my teacher. Indeed, this high knowledge that is the refuge of all persons conversant with Emancipation has been imparted to thee exactly as I had it from Brahman himself!'

"Bhishma continued, I have thus told thee of high Brahma agreeably to what the great Rishi (Vasishtha) had said (unto king Karala of Janaka's race), by attaining to which the Twenty-fifth (or Jiva) has never to return. Jiva, in consequence of his not knowing truly the Supreme Soul which is not subject to decay and death, is obliged to frequently come back into the world. When, however, Jiva succeeds in acquiring that high knowledge, he has no longer to come back. Having heard it, O king from the celestial Rishi, I have, O son, communicated to thee high knowledge productive of the highest good. This knowledge was obtained from Hiranyagarbha by the high-souled Rishi Vasishtha. From that foremost of Rishis, viz., Vasishtha, it was acquired by Narada. From Narada I have acquired that knowledge which is truly identifiable with the eternal Brahma. Having heard this discourse of high import, fraught with excellent words, do not, O foremost of the Kurus, yield any longer to grief. That man who knows Kshara and Akshara becomes freed from fear. He, indeed, O king, is obliged to cherish fear who is destitute of this knowledge. In consequence of Ignorance (of Brahma), the man of foolish soul hath repeatedly to come back into this world. Indeed, departing from this life, he has to be born in thousands and thousands of orders of Being every one of which hath death in the end. Now in the world of the deities, now among men, and now among intermediate orders of Being, he has to appear again and again. If in course of time he succeeds in crossing that Ocean of Ignorance in which he is sunk, he then succeeds in avoiding rebirth altogether and attaining to identity with the Supreme Soul. The Ocean of Ignorance is terrible. It is bottomless and called the Unmanifest. O Bharata, day after day, creatures are seen to fall and sink in that Ocean. Since thou, O king, hast been freed from that eternal and limitless Ocean of Ignorance, thou, hast, therefore become freed from Rajas and also Tamas.'"