Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section CCCXV

"'Yajnavalkya said, These three, O foremost of men, (viz., Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas), are the attributes of Prakriti. These attach to all things of the universe and always inhere to them. The Unmanifest Purusha endued with the six Yoga attributes transforms himself by himself into hundreds and thousands and millions and millions of forms (by embracing these three attributes). Those that are conversant with the science of Adhyatma, say that unto the attribute of Sattwa is assigned a high, unto Rajas a middling, and unto Tamas, a low place in the universe. By the aid of unmixed righteousness one attains to a high end (viz., that of the deities or other celestial beings). Through righteousness mixed with sin one attains to the status of humanity. While through unmixed sin one sinks into a vile end (by becoming an animal or a vegetable etc.). Listen now to me, O king, as I speak to thee of the intermixture or compounds of the three attributes of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas. Sometimes Rajas is seen existing with Sattwa. Tamas also exists with Rajas. With Tamas may also be seen Sattwa. Then also may Sattwa and Rajas and Tamas be seen existing together and in equal proportions. They constitute the Unmanifest or Prakriti. When the Unmanifest (Purusha) becomes endued with only Sattwa, he attains to the regions of the deities. Endued with both Sattwa and Rajas, he takes birth among human beings. Endued with Rajas and Tawas, he takes birth among the intermediate order of Being. Endued with all three, viz., Sattwa and Rajas and Tamas, he attains to the status of humanity. Those high souled persons that transcend both righteousness and sin, attain it is said, to that place which is eternal, immutable, undecaying, and immortal. Men of knowledge attain to births that are very superior, and their place is faultless and undecaying, transcending the ken of the senses, free from ignorance, above birth and death, and full of light that dispels all kinds of darkness. Thou hadst asked me about the nature of the Supreme residing in the Unmanifest, (viz., Purusha). I shall tell thee, Listen to me, O king, Even when residing in Prakriti, He is said to reside in His own nature without partaking of the nature of Prakriti.  Prakriti, O king, is inanimate and unintelligent. When presided over by Purusha, then only can she create and destroy.

"'Janaka said, Both Prakriti and Purusha, O thou of great intelligence, are without beginning and without end. Both of them are without form. Both of them are undecaying. Both of them, again, incomprehensible. How then, O foremost of Rishis, can it be said that one of them is inanimate and unintelligent? How, again, is the other said to be animate and intelligent? And why is the latter called Kshetrajna? Thou, O foremost of Brahmanas, art fully conversant with the entire religion of Emancipation. I desire to hear in detail of the religion of Emancipation in its entirety. Do thou discourse to me then of the existence and Oneness of Purusha, of his separateness from Prakriti, of the deities which attach to the body of the place to which embodied creatures repair when they die, and that place to which they may ultimately, in course of time, be able to go. Tell me also of the Knowledge described in the Sankhya system, and of the Yoga system separately. It behoveth thee also to speak of the premonitory symptoms of death, O best of men. All these topics are well known to thee even as an (emblic) myrobalan in thy hand!'"