Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


Janamejaya said, "The illustrious Hari becomes gracious unto them that are devoted to him with their whole souls. He accepts also all worship that is offered to Him agreeably to the ordinance. Of those persons that have burnt off their fuel,  and that are divested of both merit and demerit, that have attained the Knowledge as handed down from preceptor to preceptor--such persons always attain to that end which is called the fourth, viz., the essence of the Purushottama or Vasudeva, --through the three others. Those persons, however, that are devoted to Narayana with their whole souls at once attain to the highest end  Without doubt, the religion of devotion seems to be superior (to that of Knowledge) and is very dear to Narayana. These, without going through the three successive stages (of Aniruddha, Pradyumna, and Sankarshana), at once attain to the immutable Hari. The end that is attained by Brahmanas, who, attending to due observances, study the Vedas with the Upanishads according to the rules laid down for regulating such study, and by those that adopt the religion of Yatis, is inferior, I think, to that attained by persons devoted to Hari with their whole souls. Who first promulgated this religion of Devotion? Was it some deity or some Rishi that declared it? What are the practices of those that are said to be devoted with their whole souls? When did those practices begin? I have doubts on these topics. Do thou remove those doubts. Great is nay curiosity to hear thee explain the several points." 

Vaisampayana said, "When the diverse divisions of the Pandava and the Kuru armies were drawn up in the array for the battle and when Arjuna became cheerless, the holy one himself explained the question of what is the end and what is not the end attained by persons of different characters. I have before this recited to thee the words of the holy one. The

religion preached by the holy one on that occasion is difficult of comprehension. Men of uncleansed souls cannot apprehend it at all. Having created this religion in days of yore, viz., in the Krita age, in perfect consonance with the Samans, it is borne, O king, by the Supreme Lord, viz., Narayana, himself. This very topic was raised by the highly blessed Partha to Narada (for the latter's discourse) in the midst of the Rishis and in the presence of Krishna and Bhishma. My preceptor, viz., the Island-born Krishna heard what Narada said. Receiving it from the celestial Rishis, O best of kings, my preceptor imparted it to me in exactly the same way in which he had obtained it from the celestial Rishi. I shall now recite it to thee, O monarch, in the same way as it has been received from Narada. Listen, therefore, to me. In that Kalpa when Brahma the Creator, O king, took his birth in the mind of Narayana and issued from the latter's mouth, Narayana himself performed, O Bharata, his Daiva and Paitra rites in accordance with this religion. Those Rishis that subsist upon the froth of water then obtained it from Narayana. From the froth-eating Rishis, this religion was obtained by those Rishis that go by the name of Vaikanasas. From the Vaikanasas, Shoma got it. Afterwards, it disappeared from the universe. After the second birth of Brahma, viz., when he sprang from the eyes of Narayana, O king, the Grandsire (that is. Brahma) then received this religion from Shoma. Having received it thus, Brahma imparted this religion, which has Narayana for its soul, unto Rudra. In the Krita age of that ancient Kalpa, Rudra, devoted to Yoga, O monarch, communicated it to all those Rishis that are known by the name of Valikhilyas. Through the illusion of Narayana, it once more disappeared from the universe. In the third birth of Brahma, which was due to the speech of Narayana, this religion once more sprang up, O king, from Narayana himself. Then a Rishi of the name of Suparna obtained it from that foremost of Beings. The Rishi Suparna used to recite this excellent religion, this foremost of cults, three times during the day. In consequence of this, it came to be called by the name of Trisauparna in the world. This religion has been referred to in the Rigveda. The duties it inculcates are exceedingly difficult of observance. From the Rishi Suparna, this eternal religion was obtained, O foremost of men, by the God of wind, that sustainer of the lives of all creatures in the universe. The God of wind communicated it unto such Rishis as subsist upon what remains of sacrificial offerings after feeding guests and others. From those Rishis this excellent religion was obtained by the Great Ocean. It once more disappeared from the universe and became merged into Narayana. In the next birth of the high-souled Brahman when he Sprang from the ear of Narayana, listen, O chief of men, to what happened in that Kalpa. The illustrious Narayana, otherwise called Hari, when he resolved upon Creation, thought of a Being who would be puissant enough to create the universe. While thinking of this, a Being sprang from his ears competent to create the universe. The Lord of all called him by the name of Brahma. Addressing Brahma, the Supreme Narayana said unto him,--Do thou, O son, create all kinds of creatures from thy mouth and feet. O thou of excellent vows, I shall do what will be beneficial for thee, for I shall impart to thee both energy and strength sufficient to render thee competent for this task. Do thou receive also from me this excellent religion known by the name of Sattwata. Aided by that religion do thou create the Krita age and ordain it duly. Thus addressed, Brahma bowed his head unto the illustrious Hari, the god of the gods and received from him that foremost of all cults with all its mysteries and its abstract of details, together with the Aranyakas,--viz., that cult, which sprang from the mouth of Narayana. Narayana then instructed Brahma of immeasurable energy in that cult, and addressing him, said,--Thou art the creator of the duties that are to be observed in the respective Yugas. Having said this unto Brahma, Narayana disappeared and proceeded to that spot which is beyond the reach of Tamas, where the Unmanifest resides, and which is known by the men of acts without desire of fruits. After this, the boon-giving Brahma, the Grandsire of the worlds, created the different worlds with their mobile and immobile creatures. The age that first commenced was highly auspicious and came to be called by the name of Krita. In that age, the religion of Sattwa existed, pervading the entire universe.  With the aid of that primeval religion of righteousness, Brahma, the Creator of all the worlds, worshipped the Lord of all the deities, viz., the puissant Narayana, otherwise called Hari. Then for the spread of that religion and desirous of benefiting the worlds, Brahman instructed that Manu who is known by the name of Swarochish in that cult. Swarochish-Manu, that Lord of all the worlds, that foremost of all persons endued with puissance, then cheerfully imparted the knowledge of that cult to his own son, O king, who was known by the name of Sankhapada. The son of Manu, viz., Sankhapada, communicated the knowledge of that to his own son Suvarnabha who was the Regent of the cardinal and subsidiary points of the compass. When, upon the expiration of the Kriti Yuga, the Treta came, that cult once more disappeared from the world. In a subsequent birth of Brahman, O best of kings, viz., that which was derived from the nose of Narayana. O Bharata, the illustrious and puissant Narayana or Hari with eyes like lotus petals, himself sang this religion in the presence of Brahma. Then the son of Brahma, created by a fiat of his will, viz., Sanatkumara, studied this cult. From Sanatkumara, the Prajapati Virana, in the beginning of the Krita age, O tiger among Kurus, obtained this cult. Virana having studied it in this way, taught it to the ascetic Raivya. Raivya, in his turn, imparted it to his son of pure soul, good vows, and great intelligence, viz., Kukshi, that righteous Regent of the cardinal and subsidiary points of the compass. After this, that cult, born of the mouth of Narayana, once more disappeared from the world. In the next birth of Brahma, viz., that which he was derived from an egg which sprang from Hari, this cult once more

issued from the mouth of Narayana. It was received by Brahma, O king, and practised duly in all its details by him. Brahma then communicated it, O monarch, to those Rishis that are known by the name of Varhishada. From the Varhishadas it was obtained by a Brahmana well-versed in the Sama-Veda, and known by the name of Jeshthya. And because he was well-versed with the Samans, therefore was he known also by the name of Jeshthya-Samavrata Hari.  From the Brahmana known by the name of Jeshthya, this cult was obtained by a king of the name of Avikampana. After this, that cult, derived from the puissant Hari, once more disappeared from the world. During the seventh birth of Brahma due to the lotus, O king, that sprang from the navel of Narayana, this cult was once more declared by Narayana himself, unto the Grandsire of pure soul, the Creator of all the worlds, in the beginning of this Kalpa. The Grandsire gave it in days of yore to Daksha (one of his sons created by a fiat of his will). Daksha, in his turn, imparted it to the eldest of all the sons of his daughters, O monarch, viz., Aditya who is senior in age to Savitri. From Aditya, Vivaswat obtained it. In the beginning of the Treta Yuga, Vivaswat imparted the knowledge of this cult to Manu. Manu, for the protection and support of all the worlds, then gave it to his son Ikshaku.  Promulgated by Ikshaku, that cult over-spreads the whole world. When the universal destruction comes, it will once more return to Narayana and be merged in Him. The religion which is followed and practised by the Yatis, has, O best of kings, been narrated to thee before this in the Hari Gita, with all its ordinances in brief. The celestial Rishi Narada got it from that Lord of universe, viz., Narayana himself, O king, with all its mysteries and abstract of details. Thus, O monarch, this foremost of cults is primeval and eternal. Incapable of being comprehended with ease and exceedingly difficult of being practised, it is always upheld by persons wedded to the attribute of Sattwa. It is by means of acts that are well-performed and accomplished with a full knowledge of duties and in which there is nothing of injury to any creature,--that Hari the Supreme Lord becomes gratified. Some persons adore Narayana as possessed of only one form, viz., that of Aniruddha. Some adore Him as endued with two forms, viz., that of Aniruddha and Pradyumna. Some adore Him as having three forms, viz., Aniruddha, Pradyumna, and Sankarshana. A fourth class adore him as consisting of four forms, viz., Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Sankarshana, and Vasudeva. Hari is Himself the Kshetrajna (Soul). He is without parts (being ever full). He is the Jiva in all creatures, transcending the five primal elements. He is the Mind, O monarch, that directs and controls the five senses. Endued with the highest intelligence. He is the Ordainer of the universe, and the Creator thereof. He is both active and inactive. He is both Cause and the Effect. He is the one immutable Purusha, who

sports as He likes, O king. Thus have I recited to thee the religion of desireless Devotees, O best of kings, incapable of being comprehended by persons of uncleansed souls but this I acquired through the grace of my preceptor. Persons are very rare, O king, that are devoted to Narayana with whole souls. If, O son of Kuru's race the world had been full of such persons, that are full of universal compassion, that are endued with knowledge of the soul, and that are always employed in doing good to others, then the Krita age would have set in. All men would have betaken themselves to the accomplishment of acts without desire of fruit. It was even in this way, O monarch, that, that foremost of regenerate persons, (viz., the illustrious Vyasa), my preceptor, fully conversant with all duties, discoursed unto king Yudhishthira the just on this religion of Devotion, in the presence of many Rishis and in the hearing of Krishna and Bhishma. He had obtained it from the celestial Rishi Narada endued with wealth of penances. Those persons that are devoted to Narayana with their whole souls and are desireless succeed in attaining to the region of that highest of deities, identical with Brahma, pure in complexion, possessed of the effulgence of the moon and endued with immutability.

Janamejaya said, "I see that those regenerate persons whose souls have been awakened practise diverse kinds of duties. Why is it that other Brahmanas instead of practising those duties betake themselves to the observance of other kinds of vows and rites?"

Vaisampayana said, "Three kinds of disposition, O monarch, have been created in respect of all embodied creatures, viz., that which relates to the attribute of Sattwa, that which relates to the attribute of Rajas, and lastly that which relates to the attribute of Tamas, O Bharata. As regards embodied creatures, O perpetuator of Kuru's race, that person is the foremost who is wedded to the attribute of Sattwa, for, O tiger among men, it is certain that he will attain to Emancipation. It is with the aid of this very attribute of Sattwa that one endued therewith succeeds in understanding the person that is conversant with Brahma. As regards Emancipation, it is entirely dependent upon Narayana. Hence it is that persons striving after Emancipation are regarded as made up of the attribute of Sattwa. By thinking of Purushottama the foremost of Beings, the man that is devoted with his whole soul to Narayana, acquires great wisdom. Those persons that are endued with wisdom, that have betaken themselves to the practices of Yatis and the religion of Emancipation,--those persons of quenched thirst, always find that Hari favours them with the fruition of their desire.  That man subject to birth (and death) upon whom Hari casts a kind eye should be known as endued with the attribute of Sattwa and devoted to the acquisition of Emancipation. The religion followed by a person that is devoted with his whole soul to

Narayana is regarded as similar or equal in merit to the system of the Sankhyas. By adopting that religion one attains to the highest end and attains to Emancipation which has Narayana for its soul. That person upon whom Narayana looks with compassion succeeds in becoming awakened.  No one, O king, can become awakened through his own wishes. That nature which partakes of both Rajas and Tamas is said to be mixed. Hari never casts a kind eye upon the person subject to birth (and death) that is endued with such a mixed nature and that has, on that account, the principle of Pravritti in him. Only Brahma, the Grandsire of the worlds, looks upon the person that is subject to birth and death because of his mind being overwhelmed with the two inferior attributes of Rajas and Tamas.  Without doubt, the deities and the Rishis are wedded to the attributes of Sattwa, O best of kings. But then they that are divested of that attribute in its subtile form are always regarded to be of mutable nature". 

Janamejaya said, "How can one that is fraught with the principle of change succeed in attaining to that Purushottama (the foremost of Purusha)? Do tell me all this, which is, no doubt, known to thee. Do thou discourse to me also of Pravritti in due order."

Vaisampayana said, "That which is the twenty-fifth (in the enumeration of topics as made in the Sankhya system) viz., when it becomes able to abstain entirely from acts, succeeds in attaining to the Purushottama which is exceedingly subtile, which is invested with the attribute of Sattwa (in its subtile form), and which is fraught with the essences symbolised by three letters of the alphabet (viz., A, U, and M). The Sankhya system, the Aranyaka-Veda, and the Pancharatra scriptures, are all one and the same and form parts of one whole. Even this is the religion of those that are devoted with their whole souls to Narayana, the religion that has Narayana for its essence.  As waves of the ocean, rising from the ocean, rush away from it only to return to it in the end, even so diverse kinds of knowledge, springing from Narayana, return to Narayana in the end. I have thus explained to thee, O son of Kuru's race, what

the religion of Sattwa is. If thou beest competent for it, O Bharata, do thou practise that religion duly. Even thus did the highly-blessed Narada explain to my preceptor,--the Island-born Krishna--the eternal and immutable course, called Ekanta, (ending in One) followed by the Whites  as also by the yellow-robed Yatis. Vyasa gratified with Dharma's son Yudhishthira, imparted this religion to king Yudhishthira the just who was possessed of great intelligence. Derived from my preceptor I have also communicated it to thee! O best of kings, this religion is for these reasons, exceedingly difficult of practice. Others, hearing it, become as much confounded as thou hast suffered thyself to be. It is Krishna who is the protector of the universe and its beguiler. It is He who is the destroyer and the cause, O monarch."