Mahabharata Aswamedha Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva

Section XXXVI

"Brahma said, 'That which is unmanifest, which is indistinct, all-pervading, everlasting, immutable, should be known to become the city (or mansion) of nine portals, possessed of three qualities, and consisting of five ingredients. Encompassed by eleven including Mind which distinguishes (objects), and having Understanding for the ruler, this is an aggregate of eleven.  The three ducts that are in it support it constantly. These are the three Nadis. They run continually, and have the three qualities for their essence: Darkness, Passion, and Goodness. These are called the (three) qualities. These are coupled with one another. They exist, depending on one another. They take refuge in one another, and follow one another. They are also joined with one another. The five (principal) elements are characterised by (these) three qualities. Goodness is the match of Darkness. Of Goodness the match is Passion. Goodness is also the match of Passion, and of Goodness the match is Darkness. There where Darkness is restrained, Passion is seen to flow. There where Passion is restrained, Goodness is seen to flow. Darkness should be known to have the night (or obscurity) for its essence. It has three characteristics, and is (otherwise) called Delusion. It has unrighteousness (or sin) also for its indication, and it is always present in all sinful acts. This is the nature of Darkness and it appears also as confined with others. Passion is said to have activity for its essence. It is the cause of successive acts. When it prevails, its indication, among all beings, is production. Splendour, lightness, and faith,--these are the form, that is light, of Goodness among all creatures, as regarded by all good men. The true nature of their characteristics will now be declared by me, with reasons. These shall be stated in aggregation and separation. Do ye understand them. Complete delusion, ignorance; illiberality, indecision in respect of action, sleep, haughtiness, fear, cupidity, grief, censure of good acts, loss of memory,--unripeness of judgment, absence of faith, violation of all rules of conduct, want of discrimination, blindness, vileness of behaviour, boastful assertions of performance when there has been no performance, presumption of knowledge in ignorance, unfriendliness (or hostility), evilness of disposition, absence of faith, stupid reasoning, crookedness, incapacity for association, sinful action, senselessness, stolidity, lassitude, absence of self-control, degradation,--all these qualities are known as belonging to Darkness. Whatever other states of mind, connected with delusion, exist in the world, all appertain to Darkness. Frequent ill-speaking of other people, censuring the deities and the Brahmanas, illiberality, vanity, delusion, wrath, unforgiveness, hostility towards all creatures, are regarded as the characteristics of Darkness. Whatever undertakings exist that are unmeritorious (in consequence of their being vain or useless), what gifts there are that are unmeritorious (in consequence of the unworthiness of the donees, the unreasonableness of the

time, the impropriety of the object, etc.), vain eating,--these also appertain to Darkness. Indulgence in calumny, unforgiveness, animosity, vanity, and absence of faith are also said to be characteristics of Darkness. Whatever men there are in this world who are characterised by these and other faults of a similar kind, and who break through the restraints (provided by the scriptures), are all regarded as belonging to the quality of Darkness. I shall now declare the wombs where these men, who are always of sinful deeds, have to take their birth. Ordained to go to hell, they sink in the order of being. Indeed, they sink into the hell of (birth in) the brute creation. They become immobile entities, or animals, or beasts of burden; or carnivorous creatures, or snakes, or worms, insects, and birds; or creatures, of the oviparous order, or quadrupeds of diverse species; or lunatics, or deaf or dumb human beings, or men that are afflicted by dreadful maladies and regarded as unclean. These men of evil conduct, always exhibiting the indications of their acts, sink in Darkness. Their course (of migrations) is always downwards. Appertaining to the quality of Darkness, they sink in Darkness. I shall, after this, declare what the means are of their improvement and ascent; indeed, by what means they succeed in attaining to the regions that exist for men of pious deeds. Those men who take birth in orders other than humanity, by growing up in view of the religious ceremonies of Brahmanas devoted to the duties of their own order and desirous of doing good to all creatures, succeed, through the aid of such purificatory rites, in ascending upwards. Indeed, struggling (to improve themselves), they at last attain to the same regions with these pious Brahmanas. Verily, they go to Heaven. Even this is the Vedic audition.  Born in orders other than humanity and growing old in their respective acts, even thus they become human beings that are, of course, ordained to return. Coming to sinful births and becoming Chandalas or human beings that are deaf or that lisp indistinctly, they attain to higher and higher castes, one after another in proper turn, transcending the Sudra order, and other (consequences of) qualities that appertain to Darkness and that abide in it in course of migrations in this world.  Attachment to objects of desire is regarded as great delusion. Here Rishis and Munis and deities become deluded, desirous of pleasure. Darkness, delusion, the great delusion, the great obscurity called wrath, and death, that blinding obscurity, (these are the five great afflictions). As regards wrath, that is the great obscurity (and not aversion or hatred as is sometimes included in the list). With respect then to its colour (nature), its characteristics, and its source, I have, ye learned Brahmanas, declared to you, accurately and in due order, everything about (the quality of) Darkness. Who is there that truly understands it? Who is there that truly sees it? That, indeed, is the characteristic of Darkness,

viz., the beholding of reality in what is not real. The qualities of Darkness have been declared to you in various ways. Duly has Darkness, in its higher and lower forms, been described to you. That man who always bears in mind the qualities mentioned here, will surely succeed in becoming freed from all characteristics that appertain to Darkness.'"