From Mundaka Upanishad
Translated by Swami Gambhirananda
Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati
From Mundaka Upanishad
Translated by Swami Gambhirananda
Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati
This Self is not attained by one devoid of strength, nor through delusion, nor through knowledge unassociated with monasticism. But the Self of that knower, who strives through these means, enters into the abode that is Brahman.
Having attained this, the seers become contented with their knowledge, established in the Self, freed from attachment, and composed. Having realised the all-pervasive One everywhere, these discriminating people, ever merged in contemplation, enter into the All.
Those to whom the entity presented by the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained, and who endeavour assiduously with the help of the Yoga of monasticism, become pure in mind. At the supreme moment of final departure all of them become identified with the supreme Immortality in the worlds that are Brahman, and they become freed on every side.
It is not comprehended through the eye, nor through speech, nor through the other senses; nor is It attained through austerity or Karma. Since one becomes purified in mind through the favourableness of the intellect, therefore can one see that indivisible Self through meditation.
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXLV
Translated by sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXLV
Translated by sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Suka said: While living in the due observance of the duties of the foremost of life, how should one, who seeks to attain to That which is the highest object of knowledge, set one’s soul on Yoga according to the best of one’s power?
Vyasa said: Having acquired (purity of conduct and body) by the practice of the first two modes of life, viz., Brahmacharya and domesticity, one should, after that, set one’s soul on Yoga in the third mode of life (Vanprastha). Listen now with concentrated attention to what should be done for attaining to the highest object of acquisition!
[Note: By the first line of this verse, Vyasa answers his son’s question. Having answered the question, the speaker (in the second line) proceeds to indicate the simple or straight path for reaching the highest object of men’s endeavour, viz., Parmartham or Brahman.]
Having subdued all faults of the mind and the heart by easy means in the practice of the first three modes of life (viz., pupilage, domesticity, and seclusion) one should pass into the most excellent and the most eminent of all the modes, viz., Sannyasa or Renunciation. Do thou then pass thy days, having acquired that purity. Listen also to me. One should, alone and without anybody to assist him or bear him company, practise Yoga for attaining to success (in respect of one’s highest object of acquisition). One who practises Yoga without companionship, who beholds everything as a repetition of his own self, and who never discards anything (in consequence of all things being pervaded by the Universal Soul), never falls away from Emancipation.
Without keeping the sacrificial fire and without a fixed habitation, such a person should enter a village for only begging his food. He should provide himself for the day without storing for the morrow. He should betake himself to penances, with heart fixed on the Supreme. [Note: Bhava-samahitah is explained as chitta-samadhanavan.]
Eating little and that even under proper regulations, he should not eat more than once a day. The other indications of a (religious) mendicant are the human skull, shelter under trees, rags for wearing, solitude unbroken by the companionship of any one, and indifference to all creatures. [Note: The skull is to be used as a drinking vessel. Kuchela, which I render ‘rags’, is supposed by the commentator to signify reddish or brown cloth which has, from age, lost its colour.]
That person into whom words enter like affrighted elephants into a well, and from whom they never come back to the speaker, is fit to lead this mode of life which has Emancipation for its object. [Note: Elephants, when hurled into a well, become utterly helpless and unable to come out. That person, therefore, into whom words enter like elephants into a well, is he who answers not the evil speeches of others. What is said here is that only a person of such forbearance should betake himself to mendicancy or Sannyasa.]
The mendicant (or Renouncer) should never take note of the evil acts of any person. He should never hear what is said in dispraise of others. Especially should he avoid speaking evil of a Brahmana (Brahmin). He should always say only what is agreeable to the Brahmanas. When anything is said in dispraise (of himself), he should (without answering) remain perfectly silent. Such silence, indeed, is the medical treatment prescribed for him. That person in consequence of whose single self the place he occupies becomes like the eastern sky, and who can make a spot teeming with thousands of men and things appear to himself perfectly solitary or unoccupied, is regarded by the deities to be a true Brahmana. [Note: I have given a closely literal version of this verse. The commentator explains that first line refers to the person who deems himself to be everything to be himself. The second line refers to the same individual who, by Yoga, can withdraw his senses and the mind and consequently make the most populous place appear as totally solitary or unoccupied. This is the Yoga process called Pratyahara.]
Him the gods know for a Brahmana who clothes himself with whatever comes by the way, who subsists upon whatever he gets, and who sleeps on whatever spot he finds. Him the gods know for a Brahmana who is afraid of company as of a snake; (afraid) of the full measure of gratification (from sweet viands and drinks) as of hell; and (afraid) of women as of a corpse. [Note: Suhitya, whence Sauhitya, means no satiety but the full measure of gratification from eating. The speaker wishes to lay down that the mendicant or renouncer should never take food to the full measure of gratification. He should eat without completely appeasing his hunger.]
Him the gods know for a Brahmana who is never glad when honoured and never angry when insulted, and who has given assurances of compassion unto all creatures. One in the observance of the last mode of life should not view death with joy. Nor should he view life with joy. He should only wait for is hour like a servant waiting for the behest (of his master). He should purify his heart of all faults. He should purify his speech of all faults. He should cleanse himself of all sins. As he has no foes, what fear can assail him? He who fears no creature and whom no creature fears, can have no fear from any quarter, freed as he is from error of every kind. As the footprints of all other creatures that move upon legs are engulfed within those of elephants, after the same manner all ranks and conditions are absorbed within Yoga.
[Note: I follow the commentator in his exposition of Kunjara which he derives as Kun (earth or the body which is made of earth) Jaravati iti kunjarah, i.e., a Yogi in Samadhi. The sense seems to be that the fruits of Yoga include or absorb the fruits of every other act. The rank and status of Indra himself is absorbed within what is attained to by Yoga. There is no kind of felicity that is not engulfed in the felicity of Emancipation, which Yoga alone can confer.]
After the same manner, every other duty and observance is supposed to be engulfed within the one duty of abstention from injury (to all creatures). [Note: The commentator thinks that by the ‘one duty of abstention from injury’ is implied the fourth mode of life or Sannyasa. What is said, therefore, is that the observance of the single duty of harmlessness includes that of every other duty; or, what amounts to the same thing, the fourth mode of life is singly capable of giving merit which all the others may give together.]
He lives an everlasting life of felicity who avoids injuring other creatures. One who abstains from injury, who casts an equal eye upon all creatures, who is devoted to truth, who is endued with fortitude, who has his senses under control, and who grants protection to all beings, attains to an end that is beyond compare. The condition called death succeeds not in transcending such a person who is content with self-knowledge, who is free from fear, and who is divested of desire and expectancy. On the other hand, such a person succeeds in transcending death. Him the gods know for a Brahmana who is freed from attachments of every kind, who is observant of penances, who lives like space which while holding everything is yet unattached to anything, who has nothing which he calls his own, who leads a life of solitude, and whose is tranquillity of soul. The gods know him for a Brahamana whose life is for the practice of righteousness, whose righteousness is for the good of them that wait dutifully upon him, and whose days and nights exist only for the acquisition of merit.
[Note: Hartyartham means ‘for the sake of Hari’ i.e., one who takes away merit, implying a disciple or attendant. Some texts read Ratyrtham, meaning ‘for the happiness (of others)’.]
The gods know him for a Brahmana who is freed from desire, who never exerts himself for doing such acts as are done by worldly men, who never bends his head unto any one, who never flatters another, and who is free from attachments of every kind. All creatures are pleased with happiness and filled with fear at the prospect of grief. The man of faith, therefore, who should feel distressed at the prospect of filling other creatures with grief, must abstain entirely from acts of every kind. [Note: Because all acts are fraught with injury to others. Whether ‘acts’ betaken in its general sense or in the particular sense of ‘religious acts’, their character is such.]
The gift of assurances of harmlessness unto all creatures transcends in point of merit all other gifts. He, who, at the outset, forswears the religion of injury, succeeds in attaining to Emancipation (in which or) whence is the assurance of harmlessness unto all creatures. [Note: The commentator correctly explains that Tikshnam tanum means the religion of injury, i.e., the religion of sacrifices and acts. ‘So’ for ‘sa’ is Arsha; as also anantyam for anantyam which, of course, implies moksham or Emancipation. The commentator correctly supplies yatah after apnoti and shows that prajabhyah is equivalent to prajanam. The last clause of the second line, therefore, means sa moksham apnoti, yatah prajabhyah (or prajanam) abhayam. The dative, not ablative as the vernacular translators take it, is not bad grammar, although the genitive is more agreeable with usage.]
That man who does not pour into his open mouth even the five or six mouthfuls that are laid down for the forest recluse, is said to be the navel of the world, and the refuge of the universe. The head and other limbs, as also the acts good and bad, become possessed by Fire. Such a man, who sacrifices in his own self, makes a libation of his senses and mind into the fire that dwells within the limited space of his own heart. In consequence again of his pouring such a libation into such a fire within his own self, the universe with all creatures including the very gods, become gratified.
He that apprehends the Jiva-soul (embodied soul) that is endued with effulgence, that is enveloped in three cases, that has three attributes for its characteristics, to be Iswara partaking of that which is foremost, viz., the nature of the Supreme Soul, becomes object of great regard in all the worlds. The very gods with all human beings speak highly of their merits. He who succeeds in beholding in the soul that resides in his own body all the Vedas, space and the other objects of perception, the rituals that occur in scriptures, all those entities that are comprehensible in sound only and the superior nature of the Supreme Soul, is sought to be worshipped by the very deities as the foremost of all beings.
He who sees in the soul that resides within his body, that foremost of beings which is not attached to the earth, which is immeasurable in even the (measureless) firmament, which is made of gold, which is born of the egg and resides within the egg, which is equipped with many feathers, and which has two wings like a bird, and which is rendered effulgent by many rays of light, is sought to be worshipped by the very deities as the foremost of all beings. [Note: All these expressions apply to the Supreme Soul. Immeasurable in the firmament implies that the Supreme Being is vaster than the firmament. ‘Made of gold’ means, as the commentator explains, Chit having knowledge only for its attribute. ‘Born of the egg’ i.e., belonging to the universe. ‘Within the egg’ means ‘capable of being apprehended in the heart’. ‘Equipped with many feathers’ i.e., having many limbs each of which is presided over by a particular deity. The two wings are absence of attachment or complete dissociation from everything and joy and gladness and aptitude for enjoyment. ‘Rendered effulgent by many rays of light’, i.e., transformed into a living and active agent by means of eyes, ears, etc.]
The very deities worship him in whose understanding is set the wheel of Time, which is constantly revolving, which knows no decay, which swallows up the period of existence of every creature, which has the six seasons for its naves, which is equipped with two and ten radii consisting of the two and ten months, which has excellent joint, and towards whose gaping mouth proceeds this universe (ready to be devoured). [Note: The sense is that he who understands the wheel of Time is a person worthy of universal regard. The excellent joints of that wheel are the Parva days, viz., those sacred lunations on which religious rites are performed.]
The Supreme Soul is the capacious unconsciousness of dreamless slumber. That Unconsciousness is the body of the universe. It pervades all created things. Jiva, occupying a portion of that capacious unconsciousness gratifies the deities. These last, being gratified, gratify the open mouth of that unconsciousness. [Note: I give little version of verse 33, following the commentator as regards the meaning of Samprasadam. The sense, however, of the verse is this: Brahma, in the previous sections, has often been spoken of as Sushupti or the unconsciousness of dreamless slumber. The universe flows from Brahma. Unconsciousness, therefore, is the cause or origin or body of the universe. That unconsciousness, therefore, pervades all things, viz., gross and subtle. Jiva, finding a place within that unconsciousness existing in the form of gross and subtle, gratifies the deities, prana and the senses. These, thus gratified by Jiva, at last gratify the open mouth of the original unconsciousness that waits to receive or swallow them. All these verses are based upon the figurative ideas that find expression in the Upanishads.]
Endued with effulgence as also with the principle of eternity, Jiva is without beginning. It acquires (by following particular paths) infinite regions of eternal happiness. He, of whom no creature is afraid, has never to fear any creature. He who never does anything censurable and who never censures another, is said to be a truly regenerate person. Such a man succeeds in beholding the Supreme Soul. He whose ignorance has been dispelled and whose sins have been washed away, never enjoys either here or hereafter the happiness that is enjoyed by others (but attains to complete Emancipation). A person in the observance of the fourth mode of life wanders on the earth like one unconnected with everything. Such a one is freed from wrath and error. Such a one regards a clod of earth and lump of gold with an equal eye. Such a man never stores anything for his use. Such a one has no friends and foes. Such a one is utterly regardless of praise or blame, and of the agreeable and the disagreeable.
From The Mahabharata
Udyoga Parva, section XLIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Addressing King Dhritarashtra:
Sanat-sujata said: Renunciation is of six kinds. The reverse of those six again are faults called Mada. The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. (Of these six kinds of renunciation) the third only is difficult of practice, but by that all sorrow is overcome. Indeed, if that kind of renunciation were accomplished in practice, he that accomplishes it overcomes all the pairs of contraries in the world.
The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. They are these:
- The first is never experiencing joy on occasions of prosperity.
- The second is the abandonment of sacrifices, prayers and pious acts.
- That which is called the third, is the abandonment of desire or withdrawing from the world. Indeed, it is in consequence of this third kind of renunciation of desire, which is evidenced by the abandonment of all objects of enjoyment (without enjoying them) and not their abandonment after having enjoyed them to the fill, nor by abandonment after acquisition, nor by abandonment only after one has become incompetent to enjoy from loss of appetite.
- The fourth kind of renunciation consists in this: One should not grieve nor suffer his self to be afflicted by grief when one’s actions fail, notwithstanding one’s possessions of all the virtues and all kinds of wealth. Or, when anything disagreeable happens, one feels no pain.
- The fifth kind of renunciation consists in not soliciting even one’s sons, wives and others that may all be very dear.
- The sixth kind consists in giving away to a deserving person who solicits, which act of gifts is always productive of merit. By these again, one acquires the knowledge of Self. As regards this last attribute, it involves eight qualities. These are truth, meditation, distinction of subject and object, capacity for drawing inferences, withdrawal from the world, never taking what belongs to others, the practices of Brahmacharya vows (celibacy; abstinence), and non-acceptance (of gifts).
AsceticismDhritarashtra said: O Sanat-sujata, how can ascetic austerities which are all of the same kind, be sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful? Tell us this in order that we may know it.
Sanat-sujata said: That asceticism which is not stained by (desire and other) faults is said to be capable of procuring emancipation, and is, therefore, successful, while the asceticism that is stained by vanity and want of true devotion is regarded unsuccessful. All thy enquiries, O Kshatriya, touch the very root of asceticism. It is by asceticism that they that are learned, know Brahman (the Supreme Reality) and win immortality.
Dhritarashtra said: I have listened to what thou hast said about asceticism unstained by faults, and by which I have succeeded in knowing an eternal mystery. Tell me now, O Sanat-sujata, about asceticism that is stained by faults.
Thirteen kinds of wickednessSanat-sujata said: O king, the twelve, including anger, (are also the thirteen kinds of wickedness,) are the faults of asceticism that is stained. Anger, lust, avarice, ignorance of right and wrong, discontent, cruelty, malice, vanity, grief, love of pleasure, envy, and speaking ill of others, are generally the faults of human beings. These twelve should always be avoided by men. Any one amongst these can singly effect the destruction of men, O bull among men. Indeed, every one of these wait for opportunity in respect of men, like a hunter expectant of opportunities in respect of deer. Assertion of one’s own superiority, desire of enjoying others’ wives, humiliating others from excess of pride, wrathfulness, fickleness, and refusing to maintain those worthy of being maintained, these six acts of wickedness are always practised by sinful men defying all dangers here and hereafter.
that are the faults of asceticism
that are the faults of asceticism
These seven are others that are also called wickedHe that regards the gratification of lust to be one of life’s aims, he that is exceedingly proud, he that grieves having given away, he that never spends money, he that persecutes his subjects by exacting hateful taxes, he that delights in the humiliation of others, and he that hates his own wives, - these seven are others that are also called wicked.
These twelve constitute the practiceRighteousness, truth (abstention from injury and truthfulness of speech), self-restraint, asceticism, delight in the happiness of others, modesty, forbearance, love of others, sacrifices, gifts, perseverance, knowledge of the scriptures, - these twelve constitute the practices of Brahmanas (Brahmins). He that succeeds in acquiring these twelve becomes competent to sway the entire earth. He that is endues with three, two or even one, of these, should be regarded of heavenly prosperity.
of Brahmanas (Brahmins)
of Brahmanas (Brahmins)
Self-restraint, renunciation, and knowledge of Self, - in these are emancipation. Those Brahmans that are endued with wisdom say that these are attributes in which truth predominates. Self-restraint is constituted by eighteen virtues.
Mada or prideHe that is freed from these (eighteen) vices is said by the righteous to be self-restrained.
The eighteen faults (that have been enumerated) constitute what is called Mada or pride.
Breaches and non-observance of ordained acts and omissions, falsehood, malice, lust, wealth, love of sensual pleasure, anger, grief, avarice, deceit, joy in the misery of others, envy, injuring others, regret, aversion from pious acts, forgetfulness of duty, calumniating others, and vanity- he that is freed from these (eighteen) vices is said by the righteous to be self-restrained. The eighteen faults (that have been enumerated) constitute what is called Mada or pride. Renunciation is of six kinds. The reverse of those six are faults called Mada. (The faults, therefore, that go by the name of Mada are eighteen and six).
The attribute of Mada (the opposite of Dama or self-restraint) has faults, which have all been indicated (in the scriptures). These faults should be avoided. I have spoken (to thee) of renunciation and self-knowledge. And as self-knowledge has eight virtues, so the want of it has eight faults. Those faults should be avoided. O Bharata, he that is liberated from the five senses, mind, the past and the future, becomes happy, O king, let thy soul be devoted to truth; all the worlds are established on truth; indeed, self-control, renunciation, and self-knowledge are said to have truth for their foremost attribute. Avoiding these faults, one should practise asceticism here. The Ordainer has ordained that truth alone should be the vow of the righteous. Asceticism, that is dissociated from these faults and endued with these virtues, becomes the source of great prosperity.
I have now briefly told thee about that sin-destroying and sacred subject which thou had asked me, and which is capable of liberating a person from birth, death, and decrepitude.
Science of Speech
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCCXXI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Santi Parva, Section CCCXXI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
An extract from the dialogue between King Janaka, the ruler of the Videha and a woman of the name of Sulabha, belonging to the mendicant order.
Sulabha said: O king, speech ought always to be free from the nine verbal faults and the nine faults of judgment. It should also, while setting forth the meaning with perspicuity, be possessed of the eighteen well-known merits.
Ambiguity, ascertainment of the faults and merits of premises and conclusions, the conclusion, and the element of persuasiveness or otherwise that attaches to the conclusion thus arrived at- these five characteristics appertaining to the sense- constitute the authoritativeness of what is said. Listen now o the characteristics of these requirements beginning with ambiguity, one after another, as I expound them according to the combinations.
When knowledge rests on distinction in consequence of the object to be known being different from one another, and when (as regards the comprehension of the subject) the understanding rests upon many points, one after another, the combination of words (in whose case this occurs) is said to be vitiated by ambiguity. By ascertainment (of faults and merits), called Sankhya, is meant the establishment, by elimination, of faults or merits (in premises and conclusions), adopting tentative meanings. Krama or weighing the relative strength or weakness of the faults or merits (ascertained by the above process) consists in settling the propriety of the priority or subsequence of the words employed in a sentence. This is the meaning attached to the word ‘Krama’ by persons conversant with the interpretation of sentences or texts. By conclusion is meant the final determination, after this examination of what has been said on the subjects of religion, pleasure, wealth, and Emancipation, in respect of what is particularly is that has been said in the text. The sorrow born of wish or aversion increases to a great measure. The conduct, O king, that one pursues in such a matter (for dispelling the sorrow experienced) is called Prayojanam.
[Note: By ‘prayojanam’ is meant the conduct one pursues for gratifying one’s wish to acquire or avoid any object. Wish in respect of either acquisition or avoidance, if ungratified, becomes a source of pain. The section or conduct that one adopts for removing that pain is called Prayojanam. In the Gautama-sutras it is said that ‘yamarthamadhikritya pravartate, tat prayojanam.’ The two definitions are identical.]
Take it for certain, O king, at my word, that these characteristics of Ambiguity and the other (numbering five in all), when occurring together, constitute a complete and intelligible sentence.
[Note: By occurrence of these five characteristics together is meant that when these are properly attended to by a speaker or writer, only then can his sentence be said to be complete and intelligible. In Nyaya, the five requisites are Pratijna, Hetu, Udaharana, Upanaya, and Nigamana. In the Mimansa philosophy, the five requisites have been named differently. Vishaya, Samsaya, Purvapaksha, Uttara, and Nirnaya.]
The words I shall utter will be fraught with sense, free from ambiguity (in consequence of each of them not being symbols of many things), logical, free from pleonasm or tautology, smooth, certain, free from bombast, agreeable or sweet, truthful, inconsistent with the aggregate of three, (viz., Righteousness, Wealth, and Pleasure), refined (i.e., free from Prakriti), not elliptical or imperfect, destitute of harshness or difficulty of comprehension, characterized by due order, not far fetched in respect of sense, corrected with one another as cause and effect and each having a specific object.
[Note: These characteristics, though numbering sixteen, include the four and twenty mentioned by Bhojadeva in his Rhetoric called ‘Saraswati-kanthabharana.]
I shall not tell thee anything, prompted by desire or wrath or fear or cupidity or abjectness or deceit or shame or compassion or pride. (I answer thee because it is proper for me to answer what thou hast said). When the speaker, the hearer, and the words said, thoroughly agree with one another in course of a speech, then does the sense or meaning come out very clearly. When, in the matter of what is to be said, the speaker shows disregard for the understanding of the hearer by uttering words whose meaning is understood by himself, then, however good those words may be, they become incapable of being seized by the hearer.
That speaker, again, who, abandoning all regard for his own meaning uses words that are of excellent sound and sense, awakens only erroneous impressions in the mind of the hearer. Such words in such connection become certainly faulty. That speaker, however, who employs words that are, while expressing his own meaning, intelligible to the hearer, as well, truly deserves to be called a speaker. No other man deserves the name. It behoveth thee, therefore, O king, to hear with concentrated attention these words of mine, fraught with meaning and endued with wealth of vocables.
From The Mahabharata
Vana Parva, Section XLVI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Vaisampayana said: One day, knowing that Arjuna’s glances were cast upon Urvasi, Indra (the lord of heaven), calling Chitrasena to himself, addressed him in private saying, "O king of Gandharvas, I am pleased; go thou as my messenger to that foremost of Apsaras, Urvasi, and let her wait upon that tiger among men, Arjuna. Tell her, saying these words of mine, as through my instrumentality Arjuna has learnt all the weapons and other arts, worshipped by all, so should thou make him conversant with the art of acquitting one’s self in female company."
Thus addressed by Indra, the chief of the Gandharvas, in obedience to that command of Indra, soon went to Urvasi that foremost of Apsaras. And as he saw her, she recognised him and delighted him by the welcome she offered and the salutation she gave. And seated at ease he then smilingly addressed Urvasi, who also was seated at ease, saying, "Let it be known, O thou of fair hips, that I come hither despatched by the one sole lord of heaven (Indra) who asks of thee a favour. He who is known amongst gods and men for his many inborn virtues, for his grace, behaviour, beauty of person, vows and self-control, who is noted for prowess and respected by the virtuous, and ready witted; who is endued with genius and splendid energy, is of a forgiving temper and without malice of any kind; who has studied the four Vedas with their branches, and the Upanishads, and the Puranas also; viz., (that person is) Arjuna, who is known to thee, O Urvasi. Know thou that hero is to be made to taste the joys of heaven. Commanded by Indra, let him today obtain thy feet. Do this, O amiable one, for Arjuna is inclined to thee."
Thus addressed, Urvasi of faultless features assumed a smiling face, and receiving the words of the Gandharva with high respect, answered with a glad heart.
Urvasi said: Hearing of the virtues that should adorn men, as unfolded by thee, I would bestow my favours upon any one who happened to possess them. Why should I not then, choose, Arjuna for a lover? At the command of Indra, and for my friendship for thee, and moved also by the numerous virtues of Arjuna, I am already under the influence of the god of love. Go thou, therefore, to the place thou desirest. I shall gladly go to Arjuna.
Vaisampayana said: Having thus sent away the Gandharva successful in his mission, Urvasi of luminous smiles, moved by the desire of possessing Arjuna, took a bath. And having performed her ablutions, she decked herself in charming ornaments and splendid garlands of celestial odour. And inflamed by the god of love, and her heart pierced through and through by the shafts shot by Manmatha keeping in view the beauty of Arjuna, and her imagination wholly taken up by the thoughts of Arjuna, she mentally sported with him on a wide and excellent bed laid over with celestial sheets.
And when the twilight had deepened and the moon was up, that Apsara of high hips set out for the mansions of Arjuna. And in that mood and with her crisp, soft and long braids decked with bunches of flowers, she looked extremely beautiful. With her beauty and grace, and the charm of the motions of her eye-brows and of her soft accents, and her own moon like face, she seemed to tread, challenging the moon himself. And as she proceeded, her deep, finely tapering bosoms, decked with a chain of gold and adorned with celestial unguents and smeared with fragrant sandal paste, began to tremble. And in consequence of the weight of her bosoms, she was forced to slightly stoop forward at every step, bending her waist exceedingly beautiful with three folds.
And her loins of faultless shape, the elegant abode of the god of love, furnished with fair and high and round hips and wide at their lower part as a hill, and decked with chains of gold, and capable of shaking the saintship of anchorites, being decked with thin attire, appeared highly graceful. And her feet with fair suppressed ankles, and possessing flat soles and straight toes of the colour of burnished copper and dorsum high and curved like tortoise back and marked by the wearing of ornaments furnished with rows of little bells, looked exceedingly handsome.
And exhilarated with a little liquor which she had taken, and excited by desire, and moving in diverse attitudes and expressing a sensation of delight, she looked more handsome than usual. And though heaven abounded with many wonderful objects, yet when Urvasi proceeded in this manner, the Siddhas and Charanas and Gandharvas regarded her to be the handsomest object they had cast their eyes upon. And the upper half of her body clad in an attire of fine texture and cloudy hues, she looked resplendent like a digit of the moon in the firmament shrouded by fleecy clouds.
And endued with the speed of the winds or the mind, she of luminous smiles soon reached the mansion of Arjuna, the son of Pandu. And, Urvasi of beautiful eyes, having arrived at the gate of Arjuna’s abode sent word through the keeper in attendance. And on receiving permission, she soon entered that brilliant and charming palace. But, upon beholding her at night in his mansion, Arjuna, with a fear-stricken heart stepped up to receive her with respect and as soon as he saw her, the son of Pritha, from modesty, closed his eyes. And saluting her, he offered the Apsara such worship as is offered unto a superior. And Arjuna said, ‘O thou foremost of the Apsaras, I reverence thee by bending my head down. O lady, let me know thy commands. I wait upon thee as thy servant.’
Vaisampayana continued: Hearing these words of Arjuna, Urvasi became deprived of her senses. And she soon represented unto Arjuna all that had passed between her and the Gandharva, Chitrasena.
And Urvasi said: O best of men, I shall tell thee all that hath passed between me and Chitrasena, and why I have come hither. On account of thy coming here, O Arjuna, Mahendra had convened a large and charming assembly, in which celestial festivities were held. Unto that assembly came, O best of men, the Rudras and the Adityas and the Aswins and the Vasus. And there came also numbers of great Rishis and royal sages and Siddhas and Charanas and Yakshas and great Nagas. And, O thou of expansive eyes, the members of the assembly resplendent as fire or the sun or the moon, having taken their seats according to rank, honour and prowess, the Gandharvas began to strike the Vinas (stringed musical instrument like the Sitar) and sing charming songs of celestial melody.
And, O perpetuator of the Kuru race, the principal Apsaras also commenced to dance. Then, O son of Pritha, thou hadst looked on me only with a steady gaze. When that assembly of the celestials broke, commanded by thy father, the gods went away to their respective places. And the principal Apsaras also went away to their abodes, and others also, O slayer of foes, commanded by thy father and obtaining his leave. It was then that Chitrasena sent to me by Indra, and arriving at my abode, O thou of eyes like lotus leaves, he addressed me, saying, "O thou of the fairest complexion, I have been sent unto thee by the chief of the celestials. Do thou something that would be agreeable to Mahendra and myself and to thyself also. O thou of fair hips, seek thou to please Arjuna, who is brave in battle even like Indra himself, and who is always possessed of magnanimity." Even these, O son of Pritha, were his words. Thus, O sinless one, commanded by him and thy father also, I came to thee in order to wait upon thee, O slayer of foes. My heart hath been attracted by thy virtues, and am already under the influence of the god of love. And, O hero, even this is my wish, and I have cherished it for ever!
Vaisampayana continued: While in heaven, hearing her speak in this strain, Arjuna was overcome with bashfulness. And shutting his ears with his hands,
Arjuna said: O blessed lady, fie on my sense of hearing, when thou speakest thus to me. For, O thou of beautiful face, thou art certainly equal in my estimation unto the wife of a superior. Even as Kunti of high fortune or Sachi the queen of Indra, art thou to me, O auspicious one, of this there is no doubt! That I had gazed particularly at thee, O blessed one, is true. There was a reason for it. I shall truly tell it to thee, O thou of luminous smiles! In the assembly I gazed at thee with eyes expanded in delight, thinking, ‘Even this blooming lady is the mother of the Kaurava race.’ O blessed Apsara, it behoveth thee not to entertain other feelings towards me, for thou art superior to my superiors, being the parent of my race.
Hearing these words of Arjuna,
Urvasi answered: O son of the chief of the celestials, we Apsaras are free and unconfined in our choice. It behoveth thee not, therefore, to esteem me as thy superior. The sons and grandsons of Puru’s race, that have come hither in consequence of ascetic merit do all sport with us, without incurring any sin. Relent therefore, O hero, it behoveth thee not to send me away. I am burning with desire. I am devoted to thee. Accept me, O thou giver of proper respect.
Arjuna replied: O beautiful lady of features perfectly faultless, listen. I truly tell thee. Let the four directions and the transverse directions, let also the gods listen. O sinless one, as Kunti, or Madri, or Sachi, is to me, so art thou, the parent of my race, an object of reverence to me. Return, O thou of the fairest complexion. I bend my head unto thee, and prostrate myself at thy feet. Thou deservest my worship as my own mother; and it behoveth thee to protect me as a son.
Vaisampayana continued: Thus addressed by Arjuna, Urvasi was deprived of her senses by wrath. Trembling with rage, and contracting her brows,
Urvasi cursed Arjuna, saying: Since thou disregardest a woman come to thy mansion at the command of thy father and of her own motion- a woman besides, who is pierced by the shafts of Kama (Cupid or god of love), therefore, O Arjuna, thou shalt have to pass thy time among females unregarded, and as a dancer, and destitute of manhood and scorned as an eunuch.
Vaisampayana continued: Having cursed Arjuna thus, Urvasi’s lips still quivered in anger, herself breathing heavily all the while. And she soon returned to her own abode. And that slayer of foes, Arjuna also sought Chitrasena without loss of time. And having found him, he told him all that had passed between him and Urvasi in the night. And he told Chitrasena everything as it had happened, repeatedly referring to the curse pronounced upon him. And Chitrasena also told everything unto Sakra, who calling his son unto himself in private, and consoling him in sweet words, smilingly said: ‘O thou best of beings, thou hast now vanquished even Rishis by the patience and self-control. But, O giver of proper respect, the curse that Urvasi hath denounced on thee will be to thy benefit, O child, and stand thee in good stead. O sinless one, you will have on earth to pass the thirteenth year of your exile, unknown to all (remaining incognito).It is then that thou shalt suffer the curse of Urvasi. And having passed one year as a dancer without manhood, thou shalt regain thy power on the expiration of the term.
Thus addressed by Sakra, that slayer of hostile heroes, Arjuna, experienced great delight and ceased to think of the curse. And Arjuna, the son of Pandu, sported in regions of heaven with the Gandharva Chitrasena of great celebrity.
The desires of the man that listens to this history of the son of Pandu never run after lustful ends. The foremost of men, by listening to this account of the awfully pure conduct of Arjuna, the son of the lord of the celestials, become void of pride and arrogance and wrath and other faults, and ascending to heaven, sport there in bliss.
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCXLVI
Translated by sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Vyasa said: The Jiva-soul is endued with all those entities that are modifications of Prakriti. These do not know the Soul but the Soul knows them all. Like a good driver proceeding with the aid of strong, well-broken, and high-mettled steeds (horses) along the paths he selects, the Soul acts with the aid of these, called the senses, having the mind for their sixth. The objects of the senses are superior to the senses themselves. The mind is superior to those objects. The understanding is superior to the mind. The Soul also called Mahat, is superior to the understanding. Superior to Mahat is the Unmanifest (or Prakriti). Superior to the Unmanifest is Brahman. There is nothing superior to Brahman. That is the highest limit of excellence and the highest goal.
The Supreme Soul is concealed in every creature. It is not displayed for ordinary men to behold. Only Yogis with subtle vision behold the Supreme Soul with the aid of their keen and subtle understanding. Merging the senses having the mind for their sixth and all the objects of the senses into the inner Soul by the aid of the Understanding, and reflecting upon the three states of consciousness, viz., the object thought, the act of thinking, and the thinker, and abstaining by contemplation from every kind of enjoyment, equipping his mind with the knowledge that he is Brahman’s self, laying aside at the same time all consciousness of puissance, and thereby making his soul perfectly tranquil, the Yogi obtains that to which immortality inheres.
That person, however, who happens to be the slave of all his senses and whose ideas of right and wrong have been confounded, already liable as he is to death, actually meets with death by such surrender of self to (the passions). [Note: Smriti is memory. One whose smriti is lost means one whose conceptions of right and wrong are confounded. Atmanah sampradanena is ‘by the surrender of oneself’ to one’s own passions or Kamadibhyah as the commentator explains.]
Destroying all desires, one should merge the gross Understanding into one’s subtle Understanding. Having thus merged the gross into the subtle Understanding, one is sure to become a second Kalanjara mountain. [Note: Chittam is explained by the commentator as the gross Understanding, and Sattwa as the subtle Understanding. The Understanding that is concerned with the images brought by the mind or the senses is called gross; while that which is concerned with ideas about Brahman is called subtle. Kalanjara is explained by the commentator either as standing for the mountain of that name, i.e., irremovable as the mountain so called; or, as one who destroys the effect of Time, i.e., one who subdues Time instead of being subdued by that universal conqueror.]
By purifying his heart, the Yogi transcends both righteousness and its reverse. By purifying his heart and by living in his own true nature, he attains to the highest happiness. [Note: The purification here referred to consists in transcending the consciousness of duality. Righteousness should be transcended because of its incapacity to lead to Emancipation, which is much higher than heaven. Atmani sthitwa means living in one’s real or true nature, i.e., merging everything into the Soul. This is attained when the consciousness of duality is transcended.]
The indication of that purity of heart (of which I speak) is that one who has attained to experiences that state of unconsciousness (with respect of all one’s surroundings) which one experiences in dreamless slumber. The Yogi who has attained to that state lives like the steady flame of a lamp that burns in a place where the atmosphere is perfectly still. Becoming abstemious in diet, and having cleansed his heart, that Yogi who applies his Soul to the Soul succeeds in beholding the Soul in the Soul. [Note: Atmanam in the first line is the Jiva-soul, and atmani is the Supreme Soul. In the second line also, the same distinction is observed between the two words.]
This discourse, O son, intended for thy instruction, is the essence of all the Vedas. The truths herein disclosed are incapable of being understood by the aid of inference alone or by that of mere study of the scriptures. One must understand it oneself by the aid of faith. By churning the wealth that is contained in all religious works and in all discourses based on truth, as also the ten thousand Richs, this nectar has been raised. As butter from curds and fire from wood, even has this been raised for the sake of my son, this that constitutes the knowledge of all truly wise men. This discourse, O son, fraught with solid instruction, is intended for delivery unto Snatakas. [Note: Brahmanas (Brahmins) who have completed the study of the Vedas have betaken themselves to the domestic mode of life, are so called. Here, probably, the reference is to persons having faith in the Vedas and of pure conduct.]
It should never be imparted to one that is not of tranquil soul, or one that is not self-restrained, or one that has not undergone penances. It should not be communicated to one that is not conversant with the Vedas, or one that does not humbly wait upon one’s preceptor, or one that is not free from malice, or one that is not possessed of sincerity and candour, or one that is of reckless behaviour. It should never be communicated to one whose intellect has been consumed by the science of disputation, or one that is vile or low. Unto that person, however, who is possessed of fame, or who deserves applause (for his virtues), or who is of tranquil soul, or possessed of ascetic merit, unto a Brahmana who is such, unto one’s son or dutiful disciple, this discourse containing the very essence of duties should be communicated, but on no account should it be communicated to others. If any person makes a gift of the whole earth with all her treasures, unto one conversant with truth, the latter would still regard the gift of this knowledge to be very much superior to that gift.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to Swamy Ghambirananda ji, Brahmasri Sreeman K M Ganguly and Hinduism com for the collection)