The Short Notes from Mahabharata

The Short Notes from Mahabharata


From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CXLI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

King Yudhishthira said: When the high righteousness suffers decay and is transgressed by all, when unrighteousness becomes righteousness, and righteousness assumes the form of its reverse, when all wholesome restraints disappear, and all truths in respect of righteousness are disturbed and confounded, when people are oppressed by kings and robbers, when men of all the four modes of life become stupefied in respect of their duties, and all acts lose their merits, when men see cause of fear on every direction in consequence of lust and covetousness and folly, when all creatures cease to trust one another, when they slay one another by deceitful means and deceive one another in their mutual dealings, when houses are burnt down throughout the country, when Brahmanas become exceedingly afflicted, when the clouds do not pour a drop of rain, when every one’s hand is turned against every one’s neighbour, when all the necessaries of life fall under the power of robbers, when, indeed, such a season of terrible distress sets in, by what means should a Brahmana live who is unwilling to cast off compassion and his children? How indeed, should a Brahmana maintain himself at such a time? Tell me this, O grandsire! How also should the king live at such a time when sinfulness overtakes the world? How, O scorcher of foes, should the king live so that he might not fall away from both righteousness and profit?
Bhishma said: O mighty armed one, the peace and prosperity of subjects
[Note: Literally ‘preservation of what has been got, and acquisition of what is desired.’], sufficiency and seasonableness of rain, disease, death and other fears, are all dependent on the king.

[Note: These depend on the king, i.e., if the king happens to be good, then >prosperity, etc., are seen. On the other hand, if the king becomes oppressive and sinful, prosperity disappears, and every kind of evil sets in.] have no doubt also in this, O bull of Bharata's race, that Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali, (the four Yugas) as regards their setting in, are all dependent on the king’s conduct. When such a season of misery as has been described by thee sets in, the righteous should support life by the aid of judgment. In this connection is cited the old story of the discourse between Viswamitra and the Chandala in a hamlet inhabited by Chandalas
[Note: Sometime in the future, this discourse may be reproduced on this page as an appendix.]
One should, when one is dying (of starvation because of draught), preserve one’s life by any means in one’s power without judging of their character. Afterwards, when competent, one should seek the acquisition of merit. Life is better than death. Living, one may acquire virtue.

When the end in view is the preservation of life itself, should a high-souled person possessed of learning and acquainted with means rescue his own cheerless self, when fallen into distress, by all means in his power. By having recourse to such understanding one should always preserve one’s life. A person, if alive, can win religious merit and enjoy happiness and prosperity. For this reason, O son of Kunti, a person of cleansed soul and possessed of learning should live and act in this world, relying upon his own intelligence in discriminating between righteousness and its reverse.
Mahabharata, Santi Parva br> Section CXLII
Yuthishthira said: If that which is so horrible (like having to steal and eat dog’s meat to preserve one’s own life) and which like falsehood should never be an object of regard, be cited (as duty), then what act is there from which I should forbear? Why also should not robbers then be respected? I am stupefied! My heart is pained! All the ties that bind me on morality are loosened! I cannot tranquillise my mind and venture to act in the way suggested by you.
Bhishma said: I do not instruct thee in respect of duty, taught by what I have heard from the Vedas (scriptures) alone. What I have told thee is the result of wisdom and experience. This is the honey that the learned have gathered. Kings should gather wisdom from various sources. One cannot accomplish his course through the world with the aid of a morality that is one-sided. Duty must spring from the understanding; and the practices of those that are good should always be ascertained, O son of Kuru! Attend to these words of mine. Only kings that are possessed of superior intelligence can rule, expecting victory. A king should provide for the observance of morality by the aid of his understanding and guided by knowledge derived from various sources. The duties of a king can never be discharged by rules drawn from a morality that is one-sided.
A weak-minded king can never display wisdom (in the discharge of his duties) in consequence of his not having drawn any wisdom from the example before him. Righteousness sometimes takes the shape of unrighteousness. The latter also sometimes takes the shape of the former. He who does not know this becomes confounded when confronted by an actual instance of the kind. Before the occasion comes, one should, O Bharata, comprehend the circumstances under which righteousness and its reverse become confused. Having acquired this knowledge, a wise king should, when the occasion comes, act accordingly, aided by his judgment. The acts he does at such a time are misunderstood by ordinary people. Some persons are possessed of true knowledge. Some persons have false knowledge. Truly ascertaining the nature of each kind of knowledge, a wise king derives knowledge from them that are regarded as good.
They that are really breakers of morality find fault with the scriptures. They that have themselves no wealth proclaim the inconsistencies of the treatises on the acquisition of wealth. Those who seek to acquire knowledge for the object only of carrying their sustenance by it, O king, are sinful besides being enemies of morality. Wicked men of immature understanding can never know things truly, even as persons, who are not conversant with scriptures are unable in all their acts to be guided by reason. With eyes directed to the faults of the scriptures, they decry the scriptures. Even if they understand the true meaning of the scriptures, they are still in the habit of proclaiming the scriptural injunctions are unsound. Such men, by decrying the knowledge of others proclaim the superiority of their own knowledge. They have words for their weapons and words for their arrows and speak as if they are real masters of their sciences. Know, O Bharata, that they are traders in learning and Rakshasas (demons) among men.
By the aid of mere pretexts they cast off that morality which has been established by good and wise men. It has been heard by us that the texts of morality are not to be understood by either discussion or one’s own intelligence. Indra (king of gods) himself has said that this is the opinion of the sage Vrihaspati. Some are of opinion that noscriptural text has been laid down without a reason. Others again, even if they properly understand the scriptures, never act according to them. One class of wise men declare that morality is nothing else than the approved course of the world. The man of true knowledge should find out for himself the morality laid down for the good. If even a wise man speaks of morality under the influence of wrath or confusion of understanding or ignorance, his deliverances go for nothing. Discourses on morality made with the aid of an intelligence that is derived from the true letter and spirit of the scriptures, are worthy of praise and not those which are made with the help of anything else.
Even the words heard from an ignorant person, if in themselves they be fraught with sense, come to be regarded as pious and wise. In days of old, Usana said unto Daityas this truth, which should remove all doubts, that scriptures are no scriptures if they cannot stand the test of reason. The possession or absence of knowledge that is mixed with doubts is the same thing. It behoves thee to drive off such knowledge after tearing it up by the roots. He who does not listen to these words of mine is to be regarded as one that has suffered himself to be misled. Do you not see that you were created for the accomplishment of fierce deeds? Behold me, O dear child, how, by betaking myself, to the duties of the order of my birth (Kshatriya, the ruling class warriors), I have despatched innumerable Kshatriyas to heaven! There are some that are not delighted with me for this. The goat, the horse and the Kshatriya were created by Brahma (the Creator) for a similar purpose (viz., for being useful to everybody). A Kshatriya, therefore, should incessantly seek the happiness of all creatures. The sin that attaches to killing person that should not be killed is equal to that which is incurred by not killing one who deserves to be killed. Even such is the established order of things which a weak-minded king thinks of never attending to.
Therefore, a king should display severity in making all his subjects observe their respective duties. If this is not done, they will prowl like wolves, devouring one another. He is a wretch among Kshatriyas in whose territories robbers go about plundering the property of other people like crows taking little fishes from water. Appointing high-born men possessed of Vedic knowledge as thy ministers, do thou govern the earth, protecting thy subjects righteously. That Kshatriya who, ignorant of the established customs and contrivances, improperly levies taxes upon his people, is regarded as a eunuch of the order. A king should be neither severe nor mild. If he rules righteously he deserves praise. A king should not cast off both the qualities; on the other hand, becoming severe (on occasions demanding severity) he should be mild when it is necessary to be so. Painful is the observance of Kshatriya duties. I bear a great love for thee. Thou art created for the accomplishment of severe acts. Therefore, do thou rule thy kingdom. Sakra possessed of great intelligence has said that in times of distress the great duty of a king is chastising the wicked and protecting the good.
Yudhishthira said: Is there any such rule (in respect of kingly duties) which should, under no circumstances, be violated? I ask thee this, O foremost of virtuous persons! Tell me, O grandsire!
Bhishma said: One should always worship Brahmanas venerable for learning, devoted to penances, and rich in conduct conformable to the injunctions of the Vedas. This indeed, is a high and sacred duty. Let thy conduct towards the Brahmanas be always that which thou observest towards the gods. The Brahmanas, if enraged, can inflict diverse kinds of wrong, O king. If they be gratified, high fame will be thy share. If otherwise, great will be thy fear. If gratified, the Brahmanas become like nectar. If enraged, they become like poison.

Sacred Waters- Ganga

Ganga (River Ganges)
From The Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section XXVI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira asked: Which countries, which provinces, which retreats, which mountains, and which rivers, O grandsire, are the foremost in point of sanctity?
Bhishma said: In this connection is cited the old narrative of a conversation between a Brahmana in the observance of the Sila and Unccha vows, O Yudhishthira, and a Rishi crowned with ascetic success. Meeting with each other and seated at their ease, the two began to converse on agreeable subjects connected with the Vedas and the Upanishads. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, the Brahmana in the observance of the Sila vow respectfully addressed the Rishi crowned with success. Endued with intelligence, he put this very question which thou, O Yudhishthira, hast put to me.
The poor Brahmana said: What countries, what provinces, what retreats, what mountains, and what rivers should be regarded as the foremost in point of sanctity? Do thou discourse to me on this.
The Rishi crowned with success said: Those countries, those provinces, those retreats, and those mountains, should be regarded as the foremost in point of sanctity through which or by the side of which that foremost of all rivers, viz., Bhagirathi (Ganga or Ganges) flows. That end which a creature is capable of attaining by penances, by Brahmacharya (practising celibacy), by sacrifice, or by practising renunciation, one is sure to attain by only living by the side of the Bhagirathi (river Ganges) and bathing in its sacred waters.
Those creatures whose bodies have been sprinkled with the sacred waters of Bhagirathi or whose bones have been laid in the channel of that sacred stream, have not to fall away- from heaven at any time. Those men, O learned Brahmana, who use the waters of Bhagirathi (Ganga) in all their acts, surely ascend to heaven after departing from this world. Even those men who, having committed diverse kinds of sinful deeds in the first part of their lives, betake themselves in after years to a residing by the side of Ganga, succeed in attaining to a very superior end. Hundreds of sacrifices cannot produce that merit which men of restrained souls are capable of acquiring by bathing in the sacred waters of Ganga. A person is treated with respect and worshipped in heaven for as long a period as his bones lie in the channel of the Ganga. Even as the Sun, when he rises at the dawn of day, blazes forth in splendour, having dispelled the gloom of night, after the same manner the person that has bathed in the waters of Ganga is seen to shine in splendour, cleansed of all his sins.
Those countries and those points of the compass that are destitute of the sacred waters of Ganga are like nights without the moon or like trees without flowers. Verily, a world without Ganga is like the different orders and modes of life when they are destitute of righteousness or like sacrifices without Soma. Without doubt, countries and points of the compass that are without Ganga are like the firmament without the Sun, or the Earth without mountains, or the welkin without air. The entire body of creatures in the three worlds, if served with the auspicious waters of Ganga, derive a pleasure, the like of which they are incapable of deriving from any other source.
He who drinks Ganga water that has been heated by the Sun’s rays derives merit much greater than that which attaches to the vow of subsisting upon the wheat or grains of other corn picked up from cowdung. It cannot be said whether the two are equal or not, viz., he who performs a thousand Chandrayana rites for purifying his body and he who drinks the water of Ganga. It cannot be said whether the two are equal or not, viz., one who stands for a thousand years on one foot and one who lives for only a month by the side of Ganga. One who lives permanently by the side of Ganga is superior in merit to one who stays for ten thousand Yugas with head hanging downwards. As cotton, when it comes into contact with fire, is burnt off without a remnant, even so the sins of the person that has bathed in Ganga become consumed without a remnant. There is no end superior to Ganga for those creatures who with hearts afflicted by sorrow, seek to attain to ends that may dispel that sorrow of theirs.
As snakes become deprived of their poison at the very sight of Garuda (eagle), even so one becomes cleansed of all one’s sins at the very sight of the sacred stream of Ganga. They that are without good name and that are addicted to deeds of sinfulness, have Ganga for their fame, their protection, their means of rescue, their refuge or cover. Many wretches among men, who become afflicted with diverse sins of a heinous nature, when they are about to sink into hell, are rescued by Ganga in the next world (if, notwithstanding their sins, they seek the aid of Ganga in their after-years). They, O foremost of intelligent men, who plunge every day in the sacred waters of Ganga, become the equals of great Munis and the very deities with Vasva at their head. Those wretches among men that are destitute of humility or modesty of behaviour and that are exceedingly sinful, become righteous and good, O Brahmana, by betaking themselves to the side of Ganga. As Amrita (drink that confers immortality) is to the deities, a Swadha (oblation offered to Pitris during sacred fire ceremony) is to the Pitris, as Sudha is to the Nagas, even so is Ganga water to human beings.
As children afflicted with hunger solicit their mothers for food, after the same manner do people desirous of their highest good pay court to Ganga. As the region of the self-born Brahma is said to be foremost of all places, even so is Ganga said to be foremost of all rivers for those that desire to bathe. As the earth and the cow are said to be the chief sustenance of the deities and other celestials, even so is Ganga the chief sustenance of all living creatures.
[Note: The deities are supported by the offerings made in sacrifices. These offerings consist of the productions of the Earth and Ghee (purified butter) produced (from milk) by the cow. The deities, therefore, are said to be chiefly supported by the Earth and the Cow. The Asuras (demons), by afflicting the Earth and killing cows, used to weaken the deities.]
As the deities support themselves upon the Amrita (drink of immortality) that occurs in the Sun and the Moon and that is offered in diverse sacrifices, even so do human beings support themselves upon Ganga water. One besmeared with the sand taken from the shores of Ganga regards himself as a denizen of heaven, adorned with celestial unguents. He who bears on his head the mud taken from the banks of Ganga presents an effulgent aspect equal to that of the Sun himself bent on dispelling the surrounding darkness. When that wind which is moistened with the particles of Ganga-water touches one’s person, it cleanses him immediately of every sin. A person afflicted by calamities and about to sink under their weight, finds all his calamities dispelled by the joy, which springs up in his heart at the sight of that sacred stream.
By holdong that sacred stream, touching it, and bathing in its waters,
one rescues one's ancestors to the seventh generation.
By the melody of the swans and kokas and other aquatic fowls that play on her breast, Ganga challenges the very Gandharvas (celestial singers and musicians) and by her high banks the very mountains on the Earth. Beholding her surface teeming with swans and diverse other aquatic fowls, and having banks adorned with pasturelands with cows grazing on them, Heaven herself loses her pride. The high happiness, which one enjoys by a residence on the banks of Ganga, can never be his who is residing even in heaven. I have no doubt in this that the person who is afflicted with sins perpetrated in speech and thought and overt act, becomes cleansed at the very sight of Ganga. By holding that sacred stream, touching it, and bathing in its waters, one rescues one’s ancestors to the seventh generation, one’s descendants to the seventh generation, as also other ancestors and descendants. By hearing of Ganga, by wishing to repair to that river, by drinking its waters, by touching its waters, and by bathing in them a person rescues both his paternal and maternal races. By seeing, touching, and drinking the waters of Ganga, or even by applauding Ganga, hundreds and thousands of sinful men became cleansed of all their sins. They who wish to make their birth, life and learning fruitful, should repair to Ganga and gratify the Pitris and the deities by offering their oblations of water (tarpan).
The merit that one earns by bathing in Ganga, is such that the like of it is incapable of being earned through the acquisition of sons or wealth or the performance of meritorious acts
Those who, although possessed of the physical ability, do not seek to have a sight of the auspicious Ganga of sacred current, are, without doubt, to be likened to persons afflicted with congenital blindness or those that are dead or those that are destitute of the power of locomotion through palsy or lameness. What man is there that would not reverence this sacred stream that is adored by great Rishis conversant with the Present, the Past, and the Future, as also by the very deities with Indra at their head. What man is there that would not seek the protection of Ganga whose protection is sought for by forest recluses and householders, and by Yatis and Brahmacharins alike?
That man who dwells by the side of Ganga up to the time of his death, adoring her with reverence, becomes freed from the fear of every kind of calamity, of sin, and of kings.
The man of righteous conduct who, with rapt soul, thinks of Ganga at the time when his life-breaths are about to leave his body, succeeds in attaining to the highest end.
When that highly sacred stream fell from the firmament, Maheswara held it on His head. It is that very stream which is adored in heaven.
[Note: The river Ganga has three courses. On Earth it is called Bhagirathi or Ganga; in heaven it is called Mandakini; and in the nether region it is known by the name of Bhogavati.]
The three regions, viz., (Earth, Heaven, and the nether place called Patala) are adorned by the three courses of this sacred stream. The man who uses the waters of that stream becomes certainly crowned with success. As the solar ray is to the deities in heaven, as Chandramas is to the Pitris, as the king is to human beings, even such is Ganga unto all streams. One who becomes bereaved of mother or father or sons or spouses or wealth does not fell that grief which becomes one’s, when one becomes bereaved of Ganga. One does not obtain that joy through acts that lead to the region of Brahma, or through such sacrifices and rites that lead to heaven, or through children or wealth, which one obtains from a sight of Ganga. The pleasures that men derive from a sight of Ganga is equal to what they derive from a sight of the full moon. That man becomes dear to Ganga who adores her with deep devotion, with mind wholly fixed upon her, with a reverence that refuses to take any other object within its sphere, with a feeling that there is nothing else to the universe worthy of similar adoration, and with a steadiness that knows no failing away.
Creatures that live on Earth, in the welkin, or in heaven- indeed, even beings that are very superior- should always bathe in Ganga. Verily, this is the foremost of all duties with those that are righteous. The fame of Ganga for sanctity has spread over the entire universe, since she bore all the sons of Sagara, who had been reduced to ashes, from here to heaven.
[Note: The story referred to is this: King Sagara of the Solw race had sixty thousand sons, all of whom were reduced to ashes by the curse of Kapila. Afterwards Bhagiratha, a prince of the same race, brought down Ganga from heaven for their redemption.]
Men who are washed by the bright, beautiful, high, and rapidly moving waves of Ganga, raised by the wind, became cleansed of all their sins and resemble in splendour the Sun with his thousand rays. Those men of tranquil souls that have cast off their bodies in the waters of Ganga, whose sanctity is as great as that of the ghee (clarified butter) and other liquids poured in sacrifices and which are capable of conferring merits equal to those of the greatest of sacrifices, have certainly attained to a station equal to that of the very deities. Verily, Ganga, possessed of fame and vast extent and identical with the entire universe and reverenced by the deities with Indra at their head, the Munis and human beings, is competent to bestow the fruition of all their wishes upon them that are blind, them that are idiots, and them that are destitute of all things.
They that sought the refuge of Ganga, that protectress of all universe, that flows in three streams, that is filled with water at once highly sacred and sweet as honey and productive of every kind of good, have succeeded in attaining to the beatitude of heaven. That mortal who dwells by the side of Ganga and beholds her every day, becomes cleansed by her sight and touch. Unto him the deities give every kind of happiness here and a high end hereafter. Ganga is regarded as competent to rescue every creature from sin and lead him to the felicity of heaven. She is held to be identical with Prisni, the mother of Vishnu. She is identical with the Word or Speech. She is very remote, being incapable of easy attainment. She is the embodiment of auspiciousness and prosperity.
She is capable of bestowing the six well-known attributes beginning with lordship or puissance. She is always inclined to extend her grace. She is the displayer of all things in the universe, and she is the high refuge of all creatures. Those who have sought her protection in this life have surely attained heaven. The fame of Ganga has spread all over the welkin, and heaven, and earth, and all the points, cardinal and subsidiary, of the compass. Mortal creatures, by using the waters of that foremost of streams, always become crowned with high success. That person who himself beholding Ganga, points her out to others, finds that Ganga rescues him from rebirth and confers Emancipation on him. Ganga held Guha, the generalissimo of the celestial forces, in her womb. She bears the most precious of all metals, viz., gold, also in that womb of hers. They who bathe in her waters every day in the morning succeed in obtaining the aggregate of three, viz., Righteousness, Wealth and Pleasure. Those waters are, again, equal in point of sanctity to the ghee that is poured with Mantras on the sacrificial fire. Capable of cleansing one from every sin, she has descended from the celestial region, and her current is held in high esteem by every one.
Ganga is the daughter of Himavat, the spouse of Hara, and the ornament of both heaven and earth. She is the bestower of everything auspicious, and is competent to confer the six well-known attributes beginning with lordship or puissance. Verily, O king, Ganga is the one object of great sanctity in the three worlds and confers merit upon all. Truly, monarch, Ganga is Righteousness in liquefied form. She is energy also running in a liquid form over the earth. She is endued with the splendour of puissance that belongs to the ghee that is poured with Mantras on the sacrificial fire. She is always adorned with large waves as also with Brahmanas who may at all times be seen performing their ablutions in her waters. Falling from heaven, she was held by Siva on his head. The very mother of the heavens, she has sprung from the highest mountain for running over the plains and conferring the most precious benefits on all creatures of the earth. She is the highest cause of all things; she is perfectly stainless. She is as subtle as Brahma.
She affords the best bed for the dying. She leads creatures very quickly to heaven. She bears away a large volume of water. She bestows great fame on all. She is the protectress of the universe. She is identical with every form. She is very much coveted by persons crowned with success.
Verily, Ganga is the path to heaven of those that have bathed in her current.
The Brahmanas hold Ganga as equaling the earth in forgiveness, and in the protection and upholding of those that live by her; further, as equaling Fire and Surya (Sun) in energy and splendour; and, lastly, as always equaling Guha himself in the matter of showing favours unto the regenerate class.
Those men who, in this life, even mentally seek with their whole souls that sacred stream which is praised by the Rishis, which has issued out of the feet of Vishnu, which is very ancient, and which is exceedingly sacred, succeed in repairing to the regions of Brahman. Fully convinced that children and other possessions, as also regions possessed of every kind of felicity, are transitory or liable to destruction, men of subdued souls, who are desirous of attaining to that everlasting station which is identical with Brahma, always pay their adorations to Ganga with that reverence and love which are due from a son to mother. The man of cleansed soul who is desirous of achieving success, should seek the protection of Ganga who is like a cow that yields Amrita (drink that confers immortality) instead of ordinary milk, who is prosperity’s self, who is possessed of omniscience, who exists for the entire universe of creatures, who is the source of all kinds of food, who is the mother of all mountains, who is the refuge of all righteous persons, who is immeasurable in puissance and energy, and who charms the heart of Brahma himself.
Having with austere penances, gratified all the deities with the Supreme Lord (Vishnu), Bhagiratha brought Ganga down to earth. Repairing unto her, men always succeed in freeing themselves from every kind of fear both here and hereafter. Observing with the aid of intelligence, I have mentioned to thee only a small part of the merits of Ganga. My power, however, is inadequate to speak of all the merits of the sacred river, or, indeed, to measure her puissance and sanctity. One may, by putting forth one’s best powers, count the stones that occur in the mountains of Meru or measure the waters that occur in the ocean, but one cannot count all the merits, which belong to the waters of Ganga.
Hence, having listened to these particular merits of Ganga, which I have uttered with great devotion, one should, in thought, word and deed, reverence them with faith and devotion. In consequence of thy having listened to those merits which I have recited, thou art sure to fill all the three regions with fame and attain to a measure of success that is very large and that is difficult of being attained to by any other person. Verily, thou shalt, soon after that, sport in joy many a region of great felicity created by Ganga herself for those that reverence her. Ganga always extends her grace unto those that are devoted to her with humbleness of heart. She unites those that are devoted to her with every kind of happiness. I pray that the highly blessed Ganga may always inspire thy heart and mine with such attributes as are fraught with righteousness.
Bhishma continued: The learned ascetic endued with high intelligence and great illumination, and crowned with success, having in this manner discoursed unto that poor Brahmana in the observance of the Sila vow, on the subject of the infinite merits of Ganga, then ascended the firmament. The Brahmana in the observance of Sila vow, awakened by the words of that ascetic crowned with success, duly worshipped Ganga and attained to high success. Do thou also, O son of Kunti, seek Ganga with great devotion, for thou shalt then, as the reward thereof, attain to high and excellent success.
Vaisampayana continued: Hearing this discourse from Bhishma that was fraught with the praise of Ganga, Yuthishthira with his brothers became filled with great delight. That person who recites or hears recited this sacred discourse fraught with the praise of Ganga, becomes cleansed of every sin.

Adhyatma -Self – Spiritual Science

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCXLVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
[‘Notes’ are comments by the scholar and
translator Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli]
Vyasa said: The mind creates (within itself) numerous ideas (of objects or existent things). The Understanding settles which is which. The heart discriminates which is agreeable and which is disagreeable. These are the three forces that impel to acts. The objects of the senses are superior to the senses. The mind is superior to those objects. The understanding is superior to mind. The Soul is regarded as superior to Understanding. (As regards the ordinary purposes of man) the Understanding is his Soul. When the Understanding, of its own motion, forms ideas (of objects) within itself, it then comes to be called Mind.
[Note: In the original, the word Atman is used in various senses. Sometimes it stands for the Jiva-soul (embodied soul), sometimes for the Supreme Soul, sometimes for essence or the principal portion of anything, sometimes for one’s own self, and sometimes even for the person or body. It is not difficult to distinguish in which sense the word is used in what place.]
In consequence of the senses being different from one another (both in respect of their objects and the manner of their operation), the Understanding (which is one and the same) presents different aspect in consequence of its different modifications. When it hears, it becomes the organ of hearing, and when it touches, it becomes the organ of touch. Similarly, when it sees, it becomes the organ of vision, and when it tastes, it becomes the organ of taste, and when it smells, it becomes the organ of scent. It is the Understanding that appears under different guises (for different functions) by modification.
It is the modifications of the Understanding that are called the senses. Over them is placed as their presiding chief (or overseer) the invisible Soul. Residing in the body, the Understanding exists in the three states (of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas). Sometimes it obtains cheerfulness, sometimes it gives way to grief; and sometimes its condition becomes such that it is united with neither cheerfulness nor grief. The Understanding, however, whose chief function (as already said) is to create entities, transcends those three states even as the ocean, that lord of rivers, prevails against the mighty currents of the rivers that fall into it.
[Note: Vela is tide or current. The Understanding, although it exists with the three states of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, can yet transcend them by Yoga. The ordinary and extraordinary states of the understanding are spoken of in this verse.]
When the Understanding desires for anything,
it comes to be called by the name of Mind.The senses again, though (apparently different) should all be taken as included within the Understanding. The senses, which are engaged in bearing impressions of form, scent etc., should all be subdued. When a particular sense becomes subservient to the Understanding, the latter though in reality not different (from that sense), enters the Mind in the form of existent things. Even this is what happens with the senses one after another (separately and not simultaneously) with reference to the ideas that are said to be apprehended by them.
[Note: If I have understood this verse correctly, the theory of perception laid down is a sort of idealism which has not, perhaps, its counterpart in European metaphysics. The senses are first said to be only modifications of the understanding. The mind also is a modification of the same. A particular sense, say the eye, becomes subservient to the understanding at particular moment. As soon as this happens, the understanding, though in reality it is only the eye, becomes united with the eye, and entering the mind raises an image there, the consequence of which is that that image is said to be seen. External world there is, of course, as independent of mind and understanding. That which is called a tree is only an idea or image created in the mind by the understanding with the aid of sense of vision.]
All the three states that exist (viz., Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas), inhere to these three (viz., Mind, Understanding, and Consciousness) and like the spokes of a car-wheel acting in consequence of their attachment to the circumference of the wheel, they follow the different objects (that exist in Mind, Understanding, and Consciousness).
[Note: The speaker here combats the theory that the qualities of Sattwa, Rajas, and Tamas inhere to the objects themselves of the senses. His own view is that they inhere to the Mind, the Understanding, and Consciousness. The qualities may be seen to exist with objects, but in reality they follow objects in consequence of their permanent connection with the mind, the understanding, and consciousness, which have agency in the production of objects. The commentator cites the instance of a wife’s beautiful and symmetrical limbs. These excite pleasure in the husband, envy in a co-wife, and desire (mixed with pain at its not being gratified) in a weak hearted gazer. All the while the limbs remain unchanged. Then again, the husband is not always pleased with them, nor is the co-wife always filled with envy at their sight, nor is the gazer always agitated. Like the spokes of a wheel which are attached to the circumference and which move with circumference, the qualities of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, attached to the mind, understanding and consciousness, move along with them, i.e., follow those objects in the production of which the mind etc., are causes.]
The mind must make a lamp of the senses for dispelling the darkness that shuts out the knowledge of the Supreme Soul. This knowledge that is acquired by Yogis with the aid of all especial agency of Yoga, is acquired without any especial efforts by men that abstain from worldly objects. The universe is of this nature (viz., it is only a creation of the understanding). The man of knowledge, therefore, is never stupefied (by attachment to things of this world). Such a man never grieves, never rejoices, and is free from envy (at seeing another possessing a larger share of earthly objects).
The Soul is incapable of being seen with the aid of the senses whose nature is to wander among all (earthly) objects of desire. Even righteous men, whose senses are pure, fail to behold the Soul with their aid, what then should be said of the vicious whose senses are impure? When, however, a person with the aid of his mind, tightly holds their reins, it is then that his Soul discovers itself like an object (unseen in darkness) appearing to the view in consequence of the light of a lamp. Indeed, as all things become visible when the darkness that envelopes them is dispelled, even the soul becomes visible when the darkness that covers it is removed. [Note: As soon as the darkness of the understanding is dispelled and true knowledge succeeds, the Soul becomes visible.]
As an acquatic fowl, though moving on the water is never drenched by that element, after the same manner the Yogi of freed soul is never soiled by the imperfections of the three attributes (of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas). After the same manner, the man of wisdom, by even enjoying all earthly objects without being attached to any of them, is never soiled by faults of any kind that arise in the case of others from such enjoyment. He who avoids acts after having done them duly (i.e., who adopts the Sannyasa or the last mode of life of Renunciation, after having duly gone through the preceding modes), and takes delight in the one really existent entity, viz., the Soul, who has constituted himself the soul of all created beings, and who succeeds in keeping himself aloof from the three attributes, obtains an understanding and senses that are created by the Soul.
The qualities (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas) are incapable of apprehending the Soul. The Soul, however, apprehends them always. The Soul is the witness that beholds the qualities and duly calls them up into being. Behold, this is the difference between the understanding and the Soul both of which are exceedingly subtle. One of them creates the qualities. The other never creates them. Though they are different from each other by nature, yet they are always united. The fish living in the water is different from the element in which it lives. But as the fish and the water forming its home are always united, after the same manner Sattwa and Kshetrajna (Soul) exist in a state of union. The gnat born within a rotten fig is really not the fig but different from it. Nevertheless, as the gnat and the fig are seen to be united with each other, even so are Sattwa, and Kshetrajna. As the blade in a clump of grass, though distinct from the clump, nevertheless exists in a state of union with it, even so these two, though different from each other, each existing in its own self, are to be seen in a state of constant union.
Understanding creates all objects
From The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCXLIX
Vyasa said: The objects by which one is surrounded are created by the understanding. The Soul without being connected with them, stands aloof, presiding over them. It is the understanding that creates all objects The three primary qualities (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas) are continually being transformed (for the production of objects). The Kshetrajna or Soul, endued with puissance, presides over them all, without, however, mingling with them.
[Note: Gunan in the first line means Vishayan, in the second line it means Sattwadin, Vikriyatah is vikram bhajamanan. How the understanding creates objects has been explained in previous sections.]
Two opinions
The objects, which the understanding creates, partake of its own nature. Indeed, as the spider creates threads (which partakes of its own material substance), the objects created by the understanding partake of the nature of the understanding. Some maintain that the qualities, when driven away by Yoga or knowledge, do not cease to exist. They say this because when once gone, the indications only of their return are not perceptible. (But that is no evidence of their actual destruction). Others say that when dispelled by knowledge, they are at once destroyed never to return.
[Note: Na nivartante is explained by the commentator as na ghatadivat nasyanti kintu rajjuragadiva badha eva, etc., and he concludes by saying that according to this theory niranvayanasa eva gunanam, or, in other words, that the Gunas (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas) are not so destroyed by knowledge that they do not return.]
Reflecting upon these two opinions properly, one should strive one’s best according to the way one thinks proper. It is by this way that one should attain to eminence and take refuge in one’s own Soul alone.
[Note: According to the speaker then, there is not much practical difference between the two opinions here adverted to, and one’s course of conduct will not be much affected by either of the theories that one may, after reflection, adopt.]
The Soul is without beginning and without end. Comprehending his Soul properly man should move and act, without giving to wrath, without indulging in joy, and always free from envy. Cutting by this means the knot that is in one’s heart, the knot whose existence is due to the operation of the faculties of the understanding, which is hard (to open or cut), but which nevertheless is capable of being destroyed by knowledge, one should live happily, without giving way to grief (for anything that happens), and with one’s doubts dispelled. Know that they who mingle in the affairs of this world are as distressed in body and mind as persons ignorant of the art of swimming when they slip from the land and fall into a large and deep river. The man of learning, however, being conversant with the truth, is never distressed, for he feels like one walking over solid land. Indeed, he who apprehends his Soul to be such, viz., as presenting only the character of Chit (consciousness), which has knowledge alone for its indication, is never distressed. Indeed, a person, by thus comprehending the origin and end of all creatures, and by thus apprehending their inequalities or distinctions, succeeds in attaining to high felicity.
This knowledge is the possession of a Brahmana (Brahmin) in especial by virtue of his birth. Knowledge of the Soul, and felicity like that which has been adverted to, are each fully sufficient to lead to emancipation.
[Note: Janmasamartham is explained as certain to be acquired by virtue of birth or of the practice of the duties laid down for one’s own order. (The four orders are Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra). Parayanam is moksha-prapakam.]
Indication of a person of knowledge
By acquiring such knowledge one really becomes learned. What else is the indication of a person of knowledge? Having acquired such knowledge, they that are wise among men regard themselves crowned with success and become emancipated. Those things that become sources of fear unto men destitute of knowledge do not become sources of fear unto those that are endued with knowledge. There is no end higher than the eternal end which is obtained by a person possessed of knowledge. One beholds with aversion all earthly objects of enjoyment which are, of course, fraught with faults of every kind. Another, beholding others betake themselves with pleasure to such objects, is filled with sorrow.
As regards this matter, however, they that are conversant with both objects, behold, viz., that which is fictitious and that which is not so, never indulge in sorrow and are truly happy.
[Note: lokam is explained as lokyate iti lokah, i.e., objects of enjoyment such as wife, etc., aturam, is afflicted with faults or defects. Ubhayam kritakritam is as the commentator explains, sokasokarupam or aropitam and anaropitam.]
That which a man does without expectation of fruits destroys his acts of a former life. The acts, however, of such a person both of this and his previous life cannot lead to Emancipation. On the other hand, such destruction of former acts of this life cannot lead to what is disagreeable (viz., hell), even if the man of wisdom engages in acts

From the Mahabharata, Santi Parva, LX
The suppression of wrath, truthfullness of speech, justice,
forgiveness, begetting children upon one's own wedded wife, purity of conduct, avoidance of quarrel, simplicity, and maintenance of dependants, these nine duties belong to all the four orders equally.


From The Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXII
Sanjay said (to Dhritarashtra ):- "Calamity overtakes him who is deficient in wisdom, or who is of low birth, or who is cruel, or who cherishes hostility for a long time, or who is devoid of energy, or is of a bad disposition, in fact he who has such marks.
It is by virtue of luck that a person takes his birth in good race, or becomes strong, or famous, or versed in various lore, or possesses the comforts of life, or becomes capable of subduing his senses, or discriminating virtue and vice that are always linked together.
What person is there, who attended upon by foremost of
counselors, possessed  of  intelligence, capable of discriminating between virtue and vice in times of distress, not  destitute of the  rituals of religion, and retaining the use of all his faculties, would commit cruel deeds?".


Foremost of all Duties

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCL
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Suka said: Let thy reverence tell me of that which is foremost of all duties, indeed, of that duty above which no higher one exists in this world.
Vyasa said: I shall now tell thee of duties having a very ancient origin and laid down by the Rishis, duties that are distinguished above all others. Listen to me with undivided attention. The senses that are maddening should carefully be restrained by the understanding like a sire restraining his own inexperienced children liable to fall into diverse evil habits. The withdrawal of the mind and the senses from all unworthy objects and their due concentration (upon worthy objects) is the highest penance. That is the foremost of all duties. Indeed, that is said to be the highest duty.
Directing by the aid of the understanding, the senses having the mind for their sixth, and without, indeed, thinking of worldly objects which have the virtue of inspiring innumerable kinds of thought, one should live contented with one’s own self. When the senses and the mind, withdrawn from the pastures among which they usually run loose, come back for residing in their proper abode, it is then that thou wilt behold in thy own self the Eternal and Supreme Soul.
[Note: Gocharaebhyah, literally, pastures, is used here to signify all external and internal objects upon which the senses and the mind are employed. Their proper home or abode is said to be Brahman.]
Those high-souled Brahmanas (Brahmins) that are possessed of wisdom succeed in beholding that Supreme and Universal Soul which is like unto a blazing fire in effulgence. As a large tree endued with numerous branches and possessed of many flowers and fruits does not know in which part it has flowers and in which it has fruits, after the same mannerthe Soul as modified by birth and other attributes, does
not know whence it has come and whither it is to go. There is, however, an inner Soul, which beholds (knows) everything.
[Note: The ‘inner Soul’ is, perhaps, the Soul or Chit as unmodified by birth and attributes.]

One sees the Soul oneself with the aid of the lighted lamp of knowledge. Beholding, therefore, thyself with thy own self,cease to regard thy body as thyself and attain thou to omniscience. Cleansed of all sins, like unto a snake that has cast off its slough, one attains to high intelligence here and becomes free from every anxiety and the obligation of acquiring a new body (in a subsequent birth). Its current spreading in diverse directions, frightful is this river of life bearing the world onward in its course. The five senses are its crocodiles. The mind and its purposes are the shores. Cupidity and stupefaction of judgment are the grass and straw that float on it, covering its bosom. Lust and wrath are the fierce reptiles that live in it. Truth forms the tirtha (place of pilgrimage) by its miry banks. Falsehood forms its surges, anger its mire. Taking its rise from the Unmanifest, rapid is its current and incapable of being crossed by persons of uncleansed souls. Do thou, with the aid of the understanding cross that river having desires for its alligators. The world and its concerns constitute the ocean towards which that river runs. Genus and species constitute its unfathomable depth that none can understand. One’s birth, O child, is the source from which that stream takes its rise. Speech constitutes its eddies. Difficult to cross, only men of learning and wisdom and understanding succeed in crossing it. Crossing it, thou wilt succeed in freeing thyself from every attachment, acquiring a tranquil heart, knowing the Soul, and becoming pure in every respect.
Relying them on a purged and elevated understanding, thou wilt succeed in becoming Brahman’s self. Having dissociated thyself from every worldly attachment, having acquired a purified Soul and transcending every kind of sin, look thou upon the world like a person looking from the mountain top upon creatures creeping below on the earth’s surface. Without giving way to wrath or joy, and without forming any cruel wish, thou wilt succeed in beholding the origin and the destruction of all created objects. They that are endued with wisdom regard such an act to be the foremost of all things. Indeed, this act of crossing the river of life is regarded by the foremost of righteous persons, by ascetics conversant with the truth, to be the highest of all acts that one can accomplish.
This knowledge of the all-pervading Soul is intended to be imparted to one’s son. It should be inculcated unto one that is of restrained senses, that is honest in behaviour, and that is docile or submissive. This knowledge of the Soul, of which I have just now spoken to thee, O child, and the evidence of whose truth is furnished by the Soul itself, is a mystery, indeed, the greatest of all mysteries, and the very highest knowledge that one can attain. Brahman has no sex, male, female or neuter. It is neither sorrow nor happiness. It has for its essence the past, the future and the present. Whatever one’s sex, male or female, the person that attains to the knowledge of Brahman has never to undergo rebirth. This duty (of Yoga) has been inculcated for attaining to exemption from rebirth.
[Note: Abhavapratipattyartham is explained by the commentator as ‘for the attainment of the unborn or the soul’.]
These words that I have used for answering
thy question lead to Emancipation
in the same way as the diverse other sages that have treated of this subject. I have expounded the topic to thee after the manner in which it should be expounded. Those opinions sometimes become productive of fruit and sometimes not. (The words, however, that I have used are of a different kind, for these are sure to lead to success).

[Note: the commentator explains the first line thus: Yatha sarvani matani tatha etani vachansi mw. He takes the words: Yatha tatha kathitani maya as implying that ‘I have treated of the topic Yathatathyena’.]
For this reason, O good child, a preceptor, when asked by a contented, meritorious, and self-restrained son or disciple, should, with a delighted heart, inculcate, according to their true import, these instructions that I have inculcated for the benefit of thee, my son!’


From The Mahabharata
Anusasana Parva, Section CIV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Bhishma said:
"One should never sleep with head
turned towards the north or the west"
"The man of wisdom should reside in
such a house as has been constructed
with the aid of a Brahmana and an
engineer skilled in his profession, if
indeed, O king, he desires his own good"
[Note: The Brahmana's aid is necessary
inselecting the ground, and setting the longitudinal
and other directions of the house, as also in fixing
the day of commencing the work of building.]
From The Mahabharata
Udyoga Parva, Section CVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Garuda said: O Galva, I ask thee, towards which quarter shall I first take thee to see what lie there?
The eastern, the southern, the western, or the northern, towards which, O best of regenerate persons, shall I go,O Galava?
That quarter towards which Surya the illuminator of the universe first riseth; where, at eve, the Sadhyas engage in their ascetic austerities; where that Intelligence, which pervades the whole universe first springeth; where the two eyes of Dharma, as well as he himself, are stationed; where the ghee (clarified butter) first poured in sacrifice subsequently flowed all around; the quarter, O best of all regenerate persons, is the gate of Day and Time. There the daughters of Daksha, in primeval times, gave birth to their children. There the sons of Kasyapa first multiplied. That quarter is the source of all the prosperity of the gods, for it was there that Sakra was first anointed as the king of the celestials. It was there, O regenerate Rishi, that both Indra and the gods underwent their ascetic penances. It is for this, O Brahmana, that this quarter is called Purva (the first). And because in the earliest of times this quarter was overspread by the Suras, it is for this that it is called Purva. The gods, desirous of prosperity, performed all their religious ceremonies here. It was here that the divine Creator of the universe first sang the Vedas. It was here that the Gayatri was first preached by Surya unto the reciters of that sacred hymn. It was here, O best of Brahmanas that the Yajurvedas were delivered by Surya (unto Yajnavalkya). It was here that the Soma juice, sanctified by boons, was first drunk in sacrifices by Suras. It was here that the Homa-fires, (gratified by Mantras), first drank articles of cognate origin.
[Note: These articles of cognate origin are ghee (clarified butter), milk, and other things used as libations in sacrifices.]
It was here that Varuna first repaired to the nether regions, and attained to all his prosperity. It was here, O bull among the twice born, that the birth, growth and death of the ancient Vasishtha took place. Here first grew the hundred different branches of Om.
[Note: i.e., the subdivisions of the Pranava (AUM or OM), the mysterious Mantra, which is the beginning of everything, were first promulgated here. Nilakantha supposes this to refer to the origin of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the various branches of the Srutis and the Smritis.]
It was here that the smoke-eating Munis are the smoke of sacrificial fires. It was in that region that myriads of boars and other animals were killed by Sakra and offered as sacrificial portions unto the gods. It is here that the thousand-rayed sun, arising, consumeth, out of fire, all those that are wicked and ungrateful among men and the Asuras. This is the gate of the three worlds. This is the path of heaven and felicity. This quarter is called Purva (east). We will go hither, if it pleaseth thee. I shall always do what is agreeable to him who is my friend. Tell me. O Galava, if any other quarter pleaseth thee, for we will then go there. Listen now to what I say of another quarter.

(The Mahabharata, Udyoga parva, Section CIX)
Garuda continued: In days of yore, Vivaswat, having performed a sacrifice, gave this quarter away as a present (Dakshina) unto his preceptor. And it is for this that this region is known by the name of Dakshina (south). It is here that the Pitris of the three worlds have their habitation. And, O Brahmana, it is said that a class of celestials subsisting upon smoke alone also live there. Those celestials also that go by the name of Viswedevas always dwell in this region along with the Pitris. Worshipped in sacrifices in all the worlds, they are equal sharers with the Pitris. This quarter is called the second door of Yama. It is here that the periods allotted to men are calculated in Trutis and Lavas [small divisions of time].
In this region always dwell the celestial Rishis, the Pitriloka Rishis, and the royal Rishis, in great happiness. Here are religions and truth. It is here that the acts (of persons) exhibit their fruits. This region, O best of the twice born, is the goal of the acts of the dead. It is this region, O best of regenerate persons, whither all must repair. And as creatures are all overwhelmed by darkness, they cannot, therefore, come hither in bliss. Here, O bull among regenerate persons, are many thousands of malevolent Rakshasas in order to be seen by the sinful. Here, O Brahmana, in the bowers on the breast of Mandara and in the abodes of regenerate Rishis, the Gandharvas chant psalms, stealing away both the heart and the intellect. It was here that Raivata (a Daitya), hearing the Sama hymns sung in a sweet voice, retired to the woods, leaving his wife and friends and kingdom.
In this region, O Brahmana, Manu and Yavakrita’s son together set a limit, which Surya can never overstep. It was here that the illustrious descendant of Pulastya, Ravana, the king of the Rakshasas, undergoing ascetic austerities, solicited (the boon of) immortality from the gods. It was here that (the Asura) Vritra, in consequence of his wicked conduct, incurred the enmity of Sakra. It is in this region of lives the diverse forms all come and are then dissociated into their five (constituent) elements. It is in this region, O Galava, that men of wicked deeds rot (in tortures). It is here that the river Vaitarani flows filled with the bodies of persons condemned to hell. Arrived here, persons attain to the extremes of happiness and misery. Reaching this region, the sun droppeth sweet waters and thence proceeding again to the direction named after (Vasishtha), once more droppeth dew. It was here that I once obtained (for food), a prodigious elephant battling with an enormous tortoise.
It was here that the great sage Chakradhanu took his birth from Surya. That divine sage afterwards came to be known by the name of Kapila, and it was by him that the (sixty thousand) sons of Sagara were afflicted. It was here that a class of Brahmanas named Sivas, fully mastering the Vedas, became crowned with (ascetic) success. Having studied all the Vedas they at last attained eternal salvation. In this region is the city called Bhogavati that is ruled by Vasuki, by the Naga Takshaka and also by Airavata. They that have to journey hither (after death) encounter here a thick gloom. And so thick is that gloom that it cannot be penetrated by either the Sun himself or by Agni. Worthy of worship as thou art, even thou shalt have to pass this road. Tell me now, if thou wishest to sojourn towards this direction. Else, listen to an account of the western direction.

(The Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, section CX)
Garuda said: This quarter is the favourite one of king Varuna, the ruler of the ocean. Indeed, the lord of the waters had his origin here, and it is hither that sovereignty lieth. And since it is here that towards the day’s end (paschat) the sun dismisseth his rays that this quarter, O best of the twice-born ones, is called the Paschima (west). For ruling over all aquatic creatures and for the protection of the water themselves, illustrious and divine Kasyapa installed Varuna here (as the king of this region). Quaffing all the six juices of Varuna, the moon, the dispeller of darkness, becometh young again in the beginning of the fortnight. It was in this quarter, O Brahmana, that the Daityas were routed and bound fast by the wind-god. And afflicted by a mighty tempest, and breathing hard (as they fled), they at last laid themselves down in this region to sleep (the sleep that knows no waking).
Hither is that mountain called Asta which is the cause of the evening twilight, and which (daily) receiveth the sun lovingly turning towards it. It is from this quarter that both Night and Sleep, issuing out at the close of day, spread themselves, as if, for robbing all living creatures of half their allotted periods of life. It was here that Sakra, beholding (his stepmother) the goddess Diti lying asleep in a state of pregnancy, cut off the foetus (into forty-nine parts), whence sprang the (forty-nine) Maruts. It is towards this direction that the roots of Himavat stretch towards the eternal Mandara (sunk in the ocean). By journeying for even a thousand years one cannot attain to the end of those roots. It is in this region that Surabhi (the mother of cows), repairing to the shores of the extensive lake, adorned with golden lotuses, poureth forth her milk.
Here in the midst of the ocean is seen the headless trunk of the illustrious Swarbhanu (Rahu) who is always bent upon devouring both the sun and the moon. Here is heard the loud chanting of the Vedas by Suvarnasiras, who is invincible and of immeasurable energy, and whose hair is eternally green. It is in this region that the daughter of Muni Harimedhas remained transfixed in the welkin in consequence of Surya’s injunction couched in the words- Stop, Stop. Here, O Galava, wind, and fire, and earth, and water, are all free, both day and night, from their painful sensations. It is from this region that the sun’s course begins to deviate from the straight path, and it is in this direction that all the luminous bodies (the constellations) enter the solar sphere. And having moved for twenty-eight nights with the sun, they come out of the sun’s course to move in accompaniment with the moon. It is in this region that the rivers, which always feed the ocean, have their sources. Here, in the abode of Varuna, are the waters of the three worlds. In this region is situate the abode of Ananta, the prince of snakes. And here is the unrivalled abode also of Vishnu, who is without beginning and without end. In this region is also situate the abode of the great Rishi Kasyapa, the son of Maricha. The western quarter is thus narrated to thee in the course of telling thee of the different points. Tell me now, O Galava, towards which side, O best of regenerate persons, shall we go?

(The Mahabharata, Udyoga parva, Section CXI)
Garuda said: O Brahmana, since this quarter saveth from sin, and since one attaineth to salvation here, it is for this saving (Uttarana) power that it is called Uttara (north). And, O Galava, because the abode of all the treasures of the north stretches in a line towards the east and the west, therefore is the north sometimes called the central region (Madhyama). And, O bull among the twice-born, in this region that is superior to all, none can live that is unamiable, or of unbridled passions, or unrighteous.
Hither, in the asylum, known by the name of Vadari, eternally dwell Krishna who is Narayana’s self, and Jishnu that most exalted, of all male beings, and Brahma (the Creator). Hither, on the breast of Himavat (the Himalayas) always dwelleth Maheswara (Siva) endued with the effulgence of the fire that blazeth up at the end of the Yuga. As Purusha, he sporteth here with Prakriti (the universal mother). Except by Nara, and Narayana, he is incapable of being seen by the diverse classes of Munis, the gods with Vasava at their head, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Siddhas. Though invested with Maya, him the eternal Vishnu alone, of a thousand heads and thousand legs, can behold. It was in this region that Chandramas (the moon) was installed into the sovereignty of the entire regenerate order.
It was in this region, O thou foremost of all acquainted with Brahma, that Mahadeva first receiving her on his head, afterwards let (the sacred stream) Ganga (Ganges river) fall from the heavens to the world of men. It was here that the Goddess (Uma) underwent her ascetic austerities from her desire of obtaining Maheswara (as her Lord).
It was in this region that Kama, the wrath (of Siva), Himavat, and Uma, all together shone brilliantly. It was here, on the breast of Kailasa, O Galava, that Kuvera, was installed on the sovereignty of the Rakshasas, the Yakshas, and the Gandharvas. It is in this region that (Kuvera’s gardens called) Chitraratha lie, and it is here that the asylum of (the Munis called the) Vaikhanasas is situate. It is here, O bull among the twice born, that the celestial stream called Mandakini, and the mountain Mandara are to be seen. It is here that the gardens called Saugandhi-kanaka are always guarded by the Rakshasas. Here are many plains covered with grassy verdure, as also the plantain forest and those celestial trees called the Sautanakas. It is in this region, O Galava, that the Siddhas, with souls ever under control and always sporting at will, have their fit abode, abounding with every object of enjoyment. It is here that the seven Rishis with Arundhati may be seen.
It is here that the constellations Swati is to be seen and it is here that it first rises to the view. It is in this region that the Grandsire Brahma dwelleth in the vicinity of Yajna (sacrifice embodied). It is in this quarter that the sun, the moon, and the other luminaries are seen to revolve regularly. It is in this region, O foremost of Brahmanas, that those illustrious and truth-speaking Munis called by the name of Dharma, guard the source of the Ganga (Ganges). The origin and physical features and ascetic penances of these Munis are not known to all. The thousand dishes they use for serving the food offered in hospitality and the edibles also they create at will, are all a mystery. The man, O Galava, that passeth beyond the point guarded by these Munis, is certain, O foremost of Brahmanas, to meet with destruction. None else, O bull among Brahmanas, save the divine Narayana, and the eternal Nara called also Jishnu, succeed in passing beyond the point so guarded.
It is in this region that the mountains of Kailasa lie, the abode of Ailavila (Kuvera). It is here that the ten Apsaras known by the name of Vidyutprabha had their origin. In covering, O Brahmana, the three worlds with three steps in the sacrifice of Vali (the Asura king), Vishnu had covered this whole northern region; and, accordingly, there is a spot here called Vishnupada. And it is so called after the footprint of Vishnu caused on that occasion. Here, in this quarter, at a place called Usiravija, by the side of the golden lake, king Marutta performed, O foremost of Brahmanas, a sacrifice. It is here that the brilliant and shining gold mines of Himavat exhibit themselves to the illustrious and regenerate Rishi Jimuta. And Jimuta gave away the whole of that wealth to the Brahmanas. And having given it away, that great Rishi solicited them to call it after his own name. And hence that wealth is known by the name of the Jaimuta gold. Here, in this region, O bull among Bharatas, the regents of the worlds, O Galava, every morning and evening, proclaim, ‘What business of what person shall we do?’ It is for these, O foremost of Brahmanas, and other incidents, that the northern region is superior to all quarters. And because this region is superior (uttara) to all, therefore, it is called the north (uttara). The four regions have thus, O sire, been, one after another described to thee in details. Towards which quarter then dost thou desire to go? I am ready, O foremost of Brahmanas, to show thee all the


Sounds-Seven Original (Musical) Notes

From the Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CLXXXIV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Gaguli

I shall now tell thee the different kinds of sound. They are the seven original notes called Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Mahdhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata and Nishada. these are the seven kinds of the property that appertains to space. Sound inheres like the Supreme Being in all space though attached especially to drums and other instruments. Whatever sound is heard from drums small and large, and conchs, and clouds, and cars, and animate and inanimate creatures, are all included in these seven kinds of sound already enumerated. Thus, sound, which is the property of space, is of various kinds. The learned have said sound to be born of space. When raised by the different kinds of touch, which is the property of the wind, it may be heard. It cannot, however, be heard, when the different kinds of touch are inceptive. The elements, mingling with their counterparts in the body, increase and grow. Water, fire, wind are always awake in the bodies of living creatures. They are the roots of the body. Pervading the five life-breaths (already mentioned) they reside in the body.

These vices are regarded as very
powerful foes of all creatures

From the Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Sec.CLXIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Yudhishthira said: Tell me, O thou of great wisdom, everything about that from which spring wrath and lust, and fear and loss of judgment, and inclination to do (evil to others), and jealousy and malice and pride and envy, and slander and incapacity to bear the good of others, and unkindness and covetousness.
Bhishma said: These vices are regarded as very powerful foes of all creatures. These approach and tempt men from every side.They goad and afflict a heedless man or one that is insensate. Indeed, as soon as they (these vices) see a person, they assail him powerfully like wolves jumping upon their prey. From these proceed all kinds of grief. From these proceed all kinds of sin.Every mortal should always know this.
I shall now speak to thee of their origin, of the objects upon which they rest, and of the means of their destruction. Listen first, O king, with undivided attention, to the origin of wrath truly and in detail.
ANGER springs from covetousness. It is strengthened by the faults of others. Through forgiveness it remains dormant, and through forgiveness it disappears.
As regards LUST,it springs from resolution. Indulgence strengthens it. When the man of wisdom resolutely turns away from it, it disappears and dies.
ENVY of others proceeds from between wrath and covetousness.
It disappears in consequence of compassion and knowledge of self. In consequence of compassion for all creatures, and of that disregard for all worldly objects (that knowledge brings in its train), it disappears. It also arises from seeing the faults of other people. But in men of intelligence it quickly disappears in consequence of true knowledge.
LOSS OF JUDGMENT has its origin in ignorance and proceeds from sinfulness of habit. When the man whom this fault assails begins to take delight in (the company and counsels of) wise men, the vice at once and immediately hides its head. Men see conflicting scriptures. From that circumstance springs the desire for diverse kinds of action. When true knowledge has been gained, that desire has been allayed. The grief of an embodied creature proceeds from affection which is awakened by separation. When, however, one learns that the dead do not return (whatever the grief one may feel for them), it subsides.
INCAPACITY TO BEAR OTHER PEOPLE'S GOODproceeds from wrath and covetousness. Through compassion for every creature and in consequence of a disregard for all earthly objects, it is extinguished. MALICE proceeds from the abandonment of truth and indulgence of weakness. This vice disappears in consequence of one's waiting upon the wise and good.
PRIDEin men, springs from birth, learning and prosperity. When those three, however, are truly known, that vice instantly disappears.
JEALOUSYsprings from lust and delight in low and vulgar people. In consequence of wisdom, it is destroyed.
From error (of conduct) inconsistent with the ordinary course of men, and through disagreeable speeches expressive of aversion, SLANDER takes its rise. It disappears upon a survey of the whole world.
When the person that injures is powerful and the injured one is unable to avenge the injury,HATE shows itself. It subsides through kindliness.
UNKINDNESS proceeds from a sight of the helpless and miserable persons with whom the world abounds. That sentiment disappears when one understands the strength of virtue.
COVETOUSNESS in all creatures spring from ignorance.
Beholding the instability of all objects of enjoyment, it suffers destruction.
It has been said that tranquillity of soul can alone subdue all these faults.

From the Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. LXXXI
Narada said:
Use a weapon that is not made of steel, that is very mild, and yet capable of piercing all hearts. Sharpening and resharpening that weapon correct the tongues of your kinsmen.
The giving of food to the best of your power, forgiveness, sincerity, mildness, and honour to whom honour is due, these constitute a weapon that is not made of steel. With soft words alone turn away the anger of kinsmen about to utter cruel speeches, and mollify their hearts and minds and slanderous tongues.
Nothing but intelligence and forgiveness, restraint of the senses, and  liberality are present in a person of wisdom.

What is that one act, by accomplishing
which with care, a person may become
the object of regard with all creatures
and acquire great celebrity?
Santi Parva, Sec. LXXXIV
Translated by sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Vrihaspati said:
Agreeableness of speech is the one thing by practising which a person may become an object of regard with all creatures and acquire great celebrity. This is the one thing which gives happiness to all. By practising it, one may always obtain the love of all creatures.
The person who does not speak a word and whose face is always furrowed with frowns, becomes an object of hatred with all creatures. Abstention from agreeable speeches makes him so.
That person who, upon beholding others, addresses them first and does so with smiles succeeds in making everyone gratified with him. Even gifts, if not made with agreeable speeches, do not delight the recipients, like rice without curry. If even the possessions of men be taken away with sweet speeches, such sweetness of behaviour succeeds in reconciling the robbed. A king that is desirous of even inflicting chastisement should utter sweet words. Sweetness of speech never fails of its purpose, while, at the same time it never pains any heart. a person of good acts and good, agreeable, and sweet speeches, has no equal.
In what kind of man or woman, does the
goddess of prosperity always reside?
This question was asked by king Yudhishthira, and the answer is given by Bhishma in the Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Sec XI.
Bhishma said:
Sree (goddess of prosperity said): I always reside with him that is eloquent, active, attentive to business, free from wrath, given to the worship of the deities, endued with gratitude, has his passions under complete control, and is high-minded in everything.
I never reside with one that is inattentive to business, that is an unbeliever, that causes an intermixture of races in consequence of his lustfulness, that is ungrateful, that is of impure practices, that uses harsh and cruel words, that is a thief, that cherishes malice towards his preceptors and other seniors, those persons that are endued with little energy, strength, life, and honour, that are distressed at every trifle, and that always indulge in wrath.
I never reside with these that think in one strain and act in a different one. I never reside also with him who never desires any acquisition for himself, of him who is so blinded as to rest content with the lot in which he finds himself without any exertion or with those that are contented with small acquisitions.
I reside with those that are observant with the duties of righteousness, or those that are devoted to the service of the aged, or those that have their passions under control, or those that are endued with cleansed souls, or those that observe the virtue of forgiveness, or those that are able and prompt in action, or with such women as are forgiving and self-restrained.
I reside with those women also that are devoted to truth and sincerity and that worship the deities.
I do not reside with those women that do not attend to household furniture and provisions scattered all around the house, and that always utter words contrary to the wishes of their husbands. I always avoid those women that are fond of the houses of other people and that have no modesty.
On the other hand, I reside with those women that are devoted to their husbands, that are blessed in behaviour, and that are always decked in ornaments and attired in good robes. I always reside with those women that are truthful in speech, that are of handsome and agreeable features, that are blessed and that are endued with all accomplishments.
I always avoid such women as are sinful and unclean or impure, as always lick the corners of their mouths, as have no patience or fortitude, and as are fond of dispute and quarrelling, as are given to much sleep, and as always lie down.
I always reside in conveyances and the animals that drag them, in maidens, in ornaments and good vestments, in sacrifices, in clouds charged with rain, in full blown lotuses, and in those stars that bespangle the autumnal firmament. i reside in elephants, in the cow pen, in good seats, and in lakes adorned with full-blown lotuses. I live also in such rivers as babble sweetly in their course, melodious with the music of cranes, having banks adorned with rows of diverse trees, and resorted to by Brahmanas and ascetics and others crowned with success. I always reside in those rivers also that have deep and large volumes of rolling waters rendered turbid by lions and elephants plunging into them for bathing or slaking their thirst. I reside also in infuriate elephants, in bovine bulls, in kings, on the throne, and good men.
Lakshmi resides in that house in which...
I always reside in that house in which the inmate pours libation on the sacrificial fire and worships kine(cow), Brahmans and the deities.
I reside in that house where at the proper time offerings are made unto the deities, in the course of worship.
I always reside in such Brahmanas as are devoted to the study of the Vedas, in Kshatriyas devoted to the observance of righteousness, in Vaisyas devoted to cultivation, and the Sudras devoted to the service of the three upper classes.
I reside with a heart firm and unchangeable, in Narayana, in my embodied self. In Him is righteousness in its perfection and full measure, devotion to the Brahmanas, and the quality of agreeableness.
I do not reside in my embodied form in any of these places that I have mentioned, except Narayana. That person in whom I reside in spirit increases in righteousness and fame and wealth and objects of desire.

Mahabharata-Santi Parva CIXL

Persons conversant with the Vedas have said that death and immurement are both painful. Life is dear unto all. All creatures are made miserable by grief and pain. All creatures wish for happiness. Misery arises from various sources. Decrepitude is misery.The loss of wealth is misery. The adjacence of anything disagreeable or evil is misery. Separation or dissociation from friends and agreeable objects is misery. Misery arises from death and immurement.Misery arises from causes connected with women and from other natural causes. The misery that arises from the death of children alters and afflicts all creatures very greatly.
Some foolish persons say that there is no misery in other's misery. Only he who has not felt any misery for himself can say so in the midst of men. He, however, that has felt sorrow and misery, would never venture to say so. One that has felt the pangs of every kind of misery feels the misery of others as one's own.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to  Brahmasri Sreeman K M Ganguly and Hinduism com  for the collection)


Post a Comment