BY: SUN STAFF
Coronation of Yudhishthira
Kurnool, 17th c.
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa
Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (published between 1883 and 1896)
May 31, 2011 CANADA (SUN) Santi Parva, Book 12, Part One - Mokshadharma Parva - Section 351, Part One.
Saunaka said, How is that illustrious god, viz., the puissant Narayana who is fully conversant with the Vedas and their branches, at once the doer and the enjoyer of sacrifices? Endued with forgiveness, he has adopted, again, the religion of Nivritti (abstention).
Indeed, it is that holy and puissant one who has himself ordained the duties of Nivritti. Why then has he made many of the deities the takers of shares in sacrifices which, of course, are all due to the disposition of Pravritti? Why has he again created some with a contrary disposition, for they follow the ordinances of the religion of abstention? Do thou O Suta, dispel this doubt, of ours. This doubt seems to be eternal and is connected with a great mystery. Thou hast heard all discourses on Narayana, discourses that are consistent with the (other) scriptures.
Sauti said, O excellent Saunaka, I shall recite to thee what Vaisampayana, the disciple of the intelligent Vyasa, said when questioned on these very topics by king Janamejaya. Having heard the discourse on the glory of Narayana who is the Soul of all embodied creatures, Janamejaya, endued with great intelligence and wisdom, questioned Vaisampayana on these very subjects.
Janamejaya said, "The whole world of Beings, with Brahma, the deities, the Asuras and human beings, are seen to be deeply attached to actions which have been said to be productive of prosperity. Emancipation has, O regenerate one, been said by thee to be the highest felicity and to consist of the cessation of existence. They who, being divested of both merit and demerit, become emancipate, succeed, we hear, in entering the great God of a thousand rays. It seems to be, O Brahmana, that the eternal religion of Emancipation is exceedingly difficult of observance. Turning away from it, all the deities have become enjoyers of the libations of clarified butter poured with mantras on sacrificial fires and other offerings presented to them by the same or similar means. Then, again, Brahman, and Rudra, the puissant Sakra the slayer of Vala, Surya, Chandramas (the Lord of the stars), the Wind-god, the Deity of fire, the Deity of the Waters, Infinite Space (as living Being), the Universe too (as a conscious agent), and the rest of the denizens of heaven,--they, it seems, are ignorant of the way of securing annihilation of conscious existence, that is capable of being brought about by self-realisation.
Hence, perhaps, they have not be taken themselves to the path that is certain, indestructible, and immutable. Hence perhaps, turning away from that path they have adopted the religion of Pravritti which leads to conscious existence that is measured by time. This, indeed, is one great fault that attaches to those that are wedded to actions, for all their rewards are terminable. This doubt, O regenerate one, is planted in my heart like a dagger. Remove it out by reciting to me some discourses of old on this topic. Great is my curiosity to listen to thee. For what reason, O regenerate one, have the deities been said to be takers of their respective shares of sacrificial offerings presented to them with the aid of mantras in sacrifices of diverse kinds? Why again are the denizens of heaven adored in sacrifices? And, O best of regenerate persons, to whom do they, that take their shares of offerings in sacrifices performed to their honour, themselves make offerings when they perform great sacrifices?"
Vaisampayana said, "The question thou has asked me, O ruler of men, relates to a deep mystery. No man that has not undergone penances, and that is not acquainted with the Puranas, can speedily answer it. I shall, however, answer thee by reciting to thee what my preceptor the Island-born Krishna, otherwise called Vyasa, the great Rishi who has classified the Vedas, had said unto us on a former occasion when questioned by us. Sumanta, and Jaimini, and Paila of firm vows, and myself numbering the fourth, and Suka forming the fifth, were disciples of the illustrious Vyasa. We numbering five in all, endued with self-restraint and purity of observances, had completely subjugated wrath and controlled our senses. Our preceptor used to teach us the Vedas, having the Mahabharata for their fifth.
Once on a time, while we were engaged in studying the Vedas on the breast of that foremost of mountains, viz., the delightful Meru, inhabited by Siddhas and Charanas, this very doubt arose in our minds that has been expressed by thee today. We, therefore, questioned our preceptor about It. It heard the answer that our preceptor made. I shall now recite that answer to thee, O Bharata. Hearing these words that were addressed to him by his disciples that dispeller of all kinds of darkness represented by ignorance, viz., the blessed Vyasa, the son of Parasara, said these words: have undergone very severe, in fact, the austerest of penances. Ye best of men, I am fully conversant with the Past, the Present, and the Future.
In consequence of those penances of mine and of the restraint under which I kept my senses while I dwelt on the shores of the Ocean of milk, Narayana became gratified with me. As the result of the great God's gratification, this omniscience with respect to the Past, the Present, and the Future, that was desired by me, arose in my mind. Listen now to me as I discourse to you, in due order, on this great doubt that has disturbed your minds. I have, with the eye of knowledge, beheld all that occurred in the beginning of the Kalpa. He whom both the Sankhyas and those conversant with Yoga call by the name of Paramatma (the Supreme Soul) comes to be regarded as Mahapurusha (the Great Purusha) in consequence of his own acts. From Him springs forth Abyakta (the Unmanifest), whom the learned call Pradhana. From the puissant Unmanifest sprang, for the creation of all the words, the Manifest (Byakta). He is called Aniruddha.
That Aniruddha is known among all creatures by the name of the Mahat Atma. It is that Aniruddha who, becoming manifest, created the Grandsire Brahman. Aniruddha is known by another name, viz., Ahankara (consciousness) and is endued with every kind of energy. Earth, Wind, Space, Water, and Light numbering the fifth, these are the five Mahabhutas (elements) that have sprung from Ahankara. Having created the Mahabhutas (five in number), he then created their attributes. 1 Combining the Mahabhutas, he then created diverse embodied Being. Listen to me as I recount them to you. Marichi, Angiras, Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, the high-souled Vasishtha, and the Self-born Mann, these should be known as the eight Prakritis.
Upon these rest all the worlds. Then the Grandsire of all the world, viz., Brahman, created, for the fulfilment of all creatures, the Vedas with all their branches, as also the Sacrifices with their limbs. From these eight Prakritis have sprung this vast universe. Then sprang Rudra from the principle of wrath, starting into life, he created ten others that were like him. These eleven Rudras are called by name of Vikara-Purushas. The Rudras, the (eight) Prakritis, and the several celestial Rishis, having started into life, approached Brahman with the object of upholding the universe and its operations. Addressing the Grandsire, they said, We have been created, O holy one, by thee, O thou of great puissance. Tell each of us, O Grandsire, the respective jurisdiction we shall be vested with.
What particular jurisdictions have been created by thee for supervising the different affairs? We, each, should be endued with what kind of consciousness and shall take charge of which of these? Do thou ordain also unto each of us the measure of strength that we are to have for discharging the duties of our respective jurisdictions.' Thus addressed by them, the great god replied unto them in the following way.
Brahman said, You have done well, ye deities, in speaking to me of this matter. Blessed be you all! I was thinking of this very subject that has engaged your attention. How should the three worlds be upheld and kept agoing? How should your strength and mine be utilized towards that end? Let all of us, leaving this place, repair to that unmanifest and foremost of Beings who is the witness of the world, for seeking his protection. He will tell us what is for our good. After this, those deities and Rishis, with Brahman, proceeded to the northern shores of the Ocean of milk, desirous of doing good to the three worlds. Arrived there, they began to practise those austere penances that are declared by Brahman in the Vedas. Those austerest of penances are known by the name of Mahaniyama (the foremost vows and observances). They stood there with mind fixed, immovable as posts of wood, and with eyes upturned and arms raised upwards. For a thousand celestial years they were engaged in those severe penances. At the conclusion of that period they heard these sweet words in harmony with the Vedas and their branches.
The blessed and holy one said, Ye deities and Rishis possessed of wealth of asceticism, with Brahman in your company, after according you all welcome, I say unto you these words. I know that is in your hearts. Verily, the thoughts that engage you are for the good of the three worlds. I shall increase your energy and strength investing the same with Pravritti (predilection for acts). Ye gods, well have you undergone these penances from desire of adoring me. Ye foremost of Beings, enjoy now the excellent fruits of austerities which ye have gone through. This Brahman is the Lord of all the worlds. Endued with puissance, he is the Grandsire of all creatures. Ye also are foremost of deities. Do ye all, with concentrated minds perform sacrifices for my glory. In the sacrifices which you will perform, do ye always give me a portion of the sacrificial offerings. I shall then, ye lord of creation, assign to each of you your respective jurisdictions and ordain what will be for your good!"'
Thus ends Part Three, Section 351 - Part One, of the Santi Parva of the Mokshadharma Parva of of Sri Mahabharata.