Friday, February 22, 2008

Adi Parva - Sambhava Parva 26

"Ashtaka said, 'Capable of assuming any form at will, thou hast lived for
a million years in the gardens of Nandana. For what cause, O foremost of
those that flourished in the Krita age, hast thou been compelled to leave
that region and come hither?' Yayati answered, 'As kinsmen, friends, and
relatives forsake, in this world, those whose wealth disappears so, in
the other world, the celestials with Indra as their chief, forsake him
who hath lost his righteousness.' Ashtaka said, 'I am extremely anxious
to know how in the other world men can lose virtue. Tell me also, O king,
what regions are attainable by what courses of action. Thou art
acquainted, I know, with the acts and sayings of great beings."

"Yayati answered, 'O pious one, they that speak of their own merits are
doomed to suffer the hell called Bhauma. Though really emaciated and
lean, they appear to grow on Earth (in the shape of their sons and
grandsons) only to become food for vultures, dogs, and jackals.
Therefore, O king, this highly censurable and wicked vice should be
repressed. I have now, O king, told thee all. Tell me what more I shall

"Ashtaka said, 'When life is destroyed with age, vultures, peacocks,
insects, and worms eat up the human body. Where doth man then reside? How
doth he also come back to life? I have never heard of any hell called
Bhauma on Earth!'

"Yayati answered, 'After the dissolution of the body, man, according to
his acts, re-enter the womb of his mother and stay there in an
indistinct form, and soon after assuming a distinct and visible shape
reappear in the world and walk on its surface. This is that
Earth-hell (Bhauma) where he fall, for he behold not the
termination of his existence and act not towards his emancipation.
Some dwell for sixty thousand years, some, for eighty-thousand years in
heaven, and then they fall. And as they fall, they are attacked by
certain Rakshasas in the form of sons, grandsons, and other relatives,
that withdraw their hearts from acting for their own emancipation.'

"Ashtaka asked, 'For what sin are beings, when they fall from heaven,
attacked by these fierce and sharp-toothed Rakshasas? Why are they not
reduced to annihilation? How do they again enter the womb, furnished with

"Yayati answered, 'After falling from heaven, the being become a
subtile substance living in water. This water become the semen whence
is the seed of vitality. Thence entering the mother's womb in the womanly
season, it develop into the embryo and next into visible life like the
fruit from the flower. Entering trees, plants, and other vegetable
substances, water, air, earth, and space, that same watery seed of life
assume the quadrupedal or bipedal form. This is the case with all
creatures that you see.'

"Ashtaka said, 'O tell me, I ask thee because I have my doubts. Doth a
being that hath received a human form enter the womb in its own shape or
in some other? How doth it also acquire its distinct and visible shape,
eyes and ears and consciousness as well? Questioned by me, O, explain it
all! Thou art, O father, one acquainted with the acts and sayings of
great beings.' Yayati answered, 'According to the merits of one's acts,
the being that in a subtile form co-inheres in the seed that is dropped
into the womb is attracted by the atmospheric force for purposes of
re-birth. It then develop there in course of time; first it becomes
the embryo, and is next provided with the visible physical organism.
Coming out of the womb in due course of time, it become conscious of
its existence as man, and with his ears become sensible of sound; with
his eyes, of colour and form; with his nose, of scent; with his tongue,
of taste; by his whole body, of touch; and by his mind, of ideas. It is
thus, O Ashtaka, that the gross and visible body develop from the
subtile essence.'

"Ashtaka asked, 'After death, the body is burnt, or otherwise destroyed.
Reduced to nothing upon such dissolution, by what principle is one
revived?' Yayati said, 'O lion among kings, the person that dies assumes
a subtil form; and retaining consciousness of all his acts as in a dream,
he enters some other form with a speed quicker than that of air itself.
The virtuous attain to a superior, and the vicious to an inferior form of
existence. The vicious become worms and insects. I have nothing more to
say, O thou of great and pure soul! I have told thee how beings are born,
after development of embryonic forms, as four-footed, six-footed
creatures and others with more feet. What more wilt thou ask me?'

"Ashtaka said, 'How, O father, do men attain to those superior regions
whence there is no return to earthly life? Is it by asceticism or by
knowledge? How also can one gradually attain to felicitous regions? Asked
by me, O answer it in full.'

"Yayati answered, 'The wise say that for men there are seven gates
through which admission may be gained into Heaven. There are asceticism,
benevolence, tranquillity of mind, self-command, modesty, simplicity, and
kindness to all creatures. The wise also say that a person lose all
these in consequence of vanity. That man who having acquired knowledge
regard himself as learned, and with his learning destroyed the
reputation of others, never attain to regions of indestructible
felicity. That knowledge also doth not make its possessor competent to
attain to Brahma. Study, taciturnity, worship before fire, and
sacrifices, these four remove all fear. When, however, these are mixed
with vanity, instead of removing it, they cause fear. The wise should
never exult at (receiving) honours nor should they grieve at insults. For
it is the wise alone that honour the wise; the wicked never act like the
virtuous. I have given away so much--I have performed so many
sacrifices,--I have studied so much,--I have observed these vows,--such
vanity is the root of fear. Therefore, thou must not indulge in such
feelings. Those learned men who accept as their support the unchangeable,
inconceivable Brahma alone that ever showereth blessings on persons
virtuous like thee, enjoy perfect peace here and hereafter.'"

No comments: