I did a post years ago in a religions forum about Sanat Sujata from the Mahabharata, After taking advice from Vidura (which is known as VidurNiti) Dhritarashtra seeks the rishi Sanat Sujata, and this following conversation emerges. This is a interesting conversation, and i see some Vedanta ideas flowing from the great Rishis advise.
The Mahabharata, Book 5: Udyoga Parva: Sanat-sujata Parva: Section XLII
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Then the illustrious and wise king Dhritarashtra, having applauded the words spoken by Vidura, questioned Sanat-sujata in secret, desirous of obtaining the highest of all knowledge. And the king questioned the Rishi saying, ‘O Sanat-sujata, I hear that thou art of the opinion that there is
no Death. Again it is said that the gods and the Asuras, practise ascetic austerities in order to avoid death. Of these two opinions, then, which is true?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Some say, death is avertable by particular acts; others’ opinion there is no death; thou hast asked me which of these is true. Listen to me, O king, as I discourse to thee on this, so that thy doubts may be removed. Know, O Kshatriya, that both of these are true. The learned are of opinion that death results from ignorance. I say that ignorance is Death, and so the absence of ignorance (Knowledge) is immortality. It is from ignorance that the Asuras became subject to defeat and death, and it is from the absence of ignorance that the gods have attained the nature of Brahman. Death doth not devour creatures like a tiger; its form itself is un ascertainable. Besides this, some imagine Yama to be Death. This, however, is due to the weakness of the mind. The pursuit of Brahman or self-knowledge is immortality. That god (Yama) holdeth his sway in the region of the Pitris, being the source of bliss to the virtuous and of woe to the sinful. It is at his command that death in the form of wrath, ignorance, and covetousness, occurreth among men. Swayed by pride, men always walk in unrighteous path. None amongst them succeeds in attaining to his real nature. With their understanding clouded, and themselves swayed by their passions, they cast off their bodies and repeatedly fall into hell. They are always followed by their senses. It is for this that ignorance receives the name of death. Those men that desire the fruits of action when the time cometh for enjoying those fruits, proceed to heaven, casting off their bodies. Hence they cannot avoid death. Embodied creatures, from inability to attain the knowledge of Brahman and from their connection with earthly enjoyments, are obliged to sojourn in a cycle of rebirths, up and down and around, The natural inclination of man towards pursuits that are unreal is alone the cause of the senses being led to error. The Atman that is constantly affected by the pursuit of objects that are unreal, remembering only that with which it is always engaged, adores only earthly enjoyments that surround it. The desire of enjoyments first kills men. Lust and wrath soon follow behind it. These three, viz., the desire of enjoyments, lust, and wrath, lead foolish men to death. They, however, that have conquered their Atmans, succeed by self-restraint, to escape death. He that hath conquered his Atman without suffering himself to be excited by his ambitious desire conquers these, regarding them as of no value, by the aid of self-knowledge. Ignorance, assuming the form of Yama, cannot devour that learned man who controlled his desires in this manner. That man who follows his desires is destroyed along with his desires. He, however, that can renounce desire, can certainly drive away all kinds of woe. Desire is, indeed, ignorance and darkness and hell in respect of all creatures, for swayed by it they lose their senses. As intoxicated persons in walking along a street reel towards ruts and holes, so men under the influence of desire, misled by deluding joys, run towards destruction. What can death do to a person whos Atman hath not been confounded or misled by desire? To him, death hath no terrors, like a tiger made of straw. Therefore, O Kshatriya, if the existence of desire, which is ignorance, is to be destroyed, no wish, not even the slightest one, is either to be thought of or pursued. That Atman, which is in thy body, associated as it is with wrath and covetousness and filled with ignorance that is death. Knowing that death arises in this way, he that relies on knowledge entertains no fear of death. Indeed, as the body is destroyed when brought under the influence of death, so death itself is destroyed when it comes under the influence of knowledge.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘The Vedas declare the emancipating capacity of those highly sacred and eternal regions that are said to be obtainable by the regenerate classes by prayers and sacrifices. Knowing this, why should not a learned person have recourse to (religious) acts?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Indeed, he that is without knowledge proceeds thither by the path indicated by thee, and the Vedas also declare that thither are both bliss and emancipation. But he that regards the material body to be self, if he succeeds in renouncing desire, at once attains emancipation (or Brahman). If, however, one seeks emancipation without renouncing desire, one must have to proceed along the (prescribed) route of action, taking care to destroy the chances of his retracing the routes that he hath once passed over.'”
Dhritarashtra said, ‘Who is it that urged that Unborn and Ancient One? If, again, it is He that is this entire Universe in consequence of His having entered everything (without desire as He is) what can be His action, or his happiness? O learned sage, tell me all this truly.’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘There is great objection in completely identifying (as here) the two that are different Creatures always spring from the union of Conditions (with what in its essence is without Conditions). This view doth not detract from the supremacy of the Unborn and the Ancient One. As for men, they also originate in the union of Conditions. All this that appears is nothing but that everlasting Supreme Atman. Indeed, the universe is created by the Supreme Atman itself undergoing transformations. The Vedas to attribute this power (of self-transformation) to the Supreme Atman. For the identity, again, of the power and its possessor, both the Vedas and others are the authority.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘In this world, some practice virtue, and some renounce action or Karma (adopting what is called Sannyasa Yoga). (Respecting those that practice virtue) I ask, is virtue competent to destroy vice, or is it itself destroyed by vice?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘The fruits of virtue and of (perfect) inaction are both serviceable in that respect (i.e.,for procuring emancipation). Indeed, both are sure means for the attainment of emancipation. The man, however, that is wise, achieveth success by knowledge (inaction). On the other hand, the materialist acquireth merit (by action) and (as the consequence thereof) emancipation. He hath also (in course of his pursuit) to incur sin. Having obtained again fruits of both virtue and vice which are transitory, (heaven having its end as also hell in respect of the virtuous and the sinful), the man of action becometh once more addicted to action as the consequence of his own previous virtues and vices. The man of action, however, who possess intelligence, destroyeth his sins by his virtuous acts. Virtue, therefore, is strong, and hence the success of the man of action.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me, according to their gradation, of those eternal regions that are said to be attainable, as the fruits of their own virtuous acts, by regenerate persons, engaged in the practice of virtue. Speak unto me of others’ regions also of a similar kind. O learned sire, I do not wish to hear of actions (towards which man’s heart naturally incline, however interdicted or sinful they may be).’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Those regenerate persons that take pride in their Yoga practices, like strong men in their own strength, departing hence, shine in the region of Brahman. Those regenerate persons that proudly exert in performing sacrifices and other Vedic rites, as the fruit of that knowledge which is theirs, in consequence of those acts, freed from this world, proceed to that region which is the abode of the deities. There are others, again, conversant with the Vedas, who are of opinion that the performance of the sacrifices and rites (ordained by the Vedas) is obligatory (their non-performance being sinful). Wedded to external forms, though seeking the development of the inner self (for they practise these rites for only virtue’s sake and not for the accomplishment of particular aims), these persons should not be regarded very highly (although some respect should be theirs). Wherever, again, food and drink worthy of a Brahmana are abundant, like grass and reeds in a spot during the rainy season, there should the Yogin seek for his livelihood (without afflicting the householder of scanty means); by no means should he afflict his own self by hunger and thirst. In a place, where there may be both inconvenience and danger to one, for one’s aversion, to disclose one’s superiority, he that doth not proclaim his superiority is better than he that doth. The food offered by that person who is not pained at the sight of another disclosing his superiority, and who never eateth without offering the prescribed share to Brahmanas and guests, is approved by the righteous. As a dog oftentimes devoureth its own evacuations to its injury, so those Yogins devour their own vomit who procure their livelihood by disclosing their pre-eminence. The wise know him for a Brahmana, who, living in the midst of kindred, wishes his religious practices to remain always unknown to them. What other Brahmana deserveth to know the Supreme Atman, that is unconditioned, without attributes, unchangeable, one and alone, and without duality of any kind? In consequence of such practices, a Kshatriya can know the Supreme Atman and behold it in his own Atman. He that regardeth the Atman to be the acting and feeling Self,–what sins are not committed by that thief who robbeth the Atman of its attributes?
A Brahmana should be without exertion, should never accept gifts, should win the respect of the righteous, should be quiet, and though conversant with the Vedas should seem to be otherwise, for then only may he attain to knowledge and know Brahman. They that are poor in earthly but rich in heavenly wealth and sacrifices, become unconquerable and fearless, and they should be regarded as embodiments of Brahman. That person even, in this world, who (by performing sacrifices) succeedeth in meeting with the gods that bestow all kinds of desirable objects (on performers of sacrifices), is not equal to him that knoweth Brahman for the performer of sacrifices hath to undergo exertions (while he that knoweth Brahman attaineth to Him without such exertions). He was said to be really honoured, who, destitute of actions, is honoured by the deities. He should never regard himself as honoured who is honoured by others. One should not, therefore, grieveth when one is not honoured by others. People act according to their nature just as they open and shut their eyelids; and it is only the learned that pay respect to others. The man that is respected should think so. They again, in this world, that are foolish, apt to sin, and adepts in deceit, never pay respect to those that are worthy of respect; on the other hand, they always show disrespect to such persons. The world’s esteem and asceticism (practices of Mauna), can never exist together. Know that this world is for those that are candidates for esteem, while the other world is for those that are devoted to asceticism. Here, in this world, O Kshatriya, happiness (the world’s esteem) resides in worldly prosperity. The latter, however, is an impediment (to heavenly bliss). Heavenly prosperity, on the other hand, is unattainable by one that is without true wisdom. The righteous say that there are various kinds of gates, all difficult of being guarded, for giving access to the last kind of prosperity. These are truth, uprightness, modesty, self-control, purity of mind and conduct and knowledge (of the Vedas). These six are destructive of vanity and ignorance.'”
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘What is the object of asceticism (mauna)? Of the two kinds of mauna (viz., the restraining of speech and meditation), which is approved by thee? O learned one, tell me the true aspect of mauna. Can a person of learning attain to a state of quietude and emancipation (moksha) by that mauna? O Muni, how also is asceticism (mauna) to be practised here?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Since the Supreme Atman cannot be penetrated by both the Vedas and the mind, it is for this that Atman itself is called mauna. That from which both the Vedic syllable Om and this one (ordinary sounds) have arisen, that One, O king, is displayed as the Word.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Is he that knoweth both the Rig and the Yajus Vedas, is he that knoweth the Sama Veda, sullied by sins or not when he commiteth sins?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘I tell thee truly that the man that hath not restrained his senses is not rescued from his sinful acts by either the Sama or the Rig, or the Yajus Veda. The Vedas never rescue from sin the deceitful person living by deceit. On the other hand, like newfledged birds forsaking their nest, the Vedas forsake such a person at the end.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O thou that hast restrained thy senses, if, indeed, the Vedas are not competent to rescue a person without the aid of virtue, whence then is this delusion of the Brahmanas that the Vedas are always destructive of sins?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘O magnanimous one, this universe hath sprung from that Supreme Atman by the union of Conditions respecting name, form, and other attributes. The Vedas also, pointing it out duly, declare the same, and inculcate that the Supreme Atman and the universe are different and not identical. It is for attaining to that Supreme Atman that asceticism and sacrifices are ordained, and it is by these two that the man of learning earneth virtue. Destroying sin by virtue, his Atman is enlightened by knowledge. The man of knowledge, by the aid of knowledge, attaineth to the Supreme Atman. Otherwise, he that coveteth the four objects of human pursuit, taking with him all that he doth here, enjoyeth their fruits hereafter, and (as those fruits) are not everlasting cometh back to the region of action (when the enjoyment is over). Indeed, the fruits of ascetic austerities performed in this world have to be enjoyed in the other world (as regards those persons who have not obtained the mastery of their Atmans).
As regards those Brahmanas employed in ascetic practices (who have the mastery of their Atmans), even these regions are capable of yielding fruits.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘O Sanat-sujata, how can ascetic austerities which are all of the same kind, be sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful? Tell us this in order that we may know it!’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘That asceticism which is not stained by (desire and other) faults is said to be capable of procuring emancipation, and is, therefore, successful, while the asceticism that is stained by vanity and want of true devotion is regarded unsuccessful. All thy enquiries, O Kshatriya, touch the very root of asceticism. It is by asceticism that they that are learned, know Brahman and win immortality!’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘I have listened to what thou hast said about asceticism unstained by faults, and by which I have succeeded in knowing an eternal mystery. Tell me now, O Sanat-sujata, about asceticism that is stained by faults!
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘O king, the twelve, including anger, as also the thirteen kinds of wickedness, are the faults of asceticism that is stained. Anger, lust, avarice, ignorance of right and wrong, discontent, cruelty, malice, vanity, grief, love of pleasure, envy, and speaking ill of others, are generally the faults of human beings. These twelve should always be avoided by men. Any one amongst these can singly effect the destruction of men, O bull among men. Indeed, every one of these wait for opportunity in respect of men, like a hunter expectant of opportunities in respect of deer. Assertion of one’s own superiority, desire of enjoying others’ wives, humiliating others from excess of pride, wrathfulness, fickleness, and refusing to maintain those worthy of being maintained, these six acts of wickedness are always practised by sinful men defying all dangers here and hereafter. He that regards the gratification of lust to be one of life’s aims, he that is exceedingly proud, he that grieves having given away, he that never spends money, he that persecutes his subjects by exacting hateful taxes, he that delights in the humiliation of others, and he that hates his own wives,-
-these seven are others that are also called wicked. Righteousness, truth (abstention from injury and truthfulness of speech), self-restraint, asceticism, delight in the happiness of others, modesty, forbearance, love of others, sacrifices, gifts, perseverance, knowledge of the scriptures,–these twelve constitute the practices of Brahmanas. He that succeeds in acquiring these twelve, becomes competent to sway the entire earth. He that is endued with three, two, or even one, of these, should be regarded of heavenly prosperity. Self-restraint, renunciation, and knowledge of Self,–in these are emancipation. Those Brahmanas that are endued with wisdom, say, that these are attributes in which truth predominates. Self-restraint is constituted by eighteen virtues. Breaches and non-observance of ordained acts and omissions, falsehood, malice, lust, wealth, love of (sensual) pleasure, anger, grief, thirst, avarice, deceit, joy in the misery of others, envy, injuring others, regret, aversion from pious acts, forgetfulness of duty, calumniating others, and vanity-he that is freed from these (eighteen) vices; is said by the righteous to be self-restrained. The eighteen faults (that have been enumerated) constitute what is called mada or pride. Renunciation is of six kinds. The reverse of those six again are faults called mada. (The faults, therefore, that go by the name of mada are eighteen and six). The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. The third only is difficult of practice, but by that all sorrow is overcome. Indeed, if that kind of renunciation be accomplished in practice, he that accomplishes it overcomes all the pairs of contraries in the world. ‘The six kinds of renunciation are all commendable. They are these: The first is never experiencing joy on occasions of prosperity. The second is the abandonment of sacrifices, prayers, and pious acts. That which is called the third, O king, is the abandonment of desire or withdrawing from the world. Indeed, it is in consequence of this third kind of renunciation of desire, which is evidenced by the abandonment of all objects of enjoyment (without enjoying them) and not their abandonment after having enjoyed them to the fill, nor by abandonment after acquisition, nor by abandonment only after one has become incompetent to enjoy from loss of appetite. The fourth kind of renunciation consists in this: One should not grieve nor suffer his self to be afflicted by grief when one’s actions fail, notwithstanding one’s possession of all the virtues and all kinds of wealth. Or, when anything disagreeable happens, one feeleth no pain. The fifth kind of renunciation consists in not soliciting even one’s sons, wives, and others that may all be very dear. The sixth kind consists in giving away to a deserving person who solicits, which act of gifts is always productive of merit. By these again, one acquires the knowledge of Self. As regards this last attribute, it involves eight qualities.
These are truth, meditation, distinction of subject and object, capacity for drawing inferences, withdrawal from the world, never taking what belongeth to others, the practices of Brahmacharya vows (abstinence), and non-acceptance (of gifts). ‘So also the attribute of mada (the opposite of dama or self-restraint) hath faults which have all been indicated (in the scriptures). These faults should be avoided. I have spoken (to thee) of renunciation and self-knowledge. And as, self-Knowledge hath eight virtues, so the want of it hath eight faults. Those faults should be avoided. O Bharata, he that is liberated from this five senses, mind, the past and the future, becomes happy. O king, let thy Atman be devoted to truth; all the worlds are established on truth; indeed, self-control, renunciation, and self-knowledge are said to have truth for their foremost attribute. Avoiding (these) faults, one should practise asceticism here. The Ordainer hath ordained that truth alone should be the vow of the righteous. Asceticism, that is dissociated from these faults and endued with these virtues, becomes the source of great prosperity, I have now briefly told these about that sin-destroying and sacred subject which thou hadst asked me and which is capable of liberating a person from birth, death, and decrepitude.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘With Akhyana (Puranas) as their fifth, the Vedas declare the Supreme Atman to be this universe consisting of mobile and immobile things. Others regard four God-heads; and others three; others again regard two; and others only one; and others regard Brahman alone as the sole existent object (there being nothing else possessing a separate existence). Amongst these, which should I know to be really possessed of the knowledge of Brahman.’
“Sanat-sujata, ‘There is but one Brahman which is Truth’s self. It is from ignorance of that One, that godheads have been conceived to be diverse. But who is there, O king, that hath attained to Truth’s self or Brahman? Man regardeth himself wise without knowing that One Object of knowledge, and from desire of happiness is engaged in study and the practices of charity and sacrifices. They have deviated from Truth (Brahman) and entertain purposes corresponding (with their state) and hence relying on the truth of Vedic texts thereof perform sacrifices. Some perform (or attain the object of) sacrifices by the mind (meditation), some by words (recitation of particular prayers, or Yapa); and some by acts (actual consummation of the Yatishtoma and other costly rites).
The person, however, who seeketh Brahman through Truth, obtaineth his desired objects at home. When however, one’s purposes become abortive (through absence of knowledge of Self), one should adopt vows of silence and such like, called Dikshavrata. Indeed, Diksha cometh from the root Diksha, meaning the observance of vows. As regards those that have knowledge of Self, with them Truth is the highest object of pursuit.’ ‘The fruits of knowledge are visible; asceticism yieldeth fruits hereafter. A Brahmana who (without knowledge and asceticism) hath only read much should only be known as a great reader. Therefore, O Kshatriya, never think that one can be a Brahman (Brahman-knowing) by only reading the scriptures. He, on the other hand, should be known by thee to be possessed of the knowledge of the Brahman who doth not deviate from Truth. O Kshatriya, the verses that were recited by Atharvan to a conclave of great sages, in days of old, are known by the name of Chhandas. They are not be regarded as acquainted with the Chhandas who have only read through the Vedas, without having attained to the knowledge of Him who is known through the Vedas.
The Chhandas, O best of men, become the means of obtaining Brahman independently and without the necessity of anything foreign. They cannot be regarded as acquainted with the Chhandas who are acquainted only with the modes of sacrifice enjoined in the Vedas. On the other hand, having waited upon those that are acquainted with the Vedas, have not the righteous attained to the Object that is knowable by the Vedas? There is none who hath truly caught the sense of the Vedas or there may be some who have, O king, caught the sense. He that hath only read the Vedas, doth not know the Object knowable by them. He, however, that is established in Truth, know the Object knowable by the Vedas.
Amongst those faculties which lead to perception of the body as the acting agent, there is none by which true knowledge may be acquired. By the mind alone one cannot acquire the knowledge of Self and Not-Self. Indeed, he that knoweth Self also knoweth what is Not-self. He, on the other hand, that knoweth only what is Not-self, doth not know Truth. He, again, that knoweth the proofs, knoweth also that which is sought to be proved. But what that Object in its nature is (which is sought to be proved) is not known to either the Vedas or those that are acquainted with the Vedas. For all that, however, those Brahmanas that are (truly) acquainted with the Vedas succeed in obtaining a knowledge of the Object knowable (by the Vedas) through the Vedas. As the branch of a particular tree is sometimes resorted to for pointing out the lunar digit of the first day of the lighted fortnight so the Vedas are used for indicating the highest attributes of the Supreme Atman. I know him to be a Brahmana (possessing a knowledge of Brahman) who expoundeth the doubts of others, having himself mastered all his own doubts, and who is possessed of the knowledge of Self. One cannot find what the Atman is by seeking in the East, the South, the West, the North, or in the subsidiary directions or horizontally.
Very rarely can it be found in him who regardeth this body be to Self. Beyond the conception of even the Vedas, the man of Yoga-meditation only can behold the Supreme. Completely restraining all thy senses and thy mind also seek thou that Brahman which is known to reside in thy own Atman. He is not a Muni who practiseth only Yoga-meditation; nor he who liveth only in the woods (having retired from the world). He, however, is a Muni and is superior to all who knoweth his own nature. In consequence of one’s being able to expound every object (Vyakarana), one is said to be endued with universal knowledge (Vaiyakarana); and, indeed, the science itself is called Vyakarana owing to its being able to expound every object to its very root (which is Brahman). The man who beholdeth all the regions as present before his eyes, is said to be possessed of universal knowledge. He that stayeth in Truth and knoweth Brahman is said to be a Brahmana, and a Brahmana, possesseth universal knowledge. A Kshatriya also, that practises such virtues, may behold Brahman. He may also attain to that high state by ascending step by step, according to what is indicated in the Vedas. Knowing it for certain, I tell thee this.
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Excellent, O Sanat-sujata, as this thy discourse is, treating of the attainment of Brahman and the origin of the universe. I pray thee, O celebrated Rishi, to go on telling me words such as these, that are unconnected with objects of worldly desire and are, therefore, rare among men.’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘That Brahman about which thou askest me with such joy is not to be attained soon. After (the senses have been restrained and) the will hath been merged in the pure intellect, the state that succeeds in one of utter absence of worldly thought. Even that is knowledge (leading to the attainment of Brahman). It is attainable only by practising Brahmacharya.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘Thou sayest that the knowledge of Brahman dwelleth of itself in the mind, being only discovered by Brahmacharya; that is dwelling in the mind, it requires for its manifestation no efforts (such as are necessary for work) being manifested (of itself) during the seeking (by means of Brahmacharya). How then is the immortality associated with the attainment of Brahman?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Though residing in and inherent to the mind, the knowledge of Brahman is still unmanifest. It is by the aid of the pure intellect and Brahmacharya that, that knowledge is made manifest. Indeed, having attained to that knowledge, Yogins forsake this world. It is always to be found
among eminent preceptors. I shall now discourse to thee on that knowledge.’
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘What should be the nature of that Brahmacharya by which the knowledge of Brahman might be attained without much difficulty? O regenerate one, tell me this.’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘They, who, residing in the abodes of their preceptors and winning their good will and friendship, practise Brahmacharya austerities, become even in this world the embodiments of Brahman and casting off their bodies are united with the Supreme Atman. They that in this world desirous of obtaining the state of Brahman, subdue all desires, and endued as they are with righteousness, they succeed in dissociating the Atman from the body like a blade projected from a clump of heath. The body, O Bharata, is created by these, viz., the father and the mother; the (new) birth, however, that is due to the preceptor’s instructions is sacred, free from decrepitude, and immortal. Discoursing upon Brahman and granting immortality, he who wraps all persons with (the mantle of) truth, should be regarded as father and mother; and bearing in mind the good he does, one should never do him any injury. A disciple must habitually salute his preceptor with respect, and with purity (of body and mind) and well-directed attention, he must betake to study. He must not consider any service as mean, and must not harbour anger. Even this is the first step of Brahmacharya. The practices of that disciple who acquires knowledge by observing the duties ordained for one of his class are regarded also as the first step of Brahmacharya. A disciple should, with his very life and all his possessions, in thought, word and deed, do all that is agreeable to the preceptor. This is regarded as the second step of Brahmacharya. He should behave towards his preceptor’s wife and son also in the same way as towards his preceptor himself. This also is regarded as the second step of Brahmacharya. Bearing well in mind what has been done to him by the preceptor, and understanding also its object, the disciple should, with a delighted heart think,–I have been taught and made great by him. This is the third step of Brahmacharya. Without requiring the preceptor by payment of the final gift, a wise disciple must not betake to another mode of life; nor should he say or even think of in his mind,–I make this gift. This is the fourth step of Brahmacharya. He attaineth the first step of (knowledge of Brahman which is) the object of Brahmacharya by aid of time; the second step, through the preceptor’s prelections; the third, by the power of his own understanding; and finally, the fourth, by discussion. The learned have said that Brahmacharya is constituted by the twelve virtues, the Yoga-practices are called its Angas, and perseverance in Yoga-meditation called is its Valam and one is crowned with success in this in consequence of the preceptor’s aid and the understanding of the sense of the Vedas.
Whatever wealth a disciple, thus engaged, may earn, should all be given to the preceptor. It is thus that the preceptor obtaineth his highly praise-worthy livelihood. And thus also should the disciple behave towards the preceptor’s son. Thus stationed (in Brahmacharya), the disciple thriveth by all means in this world and obtaineth numerous progeny and fame. Men also from all directions shower wealth upon him; and many people come to his abode for practising Brahmacharya. It is through Brahmacharya of this kind that the celestials attained to their divinity, and sages, highly blessed and of
great wisdom, have obtained the region of Brahman. It is by this that the Gandharvas and the Apsaras acquired such personal beauty, and it is through Brahmacharya that Surya riseth to make the day. As the seekers of the philosopher’s stone derive great happiness when they obtain the object of their search those mentioned above (the celestials and others), on completing their Brahmacharya, derive great happiness in consequence of being able to have whatever they desire. He, O king, who devoted to the practice of ascetic austerities, betaketh himself to Brahmacharya in its entirety and thereby purifieth his body, is truly wise, for by this he becometh like a child (free from all evil passions) and triumpheth over death at last. Men, O Kshatriya, by work, however, pure, obtain only worlds that are perishable; he, however, that is blessed with Knowledge, attaineth, by the aid of that Knowledge, to Brahman which is everlasting. There is no other path (than Knowledge or the attainment of Brahman) leading to emancipation.
“Dhritarashtra said, ‘The existence of Brahman, thou sayest, a wise man perceiveth in his own Atman. Now, is Brahman white, or red, or black or blue, or purple? Tell me what is the true form and colour of the Omnipresent and Eternal Brahman?’
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Indeed, Brahman as (perceived) may appear as white, red, black, brown, or bright. But neither on the earth, nor in the sky, nor in the water of the ocean, is there anything like it, Neither in the stars, nor in lightning, nor in the clouds, is its form to be seen, nor is it visible in the atmosphere, nor in the deities, nor in the moon, nor in the sun. Neither in the Riks, nor among the Yajus, nor among the Atharvans, nor in the pure Samans, it is to be found. Verily, O king, it is not to be found in Rathantara or Varhadratha, nor in great sacrifices. Incapable of being compassed and lying beyond the reach of the limited intellect, even the universal Destroyer, after the Dissolution, is himself lost in it.
Incapable of being gazed at, it is subtle as the edge of the razor, and grosser than mountains. It is the basis upon which everything is founded; it is unchangeable; it is this visible universe (omnipresent); it is vast; it is delightful; creatures have all sprung from it and are to return to it. Free from all kinds of duality, it is manifest as the universe and allpervading. Men of learning say that it is without any change, except in the language used to describe it. They are emancipated that are acquainted with That in which this universe is established.'”
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘Sorrow, anger, covetousness, lust, ignorance, laziness, malice, self-importance, continuous desire of gain, affection, jealousy and evil speech,–these twelve, O monarch, are grave faults that are destructive of men’s lives. Each of these, O monarch, wait for opportunities to seize mankind. Afflicted by them, men lose their senses and commit sinful acts. He that is covetous, he that is fierce, he that is harsh of speech, he that is garrulous, he that is given to nursing anger, he that is boastful,–these six of wicked disposition, on obtaining wealth, cannot treat others with courtesy. He that regardeth sensual gratification as the end of life, he that is self-conceited, he that boasteth having made a gift, he that never spendeth, he that is weak in mind, he that is given to self-admiration, and he that hateth his own wife,–these seven are counted as wicked men of sinful habits.
Righteousness, truth, asceticism, selfrestraint, contentment, modesty, renunciation, love of others, gift, acquaintance with the scriptures, patience, and forgiveness,–these twelve are the practices of a Brahmana. He that doth not fall off from these twelve, may sway the entire earth. He that is endued with three, or two, or even one, of these, doth never regard anything as his own to the exclusion of others. Self-restraint, renunciation, and knowledge,–in these reside emancipation. These are the attributes of Brahmanas endued with wisdom and regarding Brahman as the highest of all objects of attainment. True or false, it is not laudable for a Brahmana to speak ill of others; they that do this have hell for their abode. Mada hath eighteen faults which have not yet been enumerated by me. They are ill-will towards others, throwing obstacles in the way of virtuous acts, detraction, falsehood in speech, lust, anger, dependence, speaking ill of others, finding out the faults of others for report, waste of wealth, quarrel, insolence, cruelty to living creatures, malice, ignorance, disregard of those that are worthy of regard, loss of the senses of right and wrong, and always seeking to injure others. A wise man, therefore, should not give way to mada, for the accompaniments of mada are censurable. Friendship is said to possess six indications; firstly, friends delight in the prosperity of friends, and secondly, are distressed at their adversity.
If any one asketh for anything which is dear to his heart, but which should not be asked for, a true friend surely giveth away even that. Fourthly, a true friend who is of a righteous disposition, when asked, can give away his very prosperity, his beloved sons, and even his own wife. Fifthly, a friend should not dwell in the house of a friend, on whom he may have bestowed everything, but should enjoy what he earneth himself. Sixthly, a friend stoppeth not to sacrifice his own good (for his friend). The man of wealth who seeketh to acquire those good qualities, and who becometh charitable and righteous restraineth his five senses from their respective objects. Such restraint of the senses is asceticism. When it groweth in degree, it is capable of winning regions of bliss hereafter (unlike Knowledge which leadeth to success even here). They that have fallen off from patience (and are incapable, therefore, of attaining to Knowledge) acquire such asceticism in consequence of the purpose they entertain, viz., the attainment of bliss in the high regions hereafter. In consequence of his ability to grasp that Truth (Brahman) from which sacrifices flow, the Yogin is capable of performing sacrifices by the mind. Another performeth sacrifices by Words (Yapa) and another by Work.
Truth (Brahman) resides in him who knoweth Brahman as vested with attributes. It dwelleth more completely in him who knoweth Brahman as divested of attributes. Listen now to something else from me. This high and celebrated philosophy should be taught (to disciples). All other systems are only a farrago of words. The whole of this (universe) is established in this Yoga-philosophy. They that are acquainted with it are not subjected to death. O king, one cannot, by Work, however well-accomplished, attain to Truth (Brahman). The man that is destitute of knowledge even if he poureth homa libations or performeth sacrifices, can never, by Work, O king, attain to immortality (emancipation). Nor doth he enjoy great happiness at the end. Restraining all the external senses and alone, one should seek Brahman. Giving up Work, one should not exert mentally. One should also (while thus engaged) avoid experiencing joy at praise or anger at blame. O Kshatriya, by conducting himself in this way according to the successive steps indicated in the Vedas, one may, even here, attain to Brahman. This, O learned one, is all that I tell thee.'”
“Sanat-sujata said, ‘The primary Seed (of the universe), called Mahayasas, is destitute of accidents, is pure Knowledge, and blazeth with effulgence. It leadeth the senses, and it is in consequence of that Seed that Surya shineth. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). It is in consequence of that Seed (which is Joy’s self) that Brahman becomes capable of Creation and it is through it that Brahman increaseth in expansion. It is that Seed which entering into luminous bodies giveth light and heat. Without deriving its light and heat from any other thing it is self-luminous, and is an object of terror to all luminous bodies. The Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The body composed of the five grosser elements, that are themselves sprung from the five subtler ones,–the latter, in their turn, originating in one homogeneous substance called Brahman–is upheld (realised) in consciousness by both the creature-Atman endued with life and Iswara. (These two, during sleep and the universal dissolution, are deprived of consciousness). Brahman on the other hand, which is never bereft of consciousness, and which is the Sun’s Sun, upholdeth both these two and also the Earth and the Heaven. The Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The Seed upholdeth the two gods, the Earth and the Heaven, the Directions, and the whole Universe. It is from that Seed that directions (points of the compass) and rivers spring, and the vast seas also have derived their origin. The Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The body is like a car destined to destruction. Its acts, however, are undying. Tied to the wheels of that car (which are represented by the acts of past lives), the senses, that are as steeds, lead, through the region of consciousness, the man of wisdom towards that Increate and Unchangeable One, that One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye).
The form of that One cannot be displayed by any comparison. None ever beholdeth Him by the eye. They that know him by the rapt faculties, the mind, and the heart, become freed from death. The Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The stream of illusion is terrible; guarded by the gods, it hath twelve fruits. Drinking of its waters and beholding many sweet things in its midst, men swim along it to and fro. This stream flows from that Seed. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Destined to sojourn to and fro, the creature-Atman, having reflected enjoyeth (in the other world) only half of the fruits of his acts. It is that creature-Atman which is Iswara, pervading everything in the universe. It is Iswara that hath ordained sacrifices. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Atmans divested of accidents, resorting to Avidya, which is like unto a tree of golden foliage, assume accidents, and take births in different orders according to their propensities.
That Eternal One endued with Divinity (in Whom all those Atmans are united) is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Accidents (which coming in contact with Brahman make the latter assume many forms) raise the universe in its Fulness from that Brahman which is full. Those accidents also, in their Fulness, arise from Brahman in its Fulness. When one succeeds in dispelling all accidents from Brahman which is ever Full, that which remains is Brahman in its Fulness. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). It is from that Seed that the five elements have arisen, and it is in it that the power resideth for controlling them. It is from that Seed that both the consumer and the consumed (called Agni and Soma) have sprung, and it is in it that the living organisms with the senses rest. Everything should be regarded to have sprung from it. That Seed called in the Vedas TATH (Tad), we are unable to describe.
That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The vital air called Apana is swallowed up by the Air called Prana; Prana is swallowed up by the Will, and the Will by the Intellect, and the Intellect by the Supreme Atman. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The Supreme Atman endued with four legs, called respectively Waking, Dream, profound Sleep, and Turiya, like unto a swan, treading above the unfathomable ocean of worldly affairs doth not put forth one leg that is hid deep. Unto him that beholdeth that leg (viz., Turiya) as put forth for the purpose of guiding the other three, both death and emancipation are the same. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Of the measure of the thumb, ever Full, and different from this eternal organism, coming in contact with the Vital airs, the Will, the Intellect, and the ten Senses, it moveth to and fro. That Supreme Controller, worthy of reverential hymns, capable of everything when vested with accidents and the prime cause of everything, is manifest as Knowledge in creature-Atmans.
Fools alone do not behold him; that Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Among individuals there are those that have obtained the mastery of their minds, and those that have not. Yet in all men the Supreme Atman may be seen equally. Indeed, it resideth equally in him that is emancipate and in him that is not, with only this difference that they that are emancipate obtain honey flowing in a thick jet. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). When one maketh life’s Sojourn, having attained to the knowledge of Self and Not-Self, then it matters little whether his Agnihotra is performed or not. O monarch, let not such words as ‘I am thy servant’ fall from their lips. The Supreme Atman hath another name, viz., Pure Knowledge. They only that have restrained their minds obtain Him.
That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Even such is He. Illustrious and Full, all living creatures are merged into Him. He that knoweth that embodiment of Fullness attaineth to his object (emancipation) even here. That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). That which flieth away stretching forth thousands of wings, yea, if endued with the speed of the mind, must yet come back to the Central Spirit within the living organism (in which the most distant things reside… That Eternal One endued with Divinity) is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). His form cannot be an object of sight. They only, that are of pure hearts, can behold him. When one seeketh the good of all, succeedeth in controlling his mind, and never suffereth his heart to be affected by grief, then he is said to have purified his heart. Those again that can abandon the world and all its cares, become immortal. (That Supreme Atman which is undying),–that Eternal One endued with Divinityis beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Like serpents concealing themselves in holes, there are persons who following the dictates of their preceptors, or by their own conduct conceal their vices from scrutiny’s gaze. They that are of little sense are deceived by these.
In fact, bearing themselves outwardly without any impropriety, these deceive their victims for leading them to hell. (Him, therefore, who may be attained by companionship with persons of the very opposite class), that Eternal One endued with Divinity–is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). He that is emancipate thinks,–this transitory organism can never make me liable to joy and grief and the other attributes inhering to it: nor can there be, in my case, anything like death and birth: and, further, when Brahman, which hath no opposing force to contend against and which is alike in all times and all places, constitutes the resting-place of both realities and unrealities, how can emancipation be mine? It is I alone that am the origin and the end of all causes and effects.–(Existing in the form of I or Self) that Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). The Brahman-knowing person, who is equal unto Brahman itself, is neither glorified by good acts nor defiled by bad ones.
It is only in ordinary men that acts, good or bad, produce different results. The person that knoweth Brahman should be regarded as identical with Amrita or the state called Kaivalya which is incapable of being affected by either virtue or vice. One should, therefore, disposing his mind in the way indicated, attain to that essence of sweetness (Brahman). That Eternal One endued with Divinity is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). Slander grieveth not the heart of the person that knoweth Brahman not the thought–I have not studied (the Veda), or, I have not performed my Agni-hotra. The knowledge of Brahman soon imparteth to him that wisdom which they only obtain who have restrained their mind. (That Brahman which freeth the Atman from grief and ignorance)-that Eternal One endued with Divinity-is beheld by Yogins (by their mental eye). He, therefore, that beholdeth his own Self in everything, hath no longer to grieve, for they only have to grieve who are employed in diverse other occupations of the world. As one’s purposes (appeasing thirst, etc.) may be served in a well as in a large reservoir or vast expanse, so the various purposes of the Vedas may all be derivable by him that knoweth the Atman. Dwelling in the heart, and of the measure of the thumb, that illustrious One–the embodiment of Fullness–is not an object of sight. Unborn he moveth, awake day and night. He that knoweth him, becometh both learned and full of joy. I am called the mother and father.
I am again the son. Of all that was, and of all that we will be, I am the Atman. O Bharata, I am the old grandsire, I am the father, I am the son. Ye are staying in my Atman, yet ye are not mine, nor am I yours! The Atman is the cause of my birth and procreation. I am the warp and woof of the universe. That upon which I rest is indestructible. Unborn I move, awake day and night. It is I knowing whom one becometh both learned and full of joy. Subtler than the subtle, of excellent eyes capable of looking into both the past and the future, Brahman is awake in every creature. They that knows Him know that Universal Father dwelleth in the heart of every created thing!'”
“Vaisampayana said, ‘Thus conversing with Sanat-sujata and the learned Vidura, the king passed that night.
This small yet relevant story in the Mahabharatta, goes to show that there are more gems of knowledge in the Mahabharatta then just the Gita portion.