The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 2,273 pages of information about The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1.

“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 developeth 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 becometh conscious of its existence as man, and with his ears becometh 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 developeth 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 loseth all these in consequence of vanity.  That man who having acquired knowledge regardeth himself as learned, and with his learning destroyed the reputation of others, never attaineth 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.’”

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The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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