Vaishampayana said, “Janamejaya! Thereafter, Dhrutharashtra, the intelligent great king respecting and honouring the words of the wise Vidura in the hope of receiving the highest exalted knowledge and wisdom posed the following questions to Sanatsujatha Paramarshi in exclusivity.”
Dhrutharashtra said, “Respected Sanatsujatha Paramarshi, I am hearing that it is your belief and proclamation that there is nothing called death. Also, I have heard that devathas and asuras have followed and abided by the principles of Brahmacharya to escape the jaws of death. Between these two, which is superior and the truth?”
Sanatsujatha Paramarshi said, “Hey King! There are two sides to this matter. There is death and it remains far from those who follow and abide by the principles of Brahmacharya and hence, this is one side and “there is no death” which is the other side. But, I will speak of this matter the way it is and therefore, please hear from Me and do not doubt My erudition.
Kshatriya! Understand that the two aforesaid aspects of the question to be the truth. Some scholars have accepted the sovereignty of death under the influence of illusion but it is My belief that pramad (lack of discrimination, foolishness, carelessness, delirium and hallucinations) is only death and apramad (awareness and being in control of one’s senses) is deathlessness and ambrosia.
It is because of pramad that the asuragana (those born as asuras) fell into the trap of death while it is because of apramad that the devathagana (those born as devathas) attain the brahmaswaroopa (the form of Brahman).
Some people under the influence of illusion speak of death as “yama” and believe deathlessness and ambrosia to be for those who sincerely and unfailingly abide by the principles of Brahmacharya. They believe that Yamadeva resides in the Pithruloka ruling the kingdom. He is considered to be kind and merciful and generous to those who do good for the universe and considered to be a bad omen for those who are sinners.
Men are prone to destruction in the form of death because of krodh (anger), pramad (lack of discrimination, foolishness, carelessness, delirium and hallucinations) and lobha (greed and lust) on the command of this Yama only. No man who has become enamoured by and caught in the spell of ahamkara (ego) following a path which is against the ordained one attains the Paramātmā sakshatkara (coming face to face with the Supreme Brahman and becoming THAT).
Man captivated by and under the influence of krodh, pramad and lobha and governed by ahamkara departs from this loka and falls into the circle of repeated births and deaths. His manas (mind), indriyas (sensory organs) and prana (life force) also travel with him. Because of the severance of the indriyas that are in the form of prana from the body, the demise and departure is understood as death.
Upon the manifestation of prarabha karma (portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body), those people who are attached to the fruits of actions and inactions, travel to the paraloka after the departure from the body and hence, they cannot cross over the hurdle of death. Those who are arrogant and proud of their body do not possess the knowledge or quintessence of Paramātmā sakshatkara and thereby, become attached to all matters of illusion and wander around aimlessly.
Therefore, they become attached to all matters of illusion which definitely captivate the indriyas and it is only natural that these people who are interested and attached to these false matters are pulled further in that direction. Those who have love and attachment to matters of illusory nature and whose jnānasakti (knowledge, wisdom and discrimination) of their antah-karana (intellect, logic and intuition) is destroyed, remain engrossed in the contemplation and worry of these illusory matters enjoying the emotions and experience of it.
Firstly, it is the contemplation of and obsession with matters of illusory nature that is the cause for people’s destruction. Next, along with kama (desire) and krodh (anger), they quickly launch an attack. Hence, it is this constant contemplation and worry over matters of kama and krodh and vivekahin (lack of discrimination) that take people closer to death. But those who are aware and conscious of the Self at all times will overcome death with their courage and faith.
That is, those who desire to overcome death, need to contemplate on Paramātmā (Supreme Self) at all times not giving any time for matters of illusory nature deeming them as unimportant and irrelevant and destroy the ambitions that may arise swiftly and immediately. A wise person who destroys the interest and desire in matters of illusory nature in this manner will not be subjected to death like ordinary people and thus, becomes liberated from birth and death.
A man who runs behind his ambitions and desires will get destroyed along with his ambitions and desires but a wise man who renunciates all desires accepting the sorrows that come in the form of birth-death will destroy that as well.
Desires are of enchanting nature and attract all beings and is the cause for the lack of discrimination, intoxication and laziness and is comparable to hell and seen as the personification of all sorrows and unhappiness. Like how a drunk man walks dazedly and without balance running and falling over towards a bed, similarly people with overwhelming desires accept happiness in these and run towards them.
One’s whose intellect and mental faculties are not captivated by the fruits of actions and inactions, what can death that appears uneasy and scared and made of straw do to that wise man in this world? Hence King! It is imperative to destroy the primal cause for contemplation and desires in matters of illusory nature that is ignorance and lack of discrimination and deem all other worldly matters as unimportant and irrelevant and give up all thoughts about them.
The antarātmā (Self that resides within your body) becomes captured by illusion and takes the form of krodh, pramad and death. The one who is steady in his contemplation on the Self and Supreme Knowledge and knows and realizes that death occurs because of illusion will never fear death in this world. Death will self-destruct when it comes near him just like how a man who abides by the principles of dharma and death comes to the jurisdiction of death.”
Dhrutharashtra said, “The ones who are blessed and initiated under the ancient traditional samskāra of upanayana have been promised the prized heavenly worlds that are pure, immortal and infinite through yagnas and homas and this has been spoken of in the Vedas as the Param Purushārth (the supreme destination and object of human pursuit). Why does not a man who is wise and aware of this matter take refuge in these exalted actions and sacrifices?”
Sanatsujatha Paramarshi said, “King! An ignorant man resides in this manner in the different lokas and the Vedas speak of the various uses of these actions and sacrifices but a man who renunciates all the fruits of actions and inactions through the path of jnāna will cross over all other paths becoming the Paramātmā swaroopa (Supreme Self) and attains the Paramātma (Supreme Self) only.”
Dhrutharashtra said, “All-knowing One! If the Paramātmā gradually manifests ITself as the wholesome and complete form of this universe, then who rules over that birthless ancient Person? What is the reason for Him to manifest in this form and what happiness does He derive from it? Kindly explain these to me.”
Sanatsujatha Paramarshi said, “From this question of yours, a marked distinction is drawn between a jeeva and Brahma and if accepted will be taken as a big blunder in opposition to the Vedas. That is, because of the connection to the infinite maya (illusion), there continues to remain a connection to desirous happiness and others. In spite of that connection, the significance and stature of the jeeva does not get killed because a jeeva takes on various bodies due to the connection to maya.
Bhagawan, who is the nithyaswaroopa (Supreme eternal form) creates this cosmic universe with the help of the Parabrahma maya. That maya is the force and energy of that Parabrahma. This has been known and accepted by the great saints and yogis. The Vedas have been sanctioned on this exposition.”
Dhrutharashtra said, “There are some people in this universe who follow the principles of dharma and there are those who do not accept and abide by the principles of dharma. That is, is dharma getting killed because of sin or is it that dharma only kills sin?”
Sanatsujatha Paramarshi said, “Hey King! There are different fruits for both dharma and sin and one has to swallow and experience the fruits of both.
But, when a wise man remains immersed and absorbed in constant contemplation of the Paramātmā, he destroys the previously accrued sin and good with the knowledge and realization of the Paramātmā and this matter is universally well-known. If it does not happen like that, then a man attached to his body will respectively experience the fruits of good deeds at some times and gradually experience the fruits of all his past actions and sins at other times.
In this manner, a man experiences the variable fruits of both good and sin likened to heaven and hell, and yet again becomes engrossed in duties, actions and inactions after taking another birth in this world, but a man who understands the subject and truth about duties, actions and inactions adopts the principles of renunciation of the fruits of actions and inactions and destroys the previously accrued sins here only. Hence, dharma is the stronger one. Persons who adopt the principle of renunciation of fruits of actions and inactions in accordance with dharma will definitely succeed at the opportune time.”
Dhrutharashtra said, “Wise One! Those who are blessed and initiated under the ancient traditional samskāra of upanayana who engage in good deeds and actions are said to attain the various infinite lokas as per the dharma of the fruits of their deeds; hence, I request you to please reveal that system and order of those as well as that of the myriad different lokas. Now, I do not wish to know about matters that are of desirous nature.”
Sanatsujatha Paramarshi said, “Similar to how two strong warriors spar with each other in a competition to showcase their might and strength, a person who follows the principle of renunciation of fruits of actions and inactions tries to encourage others to do the same and that brahman after departing this world will shine and spread his radiance in Brahmaloka.
If there is a competition between people to adopt and sincerely follow dharma, then that is the medium and way for jnāna but if that brahman engages in duties, actions and inactions in accordance with dharma desirous of fruits and results, then he travels to the worlds of the devathas after his demise.
Praises are showered on brahmans who are thorough in the observance of the Vedas and its principles but those who are ignorant of the principles of dharma should not be given any importance. Those who adopt and sincerely abide by the principle of renunciation of the fruits of actions and inactions, turning inwards to remain within the Self should be acknowledged as exemplary. Like how the lush grass thrives in the rainy season, similarly a brahman should reside and live out his life in a place where there is an abundance of food and drink suitable for him. He should not trouble himself with hunger and thirst.
But one who does not reveal his greatness and is looked at with a feeling of fear and inauspiciousness and does not reveal his own importance and knowledge in spite of these circumstances can be deemed to be an exemplary man.
The wise ones say that the food offered by the one who is not overcome with envy and jealousy when another is praised to the hilt and does not take advantage of the possessions of a brahman should be accepted.
Just like how a dog eats even what he has spewed, a brahman who is ostentatious about his brahman tattva living out his life in this flamboyance is comparable to one who eats what he has spewed and this will eventually lead to his downfall.
A man who remains in the constant company of those bound by attachment to family and family members and who continually tries to keep his sadhana (practice) secret from everyone is the wise man who is deemed as a brahman amongst the brahmans.
In this manner, which sincere seeker of the Brahman will not want to know about IT, which is bereft of distinction and of markings, is still and constant and pure and devoid of all kinds of dualities which is the Atmā (Self), and kill the opportunity to do so?
Hence, even a kshatriya-born who lives his life on the principles and disciplines of the exalted and Highest Truth can experience the brahma swaroopa and attain Brahman.
If a man has understood the Self namely the Atmā as something other than the exalted Supreme, then what heinous crime has that thief who has stolen the very exalted nature of the Atmā not committed?
A man who works tirelessly while engaging in his rightful duties, actions and inactions, does not accept charity, has a reputation beyond reproach among wise ones, is free from outrage and tyranny and who is civil and polite without being overly friendly is a brahman considered to be a wise one who has understood and realized the truth about Brahman.
A man who is seen as poor in terms of monetary wealth but is rich in Devi sampatti (wealth of blessings, knowledge and wisdom) as well as in practice, understanding and knowledge of yagnas and others is considered to be straightforward and consistent on all matters. That brahman should understand the truth about the Supreme Being.
Even if one knows about the devathas who bestow good, prosperity and wealth in this universe, he is not comparable to one who knows Brahman because he is only hankering after the extraordinary fruits of good deeds.
A man who is respected by all and remains bereft of pride, does not feel envy or jealousy towards men who are wise and respected and whom wise men treat with respect without even him trying is to be known to have a reputation beyond reproach.
When wise ones give respect to one, then that man should understand that it is the nature of such people to treat all with respect similar to blinking of the eyelids.
But one who is highly skilled in adharma, exceedingly cunning and deceitful in all matters in this universe and insults respected persons is a foolish person and does not treat those worthy of honour with respect.
It is definite that self-respect and silence do not go hand in hand with each other because one attains happiness in this world with honour and one attains paraloka with silence. The wise persons know this.
King! It is accepted that the personification of wealth and prosperity namely Lakshmi is considered to be the happiness in a house but She also creates various hurdles and obstacles in the path to success for thieves and dishonest persons. But Lakshmi, who is the form of Brahmajnanā is always absent to a man who is devoid of prajna.
The saints have revealed myriad ways to attain this Lakshmi, who is the form of Brahmajnanā which does not awaken lust, greed and desire within and which needs to be practised and adhered to strictly. Their names are – satya (truth), saraltha (single-mindedness), lajjā (modesty), dama (control of the senses), shoucha (purity and cleanliness) and vidyā (knowledge).”
[Sanatsujatha Parva – Chapters 42 of Udyoga Parva – Slokas 1 – 46]