Resurrection
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Resurrection
From The Mahabharata
Asramavasika Parva, Section XXXIV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

[‘Notes’ are comments by the scholar and
translator Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli]

How is it possible for persons whose bodies have
been destroyed to re-appear in those very forms?

Sauti said: Hearing this story of the reappearance and departure of his forefathers, king Janmejaya of great intelligence became highly pleased.

Filled with joy, he once more questioned Vaisampayana on the subject of the reappearance of dead men, saying: How is it possible for persons whose bodies have been destroyed to re-appear in those very forms?

Thus asked, that foremost of regenerate persons, viz., the disciple of Vyasa, that first of speakers, possessed of great energy, thus answered Janmejaya.

Vaisampayana said: This is certain, viz., that acts are never destroyed (without their consequences being enjoyed or endured). Bodies, O king, are born of acts; so also are features. The great primal elements are eternal (indestructible) in consequence of the union with them of the lord of all beings. They exist with what is eternal! Accordingly, they have no destruction when the non-eternal are destroyed. Acts done without exertion are true and foremost, and bear real fruit. The soul, united however with such acts as require exertion for their accomplishment, enjoys pleasure and pain.

[Note: Nilakantha explains that Anayasakritam Karma implies the religion of Nivritti (renunciation), for the religion of Pravritti consists of acts that require Ayasa or exertion for their accomplishment. The religion of Nivritti or abstention from acts is said here to be true and superior, and productive of real fruit, in the form, that is, of Emancipation. The soul, however, in the generality of cases, united with Ebhih, by which is meant Ayasa-kritam karma, that is, the acts done in pursuance of the religion of Pravritti, becomes embodied and, therefore, enjoys happiness or endures misery as the case may be.]

Though united so (that is, with pleasure and pain), yet it is a certain inference that the soul is never modified by them, like the reflection of creatures in a mirror. It is never destroyed.

[Note; The sense seems to be this: When a creature stands before a mirror, its image is formed in the mirror. Such reflection, however, never affects the mirror in the least, for when the object leaves the vicinity of the mirror, the image or reflection vanishes away. The soul is like the mirror. Pleasure and pain are like reflections in it. They come and go away without the soul being at all modified by them in any way. Pleasure and pain are destructible, but not so the soul.]

As long as one’s acts are exhausted (by enjoyments or endurance of their fruits good and bad), so long does one regard the body to be oneself. The man, however, whose acts have been exhausted, without regarding the body to be self, takes the self to be something otherwise.

[Note: The ordinary man thinks this conglomeration of diverse objects to be his self. The man of wisdom who has exhausted his acts does not think so. He is freed from the obligation of taking a body (rounds of birth and death).]

Diverse existent objects (such as the primal elements and the senses, etc.) attaining to the body, become united as one. To men of knowledge who understand the difference (between the body and self), those very objects become eternal.

[Note: The sense probably is this. In the case of ordinary men, the component parts of the body dissolve away, while Yogis can keep such parts from dissolution as long as they like.]

In the Horse-sacrifice, this Sruti is heard in the matter of the slaying of the horse. Those, which are the certain possessions of embodied creatures, viz., their life-breaths (and the senses etc.), exist eternally even when they are borne to the other world. I shall tell thee what is beneficial, if it were agreeable to thee, O king. Thou hast, while employed in thy sacrifices, heard of the paths of the deities. When preparations were made for any sacrifice of thine, the deities became beneficially inclined to thee. When indeed, the deities were thus disposed and came to thy sacrifices, they were lords in the matter of the passage (from this to the next world) of the animals slain.

[Note: The sense is, the deities bear away to the next world the animals slain in sacrifices. Though the bodies of such animals are apparently destroyed, yet their life-breaths and senses continue to exist.]

For this reason, the eternal ones (viz. Jivas or individual souls), by adoring the deities in sacrifices, succeed in attaining to excellent goals. When the five primal elements are eternal, when the soul also is eternal, he called Purusha (viz., the soul invested with case) is equally so. When such is the case, he who beholds a creature as disposed to take diverse forms, is regarded as having an erroneous understanding.

He, who indulges in too much grief at separation, is, I think, a foolish person. He who sees evil in separation should abandon union. By standing aloof, no unions are formed, and sorrow is cast off, for sorrow in the world is born of separation.

[Note: The sense is that wives etc., when lost, are sources of sorrow. Wise men should abstain from contracting such relations. They might then be free from sorrow.]

Only he who understands the distinction between body and self, and not another, becomes freed from the erroneous conviction. He that knows the other (viz., self) attains to the highest understanding and becomes freed from error.

[Note: Paraparojnah is one that understands the distinction between body and self. Apara is, therefore, one that is not possessed of such knowledge; hence, as Nilakantha explains, it implies one who has not attained to Jnana Nishtha. What is said in the second line is that he that adores Saguna Brahman (Brahman with form), succeeds afterwards, through such adoration, in reaching to Nirguna Brahman (Brahman without form).]

As regards creatures, they appear from an invisible state, and once more disappear into invisibleness. I do not know him. He also does not know me. As regards myself, renunciation is not yet mine.

[Note: The sense seems to be this: We spring from the unmanifest and disappear once more in the unmanifest. Naham tam vedmi is taken by Nilakantha as implying ‘I do not know him’, I.e., him that is Emancipate. Asau cha no vetti mam is explained as due to Karanabhat. But who is Asau? ‘I have no renunciation’, or ‘renunciation is not yet mine’, implies that Emancipation, which directly flows from renunciation, is not mine.]

He that is not possessed of puissance enjoys or endures the fruits of all his acts in those too dies in which he does them. If the act were a mental one, its consequences are enjoyed or endured mentally; if it were done with the body, its consequences are to be enjoyed or endured in the body.
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