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Story about Samsara from Vidura in Maha Bharatha



From Sri Maha Bharatham - 11th Maha Parva (Stri Parva) - Jalapradanika Sub Parva - 5th Chapter

"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Tell me in detail everything about the ways of that intelligence by which this wilderness of duties may be safely covered.’

"Vidura said, ‘Having bowed down to the Self-create, I will obey thy behest by telling thee how the great sages speak of the wilderness of life. A certain brahmana, living in the great world, found himself on one occasion in a large inaccessible forest teeming with beasts of prey. It abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. Such was the aspect of that forest that Yama himself would take fright at it.

Beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly agitated. His hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested themselves, O scorcher of foes! Entering it, he began to run hither and thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out somebody whose shelter he might seek. Wishing to avoid those terrible creatures, he ran in fright. He could not succeed, however, in distancing them or freeing himself from their presence. He then saw that that terrible forest was surrounded with a net, and that a frightful woman stood there, stretching her arms. That large forest was also encompassed by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching the very heavens. Within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. The brahmana, in course of his wanderings, fell into that invisible pit.

He became entangled in those clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. He continued to hang there, feet upwards and head downwards. While he was in that posture, diverse other calamities overtook him. He beheld a large and mighty snake within the pit. He also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. That elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. And the animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees. About the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), roved many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers.

Repeatedly they desired, O bull of Bharata’s race, to taste that honey which though sweet to all creatures could, however, attract children only. The honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. The person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. Employed, in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst, however, could not be appeased. Unsatiated with repeated draughts, the person desired for more.

Even then, O king, he did not become indifferent to life. Even there, the man continued to hope for existence. A number of black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. There was fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of that forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that elephant near its top, from the fall of the tree through the action of the rats, and lastly from those bees flying about for tasting the honey. In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life.’"


"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Alas, great was the distress of that person and very painful his mode of life! Tell me, O first of speakers, whence was his attachment to life and whence his happiness? Where is that region, so unfavourable to the practice of virtue, in which that person resides? Oh, tell me how will that man be freed from all those great terrors? Tell me all this! We shall then exert ourselves properly for him. My compassion has been greatly moved by the difficulties that lie in the way of his rescue!’

"Vidura said, ‘They that are conversant, O monarch, with the religion of moksha cite this as a simile. Understanding this properly, a person may attain to bliss in the regions hereafter. That which is described as the wilderness is the great world. The inaccessible forest within it is the limited sphere of one’s own life. Those that have been mentioned as beasts of prey are the diseases (to which we are subject). That woman of gigantic proportions residing in the forest is identified by the wise with Decrepitude which destroys complexion and beauty.

That which has been spoken of as the pit is the body or physical frame of embodied creatures. The huge snake dwelling in the bottom of that pit is time, the destroyer of all embodied creatures. It is, indeed, the universal destroyer. The cluster of creepers growing in that pit and attached to whose spreading stems the man hangeth down is the desire for life which is cherished by every creature.

The six-faced elephant, O king, which proceeds towards the tree standing at the mouth of the pit is spoken of as the year. Its six faces are the seasons and its twelve feet are the twelve months. The rats and the snakes that are cutting off the tree are said to be days and nights that are continually lessening the periods of life of all creatures. Those that have been described as bees are our desires. The numerous jets that are dropping honey are the pleasures derived from the gratification of our desires and to which men are seen to be strongly addicted.

The wise know life’s course to be even such. Through that knowledge they succeed in tearing off its bonds.’"




"Dhritarashtra said, ‘Excellent is this parable that thou hast recited! Indeed, thou art acquainted with truth! Having listened to thy nectarlike speech, I desire to hear thee more.’

"Vidura said, ‘Listen to me, O king, I shall once more discourse in detail on those means an acquaintance with which enable the wise to free themselves from the ties of the world. As a person, O king, who has to travel a long way is sometimes obliged to halt when fatigued with toil, even so, O Bharata, they that are of little intelligence, travelling along the extended way of life, have to make frequent halts in the shape of repeated births in the womb. They, however, that are wise are free from that obligation. Men conversant with the scriptures, for this, describe life’s course as a long way. The wise also call life’s round with all its difficulties a forest.

Creatures, O bull of Bharata’s race, whether mobile or immobile, have to repeatedly return to the world. The wise alone escape. The diseases, mental and physical, to which mortals are subject, whether visible or invisible, are spoken of as beasts of prey by the wise. Men are always afflicted and impeded by them, O Bharata! Then again, those fierce beasts of prey, represented by their own acts in life, never cause any anxiety to them that are of little intelligence. If any person, O monarch, somehow escapes from diseases, Decrepitude, that destroyer of beauty, overwhelmshim afterwards. Plunged in a slough by the objects of the different senses--sound and form and taste and touch and scent--man remains there without anything to rescue him thence. Meanwhile, the years, the seasons, the months, the fortnights, the days, and the nights, coming one after another, gradually despoil him of beauty and lessen the period allotted to him. These all are messengers of death. They, however, that are of little understanding know them not to be such. The wise say that all creatures are governed by the Ordainer through their acts.

The body of a creature is called the car. The living principle is the driver of (that car). The senses are said to be steeds. Our acts and the understanding are the traces. He who followeth after those running steeds has to come repeatedly to this world in a round of rebirths. He, however, who, being self-restrained restrains them by his understanding hath not to come back. They, however, that are not stupefied while wandering in this wheel of life that is revolving like a real wheel, do not in reality wander in a round of rebirths.

He that is wise should certainly take care to prevent the obligation of rebirth. One should not be indifferent to this, for indifference may subject us to it repeatedly. The man, O king, who has restrained his senses and subdued wrath and covetousness, who is contented, and truthful in speech, succeeds in obtaining peace. This body is called the car of Yama. Then those that are of little intelligence are stupefied by it. Such a person, O king, would obtain that which thou hast obtained. The loss of kingdom, of friends, and of children, O Bharata, and such as these, overtake him who is still under the influence of desire.

He that is wise should apply the medicine of intelligence to all great griefs. Indeed, obtaining the medicine of wisdom, which is truly very efficacious and is almost unattainable, the man of restrained soul would kill that serious disease called sorrow. Neither prowess, nor wealth, nor friend, nor well-wishers can cure a man of his grief so effectually as the self-restrained soul. Therefore, observant of the great duty of abstention from all injuries, or friendship for all creatures, be of pious behaviour, O Bharata! Self-restraint, renunciation, and heedfulness are the three steeds of Brahman.

He who rides on the car of his soul, unto which are yoked these steeds with the aid of traces furnished by good conduct, and drives it, casting off all fear of death, proceedeth, O king, to the regions of Brahman. That person, O monarch, who gives unto all creatures an assurance of his harmlessness, goes to the highest of regions, the blessed realm of Vishnu. The fruit that one obtains by an assurance unto all creatures of his harmlessness cannot be obtained by a 1,000 sacrifices or by daily fasts. Amongst all things there is certainly nothing dearer than self.

Death is certainly disliked by all creatures, O Bharata! Therefore, compassion should certainly be shown unto all. Endued with diverse kinds of errors entangled by the net of their own intelligence, they that are wicked and are of good vision, wander repeatedly on the earth. They however, that are wise and endued with subtle sight, attain to a union with Brahman.’"

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