Shanti Parva 8 - Life and Body
All beings in the world, including trees, have these five elements. The five elements of the body, ears, nose, mouth, heart, and stomach have space. Phlegm, blood, bile, fat, and sweat are the five liquids formed of water in the body.
Prana makes a person move. Vyana makes him act. Apana moves towards the tongue. Udana helps him speak. Samana is in the heart. The six tastes – sweet, salt, bitter, astringent, sour, and pungent are water. Nine scents – Madhura, Ishta, Anishta, Katu, Nirhari, Samhata, Snigdha, Ruksha, and Vishada are extensions of the earth.
Fire has three qualities - sound, touch, and form. The extensions of fire are forms that include tall, short, thick, circular, quadrangular, triangular, black, white, dark red, light red, blue, and yellow. Sound and touch are qualities of the wind. Seven types of sound exist: Shadaja, Rishaba, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata, and Nishadaka.
Fire, water, and air are always active in the bodies of beings. Prana is the fire in the head and represents the living being. Samana ensures prana follows its course of action. Apana is the fire in the genitals and anus. Udana is the force that causes everything to act. Vyana is the fire in the joints. Ushma is the fire causing digestion.
Life doesn't depend only on one element. It depends on all the five elements. When life is over, the living being is not destroyed, it goes on to another body. The body has the five elements, as does the soul or atman. Death is the destruction of the body, and not of the soul. A wise man who has purified his soul can obtain infinite happiness.
Brahma created some brahmanas, and then he created truth, dharma, and purity. He then created the Gods, yakshas, gandharavas, humans, animals, and other beings. Every human being was first created as a brahmana. The brahmanas who were courageous and filled with anger, fought wars and became Kshatriyas. Those brahmanas who earned their living from agriculture and other occupations became vaishyas, and the brahmanas who did all sorts of deeds to earn a living became shudras.
The deeds done by a person determined their varna. All varnas practice dharma and austerities. The varna is determined by the conduct of a person. If a brahmana does not practice austerities, truthfulness, and self-control, he is not a brahmana. Freeing oneself of all attachments is the way to obtain heaven.
Donations given to people who are not virtuous leads to pleasures in this world. When donations are given to virtuous people, it helps in accruing virtues for the next world. Of the four ashramas, the brahmacharya refers to living in the house of a teacher. Such a person should be pure and must shun laziness. He must meditate and obtain the Vedas.
The grahastha ashrama helps to attain dharma, artha, and moksha. Such a person will get riches. Those in the vanaprastha ashrama must renounce everything. They should follow the dharma of the sages and practice austerities. The sanyasi completely frees himself from all attachments. He treats everyone in the same way and sustains himself on alms.
The yogi who meditates frees himself from sins and remains without attachments. The senses must be controlled, and the mind is then engaged. The yogi can then be emancipated. Through meditation, he can obtain Samadhi and then merge with the Supreme Being.
No one has seen the other side of the moon. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist. In the same way, the atman exists even though it cannot be seen. The atman is separate from the body, but the fruits of the one's action are associated with it. When the body is asleep, consciousness moves around in one's dreams. Consciousness is then separate from the body.
When the sun rises, it creates rays, whereas it removes the rays when it sets. Similarly, the soul enters the body and spreads the senses. When the soul leaves, it restrains the senses. To obtain immortality, one needs to take refuge in the Supreme Being.
End of Shanti Parva