Translated by S. N. Sastri
[Based on the bhAshya of SrI Sankara bhagavatpAda]


sanatsujAtIyam is one of the three gems in the mahAbhArata on which SrI Sankara has given commentaries, the other two being the bhagavadgItA and vishNu sahasranAma. This forms chapters 41 to 46 of udyogaparva. It consists of four chapters with a total of 146 verses.

(samskRt names and words have been transliterated using ITrans).

The jIva (the individual), though he is in his true nature identical with the non-dual brahman which is Consciousness-Existence-Bliss, has fallen from his natural state because of avidyA (nescience) which causes him to identify himself with the non-Self in the form of the body, mind, and senses. As a result he has become subject to all miseries. He strives to attain what is pleasant and to avoid what is unpleasant through the performance of various actions. Failing to attain the highest goal of life, namely, liberation, even after performing various acts, both secular and religious, dragged about here and there by attachment, aversion, etc, as if by a crocodile, the jIva takes birth in various wombs as god, man, animal, and so on and, overcome by delusion, continues in the cycle of birth and death. Then, because of some merit (puNya) acquired, he becomes free from attachment and other defects by the performance of all actions as an offering to God, develops detachment towards all pleasures both in this world and in other (higher) worlds, and desires to realize his identity with brahman as laid down in vedAnta. He cultivates the means to liberation such as control of the mind, control of the senses, etc, and approaches an AcArya who has realized brahman. By the study of vedAnta in accordance with the instructions of the AcArya he attains the realization of the truth about brahman and the jIva in the form 'I am brahman' and, becoming free from ignorance and its effects, he remains as brahman. bhagavAn sanatsujAta expounds all this gradually to dhRtarAshTra in this work.

dhRtarAshTra, tormented by grief and delusion, and realizing, on hearing the vedAntic statement that the knower of brahman becomes free from sorrow, that eradication of sorrow is impossible without brahmavidyA, asks vidura, "You have told me most wonderful things. If there is any thing not yet said by you, please tell me that, since I am eager to hear". vidura, though learned in the scriptures, very compassionate, and omniscient, knowing brahmavidyA to be the province of persons competent to impart it, does not consider himself competent to do it because of his birth from the womb of a SUdra woman. Pondering over the means by which he could establish dhRtarAshTra in the supreme brahman which is bliss itself, he remembers the famous story in the chAndogya upanishad and decides that none other than bhagavAn sanatsujAta would be able to lead him to the infinite supreme Self beyond the darkness of ignorance. He therefore invokes bhagavAn sanatsujAta by his yogic power, and after worshipping him with prostrations, tells him, "O bhagavAn, there is some doubt in dhRtarAshTra's mind, which cannot be cleared by me. I therefore request you to answer his doubt, on hearing which this king will go beyond all sorrow, and will be able to look with equanimity upon gain and loss, the desired and the hated, old age and death, joy and sorrow, hunger and thirst, fear and fearlessness, revulsion and inactivity, desire and anger, as well as decline and rise and, becoming free from all merits and sins which are the cause of transmigration, attain liberation and go beyond pleasure and pain.