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First Prapathaka

1. The laying of the formerly-described sacrificial fires is indeed the sacrifice of Brahman. Therefore let the sacrificer, after he has laid those fires, meditate on the Self. Thus only does the sacrificer become complete and faultless.

But who is to be meditated on? He who is called Prâna (breath). Of him there is this story:

2. A King, named Brihadratha, having established his son in his sovereignty, went into the forest, because he considered this body as transient, and had obtained freedom from all desires. Having performed the highest penance, he stands there, with uplifted arms, looking up to the sun. At the end of a thousand (days), the Saint Sakayanya, who knew the Self, came near, burning with splendour, like a fire without smoke. He said to the King: “Rise, rise! Choose a boon!

The King, bowing before him, said: “O Saint, I know not the Self, thou knowest the essence (of the Self). We have heard so. Teach it us.

Sakayanya replied: “This was achieved of yore; but what thou askest is difficult to obtain. O Aikshvaka, choose other pleasures.

The King, touching the Saint's feet with his head, recited this Gatha:

3. “O Saint, What is the use of the enjoyment of pleasures in this offensive, pithless body—a mere mass of bones, skin, sinews, marrow, flesh, seed, blood, mucus, tears, phlegm, ordure, water, bile, and slime! What is the use of the enjoyment of pleasures in this body which is assailed by lust, hatred, greed, delusion, fear, anguish, jealousy, separation from what is loved, union with what is not loved, hunger, thirst, old age, death, illness, grief, and other evils!

4. “And we see that all this is perishable, as these flies, gnats, and other insects, as herbs and trees, growing and decaying. And what of these? There are other great ones, mighty wielders of bows, rulers of empires, Sudyumna, Bhuridyumna, Indradyumna, Kuvalayasva, Yauvanasva, Vadhryasva, Asvapati, Sasabindu, Hariskandra, Ambarisha, Nahusha, Ananata, Saryati, Yayati, Anaranya, Ukshasena, &c., and kings such as Marutta, Bharata (Daushyanti), and others, who before the eyes of their whole family surrendered the greatest happiness, and passed on from this world to that. And what of these? There are other great ones. We see the destruction of Gandharvas, Asuras, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Bhutas, Ganas, Pisakas, snakes, and vampires. And what of these? There is the drying up of other great oceans, the falling of mountains, the moving of the pole-star, the cutting of the windropes (that hold the stars), the submergence of the earth, and the departure of the gods (suras) from their place. In such a world as this, what is the use of the enjoyment of pleasures, if he who has fed on them is seen to return (to this world) again and again! Deign therefore to take me out! In this world I am like a frog in a dry well. O Saint, thou art my way, thou art my way.


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