Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 

25. It is unholy. Not so, on the ground of Scripture.

The conclusion arrived at above cannot be accepted, since there is a reason why the descending soul should enter on the condition of an enjoying soul. Such works as sacrifices, the fruit of which is the enjoyment of the heavenly world, are mixed with evil, for they imply injury to living beings as in the case of the goat offered to Agnîshomau. And such injury is evil as it is forbidden by texts such as 'let him not harm any creature.' Nor can it be said that the injunctions of sacrificing animals constitute exceptions to the general rule of not harming any creature.--For the two injunctions refer to different things. The injunction to kill the goat for Agnîshomau intimates that the killing of the animal subserves the accomplishment of the sacrifice, while the injunction not to 'harm' teaches that such harming has disastrous consequences. Should it be said that the prohibition of harming does not refer to such actions as the sacrifice of the goat which proceed on the basis of scriptural injunction, but only to such actions as spring from natural passion or desire (râga); we remark that in the case of sacrifices also the action is equally prompted by natural desire. Injunctions such as 'He who desires the heavenly world is to sacrifice', teach that sacrifices are to be undertaken by persons desirous of certain pleasant results, and such persons having thus learned by what means the result is to be accomplished proceed to action from the natural desire of the result. This applies to the killing of the goat also which is offered to Agnîshomau; man learns from Scripture that such actions help to accomplish the sacrifice which effects the result, and then performs those actions from natural desire. The case in no way differs from that of harm

p. 599

done in ordinary life--where the agent always is prompted by natural desire, having somehow arrived at the conclusion that his action will accomplish something aimed at by himself. The same holds good with regard to works of permanent obligation. Men learn from Scripture that through the performance of the special duties of their caste they attain happiness of the highest kind, and then apply themselves to their duties from a natural desire of such happiness, and therefore such works also are mixed with evil. Hence the souls of those who have performed sacrifices, and so on, which contain an element of evil, at first experience in the heavenly world that result which is to be enjoyed there, and then embodying themselves in non-moving things such as plants, experience the fruit of that part of their actions which is of a harmful nature. That embodiment in non-moving beings is the result of evil deeds Smriti declares: 'Owing to those defects of work which are due to the body, a man becomes a non-moving being.' From all this it follows that the souls embody themselves in plants to the end of enjoying the fruits of their works.--To this the Sûtra replies--it is not so, on account of scriptural statement. For Scripture declares that the killing of sacrificial animals makes them to go up to the heavenly world, and therefore is not of the nature of harm. This is declared in the text, 'The animal killed at the sacrifice having assumed a divine body goes to the heavenly world'; 'with a golden body it ascends to the heavenly world.' An action which is the means of supreme exaltation is not of the nature of harm, even if it involves some little pain; it rather is of beneficial nature.--With this the mantra also agrees: 'Thou dost not die, thou goest to the gods on easy paths; where virtuous men go, not evil-doers, there the divine Savitri may lead thee.' An act which has a healing tendency, although it may cause a transitory pain, men of insight declare to be preservative and beneficial.

Next: 26. After that conjunction with him who performs the act of generation