THE Sanatsugâtîya, is, like the Bhagavadgîtâ, one of the numerous episodes of the Mahâbhârata 1. It is true, that it, has never commanded anything like that unbounded veneration which has always been paid in India to the Bhagavadgîtâ. Still it is sometimes studied even in our days, and it has had the high distinction of being commented on by the great leader of the modern Vedântic school--Sankarâkârya 2. The Dhritarâshtra purports to be a dialogue mainly between Sanatsugâta on the one side and Dhritarâshtra on the other. Sanatsugâta, from whom it takes its name, is said to be identical with Sanatkumâra, a name not unfamiliar to students of our Upanishad literature. And Dhritarâshtra is the old father of those Kauravas who formed one of the belligerent parties in the bellum plusquam civile which is recorded in the Mahâbhârata. The connexion of this particular episode with the main current of the narrative of that epos is one of the loosest possible character--much looser, for instance, than that of the Bhagavadgîtâ. As regards the latter, it can fairly be contended that it is in accordance with poetical justice for Arguna to feel despondent and unwilling to engage in battle, after actual sight of 'teachers, fathers, sons,' and all the rest of them, arrayed in opposition to him; and that therefore it was necessary for the poet to adduce some specific explanation as to how Arguna was ultimately enabled to get over such natural scruples. But as regards the Sanatsugâtîya, even such a contention as this can have
no place. For this is how the matter stands. In the course of the negotiations for an amicable arrangement 1 between the Pândavas and the Kauravas, Sañgaya, on one occasion, came back to Dhritarâshtra with a message from the Pândavas. When he saw Dhritarâshtra, however, he said that he would deliver the message in the public assembly of the Kauravas the next morning, and went away after pronouncing a severe censure on Dhritarâshtra for his conduct. The suspense thus caused was a source of much vexation to the old man, and so he sent for Vidura, in order, as he expresses it, that Vidura might by his discourse assuage the fire that was raging within him. Vidura accordingly appears, and enters upon an elaborate prelection concerning matters spiritual, or, perhaps, more accurately quasi-spiritual, and at the outset of the Sanatsugâtîya he is supposed to have reached a stage where, as being born a Sûdra, he hesitates to proceed. After some discussion of this point, between Vidura and Dhritarâshtra, it is determined to call in the aid of Sanatsugâta, to explain the spiritual topics which Vidura felt a delicacy in dealing with; and Sanatsugâta is accordingly introduced on the scene in a way not unusual in our epic and purânic literature, viz. by Vidura engaging in some mystic process of meditation, in response to which Sanatsugâta appears. He is received then with all due formalities, and after he has had some rest, as our poem takes care to note, he is catechised by Dhritarâshtra; and with one or two exceptions, all the verses which constitute the Sanatsugâtîya are Sanatsugâta's answers to Dhritarâshtra's questions 2.
This brief statement of the scheme of this part of the Mahâbhârata shows, as already pointed out, that the connexion of the Sanatsugâtîya with the central story of that epic is very loose indeed; and that it might have been entirely omitted without occasioning any æsthetical or other defect. And therefore, although there is nothing positive
tending to prove the Sanatsugâtîya to be a later addition to the original epos, still the misgivings which are often entertained upon such points may well, in this case, be stronger than in the case of the Bhagavadgîtâ. The text, too, of the Sanatsugâtîya is not preserved in nearly so satisfactory a condition as that of the Gîtâ. I have had before me, in settling my text, the editions of the Mahâbhârata respectively printed and published at Bombay 1, Calcutta, and Madras, and three MSS., one of which was most kindly and readily placed at my disposal by my friend Professor Râmkrishna Gopâl Bhândârkar; the second by another friend, Professor Âbâgî Vishnu Kâthavate; and the third was a copy made for me at Sâgar in the Central Provinces, through the good offices of a third friend, Mr. Vâman Mahâdeva Kolhatkar. The copy lent me by Professor Bhândârkar comes from Puna, and that lent by Professor Kâthavate also from Puna. This last, as well as the Sâgar copy, and the edition printed at Madras, contains the commentary of Sankarâkârya. And the text I have adopted is that which is indicated by the commentary as the text which its author had before him. But the several copies of the commentary differ so, much from one another, that it is still a matter of some doubt with me, whether I have got accurately the text which Sankara commented upon. For instance, the Sâgar copy entirely omits chapter V, while the other copies not only give the text of that chapter, but also a commentary upon it which calls itself Sankarâkârya's commentary 2. Again, take the stanzas which stand within brackets at pp. 167, 168 3 of our translation. There is in none of the copies we have, any commentary of Sankarâkârya on them. And yet the stanzas exist in the text of the Mahâbhârata as given in those copies which do contain Sankara's commentary. The matter is evidently one for further investigation. I have not, however, thought it absolutely
necessary to make such an investigation for the purposes of the present translation. But to be on the safe side, I have retained in the translation everything which is to be found in those copies of the Sanatsugâtîya which also contain Sankara's commentary. As to other stanzas--and there are some of this description--which other MSS. or commentators vouch for, but of which no trace is to be found in the MSS. containing Sankara's commentary 1, I have simply omitted them.
These facts show that, in the case of the Sanatsugâtîya, the materials for a trustworthy historical account of the work are not of a very satisfactory character. The materials for ascertaining its date and position in Sanskrit literature are, indeed, so scanty, that poor as we have seen the materials for the Bhagavadgîtâ to be, they must be called superlatively rich as compared with those we have now to deal with. As regards external evidence on the points now alluded to, the first and almost the last fact falling under that head, is the fact of the work being quoted from and commented upon by Sankarâkârya. In his commentary on the Svetâsvatara-upanishad 2, Sankara cites the passage about the flamingo at p. 189, introducing it with the words, 'And in the Sanatsugâta also.' In the same 3 commentary, some other passages from the Sanatsugâtîya are also quoted, but without naming the work except as a Smriti, and mixing up together verses from different parts of the work.
This is really all the external evidence, that I am aware of, touching the date of the Sanatsugâtîya. There is, however, one other point, which it is desirable to notice, though not, perhaps, so much because it is of any very great value in itself, as because it may hereafter become useful, should further research into the Mahâbhârata and other works yield the requisite. information. There are, then, eight stanzas in the thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh, thirty-ninth, and fortieth chapters of the Udyoga Parvan of the Mahâbhârata (the Sanatsugâtîya commencing at the forty-first
chapter), seven of which are quoted in the Pañkatantra 1, and the eighth in the Mahâbhâshya 2 of Patañgali. Of course, it almost goes without saying, that neither the Pañkatantra nor the Mahâbhâshya mentions the source from which they derive the verses in question. But I do not think it unallowable to make the provisional assumption, that they were derived from the Mahâbhârata, so long as we cannot produce any other, and more likely, source. It is true, that Professor Weber has, in another connexion, impugned the cogency of this argument. He seems to think, that the probability--in the case he was actually dealing with--of the Râmâyana having borrowed from the Mahâbhâshya, is quite as strong as the probability of the Mahâbhâshya having borrowed from the Râmâyana 3. And doubtless, he would by parity of reason contend, in the case before us, that the probabilities, as between the Mahâbhârata on the one hand, and the Mahâbhâshya and the Pañkatantra on the other, bear the same mutual relation. I cannot accept this view. I am not now concerned to discuss the merits of the conclusion in support of which Professor Weber has advanced this argument 4. I am only considering, how far it affects the question now before us. And as to that question, I may say, that the Pañkatantra expressly introduces the stanzas now under consideration with some such expression as, 'For it has been said,' indicating clearly that it was there quoting the words of another. And so, too, does the Mahâbhâshya, where the passage we refer to runs as follows: '(It is) laid down, (that there is) a sin in one of tender age not rising to
receive (an elderly person), and (that there is) merit in rising to receive. How? Thus, "The life-winds of a youth depart upwards, when an elderly man approaches (him). By rising to receive (him), and salutation, he obtains them again."' It appears to me, that the indications of this being a quotation in the Bhâshya are very strong. But apart from that, I do demur to the proposition, that the probabilities are equal, of a work like the Mahâbhârata or Râmâyana borrowing a verse from the Mahâbhâshya, and vice versa. It appears to me perfectly plain, I own, that the probability of a grammatical work like the Bhâshya borrowing a verse from a standard work like the Bhârata or Râmâyana for purposes of illustration is very much the stronger of the two. And this, quite independently of any inquiry as to whether the Bhâshya does or does not show other indications of acquaintance with the Bhârata or the Râmâyana.
If these arguments are correct, it seems to me that they carry us thus far in our present investigation--namely, that we may now say, that we have reason to believe some parts, at all events, of the thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and fortieth chapters of the Udyoga Parvan of the Mahâbhârata to have probably been in existence prior to the sixth century A. C. 1; and that some parts of the thirty-seventh chapter were probably extant in the time of Patañgali, viz. the second century B. C. 2 Now, internal evidence does not yield any indications tending to show that the several chapters here referred to must have been prior in time to the chapters composing the Sanatsugâtîya, which come so soon after them in the Mahâbhârata. On the contrary, it is, not too much to maintain, that to a certain extent the style and language of the Sanatsugâtîya is, if anything, rather indicative of its priority in time over the five chapters immediately preceding it. And, therefore, so far as this argument goes, it enables us--provisionally only, it must be remembered--to fix the second century B.C. as a terminus ad quem for the date of the Sanatsugâtîya.
This is all the external evidence available for a discussion
of the question--when the Sanatsugâtîya was composed. We now turn to the internal evidence. Standing by itself, internal evidence is not, in my opinion, of much cogency in any case. Still in ascertaining, as best we can, the history of our ancient literature, even this species of evidence is not to be despised; it must only be used and received with caution. Under this head, then, we may note first the persons who are supposed to take part in the dialogue. Sanatsugâta 1--or Sanatkumâra--as already pointed out, is a name already familiar to the readers of one of our older Upanishads--the Khândogya. Dhritarâshtra is not known in the Upanishads, but he is an important personage in the epic literature. And it is to be remarked, that his character as disclosed in the Sanatsugâtîya is not at all similar to that which has attached itself to his name, alike in the later literature of our country, and in that popular opinion which was probably formed by this later literature. In the dialogue before us, he figures as an earnest inquirer after truth; he is described as the 'talented king Dhritarâshtra;' and is addressed by Sanatsugâta as, 'O acute sir!' 'O learned person!' True it is, that Nîlakantha in one place, as we have noticed in our note there 2, endeavours to bring out the later view of Dhritarâshtra's character 3; but it seems to me that that endeavour, based as it is on a forced and farfetched interpretation of a single word in our poem, is an unsuccessful one. None of the questions, which Dhritarâshtra puts to Sanatsugâta in the course of their dialogue, indicates the avaricious old man who wished to deprive his innocent nephews of their just rights in the interests of his own wicked and misguided sons. They rather indicate the bona fide student of spiritual lore, and thus point to what is, perhaps, an earlier view of Dhritarâshtra's character.
If we look next to the general style of this poem, we find that it has none of that elaboration which marks what I
have called the age of Kâvyas and Nâtakas. The remarks on this topic in the Introduction to the Gîtâ apply pretty accurately to this work also. We observe here the same paucity of long-drawn compounds, the same absence of merely ornamental adjectives, the same absence of figures and tropes 1; in one word, the same directness and simplicity of style. Furthermore, there is a somewhat greater want of finish about the syntax of our poem than there is even in the Gîtâ. Such constructions as we find inter alia at chapter II, stanza 2, or 25, or at chapter III, stanza 14, or chapter IV, stanza 12, or in the early verses of the last chapter, indicate a period in the history of the language, when probably the regulations of syntax were not quite thoroughly established in practice.
If we turn to the metre of the poem, an analogous phenomenon strikes us there. Similar irregularities in the collocation of long and short syllables, similar superfluities and deficiencies of syllables, meet us in the Sanatsugâtîya and the Bhagavadgîtâ. And in the former work, as in the latter, the irregularities are less observable in the Anushtubh 2 than in the other metres used. Probably the explanation, apart from the great elasticity of that metre, is that the Anushtubh had been more used, and had in consequence become comparatively more settled in its scheme even in practical composition.
Looking now more particularly to the language of the work before us, we find one word to be of most frequent occurrence, namely, the word vai, which we have rendered 'verily.' It is not a common word in the later literature, while in the Upanishad literature we meet with great frequency, not merely vai, but the words, which I think are cognate with it, vâ and vâva. The former word, indeed, appears to me to stand in some passages of the Upanishads for vai by euphonic alterations. Thus in the passage tvam
vâ aham asmi bhagavo devate, aham vai tvam asi, it is difficult not to suppose that the vâ of the first part of the sentence is the same word as the vai of the second part, only altered according to the rules of Sandhi in Sanskrit.
A second point of similarity between the language of the Upanishads and that of the Sanatsugâtîya is to be found in the phrase, 'He who knows this becomes immortal.' This sentence, or one of like signification, is, as is well known, of common occurrence in the Upanishads and in the Brâhmanas. In the Bhagavadgîtâ, the verses towards the end, which come after Krishna's summing-up of his instruction, seem to be of a somewhat analogous, though in some respects different, nature. And in the Purânas we meet sometimes with elaborate passages extolling the merits of a particular rite, or a particular pilgrimage, and so forth. This form of the Phalasruti, as it is called, appears to have been developed in process of time from the minute germ existing in the Brâhmanas and the Upanishads. In the Sanatsugâtîya, however, we are almost at the beginning of those developments; indeed, the form before us is identically the same as that which we see in the works where it is first met with. It is a short sentence, which, though complete in itself, still appears merely at the end of another passage, and almost as a part of such other passage.
There is one other point of a kindred nature which it may be well to notice here. As in the Gîtâ, so in the Sanatsugâtîya, we meet with a considerable number of words used in senses not familiar in the later literature. They are collected in the Index of Sanskrit words in this volume; but a few remarks on some of them will not, it is thought, be entirely out of place here. The word mârga 1--in the sense of 'worldly life'--is rather remarkable. Sankara renders it by 'the path of samsâra' or worldly life, And he quotes as a parallel the passage from the Khândogya-upanishad which speaks of returning to the 'path.' There, however, Sankara explains it to mean the 'path by which
the self returns to worldly life,' namely, from space to the wind and so forth into vegetables, and food, ultimately appearing as a ftus. Another remarkable word is 'varga,' which occurs twice in the Sanatsugâtîya. Sankara and Nîlakantha differ in their explanations of it, and Nîlakantha indeed gives two different meanings to the word in the two passages where it occurs. We may also refer here specially to utsa, ritvig, and matvâ. In Boehtlingk and Roth's Lexicon the only passages cited under 'utsa' are from Vedic works, except two respectively from Susruta and the Dasakumârakarita. One passage, however, there cited, viz. Vishnoh pade parame madhva utsah, is plainly the original of the passage we are now considering. As to ritvig in the sense it bears here, we see, I think, what was the earlier signification of that word before it settled down into the somewhat technical meaning in which it is now familiar. And matvâ in the sense of 'meditating upon' is to be found in the Upanishads, but not, I think, in any work of the classical literature. These words, therefore, seem to indicate that the Sanatsugâtîya was composed at a stage in the development of the Sanskrit language which is a good deal earlier than the stage which we see completely reached in the classical literature.
Coming now to the matter of the Sanatsugâtîya, it appears to me, that we there see indications pointing in a general way to the same conclusion as that which we have here arrived at. There is, in the first place, a looseness and want of rigid system in the mode of handling the subject, similar to that which we have already observed upon as characterising the Bhagavadgîtâ. There is no obvious bond of connexion joining together the various subjects discussed, nor are those subjects themselves treated after any very scientific or rigorous method. Again, if the fourth chapter is a genuine part of the Sanatsugâtîya, we have an elaborate repetition, in one part, of what has been said in another part of the work, with only a few variations in words, and perhaps fewer still in signification. As, however, I am not at present prepared to stand finally by the genuineness of that chapter I do not consider it desirable to further labour this argument
than to point out, that similar repetitions, on a smaller scale, perhaps, are not uncommon in our older literature 1.
Coming now to the manner in which the Vedas are spoken of in the work before us, there are, we find, one or two noteworthy circumstances proper to be considered here. In the first place, we have the reference to the four Vedas together with Âkhyânas as the fifth Veda. This is in conformity with the old tradition recorded in the various works to which we have referred in our note on the passage. The mention of the Atharva-veda, which is implied in this passage, and expressly contained in another, might be regarded as some mark of a modern age. But without dwelling upon the fact, that the Atharva-veda, though probably, modern as compared with the other Vedas, is still old enough to date some centuries before the Christian era 2, it must suffice to draw attention here to the fact that the Khândogya-upanishad mentions that Veda, and it is not here argued that the Sanatsugâtîya is older than the Khândogya-upanishad. We have next to consider the reference to the Sâman hymns as 'vimala,' or pure. The point involved in this reference has been already sufficiently discussed in the Introduction to the Gîtâ 3; and it is not necessary here to say more than that, of the two classes of works we have there made, the Sanatsugâtîya appears from the passage under discussion to rank itself with. the class which is prior in date.
The estimate of the value of the Vedas which is implied in the Sanatsugâtîya appears to coincide very nearly with that which we have shown to be the estimate implied in the Bhagavadgîtâ. The Vedas are not here cast aside as useless any more than they are in the Bhagavadgîtâ. For, I do not think the word Anrikas which occurs in one passage of the work can be regarded really as referring to those who entirely reject the Vedic revelation. Without going as far as that, the Sanatsugâtîya seems certainly to join the Bhagavadgîtâ in its protest against those men of extreme views, who could see nothing beyond the rites and ceremonies
taught in the Vedas. A study of the Vedas is, indeed, insisted on in sundry passages of the Sanatsugâtîya. But it is equally maintained, that the performance of the ceremonies laid down in the Vedas is not the true means of final emancipation. It is maintained, that action done with any desire is a cause of bondage to worldly life; that the gods themselves are ordinary creatures who have reached a certain high position owing to the practice of the duties of Brahmakârins, but that they are not only not superior to, but are really under the control of, the man who has acquired the true knowledge of the universal self. On all these points, we have opinions expressed in the Sanatsugâtîya, which conclusively establish an identity of doctrine as between the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgîtâ 1 on the one hand, and the Sanatsugâtîya on the other. Lastly, we have an explicit statement, that the mere study of Vedic texts avails nothing, and that sin is not to be got rid of by one who merely 'studies the Rik and the Yagus texts, and the Sâma-veda.' It is not necessary to repeat here the chronological deductions which may be based upon this relation between the Sanatsugâtîya and the Vedas. We have already argued in the Introduction to the Bhagavadgîtâ, that such a relation points to a period of Indian religious history prior to the great movement of Gautama Buddha 2.
There is, however, this difference, perhaps, to be noted between the Gîtâ and the Sanatsugâtîya-namely, that the latter work seems to afford more certain indications of the recognition, at the date of its composition, of a Gñânakânda as distinguished from a Karmakânda in the Vedas, than, we have seen, are contained in the Bhagavadgîtâ 3. The passage, for instance, which speaks of the Khandas as referring 'of themselves' to the Brahman, and the passage which refers to an understanding of the Brahman by means of the Vedas, according to the principle of the moon and the branch--these seem rather to point to a portion of the Vedas which was regarded as giving instruction in true
knowledge, as distinguished from merely laying down various sacrifices and ceremonials for special purposes. In fact, in one passage we have the germ of the whole Vedântic theory as afterwards settled. For there we are told, that sacrifices and penances are laid down as the preliminary steps towards the acquisition of true knowledge. By those sacrifices one is purified of one's sins, and then acquires a. knowledge of the supreme self as described in the Vedas--which, I apprehend, must mean the Upanishads.
There is but one other point on which we need say anything further. And that is connected with the definition of a Brâhmana. That definition appears to me, to point to an earlier stage in religious progress than is indicated in Âpastamba and Manu. The true Brâhmana is he who is attached to the Brahman. Perhaps, this marks some little advance beyond the more general doctrine of the Gîtâ, but it is still very far short of the petrified doctrine, if I may so call it, of the later law-givers. The Brâhmana has not yet degenerated into the mere receiver of fees and presents, but is still in possession of the truth.
We thus see, that the external and internal evidence bearing upon the question of the position of the Sanatsugâtîya in Sanskrit literature, seems to point to nearly the same period and place for it as for the Bhagavadgîtâ. It is plain enough, that the evidence under both heads is extremely scanty and meagre. But such as it is, it appears to us to justify a provisional conclusion, that the Sanatsugâtîya dates from a period prior to the rise of Buddhism, and forms part of that same movement in the religious history of ancient India of which the Gîtâ is another embodiment. More than this, we are not at present in a position to assert. To this extent, the evidence enables us, I think, to go. And we accordingly hold, that unless other and further evidence requires a reversal of this judgment, the Sanatsugâtîya may be treated as a work nearly contemporary with the Bhagavadgîtâ, and occupying generally the same point of view.
One word, finally, about the translation. As stated already, the text adopted is that which appears to have
been before Sankarâkârya. And the translation follows mainly his interpretations in his commentary. Sometimes we have followed Nîlakantha, whose commentary has been consulted as well as a very incorrect copy of another commentary by one Sarvagña Nârâyana, contained in the MS. from Puna lent me by Professor Bhândârkar. In some places even the commentators have failed to clear up obscurities, and there we have given the best translation we could suggest, indicating the difficulties. There has been an endeavour made here, as in the case of the Bhagavadgîtâ, to keep the translation as close and faithful to the text as the exigencies of the English language permitted. 'The exegetical notes are mostly taken from the commentaries, even where the name of the commentator is not specified; while the references to parallel passages have been collected, mostly by myself, in the same way as in the case of the Bhagavadgîtâ.
135:1 Mahâbhârata, Udyoga Parvan, Adhyâya 41-46.
135:2 Mâdhavâkârya, in speaking of Sankara's works, describes him as having commented on the Sanatsugâtîya, which is 'far from evil (persons)' [asatsudûram]. Sankara-vigaya, chapter VI, stanza 62.
136:1 See p. 3 supra.
136:2 After this dialogue is over, the dawn breaks, and Dhritarâshtra and the Kaurava princes meet in general assembly.
137:1 This contains Nîlakantha's commentary, but his text avowedly includes the text of Sankara, and verses and readings contained in more modern copies.
137:2 The commentary on the sixth chapter, however, takes up the thread from the end of the fourth chapter.
137:3 See p. 182, where one of the lines recurs.
138:1 See note , p. 137.
138:2 p. 283.
138:3 p. 252. See, too, Sârîraka Bhâshya, p. 828.
139:1 Cf. Kosegarten's Pañkatantra, p. 28 (I ,28, Bombay S. C. ed.), with Udyoga Parvan, chap. XL, st. 7 (Bombay ed.); Pañkatantra, pp. 112 and 209 (II, 10; IV, 5, Bombay ed.), with Udyoga Parvan, chap. XXXVIII, 9; p. 35 (I, 37, Bombay ed.) with chap. XXXVI, st. 34; p. 140 (II, 40, Bombay ed.) with chap. XXXVII, st. 15; p. 160 (III, 62, Bombay ed.) with chap. XXXVII, st. 17, 18; p. 106 (II, 2, Bombay ed.) with chap. XXXVI, st. 59.
139:2 Udyoga Parvan, chap. XXXVIII, st. 1, and Mahâbhâshya VI, 1-4, p. 35 (Banâras ed.).
139:3 See Indian Antiquary IV. 247. The parallel from Mâdhava which Professor Weber adduces is quite inconclusive, and as far as it goes appears to me to militate against the Professor's own view.
139:4 I may, however, admit at once, that I ought not to have expressed myself as strongly as I did in the note which Professor Weber criticises.
140:1 See p. 29 supra.
140:2 See p. 32 supra.
141:1 See Hall's Sânkhyasâra, preface, pp. 14, 15.
141:2 P. p. 151, note .
141:3 Nîlakantha himself, however, treats Dhritarâshtra's question later on as showing that he had attained indifference to worldly concerns. That question does not occur in Sankara's text, but is given at p. 158 infra.
142:1 The five similes which occur, and which are nearly all that occur, in the poem, are the very primitive ones--of the hunter, of water on grass, the tiger of straw, death eating men like a tiger, dogs eating what is vomited, a branch of a tree and the moon, and birds and their nests.
142:2 Cf. as to this the Nrisimha Tâpinî, p. 105.
143:1 I give no references here, as they can be found in the Index of Sanskrit words at the end of this volume.
145:1 See p. 181, note infra.
145:2 P. p. 19 supra.
145:3 Pp. 19, 20.
146:1 Cf. p. 16 supra.
146:2 Cf. pp. 25, 26.
146:3 p. 17.