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Yayati story and Manu Smriti

From: Venk Nagarajan (nagarajv_at_qed.econ.queensu.ca)
Date: Fri Sep 24 1999 - 08:19:23 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
namo narayana.
 
I am writing in regards to a post I submitted about material wealth
(about two weeks ago), with quotes from the manu smriti.  While reading
the Mahabharata, I came across the story of Yayati, which reiterates one
of my 
favourite quotes from the manu smriti (verse 94 (pasted below.)  I want 
to share this with all of you.  I am sure most bhagavatas know the story, 
but I will present it again anyway.  (Sri. Anbil Ramaswamy has also
referred to the yayati story in his posting today in the commentary on
verse 1.13)  Repeated exposure to truths can never be fruitless; it will
only help to make the manifestation of this truth fuller.)
Note, if this knowledge (truth ) had already manifested fully, we would
all be 
leading our life in accordance with the dharmasAstrAs. 
 
Knowledge is independent of the body and mind, it is self-manifesting.  It
reveals itself to the knower the jiva.  An individual can have a great
store of knowledge without the
ability to express this knowledge.  Whereas, another can have a sharp mind
with which he or she can process information obtained through the senses
(when in contact with objects, for instance books), but has a very
contracted store of knowledge.) These postings do not represent knowledge
but rather objects that may act as a catalyst for the
Self-manifesting knowledge.  I have a dearth of knowledge; that  is why I
need to make use of this body and mind to try to stimulate that
self-manifesting knowledge.

Quote:
 
Chapter 2 verse 94
" Desire is never extinguished by enjoyment of desired objects; it only
grows stronger like the fire fed with clarified butter."

The Story of Yayati as in Sri. C. Rajagopalachari's Book:

" Emperor Yayati was one of the ancestors of the pandavas.  He had never
known defeat: He followed the dictates of the sastras, adored the gods and
venerated his ancestors with intense devotion.  He became famous as a
ruler devoted to the welfare of his subjects.

"However, he became prematurely old by the curse of Sukracharya for having
wronged his wife Devayani.  In the words of the poet of the Mahabharata:
"yayati attained old age which destroys beauty and brings on miseries."   

"Yayati, who found himself suddenly an old man, was still haunted by the
desire for sensual enjoyment.  He had five beautiful sons, all virtuous
and accomplished.  Yayati called them and appealed piteously to their
affection:"the curse of your grandfather Sukracharya has made me
unexpectedly and prematurely old.  I have not had my fill of the joys of
life; for, not knowing what was in store for me, I lived a life of
restraint, denying myself even lawful pleasures.  One of you ought to bear
my burden of my old age and give his youth in return.  He who agrees to
this and bestows his youth on me will be the ruler of my kingdom.  I
desire to enjoy life in the full vigor of youth."

"He first asked his eldest son.  That son replied: "O great king, women
and servants will mock at me if I were to take upon myself your old age.
I cannot do so.  Ask my younger brothers who are dearer to you than
myself."  When the second approached, he gently refused with the words:
"father you ask me to take up old age which destroys not only strength and
beauty but also -as I see-wisdom.  I am not strong enough to do so.

The third and fourth sons also refused.  "Yayati was struck with sorrow at
the refusal of the four sons.  Still, hoping against hope, he supplicated
his last son who had never yet opposed his wishes:"You must save me.  I am
afflicted with this old age with its wrinkles, debility and grey hairs as
a result of the curse of Sukracharya.  It is too hard a trail!  If you
will take upon yourself these infirmities, I shall enjoy life for just a
while more then give you back your youth and resume my old age and all its
sorrows.  Pray, do not refuse as your elder brothers have done.  Puru, the
youngest son, moved by filial love, said: "Father I galdly give you my
youth and relieve you of the sorrows of old age and cares of state.  Be
happy.  Hearing these words Yayati embraced him."

"Yayati enjoyed life for long, and not satisfied, went later to the garden
of Kubera and spent many years with an aspara maiden.  Afetr long years
spent in vain efforts to quench desire indulgence, the truth dawned on
him.  Returning to pure, he said:

(Note, since I cannot use bold font, I am using capital leters to
highlight the key point.  Please do not mistake it for shouting.) (I am
explicating this because on a previous occasion a bhagavata mistook the
use of capital letters for shouting.)

"DEAR SON, SENSUAL DESIRE IS NEVER QUENCHED BY INDULGENCE ANY MORE THAN
FIRE IS BY POURING GHEE IN IT.  I HAD HEARD AND READ THIS, BUT TILL NOW I
HAD NOT REALISED IT."  

This goes to show, repeated exposure to truths can never be fruitless; it
will only help to make the manifestation of this truth fuller.)  Note, if
this knowledge (truth ) had already manifested fully, we would all be
leading our life in accordance with the dharmasAstrAs. 

Adiyen ramanuja dasan,
Venkat
KrishNarpaNam