SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ’rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
‘To what is born death is certain; and birth is as certain to what dies. Hence, a matter which cannot be averted, thou should not deplore.’
It is evident that death is inevitable to whatever is born; that is, that it is one that cannot be escaped from. Similarly rebirth is unavoidable to that which has met with death1. How can a thing which is lost become again? For it is conceivable that that thing which has been can become and it is inconceivable that that which has not been can become. (We say) therefore that nothing can become which has not been. What are called births and deaths are but different conditions of an ever-existent thing. (‘Lost’ or ‘dead’ does not mean annihilation, it is but a change of state). Yarn and other materials exist, but when woven into a texture which is a particular arrangement of the yarn itself, it receives the name of cloth, in the changed state. Even the asat-kārya-vādi2 ought to admit the ever-existent ‘thing’, for in what we know as cloth (which to him is a new existence) we see the same yarn, which had been before, disposed in a certain arrangement called cloth, but we do not find any new substance (dravya) come into being. There is no necessity for supposing a new substance, for what makes a cloth differ from the yarn is not substance but one self-same substance having undergone a manufacturing process, receiving a new name and becoming fit for several uses.
Hence coming into being and vanishing out of being are but states into which an ever-existent substrate alone passes. There is the thing in a condition which is called birth, and what is called destruction is but the anti-polar condition to birth, which the same thing passes into.
To a substance intrinsically metamorphic, a series or a concatenation of changes is indispensable, as in the case of a clod of earth transformed into a pot, transformed into potsherds, transformed to dust etc. The acquirement of a postcedent state by a substance is but the annulment of the antecedent state in which it was, and the subsequent state becoming in its turn antecedent to another state and so on. Reasoning thus, and becoming convinced that a succession of changes, each conjugate pair of which stands in the relation of production and destruction, is natural to an inherently changeful substance, and which cannot therefore be prevented, there is no reason to deplore on this account.
Even that slight grief which may be excited by the new state into which, from a prior state, a thing may pass, need not arise in the case of beings such as man, for:
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- Cf. ‘Jāyate mṛitaye loko, mṛiyate jananāya cha,’ Mahopanishat, 3. ‘The destruction of one form is only the building of another’ p.23, Building of the Cosmos by Anni Besant. ↩
- This is the doctrine that a thing can come into existence from non-existence. This assertion is a mere metaphysical quibble, for the controversialist says that the name cloth did not exist when there was only yarn; and therefore something new came into existence. Rāmānujā’s contention is that names denote but different states, but the substance which passes through the states is ever-existent. ↩