स यत्रायमणिमानं न्येति—जरया वोपतपता वाणिमानं निगच्छति—तद्यथाम्रं वोदुम्बरं वा पिप्पलं वा बन्धनात्प्रमुच्यते, एवमेवायं पुरुष एभ्योऽङ्गेभ्यः संप्रमुच्य पुनः प्रतिन्यायं प्रतियोन्याद्रवति प्राणायैव ॥ ३६ ॥
sa yatrāyamaṇimānaṃ nyeti—jarayā vopatapatā vāṇimānaṃ nigacchati—tadyathāmraṃ vodumbaraṃ vā pippalaṃ vā bandhanātpramucyate, evamevāyaṃ puruṣa ebhyo’ṅgebhyaḥ saṃpramucya punaḥ pratinyāyaṃ pratiyonyādravati prāṇāyaiva || 36 ||
36. When this (body) becomes thin—is emaciated through old age or disease—then, as a mango, or a fig, or a fruit of the peepul tree is detached from its stalk, so does this infinite being, completely detaching himself from the parts of the body, again go, in the same way that he came, to particular bodies, for the un-foldment of his vital force.
When, and owing to what, does that difficulty of breath take place? How does it take place, and what for? The answers to these questions are being given: When this human body that is a product of ignorance, with a head, hands, etc., becomes thin. Why? Through old age, being naturally worn out like a fruit ripened by time, or disease, literally, that which causes affliction, hence, fever etc. Afflicted with disease, the body, owing to impaired digestion, cannot digest the food that is eaten, and not being nourished by its essence, gets thin. This is what is meant by the expression ‘or through disease.’ When the body is extremely emaciated by fever and other causes, dyspnoea sets in, and at this stage the man goes making noises like the overloaded cart. Whosoever has a body must be overtaken by old age, suffer from disease etc., and have leanness; these are inevitable evils. The fact is mentioned to generate a spirit of renunciation in us.
How he leaves the body when he goes making noises is being described through an illustration: Then, as a mango, or a fig, or a fruit of the peepul tree, etc. The citing of many and dissimilar examples is for the purpose of stating that death may come from any cause, since the causes of death are indefinite and innumerable. This too is for stimulating renunciation: Since he is subject to death from so many causes, he is always in the jaws of death. Is detached from its stalk (Bandhana): The word ‘Bandhana’ may mean the sap that binds it to the stalk, or it may mean the stalk to which it is attached. As the fruit is detached from the sap or the stalk by the wind and many other causes, so does this infinite being, the self that is identified with the subtle body, i.e. has this as its limiting adjunct, completely detaching himself from the parts of the body such as the eye—not preserving the body through the vital force, as he does when he goes into the state of profound sleep, but withdrawing the organs together with the vital force—again go, etc. The word ‘again’ suggests that he has before this also gone many a time from one body to another, as he moves frequently between the dream and waking states. In the same way that he came to his present body, to particular bodies, according to his past work, knowledge, and so forth. What for? For the unfoldment of his vital force: Though literally it woùld mean ‘for the vital force,’ yet, since he goes along with it, the epithet would be meaningless. He goes from one body to another only for the unfoldment of the vital force. It is by this means, and not by the mere existence of the vital force, that he fulfils his object, viz. the enjoyment of the results of his work. Therefore in order that the vital force may be auxiliary to that, the specification ‘for the unfoldment of his vital force’ is appropriate.
Now it may be objected: When the Jīva goes leaving this body, he has no power to take up another, for he is dissociated from his body and organs. Nor are there others who, like servants, would wait for him with another body made ready, as a king’s retinue waits for him with a house kept ready. How under the circumstances can he take up another body? The answer is: He has adopted the whole universe as his means to the realisation of the results of his work; and he is going from one body to another to fulfil this object. Therefore the whole universe, impelled by his work, waits for him with the requisite means for the realisation of the results of his work made ready. Witness the Śruti: ‘A man is born into the body that has been made for him’ (Ś. VI. ii. 2. 27). It is analogous to the case of a man about to return from the dream to the waking state. The process is being explained by a familiar illustration: