BOOK V – On Dissolution, Becoming Quiet (Upasama Khanda)
The previous section on firm abidance set out the goal of abiding in the atman.
The upasanti prakarana gives instruction on the ways and means for attaining that goal. The chief obstacle to Self realization is the false identification of the atman with the body (dehatmabodha). This false identification is the result of ahamkara or the ego sense. This section gives practical guidance to eliminate ones identification with the ego and describes a number of methods and yogic processes for this purpose. The major ones are inquiry into the true nature of the Self (vichara), seeing all creation equally as varied manifestations of the one brahman or God (samadarsana), considering oneself as pure consciousness (chit) in all conditions of life and at all times, and performing ones allotted duties in life without any attachment. When as a result of these practices a person becomes perfectly unattached to the fruits of actions (asanga), all attachments, aversions and fears disappear and the person becomes qualified for attaining thesamadhi stage.
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Chapter 1 — The Midday Ritual
1 Vasishta said:— Rama, now hear me propose to you the subject of quietude or rest, which follows that of existence and sustenance of the universe. This knowledge will lead you to nirvana, final extinction.
2 Valmiki says:— As Vasishta was delivering his holy words, the assembly of the princes remained as still as the stars in the clear sky of an autumn night.
3 Listening princes, looking with muted gaze at the venerable sage amidst the assembly, resembled the unmoving lotuses looking at the bright sun from their breathless beds.4 Harem princesses forgot their joy at hearing the sermon of the sage. Their minds became as cool and quiet as in the long absence of their consorts. 5 Ladies fanning with fans in their hands remained as still as a flock of flapping geese resting on a lotus bed, and the jingling of gems and jewels on their arms ceased like the chirping of birds on the trees at night. 6 The princes who heard these doctrines sat reflecting on their hidden meanings, their index fingers to the tips of their noses in thoughtfulness. Others pondered on their deep sense by laying fingers on their lips.
7 Rama’s face flushed like the blushing lotus in the morning and it brightened by casting away its melancholy, as the sun shines by dispelling the darkness of night. 8 King of kings Dasharata felt as delighted hearing the lectures of Vasishta as a peacock is gladdened by the roar of rain clouds.
9 Sarana, the king’s minister, removed his unstable monkey mind from his state affairs and applied it intensely to attend to the teachings of the sage. 10 Lakshman, who was well versed in all learning, shone as a digit (one-twelfth phase) of the bright crescent moon with the internal light of Vasishta’s instructions, and the radiance of his spiritual knowledge. 11 Satrughna, the subduer of his enemies, was so full of delight in his heart at the teaching of the sage that his face glowed with joy, like the full moon with all her digits. 12 The other good ministers, whose minds were absorbed in the cares of state affairs, were set at ease by the friendly admonition of the sage. They glowed in their hearts like lotus buds expanded by sunbeams. 13 All the other chiefs and sages present in that assembly had the gems of their hearts cleansed of their impurity by Vasishta’s preaching. Their minds glowed with fervor from his impressive speech.
14 At this instant the loud sound of conch shells arose resembling the full swell of the sounding ocean and the deep and deafening roar of summer clouds. The conch sound filled the roof of the sky and announced the time of midday service. 15 The loud uproar of the shells drowned out the sage’s feeble voice, just as the high sounding roar of rain clouds puts down the notes of the sweet cuckoo. 16 The muni stopped his breath and stopped speaking because it is vain to speak where it is not heeded or heard.
17 Hearing the midday shout, the sage stopped for a moment. After the noisy confusion was over he addressed Rama and said:— 18 Rama, thus far I have delivered to you my daily lecture for this day. I will resume it next morning and tell you all that I have to say on the subject. 19 It is ordained for the twice born classes (dvijas, the three upper castes) to attend to their religious duties at midday. The lecture does not require us to swerve from discharging our noonday services at this time. 20 Rise therefore, O fortunate Rama, and perform your sacred ablutions and divine services with which you are well acquainted and give your alms and charities also as they are ordained by law.
21 Saying so, the sage rose from his seat with the king and his courtiers. He resembled the sun or moon rising from the eastern mountain with their retinue of stars. 22 Their rising made the whole assembly rise after them, like a gentle breeze moving a bed of lotuses with the black eyes of black bees sitting upon them. 23 The assembled princes rose up with their crowned heads and marched with their long and massive arms like a body of big elephants from the Vindhyan Hills with their clumsy legs. 24 As they pushed up and down in their hurry, the jewels on their bodies rubbed against each other and displayed with a blaze like that of reddened clouds at the setting sun. 25 The jingling of gems on crowns resembled the humming of bees and the flashing reflections from crowns spread various colors of the rainbow around.
26 The beauties in the court hall, resembling tender vines and holding fans like clusters of blossoms in their leaf-like palms, formed a forest of beauties about the elephantine forms of the brave princes. 27 The hall reflected the glints of blazing bracelets and looked as if it was strewn with the dust of mandara flowers blown away by the winds. 28 There were crystal tanks of pure water mixed with ice and powdered camphor. The landscape around was whitened by kusa grass and the flowers of autumn. 29 Gems hanging from princes’ head-dresses cast a reddish color over the hollow dome of the hall, making it appear like the evening twilight that precedes the shade of night which puts an end to the daily works of men. 30 The fair faces of fairy ladies were like lotuses floating on the watery luster of the strings of pearls hanging upon them. They resembled lines of bees fluttering about lotuses. The anklets at their feet emitted a ringing sound like the humming of bees.
31 The large assemblage of princes arose amid the assembled crowds of men and presented a scene never seen before by the admiring people. 32 The rulers of the earth bowed down lowly before their sovereign and departed from his presence and the royal palace in large bodies, like waves of the sea, glistening like rainbows by the light of their shining ornaments.
33 The chief minister Sumantra and others who were best acquainted with royal etiquette prostrated themselves before their king and the holy sage, then took their way towards the holy stream to perform their sacred ablutions. 34 The rishis Vamadeva, Vishwamitra and others stood in the presence of Vasishta and waited for his leave to make their departure. 35 King Dasharata honored the sages one by one, and then left them to attend to his own business. 36 Citizens returned to the city, and foresters retired to their forests. The aerial beings flew in the air, and all went to their respective homes in anticipation of rejoining the assembly the next morning.
37 The venerable Vishwamitra, being invited by the king and Vasishta, stayed and passed the night at Vasishta’s home. 38 Vasishta was honored by all the princes, sages and great brahmins, and adored by Rama and the other princes of King Dasharata’s royal family. 39 Then Vasishta proceeded to his hermitage, with the obeisance of the assembled crowd on all sides, and followed by a large retinue just as the god Brahma is accompanied by bodies of celestials. 40 He then gave leave to Rama and his brother princes, and to all his companions and followers, to return to their homes from his hermitage in the woods. 41 He bade farewell to the aerial, earthly and underground beings that kept him company with their formal praise of his merits. Then entering his house, he performed his brahmin rites with a dutiful disposition.
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Chapter 2 — That Night Rama Ponders Vasishta’s Lectures
1 Valmiki continued relating the story to Bharadwaja, saying:— After the moon-bright princes returned to their residence, they performed their daily services according to the daily ritual. 2 Vasishta and the other saints, sages, and brahmins, even the king and princes, were all engaged in their holy services at their own houses. 3 They bathed in sacred streams and fountains filled with floating lotuses and other aquatic plants, their edges frequented by reddish geese, cranes and storks. 4 After they had performed their ablutions, they made donations of lands, cattle, seats and beddings, sesame grains, gold and gems, and food and clothing to the holy brahmins.
5 Then in their own houses, they worshipped the gods Vishnu and Shiva in their temples and made offerings to the sun and the rulers of the skies with offerings of the gold and gems that are sacred to the particular gods and planets.
6 After their offerings were over, they joined with their sons and grandsons, friends and relatives and their guests also in partaking of their lawful food. 7 Shortly after this, daylight faded away at the eighth watch of the day and the charming city scene began to disappear from sight. 8 People employed themselves with their proper duties at the end of the day and took to their evening service with the failing beams of the setting sun. 9 They recited their evening hymn, repeated their japa mantras, and uttered their prayer for the forgiveness of sins. They read aloud their hymns and sang their evening songs of praise.
10 Then rose the shade of night to allay the sorrow of lovelorn ladies, as the moon arose from the Milky Ocean of the east to cool the heat of the setting sun. 11 Then the princes of Raghu’s race reclined on their downy and flowery beds sprinkled with handfuls of camphor powder and appearing like a sheet of spreading moonlight. 12 The eyes of all men were folded in sleep and they passed the long night as if it were only a short interval.
But Rama kept awake in his bed, meditating on all things he had heard from the sage. 13 He continued to reflect on Vasishta’s lectures which appeared as charming to him like the cry of a parent elephant brings joy to its tender young.
14 What does this wandering of ours in this world mean? Why are all these men and other animals bound to make their entrances and exits in this fleeting theatre? 15 What is the form of our mind and how is it to be governed? What is this illusion (maya) of the world? From where did it rise and how is it to be avoided? 16 What is the good or evil of getting rid of this illusion, and how does it cover and overpower the soul? Can it be made to leave by any means in our power? 17 What did the muni say with regard to the means and effect of curbing the desires of the mind? What did he say regarding restraining of our organs? And what about the tranquility of the soul?
18 Our hearts and minds, our living souls and their delusion tend to stretch out the phenomenal world before us. Our own souls make a reality of unreal existence. 19 All these things are linked together in our minds and are weakened only by the weakening of our mental desires. But how are these to be avoided in order to get rid of our misery? 20 The slender light of reason is over-shadowed, like a single crane in the air, by the dark cloud of passions and desires. Then how am I to distinguish right from wrong, like a goose separates milk from water?
21 It is as hard to shun our desires and it is impossible to avoid our troubles here without the utter annihilation of our desire. Here is difficulty in either of two ways. 22 On the one hand, the mind leads us to spiritual knowledge. On the other, the mind seduces us to worldliness. We know not which way to be led by it. The difficulty is as great as a man climbing a mountain or a child escaping from his fear of a yaksha spirit.
23 All worldly turmoil ends upon attainment of true joy, just as the anxieties of a maiden are over after she has obtained a husband. 24 When will my anxieties become still and when will my cares come to an end? When will my soul have its holiness and my mind find its rest from acts of merit and demerit? 25 When shall I rest in that state of bliss which is as cooling and complete in itself as the full moon with all her digits? When shall I wander about the earth at large, free from worldly cares and ties? 26 When will my fancy stop from its flight and concentrate on the inner soul? When will my mind be absorbed in the Supreme Soul, like a turbulent wave existing in the breast of the quiet sea? 27 When shall I get over this wide ocean of the world, which is disturbed by the turbulent waves of our desires and is full of the hungry crocodiles of our greedy greed? When will I rid myself of this feverish passion? 28 When shall I rest in that state of complete, unemotional stillness of mind which is the goal of those who seek liberation and of the all-tolerant and indifferent philosopher?
29 Ah, when will this continuous fever of my worldliness decrease? It has irritated my whole body by its inward heat and has deranged my humors out of their order! 30 When will this heart of mine cease to throb from its cares, like the light of a lamp ceasing to flutter without wind? When will my understanding gain its light after dispersing the gloom of my ignorance? 31 When will these organs and body parts gain their respite from their constant functions? When will this parched frame of mine get over the sea of greed, like a garuda crossing oceans with ease? 32 When will the light of reason, like the clear atmosphere of the autumn sky, dispel this dark cloud of my ignorance that envelopes my heavenly essence under the veil of this sorry and miserable form?
33 Our minds are filled with the weeds of mandara plants of the Nandana pleasure-garden of paradise. But my soul yearns for its restitution in the Supreme Spirit. 34 The dispassionate man is said to be set in the pure light of reason. Therefore, I long to attain that passionless state of my mind. 35 But my restless mind has made me a prey to the python snake of grief, and I cry out in my sorrow, “O my father and mother! Help me to get out of this difficulty!”
36 I also exclaim, “O my sister understanding! Consent to comply with the request of your poor brother, and consider well the words of the wise sage for our deliverance from misery. 37 I also call you also to my aid, O my good sense, and beg of you, O progeny of your virtuous mother, to remain firm by my side as I struggle to break the bonds of the world.”
38 Let me first reflect on what the sage said about renunciation (vairagya), then on the conduct of one who longs for his liberation, and next about the creation of the world. 39 Afterwards let me remember all that he said on the existence of the universe, together with his beautiful illustrations, all of which are filled with sound wisdom and deep philosophy. 40 Although a lesson may be repeated a hundred times over, it proves to be of no effect unless it is considered with good understanding and the right sense of its meaning. Otherwise, it is like the empty sound of autumn clouds without a drop of rain.
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Chapter 3 — Description of the Royal Assembly
1 Valmiki continued:— In this manner, Rama passed the long night with his lengthy series of reflections, eagerly awaiting dawn, like a lotus longing for the rising sun at daybreak. 2 Gradually the stars faded away at the appearance of the rising morning light in the east. The face of the sky became dimly pale before it was washed over with the white of twilight. 3 The beating of morning drums and the alarm of trumpets roused Rama from his thoughts. He rose with his moonlike face blooming like a full blown lotus in its leafy bed. 4 He performed his morning ablution and devotion, then joined his brothers and a few attendants to go to the hermitage of sage Vasishta.
5 Having arrived there, they found the sage entranced in his meditation in his lonely solitude. From a respectful distance, they lowly bent down their heads before him. 6 After making their obeisance, they waited on him in the compound until the twilight of morning brought daylight over the face of the sky. 7 The hermitage thronged with princes and chiefs, saints, sages and brahmins as if the celestials were gathered for a meeting in the highest heaven of Brahma. 8 The abode of Vasishta was full of people and the crowds of cars, horses and elephants waiting outside made it equal in grandeur to a royal palace.
9 After a while the sage rose from his deep meditation and gave suitable reception to the assembled throng that bowed down before him. 10 Then Vasishta, accompanied by Vishwamitra and followed by a long parade of munis and other men, came out of the hermitage and got into a carriage, sitting down in the manner of the lotus-born Brahma sitting on his lotus seat. 11 He arrived at Dasharata’s palace which was surrounded by a large army. There he got down from his car, as when Brahma descends from his highest heaven to the city of Indra attended by the entire host of celestials.
12 He entered the grand court hall of the king and was saluted by courtiers lowly bending down before him, just as when a stately gander enters a bed of lotuses amid a body of aquatic birds (all staring at him). 13 The king also got up and descended from his high throne, then advanced three paces barefoot to receive the venerable sage. 14 Then entered a large collection of chiefs and princes, with groups of saints, sages, brahmins and hotri (reciter) and potri (corrector) priests.
15 Next came the minister Sumantra and others, with the learned pundits Somya and others. Rama and his brothers followed with the sons of royal ministers. 16 Next came the ministerial officers, the ministerial priests, and the principal citizens, with bodies of the Malava wrestlers and servants of all orders, and townsmen of different professions. 17 All these took their respective seats and sat in the proper order of their ranks. They kept looking intently on sage Vasishta with uplifted heads and eyes. 18 The murmur of the assembly was hushed and the eulogists’ recitations stopped. Greetings and conferences were at an end and there ensued a still silence in the assembly.
19 Winds blew sweet fragrance upward from the cups of full blown lotuses and scattered the sweet dust of their filaments in the spacious hall. 20 Clusters of flowers hung about the hall, diffusing their scents all around. The entire court hall seemed to be sprinkled with perfumes of all sorts.
21 Queens and princesses sat at the windows to see the assembly in the outer hall. They sat upon their couches in the inner apartment which was spread over with flowers. 22They saw everything by the light of the sun which shining through the lattice work of the windows. They also saw by the radiance of the gems sparkling on their delicate bodies. Attendant women remained silent, without waving their fans or chowries.
23 The earth was sown with orient pearls by dawning sunbeams, and the ground was covered with flowers glistening at the sunlight. Light locusts did not descend upon them, thinking them to be sparks of fire, but kept hovering in the midway sky as if the body of a dark and moving cloud.
24 Respectable people sat in mute wonder to hear the holy lectures of Vasishta, because agreeable advice derived from the society of the good is beyond all estimation. 25Spiritual masters, vidyadharas, saints, brahmins and respectable men gathered from all sides of the sky and forests and from all cities and towns. They gathered around about Vasishta and saluted him in silence, because deep veneration is naturally mute and lacking in words.
26 The sky was covered with golden dust carried by fluttering bees from the cups of the starch-like lotuses where they had been enclosed at night. Soft airs blew the tinkling sound of ringing bells hanging on strings in the door ways of houses. 27 The morning breeze was now blowing with the fragrance of various flowers, mixing with the perfume of sandal paste, and making bees fly and flutter on all sides with their sweet humming music.
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Chapter 4 — Dasharata’s Praise; Rama Asks Vasishta to Continue
1 Valmiki continued:— Then King Dasharata made this speech to the chief of sages, speaking in a voice that sounded like a deep cloud and in words equally graceful as they were worthy of confidence.
Dasharata speaking:— 2 Venerable sage, your speech of yesterday speaks of your intellectual light. It reveals that you have overcome all afflictions by your extremely emaciating austerities. 3 Yesterday’s words have delighted us by their discernment and gracefulness, as if by a shower of enlivening ambrosia. 4 The pure words of the wise are as cooling and edifying to the inner soul as clear and nectar-like moonbeams. They both serve to cool and dispel the gloom of the earth. 5 The good sayings of the great give the highest joy resulting from imparting a knowledge of the Supreme and by immediately dispelling the gloom of ignorance. 6 The knowledge of the inestimable gem of our soul is the best light that we can have in this world. The learned man is like a tree covered by the vines of reason and good sense. 7 The sayings of the wise serve to purge our improper desires and doings, as moonbeams dispel the thick gloom of night.
8 Your sayings, O sage, serve to lessen our desires and greed which chain us to this world, just as autumn winds diminish the black clouds in the sky. 9 Your lectures have made us perceive the pure soul in its clear light, as the eye-salve of antimony makes a man born blind see pure gold with his eyes. 10 The mist of worldly desires that has covered the atmosphere of our minds is now beginning to disperse by the autumn breeze of your sayings. 11 Your sayings of sound wisdom, O great sage, have poured a flood of pure delight into our souls, just as the breezy waves of nectar-like water or the breath of mandara flowers infuse into the heart.
12 O my Rama! Those days spent attending on the wise are truly cheerful. Otherwise, the rest of the days of one’s lifetime are indeed dark and dismal. 13 O my lotus-eyed Rama, ask now what more you need to know about the imperishable soul, as the sage is favorably disposed to tell you everything.
Valmiki speaking:— 14 After the king had ended his speech, the venerable and high minded sage Vasishta, who was seated before Rama, addressed him.
15 Vasishta said:— O Rama, the moon of your race, do you remember all that I have told you so far? Have you reflected on the meaning of my sayings from first to last? 16 Do you recollect, O victor of your enemies, the subject of creation and its division into the triple nature of goodness and all, and their subdivision into various kinds? 17 Do you remember what I said regarding the one in all, and not as the all, and the one Reality ever appearing as unreality? Do you retain in your mind the nature and form of the Supreme Spirit that I have expounded to you? 18 Do you, O righteous Rama who is deserving of every praise, bear in your mind how this world came to appear from the Lord God of all? 19Do you fully retain in your memory the nature of illusion, and how it is destroyed by the efforts of the understanding, and how the Infinite and Eternal appears as finite and temporal in space and time? 20 Do you, O blessed Rama, keep in your mind that man is no other than his mind, as I have explained to you by proper definition and arguments? 21Have you, Rama, considered well the meanings of my words, and did you reflect in your mind at night yesterday’s reasoning?
22 It is by repeated reflection in the mind and learning by heart what you have learnt that you derive the benefit of your learning, and not by negligently laying it aside. 23 You are a proper receptacle for learning only when you retain a rational discourse and a holy sermon like brilliant pearls in the chest of your capacious and reasoning breast.
24 Valmiki said:— Rama being thus addressed by the sage, the valiant progeny of the lotus-seated Brahma found his time to answer him in the following manner.
25 Rama replied:— O sage who is acquainted with all scriptures and creeds, you have expounded sacred truths to me. I have, O noble sage, fully comprehended their meaning.26 I have deposited everything that you said verbatim in the casket of my heart. I have well considered the meaning of your words during the stillness of my sleepless night. 27Your words like sunbeams dispel the darkness of the world. Your radiant words of yesterday delighted me like the rays of the rising sun.
28 O great sage, I have carefully preserved the substance of all your past lectures in my mind, as one preserves the most valuable and brilliant gems in a safe. 29 What accomplished man is there who will not bear on his head the blessings of admonitions so very pure and holy, and so very charming and delightful at the same time? 30 We have shaken off the dark veil of the ignorance of this world and have become as enlightened by your favor as autumn days after rain clouds disperse. 31 First your instructions are sweet and graceful, then they are enlightening in the middle, then at the end they are sacred by the holiness they confer. 32 Your flowery speech is always delightful to us by the quality of its blooming and unfading beauty, and by virtue of it conferring our lasting good on us.
33 O sage who is learned in all scriptures, who is the channel of the holy waters of divine knowledge, and who is firm in your protracted vows of purity, cleanse us of the impurity of our many sins through your purifying lectures.
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Chapter 5 — Lecture on Tranquility of the Soul and Mind
1 Vasishta said:— Now listen with attention to the subject of tranquility for your own good. In it you will find the best answers.
2 Rama, know that this world is a continuous illusion upheld by men of active (rajas) and passive (tamas) natures. The properties of action and passions (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) support this illusory fabric, like pillars supporting a building. 3 Men born with the sattvic nature of goodness, like yourself, easily lay aside this deep-rooted illusion like a snake sluffing off its time-worn skin. 4 But wise men of good (sattvic) dispositions, and those of the mixed natures of goodness and action (rajas-sattva) always think about the structure of the world and its prior and future states.
5 The understanding of the sinless, enlightened by the light of the scriptures or improved in the society of men or by good conduct, become as far sighted as the blazing light of a torch. 6 By one’s own analysis one should try to know the soul in himself. He who does not know the knowable soul in himself is no way intelligent. 7 Intelligent, polite, wise and noble men are said to have a mixed nature of goodness and action (rajas-sattva) in them. The best example of such a nature is found, O Rama, in your admirable disposition.
8 Let the intelligent look into the phenomena of the work, and by observing what is true and untrue in it, attach themselves only to the truth. 9 That which was not before and will not be at the end is no reality at all. But what continues in being both at first and last is true existence and nothing else. 10 He whose mind is attached to what is not truth, what is unreal both at first and at last, is either an infatuated fool or a brute animal that can never be brought to reason.
11 The mind makes and stretches out the world in its imagination. Upon a closer investigation, the mind is in nothingness.
12 Rama said, “I am fully persuaded to believe, sage, that the mind is the active agent in this world and is subject to decay and death. 13 But tell me sage, what are the surest means of guarding the mind from illusion, because only you are the sun to remove the darkness of Raghu’s race.”
14 Vasishta replied:— The best way to guard the mind from delusion is first the knowledge of the scriptures. Next is the exercise of dispassion, then the company of the good, all of which lead the mind towards its purity. 15 The mind filled with humility and holiness should have recourse to teachers who are learned in philosophy. 16 The instruction of such teachers makes a man practice first his rituals, then leads the mind gradually to abstract meditation of the most holy. 17 When the mind comes to perceive by its own thoughts the presence of the Supreme Spirit in itself, it sees the universe spread before it like cooling moonbeams.
18 A man is tossed about like straw floating on the wide ocean of the world, until he finds his rest in the still waters under the coast of reason. 19 Human understanding comes to know the truth when it puts down all its difficulties by means of its reasoning, just as pure water passes over its sandy bed. 20 The reasonable man distinguishes truth from untruth like a goldsmith separating gold from ashes. But the unreasonable are like the ignorant, incapable of distinguishing one from the other.
21 The Divine Spirit is imperishable once it is known to the human soul. Error can have no access to the soul as long as it is enlightened by the light of the Divine Spirit. 22 The mind ignorant of truth is ever liable to error, but when acquainted with truth, it becomes free from its doubts and is set beyond the reach of error.
23 O you men who are not acquainted with the Divine Spirit, you bear your souls only for your own misery, but knowing the spirit, you become entitled to eternal happiness and tranquility. 24 How you are lost to your souls by blending with your bodies! Expand the soul from under the earthly frame and you will be quite at rest with yourselves.
25 Your immortal soul has no relation to your mortal bodies, just as pure gold bears no relation to the earthen crucible in which it is contained. 26 The Divine Spirit is distinct from the living soul, just as the lotus flower is separate from the water which upholds it, and like a drop of water is unattached to the lotus leaf on which it rests. My living soul is crying to that Spirit with my arms uplifted, but it pays no heed to my cries.
27 The mind is of a gross nature and resides in the shell of the body like a tortoise dwelling in its hole. It is illogically intent upon its sensual enjoyments and is quite neglectful about the welfare of the soul. 28 It is so shrouded by the impenetrable darkness of the world that neither the light of reason nor the flame of fire, nor the beams of the moon, nor the gleams of a dozen of zodiacal suns have the power to penetrate into it. 29 But the mind being awakened from its dormancy begins to reflect on its own state. Then the mist of its ignorance flies off like the darkness of the night at sunrise. 30 As the mind reclines itself constantly on the downy bed of its meditation for the sake of its enlightenment, its eye perceives this world to be only a valley of misery.
31 Rama, know that the soul is not stained by its outer covering of the body, just like the sky is unsoiled by the clouds of dust that hide its face, and like the petals of the lotus are untainted by the dew-drops falling upon them at night. 32 As dirt and clay cling to the outside of a gold ornament but cannot pierce inside, so the gross material body is attached outside the soul without touching its inside.
33 Men commonly attribute pleasure and pain to the soul, but they are as separate from it as raindrops and flying dust in the sky are different from each other. 34 Neither the body nor the soul is subject to pain or pleasure, all of which relate to the ignorance of the mind. This ignorance being removed, it will be found that they belong to neither.
35 O Rama, do not take pain or pleasure to your mind, but view them in an equal light, as you view things in the tranquility of your soul. 36 All the outspreading phenomena of the world that are seen all about us are like the waves of the boundless ocean of Divine Spirit, or like the gaudy tail of the peacock displayed in the sphere of our own souls. 37 The bright substance of our soul presents the picture of creation to us, just as a bright gem casts its glare to no purpose but by its own nature.
38 The spirit and the material world are not the same thing. The spirit is the true reality, and the duality of the world is only a representation or counterpart of the Spirit. 39 But Brahman is the whole totality of existence, and know that the universe is the expansion of the Universal Soul. Therefore, O Rama, give up your error of distinguishing one thing from another.
40 Rama, there can be no distinction in the everlasting and all extensive fullness of Brahman, just as there is no difference in the water of the wide extended ocean. 41 All things being one and alike in the identical substratum of the Supreme Soul, you cannot conceive of there being any other thing in it, just as you cannot imagine a particle of frost to abide in fire. 42 By meditating on the Supreme Soul in yourself and by contemplation of the intelligent Spirit in your own intellect, you will find the glory of the Supreme Spirit shining brightly in your pure spirit.
43 Therefore ease your mind, O Rama, and know that there is no mistake or error in believing the all as one and that there is no new birth or new born being. All is ever existent in the Supreme. 44 Ease yourself, O Rama, by knowing that there is no duality and that there is no opposite of things, except their oneness in the Divine unity. Then knowing yourself as a spiritual being situated in the purity of Divine essence, you shall have no need of meditation or adoration. Knowing that you are not separated from God, forsake all your sorrow.
45 Be tolerant, composed and even-minded.
Remain tranquil, silent and meek in your mind. Be as a rich jewel, shining with your internal light. Thus you will be freed from the feverish vexations of this worldly life. 46 Be rational, dispassionate and calm in your desire. Remain sober minded and free from ardent expectations. Rest satisfied with what you get of your own lot in order to be free from the feverish heat of worldliness. 47 Be unimpassioned and unperturbed with earthly cares. If you will be free from the fever heat of this world, be pure and sinless, and neither be stingy nor extravagant. 48 Be free from all anxiety, O Rama, by obtaining that good which the world cannot give, and which satisfies all our earthly wants. Have this super-mundane bliss, O Rama, and be as full as the ocean and free from the feverish cares of this world.
49 Be loosened from the net of your loose desires and wipe off the ointment of delusive affections from your eyes. Let your soul rest satisfied with yourself and be free from the feverish anxieties of the world. 50 With your spiritual body reaching beyond unbounded space and rising above the height of the highest mountain, be free from the feverish and petty cares of life. 51 You must be free from the fever of life by enjoying what you get and asking nothing of anybody anywhere, and by your charity rather than your lack and asking. 52 Enjoy the fullness of your soul in yourself like the sea, and contain the fullness of your joy in your own soul like the full moon. Be self-sufficient with the fullness of your knowledge and inner bliss.
53 Knowing this world as unreal as an optical illusion, no wise man is misled to rely on its untruthful scenes. So you Rama, who is knowing and not deluded and is sane, sound headed and of enlightened understanding, must always be charming with your perfect ease from sorrow and care.
54 Now Rama, rule over this unrivalled kingdom as directed by your sovereign father and manage well everything under your own inspection. This kingdom is filled with every blessing and the rulers are all loyal to their king. Therefore you must not omit doing what is your duty or be elated with your happy lot of royalty.
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Chapter 6 — Doing One’s Duty; Merit Accrues through Lifetimes
1 Vasishta continued:— In my opinion, a man is liberated who does his works from a sense of his duty and without any desire of his own or sense of his own agency.
2 Whoever having obtained a human form is engaged in acts out of his own choice and with a sense of his own agency, is subject to ascent and descent to heaven and hell by turns. 3 Some people who are inclined to undutiful acts by neglecting the performance of their destined duties are doomed to descend into deeper hells and to fall into greater fears and torments from their former states. 4 Some men who are tightly bound to the chain of their desires and have to feel the consequences of their acts are made to descend from their brutal life to the state of vegetables, or to rise from it to animal life again.
5 Some who are blessed with the knowledge of the Spirit from their investigation of abstruse philosophy, break through the chains of desire and rise to the state of single aloneness in divine unity (kaivalya). 6 There are some men who, after ascending gradually in the scale of their creation in former births, have obtained liberation in the present life of active goodness (rajas-sattva). 7 Such men, being born again on earth, assume their bright qualities like the crescent moon and are united with all prosperity like a kurchi plant covered with blossoms in its flowering time of the rainy season.
8 The merit of prior acts follows one in his next state and the learning of past life meets a man in his next birth, like a pearl born in a reed. 9 The qualities of respectability and pleasantness, of affability and friendliness, and of compassion and intelligence attend upon these people like their servants at home. 10 Happy is the man who is steady in the discharge of his duties and is not overjoyed or depressed at the fruition or failure of their results. 11 The defects of the dutiful, and their pain and pleasure in the performance of duties, are all lost under the sense of their duty, just as the darkness of night is dispelled by the light of the day and the clouds of rainy season are dispersed in autumn. 12 The man of a submissive and sweet disposition is liked by everybody, just as the sweet music of reeds in the forest attracts the ears of wild antelope. 13 The qualities of the past life accompany a man in his next birth, like swallows in rainy weather.
14 Thus being qualified by his prior virtues, a good man has recourse to an instructor for the development of his understanding, who thereupon puts him in the way to truth. 15A man with the qualities of reason and resignation of his mind beholds the Lord as one and of the same form as the imperishable soul within himself. 16 The spiritual guide awakens the dull and sleeping mind by his right reasoning, then instills into it the words of truth with a calm face and mind.
17 They are the best qualified in later births who learn first to awaken their worthless and dormant minds, just as they rouse a sleeping male deer in the forest. 18 First by diligent attendance on good and meritorious gurus, then by cleansing the gem of their minds with the help of reasoning, pure hearted men come to the light of truth and perceive the divine light shining in their souls.
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Chapter 7 — Two Ways to Attain Self Realization: Effort & Intuition
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, I have told you how mankind generally attains knowledge.
Now I will tell you of another different method.
2 Rama, we have two ways that are best calculated for the salvation of souls born in human bodies on earth. The one is through attainment of heavenly bliss and the other by their final blessing of bliss. 3 There are two methods of gaining these objects. One is the observance of the teacher’s instructions which gradually leads one to his perfection in the course of one or many births. 4 The second is the attainment of knowledge by intuition (self-inquiry), the self culture of a partly intelligent being. This is like obtaining fruit falling from heaven.
5 Hear now about the attainment of intuitive knowledge, which is like getting fruit fallen from the sky, from an old tale which I will now relate. 6 Hear the happy and holy story which removes the chains of our good and evil deeds, and which the last born men (now living) must taste with a zest for their enlightenment, as others taste a fruit fallen from heaven for their entertainment.
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Chapter 8 — Janaka Hears the Songs of the Holy Masters (Siddhas)
1 Vasishta continued:— There lives the mighty King of Videha, Janaka by name, who is blessed with all prosperity and unbounded understanding. 2 He is like the ever fruitful wish-fulfilling tree to the host of his suitors, and like the vivifying sun to his lotus-like friends. He is like the genial spring to the small flowers of his relatives, and like Kama the god of love to females. 3 Like the changing moon, he gives delight to the twice born brahmins, as that luminary makes lilies bloom. Like the bright sun he destroys the darkness of his gloomy enemies. He is an ocean of gems of goodness to all and the support of his kingdom, like Vishnu the supporter of the world.
4 One spring evening Janaka happened to wander about a forest abounding in young vines with bunches of crimson blossoms on them, resonant with the melody of sweet sounding kokila nightingales warbling their tuneful choirs. 5 He walked among flowery pleasure gardens resembling graceful beauties with ornaments upon them, and sported in their covered shelter as the god Indra sports in his Nandana pleasure garden. 6 Leaving his attendants behind him, he stepped into a grove standing on the plain of a hill in the midst of that romantic forest, which was smelling with the fragrance of flowers borne all about by playful winds.
7 In one place within a covered shelter of tamara trees, he heard a mingled voice like that of some invisible aerial spirit masters (siddhas). 8 I will now recite to you, O lotus-eyed Rama, the songs of the spiritual masters (siddhas) living in the retired solitudes of mountainous regions and dwelling in the caverns of hills. The songs relate principally to their spiritual meditations.
9 The masters sang, “We adore that Being which is neither the subjective nor objective, and which in our belief is the positive joy that rises in our souls and has no fluctuation in it.”
10 Others chanted, “We adore that Being which is beyond the triple states of the subject, its attribute and its object.
It is the spiritual light of the soul which exists from before the light of vision, and which is derived from the light of the sun.”
11 Others chanted, “We adore that Being which is in the midst of all that is and what is not.”
12 Some sang, “We adore that real Existence which is all, who owns all things, by whom all is made, from whom all has sprung, for whom they exist, in whom they exist, to whom do all returns, and into which they are all absorbed.”
13 Some sang, “We adore that Spirit which begins with the letter ‘a’ and ends in ‘h’ with the dot ‘m’ and which we continually inspire and respire in our breathings (aham hansah, “I am He.”).”
14 Others said, “Those who forsake the Lord situated within the cavity of their hearts and resort to others outside are truly in search of trifles by ignoring the wish-fulfilling gem (kaustabha) they have in their hands.”
15 Others again declared, “By forsaking all other desires, one obtains this object of his wish. This being had, the poisonous plants of all other desires are entirely uprooted from the heart.”
16 Some of them pronounced saying, “The foolish man who knows the tastelessness of all worldly things, but still attaches his mind to earthly objects, is an ass and not any human being.”
17 Others said, “The sensual desires that constantly rise like snakes from the cavities of the body are to be killed by the cudgel of reason, as Indra broke the hills by his thunderbolts.”
18 At last they said, “Let men try to secure the pure happiness of stillness which serves to give tranquility to the minds of the righteous. The sober-minded who are situated in their real and natural temperament have their best rest in the lap of undisturbed and everlasting tranquility.”
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Chapter 9 — Janaka’s Reflections
1 Vasishta continued:— Upon hearing these compositions of the spiritual masters, King Janaka was dejected in his mind, like a coward at the noise of a conflict. 2 He returned towards home and traveled there in silence, like a stream gliding in its silent course under trees on the shore towards the bed of the distant ocean.
3 He left behind all his domestics in their respective rooms below, and ascended alone to the highest balcony, like the sun mounting the top of a mountain. 4 There he saw flights of birds randomly flying in different directions. He thought how men hurried about in the same manner and mourned their deplorable conditions.
Janaka thinking to himself:—
5 Ah how miserable that I have to move about in the pitiable state of the restless mob that rolls about like a rolling stone, pushed backward and forward by another. 6 I have a short span of endless duration allotted to my share of lifetime, yet I am a senseless fool to place my trust in the hope of its durability. 7 The duration of my royal rule is short also as it is limited to my lifetime. How can I be secure of its continuance, like a thoughtless man?
8 I have an immortal soul lasting from before and to continue even after my present existence. The present life is destructible, yet I am a fool to rely upon it like a boy believing a painted moon to be real. 9 Ah, what sorcerer has bewitched me by his magic wand to make me believe that I am not spell-bound at all! 10 What faith can I rely upon in this world which has nothing substantial or pleasant and nothing grand or real in it? Yet I do not know why the world deludes my mind.
11 What is far from me appears to be near by my sensation of the same, and that which is nearest to me appears to be farthest away. Knowing this I must abandon outer objects in order to see the inner soul.
12 This hurry of men in their pursuits is as impetuous and transient as the torrent of a whirlpool. It drops them in the depths of their dangers. It is not worth the pain it gives to the spirit. 13 Years, months, days and minutes revolve with the succession of our pains and pleasures. But these are all swallowed up by the repeated retinues of our misery.
14 I have well considered everything and found them all perishable and nothing durable or lasting. There is nothing to be found here worthy to be relied upon by the wise. 15Those standing at the head of great men today are reduced low in the course of a few days. What worth is there in giddy and thoughtless greatness that is deserving of our respect?
16 I am bound to earth without a rope. I am soiled without any outward dirt. I am fallen though sitting in this building. O my soul, how you are destroyed while living! 17 From where has this causeless ignorance overpowered my intelligent soul? From where has this shadow covered my soul’s brightness like a dark cloud obscuring the sun? 18 Of what value are rich possessions and numerous relations to me when my soul is in despair, like children under the fear of ghosts and evil spirits? 19 How shall I place any reliance upon my sensual enjoyments which foreshadow death and disease? What dependence is there on my possessions which are filled only with anxieties and cares?
20 It matters not whether these friends, the feeders on my fortune, may last or leave me at once. My prosperity is only a bubble and a false appearance before me. 21 Men of greatest opulence, many good and great men and our best friends and kindest relatives, have gone by and now live in only our memory. 22 Where are the riches of the earth’s monarchs and where are Brahma’s former creations? The past has given way to the present and these are to be followed by the future. Therefore there is no reliance upon anything. 23 Many Indras have been swallowed up like bubbles in the ocean of eternity. Therefore expectation of longevity is ridiculous to the wise. 24 Millions of Brahmas have passed away and their productions have disappeared under endless successions. Kings of earth have fled like their ashes, reduced to dust. Then what is the confidence in my life and stability?
25 The world is only a dream by night. The body with its sense organs is only a misconception of the mind. If I place any credence in them, I am really to be blamed. 26 My conception of myself and perception of other things are false imaginations of my mind. My egoism has laid hold of me, like a demon seizing an idiot. 27 Fool that I am, seeing that I do not see how the span of my life is measured every moment by imperceptible instants of time, leaving only a small portion behind. 28 I see the juggler of time seizing Brahmas, Vishnus and Shivas and making playthings of them on his playground of the world, flinging them all about like balls.
29 I see days and nights constantly passing away without presenting me an opportunity to behold the true imperishable one. 30 The objects of sensual enjoyment lurk in the minds of men like cranes chattering in lakes. There is no likelihood of the true and best object in anyone’s mind.
31 We meet with one hardship after another and buffet in waves of endless miseries in this earth. Yet we are so shameless that we do not feel disgusted with them. 32 We see all the desirable objects to which we attach our thoughts are frail and perishing, yet we do not seek the imperishable one and our everlasting good in the equanimity of the soul.
33 Whatever we see as pleasant in the beginning, or in the middle, or in the end, and at all times are all unholy and subject to decay. 34 Whatever objects are dear to the hearts of men are all found to be subject to the changes of their rise and fall. 35 Ignorant people are everywhere inclined to evil acts. They grow day by day more hardened in their wicked practices. They repent every day for their sins, but never reprove themselves for the better. 36 Senseless men, being devoid of sense in their boyhood and heated by their passions in youth, are never the better for anything. In their latter days they are oppressed with the care of their families. In the end they are overcome by sorrow and remorse.
37 Here entrance and exit are both accompanied by pain and sorrow. Here every state of life is contaminated by its opposite. Everything is unsubstantial in this seemingly substantial world, yet the ignorant rely on its unreal substantiality.
38 The real good here, derived by means of painful austerities, are the arduous sacrifices for the consecration of a king (rajasuya), the one-year horse-wandering ceremony (asvamedha), and others for the attainment of heaven. Yet even heaven has no reality and lasts for only a small portion of a kalpa as compared with eternity. 39 What is this heaven and where is it situated, whether below or above us or in this nether world, where its residents are not overtaken by multitudes of locust-like evils?
40 We have serpents creeping in the cells of our hearts and we have bodies filled with the brambles of diseases and dangers, and we do not know how to destroy them. 41 I see good mixed with evil and pain abiding with pleasure. There is sorrow seated on top of joy. I do not know where to go for help. 42 I see the earth full of common people constantly being born and dying in multitudes, but I find few honest and righteous men in it.
43 These beautiful forms of women, their eyes like lotuses, the gracefulness of their allurements, and their charming smiles, are soon made to fade and die away. 44 Of what value am I among these mighty beings who, at the twinkling of their eyes, have created and destroyed the world, yet have succumbed to death at last?
45 You are constantly in search of what is more pleasant and lasting than others, but never seek after that highest prosperity which is beyond all your earthly cares. 46 What is this great prosperity in which you take so much delight? It is only a mere vexation of your spirit which proves this vanity to be only your calamity. 47 Again, what are these adversities which you fear so much? They may be the source of your true prosperity by setting you free from earthly disturbances and leading you to future joy.
48 The mind is broken to pieces by its fears, like fragments of the moon floating on the waves of this ocean of the world. Its selfishness has tossed it to and fro, and when this world is rid, it is set at perfect ease.
49 There is an unavoidable fate activating our worldly affairs and accidents. Therefore it is impudent to welcome some as good and to avoid others as evil. 50 We are prone to things that are pleasant to sight, but they have a mortal flame in them that consumes us like poor moths in flames; bright to see but fatal to feel. 51 It is better to roll in the continuous flames of hellfire to which one is accustomed than to rise and fall repeatedly in the furnace of this world, like from the frying pan into the fire.
52 The wise say this world is a boundless ocean of grief. Then how can anybody who has fallen here expect any happiness here? 53 Those who have fallen and not been altogether drowned in sorrow think their lesser sorrows are light and delight, like one condemned to be beheaded is glad to escape with a light punishment. The world appears to have been created by accident, even as a coconut might appear to have fallen because a crow coincidentally happens to land on the tree that same moment.
54 I have become the vilest of the vile and resemble a block of wood or stone. There is no difference between me and an ignorant clown who never has had a thought of eternal concern in his head. 55 The great tree of the world, with its many branches, twigs and fruit, has sprung from the mind and is rooted in it. 56 It is the conception of the world in my mind that causes its existence and presents its appearance before me. Now I will try to efface this conception from my mind and forget this world altogether. 57 I will no longer allow myself to be deluded like monkeys with the forms of things that I know are not real, only changing and fleeting ideas. 58 I have woven and stretched out the web of my desires and gathered only sorrows and sorrows. I fell into and fled from the snare of my own making, and I am now resolved to take my rest in the soul. 59 I have wailed and bitterly wept a great deal thinking of the depravity and loss of my soul. Henceforth I will cease to lament, thinking that I am not utterly lost.
60 I am now awakened, and I am happy to learn who is robbing my soul. It is my own mind, and this I am determined to kill because it has for so long deprived me of the inestimable treasure of my soul. 61 For so long my mind was at large like a loose and unstrung pearl. Now will I pierce it with the needle of reason and string it with the virtues of self control and subjection to wisdom. 62 The cold icicle of my mind will melt from the solar heat of reason. My mind will be confined in the endless meditation of its Eternal Maker.
63 I am now awakened to my spiritual knowledge, like these holy masters, saints and sages. I will now pursue my spiritual inquiries for the contentment of my soul. 64 Having now found my long lost soul, I will continue to look upon its pure light with joy in my lonely retirement. I will remain quiet and still in contemplation of my soul, like a motionless cloud in autumn. 65 Having cast away the false belief of my corporeality and that these possessions and properties are mine, and having subdued my mighty enemy the mind by my force, I will attain the tranquility of my soul with the help of my reason.
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Chapter 10 — Silent and Solitary Reflections on Janaka
1 Vasishta related:— While Janaka was musing in this way, his chamberlain entered and came before him, like Aruna standing before the chariot of the sun.
2 The chamberlain said, “O sire, your kingdom is safe under your protecting arms. Now rise to attend to the daily rites, as it becomes your majesty.”
3 “The maidservants are waiting with their water pots for your bath, filled with water perfumed with flowers, camphor and saffron. They present themselves before you like river nymphs. 4 The temples are hung with fine muslin as white as the fibers of lotus stalks, and they are decorated with lotuses and other flowers with bees fluttering upon them. 5Men with feather-fans, chariots, elephants, horses and umbrellas stand ready to serve you at the time of your bath.”
6 “The altars are filled with heaps of flowers, aromatic incense and rice, and adorned with every decoration in a princely style. 7 The brahmins are waiting there for your majesty’s presence. After making their sacred ablution and purifications, and offering their prayers for the remission of sins, they expect to get worthy gifts from you. 8 The handmaids are attending to their duties, graced with fans in their hands. The feasting ground is cleansed with sandal paste and water.”
9 “Therefore arise from your seat and perform your prescribed duties, because it does not become the best of men to be late in the discharge of their duties.”
10 Though asked in this way by the head chamberlain, yet the king remained in his meditative mood, thinking on the wonderful phenomena of nature.
11 Janaka thought to himself:— This royalty and these duties of mine are for a very short time. I do not require these things that are so transitory in their nature. 12 I must leave these things that at best are only waters of a mirage. I must remain close to myself in my lonely seclusion, like a calm and solitary lake. 13 The pleasures of this world displayed around us are entirely useless to me. I will promptly leave them and remain in my happy retirement.
14 O my heart, to avoid the snares of disease and death, abandon your shrewdness in pursuing the objects of your desire. 15 Whatever state or condition of life the heart hankers for its delight, it is sure to meet with some difficulty, distress or disappointment coming out of the same. 16 Whether your heart is engaged or disengaged with the objects of sense, you will never find any object, either in act or thought, that is conducive to the true happiness of your soul.
17 Therefore forsake thoughts of the vile pleasure of your senses and concentrate on those thoughts that are filled with the true happiness of the soul.
Vasishta speaking:— 18 Thinking in this manner, Janaka remained in mute silence. His restless mind became as still and made him sit down like a picture in painting or like a statue. 19 The chamberlain uttered not a word more. He stood silent in mute respect and fear of his master, and from his knowledge of the dispositions of kings.
20 Janaka, in his state of silent meditation, reflected again on the vanity of human life, with cool calmness of his mind, and thought.
Janaka thinking to himself:— 21 Now must I be diligent to find the best and most precious treasure in the world, and know what is that imperishable thing to which I must bind my soul as its surest anchor.
22 What is the good of doing or not doing my acts? Nothing is produced of anything which is not perishable in its nature. 23 It matters not whether the body is active or inactive because all the body’s actions end in utter inaction as all force is reduced to rest. It is the pure consciousness within me that always remains the same and it loses nothing from the loss of the body or from lack of physical action. 24 I do not wish to have what I have not, or dare leave what I already have. I am content with myself. So let me have what is mine and what I have.
25 I get no real good by my acts here, nor do I lose anything by refraining from them. What I get by my acts or lack of action is all zero and void of vanities, and nothing to my purpose or liking. 26 Whether I am doing or not doing, and whether my acts are proper or improper, I have nothing to desire here, nor anything desirable that I have to expect from them. 27 I have got what was due according to my past actions. This body is the result of my former acts. It may continue its motion and actions or it may become still and fade away. It is all the same to me.
28 The mind being set at ease by lack of its action or passion, the actions of the body and its members are similarly at ease by not doing. 29 The acts of men which happen to take place as the results of their destiny or previous actions, are reckoned as no acts of theirs. 30 The impression which the inner soul bears of its past actions and passions give its color to the later nature and character of men’s actions. Now that my soul has obtained its imperishable state of spirituality, I am free from the frequent changes of transmigrations of my body and mind.
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Chapter 11 — Subjection of the Mind
1 Vasishta related:— Thinking this way, Janaka rose up to perform his daily rites as usual and without any sense of his agency. He did his duty in the way as the sun rises every day to bring the morning: without his consciousness of it. 2 He discharged his duties as they presented themselves to him and without any concern or expectation of their rewards. He did them awake as if he were sleeping.
3 Having discharged his duties of the day and honored the gods and the priests, he passed the night absorbed in meditation. 4 His mind being set at ease and his wandering thoughts repressed from their objects, he pondered in his mind in the dead of night.
5 O my mind that is wandering all about with the revolving world, know that your restlessness is not agreeable to the peace of my soul. Therefore rest quietly from your wanderings abroad. 6 It is your business to imagine many things at your pleasure because you think you have a world of thoughts present before you every moment. 7 You shoot forth in innumerable sorrows by the desire of endless enjoyments, like a tree shoots out into a hundred branches from being watered at the roots. 8 Our births and lives and worldly affairs are all productions of our yearning thoughts. Therefore I pray that you, O my mind, rest quietly by abandoning your earthly desires.
9 O my friendly mind, weigh well this transient world in your thoughts. Should you find anything of substance in it, depend upon it. 10 Forsake your fond reliance on these visible phenomena. Leave these things and wander about at your free will without caring for anything. 11 Whether this unreal scene appears or disappears from your sight, in either case you should not suffer by being affected by it. 12 You can have no concern with visible objects. What concern can one have with any earthly thing that is nonexistent of itself, like an unsubstantial shadow?
13 The world is an unreality like yourself. Therefore there can be no true relation between two unrealities. It is only a dispute over words to maintain the relation of two negatives to one another. 14 Even if we assume that you are a reality and the world is unreal, still there can be no agreement between you, as there is none between the living and the dead, or between positive and negative ideas. 15 Should both mind and world be realities and co-exist for ever, then there can be no reason for the joy or sorrow of the one at the gain or loss of the other.
16 Therefore avoid the great malady of worldliness and enjoy the silent joy in yourself, like one sitting in the undisturbed depth of the ocean with the rolling tide and waves above his head. 17 Do not be consumed by the fiery remorse of worldliness, like a puppet by fireworks. Do not be burnt down to the darkness of despair in this gloomy scene of the world.
18 O wicked mind, there is nothing here so good and great that you can attain your high perfection through it — except to forsake all mental fluctuations and depend with full resignation on the unchangeable One.
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Chapter 12 — On the Greatness of Reasoning (Self Inquiry)
1 Vasishta continued:— Janaka, having earnestly reasoned with his mind in this manner, then attended to the affairs of state without shrinking from them, yet mentally detached. 2 He was not pleased by the happy tasks and tidings but was indifferent to them, his fixed attention serving as if he were in slumber and not the actor.
3 From then on, he was not intense doing his duties nor did he forsake them altogether. He simply and unconcernedly attended to the business that presented itself to him. 4His constant habit of reasoning allowed him to understand the eternal truth and preserved his consciousness from blunders, like the sky untouched by flying dust. 5 By his cultivation of reasoning, his mind was enlightened and filled with all knowledge. 6 Unaccustomed to duality, his mind learned to know only the sole unity, and his intelligent soul shone within him like the fully bright sun in the sky.
7 He became acquainted with the Soul that is inherent in all bodies. He saw all things abiding in the omnipotence of Consciousness and identical with the infinite. 8 He was never too joyful or exceedingly sad, but preserved his equanimity amidst the conflicts of his soul and sensible objects. 9 Since that time, the venerable Janaka became liberated in his living state and is renowned as a veteran sage among mankind.
10 He continues to rule the land of the Videha people without being subject to feelings of joy or sorrow, not even for a moment. 11 Knowing the causes of good and evil, he is neither elated nor dejected at any favorable or unfavorable circumstance of his life, nor does he feel glad or sad at any good or bad accident relating the state. 12 He completes his duties without setting his mind to them. His mind is wholly employed in his intellectual speculations. 13 Remaining thus in his trance state of sound sleep (abstraction, samadhi), his thoughts are quite withdrawn from all objects about him. 14 He is unmindful of the past and heedless about the future. He enjoys only the present moment with a happy heart and a cheerful mind.
15 Janaka obtained the obtainable and what is worthy to be obtained by his own reasoned analysis and not, O lotus-eyed Rama, by any other desire. 16 Therefore we should reason and reflect in our minds until we succeed and arrive at the conclusion of the subject. 17The presence of the Holy Light is not to be had by a teacher’s lectures or the teaching of scriptures. It is not the result of good acts or the company of holy men. It is the result of your own reasoning.
18 A good understanding assisted by the power of good perception leads to the knowledge of that highest state which acts of piety cannot do. 19 He who has the keen light of the lamp of his perception always before him is able to see both the past and future. No shadow of ignorance intercepts his vision. 20 Through keen perception one is able to cross the sea of dangers, like a passenger using a boat to cross a river.
21 A man without foresight is overtaken even by small mishaps, like a light straw is blown away by the slightest breeze. 22 One who is endowed with foresight passes over the eventful ocean of the world without need of the assistance of friends or the guidance of scriptures. 23 The man with foreknowledge sees the result of his actions beforehand, but one without foresight is at a loss to judge imminent events.
24 Good company and learning strengthen understanding, just as watering a plant helps it grow and bear fruit. 25 Infant understanding, like a tender shoot, takes a deep root in time and having grown up like a tree, it bears sweet fruit in its season, like cooling moonbeams at night. 26 Whatever efforts men make to acquire external property, they would be better served to devote those efforts to improve their understanding. 27 First dullness of understanding must be destroyed for it is the source of all evils, the storehouse of misery, and the root of the tree of worldliness.
28 Great minded men understand whatever good they may expect to find on this earth, in heaven above, and in the world below. 29 Only through good understanding can a man cross the ocean of the world, and not by his charities, pilgrimages or religious austerities. 30 The sweet fruit of tree of knowledge is the divine blessing for each mortal man on earth. 31 Wisdom uses its sharp nails to scratch and nip the heads of the elephantine bonds of giddiness with as much ease as a strong lion kills a deer or a weak jackal.
32 An ordinary man, by knowing more than others, is often seen to become the ruler of men. The wise and discreet are entitled to glory in both worlds. 33 (Simple) reason overcomes all its adversaries who indulge in diverse (convoluted) forms of reasoning, just as a disciplined warrior is able to overcome a host of unrestrained savages. 34 Reasoning is the philosopher’s stone that converts base metals to gold. Rational souls safeguard reasoning as the greatest treasure. It yields the desired fruits of men like the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of paradise does with a thought.
35 He who reasons rightly crosses the wide ocean of the world with his reasoning, while the unreasonable rabble are born away by its waves, just as a skillful boatman cuts across the current while the unskilled boatman is tossed about by waves. 36 A well directed understanding leads to the success of an undertaking, but misguided intellect goes to rack and ruin. The one sails to the shore before the wind, but the other is tossed in his wrecked vessel over the wide gulf of the world. 37 The keen sighted and unbiased wise man is never overcome by evils arising from his desires, just as an enemy’s arrows do not pierce the body of a soldier in armor.
38 A man’s wisdom gives him an insight into everything in the world. The all knowing man is not subject to dangers or the reverses of his fortune. 39 The breath of intelligence drives away the dark and wide-stretching cloud of blind egoism that hides the sunlight of the Supreme Spirit within us.
40 Improvement of understanding is the first necessity towards knowledge of the Supreme Soul, just as cultivation of the ground is of primary importance to the farmer who desires reaping a rich harvest.
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Chapter 13 — Government of the Mind: Consciousness Is Real, Mind (Imagination and Will) Is Not
1 Vasishta continued:— Now Rama, like King Janaka and without any difficulty or failing, reflect on the Supreme Spirit in your own spirit and know what the wise meditate upon.
2 The wise men of the active-pure (rajasa-satvika) variety, like Janaka and other holy sages, obtain their desired objects by themselves. 3 As long as you continue to restrain your organs of sense from their objects, Divine Soul will grace your inner soul with its presence. 4 When the Lord God and Supreme Soul is gracious to you, you will see a halo of light cast over all things dispersing all grief from your sight. 5 The sight of the Supreme Spirit will remove the plentiful seeds of bias from your mind, and it will drive away the sorrowful sights of misery pouring upon your view in copious showers.
6 Continue like Janaka in the willful discharge of your duties, and prosper by placing your intellectual sight on the divine light shining in your inner spirit. 7 It was by reflecting inwards that Janaka found the impermanence of the world. By placing his faith in the unchangeable Spirit, in time he found its grace. 8Hence the pious acts of men, their riches and their friends are of no use for their salvation from the miseries of life. Only their own efforts are of use for the enlightenment of their soul. 9 They who place their reliance upon faith in gods and depend upon them to fulfill their desires and future rewards are perverted in their understanding and cannot be heirs to immortality. 10 He is saved from misery in this ocean of the world by reliance on his own reasoning and resignation, and by his spiritual vision of the Supreme Spirit.
11 Attaining this blessed knowledge of intuition which removes our ignorance is what they call getting fruit fallen from heaven.
12 The intelligence which looks into itself, as Janaka did, finds the soul developing of itself inside, just as the lotus bud opens of itself in the morning. 13 The firm conviction of the material world melts into nothing under the light of perception, just as thick and hard ice dissolves to liquid under the sun’s heat. 14 The consciousness that “this is I” is like the shade of night, and it is dispelled at the rise of the sun of intellect when the omnipresent light appears vividly to sight. 15 As soon as one loses his self-consciousness that “this is me”, the all-pervading Soul opens fully to his view.
16 As Janaka abandoned consciousness of his personality together with his desire, so you, O intelligent Rama, forsake them by your acute understanding and the discernment of your mind. 17 After the cloud of egoism is dispersed and the sphere is cleared all around, the divine light shall shine as brightly as a second sun. 18 It is the greatest ignorance to think of one’s own personality. When this thought is relaxed by the sense of our nothingness, we give room to the manifestation of holy light in the soul. 19 Do not think of the entity or non-entity of yourself or others, but preserve the tranquility of your mind from thoughts of both positive and negative existences in order to get rid of your sense of distinction between producer and the produced.
20 Again, fostering a fondness for something as good and a hatred for others as bad is only a disease of your mind that serves only to make you uneasy. 21 Do not be fond of what you think to be beautiful or be disgusted at what appears hateful to you. Get rid of these opposite feelings and be even minded by fixing it on the One before whom all things are alike and equally good. 22 They who view the desirable and the detestable in the same light are neither fond of the one nor adverse to the other. 23 Until the fancy of the desirability of one thing and the dislike of the other is effaced from the mind, it is as hard to have the good grace of equanimity, just as it is difficult for moonlight to pierce a cloudy sky.
24 The mind that considers one thing to be appropriate and another as inappropriate is deprived of the blessing of detachment, just as the sakota plant is despised because it has no flowers or fruit. 25 Where there is a craving for the desirable and an aversion to what is unseemly, and when there is a cry for gain and an outcry at one’s loss, it is impossible for even mindedness, dispassion or tranquility to abide in the mind.
26 There being only the essence of one pure Brahman diffused throughout the universe, it is very improper to take the one as many, and among them something as good or bad. 27 Our desires and dislikes are the two apes living on the tree of our hearts. While they continue shaking and swinging that tree with their jogging and jolting, there can be no rest.
28 Freedom from fear and desire, from exertions and action, together with wisdom and equanimity are the inseparable accompaniments of ease and rest. 29 The qualities of forbearance and feeling for our fellows, accompanied with contentment and good understanding, and joined with a mild disposition and gentle speech, are the indispensable companions of a wise man who rid himself of desires and his feelings of liking or dislike.
30 The mind running to meanness is to be repressed by restraining passions and desires, just like the current of water is stopped by its valve. 31 Shun the sight of external things. They are the roots of error and fallacy. Always consider their internal properties, both when you are awake and asleep, and also when you are walking about or sitting down. 32Greedy men are caught like greedy fish in the hidden net of desires that are incapable of being satisfied. That net is woven with the threads of worldly cares, and it is under the waters of worldly affairs.
33 Now Rama, cut the meshes of this net with the knife of your good understanding and throw it in the water, like a tempest tearing thick clouds apart and scattering them in the air. 34 Try, O gentle Rama, to uproot the root of worldliness that sprouts forth in the weeds of vice. Use the hatchet of your perseverance and the eliminating shovel of your penetration. 35 Employ your mind to cut down the cravings of your mind, like using an axe to cut down a tree, then you will rest quietly as you arrive at the state of holiness.
36 Having destroyed the former state of your mind by its present state, try to forget them both in future by your heedless mind and manage yourself unmindful of the world. 37Your utter oblivion of the world will prevent the revival of your mind and stop the reappearance of ignorance which accompanies the mind. 38 Whether you are waking or sleeping or in any other state of your life, you must remember the nothingness of the world and give up your reliance on it. 39 Leave off your selfishness, O Rama, and rely upon the detachment of your soul. Lay hold of what ever offers itself to you and without seeking for it. 40 As the Lord God does everything and yet is aloof from everything, so must you do all acts outwardly without you mixing in anything. 41 Knowing the knowable, one finds himself like the uncreated soul and a great lord of all. But being apart from that soul, he sees only the material world spread before him. 42 He who has the sight of the inner spirit is free from thoughts of the external world and is not subjected to joy or grief or sorrow or any other evil of his life.
43 He is called a yogi who is free from passions and hatred, and looks on gold and rubbish in the same light. He is joined with his joy in his yoga and disjoined from all worldly desires. 44 He enjoys the fruit of his own acts and minds not what he wastes or gives away. He has the evenness of his mind in every condition and is unaltered by pain or pleasure.
45 He is not plunged into any difficulty who receives what he gets and is employed with whatever offers of itself to him without considering the good or evil that he is to gain by it. 46 He who is certain of the truth of the spiritual essence of the world, yearns not for its physical enjoyments but remains even-minded at all times.
47 The dull mind follows the active intellect in accomplishing its objects, just as the carnivorous cat or fox follows a lion in search of meat scraps. 48 As the servile band feeds on the flesh acquired by the lion’s prowess, so the mind dwells upon visible and sensible objects which it perceives by power of the intellect. 49 Thus the unsubstantial mind lives upon the outer world with the help of the intellect. But as it comes to remember its origin from consciousness, it recoils back to its original state.
50 The mind, moved and lit by the heat and light of the lamp of consciousness, becomes extinct without its physical force and grows as motionless as a dead body. 51 The nature of consciousness is known to exclude the idea of motion or pulsation from it. The scriptures call the power that has vibration reasoning or the mind. 52 The breathing (or vibration) of the mind, like the hissing of a snake, is called its imagination, but by knowing consciousness as the self, the mind comes to the true knowledge of the inner soul. 53Consciousness free from thoughts is the ever lasting Brahman, but being joined with thought, it is called the imaginative principle or the mind. 54 This power of imagination, having assumed a definite form, is called the mind. The mind with its will and its choices is situated in the heart of living beings.
55 With its two distinct powers of imagination and will, the mind is employed in the acts of discriminating and choosing the agreeable from what is disagreeable to it. 56Consciousness, being seated in the heart with its thoughts and wills, forgets its spiritual nature and remains as a dull material substance. 57 The intellect being this confined in the hearts of all animals in this world, continues in utter oblivion of its nature until it is awakened of itself, either by its intuition or the instruction of teachers or otherwise.
58 Intellect is awakened by instruction from the scriptures and teachers, by the practice of dispassion, and by subjugation of the organs of sense and action. 59 When the minds of living beings are awakened by learning and self-control, they tend towards the knowledge of the great Brahman, or else they wander at random about the wide world. 60 We must therefore awaken our minds that are dormant to divine knowledge, rolling in the pit of worldliness from intoxication of the wine of error. 61 As long as the mind is not awakened, it is unconscious of everything. Though it perceives what can be perceived, yet this perception is as false as the sight of a city in our fancy. 62 But when the mind is awakened by divine knowledge to the sight of the Supreme Being, it presents everything in itself, just as the inner fragrance of flowers also pervades the outer petals.
63 Though consciousness has the quality of knowing everything contained in all the three worlds, yet it has only little knowledge of them because of its insufficient desire to know them. 64 The mind without intellect is a dull block of stone, but it is opened by divine light, like the lotus bud opening under sunlight. 65 The mind that imagines is as devoid of understanding as a statue made of marble is unable to move about by itself. 66 How can regiments drawn in a painting wage a war? How can moonbeams make the medicinal plants emit their light? 67 Who has seen dead bodies smeared with blood running about on the ground? Who has witnessed stone fragments singing musical choruses in the woods? 68 Where does the stone idol of the sun dispel the darkness of the night? Where does an imaginary forest of the sky spread its shade on the ground?
69 Of what good are the efforts of men who are as ignorant as blocks of stones and who are led by their error in many ways, other than to endanger themselves by the mirage of their minds? 70 Imagination displays the non-existent as existent in the soul, just as sunbeams show clear oceans in desert sands.
71 The learned sages call the moving principle in the body the mind. They know it as a mere force of the winds, like the vital breath of living beings. 72 Those whose self-consciousness is not disturbed by the currents of their passions and desires have their spiritual souls like an unperturbed stream. 73 But when this pure consciousness is fouled by false fancies of this and that, and that “this is I” and “that is mine”, then the soul and the vital principle are both taken together to form a living being.
74 The mind, the living soul and understanding are all only fictitious names of an unreality according to the conceptions of false thinkers, and not of them who know the true spirit. 75 In reality there is no mind, no understanding, no thinking principle, and no body. There is only the reality of the one Universal Spirit which is ever existent everywhere. 76 The one Universal Spirit is the soul which is all this world. It is time and all its fluctuations. It is more transparent than the atmosphere, and it is clear because it is nothing at all. 77 It is not always apparent, owing to its transparency, yet it is ever existent because of our consciousness of it. The spirit is beyond all things and is perceived by our inner perception.
78 The mind vanishes into nothing before our consciousness of the Supreme Soul, just as darkness is dispelled from where the sun shines. 79 When the transparent and self-conscious soul raises other figures of its own will, then the presence of the soul is forgotten and lays hidden under the grosser creations of the mind. 80 The faculty of the Supreme Spirit that wills is labeled the mind. It is detachment and lack of our own will that produces our liberation.
81 Such is the origin of the mind which is the root of creation. Will is a faculty of our consciousness, otherwise called the soul. 82 The intellectual essence, after falling from its state of detachment and being defiled by its desires, becomes the principle of production or producing desired objects. 83 The mind becomes extinct through loss of vital power, just as the shadow of a thing disappears by removing the substance.
84 The living body perceives in its heart the notion of a distant place that exists in the mind. This proves the identity of the vital breath and the thinking mind. 85 Therefore, by repressing the mind the vital breath is also repressed, which produces longevity and health.
86 Stone has the capability of mobility, and fuel of inflammability, but vital breath and mind do not have powers of vibration or thinking (without the force of the intellect and the spirit). 87 The breath of life by itself is inert, and its pulsation is the effect and composed of the surrounding air. So the action of the mind is due to the force of consciousness whose transparency pervades all nature.
88 The mind is the union of intellectual and vibrating powers. Its production is as false as the falsity of its knowledge. 89 Mental power is called error and also illusion, and these in ignorance of the Supreme Brahman produce the knowledge of this poisonous world.
90 The powers of the intellect and vibration, combined with those of imagination and will which constitute the mind, produce all worldly evils unless they are weakened and kept under restraint. 91 When intellect thinks or has perception by the pulsation caused by the air, the wind of breath gives pulsation to the intellect and causes its power of reasoning. This intellectual power gives rise to all the thoughts and desires of the mind.
92 The vibrating intellect extending over the undivided sphere of the universe is truly thinking power. The mind is a false imagination like the ghost of infants. 93 The intellect is the power of reasoning, which cannot be thwarted anywhere by anything else, like the mind, just as there is no power to contest the almighty Indra. 94 Thus, as there no relation between reasoning and the mind, it is wrong to attribute the mind with the power of thinking. The two are unrelated.
95 How can this union of consciousness with only its vibration be called the mind with its multifarious functions? The commander alone, without the component parts of cavalry, elephants and others, cannot be called an army. 96 Therefore there is no such thing as a good or bad mind in any of the three worlds. The bias of its existence will be utterly removed by full knowledge of spirituality.
97 It is in vain and to no purpose that people imagine the existence of the mind. It is proved to be an unreality and has no substantiality of its own. 98 Therefore, O magnanimous Rama, never give rise to false imaginations of any kind, and particularly that of the mind which never exists anywhere.
99 False fantasies arise like a mirage from the lack of full knowledge of things. They spring in the heart, which is as barren as a desert, for want of the rain of full knowledge. 100The mind is a dead thing owing to its lack of form or action, and yet, as it is idolized in the circles of common people, it is a wonder. 101 It is a wonder that the mind, having no soul or essence, no body or size or support of its own, should spread its net over all ignorant minds.
102 One who falls victim to his unarmed and impotent mind is like a man who says his body has been injured by a lotus flower falling upon it. 103 The man who is undone by his inert, dumb and blinded mind is like one who complains of being burned by the cool beams of the full moon. 104 People are truly killed by an antagonist who is present before them, but it is a wonder that the ignorant are foiled by the non-existent mind of their own making. 105 What is the power of that which is a creation of mere fancy, an unreal presentation of ignorance, and which being sought after is nowhere to be found?
106 It is a great wonder that men should be overcome by their impotent minds that deal only in delusions. 107 Ignorance is ever exposed to dangers and the ignorant are always the victims of error. Know the unreal world is the creation of only ignorance and of the ignorant. 108 O, the misery of miseries that the ignorant make this creation of ignorance for themselves, and that they fabricate a living soul for the sole purpose of their sufferings.
109 I know this frail world is a creation of the false imagination of the ignorant, and that this earth is as fragile as to be broken and carried away by the waves of the ocean. 110 It is like black eye-liner that is broken down by surrounding waters or seas serving as its grinding mill. Yet men are maddened with it, like those struck by moonbeams. 111 The visible world disappears at the sight of reason, just as a man flies from the sight of his foe. The mind’s streams of imaginary creations flee like hosts of demons defeated by the gods. 112Thus this world, which is a false creation of fancy and exists nowhere except in the idle brains of the ignorant, is lost into nothing at the sight of reason.
113 He who is not able to govern his mind and efface the thoughts of this false world that only arise in the minds of the ignorant, is not worthy of being advised in the abstruse doctrines of spirituality. 114 Those who are confirmed and self-sufficient in their belief of what can be perceived by the physical senses are unable to grasp the subtle science of abstract philosophy, and therefore are unfit to receive spiritual instruction. 115 Men accustomed to the loud beatings of drum are as unconscious to the soft tunes of the lute as they are startled at seeing the face of a sleeping friend. 116 They who fly with fear away from the loud preaching of false preachers cannot have the patience to listen to the silent lesson of their inner guide. They who are deluded by their own minds can hardly be reclaimed by any other. 117 Those who are tempted to taste the bitterness of worldly pleasures as being sweet, are so subdued by its effects on their understanding that they altogether lose the power of discerning the truth. Therefore it is useless to reason with them.
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Chapter 14 — Impossibility of Curing the World; the Parade of Prey; the Thinking Principle
1 Vasishta said:— Multitudes of men are carried away by the torrents and waves of the sea of worldly pursuits. They are deaf and dumb to the admonitions of their spiritual instructors. 2 They are not fit to derive the benefit of the spiritual knowledge which I have propounded in this yoga scripture by my rational discourses. 3 They who are born blind and can see nothing are not to be shown a painting of a garden by an intelligent artist, portrayed with blooming blossoms and beautiful flowers. 4 There is no fool who would present fragrant odors to one whose nostrils are snorting under some nasal disease, and there is no dolt so great who would consult an ignorant man on spiritual matters.
5 What fool is there who would refer a question on law or religious subjects to one of ungoverned passions and organs of sense, or whose eyeballs are rolling with the intoxication of wine? 6 Who asks of the dead the way he should go, or one in the grave about where to walk in the city? What witless man seeks the help of an idiot to clear his doubts? 7 Of what good is it to advise a person with little wit, whose serpentine mind is coiled and creeping in the cave of his heart? Though it lies there in silence and sightless, is yet ungovernably wild.
8 Know there is no such a thing as a well governed mind. Though you may fling it away from you, yet it is never lost or annihilated. 9 The simpleton who does not control his false and delusive mind is tormented to death by its venomous smart, as if stung by a deadly reptile. 10 The learned understand the vital powers. They know the operations of the organs of action and they depend on the action and force of the soul. Say then, O Rama, what is that thing which they call the mind?
11 The vital breath gives force for bodily actions and the soul produces the power of knowledge. The organs act by their own force and the Supreme Spirit is the main source of all. 12 All forces are only parts of the omnipotence of the Supreme Spirit. Their different names are only inventions of men. 13 What is it that they call the individual living soul which has blindfolded the world? What do they label as the mind? It is really an unreality without any power of its own.
14 Rama, I have seen the continued misery arising from their false conception of the unreal mind. My pity for them has caused my constant sorrow. 15 But why should I feel sorrow for the ignorant rabble who bring their sorrow by their own error? The common herd is born to their misery like beasts and brutes. 16 The ignorant rabble are born in their dull material bodies only for their destruction. They are born to die away constantly, like the waves of the ocean.
17 What pity shall I take for those who are seen every day perishing under the jaws of death, like numbers of animals immolated in the shambles? 18 For whom shall I sorrow when I see billions and trillions of gnats and moths destroyed daily by gusts of wind?
19 For whom shall I sorrow when every day throughout hills and forests I see hunters and sportsmen killing millions of deer and other game? 20 For whom shall I feel when I find innumerable schools of small fish in the waters eaten every day by bigger ones?
21 I see an infinite number of microscopic organisms eaten by flies and fleas, which in their turn are eaten by hungry spiders and scorpions. 22 The frog feeds on flies and in turn is eaten by snakes. Birds of prey swallow the snake and the weasel preys upon snakes.
23 The weasel is killed by the cat, which is killed by the dog. The bear destroys the dog and is at last destroyed by the tiger. 24 The lion overcomes the tiger, and is overcome on its turn by the sharabha. The sharabha is overthrown by its fall on rocky steeps in its attempt to jump over gathering clouds.
25 The clouds are worsted by tempests, and these again are obstructed by rising rocks and mountains. The mountains are split by thunderbolts, and the thunderbolts of heaven are broken by the thundering Indra. 26 This Indra is defeated by Vishnu, his younger brother, and Vishnu is made to undergo his incarnations in the shapes of men and beasts. He is subjected to the changing fortunes of pain and pleasure and to the conditions of disease, decay and death.
27 Big animals are fed upon by leeches and fleas that stick to their bodies and suck their blood. Men filled with knowledge and armed with weapons are infested by bloodsucking bugs and gnats. 28 Thus hosts of living bodies are continually exposed to feed upon and to be fed upon by one another with remorseless hunger. 29 There is a constant growth of leeches, fleas, ants, other small insects and worms on the one hand, and a continued dissolution of both big and puny bodies in every place on earth.
30 The womb of the waters bears breeds of fish, whales, hippopotamus and other aquatic animals, and the bowels of the earth produce multitudes of worms and reptiles to infinity. 31 The air teems with broods of birds of various kinds and the woods abound with wild beasts, lions and tigers, fleet deer and other brutes. 32 There are inborn worms growing in the intestines and upon the skin of animal bodies. Parasitical insects and microscopic organisms feed upon the bark and leaves of trees. 33 Insects are seen born in the crusts of stones, such as frogs, worms and others. Many kinds of worms and insects are found growing and feeding upon the feces and excrements of animals.
34 In this manner an endless number of living beings are being born and perishing for ever and ever. It is of no use to them whether kind hearted men are joyous or sorrowful at their births and deaths. 35 The wise can have no cause for joy or grief in this continued course of constant births and deaths of the living world. 36 Such is the nature of all the different species of animal beings. They constantly grow to fall off like the leaves of trees.
37 The kind hearted man who wishes to remove the sorrows of the ignorant by his advice, attempts an impossibility as great as that of shrouding the all pervasive sunshine by means of his umbrella.
38 It is useless to give advice to the ignorant who are no better than beasts in their understandings, just as it is fruitless to talk to a rock or a block of wood or a stone in the wilderness. 39 The dull headed ignorant, who are no better than beasts, are dragged by their willful minds like cattle by their halters. 40 To see the ignorant plunged in the skin of their perverted minds, employed in acts and rites for their own ruin, would make even stones melt into tears.
41 Men of ungoverned minds are always exposed to dangers and difficulties, but the purified minds of the wise are free from the evils and mishaps of life.
42 Now Rama, consider well the miseries of ungoverned minds and take yourself to the knowledge of the knowable one. 43 Never entertain the vain hobgoblin of a mind in your imagination. The mind has no real existence of its own. Beware of this false belief, which may betray you like the imagined ghosts of children. 44 As long as you are forgetful of the soul, you must remain in utter ignorance and remain tortured by the serpent residing in the recess of your heart.
45 Now you know the whole truth, as I have explained it to you. It is only your imagination that presents you with the idea of your mind, and you must get rid of that idea forever. 46 If you rely upon what can be perceived, you are subject to the delusion of your mind. No sooner do you shun your reliance on phenomena than you are liberated from your illusion of it.
47 The visible world is a combination of the three qualities of purity, action and passivity (sattva, rajas and tamas). It is presented before you by your illusion (maya), like a trap to capture beasts. 48 Think of the nonexistence both of the subjective-self and the objective world. Remain as firm as a fixed rock on earth, and behold the Lord only in the form of infinite space in your heart.
49 Rama, shun the false thoughts of your self-existence and those of the visible world. Forsake your belief in duality in order to settle yourself in infinite unity. 50 Continue to meditate on the soul, as it is situated between the subjective viewer and the objective view of this world, and as it exists in your vision which lies between the two. 51 Forsake your ideas about the subjects and objects of your taste, and think about their intermediate state of taste as being one with the soul. 52 Rama, place yourself in the position of your power of thinking which lies between the thinker and what can be thought of. Support your soul on the support-less soul of all, and remain steady in your meditation.
53 Forsake the cares of the world and be exempt from thoughts of existence and nonexistence. Meditate on the Universal Soul and be settled with your soul in that Soul. 54When you have learned to think on the thinkable One by renouncing the thought of your own existence, then you shall arrive to that state of unconsciousness which is free from misery.
55 Know your thoughts to be your chains and your self-consciousness to be your binding chain. Therefore, O Rama, loosen the lion of your soul from the prison house of your mind. 56 By departing from the state of the Supreme Soul and falling into the thoughts of the mind, you will be crowded by your imaginations and you will see all about you only the objects of your thoughts.
57 The knowledge that reasoning or the power of thought is distinct from the soul introduces the existence of the unhappy mind. For the sake of true happiness, you must get rid of that separation. 58 When you become conscious of the Supreme Soul in you and permeated throughout all nature, then you will find the thinker and his thinking, the thinkables and their thoughts, all vanish into nothing. 59 The thought that “I have a soul and a living soul also” brings all the miseries to which we are exposed throughout all eternity. 60 The consciousness that “I am the one soul and not a distinct living being” is called tranquility of the spirit and its true joy.
61 O Rama, when you are certain that the world is the Universal Soul itself, you will find the false distinctions of your mind and individual living soul to be nothing in reality. 62When you perceive that all this is your very self, then your mind will melt away into the soul, as darkness dissolves in sunlight and shadows disappear in the air. 63 As long as you cherish the snake of your mind within yourself, you are in danger of catching its poison. But when the mind is removed through your yoga meditation, you escape the danger immediately.
64 Be bold, O Rama, and destroy the mighty demon of the deep rooted error of your mind by the power of the mantras of your perfect knowledge. 65 Upon disappearance of the demon of the mind from the dwelling of your body, as when a demon yaksha disappears in the air, you will be free from every disease, danger, care and fear. 66 Dispassion and detachment joined with the knowledge of unity melt down the substance of the mind and confer the best and highest state of joy and rest in the Supreme Spirit, bringing on that state of tranquility which is the main aim of everybody. May all these blessings attend upon you.
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Chapter 15 — On Greed
1 Vasishta continued:— The soul by following the unholy essence of the mind, which is the source of the world, is led to fall into the trap laid by the mind for all living beings. 2The soul then loses the brightness of its spiritual form and takes the gross shape of the senses. It waits upon the guidance of the mind and indulges in its impure imaginations. 3 It falls into greed which, like a poisonous plant, makes it senseless and spreads a fearful anesthesia over it. 4 Greed like a dark night hides the soul under the gloom of oblivion and produces endless pains to the soul.
5 The god Shiva withstood the flame of the kalpa conflagration, but nobody can withstand the fierce fire of greed. 6 It bears a form as formidable as that of a long, sharp and black dagger, cold in appearance but very injurious in its effects.
7 Greed is an evergreen plant bearing bunches of plentiful fruit on high which, when obtained and tasted, prove to be bitter and gall. 8 Greed is a hungry wolf prowling in the recess of the heart, feeding unseen on the flesh, blood and bones of its sheltering body. 9 Greed is like a rainy stream full of foul and muddy water overflowing and breaking down its banks, then leaving its dirty bed empty. 10 The man stricken with greed remains stingy and broken hearted at all times. His spirits are dampened and his sordid soul is debased before mankind. He is dejected, weeps and lays himself down in despair.
11 He who does not have this black adder of greed burrowing in the recess of his heart has the free play of his vital breath, which is otherwise poisoned by the breath of the viper rankling in his breast. 12 The heart that is not darkened by the gloomy night of greed feels the rays of humanity sparkling in it, like the play of bright moonbeams.
13 The heart that is not eaten up by the corroding cares of greed is like a tree without cankers blooming with its blossoms of piety.
14 The current of greed is ever running amidst the wilderness of human desires with ceaseless torrents and waves, and hideous whirlpools and vortices around. 15 The thread of greed, like the long line of a flying kite, whirls and furls and pulls mankind as its toys and playthings. 16 Rude, rough and hard-hearted greed, like a remorseless axe, breaks and cuts down the tender roots of virtues. 17 Foolish men led by greed fall into the pit of hell, like ignorant deer enticed by grass scattered over its cover fall into the black hole of a trap.
18 Men are not so much blinded by their aged and decayed eyesight as they are blinded by the invisible greed seated in their hearts. 19 The heart which is nestled by the ominous owl of greed is as pitiful as the god Vishnu who became a dwarf because he begged for a bit of ground from Bali.
20 A divine power has implanted this greed which cannot be satisfied in the heart of man. This greed whirls him about as if tied by a rope, like the sun revolving around its center in the sky. 21 Fly from this greed which is as heinous as a venomous snake. It is the source of all evils, even of death in this mortal world.
22 Greed blows on men like the wind. Greed makes men sit still like stones. Greed makes some as calm as the earth, and greed ransacks the three worlds in its rapid course. 23This entire parade of men is impelled back and forth by greed, as if pulled by ropes. It is easy to break ropes, but not the bond of greed.
24 Rama, get rid of greed by forsaking your desires. Because the wise have determined that the mind dies away from lack of its desires. 25 Never observe the distinctions of “my”, “yours” and “his” in any of your wishes, but wish for the good of all alike. Never foster any bad desire. 26 The thought of self in what is not the self is the parent of all our grief. When you cease to think the not-self as the self you are then reckoned among the wise.
27 Cut off your egoism, O gentle Rama, and dwell in your unearthly self by forgetting yourself, and by dispelling your fear from all created beings.
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Chapter 16 — Two Ways to Abandon Greed: Reason and Insight
1 Rama said, “Sage, what you are saying, about me abandoning my egoism and greed, is too deep for me to understand. 2 Sage, how is it possible to give up my ego without giving up this body and everything that is related to it? 3 Egoism is the chief support of the body, like a post supports a thatched house. 4 The body will surely perish without its egoism. Its durability will be cut short, like a tree is felled by sawing on its trunk. 5 Now tell me, O most eloquent sage, how can I live by giving up my egoism (which is myself)? Answer me according to your right judgment.
6 Vasishta replied:— O lotus-eyed and respectful Rama, the wise, who are well acquainted with the subject, say there are two ways to abandon desires. One is called the knowable (based on knowledge or direct realization) and the other they call the thinkable (based on contemplation, reasoning).
7 There is a knowledge that I am the life of my body and its powers, and these are the supports of my life, and that I am something. 8 But weighing this internal conviction by the light of reason proves that I am not related to the external body and the body does not bear any relation to my internal soul. 9 Therefore, one performs one’s duties with calmness and coolness of understanding without any desire for results. This is called abandonment of desire through reasoning.
10 The understanding that views things in an equal light and, by forsaking its desires, relinquishes the body without taking any concern for it, is called the knowing abandonment of desires.
11 He who foregoes with ease the desires arising from his egoism is called the thinking renouncer of his desires and is liberated in his lifetime. 12 He who is calm and even-minded by his abandonment of vain and imaginary desires is a knowing deserter of his desires and is also liberated in this world. 13 Those who abandon the desires in their thoughts and remain with listless indifference to everything are like those who are liberated in their lifetime. 14 They are also called liberated who have their composure (detachment) after abandonment of their desires and who rest in the Supreme Spirit with their souls disentangled from their bodies. 15 Both these sorts of renunciation are equally entitled to liberation. Both are extricated from pain and both lead liberated souls to the state of Brahma.
16 The mind, whether engaged in acts or disengaged from them, rests in the pure spirit of God by forsaking its desires.
17 The former kind of yogi is liberated in his embodied state and free from pain throughout his lifetime. But the latter who has obtained his liberation in his bodiless state after his death, remains quite unconscious of his desires.
18 He who feels no joy or sorrow at the good or evil which befalls him in his lifetime, as it is the course of nature, is called the living liberated man. 19 He who neither desires nor dreads the casualties of good or evil that are incidental to human life, but remains quiet regardless of them as in his dead sleep, is known as the truly liberated man. 20 He whose mind is free from thoughts of what is desirable or undesirable to him, and free from differentiation of “mine,” “yours” and “his” is called the truly liberated. 21 He whose mind is not subject to excess joy or grief, hope or fear, anger, boasting or miserliness, is said to have his liberation. 22He whose feelings are all dulled within himself as in his sleep, and whose mind enjoys its joy like the beams of the full moon, is said to be a liberated man in this world.
23 Valmiki says:— After the sage had said so far, the day departed to its evening service with the setting sun. The assembled audience retired to their evening ceremonial washings, and with the rising sun on the next day, returned to the assembly.
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Chapter 17 — Describing Liberation while Living and Brahman beyond Words
1 Vasishta said:—
It is difficult, O Rama, to describe in words the inexplicable nature of the liberation of disembodied souls. But let me tell you more about the liberation of living beings.
2 The desire of doing one’s duties without expectation of reward is also called living liberation, and those who do their duties in this way are said to be the living liberated. 3The wise sages describe dependence of beings on their desires and their strong attachment to external objects as their bondage and chains in this world. 4 But the desire to conduct oneself according to the course of events without any expectation of results also constitutes the liberation of the living as one’s duties are performed with the body only.5 The desire to enjoy external objects is truly the bondage of the soul. Indifference to worldly enjoyments constitutes one’s freedom in his living state. 6 Lack of greed and anxiety in anticipation of some gain, and absence of joy and change in one’s disposition afterwards make true freedom of men.
7 O high-minded Rama, know that desire, which is eager expectation to possess anything, is the greatest bondage of men.
8 He who is devoid of desire for anything, whether existent or nonexistent in the world, is the truly great man with the greatest magnanimity of his soul. 9 Therefore Rama, forsake the thoughts both of your bondage and liberation, and also of your happiness and misery. Get rid of your desire for the real and unreal and remain as calm as the undisturbed ocean. 10 Think yourself, O most intelligent Rama, to be devoid of death and decay. Do not stain your mind with fears of disease or death. 11 These substances are nothing, nor are you any of these things that you see. There is something beyond these, and know that you are that very thing (which is the soul).
12 The phenomenon of the world is an unreality and everything here that appears real in your sight is unreal. Knowing yourself to be beyond all these, what earthly thing is there that you can crave? 13 All reasoning men, O Rama, consider themselves in one of four different lights in their minds. I shall now explain these to you in brief.
14 He who considers his whole body as the offspring of his parents (devoid of his spiritual part) is surely born to bondage of the world. 15 But they who are certain of their immaterial soul, which is finer than the point of a hair, are another class of men who are called wise and are born for their liberation. 16 There is a third class of men who consider themselves as same with the Universal Soul of the world. Such men, O support of Raghu’s race, are also entitled to their liberation. 17 Then there is a fourth class who consider themselves and the whole world to be as insubstantial as the empty air. These surely partake in liberation.
18 Of these four kinds of beliefs, the first leads to bondage and the other three, growing from purity of thought, lead to the path of liberation. 19 Among these, the first is subject to the bondage of greed, but the other three, proceeding from pure desire, are crowned with liberation. 20 In my opinion, those of the third kind, who consider themselves one with the Universal Soul, are never subject to sorrow or pain. 21 The magnitude of the Supreme Spirit extends over and below and all about existence. Therefore the belief that “All in one” or “One in all” never holds a man in bondage.
22 The fourth kind, those who believe in emptiness and maintain the principles of nature or illusion, are in ignorance of the divine knowledge that represents God as Shiva, Lord, He, and eternal Soul. 23 He is all and everlasting without a second or another like him. He is pervaded by his omniscience, and not by the ignorance called illusion (maya). 24The spirit of God fills the universe like the water of the ocean fills the deep. The spirit of God stretches from the highest heaven to the lowest abyss of the infernal regions. 25Therefore only His reality is ever existent. No unreal world exists at anytime. Liquid water fills the sea, and not the swelling wave that rises in it.
26 As the bracelets and armlets are nothing other than gold, so the varieties of trees and herbs are not distinct from the Universal Spirit. 27 It is the one and same omnipotence of Supreme Spirit that displays different forms in its works of the creation.
28 Never be joyful or sorry for anything belonging to you or another. Do not feel delighted or dejected at any gain or loss that may happen to occur to you. 29 Be of an even disposition, and rely on your essence as one with the Supreme Soul. Attend to your many duties. Be observant of unity in your spiritual concerns and dualities in your worldly affairs.
30 Beware of falling into the hidden holes of this world in your pursuit of varieties of objects. Do not be like an elephant falling into a hidden pit in the forest. 31 O Rama of great soul, there cannot be a duality as it is thought in the mind. O Rama of enlightened soul, there cannot be any unity or duality of the soul. The true essence is ever existent without unity or duality. It is called the all and nothing particular, and as itself (swarupa).
32 There is no ego or your subjective-self, nor are there any objective worlds that you see. All this is the manifestation of the eternal and imperishable Omniscience. Know this world to be neither an entity nor non-entity by itself.
33 Know the Supreme Being to be without beginning and end, the enlightener of all lights, the un-decaying, unborn and incomprehensible one. He is without part and without any change in him. He is beyond imagination and beyond all the imaginary objects about us. 34 Know for certain in your mind that the Lord is always present in the full light of your consciousness. He is the root of your consciousness. He is of the nature of your inner soul. He is conceivable in the intellect. He is the Brahman, the all and everlasting, the all-pervading, the subjective “I” and the objective “you” and this world.
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Chapter 18 — Living Liberation or True Joy of Man; Everything Is Connected
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, I will now describe the nature of those great men who conduct themselves in this world with their desires under their control and whose minds are not blemished by evil inclinations.
2 The sage whose mind is freed in his lifetime conducts himself unconcerned in this world. He smiles secure at its occurrences and is regardless of the first, last and middle stages of his life.
3 He is attentive to his present business and unmindful of every other object about him. He is devoid of cares and desires and his thought is only of his internal reflections. 4 He is free from anxiety in all places who tolerates whatever he happens to meet. He sees the light of reason in his soul and walks in the romantic gardens of his thoughts. 5 He who is neither elated nor depressed in any state of his life, who does not fall down under any circumstance, rests in transcendental bliss with prospects as bright as the cooling beams of the full moon.
6 Whose generosity and courage do not forsake him, even when he is troubled by his bitterest enemies, and who is observant of his duties to his superiors, such a man is not dejected in this world. 7 Who neither rejoices nor laments at his lot, who neither envies nor yearns after the fortune of another, but pursues his own business in quiet silence, is the man that is never downcast in this world. 8 Who, when asked, says what he is doing, but unasked remains like a dead block, and who is free from desire and disgust, he is never depressed in his heart and mind.
9 He speaks agreeably to every one and gently utters what he is required to say. He who understands the intentions of others is never put out. 10 He sees the right and wrong dealings of men and the acts of the depraved desires of their minds. Knowing all human affairs as clearly as looking in a mirror in his hand, he holds his peace with every one. 11Standing on his firm footing (detachment) and knowing the frailty of worldly things, he smiles at the changing fortunes of nature with the cold frigidity of his heart.
12 Rama, such is the nature of the great souls who have subdued their minds and know the course of nature, as I have described to you. 13 I am unable to describe the fond beliefs of the minds of the ignorant populace who are plunged in the mud of their sensual enjoyments.
14 Women, devoid of understanding and graced with their personal charms, are the idols of these people who are fond of their golden forms without knowing them to be the flames of hellfire. 15 Wealth, the fond object of foolish people, is filled with every ill and evil desire. Its pleasure is poison and produces misery. Prosperity is full with danger. 16 Use of wealth to do meritorious deeds and various acts of piety is also filled with a great many evils, which I do not have the power to recount.
17 Therefore Rama, keep your sight on the full view of your spirit by retracting it from external phenomena and internal thoughts. Conduct yourself in this world as one liberated in his lifetime. 18 Being free from all your inner passions and feelings of affection. Having given up all your desires and expectations, continue performing your outward duties in this world. 19 Follow all your duties in life with a noble flexibility of your disposition, but preserve the philosophic renunciation of everything in your mind and conduct yourself accordingly in this world.
20 Think well on the fleeting states of all earthly things and fix your mind upon the lasting nature of your soul. Thus conduct yourself in this transitory stage with thoughts of eternity in your mind. 21 Rama, conduct yourself with inner detachment and lack of all desire, but show your outward desire for whatever is good and great. Be detached within yourself but full of effort in your external behavior. 22 O Rama, conduct yourself among men with a pretended activity in your outward appearance, but with real inaction in your mind. Show yourself as the doer of your deeds, but know in your mind that you are no actor at all.
23 O Rama, conduct yourself with full knowledge of this world as if you are acquainted with the natures of all beings. Go wherever you please with your intimate acquaintance of everything here. 24 Behave yourself with mankind with a pretended appearance of joy and grief, and of condolence and congratulation with others, and an assumed shape of activity and action among mankind. 25 Manage yourself, O Rama, with full possession of your mind, unaffected by pride or vanity, as if it were as clear as the spotless sky. 26 Go through your life unshackled by the bonds of desire. Join in all the outward acts of life with an unaltered evenness of mind under every circumstance.
27 Do not give room to thoughts of your bondage or liberation in this world, or of the embodiment or release of your soul here. Think the revolving worlds to be a magic scene and preserve perfect tranquility of your mind. 28 Know all this as an illusion. Only ignorance presents the false appearance of the world to sight. Yet we take them for true, as you see water in the burning sunbeams in a desert.
29 The unobstructed, uniform and all pervading soul can have no restriction or bondage. What is unrestricted in itself cannot have its release. 30 Lack of true knowledge presents the false view of the world before us. Knowledge of truth disperses the view, just as the knowledge of the rope dispels the false appearance of the snake in it.
31 You have known the true essence of your being by your right discernment. Thereby you are free from the sense of your personality and are set free as the subtle air. 32 You have known the truth and must give up your knowledge of untruth, together with the thoughts of your friends and relatives, all which are unreal in their natures. 33 Such being the case, you must consider your soul as something other than those, and that you have received your soul from the supreme source of all. 34 This soul bears no relation to your friends or possession, to your good or evil actions, or to anything whatsoever in this world. 35 When you are convinced that this very soul constitutes your essence, you have nothing to fear from the false appearance of the world which is no more than a misconception.
36 You can have no concern for the well-being or grief of a friend or foe who is not born so to you. For every one being born for himself, you have no cause for joy or grief for anybody. 37 If you know that you had been before (creation) and that you shall be so forever afterwards (to eternity), you are truly wise. 38 If you are troubled so much with concern for friends in this life, then why not mourn those who are dead and gone in your present and past lives? 39 If you were something other than what you are now, and if you have to be something different in the future, why then should you sorrow for what does not have its self-identity?
40 If you are to be born no more, after your past and present births, then you have no cause for sorrow, being extinct yourself in the Supreme Spirit. 41 Therefore there is no cause for sorrow in anything that occurs according to the course of nature. Instead be joyful pursuing the duties of your present life.
42 But do not indulge the excess of your joy or grief, but preserve your equanimity everywhere by knowing the Supreme Spirit pervades all. 43 Know yourself to be the form of infinite spirit stretching wide like the extended vacuum, and that you are the pure eternal light, the focus of full brightness. 44 Know your eternal and invisible soul is distinct from all worldly substances, a particle of that Universal Soul which dwells in and stretches through the hearts of all bodies, like the unseen thread running through the holes and connecting the links of a necklace.
45 You learn from the unlearned that the continuation of the world is caused by the reproduction of what has been before; not so from the learned (who know the world to be nothing). Know this and not that, and be happy in this life.
46 The course of the world and this life is ever tending to decay and disease. Ignorance represents them to be progressing to perfection. But you who are intelligent know their real natures (of frailty and unreality). 47 What else can be the nature of error but falsehood, and what may the state of sleep be except dream and drowsiness? 48 Who do you call your good friend, and who do you say is your great enemy? They all belong to the sole One and proceed alike from the Divine Will.
49 Everything is frail and unsteady and has its rise and fall from and into the Supreme Spirit. It is like the wave of the sea, rising and falling from and into the same water. 50Worlds are rolling upward and going down again, like the axis and spokes of a wheel. 51 The celestials sometimes fall into hell, and the denizens of hell are sometimes raised to heaven. Animals of one kind are regenerated in another form, and the people of one continent and island are reborn on another. 52 The wealthy are reduced to poverty, and the poor are raised to wealth. All beings are seen to be rising and falling in a hundred ways.
53 Who has seen the wheel of fortune move slowly in one straight forward course forever, not tumbling in its ups and downs or turning to this side and that in its winding and uneven route? Fixedness of fortune is a fiction, like finding frost in fire. 54 Those who are called wealthy, with all fortune, position, friends and relations, are seen flying away in a few days of this transient life.
55 The thought of something as one’s own or another’s, and of this and that as mine, yours, his or someone else’s, are as false as the appearance of double suns and moons in the sky. 56 That this is a friend and this other a foe, and that this is myself and that one is another, are all only false ego conceptions of your mind and must be wiped away.
57 However, make it your pleasure to mix with the blinded populace and those who are lost to reason. Deal with them in your usual unaltered way. 58 In your journey through this world, conduct yourself in such a manner that you do not sink under the burden of your cares of it. 59 When you come to your reason, lay down your earthly cares and desires. Then shall you have that composure of mind that will exonerate you from all your duties and dealings in life.
60 It is the part of low-minded men to reckon one as a friend and another as no friend. Noble minded men do not observe such distinctions between man and man. 61 There is nothing where I am not and nothing which is not mine. 62 The intellects of the wise are as clear as the spacious sky. There is no rising or setting of their intellectual light which views everything as serenely as in the serenity of the atmosphere and as plainly as the plain surface of the earth.
63Know Rama that all created beings are friendly and useful to you, and there is no person or thing in the world with which you are not related in some way. 64 It is false to look anyone as a friend or foe among the various orders of created beings in the universe. In reality, each may be of help to you, however unfriendly they may appear at first.
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Chapter 19 — On Family Relationships: the Story of Punya and Pavana
1 Vasishta continued:— I will now give you an example on the subject, the story of two brothers born of a sage on the banks of Ganges where it flows in three directions. 2 I have been talking about friends and enemies, so this wonderful tale from the past occurs to my mind. Hear this holy story.
3 On this continent of Asia, there a mountainous region surrounded by gardens and forests with the high Mount Mahendra rising above the rest. 4 It touched the sky with its lofty peaks, and its wish-fulfilling kalpa tree spread its shadow over the hermits and kinnaras that took shelter beneath it. 5 The place resounded with the sound of sages chanting the Sama Veda hymns as they passed from its caves and peaks to the region of Indra.
6 Fleecy clouds constantly drizzled rainwater from its thousand peaks, washing plants and flowers below. They appeared like tufts of hair hanging down from heaven to earth.7 The mountain echoed with the loud roars of impetuous eight-legged sharabhas, and with the thunder from the hollow mouths of its dark and deep clouds, like the world-destroying kalpa clouds. 8 The thundering noise of its cascades falling from precipice to precipice into its caverns would make the loud crashing of ocean waves blush by comparison.
9 There, on a tableland upon the craggy top of the mountain, flowed the sacred stream of the heavenly Ganges for the ablution and drink of the hermits. 10 There, on the banks of the triple path river Ganges, was a shining mountain, sparkling like bright gold and decorated with blossoming trees.
11 There lived a sage named Dirghatapa who was a personification of meditation and a man of enlightened understanding. He had a noble mind and was accustomed to the austerities of tapas. 12 This sage was blessed with two children as beautiful as the full moon. They were named Punya (Meritorious) and Pavana (Holy) and they were as intelligent as the sons of Brihaspati who are known as the two Kachas. 13 Dirghatapa lived with his wife and their two sons on the bank of the river amid a grove of fruit trees.
14 In course of time, the two children arrived at the age of discretion. Punya, the elder of the two, was superior to the other in all his merits. 15 The younger boy, Pavana, was half awakened in his intellect, like the half blown lotus at the dawn of the day. His lack of intelligence kept him from knowing the truth and the certainty of his faith.
16 In the course of all destroying time, the sage came to complete a hundred years, and age and infirmity reduced the strength of his tall body and long life. 17 His vitality decrepit, he bade farewell to his desires in this world, so frail and full of a hundred fearful accidents to human life. 18 At last the old devotee Dirghatapa left his mortal frame in a cave of that mountain, like a bird quitting its old nest forever, or a water-bearer laying down the burden from his shoulders. 19 His spirit fled like the fragrance of a flower to that empty space which is ever tranquil, free from attributes and thought, and of the nature of pure consciousness.
20 The sage’s wife, finding his lifeless body lying on the ground, fell down upon it and remained motionless like a lotus flower plucked from its stalk. 21 She also was long accustomed to the practice of yoga, according to her husband’s instruction, so she also left her un-decayed body, like a bee flits from an un-faded flower into empty air. 22 Unseen by men, her soul followed her husband’s as the light of the stars disappears in the sky at the dawn of the day.
23 Seeing the death of both parents, the elder son Punya was busily employed in performing their funeral services, but the younger Pavana was deeply absorbed in grief at their loss. 24 Being overwhelmed by the sorrow in his mind, he wandered about in the woods. Not having the firmness of his elder brother, he continued to wail in his mourning.
25 The magnanimous Punya performed the funeral ceremonies of his parents, then went in search of his brother mourning in the woods.
26 Punya said:—
My boy, why is your soul overcast by the cloud of your grief? Why do you shed tears from your lotus-eyes as profusely as rain showers, only to render you blind? 27 Know, my intelligent boy, that both your father and mother have gone to their ultimate blissful state in the Supreme Spirit, called the state of salvation or liberation. 28 That is the last resort of all living beings and that is the blessed state of all self subdued souls. Then why mourn for them who have returned and are reunited with their own proper nature?
29 You vainly indulge yourself in false and fruitless grief. You are mourning for what is not to be mourned at all. 30 Neither is she your mother nor he your father. You are not the only son of them who have had numerous children in their repeated births. 31 You also have had thousands of fathers and mothers in your bygone births, in as much as there are many streams of running waters in every forest. 32 You are not the only son of they who have had innumerable sons before you. Generations of men have passed away like the currents of a running stream. 33 Our parents also had numberless children in their past lives, and the branches of human generation are as numerous as the innumerable flowers and fruit on trees.
34 The numbers of our friends and relatives in our repeated lives in this world have been as great as the innumerable flowers and fruit of a large tree in all its many seasons. 35 If we are to lament over the loss of our parents and children who are dead and gone, then why not also lament those we have lost and left behind in all our past lives?
36 It is all only a delusion, O my fortunate boy, that is presented before us in this illusive world. In truth, O my conscious child, we have nobody who we may call to be our real friends or positive enemies in this world. 37 In a true sense, there is no loss of anybody or anything in the world. It is only that they appear to exist and disappear, like the appearance of water in the dry desert.
38 The royal dignity that you may see, adorned with a stately umbrella and flapping fans, is only a dream that lasts a few days. 39 Consider these phenomena in their true light and, my boy, you will find that none of these nor ourselves nor anyone of us is to last forever. Therefore shun your error of the passing world from your mind forever.
40 That these are dead and gone and these others exist before us are only errors of our minds and creatures of our false notions and fond desires. There is no reality in them. 41Our notions and desires paint and present these various changes before our sight, like sunshine presenting water in a mirage. So our fancies, working in the field of our ignorance, produce the false conceptions that roll on like currents in the eventful ocean of the world, bringing the waves of favorable and unfavorable events to us.
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Chapter 20 — Punya Reasons with Pavana
1 Punya said:— Who is our father and who our mother? Who are our friends and relatives, except our notion of them as such? Friends and relatives are like dust raised by the gusts of our airy fancy. 2 The conceptions of friends and enemies and our sons and relatives are the products of our affection and hatred of them. These being the effects of our ignorance are soon made to disappear into airy nothing upon enlightenment of understanding.
3 The thought of one as a friend makes him a friend. Thinking one as an enemy makes him an enemy. The knowledge of a thing as honey and of another as poison is owing to our opinions of them. 4 There being only one Universal Soul equally pervading the whole, there can be no reason to conceive of one as a friend and another as an enemy.
5 My boy, of what you are? What makes your identity when your body is only a composition of bones, ribs, flesh and blood, and not yourself? 6 Being viewed in its true light, there is nothing as “myself” or “yourself.” A fallacy of our understanding makes me think of me as Punya and you as Pavana. 7 Who is your father and who is the son? Who is your mother and who your friend? One Supreme Self pervades all infinity. Who do you call the self and who the not self?
8 If you are a spiritual substance and have undergone many births, then you have had many friends and properties in your past lives. Why do you not think of them also? 9 You had many friends in flowery fields where you pastured in your former form of a stag. Why do you not think of those deer who were once your dear companions? 10 Why do you not lament for your lost swan companions in the pleasant pool of lotuses where you did dive and swim about in the form of a gander? 11 Why not lament your fellow trees in the forest where you once stood as a stately tree? 12 You had lion comrades on the rugged mountain crags. Why do you not lament them also? 13 You had many mates among the fish in clear lakes decked with lotuses. Why not lament your separation from them?
14 You were a monkey in the grey and green woods of the country of Dasarna. You were a prince in land of frost and a raven in the woods of Pundra. 15 You were an elephant in the land of Haihayas and an ass in that of Trigarta. You became a dog in the country of Salya and a bird in the woods of sarala trees. 16 You have been a pipal tree in the Vindhyan Mountains and a wood insect in a large oak tree. You were a cock on Mandara Mountain, then born as a brahmin in one of its caves. 17 You were a brahmin in Kosala and a partridge in Bengal. You were a horse in the snowy land and a beast in the sacred ground of Brahma at Pushkara. 18 You were an insect in the trunk of a palm tree, a gnat in a big tree, and a crane in the woods of Vindhya. Now you are my younger brother.
19 You have been an ant for six months and lain within the thin bark of a bhugpetera tree in a glen of the Himalayan hills. Now you are born as my younger brother. 20 You have been a centipede in a dunghill at a distant village where you lived for a year and half. Now you have become my younger brother. 21 Once you were the child of a Pulinda tribal woman and you lived on her breasts like the honey sucking bee on the core of a lotus. That same person is now my younger brother.
22 In this manner, my boy, you were born in many other shapes and had to wander all about Asia for numberless of years. And now are you my younger brother.
23 Thus I see the past states of your existence caused by the prior desires of your soul. I see all this by my clear discernment and all-viewing sight. 24 I also remember several births that I had to undergo in my state of ignorance, which I see clearly before my enlightened sight.
25 I was a parrot in the land of Trigarta and a frog at the beach of a river. I became a small bird in a forest and was then born in these woods. 26 Having been a Pulinda hunter in Vindhya, then a tree in Bengal, and afterwards a camel in the Vindhya range. I am at last born in this forest. 27 I, who have been a chataka cuckoo in the Himalayas and a prince in Paundra province, then a mighty tiger in the forests of Sahya Hill, am now become your elder brother. 28 He who had been a vulture for ten years, a shark for five months, and a lion for a full century is now your elder brother in this place. 29 I was a chakora wood in the village of Andhara, a ruler in the snowy regions, then a proud son of a priest named Sailacharya in a hilly region.
30 I remember the various customs and pursuits of different peoples on earth that I had to observe and follow in my repeated reincarnations among them. 31 In those different lives, I had many fathers and mothers and many more brothers and sisters, and also friends and relatives numbering hundreds and thousands. 32 For whom shall I lament and which shall I forget among this number? Shall I wail only for those I lose in this life? But these also are to be buried in oblivion like the rest, and such is the course of the world. 33Numberless fathers have gone by, and unnumbered mothers also have passed away and died. Innumerable generations of men have perished and disappeared, like withered leaves falling off.
34 There are no bounds, my boy, to our pleasures and pains in this terrestrial world. Lay them all aside and let us remain unmindful of all existence. 35 Forsake your thoughts of false appearances, relinquish your firm conviction of your own ego, and look to that ultimate course which has led the learned to their final blessing. 36 For what is this commotion of people except a struggle to rise and fall? Therefore strive for neither, but live regardless of both like an indifferent sage. 37 Live free from your cares of existence and nonexistence. Then you shall be free from your fears of decay and death. Remember calmly your self alone. Do not be like the ignorant. Do not allow anything or any accident to move you from your self possession.
38 Know that you have no birth nor death, no fortune or sorrow of any kind, no father or mother, and no friend or foe anywhere. You are only your pure spirit. You have nothing of an unspiritual nature.
39 The world is a stage that presents many acts and scenes. Only those play their parts well who are excited neither by its passions and feelings. 40 Those who are indifferent in their views have their quietude amidst all the occurrences of life. Those who have known the true One remain only to witness the course of nature. 41 Those who know God do their acts without thinking themselves their actors, just as the lamps of night witness the objects around without their consciousness of them. 42 The wise witness the objects as they are reflected in the mirror of their minds, just as a mirror and gems receive the images of things.
43 Now my boy, rub out all your wishes and visible signs of memories from your mind and see the image of the serene spirit of God in your innermost soul. Learn to live like the great sages, with the sight of your spiritual light and by effacing all false impressions from your mind.
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Chapter 21 — Suppression of Desires by Suppression of Thoughts
1 Vasishta continued:— Pavana, having been lectured by Punya in this manner, became as enlightened in his intellect as the landscape at daybreak. 2 After, they continued living in that forest with the perfection of their spiritual knowledge. They wandered about in the woods to their hearts content. 3 After a long time, they both attained nirvana and rested in their disembodied state of nirvana, like a lamp without oil wasting away of itself.
4 Thus is the end of men’s great boasts of having large crowds of followers and numberless friends in their embodied states of lifetime. Alas, they carry nothing with them to their afterlife, nor do they leave anything behind which they can properly call theirs.
5 The best means of release from the many objects of our desires is the utter suppression of our desires, rather than fostering them. 6 Yearning after objects increases our desire, just as our thinking of something increases our thoughts about it. Fire that burns bright from its fuel soon dies out without it.
7 Now rise, O Rama, and remain aloft as in your aerial car by losing your worldly desires. Look from above with pity upon the miseries of groveling mortals. 8 This is the divine state known as the position of Brahma, which looks from above with unconcerned serenity upon all. By gaining this state, the ignorant are also freed from misery.
9 One walking with reason as his companion, and having good understanding for his consort, is not liable to fall into the dangerous traps that lie hidden in his way throughout life. 10 Being deprived of all properties and destitute of friends, one has no other help to lift him up in his adversity except his own patience and reliance upon God. 11 Let men elevate their minds with learning, dispassion, and the virtues of self-dignity and valor in order to rise above the difficulties of the world.
12 There is no greater good to be derived by any means than by the greatness of mind. It gives security which no wealth or earthly treasure can confer on men. 13 It is only men of weak and crazy minds who are made to swing to and fro, rising and sinking in the tempestuous ocean of the world. 14 The mind filled with knowledge and full with the light of truth finds the world filled with ambrosial water, and moves over it as easily as a man walking on dry shoes, or on a ground covered with leather.
15 Lack of desire fills the mind much more than the fulfillment of its desires. Dry up the channels of desires like autumn heat parches a pool. 16 Otherwise, desires empty the heart and lay open its gaps to be filled by air. The hearts of the greedy are as dry as the bed of the dead sea that was drained by Agasti (son of Agastya).
17 The spacious garden of the human heart flourishes with the fruit of humanity and greatness only as long as the restless ape of greed does not infest its fair trees. 18 The mind devoid of greed views the triple world with the twinkling of an eye. The comprehensive mind sees all space and time as infinitesimally small compared to its conception of the infinite Brahman with itself.
19 The coolness in the mind of a man who is not greedy is not found in the watery luminary of the moon, or in the icy caverns of the snow-capped Himalayas. Neither the coldness of plantain juice nor sandalwood paste is comparable with the cool headedness of one without desire.
20 The mind that does not desire shines more brightly than the full moon and more brilliantly than the bright face of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
21 The urchin of appetite darkens the mind like a cloud obscures the moon, and like black ink obliterates a fair picture. 22 The tree of desire stretches its branches far and wide on every side, darkening the mind with their gloomy shadows. 23 When the branching tree of desire is cut down at its roots, the plant of patience which was stunted under it shoots forth in a hundred branches. 24 When the unfading tree of patience takes the place of the uprooted desires, it produces the tree of paradise that yields the fruit of immortality.
25 O well-intentioned Rama, if you do not allow the sprouts of mental desires to germinate in your bosom, then you have nothing to fear in this world. 26 When you become sober-minded after moderating your heart’s desires, you will have the plant of liberation growing in its full luxuriance in your heart. 27 When the grasping owl of desire nestles in your mind, it is sure you will be invaded by every evil which the foreboding bird brings on its home.
28 Thinking is the power of the mind and thoughts dwell upon the objects of desire. Therefore abandon your thoughts and their objects and be happy with your thoughtlessness of everything. 29 Anything that depends on any faculty is lost upon inaction of that faculty. Therefore by suppression of your thoughts you can put down your desires and thereby have rest and peace of mind.
30 Be free minded, O Rama, by tearing off all your mind’s worldly ties. Become a great soul by suppressing your mean desires of earthly frailties. For who is not set free by being loosened from the chains of desire that bind his mind to this earth?
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Chapter 22 — The Story of Mahabali, the Benevolent King of Demons, and His Father Virochana
1 Vasishta said:—
O Rama who is the bright moon of Raghu’s race, you should also follow the example of Bali in acquiring wisdom by self-discernment.
2 Rama said, “Venerable sage who is acquainted with all natures, it is by your favor that I have gained all that is worth gaining in my heart, and that is our final rest in the purest state of infinite bliss. 3 O sage, it is by your favor that my mind is freed from the great delusion of my many desires, just as the autumn sky is cleared of the rainy season clouds. 4 My soul is at rest and as cold as a stone. It is filled with the ambrosial nectar of divine knowledge and its holy light. I find myself resting in perfect bliss and as illumined as the queen of the stars rising in her full light in the evening.
5 O you dispeller of my doubts who resembles the clear autumn sky that clears the clouds of the rainy season, I am never full or satisfied with all your holy teachings. 6 For the advancement of my knowledge, tell me how Bali came to know transcendental truth. Explain it fully unto me, as holy saints reserve nothing from their humble students.
7 Vasishta replied:—
O Rama, pay attention to the interesting story of Bali. Your attention to it will give you knowledge of the endless, everlasting and unvarying truth.
8 In a particular part in the womb below this earth there is a place called the infernal region. 9 It is peopled by milk-white goddesses born in the sweet water of the Milky Ocean. They are of the race of demons and they filled every gap and chasm of this place with their offspring. 10 In some places it was peopled by huge serpents with a hundred and thousand heads that hissed loudly with their parted and forked tongues and long fangs. 11 In other places there were mountainous bodies of demons walking in lofty strides, seemingly able to fling worlds like candy and devour them. 12 In another place there were big elephants holding up the earth on their raised trunks and supporting islands on their strong, long tusks. 13 In other places there were ghosts and devils making hideous shrieks and noise. There were groups of hellish bodies and putrid carcasses of ghostly shapes.
14 Concealed in the dark womb of the nether world depths were rich mines of gems and metals reaching to the seventh and lowest layer the infernal regions.
15 Another part of this place was sanctified by the dust of the lotus-like feet of the divine sage Kapila who was adored by gods and demigods who prostrated their exalted heads at his holy feet. 16 Another part of it was presided by the god Shiva in his form of a golden Shivalinga which was worshipped by lady demons with abundant offerings and merry revelries.
17 Bali, the son of Virochana, ruled in this place as the king of demons. He supported the burden of his kingdom on the pillars of the demons’ mighty arms. 18 He forced the gods, the supernatural vidyadharas, the serpents, and even the king of the gods to serve at his feet like his vassal retinue, and they were glad to serve him as their lord. 19 He was protected by Vishnu who contains the shining worlds in the treasure of his belly (brahmanda), and who is the preserver of all embodied beings, and the support of the sovereigns of the earth.
20 The name Bali struck terror in the heart of Airavata, the elephant that bears Indra, making his cheeks fade with fear, just as the sound of a peacock petrifies the insides of serpents. 21 The intense heat of his valor dried up the waters of the sevenfold oceans of the earth and turned them into seven dry beds, as under the fire of the universal conflagration. 22 But the smoke of his sacrificial fire was like a charm supplying people with water. It caused the rains to fall as profusely from above as the seas below contain waters from above. 23 His frown made the high heads of mountains stoop low to the ground and caused the lofty skies to lower with water, like the high branches of trees when overloaded with fruit.
24 This mighty monarch, after he had made an easy conquest of all the treasures and luxuries of the world, ruled over the demons for myriads of years. 25 Thus he lived for many ages that glided on like the course of a river rolling about in whirlpools. He witnessed the constant flux and reflux of generations of gods, demons and men in the three worlds.
6 At last, the king of the demons felt a distaste for all the enjoyments of life that he had tasted to excess. He also felt an uneasiness amidst the variety of his pleasures. 27 He retired to the farthest polar mount of Meru. There, sitting on a ledge of one of its shining heights, he reflected on the state of this world and the vanity of mortal life.
Bali thinking to himself:—
28 How much longer shall I have to rule over this world with my untiring labor? How much more must I remain to roam about the triple world in my successive reincarnations?29 Of what use is it to me to have this unrivaled sovereignty, which is a wonder in the three worlds. Of what good is it for me to enjoy this abundant luxury, so charming to the senses? 30 Of what permanent delight are all these pleasures to me? They are pleasant only for the present short time and within a moment they are sure to lose all their taste and my zest for them.
31 There is the same rotation of days and nights in unvarying succession, and the same acts repeated day after day. To continue in the same unvaried course of life for a great length of time is rather shameful and in no way pleasant to anyone. 32 The same embraces of our beloved and eating the same food day by day are amusements fit only for playful children. They are disgraceful and disgusting to great minds.
33 What man of taste will not be disgusted to taste the same sweets that he has tasted over and over again and which have become vapid and tasteless today? What sensible man can continue in the same course without feelings of shame and remorse? 34 The revolving days and nights bring the same revolution of duties. I imagine this constant repetition of the same acts is as ridiculous to the wise as chewing ground meat. 35 The actions of men are like those of waves that rise to fall, then rise again to subside in the waters. 36 Repetition of the same act is the occupation of mad men. A wise man would be laughed at if he kept repeating the same sound, like children conjugating a verb in all its moods, tenses and inflexions.
37 What action is there that once completed does not reoccur, but crowns its actor with his full success all at once? 38 Or if this bustle of the world were for a short duration only, yet what is the good that we can derive from engaging in this commotion? 39 The course of actions is as interminable as the ceaseless repetition of boyish sports. It is hollow harping on the same string. The more the string is played, the more it reverberates its hollow sound.
40 I see no such gain from any of our actions. I see nothing that being once gained may prevent our further efforts. 41 What can our actions bring beside the objects of sense gratification? They cannot bring about anything that is imperishable.
Saying so, Bali fell into a trance (samadhi) of his profound meditation. 42 Then, coming to himself, he thought, “Ah! I remember now what I had heard from my father.” So thinking he stretched his eyebrows and gave expression to what he thought in his mind.
Bali thinking to himself:—
43 I had asked my father Virochana, who was versed in spiritual knowledge and acquainted with the manners of the people of former and later ages, 44 “What is that ultimate state of being where all our pains and pleasures cease to exist, and after its attainment we have no more to wander about the world or pass through repeated reincarnations? 45What is that final state towards which all our endeavors are directed, where our minds are freed from their error, and where, after all our wanderings and reincarnations, we obtain our full rest? 46 What is that best of gains which gives full satisfaction to the cravings of the soul? What is that glorious object whose sight transcends all other objects of vision?”
47 “All those various luxuries and superfluities of the world are in no way conducive to our real happiness because they mislead the mind to error and corrupt the souls of even the wisest of men. 48 Therefore, O father, show me that state of imperishable joy whereby I may attain everlasting repose and tranquility.”
49 I remember my father was sitting under the shade of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of paradise, whose flowers were fairer far than the bright moonbeams covered the ground all around. He spoke to me in his sweet mellifluous accents the following speech, for the purpose of removing my error.
Chapter 23 — Virochana’s Story about the Ruler’s (Soul’s) Undefeatable Minister (the Mind)
1 Virochana (Bali’s father) said:— My son, somewhere in this universe there is an extensive country with a spacious sky whose ample space is able to hold thousands of worlds and many more spheres in it. 2 It is without the wide oceans and seas and high mountains that are here on this earth. It has no forest, river or lake or any holy pilgrimage place as you see here below. 3 There is no land or sky. There is no heavenly body in its sky, nor are there these suns and moons, or the rulers of the spheres, or their inhabitants of gods and demons. 4 There are no races of yakshas and rakshas, or those tribes of plants and trees, woods or grass, or the moving and immovable beings as you see upon the earth. 5 There is no water, no land, no fire and no air. There are no sides of the compass, nor regions you call above and below. There is no light or shadow, nor are there any peoples, or the gods Vishnu, Indra and Shiva, nor any of the lesser gods or demigods there.
6 There is a great sovereign of that place who is full of indefinable light. He is the creator of all and pervades all, and is all in all, but quite quiescent in all places and things. 7 He elected a minister who was clever in administration, brought about what was impossible to be done, and prevented all mishaps from coming to pass. 8 The minister neither ate nor drank, nor did he know anything besides minding and doing his master’s commands. In all other respects he was as inactive as a block of stone. 9 He conducted every business for his master who remained quite retired from all business, enjoying his rest and ease in his seclusion and leaving all his concerns to be managed by his minister.
10 Bali said, “Tell me sage, what place is that which is devoid of all population and free from all disease and difficulty? Who knows that place and how can anyone reach it? 11 Who is that ruler of sovereign power and who is that minister of so great might? Who, being quite apart from the world, is inseparably connected with it and is invincible by our almighty demonic power? 12 Tell me, O terror of the gods, this marvelous story of the great might of that minister in order to remove the cloud of doubt from my mind. Why he is unconquerable by us?”
13 Virochana replied:— Know my son, this mighty minister cannot be overcome even by a gigantic force of asura giants, even if they were aided by millions of demons fighting on their side. 14 He is invincible, my son, by the god of a thousand eyes (Indra), and also by the gods of riches (Kubera) and death (Yama) who conquer all. Neither immortals nor giants can ever overpower him by their might.
15 All weapons are defeated in their attempt to hurt him. Swords, mallets, spears, bolts, discs and cudgels hurled against him are broken to pieces as if striking against solid rock. 16 He is unapproachable by missiles, invulnerable to arms and weapons, and cannot be taken by the dexterity of warriors. It is by his resistless might that he has brought gods and demigods under his subjection.
17 It was he who defeated our forefathers, the mighty Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha, before they were destroyed by the great Vishnu who felled the giant asuras like a storm breaks down sturdy and rock-like oaks. 18 The gods Narayana and others (who had been the instructors of men) were all defeated by him and confined in their cells in the wombs of their mothers (by a curse of sage Bhrigu who denounced them to become incarnate in human forms). 19 It is by his favor that Kama, the god with his flower bow and five arrows, has been enabled to subdue and overcome the three worlds and boasts of being their sole emperor. 20 The gods and demigods, the intelligent and the foolish, the deformed and the irascible are all moved by his influence. 21 The repeated wars between the gods and demons are the sports of this minister.
22 This minister is only manageable by its lord, the silent soul, or else it is as dull as an immovable rock or restless as the wind. 23 For the soul’s advancement in spiritual knowledge, it feels a desire to subdue its minister who otherwise is uncontrollable through lenient measures.
24 You are said to be valiant if you can conquer this greatest of the giants in the three worlds who has been worrying all people out of their breath. 25 After the rising of consciousness, the world appears as a flower-garden, like a lake of blooming lotuses at sunrise. The setting of consciousness covers the world in darkness like at sunset. 26 It is only by the aid of your intellect and by removal of your ignorance that you can subdue this minister and be famed for your wisdom.
27 By subduing this minister, you become the conqueror of the world, though you are no victor of it. By not subjugating this minister, you can have no subjection over the world, though you may be the master of it. 28 Therefore to effect your perfect consummation and to secure your everlasting happiness, be diligent to overcome this minister by your best and most ardent exertions.
29 It is easy for he who has been able to subdue this minister by his superior might to overcome the triple world and keep all its beings of gods and demons, the bodies of naagas and men, the races of yakshas and rakshas, and the tribes of serpents and kinnaras.
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Chapter 24 — Virochana on Mind Control: Hiring Teachers and Practicing Reason & Detachment; and Realization
1 Bali said, “Sage, tell me plainly. Who is this minister that is so mighty? How can such a mighty being be defeated and brought under subjection?”
2 Virochana replied:— Though that minister is invincible and stands above all in his great might, yet I will tell you way in which he may be overcome by you or anyone else.
3 Son, if you employ the proper means, it is easy to bring him under subjection. Otherwise, he will have the upper hand over you like a snake’s poison that is not timely repelled by efficacious mantras and incantations. 4 The ministerial mind, if it is brought up like a boy in the right way, leads a man to the presence of the sovereign soul, like royal service advancing the civil servant before his king. 5 The appearance of the master makes the minister disappear from sight, just as the disappearance of the minister brings one to the full view of his king. 6 As long as one does not approach the presence of his king, he cannot fail to serve the minister, and as long as he is employed in service of the minister, he cannot come in sight of his king. 7 The king being kept out of sight, the minister is seen to exercise his might, but the minister kept out of view, the king alone appears in full view.
8 Therefore must we begin with the practice of both these exercises at once, namely, approaching by degrees to the sight of the king, and gradually slighting the authority of the minister. 9 You must use courageous and diligent effort for both these practices in order to arrive at the state of your well being. 10 When you are successful in your practice, you are sure to reach that blissful country. Though you are a prince of the demons, nothing can prevent your entrance to it. 11 That is a place where the blessed live whose desires are at rest and whose doubts are dissipated, and whose hearts are filled with perpetual joy and calmness.
12 Now my son, hear me explain what that place is which I called a country. It is the seat of liberation and where there is an end of all our pains. 13 The king of that place is the soul of divine essence which transcends all other substances. It is the soul that appoints the mind as its wise minister.
14 The mind contains the ideal world in its bosom and exhibits its conscious form to the senses, just as a clay mold for a pot is a model of the pot, and as smoke has the pattern of a cloud in its essence and represents its shadowy forms in the sky. 15 Therefore, when the mind is conquered, everything is subdued and brought under subjection. But without adopting the proper means for its subjugation, the mind is invincible.
16 Bali asked, “Sage, how are we to quell the mind? Tell me plainly so that I may use that method to conquer this invincible barrier to bliss.”
17 Virochana answered:— The means for subduing the mind are the lack of reliance or confidence in all external and sensible things, and the absence of all desire for temporal possessions.
18 This is the best method to remove the great delusion of this world and to subdue the big elephant of the mind. 19 This method is both very easy and practicable on one hand, as it is arduous and impracticable on the other. A constant habit of thinking so makes it easy, but lacking the habit renders it difficult.
20 A gradual habit of renouncing our fondness for temporal objects shows itself in time in our resignation of the world, just as continuous watering the roots of plants makes them grow into large trees. 21 It is difficult to master anything, even by the most cunning, without proper cultivation over time, just as it is impossible to reap a harvest from an unsown and uncultivated field.
22 All embodied souls are destined to wander about the wilderness of the world as long as their hearts do not surrender their attachments to the objects of sense in nature. 23Without the habit of apathy, it is impossible to have a distaste for sensible objects, just as it is impossible for an able bodied man to travel abroad by sitting motionless at home. 24The firm determination to abandon the entanglements of life and a habitual aversion to pleasures and enjoyments make a man advance to purity, just as a plant grows in open air to its full height.
25 There is no good to be derived on earth without the exertion of one’s courage. Man must give up his pleasure and the vexation of his spirit in order to reap the fruit of his actions. 26 People speak of destiny as if it were a power, yet destiny has no shape or form. It means whatever comes to pass, and it is also called our lot or fate. 27 The word destiny is also used by men to describe an accident over which they have no control and to which they submit with passive obedience. 28 They use the word destiny to repress our joy and grief. But destiny, however fixed as fate, is overcome and set aside by means of courageous efforts.
29 As the delusion of a mirage is dispelled by the light of its true nature, so courageous effort upsets destiny by effecting whatever it wishes to bring about. 30 If we want to know what causes the good or bad results of our actions, we must learn that they turn as the mind wishes to mold them to being. 31 Whatever the mind desires and decrees, the same becomes destiny. There is nothing destined in the ordinary sense of the word. 32 It is the mind that does all this. The mind is the employer of destiny. The mind destines the destined acts of destiny.
33 Life, the living soul, is spread out in the hollow sphere of the world like air in vacuum. The psychic fluid circulates through all space. 34 Destiny is no reality, only a label invented to express the property of fixity, as the word rock is used to denote stability. Hence, as long as the mind retains its free will and activity, there is no fixed fate or destiny.
35 After the mind is set at rest, there remains the principle of the living soul (jiva). This is called the embodied spirit (purusha) which is the source of the energies of the body and mind. 36 Whatever the living soul intends to do by means of its spiritual force, the same comes to take place and nothing else. 37 Reliance on this spiritual power will uproot your dependence on bodily food. There is no hope for spiritual happiness until there is a distaste towards temporal enjoyments. 38 It is hard to attain the dignity of the all conquering self-sufficiency as long as one has the dastardly spirit of his earthly cravings. 39 As long as one is swinging in the cradle of worldly affairs, it is hard to find rest in the covered shelter of peaceful tranquility. 40It is hard to get rid of your serpentine desires without continued practice of detachment and unconcern with worldly affairs.
41 Bali replied, “Tell me, O lord of demons, how does indifference to worldly enjoyments take deep root in the human heart and produce the fruit of longevity of the embodied spirit on earth?”
42 Virochana replied:— The sight of the inner spirit produces indifference to worldly things, just as the growth of vines produces grapes in autumn. 43 The sight of the inner spirit produces our internal unconcern with the world, just as the glance of the rising sun infuses its brightness in the cup of the lotus.
44 Therefore sharpen your intellect with the whetstone of right reasoning. See the Supreme Spirit by withdrawing your mind from worldly enjoyments.
45 There are two modes of intellectual enjoyment for those who are imperfect in their knowledge. One consists of book learning. The other is paying attention to the teacher’s lectures. 46 Those who are a little advanced in learning have the double advantage of their mental enjoyment, namely, reflecting on book learning and consultation with wise teachers on practical points. 47 Those who are accomplished in learning also have two parts to their duties, namely, the profession of teaching the scriptures to others and the practice of detachment for themselves.
48 The soul being purified, a man is fit for spiritual learning, as only clean linen is fit to receive every good color.
49 Like a boy on the path of learning, the mind is to be restrained by degrees by means of persuasion and good lectures, and then by teaching scriptures, and lastly by discussion of their doctrines. 50 After its perfection in learning and the dispersion of all difficulties and doubts, the mind shines like a piece of pure crystal and emits its brightness like cooling moonbeams. 51 Then, by its complete knowledge and clear understanding, it sees in both its God, the Spirit, and its body as the seat of its enjoyments on earth. 52 It constantly sees Spirit before it by means of its understanding and reason, which also help it relinquish its desire for worldly objects and enjoyments.
53 The sight of the Spirit eliminates desires, and the absence of desires brings the light of Spirit to sight. Therefore they are related to each other like wick and oil produce lamplight to dispel the night’s darkness. 54 After one loses his taste for worldly enjoyments, and after sight of the Supreme Spirit, the soul finds its perpetual rest in the essence of the Supreme Brahman. 55 The living souls who place their happiness in worldly objects can never taste true joy unless they rely completely on the Supreme Spirit. 56 It may be possible to derive some delight from acts of charity, sacrifices and holy pilgrimage, but none of these can give the everlasting rest of the Spirit.
57 No one feels a distaste for pleasure unless he examines its nature and effects in himself. Nothing can teach the way of seeing the soul unless the soul reflects on itself. 58 My boy, that which requires no effort to attain is of no good whatsoever. There is no true happiness without the surrender of earthly enjoyments.
59 The supreme joy of resting in the state of Brahman cannot be found anywhere in creation, whether in this mundane sphere or anywhere else beyond these spheres. 60Therefore always expect that your soul will find its rest in the Divine Spirit. Rely on the exertion of your courage and leave aside your dependence on the eventualities of destiny.61 A wise man detests all worldly enjoyments as if they are the strong bolts locking the door of bliss. It is the settled aversion to earthly pleasures that brings a man to his right reason.
62 As the increasing gloom of rain clouds is followed by the serenity of autumn skies, so clear reasoning comes after detestation of enjoyments that flee with the advance of reason. 63 As seas and the clouds of heaven help one another by lending each other their waters, so right reasoning and apathy to pleasures tend to produce each other by turns.64 Disbelief in destiny and courageous efforts follow each another, as helping one another follows friendship.
65 You must grit your teeth to create a distaste even for those things you acquired legally according to the customs of your country. 66 First you must acquire your wealth through courageous effort, then get good and clever men in your company by means of your wealth. 67 Association with the wise, by exciting the reasoning power, produces an aversion to the sensual enjoyments of life which in turn produces an increase of knowledge and learning. 68 These lead gradually to the utter renunciation of worldly objects. 69Then, by means of your reasoning, you attain that supreme state of perfect rest and holiness of your soul. 70 You will no longer fall into the mud of your misconceptions, but as a pure essence, you will no depend upon anything and you will become as the venerable Shiva.
71 Thus the steps to attain perfection are first, the acquisition of wealth according to the custom of the caste and country, then its employment in the service of wise and learned men. Next follows your abandonment of the world, which is succeeded by your attainment of Spiritual Knowledge by the cultivation of your reasoning powers.
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Chapter 25 — Bali Reflects on What His Father Virochana Had Taught
1 Bali thought to himself:— In this manner did my wise father advised me on this subject. Fortunately I remember this now for the enlightenment of my understanding. 2 It is now that I feel my aversion to the enjoyments of life. Now by my good luck I come to perceive the bliss of tranquility, like the clear and cooling ambrosial drink of heavenly bliss. 3 I am tired of all my possessions. I am weary of my continued accumulation of wealth to satisfy my endless desires. The life-long care of family has also grown tiresome to me.
4 But how charming is this peace and tranquility of my soul, which is quite even and all cool within itself. Here all our pleasures and pains meet upon the same level of equality and detachment.
5 I am quite unconcerned with anything and I am highly delighted with my indifference to all things. I am gladdened within myself as by the beams of the full moon. I feel the orb of the full moon rising within myself.
6 O, the trouble of acquiring riches! It is attended by the loud bustle of the world, agitation of the mind, burning of the heart, and fatigue of the body. It is accompanied by constant anxiety and affliction of the heart. 7 The limbs and flesh of the body are smashed by labor. All the physical exercises that once pleased me now seem like the long and lost labors of my former ignorance.
8 I have seen the sights of whatever was worth seeing. I have enjoyed enjoyments without limit. I have overcome all beings. But what is the good of all this? 9 There is only a reiteration of the very same things that I had there, here and elsewhere. Nowhere do I find anything new, anything that I had not seen or known before.
10 By resigning everything and its thought from my mind, I am now sitting here in full possession of myself. I find nothing whatever, not even any thought forms any component part of me.
11 The best things in heaven above, on the earth, and in this infernal region are reckoned to be women and wealth, but the cruel hand of time destroys or wastes all these sooner or later. 12 All this time I have acted foolishly by waging a continuous struggle with the gods for the sake of trifling worldly possessions. 13 What is this phantom of the world? It is only a creation of the brain. Great souls take no delight in it whatsoever. Then what is the harm of forsaking it forever?
14 Alas! I have spent such a large portion of my lifetime pursuing trifles in the ignorant giddiness of my mind. 15 My unsteady and fluctuating desires have led me to do many foolish acts in this world of odds and trifles, which now fill me with remorse and regret. 16 But it is vain to be overwhelmed by the sad thoughts of the past when I should use my courageous efforts to improve the present. 17 By reflecting on the eternal cause of the endless infinity of souls in the Soul one can attain his perfect joy, just as the gods got ambrosia from the Milky Ocean.
18 To expel my ignorance in these matters, I most consult my teacher Shukra concerning the ego, the soul, spiritual vision, and the Soul of souls. 19 I must refer these questions to the most venerable Shukra, who is always uncritical of his favorites. By his advice, I possibly shall settle in the highest perfection of seeing the Supreme Spirit in my spirit. Because the words of the wise are always filled with full meaning and are fruitful of the desired object.
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Chapter 26 — Shukra Teaches Bali that All Is Consciousness
1 Vasishta said:— So saying the mighty Bali closed his eyes and thought upon the lotus-eyed Shukra living in his heavenly abode. 2 Shukra, who was sitting intently meditating on the all-pervading spirit of God, came to know in his mind that he was remembered by his disciple Bali in his city. 3 Then Shukra, the son of Bhrigu whose soul was united with the all-pervading infinite and omniscient Spirit, descended with his heavenly body to the shining window of Bali.
4 Bali knew the body of his teacher by its brightness, just as the lotus flower perceives the rising sun by his dawning beams. 5 He honored his guru by adoring his feet on a seat decked with gems, and garlanding his guide with mandara flowers. 6 As Shukra sat and took his rest from the labor of his journey, his body was strewn with offerings of gems and his head covered with heaps of mandara flowers.
Bali addressed Shukra, 7 “Venerable sage, your illustrious presence emboldens me to address you, as the morning sunbeams send all mankind to their daily work. 8 Sage, I have come to feel an aversion towards all kinds of worldly enjoyments that produce the delusion of our souls. I want to know the truth about it so I can dispel my ignorance of myself. 9In short, sage, tell me what are these enjoyments good for? How long do they extend? What in reality am I, you, or these other people?”
10 Shukra answered:— I can not tell you in length about it as I soon have to return to my place in the sky. Hear me, O monarch of demons, briefly say this much for now.
11There is truly only consciousness in reality. All other existence is truly consciousness and full of consciousness. The mind is consciousness, and I, you, and these people are collectively the same consciousness. 12 If you are wise, know you derive everything from this universal Consciousness. Otherwise, all gifts of fortune are as useless to you as offerings of butter on (ordinary) ashes.
13 The trap of the mind is to see consciousness as something thinkable, an object of thought. What confers liberation to the soul is the belief that consciousness is free and incomprehensible. 14 Knowing this for certain, look on everything in the same way. See the Spirit in your spirit in order to arrive at the state of Infinite Spirit.
15 I must immediately return to the sky where the Seven Rishis (saptarshis) are assembled and where I must continue performing my divine service.
16 I tell you, O king, that as long as you are in your body, you must not abstain from your duties, though your mind may be free from everything.
Vasishta speaking:— 17 So saying, Shukra flew like a bee smeared with the powdery gold dust of the lotus to the golden roof of heaven. He passed through the watery path of waving clouds to where the revolving planets were ready to receive him.
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Chapter 27 — Bali’s Detachment
1 Vasishta said:— After Shukra, the son of Bhrigu and senior in the assembly of gods and demigods, made his departure, Bali, the best among the intelligent, reflected in this way.
Bali thinking to himself:—
2 Truly the seer said that Consciousness composes the three worlds, that I am this Consciousness, and Consciousness fills all the quarters and shows itself in all our actions. 3 It is Consciousness which pervades the inside and outside of everything. There is nothing anywhere which is without Consciousness. 4 It is Consciousness that perceives sunbeams and moonlight, or else, had not there been this intellectual perception, there would be no distinction between them and darkness.
5 If there were no intellectual perception as this earth is land, then there would be no distinction between earth and water, nor would the word earth apply to land. 6 If consciousness could not understand vast space as the quarters of the sky, and the mountains as vast bulges on earth, then who could call the sides of space and mountains by those names? 7 If the world were not known as the world and the vacuum as emptiness, then who could distinguish them by the names that are in common use? 8 If this big body was not perceived by consciousness, how could we properly call the bodies of embodied beings by their names?
9 Consciousness resides in every organ of sense. It dwells in the body, mind and all its desires. Consciousness is in the internal and external parts of the body. Consciousness is all that is in existence and non-existence. 10 Consciousness forms my whole self by its feeling and knowing everything that I feel and know. Otherwise, without guidance of consciousness, I cannot perceive or conceive or do anything with my body.
11 Of what value is my body which is inert and unconscious as a block of wood? Consciousness makes my self and the intelligent spirit is the Universal Soul. 12 I am the intellect which resides in the sun and in the sky. I am the consciousness which dwells in the bodies of all beings. I am the same intellect which guides the gods and demigods, and dwells alike in bodies that move and don’t move.
13 Consciousness being the sole existence, it is in vain to suppose anything besides. There being nothing otherwise, there can be no difference between friend or foe to us. 14What if I, Bali, strike off a person’s head from his body? I can not injure the soul which is everywhere and fills all space. 15 Feelings of love and hatred are properties of consciousness (Soul). These feelings are not separated from the soul by its separation from the body. Hence passions and feelings are inseparable from Consciousness or soul.
16 There is nothing to be thought of beside Consciousness. There is nothing to be obtained anywhere, except from the spacious womb of Consciousness which comprehends all the three worlds. 17 But passions and feelings, the mind and its powers, are mere attributes and not properties of Consciousness. Consciousness, being altogether a simple and pure essence, is free from every attribute.
18 Consciousness (chit) is the Ego, the omnipresent, the all pervasive and ever blissful soul. It is beyond all other attributes, and without duality or parts.
19 The term Consciousness (chit) as applied to the nameless power of reasoning (chiti) is only a verbal symbol signifying the omniscient Intelligence manifest in all places. 20The Intellect (chit) is the Supreme Lord that is ever awake and sees all things without manifesting any appearance of himself. He is purely transparent and beyond all visible appearances.
21 All its attributes are lame, partial and imperfect. Even time, which has its phases and parts, is not a proper attribute for it. It is only a glimpse of its light that rises before us, but the eternal and infinite light is beyond our comprehension. 22 I must think of Consciousness only in the form of light within my own self. I must know it apart from all other phenomena and thoughts, quite aloof from all shades and colors.
23 I salute His identical form of Consciousness and the power of Reasoning, unaccompanied by the intelligible and employed in its proper sphere. 24 I salute that light of His in me, which represents everything to me, which is beyond all thought, and which is of the form of Consciousness going everywhere and filling all space. 25 It is the quiet consciousness of all beings, the real Intellect and the Great. Consciousness (chit) is as infinite as space, yet more minute than an atom and spreading in all alike.
26 I am not subject to the states of pleasure and pain. I am conscious of my self and of no other existence beside myself. I am Consciousness without the phenomena spread out before me. 27 No worldly entity or non-entity can work any change in me, for the possession of worldly objects would destroy me at once (by their separating my soul from God).
28 In my opinion, there can be nothing that is distinct from me when we know all things are produced from the same source. 29 What one gets or loses is no gain or loss to any, because the same Ego always abides in all and is the maker of all pervading everywhere. 30 Whether I am any thought object or not, it matters little for me to know because Consciousness is always a single thing, though its phenomena are endless.
31 As long as my soul is not united with the Divine Spirit, I am in sorrow.
Vasishta speaking:— So reasoning, the most discerning Bali fell to a deep meditation. 32 He reflected on the half mantra of Om, a symbol of Infinite God. He sat quietly with all his desires and fancies lying dormant in him. 33 He sat undismayed by suppressing his thoughts and his thinking powers within him. He remained with his subdued desires, after having lost consciousness of his meditation, of being the person meditating, and of the object of meditation (i.e., nirvikalpa samadhi).
34 While Bali was entranced in this manner, at the window decorated with gems, he became illumined in his mind like a lamp flame unshaken by the wind. He remained long in his steady posture, like a statue carved of a stone. 35 He sat with his mind as clear as the autumn sky after having cast off all his desires and mental anxieties, filled within himself with his spiritual light.
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Chapter 28 — Bali’s Meditation, Shukra’s Advice to the Demons
1 Vasishta continued:— Bali’s attendant servant demons ascended hastily to his high crystal palace and stood at the door of his chamber. 2 There were his ministers Dimbha and others among them, and his generals Kumuda and others also. There were likewise the princes Sura and others in the number, and his champions Vritta and the rest. 3 There were Hayagriva and the other captains of his armies, with his friends Akraja and others. His associates Laduka and some more joined the retinue, with his servants Valluka and many more. 4 There were also the gods Kubera, Yama and Indra who paid him their tribute, and the yakshas, vidyadharas and naagas who rendered him their services. 5 There were the heavenly nymphs Rambha and Tilottama in the number, with the fanning and flapping women of his court. The deputies of different provinces and of hilly and maritime districts were also in attendance. 6 These, accompanied by the spiritual masters inhabiting different parts of the three worlds, all waited at that place to render their services to Bali.
7 They look at Bali reverently, their heads bending down with the crowns upon them, their arms hanging loosely with bracelets upon them. 8 The great asuras made their obeisance to him in due form, and were stupefied with sorrow and fear, struck with alternating wonder and joy at his sad condition. 9 The ministers kept pondering about what was the matter with him, and the demons sought their all knowing teacher Shukra to explaining the situation.
10 Quick as thought, they saw the shining figure of Shukra standing before them, as if they saw the phantom of their imagination appearing tangibly to view. 11 Shukra, being honored by the demons, took his seat on a sofa. In his silent meditation he saw the state of the mind of the king of demons. 12 He remained for a while to behold with delight how the mind of Bali was freed from errors by the exercise of its reasoning powers. 13 The illustrious teacher, whose personal brightness put to shame the brightness of the Milky Ocean, then said smiling to the listening throng of the demons.
14 “Know you demons, this Bali has become an adept in his spiritual knowledge. He has fixed his seat in holy light by the working of his intellect. 15 Leave him alone, you good demons. Let him remain in his reverie in this position, resting in himself and beholding the imperishable one within himself. 16 Lo! here the weary pilgrim has got his rest. His mind is freed from the errors of this false world. Do not disturb him with your talking, who is now as cold as ice. 17 He has received that light of knowledge amidst the gloom of ignorance, like a waking man beholds the full blaze of the sun when he awakes at dawn after the darkness is dispersed.”
18 “In time he will wake from his samadhi and rise like the germ of a seed sprouting from the seed vessel in its proper season. 19 You leaders of demons, go from here and perform the duties that your master has assigned to you, for it will take a thousand years for Bali to wake from his samadhi.”
20 After Shukra, the guru and guide of the demons, had spoken in this manner, they were filled with alternate joy and grief in their hearts, and cast aside their anxiety about him, as a tree casts its withered leaves away. 21 The asuras then left their King Bali resting in his palace and returned to their respective offices, as they had been employed heretofore.
22 It now became night and all men retired to their earthly abodes, the serpents entered into their holes, the stars appeared in the skies, and the gods reposed in their celestial domes. The rulers of all sides and mountainous tracts went to their own quarters, and the beasts of the forest and birds of the air fled and flew to their own dens and nests.
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Chapter 29 — Bali Returns to Ordinary Consciousness
1 Vasishta related:— After a thousand years passed in Bali’s unconsciousness, he was roused to consciousness by the gods beating heavenly drums above. 2 Bali being awake, his city (Mavalipuram) was renovated with fresh beauty, as the lotus-bed is revivified by the rising sun in the eastern horizon. 3 Bali, not seeing any demons before him, fell into reflecting upon the dreams he had seen in his state of samadhi.
4 He thought, “O how charming was that cooling bliss of spiritual delight in which my soul had been enraptured for a short time. 5 O how I long to resume that state of joy! These outward enjoyments which I have tasted to my fill cease to please me anymore. 6 Not even the delights of the full moon can compare to the waves of bliss I felt in my soul during my entranced state of unconsciousness.”
7 Bali was attempting to resume his state of samadhi when he was interrupted by attendant demons, as the moon is intercepted by clouds. 8 He glanced at them and was going to close his eyes in meditation after making his prostration on the ground, but was interrupted by their gigantic statures standing around him. 9 He then reflected, “The intellect being devoid of its option, there is nothing for me to desire. Only the mind that is fond of pleasures vainly pursues them. 10 Why should I desire my freedom when I am not confined or attached to anything here? It is childish to seek liberation when I am not bound to anything below.”
11 “I have no desire for liberation or fear of bondage since the disappearance of my ignorance. What need do I have of meditation? What good is meditation to me? 12Meditation and lack of meditation are both mistakes of the mind. We must depend on our courage and hail all that comes to pass on us without rejoicing or shrinking. 13 I require neither thoughtfulness nor thoughtlessness, neither enjoyments nor their privation, but must remain unmoved and firm as one sane and sound. 14 I have no longing for the spiritual or craving for temporal things. I do not have to remain in a meditative mood or in the state of giddy worldliness.”
15 “I am not dead (because my soul is immortal) and I cannot be living (because the soul is not connected with life). I am neither a reality (as the body) nor an unreality (composed of spiritual essence only). I am not a material or aerial body (being neither this body nor vital air). I am not of this world or any other, but identical with the great Conscious Void.”
16 “When I am in this world, I will remain here quietly. When I am not here, I will abide calmly in the solace of my soul.
17 What shall I do with my meditation and what shall I do with all my royalty? Let anything come to pass as it may, I am nothing for this or that, nor is anything mine. 18 Though I have nothing to do (because I am not a free agent, nor master of my actions), yet I must do the duties belonging to my station in society.”
19 After reaching this determination in his mind, Bali, the wisest of the wise, looked upon the demons with detachment, like the sun looking upon lotuses. 20 With the nods and glances of his eyes, he received their homage, like passing winds bear the fragrances of flowers. 21 Then Bali, ceasing to think on the object of his meditation, approached them concerning their respective duties under him. 22 He honored the gods and his gurus with due respect and saluted his friends and officers with his best regards. 23 He honored all his servants and suitors with his largesse, and he pleased attendant maidens with various persons.
24 So he continued to prosper in every department of his government, until he made up his mind to perform a great sacrifice. 25 He satisfied all beings with his great gifts and gratified the great gods and sages with due honor and veneration. Then he commenced the ceremony of the sacrifice under the guidance of Shukra and the chief gurus and priests.
26 Then Vishnu, the lord of Lakshmi, came to know that Bali had no desire of earthly reward. Vishnu appeared at the sacrifice to crown Bali with the success of his undertaking and confer upon him his desired blessing. 27 He cunningly persuaded Bali to make a gift of the world to Indra his elder brother, who was insatiably fond of all kinds of enjoyment.28 Having used his artifices to deceive Bali dispossess him of the three worlds, Vishnu shut him in the nether world, just as they confine a monkey in a cave under the ground.
29 Thus Bali continues to remain in his confinement to this day with his mind fixed in meditation for the purpose of again attaining the rule of Indra in a future state of life. 30The living liberated Bali, being thus restrained in the infernal cave, looks upon his former prosperity and his present adversity in the same light. 31 There is no rising or setting of his consciousness in the states of his pleasure or pain. His intelligence remains one and the same in its full brightness, like the disc of the sun in a painting.
32 He saw the repeated ebb and flow of worldly enjoyments and settled his mind in utter indifference to them. 33 He overcame multitudes of changing fortunes for multitudes of years in all his reincarnations in the three worlds, and at last found his rest in utter disregard of all mortal things. 34 He felt thousands of comforts and disquiets and hundreds of pleasures and privations of life. After his long experience of these, he found his rest in his perfect quiescence. 35 Bali, having forsaken his desire of enjoyments, enjoyed the fullness of his mind in the absence of his desires. He rejoiced in the self-sufficiency of his soul and in the loneliness of his underground cave.
36 After a course of many years, Bali regained his sovereignty of the world and governed it for a long time to his heart’s content. 37 But he was neither elated by his elevation to the dignity of Indra, the lord of gods, nor was he depressed at this subjugation to prosperity. 38 He was one and the same person in every state of his life, and enjoyed the equanimity of his soul, resembling the serenity of the ethereal sphere.
39 O Rama, I have related to you the whole story of Bali’s attainment of true wisdom. I advise you now to imitate his example for your elevation to the same state of perfection.40 Learn, as Bali did by his own discernment, to think of yourself as the immortal and everlasting soul. Try to reach the state of your oneness with the Supreme Unity by your courageous self-control and self-resignation.
41 Bali, the lord of demons, exercised full authority over the three worlds for more than a millennium, but at last he came to feel an utter distaste for all the enjoyments of life.42 Therefore, O victorious Rama, forego the enjoyments of life, which are sure to be attended with a distaste and nausea at the end. Take yourself to that state of true joy which never grows tasteless. 43 These visible sights, O Rama, are as numerous as they are temptations to the soul. They appear as even and charming as a distant mountain, but proves to be rough and rugged as you approach it.
44 Restrain your mind in the cavity of your heart from its pursuit of perishable objects of enjoyment, either in this life or in the next, which are so alluring to all men of ordinary sense. 45 Know yourself to be identical with consciousness which shines like the sun throughout the universe and illuminates every object in nature without distinction or partiality. 46 Know yourself, O mighty Rama, to be infinite spirit and the transcendent soul of all bodies that has manifested itself in manifold forms that are like the bodies of the internal intellect.
47 Know your soul to be like a thread passing through and interwoven with everything in existence, like a string connecting all the links of creation, like so many gems of a necklace or the beads of a rosary. 48 Know yourself as the unborn and embodied soul of Viraj, the resplendent Brahma, which is never born and never dies. Never fall into the mistake of thinking pure consciousness is subject to birth or death.
49 Know your desires are the causes of your birth, life, death and diseases. Therefore shun your desire of enjoyments and enjoy all things in the manner of the all witnessing consciousness. 50 If you remain in the everlasting light of the sun of your consciousness, you will come to find the phenomenal world to be only a phantom of your dream. 51Never regret or sorrow for anything. Do not think of pleasures or pains which do not affect your soul. You are pure consciousness and the all pervading soul which manifests itself in everything. 52 Know that what is desirable are your evils and the undesirable (abstinence) is for your good. Therefore shun the former by your continued practice of the latter.
53 By forsaking your ideas of desirable and undesirable, you will develop a habit of mentally ceasing desires. When the habit takes a deep root in your heart, you no longer have to be reborn in the world. 54 Retract your mind from everything to which it runs like a boy after vain bright trinkets. Settle your mind in yourself for your own good. 55 Thus by using your best efforts to restrain your mind, and also by your habit of self-control, you will subdue the rampant elephant of your mind and ultimately reach your highest bliss.
56 Do not become like ignorant fools who believe their bodies are their chief good and who are infatuated by false reasoning and infidelity, deluded by impostors to gratify their sensual desires. 57 What man is more ignorant in this world and more subject to its evils than one who derives his spiritual knowledge from one who smatters in theology and relies on the dogmas of pretenders and false philosophers? 58 Dispel the cloud of false reasoning from the atmosphere of your mind by the hurricane of right reasoning which drives all darkness before it.
59 You can not be said to have right reasoning until you come to the light and sight of the soul, both by your own efforts and by grace of the Supreme Spirit. 60 Neither the Vedas nor Vedanta, nor the science of logic or any other scripture can give you any light of the soul unless it appears of itself within you. 61 It is by cultivating yourself, aided by my instruction and divine grace, that you have gained your perfect knowledge and appear to rest yourself in the Supreme Spirit.
62 There are three ways in which you come to spiritual light. First, a lack of knowledge of duality, then the brightness of your intellectual light (the soul) by the grace of God, and third the wide extent of your knowledge derived from my instructions. 63 You are now free of your mental maladies. You have become sound by abandonment of your desires, by removal of your doubts and errors, and by forsaking the mist of your fondness for external objects.
64 O Rama, as you get rid of the errors of your understanding, so you advance by degrees in gaining your knowledge, in cherishing your resignation, in destroying your defects, in imbibing the bliss of ecstasy, in wandering with exultation, and in elevating your soul to the sixth sphere. But all this is not enough unless you attain Brahma itself.
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Chapter 30 — The Story of Prahlada: Narasimha Destroys Hiranyakashipu and the Age of Demons
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, listen to the instructive story of Prahlada, the lord of demons who became a spiritual adept by his own intuition.
2 There was a mighty demon in the infernal regions named Hiranykashipu who was as valiant as Vishnu himself and had expelled the gods and demigods from their abodes. 3He mastered all the treasures of the world and wrested its possession from the hands of Vishnu, just like a swan encroaching upon a bee on the large leaves of a lotus. 4Hiranykashipu defeated the deva gods and the asura demons and ruled over the whole earth, like an elephant masters a lotus-bed by chasing the swans away.
5 The lord of the asuras, having usurped the monarchy of the three worlds, had many sons in course of time, as spring brings forth the shoots of trees. 6 These children grew up to manhood in time, with the display of their courageous prowess. Like so many brilliant suns, they stretched their thousand rays on all sides of the earth and skies. 7 The eldest, Prahlada, became the regent, just as Vishnu’s Kaustubha diamond is pre-eminent among all precious gems. 8 Hiranykashipu delighted exceedingly in his fortunate son Prahlada like the year rejoices in its flowering time of spring.
9 Supported by his son on one hand and possessed of his force and treasures on the other, Hiranykashipu became puffed up with his pride, like a swollen elephant emitting foam from his triangular mouth. 10 Shining with his luster and elated by his pride, he dried and drew up the moisture of the earth by his unbearable taxation, like the all-destroying suns of universal dissolution parch the world by their rays.
11 His conduct annoyed the gods, the sun and the moon, just as the behavior of a haughty boy becomes unbearable to his fellow comrades.
12 They all applied to Brahma to destroy the arch demon, because the repeated misbehaviors of the wicked are unbearable to the good and great. 13 It was then that lion-like Narasimha clattered his nails resembling the tusks of an elephant and thundered loudly like the rumbling noise of the regent elephants of all the quarters of heaven fills concave world on its last doomsday. 14 Narasimha’s tusk-like nails and teeth glittered like lightning flashing in the sky. The radiance of his earrings filled the hollow sphere of heaven with curling flames of living fire.
15 The sides and caves of mountains presented a fearful aspect. Huge trees were shaken by a tremendous tempest that rent the skies and tore the roof of heaven. 16 He emitted gusts of wind from his mouth and entrails which drove the mountains before them. His eyeballs flashed with the living fire of his rage which was about to consume the world. 17His shining mane shook with the glare of sunbeams. The pores of the hairs on his body emitted sparks of fire like the craters of a volcano. 18 Mountains everywhere shook with a tremendous shaking, and the whole body of Narasimha shot forth a variety of arms in every direction.
19 Vishnu in his Narasimha form of half man and half lion killed the gigantic demon by goring him with his tusks, like an elephant goring the body of a horse with a grating sound. 20 The population of the demon hell city was burnt down by gushing fire from his eyeballs which burned like the all devouring conflagration of the last doomsday. 21 The breath of his nostrils drove everything before it like a hurricane. The clapping of his arms sounded like great waves crashing on hollow shores. 22 Demons fled before him like moths from burning fire. They became extinct as extinguished lamps at the blazing light of the day.
23 After the burning of the demon hell city and the expulsion of the demons, the infernal regions presented a void waste like at the last devastation of the world. 24 After the lord Narasimha had expelled the demonic race at the end of the demon age, he disappeared from view with the grateful greetings of the council of gods.
25 The surviving sons of the demon, who had fled from the burning of their city, were afterwards led back to it by Prahlada, just as migrating fowls are made to return to the dry lake bed by a rain shower. 26 There they mourned the dead bodies of demons, lamented at the loss of their possessions, and performed funeral ceremonies for their departed friends and relatives. 27 After burning the dead bodies of their friends, they invited the few demons who had fled to safety to return to their deserted homes.
28 The demons and their leaders continued to mourn with gloomy minds and disfigured bodies, like lotuses beaten down by the frost. They made no effort or attempt, like figures in a painting. They had no hope of resuscitation, like a tree struck by lightning.
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Chapter 31 — Prahlada Bemoans the Demon’s Loss and Praises Vishnu
1 Vasishta continued:— Prahlada remained unhappy in his underground region, brooding over sad thoughts of the destruction of the Danava demons and their homes.
Prahlada thinking to himself:—
2 Ah, what is to become of us when this Vishnu is bent to destroy the best amongst us, like a monkey pulling out shoots and sprouts of trees? 3 Nowhere on earth or in the infernal regions do I see any Daitya demons left to enjoy their properties. They are all stunted in their growth like lotuses growing on mountain tops. 4 They rise only to fall like the loud beating of a drum. Their rising and falling are like the waves of the sea. 5 Sorrow to us who are so miserable in both our inner and outer circumstances. Happy are our enemies of light, the gods who have overcome us. O the terrors of darkness!
6 Our friends of the dark infernal regions are all darkened in their souls with loss of courage. Their fortune is as transitory as the expansion of the lotus leaf by day and its contraction at night. 7 We see the gods, who were mean servants at the feet of our father, have usurped his kingdom in the way timid deer usurp the sovereignty of the lion in the forest. 8 We find our friends all disfigured and effortless, sitting melancholy and dejected in their hopelessness like lotuses with their withered leaves and petals. 9 We see the houses of our gigantic demons filled with clouds of dust and frost, blown by gusts of wind by day and night, and resembling the fumes of fire which burnt them down. 10 The inner apartments are laid open without doors or enclosures, overgrown with the sprouts of barley shooting out as blades of sapphires from underneath the ground.
11 Ah, there is nothing impossible to irresistible fate that has so reduced the mighty demons who used to pluck flowers from the mountain tops of Meru like big elephants. Now we have come to this sad condition of the wandering gods of the past. 12 Our ladies cringe like frightened deer at the rustling of the breeze amidst the leaves of trees. They fear enemy arrows whistling and hurling through the open air. 13 O, the shining guluncha blossoms that decorated our women’s ears are now shorn, torn and left desolate by the hands of Vishnu, like the lonesome plains of the desert. 14 They have robbed us of the all-producing wish-fulfilling kalpa trees and planted them in their Nandana pleasure gardens now teeming with their shooting gems and green leaflets in the ethereal sphere. 15 The eyes of haughty demons that formerly looked with pity on the faces of their captured gods are now indignantly looked upon by victorious gods who have made captives of them.
16 It is known that the fluids pouring from the mouths of spouting elephants of heaven on the tops of the mountains fall down in the form of cascades and gives rise to rivers on earth. 17 But the foam flowing from the faces of our elephant-like giants is as dry as dust at the sights of the gods, just like a channel is sucked up in the dry and dreary desert of sand. 18 Ah, where have those Daitya demons fled whose bodies were once as big as the peaks of Mount Meru and were fanned by fragrant breezes breathing with the scented dust of mandara flowers?
19 The beautiful ladies of the gods and gandharvas, once kept as captives in the inner apartments of demons, are now snatched from us and placed on Meru as if they were transplanted to grow there as heavenly plants. 20 O how painful is it to think that the fading graces of our captured girls are now mocked by heavenly apsara nymphs in their disdainful dance over their defeat and disgrace. 21 O it is painful to think that the lady attendants who fanned my father are now waiting upon the thousand-eyed Indra in their servile toil.
22 O, the greatest of our grief is our sad and distressing fall at the hands of a single Vishnu who has reduced us to this state of helpless impotency. 23 The gods resting under the thick and cooling shades of trees are as cool as the rocks of the icy Himalayas. They do not burn with rage or complain in grief like we. 24 The gods protected by the power of Vishnu are raised to the height of prosperity. They mock and restrain us in these caves, as apes on trees do dogs below. 25 The faces of our fairies, though decked with ornaments, are now bedewed with drops of their tears, like lotus leaves with the cold dew of night. 26 The old stage of this aged world, which was defeated and about to be pulled down by our might, is now supported upon the blue arms of Vishnu, like the roof of heaven standing upon the blue arches of the blue sky. 27 Vishnu has become the support of the celestial host when it was about to be hurled into the depth of hell. Vishnu supports in the same manner as the great tortoise supported Mount Mandara as it churned and sank in the Milky Ocean.
28 Our great father and these mighty demons under him have been laid down to dust like the lofty hills that were leveled to the ground by the blasts of heaven at the end of the kalpa age. 29 The leader of the celestial forces, the peerless destroyer of Vishnu, is able to destroy all and everything by the fire in his hands. 30 His elder brother Indra, by the force of the thunderbolts held by his mightier arms, baffles battle-axes in the hands of the mighty demons, like big male monkeys killing their male offspring. 31 The lightning weapons of the lotus-eyed Vishnu are invincible, and there is no weapon which can foil the force of Indra’s thunder.
32 This Vishnu is invincible in warfare. He defeated our forefathers in previous battles in which they uprooted and flung great rocks at him and waged many dreadful campaigns. 33 He who stood victorious in those long, dreadful and destructive wars of times past cannot be expected to be afraid of us.
34 I have thought of only one way to oppose the rage of Vishnu, besides which I find no other way for our safety. 35 Therefore with all possible speed, let us go to him for help, with full contriteness of our souls and understanding, because that god is the true refuge of the pious and the only resort of everybody. 36 There is no one greater than he in all the three worlds. I have come to know that only Vishnu is the cause of the creation, preservation and destruction or reproduction of the world.
37 From this moment therefore, I will think only of that unborn Narayana for ever more. I must rely on that Narayana, who is present in all places and is full in myself and filling all space. 38 Worship of Narayana forms my faith and profession for my success in all undertakings. May this faith of mine ever abide in my heart, as the wind has its place in the midst of empty air.
39 Vishnu is to be known to fill all sides of space and vacuum, and every part of this earth, and all these worlds. My ego is the immeasurable Spirit of Vishnu. My inborn soul is full of Vishnu. 40 He who is not full with Vishnu in himself does not benefit by his adoration of Vishnu, but he who worships Vishnu by thinking himself as such finds himself assimilated with his god and becomes one with him. 41 He who knows Vishnu to be the same with Prahlada, and not different from him, finds Vishnu to fill his inward soul with his spirit.
42 Vishnu’s garuda eagle flies through the infinite space of the sky as the presence of Vishnu fills all infinity. His golden light of his body is the seat of my Vishnu also. 43 The claws of this bird serve as Vishnu’s weapons. The flash of his nails is the flash of Vishnu’s weapons. 44 Vishnu has four arms wearing armlets representing the four shining heights of Mount Mandara with which Vishnu churned the Milky Ocean.
45 This moonlike figure with the flapper fan in her hand and rising from the depth of the Milky Ocean is the goddess of prosperity (Lakshmi), the consort of Vishnu. 46 She is Vishnu’s brilliant glory which he easily acquires. She is ever attendant on his person with undiminished luster. She illuminates the three worlds like a radiant medicinal tree (mahaushadhi).
47 Vishnu’s other companion is called Illusion (Maya) which is ever busy in the creation of worlds upon worlds, and in stretching a magical enchantment all about them. 48 The goddess Victory (Jaya) is an easily earned attendant for Vishnu. She shines as a shoot of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree, extending to the three worlds as an all-pervading plant. 49 These two warming and cooling luminaries of the sun and moon serve to manifest all the worlds to view. They are the two eyes situated on the forehead of my Vishnu.
50 This azure sky is the blue color of the body of my Vishnu, which is as dark as a mass of watery cloud and darkens the sphere of heaven with its sky blue radiance. The meaning of the word Vishnu was afterward changed to the residing divinity in all things from the root vish (white). 51 Here is the whitish conch in the hand of my Vishnu which blows its fivefold notes (panchajanya) and is as bright as the vacuum, the receptacle of sound, and as white as the Milky Ocean of heavens. 52 Here I see the lotus in the hand of Vishnu, representing the lotus of his navel, the seat of Brahma, who rose from and sat upon it like a bee to form his hive of the world.
53 I see the club of my Vishnu’s hand, studded with gems, in the lofty peak of Mount Sumeru beset by its shining stones and hurling down demons from its precipice. 54 I see here the discus of my Vishnu in the rising luminary of the sun which fills all sides of the infinite space with the radiant beams that emanate from it. 55 I see there in the flaming fire the flashing sword of Vishnu, which like an axe has cut down the gigantic bodies of daitya demons like trees, giving great joy to the gods. 56 I also see Vishnu’s great bow in the variegated rainbow of Indra, and also the quiver of his arrows in the pushkara and avarta clouds pouring down their rains from above like piercing arrows.
57 Vishnu’s big belly is the vast emptiness of the sky which contains all worlds and all past, present, and future creations in its spacious womb. 58 I see the earth as the footstool of Brahma and the high sky as the canopy on his head. His body is the stupendous fabric of the universe and his sides are the sides of the compass. 59 I see the great Vishnu visibly manifest shining under the blue dome of heaven, mounted on his mountain-like eagle and holding his conch shell, discus, cudgel and the lotus in his hands.
60 I see wicked and evil minded demons flying from me like straw blown and carried away by the winds. 61 This dark deity with his blue sapphire color and yellow covering, holding the club and mounted on the garuda eagle and accompanied by Lakshmi, is nothing other than the identical Imperishable One. 62 What adverse spirit can dare approach this all-devouring flame without being burnt to death, like a flight of moths falling on a great fire? 63 None of these hosts of gods or demigods that I see before me is able to withstand the irresistible course of the determination of Vishnu. All attempts to oppose it will be as vain as for our weak-sighted eyes to shut out the light of the sun.
64 I know the gods Brahma, Indra, Shiva and Agni (the god of fire) praise Vishnu as their Lord in endless verses and many tongues. 65 This Lord is ever resplendent with his dignity and is invincible in his might. He is the Lord beyond all doubt, dispute and duality, and is joined with transcendent majesty. 66 I bow down to that person who stands like a firm rock amidst the forest of the world and is a defense from all fears and dangers. Vishnu is a stupendous body having all the worlds situated in its womb and forming the essence and substance of every distinct object of vision.
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Chapter 32 — Prahlada and the Daitya Demons Worship Vishnu; the Gods Complain
1 Vasishta continued:— After Prahlada had meditated on Vishnu in this manner, he made an image of him as Narayana and thought about worshipping that enemy of the asura demon race. 2 To make the figure a form of Vishnu himself, he invoked the spirit of Vishnu to settle in this his outer figure also. 3 It was seated on the back of the heavenly bird garuda, arrayed with the quadruple attributes (will, intelligence, action and mercy) and armed with the four arms holding the conch shell, discus, club and lotus. 4 His two eyeballs flashed like the orbs of the sun and moon in their outstretched sockets. His palms were as red as lotuses, and his bow Saranga and the sword Nandaka hung on his two shoulders and sides.
5 “I will worship this image,” thought Prahlada, “with all my adherents and dependants, with an abundance of grateful offerings agreeable to my taste. 6 I will worship this great god always with all kinds of offering of precious gems and jewels, and all sorts of articles for bodily use and enjoyment.”
7 Having thus made up his mind, Prahlada collected an abundance of various things and made offerings of them in his mind for his worship of Vishnu, the lord of Lakshmi. 8 He offered rich gems and jewels in plates of many kinds, and presented sandal pastes in several pots. He burned incense and lit lamps in rows, and placed many valuables and ornaments in sacred vessels. 9 He presented wreaths of mandara flowers and chains of lotuses made of gold, together with garlands of leaves and flowers of kalpa plants, and bouquets and nosegays studded with gems and pearls. 10 He hung hangings of leaves and leaflets of heavenly trees, and chaplets and trimmings of various kinds of flowers, as vakas and kundas, kinkiratas and white, blue and red lotuses. 11 There were wreaths of kahlara, kunda, kasa and kinsuka flowers, and clusters of asoka, madana, bela and kanikara blossoms likewise. 12 There were small flowers of the kadamba, vakala, nimba, sindhuvara and yuthikas also, and likewise heaps of paribhadra, gugguli and venduka flowers. 13There were strings of priyangu, patala, pata and patala flowers, and also blossoms of amra, amrataka and gavyas, and the bulbs of haritaki and vibhitaki myrabolans. 14 Flowers of sala and tamara trees were strung together with their leaves, and tender buds of sahakaras were fastened together with their starch-like pistils. 15 There were ketakas and kamala flowers and the shoots of ela cardamums together with everything beautiful to sight and the tender of one’s soul likewise.
16 Thus did Prahlada worship his lord Vishnu in the inner apartment of his house, with offerings of all the richest things in the world, joined with true faith and earnestness of his mind and spirit. 17 Thus did the monarch of Danava demons worship his lord Vishnu externally in his holy temple, furnished with all kind of valuable things on earth. 18 The Danava sovereign became the more and more gratified in his spirit in proportion as he adored his god with more and more of his valuable outer offerings. 19 Henceforward Prahlada continued to worship his lord god day after day with earnestness of his soul and the same sort of rich offerings everyday.
20 It came to pass that the Daityas, after the example of their king, one and all turned Vaishnavas and worshipped Vishnu in their city and temples without intermission. 21 This information reached heaven and to the abode of the gods, that the Daityas having renounced their hatred to Vishnu, had completely turned into his faithful believers and worshippers. 22 The gods were all astonished to learn that the Daityas had accepted the Vaishnava faith. Even Indra and the thirty-three Rudras about him marveled how the Daityas came to be so. 23 The astonished gods left their celestial abode to go to the warlike Vishnu resting on his serpent couch in the Milky Ocean. 24 They related to him the whole story of the Daitya demons. They asked what was the cause of their conversion, and they were very much astonished.
25 The gods said, “How is it Lord that the demons who had always been adverse to you have now come to embrace your faith? It appears to us as an act of magic or hypocrisy. 26 How different is their present transformation to the Vaishnava faith, which is acquired only after many reincarnations of the soul, from their former spirit of rebellion in which they broke down the rocks and mountains.”
27 “The rumor that a clown has become a learned man is as amusing as it is doubtful, just as the news of blossoms budding out of season. 28 Nothing is graceful without its proper place. A rich jewel loses its value when it set with worthless pebbles. 29 All animals have their dispositions conforming to their own natures. Then how can the pure faith of Vishnu agree with the dog-like natures of the Daityas? 30 Our bodies pierced by thorns and needles do not grieve us as much as seeing things of opposite natures set in conjunction with one another. 31 Whatever is naturally adapted to its time and place, the same seems to suit it then and there. Therefore the lotus has its grace in water and not upon the land.”
32 “Where are the vile Daityas, prone to their misdeeds at all times? How far can the Vaishnava faith reach for those who can never appreciate its merit? 33 O lord, as we are never glad to learn of a lotus bed left to parch in the desert soil, so we can never rejoice at the thought that the race of demons will place their faith in Vishnu, the lord of gods.”
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Chapter 33 — Vishnu Explains Prahlada to the Gods; Appears to Prahlada
1 Vasishta said:— The lord of Lakshmi, seeing the gods clamoring in their accusation of the demons, gave his words to them in sounds as sonorous as those of rainy clouds responding to the loud noise of screaming and thirst-stricken peacocks. 2 The Lord Vishnu said, “You gods, do not marvel at Prahlada’s faith in me as it is because of his virtuous acts in past lives that this pious prince is entitled to his final liberation in this his present life. 3 He shall not have to be born again in the womb of a woman, or be reproduced in any form on earth, but must remain aloof from regeneration, like a fried pea which does not germinate anymore.”
4 “A virtuous man turning impious becomes the source of evil, but an unworthy man becoming meritorious is doubtless a step towards his better being and blessedness. 5 You good gods who are quite happy in your blessed seats in heaven must not let the good deserts of Prahlada be any cause for your uneasiness.”
6 Vasishta resumed:— The lord having thus spoken to the gods became invisible to them, like a feather floating on the surface of waves. 7 The assembly of immortals then returned to their heavenly abodes after taking their leave of the god, just as the particles of seawater are carried to the sky by the soft warm breezes, or by the agitation of Mandara Mountain. 8 Henceforth the gods were pacified towards Prahlada, because the mind is never suspicious of one who has the credit of his superiors.
9 Prahlada also continued his daily adoration of his god with the contriteness of his heart and in the formulas of his spiritual, oral and bodily services. 10 It was in the course of his divine service in this manner that he attained the joy proceeding from his right discrimination, self-resignation and other virtues with which he was crowned. 11 He took no delight in any object of enjoyment, nor felt any pleasure in the society of his consorts, all which he shunned as a male deer shuns a withered tree and the company of human beings.
12 He did not walk in the ways of the ungodly or spend his time in anything but religious discourses. His mind did not dwell on visible objects, like the lotus that never grows on dry land. 13 His mind did not delight in pleasures, which were all linked with pain, but longed for its liberation, which is as entire of itself and unconnected with anything as a single grain of unperferated pearl.
14 His mind was abstracted from his enjoyments, but not yet settled in its samadhi of ultimate rest. He was wavering between the two states, like a cradle swinging both ways.15 The god Vishnu, who knew all things by his all-knowing intelligence, saw the unsettled state of Prahlada’s mind from his seat in the Milky Ocean. 16 Pleased at Prahlada’s firm belief, he proceeded by an underground route to the place of his worship and manifested before him at the holy altar. 17 Seeing his god manifest to his view, the lord of the demons worshipped him with two-fold veneration, and made many respectful offerings to his lotus-eyed deity, more than his usual practice. 18 He then gladly glorified his god with many prayers in gratitude for appearing before him in his house of worship.
19 Prahlada said, “I adore you, O my lord Vishnu, who is unborn and without decay, who is the blessed receptacle of three worlds, who dispels all darkness by the light of your body, and who is the refuge of the helpless and friendless. 20 I adore my Vishnu in his complexion of blue lotus leaves and the color of autumn. I worship him whose body is of the color of the dark bhramara bee and who holds the lotus, discus, club and conch-shell in his arms.”
21 “I worship the god who dwells in the lotus-like hearts of his devotees with his appearance of a swarm of dark bees, who holds a conch-shell as white as the bud of a lotus or lily, with earrings ringing in his ears with the music of humming bees. 22 I resort to Vishnu’s sky-blue shade, shining with the starry light of his long stretching nails, his face shining like the full moon with his smiling beams, and his breast waving like the surface of Ganges with sparkling gems hanging upon it. 23 I rely on that deity who slept on the leaf of a fig tree, who contains the universe in himself in his stupendous form of Viraj, who is neither born nor grown but is always the whole by himself, and who is possessed of endless attributes of his own nature.”
24 “I take my refuge in Vishnu whose bosom is daubed with the red dust of the new-blown lotus, and whose left side is adorned by the blushing beauty of Lakshmi whose body is covered by a red colored cloth and smeared with red sandal paste like liquid gold. 25 I take my refuge under that Vishnu who is the destructive frost to the lotus-bed of demons, who is the rising sun to the opening buds of the lotus-bed of the deities, who is the source of the lotus-born Brahma, and who is the receptacle of the lotus petal seat of our understanding. 26 My hope is in Vishnu, the blooming lotus of the bed of the triple world, and the only light amidst the darkness of the universe, who is the principle of consciousness (chit) amidst the gross material world, and who is the only remedy for all the evils and troubles of this transient life.”
27 Vasishta continued:— Vishnu the destroyer of demons, who is graced on his side by the goddess of prosperity, being praised with many such graceful speeches of the demon lord, answered him as lovingly in his blue lotus-like form as when the deep clouds respond to the peacocks’ screams.
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Chapter 34 — Prahlada’s Discrimination Leads to Self Realization
1 The Lord said, “O you rich jewel on the crown of the Daitya race! Receive your desired reward of me to alleviate your worldly afflictions.”
2 Prahlada replied, “What better blessing can I ask of you, my Lord, than to instruct me in what you think is your best gift above all other treasures of the world, and which is able to benefit and reward all our wants in this miserable life.”
3 The Lord answered, “May you have a sinless boy, and may your right discrimination of things lead you to your rest in God and the attainment of your supreme joy, after the dispersion of your earthly cares and the errors of this world.”
4 Vasishta continued:— Being thus bid by his god, the lord of demons fell into a profound meditation, his nostrils snoring loudly like the gurgling waters of the deep. 5 As Lord Vishnu departed from his sight, the chief of the demons made his oblations after him, consisting of handfuls of flowers and rich gems and jewels of various kinds. 6 Then seated in lotus posture (padmasana), legs folded over one another upon his elevated and elegant seat, he chanted his holy hymn and reflected within himself.
7 My deliverer from this sinful world has asked me to have my discrimination. Therefore I must discriminate between what is true and false. 8 I must know that I am in this dark world and I must seek the light of my soul and the principle that makes me speak, walk and take pains to exert myself. 9 I perceive that I am nothing of this external world, like any of its green trees or hills. External bodies are all of a gross nature, but my ego is quite a simple and pure essence. 10 I am not this unconscious body, which is both dull and dumb and is made to move for a moment by means of the vital airs. The body is an unreal appearance of a transitory existence.
11 I am not the unconscious sound, which is an empty substance produced in emptiness. It is perceptible through the ear hole and is as fleeting and insubstantial as empty air.12 Nor am I the unconscious organ of touch or the momentary feeling of touch. I find myself to be an inner principle with the faculty of reasoning and the capacity of knowing the nature of the soul.
13 I am not even my taste, which is confined to the tasting of certain objects and to the organ of the tongue, which is a trifling and ever restless thing, sticking to and moving in the cavity of the mouth. 14 I am not my sight, which is employed in seeing only what is visible. It is weak and decaying and never lasting in its power, nor capable of viewing the invisible Spirit. 15 I am not the power of my smell, which belongs only to my nasal organ and is conversant with scented substances for a short moment only.
16 I am pure consciousness and not any of the sensations of my five external organs of sense. I am neither my mental faculty, which is ever frail and unsteady, nor is there anything belonging to me or participating of my true essence. I am the soul and an indivisible whole.
17 I am pure consciousness without the objects of reasoning. My pure consciousness pervades internally and externally over all things and manifests them to view. I am the whole without its parts, pure without foulness and everlasting.
18 It is my reasoning that manifests this pot and that painting to me and brings all other objects to my knowledge by its pure light, just like the sun and a lamp show everything to sight. 19 Ah! Now I remember the whole truth: that I am the immutable and all pervading Spirit, shining in the form of consciousness. 20 This essence evolves itself into the various faculties of sense, just as the inner fire unfolds itself into the forms of its flash and flame and its sparks and visible light. 21 This principle also unfolds itself into the forms of the different organs of sense, just as the all-diffusive heat of the hot season shows itself in the shape of mirage in sandy deserts.
22 Likewise this element, the spirit, constitutes the substance of all objects, just as it is the light of the lamp which causes various colors of things, as the whiteness or other color of a piece of cloth or any other thing. 23 The spirit is the source of the perception of all living and waking beings, and of everything else in existence. Just as a mirror reflects all outward appearances, so the soul is the reflective organ of all its internal and external phenomena.
24 It is only through this immutable intellectual light that we perceive the heat of the sun, the coldness of the moon, the solidity of a rock, and the fluidity of water. 25 This is the prime cause of every object of our continuous perceptions in this world.
This is the first cause of all things, without having any prior cause of its own. 26 This produces our notions of the continuity of objects that are spread all around us. They all take the name of objects from their objectivity of the soul. 27 It is this formless cause which is the prime cause of all malleable and secondary causes (such as Brahma the creative agent and others). It is from this that the world has its production, as coldness is the product of cold and the like.
28 The gods Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Indra, who are causes of the existence of the world, all owe their origin to this prime cause who has no cause of Himself. 29 I hail that Supreme Soul which is impressed in me and is apart from every object of thought of the intellect, and which is self manifest in all things and at all times. 30 All beings stand in relation to the modes and modalities of this Supreme Being. They are immersed as properties in that intellectual Spirit. 31 Whatever this internal and intelligent Soul wills to do, the same is done everywhere. Nothing other than the Soul exists in reality anywhere.
32 Whatever is intended to be done by this intellectual power, the same receives a form of its own. Whatever is thought to be undone by the intellect, the same is dissolved into nothing from its substantiality. 33 These numberless series of worldly objects are like shadows cast on the immense mirror of emptiness. 34 All these objects increase and decrease in size under the light of the soul, like the shadows of things enlarging and diminishing themselves in sunshine.
35 This internal Soul is invisible to all beings except those whose minds are melted down in piety. It is seen by the righteous in the form of the clear sky. 36 This great Cause, like a large tree, gives rise to all visible phenomena like its germ and sprouts. The movements of living beings are like the flittering of bees about this tree. 37 It is this that gives rise to the whole creation both in its ideal and real and mobile or quiescent forms, just as a huge rock gives growth to a large forest with its various kinds of big trees and small shrubs.
38 It is not separate from anything existing in the womb of this triple world, but resides alike in the highest gods as in the lowest grass below. It manifests them all to our view.39 This is one with the ego and the all-pervading soul. It is situated as the moving spirit and the unmoving dullness of the whole.
40 The Universal Soul is beyond the distinction, of “my”, “your” or “his” individual spirit. It is above the limits of time and place, of number and manner, of form or figure or shape or size. 41 The one intelligent soul, by its own intelligence, is the eye and witness of all visible things. It is represented as having a thousand eyes and hands and as many feet.42 This is that supreme ego of myself that wanders about the sky in the body of the shining sun, and also wanders in other forms, as those of air in the current winds.
43 The sky is the azure body of my Vishnu with its accompaniments of the conch shell, discus, club and the lotus in the clouds, all of which are tokens of prosperity in this world by their blissful rains. 44 I find myself identical with this god while I am sitting in my lotus posture in this state of samadhi, and when I have attained my perfection in stillness. 45 I am the same with Shiva, the god with his three eyes, his eyeballs rolling like bees on the lotus face of Gauri. I am in the form of the god Brahma and I contain the whole creation in me, like a tortoise contracting its limbs in itself. 46 I rule over the world in the form of Indra. As a monk I command the monastery which has come down to me. I am an Indra when I rule over my domain, and a poor monk when I dwell in my humble cell.
47 I am both male and female, and I am both boy and girl. I am old as regards my soul, and I am young with regard to my body, which is born and ever renewed.
48 The ego is the grass and all kinds of plants on earth. It is also the moisture which grows them, like its thoughts in the ground of consciousness. In the same manner as herbs grow in holes and wells have their moisture, the ego or soul is the core and foundation of all substance. 49 It is for pleasure that this ego stretched out the world, like a clever boy who makes dolls of clay in his play. 50 This ego is me who gives existence to all being, and it is I in whom they live and move about. Being at last forsaken by me, the whole existence dwindles into nothing.
51 Whatever image is impressed in the clear mirror of my intellect, that and nothing else is in real existence because there is nothing that exists apart from myself. 52 I am the fragrance of flowers and the color of their leaves. I am the figure of all forms and the perception of everything that can be perceived. 53 Whatever movable or immovable thing is visible in this world, I am its inmost heart without having any of its desires in my heart.
54 As the primary element of moisture is diffused in nature in the form of water, so my spirit is spread over plants and all other things at large in the form of vacuum. 55 I enter inside everything in the form of consciousness, and I extend in the manner of various sensations at my own will. 56 As butter is contained in milk and moisture is inherent in water, so the power of consciousness is spread in all beings, and so ego is situated inside all things. 57 The world at all times, whether present, past or future ages, exists in consciousness. The objects of intelligence are all inert and devoid of motion, like the mineral and vegetable productions of earth.
58 I am the all-grasping and all-powerful form of Brahman which fills infinite space and is free from any diminution or decrease in shape or size. I am this all-pervading and all-productive power known as the Universal Form (virat murti). 59 I have gained my boundless empire over all worlds without seeking or asking for it, and without subduing it like Indra of old or crushing the gods with my arms.
60 O the extensive spirit of God! I bow down to that spirit in my spirit and find myself lost in it, as in the vast ocean of the universal deluge. 61 I find no limit to this spirit as long as I am seated in the enjoyment of my spiritual bliss. I appear to move about like a minute mollusk in the fathomless expanse of the Milky Ocean. 62 This temple of the cosmic egg is too small and constricted for the huge body of my soul. It is impossible for me to be contained in it, just as it is impossible for an elephant to enter into the eye of a needle. 63 My body stretches beyond the region of Brahma, my attributes extend beyond the categories of the various schools of philosophy, and there is no definite limitation given of them to this day.
64 The attributes of a name and body to the unsupported soul are falsehoods, and it is false to compress the unlimited soul within the narrow bounds of the body. 65 To say this is I and this is another are altogether wrong. What is this body or my want of it, or the state of living or death to me? 66 How foolish and short-witted were my forefathers, who having forsaken this spiritual domain, wandered as mortal beings in this frail and miserable world. 67 How great is this grand sight of the immensity of Brahman. How mean are these creeping mortals with their high aims and ambition and all their splendors of royalty.
68 My pure intellectual sight, filled with endless joy and accompanied by ineffable tranquility, surpasses all other sights in the whole world. 69 I bow down to the Self situated in all beings, which is the intelligent and intellectual soul, and quite apart from whatever is the object of reasoning or thought. 70 I who am the unborn and uncreated soul rule triumphant over this perishing world by my attainment to the state of the great Universal Spirit, which is the chief object of gain, the supreme good of mortal beings, and which I live to enjoy.
71 I take no delight in my unpleasant earthly dominion which is full of painful greatness. I would not like to lose my everlasting kingdom of good understanding, which is free from trouble and full of perpetual delight. 72 Cursed be the wicked demons who are so sadly ignorant of their souls and resort to their strongholds of woods and hills and ditches for the safety of their bodies, like the insects of those places.
73 Ignorance of the soul leads to serving the dull ignorant body with articles of food and clothing. This was how our ignorant elders pampered their bodies for no lasting good.74 What good did my father Hiranyakasipu reap from his prosperity of a few years in this world? What did he acquire worthy of his descent in the line of the great sage Kasyapa? 75He who has not tasted the blissfulness of his soul has enjoyed no true blessing during his long rule of a hundred years in this world.
76 He who has gained the ambrosial delight of his spiritual bliss, and nothing of the temporary blessings of life, has gained something which is ever full in itself and of which there is no end to the end of the world. 77 It is the fool and not the wise who forsakes this infinite joy for the temporary delights of this world. Such a fool resembles the foolish camel which foregoes his fodder of soft leaves in order to browse the prickly thorns of the desert. 78 What man of sense would turn his eyes from such a romantic sight and like to roam in a city burnt down to the ground? What wise man is there that would forsake the sweet juice of sugarcane in order to taste the bitterness of nimba? 79 I reckon all my forefathers as very great fools for leaving this happy prospect in order to wander in the dangerous paths of their earthly dominion.
80 Ah, how delightful is the view of flowering gardens and how unpleasant is the sight of the burning deserts of sand. How very quiet are these intellectual reveries and how very boisterous are the cravings of our hearts! 81 There is no happiness to be had in this earth that would make us wish for our sovereignty in it. All happiness consists in the peace of the mind, which always concerns us to seek. 82 It is the calm, quiet and unaltered state of the mind that gives us true happiness in all conditions of life and the true kingdom of things in all places and at all times, and under every circumstance in life.
83 The virtue of sunlight is to enlighten all objects, and that of moonlight to fill us with its ambrosial nectar. But the light of Brahman transcends them both by filling the three worlds with its spiritual glory which is brighter than sunbeams and cooler than moonlight. 84 The power of Shiva stretches over the fullness of knowledge, and that of Vishnu over victory and prosperity. Fleetness is the character of the mental powers and force is the property of the wind. 85 Inflammation is the property of fire and moisture is that of water. Silence is the quality of devotees for success in their tapas and eloquence is the qualification of learning. 86 It is the nature of aerials to move about in the air and of rocks to remain fixed on the ground. The nature of water is to set deep and run downwards and that of mountains to stand and rise upwards. 87 Equanimity is the nature of Buddhists and drunken merry making is the liking of wine-drinkers. Spring delights in its flowering and the rainy season exults in the roaring of its clouds. 88 Yaksha demons are full of delusiveness, celestials are familiar with cold and frost, and those of the torrid zone are habituated to its heat. 89 Thus many other beings are suited to their respective climates and seasons and are habituated to the very many modes of life and varieties of habits to which they have been accustomed in the past and present times. 90 It is the one uniform and Unchanging Consciousness, according to its changeable will and velocity, that ordains these many forms and changing modifications of powers and things.
91 The same unchanging Consciousness presents these hundreds of changing scenes to us, just as the same and unchanging light of the sun shows a thousand varying forms and color to the sight. 92 The same Consciousness sees at a glance all these great multitudes of objects that fill the infinite space on all sides, in all the three times of the present, past and future. 93 The identical pure Consciousness knows at once the various states of all things presented in this vast phenomenal world, in all the three times that are existent, gone by and are to come hereafter. 94 At one and the same time, this pure Consciousness reflects all things existent in the present, past and future times. It is full with the forms of all things existing in the infinite space of the universe. 95 Knowing the events of the three times, and seeing the endless phenomena of all worlds present before it, Divine Consciousness continues full and perfect in itself and at all times.
96 Understanding ever continues the same and unaltered in spite of the great variety of its perceptions of innumerable objects of sense and thought, such as the different tastes of sweet and sour in honey and nimba fruit at the same time. 97 Consciousness, by abandonment of mental desires and knowing the natures of all things by reducing their dualities into unity, is in its state of acuteness. 98 It views them alike with an equal eye and at the same time in spite of the varieties of objects and their great difference from one another.
99 By viewing all existence as non-existence, you get rid of your existing pains and troubles. By seeing all existence in the light of nothingness, you avoid the suffering of existing evils. 100 The intellect being withdrawn from its view of the events of the three tenses, and being freed from the chains of its fleeting thoughts, there remains only a calm tranquility. 101The soul being inexpressible in words proves to be described only in negative terms. There ensues a state of one’s perpetual unconsciousness of his soul or self existence. 102 In this state of the soul it is equal to Brahman, which is either nothing at all or the all of itself. Its absorption in perfect tranquility is called its liberation from all feelings.
103 The intellect weakened by its will does not see the soul in a clear light, as the deceived eye has only a dim and hazy sight of the world. 104 The intellect weakened by the dirt of its desire and dislike is impeded in its heavenly flight, like a bird caught in a snare. 105 They who have fallen into the snare of delusion by their ignorant choice of this or that are like blind birds falling into the net in search of their prey. 106 Entangled in the meshes of desire and confined in the pit of worldliness, our fathers were barred from this unimpeded sight of spiritual light and endless delight. 107 In vain did our forefathers flourish for a few days on the surface of this earth only to be swept away by a gust of wind like fluttering flies and gnats into the ditch. 108 If these foolish pursuers of painful worldly pleasures had known the path of truth, they would never have fallen into the dark pit of unsubstantial pursuits.
109 Foolish folks are subject to repeated pains and pleasures by their various choice of things. They follow the fate of short-lived worms born to move and die in their own ditches and ponds. 110 He is said to be really alive who lives true to nature and who, by the rising cloud of his knowledge of truth, suppresses his mirage of desires and aversions.
111 The hot and foul fumes of fancy fly far away from the pure light of reason, just as the hazy mist of night is dispersed by the bright beams of moonlight.
112 I hail that soul which dwells as the inseparable consciousness in me. At last I come to know my God that resides like a rich gem enlightening all the worlds in myself. 113 I have long thought upon and sought after you, and at last I have found you rising in myself. I have chosen you from all others. Whatever you are, I hail you, my Lord, as you appear in me. 114 I hail you in me, O lord of gods, in your form of infinity within myself and in the shape of bliss within my soul of bliss. I hail you, O Supreme Spirit, who is superior to and master of all.
115 I bow down to that cloudless light shining like the full moon within me, and to that identical form which is free from all predicates and attributes. It is the self risen as light in myself. The Soul (atman) is identical to that blissful soul which I find in myself.
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Chapter 35 — Prahlada in Praise of Self Realization
1 Prahlada continued:— Om is the proper form of the One devoid of all modifications. That Om is this all that is contained in this world. 2 It is intelligence devoid of flesh, fat, blood and bones. It abides in all things and is the enlightener of the sun and all other luminous bodies. 3 It warms the fire and moistens the water. It gives sensation to the senses and enjoys all things in the manner of a king. 4 It rests without sitting. It goes without walking. It is active in its inactivity. It acts all without coming in contact with anything.
5 It is the past and gone, and also the present and even now. It is both the next moment and remote future also. It is all that is fit and proper, and likewise whatever is unfit and improper. 6 Undaunted, it produces all productions and spreads the worlds over one another. It continues to turn the worlds around, from the sphere of Brahma to the lower grounds of grass. 7 Though unmoving and immutable, yet it is as fleeting and changeable as the flying winds. It is inert as the solid rock and more transparent than the subtle ether.
8 It moves the minds of men like winds shaking the leaves of trees. It directs the organs of sense like a charioteer manages his horses. 9 Consciousness sits as the lord of this bodily house, carried about like a chariot by the equestrians of the senses. Sitting at its own ease as sole monarch, it enjoys the fruitions of the bodily actions.
10 It is to be diligently sought after and meditated upon and praised at all times, because only this way can one have his salvation from the pains of his age and death and the evils of ignorance. 11 It is easily to be found and as easy to be known as a friend. It dwells like the humble bee in the recess of everyone’s lotus-like heart. 12 Uncalled and not invoked, it appears of itself from within the body. At a slight call it appears manifest to view.
13 Constant service and attendance on this all-opulent Lord never make him proud or haughty, as they do any other rich master by his humble attendants. 14 This Lord is as closely situated in everybody as fragrance and fluidity are inherent in flowers and sesame seeds, and as flavor is inseparably connected with liquid substances.
15 Our lack of reason makes us ignorant of Consciousness that is situated in ourselves. Our reasoning power serves to manifest it to our sight as our most intimate friend. 16 As we come to know by our reasoning that this Supreme Lord situated in us, we come to feel an indescribable delight like the sight of a beloved and loving friend. 17 As this dearest friend appears to view, his benign influence shedding full bliss about us, we come to see such glorious prospects as to immediately forget all our earthly enjoyments. 18 All a person’s chains are broken and fall off, and all his enemies are put to an end whose mind is not perforated by his cravings, like houses dug by injurious mice.
19 When this One in all is seen in us, the whole world is seen in Him. He being heard, everything is heard in Him. He being felt, all things are felt in Him. He being present, the whole world is present before us. 20 He wakes over the sleeping world and destroys the darkness of the ignorant. He removes the dangers of the distressed and bestows His blessings upon the holy. 21 He moves about as the living soul of all, and rejoices as the animal soul in all objects of enjoyment. It is He who glows in all visible objects in their various colors. 22 He sees himself in himself. He is quietly situated in all things, like pungency resides in peppers, sweetness in sugar, and the like.
23 He is situated as intelligence and sensations in the inner and outward parts of living beings. He forms the essence and existence of all objects in the entire universe. 24 He forms the emptiness of the sky and the velocity of the winds. He is the light of fiery bodies and the moisture of aqueous substances. 25 He is the firmness of the earth and the warmth of fire. He is the coldness of the moon and the entity of everything in the world. 26 He is blackness in inky substances and coldness in the particles of snow. As fragrance resides in flowers, so he resides in all bodies.
27 His essence fills all space just as the essence of time fills all duration. His omnipotence is the fountain of all forces, just as His omnipresence supports everything everywhere.28 As the Lord unfolds everything to light by the external organ of sight and the internal organ of thinking, so the great God enlightens gods by his own light.
29 I am that I am, without attributes in me. I am like the clear air, not stained by particles of flying dust. I am like lotus leaves untouched by their supporting and surrounding waters. 30 As a rolling stone gathers no moss, so there is nothing that touches or bears any relation to my airy mind. The pain and pleasure which affect the body cannot affect my form of the inner soul.
31 The soul, like a gourd fruit, is not injured by showers of rain falling on the outer body which resembles its hard crust. Consciousness, like lamp flame, is not to be held fast by a rope. 32 So this ego of mine which transcends everything is not to be tied down by anything to the earth, nor does it bear any relation to the objects of sense or my mental desires, or anything existing or not in existence in this world.
33 Who has the power to grasp emptiness or confine the mind? You may cut the body into a thousand pieces, but you cannot divide the invisible and the indivisible empty Spirit rising in me. 34 A pot may be broken or bored or removed from its place, but there is no loss sustained by the air that it contains. In the same way, the body may be destroyed, but there is no damage done to the unconnected soul. The mind is as false a name as that of a demon pisacha. 35 The destruction of the gross body does not injure the immaterial soul. What is the mind but the perceptive power of my desires and gross pleasures and pains? 36 I had such a perceiving mind before, but now I have found my rest in quiescence. I find the mind is another thing beside myself because it perceives and partakes of the enjoyments of life and is exposed to the dangers that take the body. 37 There is another one in me which beholds the actions of the other as a theatric act and witnesses the exposure of the body to peril as its last sad catastrophe. 38 The mind is the wicked spirit caught in ignorance, but the pure spirit has nothing to suffer. I feel neither the wish to continue worldly enjoyments nor a desire to forsake them altogether. 39 Let what may come to pass on me, and whatever may happen to pass away from me. I have neither the expectation of pleasures nor an aversion to suffering pain. 40 Let pleasure or pain take or forsake me as it may without my being concerned or taking heed of either because I know fluctuating desires are constantly rising and setting in the sphere of my mind. 41 Let these desires depart from me for I have nothing to do with them, nor have they any concern with me. Alas! How all this time ignorance, my greatest enemy, has misled me to these desires!
42 It is by favor of Vishnu and by virtue of my pure Vaishnava faith rising in me of itself that my ignorance is now wholly dispelled from me and the knowledge of the True One is revealed to me. 43 My knowledge of truth has now driven away egoism from my mind, just as they drive a spirit from its hiding place in the hollow of a tree. 44 I am now purified by admonition (mantra) of divine knowledge. The tree of my body is now set free from egoism which sat like a demon yaksha in it. 45 My body has become like a sacred tree, blooming with heavenly flowers and freed from the evils of ignorance, poverty and vain wishes which previously infested it. 46 Loaded with the treasure of sacred knowledge, I find myself sitting here as one supremely rich. Knowing all that is to be known, I see sights that are invisible to others.
47 Now I have that in which nothing can be wanting and in which there is no want. It is by my good fortune that I am freed from all evils and the venomous serpents of worldly cares. 48 My chill and frigid ignorance is melted down by the light of knowledge. The hot mirage of my desires is now quenched and cooled by my quietude. I see the clear sky on all sides without any mist or dust. I rest under the cooling shade of the tranquility of my soul.
49 It is by my glorification of God, my thanksgivings to Vishnu, my holy rites, and my divine knowledge and quietism that I have obtained, by grace of my God, a spacious room and elevated position in spirituality. 50 I have that God in my spirit. I have seen and known him in his spiritual form. He is beyond my own ego and I remember him always in this manner.
51 I remember Vishnu as the great Spirit, the eternal Brahman in his nature, while my selfish ego is confined like a snake in the holes of my organic frame, which is wholly the land of death. 52 It is entangled in the bushes of its pricking desires resembling prickly karanja ferns amidst the tumults of raging passions and a thousand other disturbances of this world. 53 It is placed amidst the conflagration of disasters, encircled by the flames of smart pain at all times. It is subject to continual ups and downs of fortune, and repeated risings and fallings in its journey in this world. 54 It has its repeated births and deaths owing to its interminable desires. Thus I am always deceived by this great enemy, my own egoism.
55 The animal soul is powerless at night, as if caught in the clutches of a demon in the forest. So while I am in this state of meditation, I feel deprived of its power and action. 56By grace of Vishnu the light of my understanding is roused. I see my God by means of this light and I lose sight of my demonic egoism. 57 The sight of demonic egoism dwelling in the cavity of my mind disappears from my view in the same way as the shadow of darkness flies from the light of a lamp, and as the shade of night is dispersed by daylight. 58 After a lighted lamp is extinguished, you do not know where its flame has fled. In the same way, when we see God before us, we do know where our lordly egoism is hidden.
59 My rich egoism flies at the approach of reason, just like a heavily loaded robber flies before the advance of daylight. Our false egoism vanishes like a demon at the rising of the true Ego of God. 60 My egoism being gone, I am set at ease like a tree freed from a poisonous snake rankling in its hollow cavity. When I am awakened to my spiritual light, I am at rest in my unconsciousness in this world.
61 I have escaped from the hand of my captor and gained my permanent ascendency over others. I have my internal equanimity and I have allayed the mirage of my thirst after vain glory. 62 I have bathed in the cold bath of rainwater and I am pacified like a rock after the cooling of its conflagration. I am cleansed of my egoism by my knowledge of the true meaning of the term.
63 What is ignorance and what are our pains and affliction? What are our evil desires and what are our diseases and dangers? All these with the ideas of heaven and liberation, together with the hope of heaven and the fear of hell, are only false conceptions proceeding from our egoism or selfishness. 64 As a picture is drawn on a canvas and not in empty air, so our thoughts depend upon our selfish principle and its want. As clear linen receives the yellow color of saffron, so the pure soul receives the image of God. Egoism weakens the soul with the irritable passions of the heart, like the inborn color of a dirty cloth makes a good dye defective.
65 Purity of the inner soul is like the clarity of the autumn sky. It is devoid of the cloudiness of egoism and the drizzling drops of desires.
66 I bow down to you, O my innermost soul inmost that is a stream of bliss to me, with pure clear waters amidst and without the dirt of egoism about you. 67 I hail you, O my soul that is an ocean of joy to me, not infested by the sharks of sensual desires and undisturbed by the undersea fire of the latent mind. 68 I prostrate myself before you, O my living soul that is a mountain of delight to me, without the hovering clouds of egoistic passions or the wild fires of gross desires and desires. 69 I bow to you, O soul in me that is the heavenly Lake Manasa to me, with blooming lotuses of delight and without the waves of cares and anxieties.
70 I greet you, my internal spirit floating in the shape of a swan on the lake of the mind of every individual, and residing in the cavity of the lotus crown chakra (brahmarandhra) with your outstretched wings of consciousness and standing. 71 All hail to you, O full and perfect spirit that is the undivided and immortal soul which in your several parts of the mind and senses is like the full moon containing all its digits in its entire self.
72 Obeisance to the sun of my consciousness is always in its ascendency and dispels the darkness of my heart. My consciousness pervades everywhere, yet it is invisible or dimly seen by us. 73 I bow to my intellectual light which is an oil-less and wick-less lamp of benign brightness that burns in full blaze within me. It is the enlightener of nature and quite still in its nature.
74 Whenever my mind is heated by Kama Deva’s fire, I cool it by the coolness of my cold and detached intellect coolness, just as they temper red hot iron with a cold, hard hammer. 75 I am gaining my victory over all things by killing my egoism by the Great Ego, and by making my senses and mind destroy themselves. 76 I bow to you, O all subduing faith that crushes our ignorant doubt by your wisdom, that dispels unrealities by your knowledge of the reality, and that removes our cravings by your contentedness. 77 I exist solely as the transparent spirit by killing my mind by the great Mind, by removing my egoism by the sole Ego, and by driving the unrealities by the true Reality.
78 I place my body’s reliance only upon the moving principle of my soul, without consciousness of my individual existence, my egoism, or my mind and all its efforts and actions. 79 At last I have obtained, of its own accord and by the infinite grace of the Lord of all, the highest blessing of cold heartedness and detachment in myself. 80 By subsiding the demon of my ignorance and from disappearance of the demon of my egoism, I am now freed from the heat of my feverish passions.
81 My false egoism has fled from the cage of my body by breaking its string of desires to which its feet were fast bound. I do not know where it has fled. 82 I do not know where the bird of my egotism has flown from its nest in the tree of my body, after blowing away its thick ignorance as dust. 83Ah, where is my egoism fled, with its body smeared with the dust and dirt of worldliness, and battered by the rocks of its desires that can never be satisfied? It is bitten by the deadly serpents of fears and dangers, and pierced in its heart by repeated disappointments and despair. 84 O, wonder to think what I had been all this time when I was bound fast by my egoism in the strong chain of my personality.
85 I think I am a new born being today, and to have become high-minded also, by being removed from the thick cloud of egoism which had shrouded me all this time. 86 I have seen and known and obtained this treasure of my soul, as it is presented to my understanding by the verbal testimonies of the scriptures, and by the light of inspiration in my hour of samadhi meditation. 87 My mind is set at rest and released from the cares of the world, like a fire that is extinguished. It is released from all other thoughts and desires and the error of egoism. I am now set free from my affections and passions and all delights of the world, and also my craving after them.
88 I have passed over the impassable ocean of dangers and difficulties and the intolerable evils of reincarnation by the disappearance of my internal darkness and the sight of the one great God in my consciousness.
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Chapter 36 — Prahlada’s Hymn to the Soul
1 Prahlada continued:— I thank you, O lord and great spirit who is beyond all things and is found in myself by my good fortune. 2 Except you, O my Lord, I have no other friend in the three worlds who embraces and looks upon me when I pray to you. 3 It is you who preserves and destroys all and who gives all things to everybody. It is you who makes us move and work and praise your holy name. Now you are found and seen by me, and now you go away from me.
4 You fill all beings in the world with your essence. You are present in all places, but where have you fled and gone from me? 5 Great is the distance between us, even as the distance of the places of our birth. It is my good fortune, O friend, that has brought you near me today and presented you to my sight.
6 I hail you, O blissful One who is my maker and preserver. I think that you are the stalk of this fruit of the world, and you are the eternal and pure soul of all. 7 I thank the holder of the lotus and discus, and you also who bears the crescent half moon on your forehead, great Shiva. I thank the lord of gods, Indra, and also Brahma, who is born of the lotus.
8 Use of words makes a distinction between you and ourselves. But this is a false impression, like that between waves and their element water. 9 You show yourself in the shapes of the endless varieties of beings. Existence and extinction are your two states from all eternity. 10 I thank you who is the creator and beholder of all and who manifests innumerable forms. I thank you who is the whole nature yourself.
11 I have undergone many tribulations in the long course of past lives. By your will I became deprived of my strength and at last was burnt away. 12 I have seen luminous worlds and observed many visible and invisible things, but you are not to be found in them, so I gained nothing. 13 All things composed of earth, stone and wood are formations of water. There is nothing here that is permanent, O God, beside yourself. You being obtained there is nothing else to desire.
14 I thank you Lord who is obtained, seen and known by me this day, and who shall be preserved by me and never obliterated from my mind. 15 Your bright form, interwoven by the rays of light, is visible to us by inverting our sight into the innermost recesses of our heart. 16 As the feeling of heat and cold is perceived by touch, and as the fragrance of the flower is felt in the oil with which it is mixed, so I feel your presence by your coming in contact with my heart. 17 As the sound of music enters into the heart through the ears and makes the heart strings thrill and the hairs of the body stand on end, so is your presence perceived in our hearts also. 18 As the objects of taste are felt by the tip of the tongue which conveys their taste to the mind, so is your presence felt by my heart when you touch it with your love.
19 A man takes up a sweet scenting flower, perceptible only by the sense of smell, and decorates his outer body with it How can one slight to look and lay hold of his inner soul which shoots through every sense of his body? 20 How can we in any way forget the Supreme Spirit which is well known to us by means of the teachings of the Vedas, Vedanta, Sidhantas and the Puranas, as also by the logic of schools and the hymns of the Vedas? 21 These things which are pleasant to the bodily senses do not gladden my heart when it is filled by your translucent presence.
22 By your effulgent light the sun shines so brightly. By your benign luster the moon dispenses her cooling beams. 23 You have made these bulky rocks and upheld the heavenly bodies. You have supported the stable earth and lifted the spacious firmament. 24 Fortunately you have become myself and I have become one with yourself. I am identical with you and you with me, and there is no difference between us.
25 I thank the great spirit that is expressed by turns by the words “myself” and “yourself” and “mine” and “yours.”
26 I thank the infinite God who dwells in my mind without personal ego. I thank the formless Lord who dwells in my tranquil soul. 27 O Lord, you dwell in my formless, tranquil, transparent and conscious soul, just as you reside in your own spirit which is unbounded by the limitations of time and space.
28 By you the mind has its action, the senses have their sensations, the body has all its powers, and the vital and respiration breaths have their inflations and deflations. 29 The organs of the body are led by the rope of desire to their various actions. Being united with flesh, blood and bones, the body’s organs are driven like the wheels of a car by the charioteer of the mind. 30 I am the consciousness of my body. I am not the body itself or my egoism of it. Therefore let it rise or fall. It is of no advantage or disadvantage to me.
31 I was born at the same time as my ego. It was long afterwards that I had knowledge of my soul. Last of all I had my unconsciousness in the manner of the world approaching its dissolution at the end. 32 Long have I travelled in the lengthy journey of the world. I am weary with fatigue and now rest in quiet, like the cooling fire of the last doomsday conflagration.
33 I thank the Lord who is all and yet without all and everything. I thank you, my soul that likewise is me. I thank you above those scriptures and teachers that teach the subjective ego and the objective you. 34 I hail the all the witnessing power of that providential spirit that has made these ample and endless provisions for others, without touching or enjoying them itself. 35 You are the spirit that dwells in all bodies in the form of the fragrance of flowers, like breath in bellows and oil residing in sesame seeds.
36 How wonderful is this magic scene of yours that you appear in everything and preserve and destroy it in the end without having any personality of your own. 37 At times you make my soul rejoice by manifesting all things before it, like a lighted lamp. You also make my soul joyful when it is extinguished like a lamp after its enjoyment of phenomena. 38 This universal frame is situated in an atom of yourself, just like a big banyan tree is contained in the embryo of a grain of its fig. 39 You are seen, O Lord, in a thousand forms that glide under our sight, like the various forms of elephants, horses, carts and other things are seen in clouds passing in the sky. 40 You are both the existence and absence of all things that are either present or lost to our view. Yet you are quite apart from all worldly existences. You are aloof from all entities and non-entities in the world.
41 O my soul, forsake the pride and anger of your mind and all the foulness and slyness of your heart, because the high-minded never fall into the faults and errors of common people. 42 Think over and over upon the actions of your past life and the long series of your wicked acts. Then with a sigh blush to think upon what you have been before and cease to do such acts anymore. 43 The bustle of your life is past. Gone are your bad days when you were wrapped in the net of your tangled thoughts on all sides. 44 Now you are a monarch in the city of your body. You have the desire of your mind presented before you. You are set beyond the reach of pleasure and pain and you are as free as the air which nobody can grasp. 45 Now you have subdued the difficult to manage horses of your bodily organs. You have mastered the incapable of being subdued elephant of your mind. You have crushed your enemy of worldly enjoyment. So now rule as the sole sovereign over the empire of your body and mind.
46 You are now become like the glorious sun shining within and without us day by day. You traverse the unlimited fields of air by your continued rising and setting at every place in our meditation of you.
47 O Lord, you are ever asleep, and by your own power, you rise also. Then you look on the luxuriant world as a lover looks on his beloved. 48 These luxuries, like honey, are brought from great distances by the bees of the bodily organs. The spirit tastes the sweets by looking upon them through the windows of its eyes. 49 The seat of the intellectual world in the head is always dark. There is a path in it made by the breathings of inspiration and respiration which leads the soul to the sight of Brahma.
50 O Lord, you are the scent of your flower-like body. You are the nectar juice of your moonlike frame, the moisture of this bodily tree, and the coolness of its cold humors. 51You are the juice, milk and butter that support the body. You being gone, the body is dried up and becomes fuel to feed the fire. 52 You are the flavor of fruits and the light of all luminous bodies. It is you who perceives and knows all things and gives light to the visual organ of sight. 53 You are the vibration of the wind and the force of our elephantine minds. You are the acuteness of the flame of our intelligence. 54 You give us the gift of speech, stop our breath, and make it break forth again on occasion.
55 All these various series of worldly productions bear the same relation to you as the varieties of jewelry relate to the gold of which they are made. 56 You are called by the words “I”, “you”, “he”, and the like. It is you yourself who calls yourself such as it pleases yourself. 57 You are seen in the appearances of all the productions of nature, just as we see the forms of men, horses and elephants in the clouds when they glide softly on the wings of the gentle winds. 58 You invariably show yourself in all your creatures on earth, just as a blazing fire presents the figures of horses and elephants in its bright flames. 59 You are the unbroken thread by which the orbs of worlds are strung together like a chain of pearls. You are the field that grows the harvest of creation by the moisture of your intellect.
60 Things that were nonexistent and unproduced before creation have come to light from their hidden state of reality by your agency, just as the flavor of meat becomes evident by the process of cooking. 61 The beauties of existences are imperceptible without the soul, just as the graces of a beauty are not apparent to one devoid of his eyesight. 62All substances are nothing whatever without your inherence in them, just as the reflection of the face in the mirror is to no purpose without the real face or figure of the person. 63Without you the body is a lifeless mass, like a block of wood or stone. The body is imperceptible without the soul, like the shadow of a tree without sunlight.
64 The succession of pain and pleasure ceases to be felt by one who feels you within himself, just as the shades of darkness, the twinkling of stars, and the coldness of frost cease to exist in bright sunlight. 65 It is by a glance of your eye that the feelings of pain and pleasure rise in the mind, just as the rising sunbeams tinges the sky with its variegated colors. 66 Living beings perish in a moment at the deprivation of your presence, just as a burning lamp is extinguished in darkness at the extinction of its light. 67 The gloom of darkness is conspicuous with the lack of light but coming in contact with light, it vanishes from view. 68 So the appearances of pain and pleasure present themselves before the mind during your absence from it and vanish into nothing at the advance of your light.
69 The temporary feelings of pleasure and pain can find no room in the fullness of heavenly joy, just as a minute moment of time is of no account in the abyss of eternity. 70 The thoughts of pleasure and pain are like the short lived fancies of a fairyland or castles in air. They appear by turns at your pleasure, but they disappear altogether as soon as your form is seen in the mind. 71 By your light in our visual organs, things appear to sight at the moment of our waking. You reproduce them into being. It is also by your light poured into our minds that they are seen in our dream, as if they are all asleep in death.
72 What good can we derive from these false and transient appearances in nature? No one can string together the seeming lotuses that are formed by the foaming froth of the waves. 73 No substantial good can come to us from transitory mortal things, just as nobody can string together the transient flashes of lightning into a necklace. 74 Should the rationalist take the false ideas of pain and pleasure for sober realities, then what distinction can there be between them and the irrational realists? 75 Should you, like the nominalist (who believes there is nothing general except names), take everything which bears a name to be a real entity, then I will tell you no more than you are too fond to will to give fictitious names to imaginary things.
76 But the soul is indivisible without desire or egoism. We know nothing whether it is a real substance or not, yet its agency is acknowledged on all hands in our bodily actions.
77 All joys that are boundless in your spiritual body be yours who is ever disposed to tranquility, who is beyond the knowledge of the Vedas, and who is yet the theme of all scriptures. 78 All joy to you who is both born and unborn with the body, who is decaying and without decay in your nature, who is the unsubstantial substance of all qualities, and who is known and unknown to everybody. 79 I exult now and am calm again. I move and am still afterwards. I am victorious and live to win my liberation by your grace. Therefore I hail you who is myself.
80 When you are situated in me, my soul is free from all troubles and feelings and passions. It is placed in perfect rest. There is no more fear of danger or difficulty or of life and death, nor any craving for prosperity when I am absorbed in everlasting bliss with you.
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Chapter 37 — Prahlada Meditates for Thousands of Years; the Asura Kingdom in Chaos
1 Vasishta said:— Prahlada the victor over hostile hosts, was sitting in divine meditation, absorbed in his entranced bliss for a long time. 2 The soul reposing in its original state of unalterable ecstasy made his body as still as a rock in painting or a figure carved in relief on stone. 3 In this manner, sitting in his house in a posture as unshaken as the firm Mount Meru is fixed upon the earth, a long time passed in his meditation.
4 The great asura demons of his palace tried to rouse him in vain because his deadened mind remained deaf to their calls like a solid rock. He was impassive as a parched grain to the showers of rain. 5 For thousands of years he remained intent upon his God, his gaze fixed and firm, as unmoved as the carved sun upon a sundial. 6 Having thus attained the state of supreme bliss, the sight of unhappiness disappeared from his view as it is unknown to the supremely blissful being.
7 During this time the whole extent of his kingdom was overtaken by spreading anarchy and oppression, as if ruling over the poor fishes. 8 Because after Hiranykashipu was killed and his son became an ascetic, there was nobody left to rule over the kingdoms of the asura race. 9 As Prahlada was not to be roused from his meditation slumber by the solicitations of the Daitya demon chiefs or the cries of his oppressed people, 10 the enemies of the gods were as sorry not to have their graceful lord among them as the bees are aggrieved for lack of the blooming lotus at night. 11 They found him absorbed in his meditation, like when the world is drowned in deep sleep after the sun departs below the horizon. 12 The sorrowful Daityas left his presence and went away wherever they liked. They roved about at random, as they do in an ungoverned state.
13 In time the infernal regions became the seat of anarchy and oppression. Good and honest dealings bade farewell all at once. 14 The houses of the weak were robbed by the strong and the restraints of laws were set at nothing. People oppressed one another and robbed women of their clothes. 15 There were crying and wailing of people on all sides and houses were pulled down in the city. Houses and gardens were robbed and spoiled and outlawry and rapacity spread all over the land.
16 The asuras were in deep sorrow. Their families were starving without food or fruit. There were disturbances and riots rising everywhere and the face of the sky was darkened on all sides. 17 They were derided by the youths of the gods and invaded by vile robbers and envious animals. Houses were robbed of their properties and laid waste and empty. 18The asura kingdom became a scene of horror with lawless fighting for wives and properties of others, and the wailings of those who were robbed of their wealth and wives. It made the scene seem like the rule of the dark Kali age when atrocious marauders are let loose to spread devastation all over the earth.
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Chapter 38 — Vishnu Decides to Restore Order and Awaken Prahlada
1 Vasishta continued:— Now Vishnu, who slept on his couch of the snake in his watery house of the Milky Ocean and whose delight was to preserve the order of all groups of worlds, 2 after he rose from his sleep at the end of the rainy season, looked into the course of world in his own mind for achieving the objects of the gods. 3 At a glance of his thought, he surveyed the state of the triple world composed of heaven, earth and the regions below. Then he directed his attention to the affairs of the infernal regions of the demons.
4 There he saw Prahlada sitting in his intense meditation samadhi. Then Vishnu looked into the increasing prosperity of Indra’s palace. 5 Sitting as he was, on his serpentine couch in the Milky Ocean with his arms holding conch-shell, discus, club and lotus in his four hands and 6 in his lotus posture, Vishnu thought in his brilliant mind about the states of the three worlds, like fluttering bee inspecting a lotus. 7 He saw Prahlada immersed in his meditation and the infernal regions left without a leader. He saw that the world was about to be devoid of the Daitya race.
Vishnu thinking to himself:— 8 This lack of demons is likely to cool the military ardor of the gods, as the lack of clouds dries up the waters on earth. 9 Liberation obtained by deprivation of dualism and egoism brings a man to a state of asceticism, just as the lack of moisture dries up and kills a promising plant.
10 If the gods are at rest and contented in themselves, there would be no need of sacrifices and offerings to please and appease them. Eventually this will lead to the extinction of the gods (because they rely upon being fed with butter and fat from the sacrifices). 11 The end of religious and sacrificial rites among mankind will bring on the destruction of human race (owing to their impiety), which will cause the desolation of the earth (by wild beasts). 12 With it, the impressions (samsara) of worldly existence ceases. My creation after the Deluge melts away at the improper time like snow by the heat of the sun.
13 What is the good of my benevolent guidance if I were to allow this fruitful earth to go to ruin by my neglect? 14 What would I have to do in this empty void of the world after the extinction of these created beings into nothing? I would have to change my active nature to a state of cold inactivity and lose myself into the samadhi of final liberation. 15 I see no good in the untimely dissolution of the order of the world. Therefore, I would have the Daityas live to its end.
16 It is owing to the struggles of the demons that the gods are worshipped with sacrifices and other religious rites for their preservation of the earth. Therefore the demons are necessary for the continuation of these practices. 17 Therefore I shall have to visit the nether world and restore it to its right order. I shall appoint the lord of the demons to observe his proper duties, like the return of spring fructifies trees.
18 If I raise any other Daitya as chief of the demons and leave Prahlada in his meditation, surely Prahlada will disturb the gods instead of being obedient to them. Because no demon can get rid of his demonic nature like Prahlada. 19 Prahlada is to live to old age in his sacred body until the end of the kalpa age. 20 So it is determined by Destiny, the divine and overruling goddess, that Prahlada will continue to rule to the end of the kalpa in this very body of his.
21 Therefore I must go and awaken the Daitya chief from his samadhi, like roaring cloud rousing sleepy peacocks on the tops of hills and the banks of rivers. 22 Let that sleeping prince who has rid himself of his ego rule unconcerned over the Daitya race, just as the unconscious pearl reflects the colors of its adjacent objects. 23 In this way, both gods and demigods will be preserved on the face of the earth, and their contention for superiority over each other will furnish occasion for the display of my prowess.
24 Though I am indifferent to the creation and destruction of the world, yet its continuation in the primordial order is of much concern to others, if not to my insusceptible self.25 Whatever is alike in its existence and nonexistence is the same in both its gain and loss (to the indifferent soul). Any effort for having anything is mere foolishness since addition and subtraction presuppose one another.
26 Therefore I shall hasten to the infernal region and awaken the Daitya prince to his sense of duty. Then I will resume my calmness and not play about on the stage of the world like the ignorant. 27 I will proceed to the city of the demons amidst their tumultuous violence and rouse the Daitya prince like sunshine raising a drooping lotus. I shall bring the people to order and union like the rainy season collects fleeting clouds on the summits of mountains.
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Chapter 39 — Vishnu’s Awakens Prahlada & Exhorts Him to Live Out His Life
1 Vasishta continued:— Thinking thus within himself, Vishnu started from his abode in the Milky Ocean with his companions and moved like the immovable Mandara Mountain with all its accompaniments. 2 He entered the city of Prahlada, which resembled Indra’s city, by an underground passage lying under the waters of the deep.
3 There he found the prince of the asura demons, sitting under a golden dome in his hypnotic samadhi, like Brahma sitting in his meditative mood in a cave of Sumeru Mountain. 4 The Daityas, their bodies changed by the bright rays of Vishnu’s presence, fled far away from him, like a flock of owls from the bright beams of the rising sun. 5 Then Vishnu, accompanied by two or three Daitya chiefs, entered Prahlada’s apartment like the bright moon entering the pavilion of the sky at evening accompanied by two or three stars.
6 There, seated on his eagle, fanned with the fan of Lakshmi, armed with his weapons, and beset by the saints hymning his praise, 7 Vishnu said, “O great soul! Rise from your samadhi!” Then Vishnu blew his five-note conch shell, its sound reaching heaven’s dome. 8 The loud sound of the conch blown by the breath of Vishnu immediately roared with redoubled force like the clouds of the sky or the waves of the great flood. 9 Terrified at the sound, the Daityas fell flat and fainting on the ground like flocks of swans and geese stunned by the thundering noise of clouds. 10 But the party of Vaishnavas rejoiced at the sound without the least fear. They flushed with joy like kurchi flowers blooming at the sound of the clouds.
11 The lord of the Danava demons was slowly roused from his meditative sleep, just as kadamba flowers open by degrees during intervals of rain. 12 By an act of exhaling he brought down his vital breath which was confined in the vertical membrane of the cranium, like the Ganges River gushes out from high hills and mixes and flows with the whole body of waters into the ocean. 13 In a moment vital breath circulated throughout Prahlada’s whole body, like sunbeams spreading over the whole world at sunrise.
14 As vital breath entered into the cells of the nine organs of sense, his mind became susceptible of sensations received through the organs of the body like reflections in a mirror. 15 The intellect desiring to know the objects and relying in the reflections of the senses, takes the name of the mind, just as the reflection of a face in the mirror refracts itself again to the visual organ. 16 The mind having opened or developed itself, his eyelids were about to open of themselves, like the petals of the blue lotus opening by degrees in the morning. 17 Then breathing, by conveying the sensations to the body through the veins and arteries, gave it the power of motion, just as the current breeze moves the lotuses.
18 The same vital breath strengthened the powers of his mind in a short time, like waves of a river become more powerful when it is full of water. 19 At last his eyes being opened, his body shone forth with life by its mental and vital powers, like a lake blushing with blooming lotuses when the sun rises above the horizon.
20 At this instant, Lord Vishnu bade him to awake instantly at his word, and Prahlada rose like a peacock awakened at the roar of a cloud. 21 Finding Prahlada’s eyes shining with light and his mind strong with its past memories, the lord of the three worlds spoke to him in the same manner as he had formerly addressed the lotus-born Brahma himself.
22 O holy youth! Remember your large dominions and bring your youthful form and figure to your mind. Then think and ponder why you are transforming yourself into this torpid state without cause. 23 You have no good to desire and no evil to shun. You look on want and plenty in the same light. You must know that what is destined by God is all for your good. 24 You shall have this body until the end of the kalpa. So I tell you, rule over this kingdom as a liberated soul having no ups and downs of the mind.
25 You shall have to live here for a kalpa period in the living liberated state of your mind and in full possession of your dominions. You shall have to pass your time with this body of yours and without any anxiety or earthly trouble whatever. 26 The body being decayed by this time, you still shall have to abide with your greatness of soul to the end until the body is broken down like an earthen vessel and the vital life, like air contained in a pot, comes to mix with the common air of emptiness.
27 Your body, liberated in its lifetime, is to endure in its purity to the end of the kalpa and will witness generations passing before it without any diminution of itself. 28 It is still a long time until the doomsday at the end of the kalpa, when the twelve suns will shine together, rocks will melt away, and the world will be burnt down to ashes. Why then do you waste away your body even now?
29 Now the winds are not raging with fury, nor is the world grey with age and covered with ashes. The marks on the foreheads of the gods are still fresh. Then why waste your body before its time?
30 The lightning of flood clouds are not flashing or falling like asoka flowers. Then why do you vainly waste your precious body so prematurely? 31 The skies do not pour out their showers of rainwater on earth to flood mountain tops, nor do they burst out in fire and burn them down to ashes. Why then do you waste away your body in vain? 32 The old world is not yet dissolved into vapor or fused to fumes and smoke. The gods are not extinct leaving Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to survive them. Why then do you waste yourself in vain? 33 The earth on all sides is not submerged under water leaving only the sight of high mountains, so why waste away your body in vain? 34 The sun is not yet shooting his fiery rays in the sky with such fury as to split mountains with hideous cracks, nor do doomsday clouds of world flood rattle and crackle in the midway sky.
35 I wander everywhere on my vehicle of Garuda and take care of all animal beings lest they die before their time. Therefore I do not like your negligence of yourself. 36 Here we are and there are the hills. These are other beings and that is yourself. This is the earth and that the sky. All these are separate entities and must last of themselves. Then why should you neglect your body and not live like the living?
37 A man whose mind is deluded by gross ignorance and one who is the object of afflictions are truly led to hail their deaths. 38 Death is welcome to he who is too weak, too poor, grossly ignorant, and always troubled by such and similar thoughts in his mind.
39 Death is welcomed by him whose mind is chained in the trap of greedy desires and thrills between its hopes and fears, and who is hurried and carried about in quest of greed and is always restless within himself. 40 He whose heart is parched by the thirst of greed and whose better thoughts are choked by it, like grain sprouts are destroyed by worms, is the person who welcomes death at all times. 41 He who lets the creeping passions of his heart grow as big as palm trees to overshadow the forest of his mind and bear the fruits of continued pain and pleasure is the man who hails his death at all times. 42 He whose mind is irritated by the weeds of cares growing as strong as the hair on his body, and who is subject to the constant evils of life, is the man who welcomes death for his relief. 43 He whose body is burning under the fire of diseases and whose limbs are slackened by age and weakness is the man to whom death is a remedy and who resorts to its aid for relief. 44 He who is tormented by his ardent desires and raging anger, like the poison of a snake bite, is like a withered tree and invites instant death for his release.
45 The soul quitting the body is called death, and this is unknown to the spiritually minded person who is quite indifferent about the entity and nonentity of the body. 46 Life is a blessing to him whose thoughts do not wander beyond the confines of himself, and also to the wise man who knows and investigates the true nature of things. 47 Life is also a blessing to he who is not given to his egotism, whose understanding is not darkened by untruth, and who preserves his evenness in all conditions of life. 48 His life is a blessing to he who has the inner satisfaction and coolness of his understanding, who is free from passions and hatred, who looks on the world as a mere witness, and who has his concern with nothing. 49 He is blessed in his life who has the knowledge of whatever is desirable or detestable to him and lives aloof from both with all his thoughts and feelings confined within himself.
50 His life is blessed who views all gross things in the light of nothing and whose heart and mind are absorbed in his silent and conscious soul. 51 Blessed is his life who having his sight represses it from viewing the affairs of the world, as if they are entirely unworthy of him. 52 His life is blessed who neither rejoices nor grieves at what is desirable or disadvantageous to him, but has his contentment in every state of life whether favorable or not. 53 He who is pure in his life and keeps company with pure minded men, who spreads the purity of his conduct all about and shuns the society of the impure, is as graceful to behold as the white swan with its snow white wings in the company of the fair fowls of the silvery lake. 54 Blessed is his life whose sight and memory and the mention of whose name give delight to all persons.
55 Know the life of that man, O lord of demons, to be truly happy whose lotus-like appearance is as delightful to the bee-like eyes of men as the sight of the full moon is delightful to the world.
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Chapter 40 — Vishnu Further Explains Living Liberation to Prahlada
1 The Lord continued:— Soundness of the body is what men call life, and quitting the present body for a future one is what they call death. 2 You are released from both these states, O high minded youth, and you have nothing to do with your life or death anymore. 3 I will tell you about the components of life and death. If you know this, you will not have to live or die like other living beings on earth. 4 Though situated in the body, yet you are as un-embodied as a disembodied spirit. Though embosomed in emptiness, yet are you as free and fleet as the wind because you are unattached to emptiness. 5 Your ability to perceive the touch of objects proves that you are an embodied being. Your soul is said to be the cause of that perception, as open air is said to be the cause of the growth of trees by putting no hindrance to their height. But neither is the soul the cause of perception nor is air the cause of trees’ growth.
6 To the monistic immaterialist, the perception of outward things is no proof of their materiality or of the corporeality of the soul that perceives, just as the sight of things in a dream is no proof of their substantiality. 7 All things are comprehended in yourself by the light of your consciousness. Your knowledge of the one in all comprehends everything in it. Then how can you have a body either to take as yourself or to reject it from you?
8 Whether the season of spring appears or not, or a hurricane happens to blow or subside, it is nothing to the pure soul which is clear of all connection whatever. 9 Whether the hills fall headlong to the ground, or the flames of destruction devour all things, or rapid gales rend the skies, it is no matter to the soul which rests secure in itself. 10 Whether creation exists or not, or whether all things perish or grow, it is nothing to the soul which exists of itself. 11 The Lord of this body does not waste by the waste of its frame, nor is he strengthened by strength of the body. He does not move by any bodily movement or sleep when the body and its senses are absorbed in sleep.
12 From where do you get this false thought in your mind that you belong to the body, that you are an embodied being, and that you come to take, retain and quit this mortal frame at different times? 13 Forsake the thought that you will do so and so after doing this and that. They who know the truth have given up such desires and vain expectations.
14 All waking and living persons have something to do in this world, and thereby they have to reap the results of their actions. But he who does nothing does not take the name of an active agent and has nothing to expect. 15 He who is not the agent of an action has nothing to do with its consequence, for he who does not sow the grains does not reap the harvest. 16 Ending of action and its fruition brings on a quiescence which, when it has become habitual and firm, receives the name of liberation.
17 All intellectual beings and enlightened men and those who lead pure and holy lives have all things under their comprehension. Therefore there is nothing left for them to learn anew or reject what they have learnt. 18 It is for limited understandings and limited powers of the body and mind to grasp or leave out some thing. But to men of unbounded capacities, there is nothing to be received or left out.
19 When a man is set at ease after he ceases having any relationship to being a possessor or possessing any external object, and when this sense of his not having any relationship becomes a permanent feeling in him, then he is said to be liberated in his lifetime. 20 Great men like you, being placed in this state of perpetual unconcern and rest, discharge their duties with as much ease as if sleeping. 21 When one’s desires are drowned in his reliance on God, he views the existing world shining in his spiritual light. 22 He takes no delight in the pleasing objects about him, nor does he regret others’ afflictions. All his pleasures are within his own soul. 23 With his wakeful mind, he meets all his affairs with his spiritual unconcern, like a mirror receiving the reflections of objects without being tainted by them. 24 In his waking he rests in himself, and in his sleep he reclines amidst the drowsy world. In his actions he turns about like frolicking children and his desires lie dormant in his soul.
25 O you, great soul, continue to enjoy your supreme bliss for the period of a kalpa by placing your mind’s reliance upon victorious Vishnu. Enjoy the prosperity of your dominions by exercising your virtues and good qualities.
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Chapter 41 — Installation of Prahlada in His Kingdom
1 Vasishta said:— After Vishnu, the receptacle of the three worlds and observer of everything that passes in them, had spoken in this way with his lucid speech, shedding the coolness of moonbeams, 2 Prahlada became full blown in his body. His eyes shone forth like blooming lotuses. Then he spoke out with full possession of his mental powers.
3 Prahlada said:— Lord! I was greatly tired from my very many state affairs, and from thinking about the welfare and sorrow of my people. Now I have found a little rest from my labor. 4 By your grace, my lord, I am settled in myself. Whether I am in my meditation or waking state, I enjoy the tranquility of my mind at all times. 5 I always see you with the clear vision of my mind seated in my heart. By my good luck, now I have you now in my presence outside of it.
6 All this time I have been sitting without any thought in me. I was mixed up in my mind’s internal vision of you like air in air. 7 I was not affected by grief or dullness, or infatuated by my zeal of asceticism or a wish to renounce my body. 8 The one All being present in the mind, there is no room for any grief at the loss of anything. No care for the world or caution of the body or life or any fear of any kind abides in His presence. 9 I had been situated in my holy, saint-like state simply by pure desire of holiness rising spontaneously within me.
10 Yes my Lord, I am disgusted with this world and long to resign its cares, together with all the mutations of joy and grief that alternately rise in the minds of the unenlightened. 11 Yet I do not think that our embodied state is subject to misery. I do not think that being freed from the bonds of the body is the cause of our release. Worldliness is a venomous snake in the bosom. It torments only the ignorant, not the sage.
12 It is the ignorant and not the learned whose minds fluctuate with the thoughts that this is pleasure and the other is pain, and that I have this and am in want of another. 13The ignorant man thinks himself to be a person distinct from another. So all living beings are devoid of the knowledge of truth and entertain and exult in their egoistic thoughts.14 The false idea that such things are acceptable to me and others are not so serves only to delude the ignorant, not the wise.
15 All things being contained and situated in my all-pervading spirit, how can we accept one and reject another thing, as distinct from and undesirable to the identical one? 16The whole universe, whether real or unreal, is a manifestation of omniscience. We know not what is desirable or detestable in it to be accepted or rejected by us. 17 It is only by discrimination of the nature of the viewer and the view, and by reflecting on the Supreme Soul in one’s self, that the mind receives its rest and tranquility.
18 During my samadhi I was freed from the consciousness of my being or not being, and of whatever is desirable or detestable to anyone. I continue in the same state of my mind even after I am awakened. 19 This state being familiar to me, I see everything in the spirit within myself and I act according as it pleases you.
20 O lotus-eyed Vishnu, you are adored in all the three worlds! Therefore it benefits you to receive my adoration also, offered in the proper form.
Vasishta speaking:— 21 Saying so, the lord of Danava demons presented a platter of presents before the god, like the lord of hills making offerings to the full moon. 22 First he worshipped Vishnu, together with his weapons and his vehicle Garuda. Then he adored the bands of the gods and apsara nymphs who accompanied him and the three worlds contained in him.
23 After he had done worshipping the lord of the worlds, with the worlds situated within and without him, the Lord of Lakshmi spoke to him saying, 24 “Rise, O lord of Danavas, and sit upon your throne and I shall perform your inauguration this very moment.” 25 Vishnu then blew his five-note conch shell summoning the five races of gods, spiritual masters, true disciples, men and Daitya demons to attend the ceremony.
26 After this the lotus-eyed god placed Prahlada on the throne which he deserved, causing him to sit like cloud rests on a mountain summit. 27 Then Vishnu caused him to make a sacred ablution with the waters that were presented before him from the milky and other oceans, and those of the Ganges and other holy rivers. 28 The assembly of brahmins and rishis and all groups of spiritual masters and vidyadharas, together with the rulers of the quarters (lokapalas) attended and assisted at the ceremony. 29 Then Vishnu, the immeasurable Spirit, anointed the great asura demon in the kingdom of the Daityas. The Maruta winds sang his praises, as they do the hymns of Vishnu in heaven. 30 Then blessed by the gods and praised by asuras, Prahlada greeted them all in turn and in the end was addressed by Vishnu, the slayer of Madhu.
31 The Lord said:— Rule here as sole monarch as long as Mount Meru stands on the earth and the sun and moon shine in the sky. Be filled with all praiseworthy virtues of your own. 32 Govern your kingdom without any interested motive of your own and without showing any symptom of anger or fear on your part. Preserve your moderation and a tolerant spirit in all your affairs. 33 May you never have any disquiet in this kingdom of excellent soil and plenteous provisions. Do not create any disturbance to the gods in heaven or to men on earth below. 34 Conduct yourself in your proper course at all events which may occur to you at anytime or place. Never allow yourself to be led astray by the sudden whims of your mind or the freaks of fancy. 35 Keep your spiritual being in mind and abandon your egoism and selfish views altogether. Then by managing your affairs in one even tenor, both in your want and prosperity, you will evade all the changing ways of fortune. 36 You have seen both the ways and dealings of this world, and measured also the immeasurable depth of spiritual knowledge. You know the state of everything in every place and require no one’s advice.
37 As you are now perfectly devoid of anger, passions and fears, there is no more any chance of further conflict between the gods and asuras under your rule over them in future. 38 No more will the tears of asura women wash the decorations on their faces, nor will the currents of rivers rise as high as lofty trees with floods of tears from their weeping eyes. 39 From this day on, the cessation of hostilities between the gods and demons will render the earth as quiet as the calm ocean after its churning by Mandara Mountain. 40 No more will the wives of gods and demigods be led away in captivity by one another. In the future they will rest fearless under the marital roofs of their husbands.
41 Now let your expectations rise from their dormancy in many long nights of dismal darkness. Be crowned with success and prosperity. O descendant of Danu, enjoy your unconquerable royal fortune, as in the company of your charming consort.
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Chapter 42 — God Realization in the Form One Worships God
1 Vasishta continued:— The lotus-eyed Vishnu, having said all this to Prahlada, left the abode of the asura with the whole concourse of assembled gods, kinnaras and men. 2Prahlada and his associates threw handfuls of flowers on the departing god as he was mounted on the back of Garuda, the king of birds.
3 The god crossed the heavenly Ganges and reached the Milky Ocean, where he took his serpent couch like a black bee sitting on a lotus leaf. 4 The god Vishnu sat on his serpent seat with as much ease as Indra sits in heaven in the assembly of the gods, and as the lord of the demons was made to sit in the infernal region wholly devoid of all his cares.
5 Rama, now I have told you the whole story of Prahlada coming to his sense from the samadhi state of unconsciousness.
This story is as charming to the holy listener as cooling moonbeams are refreshing to a tired traveler. 6 The man who ponders in his mind the manner of Prahlada awakening to life is regenerated in that blissful state from the sinfulness of his former condition. 7 A simple repetition of this story wipes off the sins of men. The deep consideration of its spiritual meaning leads one to his eternal salvation. 8 The ignorant are released from their ignorance, and the deep thinker is released from his sins. Therefore, do not neglect to ponder well on it for the remission of all your sins. 9 The man who considers well the manner of Prahlada attaining liberation gets a remission of all his sins committed in his repeated previous states of life.
10 Rama said, “Tell me sage, how did the sound of the five-note conch shell rouse the mind of devout Prahlada from its immersion in holy meditation?”
11 Vasishta replied:— Rama, know there are two states of liberation attending sinless persons. One is the emancipation in his embodied state in this life and the other is after his departure from here. 12 Embodied liberation means one continues in his living body, but with a state of mind freed from its attachment to worldly things and liberated from the desire of fruition and reward of all his meritorious acts. 13 Disembodied liberation is obtained after the soul is released from the body and is settled in the Supreme Spirit. It is freedom from the recurrence of future life and birth in this mortal world.
14 The living liberated man is like a fried grain whose germinating power is parched within itself and the desire of whose heart is purified from every expectation of future reward or regeneration. 15 He who resigns himself solely to the meditation of the great soul remains in the pure, holy and magnanimous state of his mind. He continues as if he were asleep in his living and waking states. 16 Being thus entranced in his inner meditation, he continues in a samadhi state for a thousand years and wakes again to his senses if he is allowed to live after that period. 17 Prahlada remained thus with his holy thoughts suppressed within himself until he was roused from his samadhi by the shrill sound of the conch shell.
18 Vishnu is the soul of all beings, and he who assimilates himself to that god in his thought becomes identified with the Supreme Soul, which is the cause of all. 19 No sooner the god thought that Prahlada should come to his sense than his sensation came immediately to him at the Divine Will.
20 The world has no other cause but the Divine Spirit which with the assistance of the causal elements takes different forms upon itself at the time of creation. Therefore it is the spirit of Vishnu that constitutes the world. 21 Worship of God (as Vishnu) in spirit presents Vishnu to the spiritual sight. Worship of Vishnu in his outward form represents the figure to the soul and the inner mind. 22 O Rama, put all visible sights out from your view and look at the innermost soul within yourself. When you are accustomed to such spiritual meditation, soon you will have the sight of your God.
23 The world presents a scene of gloomy rainy weather with showers of grief falling on all sides. It is likely to freeze us in ignorance unless we look to the sun of our reason. 24By grace of God we can avoid the delusions of the world, just as we can escape a demon by means of a spell. 25 The thick darkness of the mind is dispersed and cleared off in time through the will of the spirit. The world is a network of delusion which is scattered like smoke by the breeze of reason.
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Chapter 43 — Worship of the Formless Versus the Forms of God
1 Rama said, “Sage, your knowledge of all truths and the light of your holy discourses have gratified me as much as cooling moonbeams gratify medicinal plants. 2 Your gentle and purifying words are as gratifying to my ears as beautiful and sweet flowers delight the external senses. 3 Sage, if the efforts of men, as you said, are the causes of their success, how did Prahlada attain enlightenment without his effort or attempt?”
4 Vasishta replied:— Yes Rama, it was by his courageous efforts that the high-minded Prahlada acquired his divine knowledge. There was no other cause.
5 The soul of man is the same as the spirit of Narayana. There is no difference between them, just as there is none between oil and sesame seed, or cloth and its whiteness, and as the flower and its fragrance are not distinct things. 6 Vishnu is the same as his spirit and the soul of man, and the human soul is the same with Vishnu. Vishnu and soul are synonymous terms, like plant and vegetable.
7 First Prahlada came to know the soul by himself. Afterwards, through his intellectual power he was led to his devotions to Vishnu, and he made many converts after his own example. 8 By his own efforts Prahlada obtained his grace and blessing from Vishnu. By the exercise of his own reasoning he came to the knowledge of the Eternal Mind.
9 Sometimes the soul is awakened of itself by one’s own intuition. At other times the soul is roused by the grace of the personal god Vishnu owing to one’s faith in his person.10 And though this god may be pleased with a devotee’s prolonged service and devout worship, yet the god is unable to confer spiritual knowledge to one devoid of his reasoning faculty. 11Hence the primary cause of spiritual light is a man’s intelligence, which is only gained by exertion of his mental powers. The secondary causes may be the blessing and grace of a god, but I wish that you prefer the former method for your salvation, your own intuition.
12 Therefore, first exert your personal efforts to keep the fivefold organs of sense under proper control. Regularly and diligently practice cultivating your understanding and the power of reasoning. 13 For know that whatever gain anyone makes at anytime is only due to his own efforts and not by any other means whatever. 14 Only by relying upon your personal powers can you surmount the insuperable barriers of your sensual desires. Then by crossing over the ocean of this world, you reach the other shore of supreme joy.
15 It requires no personal effort to see an idol of Vishnu, but the mere sight of the idol is not enough to save you, or else the birds and beasts would all be saved by looking at it.16 If a spiritual guide had the power to save his foolish followers by his preaching, it would also be possible for the spiritual guides of camels and cattle to save their herds in their future lives. 17 It is only in the power of the mind to acquire anything good for one’s self. The favor of Vishnu or Shiva or the influence of money is not able to effect anything. 18 It is by constant practice accompanied by self-resignation and self-control that one is able to effect anything. Whatever he is unable to do by these means is impossible for anyone in the three worlds.
19 Look to the spirit in the spirit and adore the spirit in your own soul. Behold the Supreme Soul in yourself, have the Universal Soul in your own soul, and thus remain with it.
20 Fools who flee from studying the scriptures or practicing self-devotion and reason have adopted the Vaishnava faith as a path leading to their better being. 21 Practice and diligence are said to be steps to self-enlightenment, and rites and ceremonies are represented as secondary courses resorted to when people are unable to practice the former! 22The senses being unmanageable, what is the good of ceremonial observances? The senses being under control, it is useless to observe the ritual.
23 Without rationality and dispassion of his spirit, it is hard to have Vishnu. When there is cool and calm reasoning of the mind, it is as useless to have the idol of Vishnu as placing a lotus in the hand of the dead and liberated. 24 When you have the qualities of abstraction and composure in your mind, think you have everything in yourself. These being in your possession, you become an adept. Otherwise, you are an ass in a forest.
25 Men are eager to find favor in the sight of the gods, but they do not seek the favor of their hearts and minds. 26 Vishnu, the indwelling spirit of the body, is situated in the innermost soul of every individual. Only the ignorant fool forsakes the innermost Vishnu and seeks the outer form to lead him to the other. 27 The consciousness dwelling in the cavity of the heart is the true body of the everlasting spirit. The outward form of Vishnu, holding the conch shell, club, lotus and the discus, is only a false representation. 28 He who forsakes the real form to follow the fictitious one lets ambrosia pass from his hand in order to pursue some promised sweet delicacy.
29 He who is not settled in the charming scenery of his spiritual meditation lets his frantic mind rove at large after every object that presents itself before him. 30 He who does not have the abstract knowledge of the soul in himself is governed by his infatuated mind and worships the image bearing the conch, discus, club, and lotus in its hands as the supreme lord and god. 31 By practice of continued austerity and a prolonged worship of this deity, the devotee’s mind becomes purified in process of time and gets rid of its turbulent passions at last. 32 The daily practice of self-control and abstract meditation gives the mind purity and, like the mango fruit, the mind gets its accompanying virtues one by one.
33 The soul is said to obtain the virtues of peace, contentment and rest through the external adoration of Vishnu. This is why the practice of idol worship is prescribed in the scriptures. 34 He who obtains his blessing from the all powerful god gets it as a reward for the merit of his long practice, like the fruit of a tree. 35 Mental labor is the foundation of every improvement and of all lasting good in life, just as a well cultivated soil is the cause of a good harvest. 36 Even digging the ground and shaping a hill produces no good without application of the mind.
37 Men may undergo a thousand reincarnations and wander about the earth in various births and shapes, and yet they find no rest or composure of their minds. 38 They may worship Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva forever, and gain their favor also, and yet can have no salvation owing to the perturbed state of their minds.
39 Leave off worshipping the visible form of Vishnu, either internally or externally in your mind or before your sight. Put an end to your reincarnation by meditating only upon your consciousness. 40 Behold the unstained form of the one infinite God in your conscious self by forsaking whatever it is conscious of. Taste the sweet essence of the one real entity, and go over the ocean of repeated births in the mortal world.
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Chapter 44 — The Story of Gadhi: His Tapas, Vishnu’s Boon, and His Death
1 Vasishta said:— Rama, only government of the restless mind is able to destroy the delusion which causes the interminable reincarnations in this mortal world. There is no other means to this end. 2 Listen attentively, O sinless Rama, to this story which I am going to relate to you in order to show you the intricacies of understanding the nature of worldly delusions.
3 In this land there is the large district of Kosala which is full of forests and fruitful trees, like gardens of wish-fulfilling kalpa trees, and abounding with minerals like Sumeru Mountain. 4 There lived a learned brahmin named Gadhi who was intelligent and versed in the Vedas and an image of virtue. 5 From his youth he continued with the calmness of his mind, abstracted from and indifferent to worldly affairs. He was a pure and unstained soul like the clear sky above.
6 Intent on some fixed purpose of his mind, he left the company of his friends and went to a forest to perform austere tapas. 7 There he found a lake filled with full blown lotuses, the moon shining in the sky with scattered stars about her, all shedding their brightness like showers of rain. 8 He went down into the lake and stood in the waters up to his neck. His body was below water and his head floated over it like a lotus. He stood upon his tapas, intent with a view to have the sight of Vishnu present before him.
9 Thus he passed full eight months, his body immersed in the water of the lake. His face was shriveled and wan, like the lotuses of his lake for lack of sunshine. 10 When he was emaciated by his austerities, his god Vishnu appeared before him like a dark cloud of rainy weather appearing over the parched earth of the hot season. 11 The Lord said, “Rise O brahmin from the water and receive your desired blessing of me. The tree of your tapas vow is now flowering with its expected fruit.”
12 The brahmin replied, “I bow to you, O my lord Vishnu! You are the receptacle of the three worlds and the reservoir of innumerable starry worlds which rise like lotuses in the lake of your heart, whereon you sit like a black bee. 13 My Lord, I want to see the spiritual delusion which you have ordained to blindfold this world and which is known as Vishnu Maya.”
14 Vasishta said:— To this the god replied, “You shall truly behold this delusion, and get rid of it afterwards by virtue of your devotion in tapas.” Saying so, the god disappeared from his sight like a castle in the sky.
15 Vishnu being gone, the good brahmin got up from his watery bed like the fair and humid moon rises from the cool and white Milky Ocean. 16 He was glad in his soul at the sight of the lord of world. His heart was full blown with joy, like kumuda lotuses unfolding at the sight of the moon. 17 Then he passed some days in that forest, overjoyed in his mind by the sight of Vishnu, and employed himself in discharging his brahmin duties.
18 Once when he had been bathing in the lake covered with full-blown lotuses, he thought upon the words of Vishnu, like great sages reflecting upon the meanings of the Vedas. 19 Then, while discharging his priestly functions in the sacred water, he made his mental prayer to purge his sins. 20 As he was performing this act in the water, he chanced to forget his sacred prayers, became confused, and was drowned in deep water.
21 He thought that his body had fallen down like a mountain tree in the valley below by a blast of wind, and that his dead corpse was taken up and mourned over by his friends. 22 He thought that his vital breath had fled from his being and the limbs of his body were as motionless as sugar cane flattened by a hurricane. 23 He thought his face had faded away and grown as pale as the withered leaf of a tree, and that his body had turned to a carcass and was lying on the ground like a lotus bud torn from its stalk.
24 His eyeballs were as dull and dim as the stars are shorn of their beams with the morning. The ground seemed to be as dry to him, filled with flying dust everywhere, as if there was a drought. 25 He believed his dead body was beset all about by his kind friends, weeping upon it with sad and sorrowful faces, loudly lamenting and crying over it like birds upon trees. 26 He thought his faithful wife was sitting at his feet like a handsome lotus flower, weeping profusely with showers of tears from her lotus-like eyes like waters rushing through a broken embankment.
27 His sorrowing mother, with her loud wailing and mournful crying, was buzzing like a humming bee and holding her chin, newly overgrown with whiskers, in her tender hand. 28 His friends were sitting by his side with dejected looks, trickling tears dropping down their faces and cheeks. These washed his dead body like melting dew on withered leaves moisten the parent tree.
29 His body members ceased to befriend him, like strangers who decline to become friends for fear of future separation, or turning unfriendly ever afterwards in life. 30 The open lips leaving the teeth bare seemed to deride the vanity of human life, as the white and bony toothed ascetics and cynics do at unsteadiness of worldly events. 31 His mouth was speechless, like that of a devotee in meditation. His body was motionless, as if made of mud and clay. It slept to wake no more, like a sage absorbed in his meditation. 32 It remained quiet with lifted ears, as if to listen to the cries and wailings of the mourning friends in order to judge the degrees of their affection and grief for him.
33 Then the relatives raised their loud lamentations with sobbing and beating of breasts, swooning and rising and shedding floods of tears from their leaky eyes. 34 Afterwards the sorrowful relations removed the disgusting corpse with their bitter cries for its funeral, to never see it again in this passing world. 35 They bore the body to the funeral ground with its rotten flesh and entrails, daubed all over with mud and dust. They placed it on the ground strewn with unnumbered bones, skeletons, and dried and rotten carcasses.
36 Flights of flying vultures shaded the sunbeams on high and burning funeral pyres drove away the darkness below. The fearful glare of open mouthed jackals flashed on all sides like flames of living fire. 37 Ravens bathed in floods of blood and crows dipped their wings in it. Hungry birds tore at entrails and old vultures were trapped in the strings.
38 The friends of the dead burnt the corpse in the funeral flame and reduced it to ashes. The moisture of the body flew in fumes like the waters of the ocean evaporate from an undersea fire. 39 The burning wood of the funeral pyre consumed the dead body with load cracking noises. The dry fuel of the pile flashed in encompassing flames with curling smoke over them. 40 The devouring fire gnawed down the bones with crackling noise and filled the atmosphere with filthy stink and stench. It gorged up all that was soft or hard, like an elephant devouring reeds with the moisture contained in their cellular vessels.
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Chapter 45 — Gadhi Reborn as a Tribal, then Made Gavala, King of Kirapura
1 Vasishta said:— Then Gadhi, standing as he was in the water with his sorrowful heart, saw many other occurrences in the clarity of his mind.
2 He saw a village in the vicinity of Bhuta district full of inhabitants, and that he was reborn there in the womb of a tribal woman, in which he remained with great pain. 3Confined in the cavity of the womb, he felt his body pressed by the pressure of her intestines while his senses were sorely annoyed by being forced to abide the stink of the ordure and filth in the intestinal parts of the tribal woman.
4 After the fetus matured, he was born in proper time with a black complexion like a dark cloud in rainy season and soiled with filth all over his body. 5 He grew up to childhood and then to boyhood in the tribal woman’s house, and moved about here and there like a pebble thrown up by a current of the Yamuna River. 6 He reached his twelfth, then his sixteenth year of age, and his body fully developed like a rain cloud increasing in size. 7 Then accompanied by a pack of hounds, the lad wandered from one forest to another, hunting and killing wild deer in his occupation of a hunter. 8 He was joined then with a tribal wife, as black as the leaf of a tamala plant and who with her budding breasts, swarthy hands and palms, resembled the newly sprouting stalks and leaves of trees.
9 She was black and swarthy in her whole complexion, except her two rows of milk-white teeth. All of her limbs were as lively and supple as the tender vines of the forest. 10They played together at the edge of the forest in their youthful dalliance, and they wandered about the flowery meadows like a couple of black bees. 11 When tired they took their seats on beds of leaves and vines spread over the plains by driving winds, like those scattered over the environs of Vindhya Hills. 12 They rested in woodland gardens and slept in mountain caves. They sat on heaps of leaflets and lived under shrubberies and covered shelters of creeping plants. 13 They decorated their heads with kinkirata flowers and their necks and bosoms with blossoms of various kinds. They hung ketaka flowers from their ears and made necklaces of small amra flowers. 14 They rolled on beds of flowers and roved about the foot of the mountain. They knew all the trees where to play, and they were skilled in archery and hunting deer.
15 In the hilly region they produced many children as the descendants of their race. They were as rude and rough as the prickly thorns of the khadira plant. 16 After passing their youth in family life, they came gradually to their decay and decline until at last they were overtaken by decrepit old age, which was as dry of pleasure as a parched desert. 17Then returning to their native village in Bhuta district, they built a poor hut of leaves and straws for themselves and lived there as hermits.
18 Gadhi (known as Katanja, the tribal) found his body worn out with age, grown as thin and lean as a dry leaf, and like a withered tamara tree growing in a mountain cave which, for lack of moisture, soon dwindles into decrepitude. 19 He saw his family of savages increasing in numbers and himself becoming reduced in means and irritated in speech in his extreme old age. 20 Gadhi found himself to be the oldest man alive among the savages. In his dotage, his comfort was in the members of his family, 21 but at last he saw all his family swept away by the cruel hand of death, as rainwater carries away fallen leaves of the forest. 22 He continued to lament over their loss, his heart rent with sorrow and his eyes drenched in tears, like those of a male deer separated from its companions.
23 Thus passing some days in that forest with his heart overcome with grief, at last he left the land of his birth, as aquatic fowls quit their native lake when its waters and the lotus plants are dried up. 24 He travelled through many countries with his sad and sick heart without finding a place to rest. He was driven to and fro, like a cloud carried by contrary winds.
25 At one time he entered the opulent city of Kira. He observed birds flying over it, like so many balloons hanging in the air. 26 There he saw rows of trees on both sides of the road, waving their variegated leaves and clusters of flowers like enameled cloths and gems. The road was strewn with beautiful flowers of various kinds up to the heels. 27 Then he came to the royal road that looked like the milky path of heaven. He found it filled with soldiers and citizens and their women without number. 28 There he saw the auspicious royal elephant decorated with shining and embroidered trappings, appearing like the golden mountain of the gods moving on the earth.
29 He learned that the elephant was rambling about in search of a new king to be elected in place of the last king who had recently died. The royal elephant was employed as a jeweler to select the best gem to be placed on the royal throne. 30 The savage gazed steadily at the elephant with a curious eye and found it to be no other than a hill in motion. 31As he was looking on it with amazement, the elephant came to him and lifted him with his trunk and respectfully set him on his head, bearing him as Mount Meru bears the sun on its top.
32 Seeing him sitting on the animal’s head, the people sounded their trumpets. The noise was as loud as that of the ocean crashing to the roaring of the antediluvian clouds in the sky. 33 Then shouts of “Victory to the king!” rose from the assembled throng and filled the air. It seemed as if they were the united cries of morning birds all over the waking world. 34 Next rose the loud voices of eulogists that moved in the air like the dashing waves of the sea.
35 Then women joined to anoint him as their king, moving about him like waves of the sea surrounding Mandara Mountain after its labor of churning. 36 The respectable ladies adorned him with many ornaments of various gems, like the sea washes rocks on its shore with the many colored waves under the beams of the rising sun. 37 Youthful maidens poured cooling ointments on him, like rain clouds pour their waters on mountain tops. 38 Other women used their tender hands to decorate his body with garlands of fragrant flowers, just as spring season with her hands adorns the forest with a variety of tender stalks, branches and flowers. 39 They put a great many paints and pastes upon his body, which decorated it like the rays of the sun paint a mountain with the many colors of its minerals. 40 His body decorated with ornaments made of gems and gold attracted all hearts to him, just as the variegated clouds of evening shining upon Mount Meru is attractive to all hearts. 41 He was adorned by beautiful maids with shoots of creeping plants which gave him the appearance of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree entwined by its vines.
42 Being thus anointed and decorated, all the royal family and subjects attended upon him like travelers resting under a shady and flowering tree. 43 They all assembled and installed him on the throne, just as the gods join together to place Indra on the throne after he is borne on the back of his elephant Airavata. 44 In this manner, the tribal was made a king in the city of Kira. He was much overjoyed at his unexpected good fortune, like a raven delighted to find a stout dead deer in the forest.
45 His feet were rubbed by the lotus-like hands of the Queen of Kira. His body daubed with scented powder of frankincense which gave it the bright appearance of evening with its crimson clouds. 46 He paraded in Kira city in the midst of their women like a lion strutting in the company of lionesses in a flowery forest. 47 Now he forgot his former pains and sorrows. His body was much cooled by wearing a necklace of pearls, as if dropped from the heads of elephants killed by lions. He took great delight at the enjoyment of the luxuries in company with these good people, like a sunburned elephant is refreshed in a lake full of water and forage.
48 He ruled for sometime in his self-gotten kingdom of Kirapura, having extended his power and mandates on all sides. He ruled the state through his ministers and became known by the name of Gavala throughout his dominions.
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Chapter 46 — Gadhi’s Loss of his Visionary Kingdom
1 Vasishta continued:— Thus was Gadhi surrounded by his courtiers and attended by his ministers. Chiefs paid their homage to him and the royal umbrella was raised above his head and the fan flapped about him. 2 He attained great dignity on seeing his mandates carried out on every side. He was delighted to learn of state affairs and to be informed that his subjects were happy and lived within his dominion without fear. 3 The paeans of the eulogists made him forget himself and his former state. The excesses of his delight made him as giddy as if intoxicated. 4 He ruled for full eight years over Kirapura kingdom and managed himself in an honorable manner throughout that time.
5 Once he was sitting in the open air at his pleasure and without his royal clothing. He was looking at the clear sky devoid of clouds and darkness and without the light of the sun, moon or stars. 6 His heart was full with the enjoyment of royal dignity, but he did not think much of the trinkets and ornaments that were loaded upon him.
7 One time he went abroad in this undressed state of his body and saw the setting sun bending his course below the horizon on his usual path of glory. 8 There he saw a band of tribals with black complexions and big bodies singing like melodious cuckoos at the approach of spring season. 9 They were plucking the strings of their lyres with trembling fingers, like a swarm of sweet sounding bees shaking the trembling leaves of trees with their fluttering and buzzing.
10 There stood an old man among them who seemed to be the leader of the band. With his grey head and ruby eyes, he appeared like Mount Meru with its snow covered top and shining caves. 11 He approached the king saying, “How is it, O Katanja, that you came to be here? Has the king of this place taken you for his associate on account of your skill in music? 12 Does he have a liking for sweet songsters, as they do for the musical kokila nightingales? Does he load his favors upon them with presents of household cloths and seats?”
13 “I am as glad to see you here today as men are pleased to see a mango tree filled with flowers and fruit in spring. 14 I am as glad in my heart as the budding lotus at the sight of the rising sun, and the medicinal plants at moonrise. As great men are pleased with all their best gains, so am I pleased at seeing you here because the highest limit of joys is the sight of a friend.”
15 As the tribal was addressing the king in this manner, the king explained how the wheel of time had turned to his favor.
16 At this instant the king’s consorts and servants who were standing at the window overheard their conversation. They were in deep sorrow to learn that he was a tribal by birth. 17 They were as sick at heart as lotus flowers under a shower of frost or a land under famine. Upon learning this, citizens were as cheerless as if they had seen the woods of the mountain on fire.
18 The king hurled his defiance at the words of the old tribal, like a lion lying on the ground shows his teeth at the sneering of a cat on the top of a tree. 19 He fled in haste to the inner apartment among its sorrowful residents with as much throbbing of his heart as a reluctant swan entering a lake of withering lotuses in dry season. 20 His limbs grew stiff and his face became pale with fear. His knees tottered with inner rage like tree trunks shaking with burning fire in their hollows.
21 He saw everyone there sitting in a melancholy mood with downcast looks and drooping heads, like the bending tops of plants eaten at the root by mice and rats. 22 The ministers, ladies of the harem, and all people of the city refrained from touching his body, just as they avoid touching a dead body lying in the house. 23 Servants ceased to minister to him and ladies, despite all their previous love and sorrow for him, loathed his company. 24 They looked upon his cheerless face and dark complexion with its departed brightness as if it was a corpse in a funeral ground which every one loathes to look upon.
25 Though the people sorrowed for his dark body, now smoking with fumes of his own grief, yet they dared not approach his body, which appeared to burn like a volcano amidst its smoke. 26 Courtiers left him with their hearts heaving. His orders were no longer obeyed any more than those of quenching the cool ashes with water. 27 People fled from him like from a horrible rakshasa demon who is the cause of only evil and danger. 28 Thus was he shunned by all and left alone in the populous city. He became like friendless traveler passing through a foreign country, without money or skill to support him. 29 Though he called and approached everybody, he got no answer from anyone, like a hollow sounding reed never receives a reply from any passerby.
30 They all said to one another that the guilt of their long association with the tribal could not be expiated by any penance other than burning themselves alive on the funeral pile. 31 Being so resolved, ministers and citizens all joined together and raised piles with heaps of dry wood. 32 These being lit, blazed all about the ground like stars in the sky. The city was filled with loud wailings of people. 33 Wailing wives shed showers of tears with loud and piteous cries. All about the burning furnaces, weeping people heaved heavy groans with choked voices. 34 The plaintive cries of the self-immolating ministers’ dependents rose like the swell of whistling winds amidst forest trees. 35 The bodies of great brahmins burning on the pyres sent forth their fatted fumes in the air. The smoke scattered by winds hung over the landscape like a portentous mist. 36 The winds bore the stench of men’s burning fat and flesh far and wide in the open sky, inviting flocks of birds to the feast. The disc of the sun was hidden under the wide shadow of the winged tribe. 37 The flames of burning pyres, carried by the winds to the sky, burned like a conflagration on high. Flying sparks scattered in the air appeared like falling meteors blazing in the horizon.
38 Helpless children were crying for their ornaments being robbed by atrocious robbers. They had no guardians. Citizens were threatened with the loss of both their lives and properties by violent thieves. 39 On one side people lamented the loss of their relatives. On the other were bands of thieves, lurking and searching unobserved about houses for plunder and booty. 40 As adverse fate brought on this dire change on the devoted city, its horrified residents remained in mute amazement, like on the final doomsday of creation.
41 Gavala, the tribal prince whose mind was purified and whose manners were refined in the society of the great men of the palace, witnessed the sad catastrophe of the state and mourned with a pensive heart. 42 “It is all owing to me,” he thought, “that all this sorrow has befallen on this state, and that time has brought on the untimely dissolution of doomsday on this kingdom, the royal family, and its ministerial officers. 43 What is the good of this miserable life of mine? My death is a blessing to me rather than living in this wretched state. It is better for the mean and base to die than to live and be reviled by others.”
44 Thus resolved, Gavala prepared a funeral pyre for himself and made an offering of his body in the burning furnace without betraying a sigh, like a poor moth dropping on fire. 45 As Gavala cast his body into the flames and was pulling his limbs singed by the fire, their violent motion and his painful emotion roused the dreaming Gadhi from his reverie in the water.
46 Valmiki said:— As the sage was saying these things, the day departed with the setting sun to its evening devotion. The congregation broke with mutual salutations to perform of their evening ceremonial baths. They assembled again with the rising sun after dispersion of the gloom of night.
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Chapter 47 — A Traveler and a Journey Verify Gadhi’s Dream
1 Vasishta resumed:— Soon Gadhi was relieved from the disturbances of his mind at the delusions of the world. He was set to rest from his perturbed state, like the disturbed sea after its waves subside. 2 His mind, freed from its painful thoughts, regained its repose after the troublesome dream passed away. He resumed his calmness, like the god Brahma having his rest after the labor of his creation was over at the end of a kalpa. 3 He slowly regained his senses, like a man waking from sleep and like one gains sobriety after passing off his inebriation.
4 Then he thought to himself, “I am the same Gadhi doing the same thing I was doing (my sacred bath in the water). All that I have been seeing for so long is nothing. This I see as clearly as men see things after the shade of night is dispersed.” 5 Remembering what he was, he lifted his feet from the water like a lotus bud lifting its head above water in spring after the frost is over.
6 He thought again, “This is the same water, sky and earth (where I stood before). But what I was just seeing is quite astonishing to me. 7 What am I and what do I see now? What was I and what have I been doing all this time?” He remained a long time with these thoughts, knitted brows and staring eyes. 8 “It was my weakness,” he thought, “that showed me this delusion.” Knowing it for certain, he came out of the water like the rising sun appearing above the horizon.
9 Then rising on the bank, he thought, “Ah! Where is my mother and wife who attended on me at the moment of my death? 10 Or were my parents dead in the ignorant state of my boyhood, like the parent plant of a young shoot cut off by the sword of death? 11 I am not married and I do not know the form of a wife. I am as ignorant of married love as a brahmin is stranger to the destructive taste of forbidden liquor. 12 I am too far from my country and know no friend or relative to whom I can return to die. 13 Therefore all these scenes that I have seen are no more than the forms of a fairyland pictured in my fancy. 14 Be it as it may, all this is only delusion and dream. We are living dead among our friends. It is all magic and delusion, and nothing is true or real here. 15 Our minds are like wild beasts roaming furiously in the forest of errors which presents endless scenes of delusion to living beings.” 16 Reflecting on these delusions in his mind, Gadhi passed some days at his own house in the woods.
17 Then once he happened to entertain a brahmin as a guest at his house. He had stayed there to take rest from his travels. 18 The visitor was highly gratified feasting upon fruit and flower syrups. He was as refreshed supplied with water as a tree supplied by a plentiful spring that in time shoots forth with foliage and fruit. 19 Then they performed their evening service and turned their beads. Afterwards they took to their beds made of tender leaves and grass.
20 There they began to talk on divine subjects with which they were conversant. Words fell from lips like the sweets of spring season. 21 In the course of their conversation, Gadhi asked his guest, “Why is it sage, that you are so thin and lean and appear to lie so very weary?”
22 The guest replied, “Sage, hear me explain the cause of both my leanness and weariness. I will tell you the true facts, not like a travelling teller of tales, deals and lies.”
23 “In this land, in the forest tracts of the north, there is the great kingdom of Kirapura which is renowned for its riches. 24 I lived in the city there and was honored by its inhabitants. My soul and mind were mightily pleased with the variety of dainty foods that I used to get there. 25 There someone told me by way of gossip that a tribal had once been the king of that country for eight years.
26 I asked the village people whether this report was true, and they all told me with one voice that a tribal had really ruled there for full eight years. 27 But at last, being discovered as such, he immolated himself on a burning pyre, which was followed by the self-immolation of hundreds of brahmins on their funeral pyres.
28 “Hearing this news from their mouths, I departed from that district, intending, O brahmin, to do penance by making a pilgrimage to Prayaga [because the brahmin had polluted himself staying and eating in a city once ruled by a tribal]. 29 I made my chandrayana fast for three days and nights and broke my fast only today. This is why I have become so thin and lean as you now find me.”
30 Vasishta said:— On hearing this, Gadhi asked a hundred questions of his guest about the matter, to which all his guest’s answers verified what had happened. 31 Gadhi was quite surprised at this story and passed the night till sunrise with his heart throbbing. 32 Waking in the morning, he made his sacred bath and discharged his morning prayers. Then he took leave of his guest and began to reflect with bewildered understanding.
33 He said to himself, “What I saw in my delusion is ratified as a fact by my brahmin guest. I am puzzled to think whether this is magic or a fascination of the conjurer Sambara.34 What I saw about my death among my relatives was undoubtedly a delusion of my mind. But the latter part of my vision (of becoming a tribal) is verified by the brahmin’s observance of the chandrayana penance for having entered the tribal’s city. 35 Therefore I must fully learn the details about this tribal and proceed immediately to the land of Bhuta district with an undaunted mind.”
36 Thus determined, Gadhi arose to visit the distant district, just as the sun rises over the horizon to visit all sides of Mount Sumeru. 37 He travelled onward and at last reached sight of the country he had seen in his dream, like intelligent wayfaring men reach their desired destinations in distant regions. 38 Finding everything, however unattainable it may first appear, to be attained by perseverance, Gadhi resolved to test of the truth of his delusive dream. 39 He left his home with the swiftness of a stream flooded in rainy weather and traversed many unknown countries, like a cloud passing over distant kingdoms on the back of its airy steed. 40 At last he came to the country of the Bhutas, a people following their own debased customs. He thought he was among a savage people, like a camel searching for thorny thistles is confounded to find it has fallen in a karanja forest.
41 There he saw a city like he had seen in his delusion. In every respect it resembled a place where the gandharva race lived. 42 Proceeding onward, he saw on the other side the land of the tribals which resembled the hell pit of the underworld. 43 It was as spacious as the place he had seen in his vision. He saw his own likeness in the dream appearing in the figures of the tribals, just as one sees the shape of a gandharva or ghost in his dream or delirium. 44 In that dwelling place of tribals he saw with grief and coldness of his mind what he had seen before in his delusion. 45 He saw his own hut flooded by rainwater and overgrown with sprouts of barley and brambles. His hut was left roofless and his bedstead was almost indiscernible. 46 His hut presented the picture of poverty and wretchedness. Its compound was a scene of ruin and desolation.
47 Gadhi stood long gazing upon the dry white bones of bulls, cows, buffaloes and horses that lay strewn over the ground around his hut. He remembered they were the remains of the beasts of his prey and slaughter. 48 He saw the dry hollow skulls lying on the ground which had served as his eating and drinking vessels and which still lay unmoved on the spot, filled with rainwater. 49 He saw strings of dried entrails from the beasts he had slaughtered lying like parched plants on the ground and pining with thirst for rainwater.
50 Gadhi, who was conscious of himself as the brahmin, looked long at his former house and its environs, resembling the dry and dilapidated skeleton of a human body lying unburied on open ground. 51 He stood amazed at what he saw, then withdrew to an adjacent village, as when a traveler returns to the land of the Aryans after a journey in the land of barbarians.
52 There he asked a person, “Sage, do you remember anything concerning the former state of that village and the lives of its tribal inhabitants? 53 I have heard all good people say that knowledgeable men are familiar with the history of all places which they know like the backs of their hands. 54 If you know anything about a good old tribal that lived in that village, and if you remember his adventures, as every one does the past accidents of his own life, 55 and if you are acquainted with the details, then please relate them to me. For it is said there is great merit in directing a stranger and in dispelling the doubts of one hanging in suspense.”
56 The brahmin who was a stranger asked such questions of the village people one by one. They were as surprised at his odd questions as physicians are at a patient’s strange complaints. 57 The villagers said, “It is an undeniable truth, O brahmin, as you say, that a tribal of hideous shape named Katanja lived at that place. 58 He was burdened by a large family consisting of his sons, grandsons, friends and servants. He also had other relatives and kinsmen. His children were as many as fruit on a mango tree. 59 But cruel fate snatched all his family in course of time, like a fire burning down a mountain forest with all its fruits and flowers.”
60 “Then he left his native land and went to the city of Kira where he became king and reigned there for eight years. 61 Afterwards, the citizens came to know of his mean origin and drove him away, just as they remove a harmful and poisonous tree from a garden. 62 He, seeing others immolating themselves on funeral pyres, entered a burning pyre which he had prepared for himself, and thus was purified with others by the sacred fire Pavaka.”
63 “But tell us, O brahmin, why you are so curious about the tribal? Was he a friend of yours?”
64 Being approached in this manner, Gadhi made many more inquiries concerning the tribal, and passed a whole month in several of their houses asking questions. 65 He told the village people everything that he knew of the tribal in his dream, and they listened to him attentively relating the whole story from first to last.
66 Gadhi being informed of all the particulars regarding the tribal, both from the hearsay of the people as well as from his personal observations, returned home equally ashamed and astonished with the disgraceful memory of his past vileness, which was stamped like the black spot of the moon upon the tablet of his mind.
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Chapter 48 — Gadhi Verifies His Dream Again; Vishnu Explains the Wonderful Power of Illusion
1 Vasishta continued:— Gadhi was bewildered with all that he heard and saw about the tribal and his home. He felt uneasy and wanted to learn more. 2 He went back to the village and saw the huts that lay scattered upon the plain, as when the lotus-born Brahma looks over the ruins made by the great deluge at the end of a kalpa age.
3 He thought to himself, “Those bones lying scattered about the ruined huts in this forest look like little pisacha ghosts gathered round the trees standing on a burial ground. 4These posts and pegs of elephant’s tusks fastened on the walls of ruined houses look like the crags of Mount Meru drowned under the waters of the kalpa deluge. 5 Here the tribal feasted on monkey flesh dressed with young bamboo sprouts. There he caroused with his country grog in company with his drunken friends. 6 Here he slept on his bed of lion’s skin in the embrace of his murky spouse, drunk with liquor mixed with ichor fluid from elephant noses. 7 There a pack of hounds used to be tied to the trunk of the withered bharaeda tree, fed with the rotten flesh of putrid carcasses. 8 Here I see three earthen vessels covered with buffalo hide resembling fragments of dark clouds and which had once contained precious pearls falling from the sculls of slain elephants.”
9 “I see the place I saw in my dream where tribal children played in the dust with as much glee and gaiety as cuckoos flitting on the tufts of mango leaves. 10 I see the place I saw in my vision where children sang to the tune of their bamboo pipes, drank the milk of bitches, and decorated themselves with flowers from funeral grounds. 11 Here the families of wedding parties met to celebrate their marriage festivity, dancing and singing as loudly as the noise of the dashing waves of the sea. 12 There I find bamboo cages, still suspended high, which used to be laid to catch flying birds for food.
13 Vasishta resumed:— Thus Gadhi remained for a long time in that place, seeing all what he remembered to have seen in his dream. He was lost in wonder to think on the miraculous disclosure of these things in his dream. 14 Then he left and for a long time travelled through many countries beyond the boundaries of Bhuta district. 15 He passed over many rivers and rocks and through many deserts and forests until he reached the snowy mountain and the lands of humankind beyond its borders. 16 He arrived at Kira, the city of a great monarch, its towers rising like hills upon the earth. There he stopped after his long journey, like when sage Narada rests in his heavenly dome after the fatigue of travelling through numerous worlds. 17 In that city he saw all the places that matched the romantic thoughts in his mind, the ones he had seen and enjoyed in his dream. He respectfully asked some residents, 18 “Good sirs, do you remember anything about the tribal king who reigned here for sometime? If you do, please tell me in its proper order.”
19 The locals replied, “Yes, O brahmin. There reigned here a tribal king for full eight years. He was elected to its government by kingdom’s auspicious elephant. 20 In the end, he was discovered to be of so vile a race that he committed self-immolation on a funeral pyre. It has been a dozen years since that dire event took place.” 21 In this way the inquisitive Gadhi continued asking questions of every man he met, and was satisfied to learn the same information from the mouths of everybody there.
22 Then he saw the king of that city in procession with his body guards and vehicles on their way going out of the city. Gadhi recognized them as none other than the god Vishnu and his attendants, just as he had seen in his tapas. 23 He saw the sky shadowed by the cloud of dust raised by the feet of the passing procession, then he remembered with sadness the similar state of his pomp under his own past reign.
24 He thought to himself, “Here are the same Kira ladies with their rosy skins resembling lotus petals, and those with their bodies blazing as liquid gold, their blue eyes trembling like blue lotuses. 25 The waving of fans flash with the light of bright moonbeams and resembles the falling waters of a cascade and clusters of kasa flowers. 26 Beautiful maidens waving snow-white fans in their beautiful hands resemble forest plants with pearly flowers on their branches. 27 Rows of furious elephants standing on both sides of the field are like thick lines of kalpa trees growing on ridges of Sumeru Mountain.”
28 “These chieftains resemble the gods Yama, Kubera and Varuna, the lord of waters. They are like the rulers of the different quarters of the sky accompanying Indra, the lord of heaven. 29 These long lines of good buildings, each full with a great variety of things and abounding in all sorts of comforts, resemble a grove of wish-fulfilling kalpa trees conferring all the objects of desire. 30 In this royal city of Kira, and in the manners of its assembled people, I see exactly the same customs and usages as those of the kingdom of Kirapura in my past life.”
31 “Truly this is only a vision in my dream which appears as a reality in my waking state. I cannot understand why this delusive magic show is spread out before me. 32 O yes, I am as fast bound by my ignorance and captivated by my memories like a captive bird in a net that has lost all power over itself. 33 O fie. My silly mind is so deluded by its desires that it is always mistakes shadow for substance, or people dwelling in their castles in the air.”
34 “This is extraordinary magic. I believe Vishnu, the holder of the discus, is showing me this. I remember I asked him for the favor of showing delusion (maya) to me. 35 Now I will undertake austere tapas in the cavern of a hill in order to learn the origin and existence of delusion.”
36 Having long thought in this manner, Gadhi left the city and came to a cave in a mountain where he rested after all his travels and mental exertions, like a lion tired with his roaming for food. 37 He remained there for a whole year, living only on water from waterfalls collected in the hollow of his palm. He devoted himself to the worship of Vishnu, the holder of the bow named Saringi.
38 Then the lotus-eyed god appeared to him in his pale blue form, which was clear and graceful to sight as a clear lake in autumn with blue lotuses in full bloom. 39 With this form, the god approached the hermit’s cell in the mountain and stood over it like a transparent, watery cloud rests on humid atmosphere. 40 The lord spoke to him saying, “Gadhi, you have fully seen the great spell of my magic and know the network of delusion which destiny spreads over all the affairs of this world. 41 Now you well understand the nature of delusion, which in your heart you did desire to know. What is it again that you want to know through these austerities in this mountain cave?”
42 Vasishta said:— Gadhi the best of brahmins, seeing Vishnu addressing him in this manner, honored him duly by scattering plentiful flowers at his divine feet. 43 After Gadhi had made his offering of flowers, with due obeisance and circumambulating the god, he addressed the god with words as sweet as the notes of a chataka cuckoo to a blooming lotus.
44 Gadhi said, “Lord! I have seen the dark delusion that you showed me in her form of gloom. Now I pray that you show her to me in her fair form, like the sun appearing after the gloom of night. 45 The mind weakened by the dirt of its desires sees a great many errors rising before it like false phantoms and visions in a dream. But my Lord, how is it that the same visions continue to be seen in the waking state? 46 When I stood in the waters I experienced a false dream that I thought lasted only a moment. How was it, O enlightener of the mind, that it became manifest to my outward sense and sight? 47 Why wasn’t the delusion of my birth and death as a tribal, which took place long ago, confined only to my memory like other idle creations of the brain? How could I have recently verified my delusions as tangible to my naked eyes by many visible signs?”
48 The Lord replied:— Gadhi, it is the nature of delirium, like one’s desires, to present many false appearances to view and to make one believe what he has never seen before to be present to his external sight, which in reality is only a vision of his mind.
49 There is nothing like the earth, sea, hills or sky on the outside of anybody. They are all contained in the mind like the fruit, flowers and leaves of trees are born in the seed and grow from its germ. 50 Like fruit and flowers growing out of the seed and its sprout, this earth and all other things are the productions of the mind alone. They are not distinct from it in their essences. 51 Know for certain that this earth and all other things are situated in the mind and not outside of it, just as fruit, flowers and leaves are all contained inside the seed and not outside.
52 The sight of things present and the thoughts of the absent past and unseen future are all only acts of the mind, just as the making and unmaking of pots are the doings of the potter. 53 Whatever notions exist in the minds of men from their youth to old age are the same as the phantoms of their dreams or the deliriums of their intoxication or some mental disease. 54 The established desires of the mind present a thousand appearances before its sight, just as the rooted plants on earth abound with fruit and flowers of various kinds. 55 But when plants are uprooted, there remains no trace of fruit or flower or leaf upon the ground. So desires having being driven out of the mind, there is no more any trace of anything left behind, nor is there any probability of future reincarnations when the memory of the past is utterly obliterated from the soul.
56 It is no wonder for the shifting stage of the mind to present you with a single scene of the tribal. It has in store and can with equal ease show you an infinity of appearances at its pleasure. 57 The impression in your mind made you think of yourself as the tribal, in the manner that many phantoms arise before the mind in the delirium of a sick person. 58The same frenzy made you see the arrival of your brahmin guest and entertain him with board and bed. All your conversations with him were only the fantasies of your mind.
59 Then the thoughts of leaving home and arriving at Bhuta district, your sight of the Bhutas and their villages and homes, were only aberrations of your mind. 60 Next your sight of the ruins of the former huts of Katanja and the descriptions of the tribal that you got from the mouths of the people were all the fumes of your fancy. 61 Afterwards, your visit to the city of Kira and the tale told you of the tribal’s rule by the people were the reflections of your own mind.
62 Thus all that you heard and saw was the network of your imagination. What you believe as true is as false as a fantasy in your brain. 63 The mind infatuated by its hopes and desires sees everything before it, no matter how distant it may be. One dreams of objects as present before him which would take a whole year for him to reach. 64 There was no guest or city, no Bhuta district or Kirapura that you saw in reality. It was all a daydream that you saw with your mind’s eye.
65 The truth is that at one time, on your way to the country of the Bhutas, you did stay in a mountain cave, like a stag resting in a forest after his long wandering. 66 There being tired from your travel, you fell into a sound sleep and dreamed of the Bhuta city and the tribal, all in your reverie without seeing anything in reality. 67 It was there and in the same state of mind that you saw the city of Kira. It was the delusion of your mind that showed you those things when you were performing your devotion in the water. 68 In this manner you saw many other things whenever you went anytime, just like one flying high sees everything all about him.
69 Rise therefore and remain unshaken in the discharge of your duties without being misled by the changes of your mind. Because it is practice of one’s profession that leads him to success, and not the ideals or his mind.
70 Vasishta said:— So saying the lotus navel Vishnu, who is worshipped by saints and sages in all places, went to his abode in the sea where he was received by the hands of gods and holy sages who led him to his residence.
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Chapter 49 — Vishnu Instructs Gadhi to Do Ten Years of Tapas; He Attains Self Realization
1 Vasishta continued:— Vishnu being gone, Gadhi again began to wander about the Bhuta country like a cloud moving about in the air. 2 Having collected a great deal of information about himself in his life as a tribal, he again worshipped Vishnu in the cave of a mountain. 3 In course of a short time, Vishnu appeared to him again, as it is his nature to be pleased with a little devotion made with sincerity of heart.
4 The god spoke to Gadhi with as pleasing a disposition as a watery cloud addresses a peacock. He asked him what he wanted again by his repeated devotion. 5 Gadhi replied, “Lord, for these past six months I have again wandered about the countries of the Bhutas and Kiras. I have found no discrepancy between what they told me recently and what they told me the first time. 6 Lord, you told me that all this was mere delusion. I know the words of the great serve to dissipate and not increase the delusion.”
7 Lord Vishnu said:— It often happens that many things occur simultaneously, like a crow landing on a coconut tree and a coconut falling. The idea of the tribal was a contemporary growth in the minds of all the Bhutas and Kiras as of yourself. 8 This is why they corresponded with your thoughts and related your story as you did reflect it yourself. Because a reflection of something cannot be otherwise at the same time.
9 It is true that a tribal built a hut at the edge of the village which you saw reduced to ruins. But it was your false conception to think you were the same man who built that house. 10 Sometimes many perceive the same illusion. The multitude is led astray in many ways by simultaneous currents of the same opinions. 11 In this manner many men see the same dream at the same time, as the giddy heads of drunken men fall equally into the same kind of dizziness at the same time, seeing the earth and skies turning and rolling round them. 12 Many children are seen to join in the same sport at the same time, and a whole herd of male deer is observed to meet together in the same green field. 13 Many men are seen simultaneously pursuing the same employment for the purpose of gaining the same object of their pursuit.
14 It is commonly said that time is the giver and obstructer of the objects of human pursuits, as of all other events. But time is as quiescent as the Supreme Spirit. People’s desires and efforts cause their desired effects. 15 Time is a formless void. It is identical with the nature and form of the uncreated great Lord God himself. It neither gives or takes anything to or from anyone at anytime. 16 Time according to its common reckoning of years, kalpas and yuga ages is classed among the categories of substance. But time is far from being a substance. It is the source of all substances.
17 Men of deluded understanding are subject to the errors arising from the same cause of their fallacy. It was owing to this false conception that the Bhuta and Kira people fell into the very same error. 18 Therefore employ yourself to do your duty, and try to know your true self. Get rid of the error of your personality, and move about as freely as I do by myself.
Vasishta speaking:— 19 Saying this, Lord Vishnu disappeared from his sight and Gadhi remained in his cave with great perplexity of his mind. 20 He passed some months on the same hill, then resumed his tapas to Vishnu with redoubled fervency. 21 He saw his god appearing again to his view, when he bowed down before him, and addressed him.
22 Gadhi said, “O Lord, I am quite bewildered with the thoughts of having been a tribal and my reflection on the delusions of this world. 23 Please free me from my errors and employ me to the only act of adoring the holy one.”
24 Lord Vishnu said:— O brahmin, this world is a delusion like the enchantment of the conjurer Sambara. All things here are the wonderful productions of imagination and proceed from forgetfulness of the self.
25 It was your error that made you see many things in your sleeping and waking dreams. 26 The Kiras were also led to see the same things as you, and to mistake those falsities as true owing to the same error laying hold of all of you at the same time. 27 Now hear me tell you the truth for your own good, whereby your error will fade away like a creeping plant in the chilly month of November.
28 The tribal Katanja, the one you thought you were, was a man who previously had really existed in that same locality. 29 He was bereaved of his family and left that place to wander about in foreign lands.
Then he became king of the Kiras, and afterwards immersed himself in fire. 30 This life of Katanja entered your mind when you were standing in the water performing your devotion. The thoughts of the whole career of the tribal completely engrossed your mind.
31 Things which are seen or thought of even once cannot escape memory. Sometimes it happens that the mind comes to see many things in its imagination which it has never seen before with its eyes. 32 Like a man’s vision of a kingdom in his dream, and like the delirium caused by weakened humors of the body, the mind sees many daydreams and deliriums in its waking states also.
33 The past conduct of Katanja presented itself to your mind just as past and future world events are present before the mental vision of an oracle seer. 34 That this is ‘I’ and these things and those friends are ‘mine’ are the mistakes of those who are devoid of their self-knowledge. 35 But that ‘I am all in all’ is the belief of the truly wise, which prevents them from falling into such mistakes. The belief of the wise in the generality of all persons and things keeps them from wrong notions of individualities and particularities. 36 This general and universal view of all things preserves people from the mistaken notions of pleasure and pain, and makes a drowning wretch as buoyant as a floating gourd or bottle tied to a sinking net.
37 But you are entangled in the snare of your desires. You are lost to your good sense. You cannot be at your perfect ease as long as you suffer the symptoms of your sickness.38 Because of your imperfect knowledge you are incapable of warding off the errors of your mind, just as it is impossible for a man to protect himself from rain without effort to build a shelter for himself. 39 You are easily susceptible of every impression of your untutored mind, just as a small tree is easily over-reached by a tall person.
40 The heart is the axis of the wheel of delusion (maya). If you can stop the motion of this central power, there is nothing to disturb you anymore. 41 Now rise and return to the sacred covered shelter on this mountain and there perform your austerities for a full ten years with a steady mind so that you may attain your perfect knowledge at the end of this period.
Vasishta speaking:— 42 So saying, the lotus-eyed god disappeared from that place, as a flimsy cloud or candle-light or the wave of Jamuna is put out by a slight gust of wind.
43 Gadhi gradually gained dispassion by means of his discrimination, like trees fading away for lack of moisture at the end of autumn. 44 Getting rid of his mind’s wanderings, Gadhi reflected upon and blamed himself for fostering the false thoughts of the tribal and the like. 45 Then with his heart melting in pity and sorrow for himself, he returned to the Rishya-mukha mount to undertake his tapas. He sat there like a rainy cloud stopping on the top of a mountain. 46 He gave up all his desires and performed his austere penance. After completing ten years of tapas, he attained Self realization.
47 Having obtained knowledge of his self like the great soul Brahma, and getting rid of his fears and sorrows in this world of retribution, he wandered about with the joy of a living liberated being with perfect tranquility of his mind, resembling the serene light of the full moon revolving in the sphere of the sky.
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Chapter 50 — Live in the Present; Trust Consciousness; Control Mind, Heart & Greed
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, know this delusion is as extensive in its form as it is inexplicable in its nature. It is filled with ignorance. It is a spiritual illusion and not any conscious deception. 2 Consider the brahmin’s false dream that lasted a couple of hours and his transformation into a tribal which lasted for many years. 3 Observe how the brahmin’s false conception appeared as real to his physical senses, and see how the false thought appeared true to him, his true knowledge of himself vanishing at last into untruth.
4 Therefore I say that this illusion is utterly inexplicable in its nature. How it leads the unguarded mind to a great many errors and difficulties and dangers!
5 Rama asked, “How sage, can we put a stop to the wheel of delusion? Its rapid rotation constantly grinds every part of our body.”
6 Vasishta said:— Know Rama, this revolving world is the wheel of delusion and the human heart is the axis of this great wheel which, by its continuous rotation, produces all this delusion within its circle. 7 If by your courageous efforts you can put a stop to the motion of your heart, as it were by fixing a peg to the loop-hole of the wheel, you immediately stop the rotation of the circle of delusion. 8 The mind is the center of the wheel of ignorance. If you can stop its motion by tying it tightly with the rope of your good sense, you escape the danger of falling into the dizzying rotation of errors.
9 Rama, you are well skilled in the martial art of hurling the discus. You cannot be ignorant of preventing its motion by stopping it at the central hole. 10 Therefore, O Rama, be diligent and stop the center of your mind. Thereby you will be able to preserve yourself, both from the revolution of the world and changeable difficulties of time. 11 The soul who rejects this counsel is exposed to interminable misery. By keeping this counsel always before the sight of the mind, you avoid all difficulties in this world.
12 There is no other medicine for anybody to heal the disease of his worldliness, except by restraining the mind at its own pivot. 13 Therefore, O Rama, give up your acts of holy pilgrimage and observances of austerity and charity. Keep the mind under your control to attain your supreme joy.
14 The world is situated in the mind, just as air is confined in a pot. But the mind being restricted to itself, the world is lost to it, just as when the pot just broken, the air inside escapes and mixes in endless emptiness. 15 You who are forever confined in the imaginary world of your mind, like a gnat trapped in the hollow of a pot, will get your release only by breaking out of this confinement, like the gnat flying into open air.
16 The way to rid the delusions of the mind is to fix your attention only to the present moment, and not employ your thoughts about past or future events. 17 Then you will arrive to the state of that spiritual detachment called indifference when you immediately cease to pursue any of the objects of your desires or imagination.
18 The mind is hidden as long as it has the mist of its desires and fancies flying over it, just as the sky is overcast as long as watery clouds spread over it. 19 As long as the intelligent soul is joined with the faculty of the mind, it is subject to its gross desires and thickening retinue of its fancies, just as the sky is filled with bright moonbeams as long as the moon shines in it. 20 When the intelligent soul is known without the medium of the mind, then the existence of the world is rooted out from the mind, like trees burnt down to their roots.
21 The intelligence that does not belong to the mind is called discernment. It has a nature unconnected with thoughts or desires and is free from the foulness of the fumes of fancy. 22 Discernment is truly the state of truth and of true joy. It is the true state of spirituality. It is an omniscience having all-clear vision of its own and seeing all things in itself. It is quite unconnected with any mental operation and it is enlightened by the light of the spirit.
23 Whenever the mind is active it invariably is accompanied by desires and the senses of pleasure and pain. Feelings and passions accompany the mind just as the ravens accompany a cremation ground. 24 The minds of the intelligent are not without action, but they are aloof from feelings of desire by their knowledge of the vanity of earthly things. Though these feelings are contained like plants in the seed vessel of their mind, yet they are not allowed to germinate in its sterile soil.
25 The wise have come to know the insubstantiality and uncertainty of all worldly things and events by their knowledge of the natures of things, by their acquaintance with the scriptures, by their association with holy men, and by their habitual observance of the practices of a pious and saintly life. 26 They have forcibly withdrawn their minds from ignorance by their determined efforts to gain the true knowledge of things. They have strenuously applied them to the study of scriptures and the good conduct of righteous people.
27 Only the pure soul has sight of the Supreme Spirit, just as a gem’s brilliance makes it discernable in the waters of the deep and allows it to be distinguished from darkness. 28As the soul naturally desires to get rid of things which it comes to know is attended with pain, so the soul is the sole cause of knowing the Supreme. 29 Therefore be free of your thoughts of all other things, both in your waking and sleeping states, and when you talk or think of anybody, give or receive nothing. Rely and reflect only on your consciousness. Constantly watch the secret admonitions and intuitions of your consciousness. 30 Whether when you are born or going to die, or do anything or live in this world, be steadily attentive to your conscious self and you will perceive the clear light of the soul.
31 Leave off thinking that this is “I” and that is another because all are alike before the Lord of all. Give up wishing this for yourself and that for others, for all things belong to God. Rely solely on the one, and that is your internal consciousness alone.
32 Be of one mind in your present and future states of life and continue to investigate into its various phases in your own consciousness. 33 In all the changes of your life from boyhood to youth and old age, and amidst all its changing scenes of prosperity and adversity, and also in the states of your waking, dreaming and sound sleep, remain faithful to your consciousness.
34 Melt down your mind like a metal and purify it of its impurity of the impressions of external things. Break off the traps of your desires and depend on your awareness of yourself. 35 Get rid of the disease of your desire, of whatever is marked as good or bad for you, and turn your sight away from everything that may appear as favorable or unfavorable to you. Rely on your consciousness of pure intelligence.
36 Leave untouched whatever is tangible to touch and obtainable by your agency or instrumentality. Remain unchanged and unsupported by anything in the world and depend only upon your own consciousness. 37 Think yourself as sleeping when you are awake. Remain as calm and quiet as if you are unconscious of anything. Think yourself as all and alone and as instinctively identical with the Supreme Spirit. 38 Think yourself to be free from the changing and unchanging states of life. Though engaged in business, think of yourself as disengaged from all concerns.
39 Forsake the feelings of your egoism (mine) and non-egoism (others). Be undivided from the rest of the world by thinking yourself to be the macrocosm of the cosmos. Support yourself on the diamond hard rock of your consciousness by remaining unshaken at all events. 40 Continue to cut off the meshes of the net of your internal desires by the agency of your intellect and its helpmate patience. Be of the profession of belonging to no profession.
41 The sweet taste of trusting in the true faith of consciousness converts even the poison of false faiths to ambrosia. 42 The great error of taking the false world for true prevails only when the mind forgets to remember the pure and undivided self-consciousness. 43 Again, the great error of the substantiality of the world is put to an end when the mind places its trust in the immaculate and undivided consciousness.
44 One who has passed over the great gulf of his desires and known the true nature of his soul has his consciousness shining within himself with the full blaze of the bright sun.45 One who knows the nature of his soul and is settled in the transcendental bliss of knowing the peerless one finds the most nectar-like food as a poison to him. 46 We revere those men who have known the nature of the soul, have reached their spiritual state, and know the rest bearing the name of men are no better than asses in human shape.
47 Behold devotees going from hill to hill and wandering like big bodied elephants to perform their devotions. They are far below the spiritual being who sits as high above them like on the top of the mountain. 48 The sight of consciousness reaching heavenward, beyond the limits of all regions to the unseen and invisible God, derives no help from the light of the sun or the moon. 49 The lights of the luminaries fade away like candlelight before the sight of consciousness which sees the great lights of the sun and moon and all within the compass of its knowledge.
50 He who has known the truth of God by means of his practice of yoga and self-sacrifice stands highest above the rest of men in the greatness of his soul. He is distinguished from others by the brightness of his body. 51 Like Him whose brightness shines on us in the light of the sun, moon, stars, gems and fire, the best of men shine among mankind in their knowledge of what is knowable and to be known.
52 Those who are ignorant of truth are viler than asses and other brute creatures that live on the land. They are meaner than the mean insects that dwell in holes in the ground.53 As long as an embodied being is ignorant of spiritual knowledge, he is said to be a devil of darkness. But as soon as is he acquainted with his soul and united with his self in his reasoning, he is recognized as a spiritual being.
54 The unspiritual man is tossed about on earth like a carcass and is consumed with the fuel of his cares, like a dead body burned away by the flames of its funeral fire. But the spiritual being who knows the nature of his soul is aware of only his immortality. 55 Spiritual wisdom flies far away from a man whose heart is hardened in this world, just as the glory of sunshine is lost under the shadow of thickening clouds. 56 Therefore the mind is to be gradually curbed and contracted in itself by a dislike of all earthly enjoyments. The knower of his self, by long practice of abstinence, should try to deprive his spirit of its moisture to the dryness of a faded leaf.
57 The mind is thickened and fattened by consolidating itself with those of others and staining it with affections of wife, children, relations and friends. 58 Passions and feelings are often the causes of the denseness and impassivity of the mind: its egotism and selfishness, gaiety and impurity of thoughts, and its changing tempers and affections. But what feeds its gross density the most is the sense of me-ism and that “this is mine.” 59 The mind is swollen by coming to prosperity, by the deadly pains of old age and infirmity, and by the poisonous pangs of penury and miserliness. 60 The mind grows lusty in its expectation of some good and under the afflictions of disease and danger. It grows stronger with enduring what is intolerable and doing what ought not to be done.
61 The heart, too, becomes stronger with its affection for others and with its desire to gain riches and jewels. It becomes lusty with its craving for women and in having whatever is pleasant to it for the moment. 62 The heart, like a snake, is swollen huge by feeding on false hopes like air, and by breathing the empty air of passing delights and pleasures. It is pampered by drinking the liquor of fleeting hope, and moves about in the course of its endless expectations. 63 The heart is staunch in its enjoyment of pleasures, however injurious they are in their nature. Though situated inside the body, yet the heart is subject to brooding in disease and uneasiness and under a variety of pains and changes. 64 A multitude of thoughts grows in the heart of the body, like a clump of orchids in the hollow of a tree. These bear the budding blossoms of hope and desire and hang down with the flowers and fruit of death and disease.
65 Do not delay. Use the sharp saw of your reason to cut off the huge trunk of the poisonous tree of greed which has risen as high as a hill in the cavity of your heart. Do not to put off pruning the big branch of your hope and its leaves of desires. 66 The elephant-like heart sits with its infuriated eyes in the solitary recess of the body. It is equally fond of its ease and its carnal gratification. It longs to look at the lotus bed of the learned as it does to meet a field of sugarcanes composed of fools and dunces.
67 Rama, like a lion, the monarch of the forest, you should destroy your elephant-like heart seated in the wilderness of your body with the sharp saws of your understanding. Break the protruding tusks of its passions in the same manner as they break down all big bodies. 68 Drive away the crow-like hungry heart, from within the nest of your bosom. It is fond of frequenting filthy places, like ravens hovering over funeral grounds and crows squatting in dirty spots, fattening their bodies by feeding on the flesh of rotten carcasses. The heart is cunning in its craft and too cruel in its acts. It uses its lips like the bills of the crow, only to hurt others, and is as one-eyed as the crow, looking only to its own selfish interest. The mind is black all over its body for its black purposes and deeds. 69 Drive your raven-like heart far away. It sits heavy on the tree of your soul, intent on its wicked purposes and grating the ear with its jarring sound. It flutters everywhere at the scent of putrid bodies, to pollute its nest with foul putrescence of evil intents.
70 There is a destructive, hideous greed wandering at large like a demon, lurking in ambush in the dark cavity of the heart as in a dreary desert. It assumes a hundred forms and appears in a hundred shapes pursuing its habitual courses in darkness 71 unless and until you drive away this wicked demon of your heart from the abode of your intelligent soul. Unless you drive it away with your discrimination, dispassion, and power of mantras and tantras, you cannot expect to be successful in your endeavors.
72 Moreover there is the serpent-like mind hidden under the skin of the body. With its poisonous thoughts, frothing at the mouth like the destructive venom of mankind, it is continually breathing in and out like a pair of bellows, like a snake for the destruction of all other persons. 73 O Rama, you must subdue this great serpent of the mind that lies hidden in a cell of the cellular simal tree of your body. Use some mantra formula pronounced by the garuda of your intelligence, and thus be free from all fear and danger forever.
74 O Rama, repress your vulture-like heart that bears a greed for dead bodies that cannot be satisfied. It flies about everywhere annoyed by hungry crows and kites. It rests in desolate cemeteries. 75 It ransacks all quarters in quest of its meat of living and dead bodies, and lifts its neck to watch for its prey when it is sitting silently with patience. The vulture-like heart flies far away from its resting tree of the body and must be diligently restrained from its flight.
76 The monkey mind wanders through forests everywhere, and passing quickly beyond the area of its birth in search of fruit, it outruns the bounds of its native land and country. Thus being bound to nowhere, he derides the multitudes that are bound to the toils of their homes, confined to their native climate and soil. 77 The big monkey mind that plays on the tree of the body, its eyes and nose like the flowers of the tree and having arms for its branches and fingers for its leaves, ought to be checked for one’s success in anything.
78 The illusion of the mind rises like a cloud with the mists of error. It lays waste to the good harvest of spiritual knowledge. It flashes forth lightning from its mouth to burn down everything and not to give light on the way. Its showers damage upon ripened crops and it opens the door of desire. 79 Give up seeking the objects of your desire which are situated in the airy region of your mind. Exert your energy to drive off the cloud of your mind in order to obtain the great object of your aim.
80 The mind is as a long rope that binds mankind to their constant acts. It is impossible to break or burn its knots in any way except by one’s self knowledge. Its bond of reincarnation is painful to all until they obtain their final emancipation. 81 O Rama, use your lack of desire to boldly break the bondage of your mind that is bound fast in an infinite number of bodies to the chain of their reincarnation. Enjoy your freedom without any fear for evermore.
82 Know greed is like a venomous snake that destroys its devotees by the poison of its breath and never yields to the good counsel of anybody. This serpent has ruined mankind by its deceit and laying in wait for its prey. It emaciates the body to a stick. 83 Greed hidden in the body lurks unseen in its cells. It is like a dark cobra in form. It must be burnt to death by the fire of detachment for your safety and security from all evil.
84 Now put your heart to rest by the intelligence of your mind and gird yourself with the armor of purity for your defense. Forsake your unsteady mind forever and remain like a tree that is not infested by the apes of passion. 85 Purify both your body and mind with the sanctity of your soul. Be fearless and quiet by the aid of your intelligence and clam composure of your consciousness. Think yourself as lighter and meaner than a straw and thus enjoy the sweets of this world by going across it to the state of transcendent bliss in this life.
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Chapter 51 — The Story of Uddalaka: His Desire for Realization & the Cave
1 Vasishta said:— O Rama, have no reliance or confidence in the course of the mind, which is sometimes continuous and sometimes momentary, now even and flat and then sharp and acute, and often as treacherous as the edge of a razor.
2 As the germ of consciousness sprouts in the field of the mind, O Rama who is a moral man, grow it by sprinkling the cold water of reason over its tender blades. 3 As long as the body of this plant does not fade away in course of time or roll upon the ground as the decayed and dead body of man, so long should you hold it up upon the prop of reason.
4 Knowing the truth of what I say and pondering on its deep meaning, you will get a delight in your innermost soul like a serpent-killing peacock is ravished at the deep roaring of rain clouds. 5 Like sage Uddalaka, shake off your knowledge of fivefold materiality as the cause of all creation and accustom yourself to think more deeply with patient inquiry and reasoning on the prime cause of causes.
6 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, how did sage Uddalaka get rid of his thoughts of fivefold creation? How did he penetrate deeper into the original cause of all by the force and process of his reasoning?”
7 Vasishta replied:— Rama, learn how sage Uddalaka of old rose higher from his investigation of fivefold matter to his inquiry into their cause, and how transcendent light dawned upon his mind.
8 In a spacious corner of this old house, the world, on the northwest side of this land, standing like a shed above surrounding rugged hills 9 there was the high tableland of Gandhamadana, full of camphor trees that continuously shed the odors of their flowers and pistils on the ground. 10 This place was frequented by birds of many colors and filled with plants at various kinds. Wild beasts lived in its banks and it was filled with flowers shining smilingly over the woodland scene. 11 Some parts had bright swelling gems, and others blooming lotuses. Some parts were veiled by tufts of snow and others had crystal streams gliding like glassy mirrors. 12 Here on the elevated top of a big cliff of this hill, studded with sarala trees and strewn with flowers up to the heels and shaded by the cooling shade of lofty trees, 13 there lived the silent sage named Uddalaka, a youth of a great mind with a great sense of honor. Uddalaka had not attained his maturity when he undertook his rigorous austerity. 14 When his intellect first developed, the light of reason dawned upon his mind and he awakened to noble aims and expectations instead of arriving at the state of rest and quietude. 15 In this manner he undertook austerities, religious studies and observed his holy rites and duties. The genius of right reason appeared before him, just as a new year presents itself before the face of the world. 16 Then he began to reflect in the following manner, sitting as he was in solitude, weary with thoughts and terrified at the ever-changing state of the world.
Uddalaka thinking:— 17 What is that best of gains which once obtained leaves nothing else required for our rest? What can be had which will lead us no more to reincarnate in this world? 18 When shall I find my permanent rest in the state of holy and transcendent thoughtlessness and remain above all the rest, like a cloud resting over the top of Sumeru Mountain or the polar star standing above the pole without changing its place?
19 When will my tumultuous desires of worldly increase and advancement merge in peaceful tranquility, just as loose, loud and noisy waves subside in the sea? 20 When will the calm and unstirred composure of my mind secretly smile within to reflect on how mankind desires to do this thing after they have done the other, which leads them interminably in the circuit of their misery? 21 When will my mind be loosened from its noose of desire? When shall I remain unattached to everything, like a dew drop on a lotus-leaf?
22 When shall I get over the boisterous sea of my unsteady desires by the raft of my good understanding? 23 When shall I laugh to scorn the foolish actions of worldly people as the silly play of children? 24 When will my mind get rid of its desires and dislikes and cease swinging back and forth in the cradle of its choices and fancies? When will my mind return to its steadiness, as a madman is calmed after the fit of his delirium has passed away?
25 When shall I receive my bright spiritual body and deride the course of the world? When shall I have my internal satisfaction, like the all knowing and all sufficient spirit of Virat (the Cosmic Being)? 26 When shall I obtain calm stillness with internal equanimity, my soul serene and indifferent to external objects, like the sea after its release from churning? 27 When shall I see the fixed scene of the world before me as a dream and keep myself aloof from it?
28 When shall I see the inner and outer worlds as a fixed picture in my imagination? When shall I meditate on the whole in the light of an intellectual system?
29 When shall I have calmness of mind and soul and become a perfectly intellectual being myself? When shall I have that supernatural light in me which enlightens the internal eye of those who are born blind? 30 When will the sunshine of my meditation show me the pure light of my intellect, whereby I may see objects at a distance as I perceive the parts of time in me? 31 When shall I be free from my exertion and inertness towards the objects of my desires and dislikes? When shall I get self-satisfaction in my state of self-illumination? 32 When will this long and dark night of my ignorance come to its end? It is infested by my faults fluttering like the foreboding birds of night and infected with frost withering the lotus of my heart.
33 When shall I become like a cold stone in a mountain cave and have the calm coolness of my mind in steady, unchanging samadhi? 34 When will the elephant of my pride, ever giddy with its greatness, become prey to the lion of right understanding? 35 When will the little forest birds build their nests of grass in my hair as I remain fixed in unalterable meditation, silence and samadhi? 36 When will the birds of the air rest fearlessly on my bosom, as they do on the tops of fixed rocks, upon finding me sitting transfixed in my meditation and as still as a rock?
37 Ah! When shall I pass over this lake of the world in which my desires and passions are like weeds and thorny brambles obstructing my passage to its borders of joy?
Vasishta speaking:— 38 Immersed in these and similar reflections, twice-born Uddalaka sat in meditation in the forest. 39 But as his silly, unsteady mind turned towards sensible objects in different ways, he did not obtain the state of attention which could render him happy. 40 Sometimes his monkey-mind turned away from leaning to external objects and eagerly pursued the realities of the internal world or intellectual truths. 41 At other times his unsteady mind departed from the intangible things of the inner, intellectual world and fondly returned to outer objects mixed with poison. 42 He often saw the sunlight of spirituality rising within himself, and as often he turned his mind away from that golden prospect to the sight of gross objects.
43 Leaving the soul in the gloom of internal darkness, the unrestrained mind flies as fast as a bird to the objects of sense outside. 44 Thus turning from the inner to the outer world, and then from this to that again, his mind found its rest in the space lying between the light of the one and darkness of the other. 45 Being thus perplexed in his mind, the meditative brahmin remained in his exalted cavern like a lofty tree shaken to and fro by a storm. 46 He continued in his meditation like a man’s attention is fixed upon an impending danger. His body shook to and fro, as if moved forward and backward by tiny waves splashing on the bank.
47 Thus unsettled in his mind, the sage wandered about the hill like the god of day makes his daily rounds in his lonely course about Lokaloka Mountain. 48 Wandering in this manner, he once saw a cave beyond the reach of all living beings. It was quiet and still as the liberated state of an anchorite. 49 It was not disturbed by winds or frequented by birds or beasts. It was unseen by gods or gandharvas and it was as bright as heaven. 50 It was covered with heaps of flowers and tender green grass. Being overlaid by a layer of moonstones, the floor of the cave seemed to be made of emerald.
51 It afforded cool and congenial shade, brightened by the mild light of the bright gems in its bosom. It looked like a secret haunt of woodland goddesses who chanced to play there. 52 The light of the gems spread over the ground was not too hot or too cold, but resembled the golden rays of the rising sun in autumn. 53 This cave appeared like a new bride decorated with flowers holding a garland in her hand, her face fading under the light of lamps ornamented with gems and fanned by the soft whistling of winds.
54 It was the abode of tranquility and the resting place of the lord of creation. It was charming by the variety of its blooming blossoms, and it was as soft and mild as the inside of a lotus.
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Chapter 52 — Uddalaka Meditates and Reasons
1 Vasishta resumed:— The saintly Uddalaka entered that cave in Gandhamadana Mountain like a bee flying round and round enters the lotus-cell in the course of its romantic wandering. 2 To pursue his intense meditation, he entered the cave and sat inside, just as when the lotus-born creator retires and rests in seclusion after finishing his work of creation.
3 He made a seat for himself by spreading fresh tree leaves on the ground, like Indra spreading his carpet of many layers of clouds. 4 Over the leaves he spread his deerskin, as the bedding of stars is laid over by the blue clouds of heaven. 5 He sat upon it in his meditative mood, with the watchfulness of his mind, just as when an empty and light cloud alights on the top of Rishyasringa Mountain. 6 He sat firmly in lotus posture like Buddha, his face turned upwards, his two legs and feet covering his private parts, his palms and fingers counting the prayer of Brahma. 7 He restrained the fleet deer of his mind from the desires to which it ran by fits and starts. Then he reflected in the following manner in order to have unaltered steadiness of mind.
8 O my senseless mind, why are you occupied in worldly acts to no purpose when the sensible never engage themselves in what proves to be their destruction afterwards? 9He who forsakes his peaceful tranquility to pursue pleasure is like one who quits a grove of mandara flowers in order to enter a forest of poisonous plants. 10 You may hide yourself in some cave of the earth, or find a place in the highest abode of Brahma, yet you can not have your quiet without the stillness of your spirit.
11 Stop seeking the objects of your desire. They are beset by difficulties and produce your grief and anxiety. Fly from these to lay hold of your chief good, which you shall find only in your solitary retirement. 12 These different objects of your fancy or liking, so temporary in their nature, are all for your misery and of no real good at anytime. 13 Why do you follow, like a fool, the hollow sound of some fancied good which has nothing substantial in it? It is like the great glee of frogs at the noise of clouds that promise them nothing.
14 All this time you have been wandering with your unsteady heart in blind pursuit after profit and pleasure. But tell me, what great boon has booted you out to all your ramblings about the earth? 15 Why do you not fix your mind to that stillness which promises to give you your self-sufficiency, and in which you may find your rest as liberated in your lifetime?
16 O my foolish heart, why are you roused at the sound of some good that reaches your ears? Why are you led by your deluded mind towards that sound and fall victim to it, like a deer deceived by the hunter’s horn and trapped in the snare? 17 Beware, O foolish man! Do not allow carnal desire to take possession of your breast and lead you to your destruction, just as the male elephant, deceived by the artful female elephant, is made to fall into a pit. 18 Do not be misled by your desire of taste to stuff yourself with bitter poison as sweets, or bite the fatal bait that hooks the foolish fish to its destruction. 19Do not let your fondness for bright and beautiful objects bewitch you to your ruin, like a bright light inviting a silly moth to its destruction. 20 Do not let your attraction to sweet smells tempt you to your ruin, or entice you like poor bees to the flavor of the elephant’s nose secretion only to be crushed by its trunk.
21 See how deer, bees, moths, elephants and fish are destroyed by their addiction to the gratification of a single sense. Consider the great danger to which a foolish man is exposed by his desire of satisfying all his unmanageable senses and organs. 22 O my heart, it is you yourself who stretches the snare of your desires for your own entanglement, just as the silk worm weaves its own cocoon with its own saliva for its own imprisonment. 23 Be cleansed of all your impure desires and become as pure and clear as a autumn cloud. When you are fully cleansed and lifted up like a cloud, you are free from all bondage.
24 You know the course of this world is pregnant with the rise and fall of mankind and in the end produces only the pangs of disease and death, yet you are still addicted to it for your destruction. 25 But why do I vainly admonish my heart? It is only by reasoning with the mind that men are able to govern their hearts. 26 As long as gross ignorance rules the mind, the heart remains in its state of dullness. As long as the earth is covered with mist and frost, the upper skies are shrouded in rain clouds. 27 But as soon as the mind is cleared of its ignorance, the heart becomes lighter, like frost covering the earth disappears when the rain clouds disperse. 28 As the heart becomes lighter and purer through the mind’s act of reasoning, so I expect its desires to grow weaker and thinner, like the light and fleeting clouds of autumn.
29 Admonition to the unrighteous proves to be as fruitless as blowing winds against falling rain. 30 Therefore, I shall try to rid myself of this false and vacant ignorance. The scriptures admonish to use all means to get rid of ignorance.
31 I find myself to be the inextinguishable lamp of consciousness without my egoism or any desire in myself. I have no relation with false ignorance which is the root of egoism.32 That this is “I” and that is another are the false suggestions of our delusive ignorance. Like an epidemic disease, ignorance presents us with such fallacies for our destruction. 33 It is impossible for the slender and finite mind to comprehend the nature of the infinite soul, just as it is impossible for an elephant to be contained within the shell of a bilva fruit.
34 I cannot follow the dictate of my heart which is a wide and deep cave containing the desires that cause all our miseries.
35 What is this delusive ignorance which, like the mistakes of juvenile boys, creates the blunder of viewing the self-existent one in the different lights of “I”, “you”, “he” and other personalities. 36 I have analyzed my body at each atom from head to foot, but in no part of it have I found what we call the “I” and what makes my personality. 37 That which is the “I am” fills the whole universe and is the only one in all the three worlds.
It is the unknowable consciousness, omnipresent and yet apart from all. 38 Its magnitude is not to be known, nor does it have any name of its own. It is neither the one nor the other, nor an immensity nor minuteness. 39 It is unknowable by the light of the Vedas. Ignorance of it causes misery and must be destroyed by the light of reason.
40 This is the flesh of my body and this is its blood. These are the bones and this is the whole body. These are my breaths, but where is that “I” situated? 41 Its pulsation is the effect of vital breath and its sensation is the action of the heart. Decay and death also accompany the body. But where is its “I” situated? 42 Flesh is one thing and blood another, and bones are different from them. But tell me, my heart, where is the “I” said to exist? 43 These are the organs of smell and this is the tongue. This is skin and these are my ears. These are the eyes and this is touch. But what is the soul and where is it situated?
44 I am none of the elements of the body, nor the mind nor its desires. I am only the pure intellectual soul, a manifestation of Divine Consciousness. 45 The only knowledge of the true reality that we can have is that I am everywhere, and yet nothing whatever that is anywhere. There is no other way to it.
46 For a long time I have been deceived by my ignorance and misled from the right path, just as the young of a beast is carried away by a fierce tiger to the woods. 47 Now by my good fortune I have come to detect this thievish ignorance. No longer shall I trust this robber of truth. 48 I am beyond the reach of affliction. I have no concern with misery, nor has it anything to do with me. This union of mine with these is as temporary as that of a cloud with a mountain.
49 Being subject to my individual ego, I say, I speak, I know, I stay, I go, and the like. But on looking at the soul, I lose my ego in the Universal Soul. 50 I truly believe my eyes and the other parts of my body to belong to me, but if they are something other than me, then let them remain or perish with the body, with which I have no concern.
51 Fie for shame! What is this word “I” and who first invented it? This is nothing but the childish blunder of some demonic child of earth. 52 For such a long time have I been groveling in this dusty den, wandering at large like a stray deer on a sterile rock without any grass or vegetation. 53 If we inquire into the true nature of things, we are at a loss to find the true meaning of the word “I” which is the cause of all our grief on earth.
54 If you want to feel your inner self by the sense of touch, then tell me how do you find what you call “I” other than it being a ghost of your own imagination. 55 You set your “I” on your tongue and utter it as an object of that organ. You have no taste whatever of that empty word which you so often utter. 56 You often hear that word ringing in your ears, though you feel it to be an empty sound like air, and you cannot account from where this rootless word had its rise. 57 Our sense of smell, which brings the fragrance of objects to the inner soul, conveys no scent of this word into our brain. 58 It is like a mirage, a false idea of something we know not what. What can it be other than an error of which we have no idea or sense whatever?
59 I also see that my will is not always the cause of my actions because I find my eyes and other sense organs are employed in their respective functions without the direction of my will. 60 The difference between our bodily and willful acts is this. The actions of the body done without the will of the mind are unattended with feelings of pain or pleasure. 61Therefore let your sense organs perform their several actions without your will and by this means you will evade all pleasure and pain.
62 It is in vain that you blend your will with your actions when the act of your will is attended with a grief similar to that of children who break dolls while playing. 63 Your desires and their productions are the facsimiles of your minds and not different from them, just as waves are composed of the same water from which they rise. Such is the case with the acts of will. 64 Your own will guides your hand to construct a prison for your confinement, just as the silly silkworm is confined in the cocoon of its own making.
65 Because of your desires you are exposed to the perils of death and disease, just as the dim vision of a traveler over mountainous areas hurls him headlong into a deep cavern below. 66 Only your desires are the chief cause of you being attached to one another in one place, like a thread passing through the holes of pearls ties them together in a long strand around the neck.
67 What is this desire but the creation of your false imagination? Whatever you think is good for yourself, as soon as you cease to take a fancy for it, your desire is cut off like by a knife. 68 This desire, the creature of your imagination, is the cause of all your errors and your ruin, just as the breath of air causes both burning and extinction of lamps, lightening, and fiery furnaces. 69 Therefore, O my heart that is the source and spring of your senses, join with all your consciousness to look into the nature of your unreality, and feel in yourself the state of your utter annihilation (nirvana). 70 Give up your sense of ego and your desire of worldliness that are interminable and inherent to you in this life. Put on the amulet of the abandonment of your desires and earthliness and resign yourself to your God to be free from all fears on earth.
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Chapter 53 — Uddalaka’s Reasoning and Bliss
1 Uddalaka continued:— Consciousness is an unthinkable substance. It extends to the limits of endless space and is more minute than the smallest atom. It is quite aloof from all things and inaccessible to the reach of desires. 2 It is inaccessible to the mind, understanding, egoism and the gross senses. But our empty desires are extended as wide as the shadowy forms of huge and formidable demons.
3 From all my reasoning and repeated reflections, I perceive a consciousness within myself. I feel it to be the stainless intellect. 4 My body, which is of this world and the depository of my false and evil thoughts, may last or be lost without any gain or loss to me because I am untainted consciousness. 5 Consciousness is free from birth and death, because there is nothing perishable in the nature of all pervasive consciousness. Then what does the death of a living being mean? How and by whom can it be put to death? 6What does the life and death of consciousness mean? It is the soul and life of all existence. What else can we expect of consciousness when it is extends through and gives life to all? 7 Life and death belong to the operative and imaginative powers of the mind and not to the pure soul. 8 The mind has the sense of its ego and the knowledge of its existence and nonexistence. But the soul is devoid of its ego and can have no sense of its birth or death.
9 Individual ego is a fallacy, the product of ignorance. The mind is nothing but an appearance, like water in a mirage. Visible objects are all gross bodies. Then what is this thing to which we apply the term ego? 10 The body is composed of flesh and blood and the mind is considered a nothingness of itself. The heart and other body parts are all dull objects. Then what contains the ego? 11 The sense organs are all employed in their respective functions to support the body. All external bodies remain as mere bodies. So to what do you apply the term ego?
12 The properties of things continue as properties, and substances always remain substances. The entity of Brahman is quite calm and quiet. So what among them is the ego?13 There is only one Being which is all pervading and existing in all bodies. It exists at all times and is immensity in itself. It is only the Supreme Spirit that is the intelligent soul of all.14 Now tell me which of these is the ego? What is it and what is its form? What is its genus and what are its attributes? What is its appearance and of what ingredients it is composed? What am I and what shall I take “I” to be and what to reject as not “I”?
15 Therefore there is nothing here which may be called individual ego, whether an entity or nonentity. There is nothing anywhere to which the ego may bear any relation or any resemblance whatever. 16 Therefore egoism is a perfect nonentity. It has no relation to anything at all. This non-relation of ego with all things being proved, the fiction of duality goes to nothing. 17 Everything in the world being full of the spirit of God, I am nothing other than that reality, and it is in vain that I think myself as otherwise and sorrow for it.
18 All things being situated in one pure and omnipresent spirit, from where could this meaningless word ego arise? 19 There is no reality of any object whatever except that of the supreme and all-pervading spirit of God. Therefore it is useless for us to inquire about our relation with anything that has no reality in itself.
20 The senses are connected with the sense organs and the mind is familiar with mental operations, but the intellect is unconnected with the body and bears no relation with anybody in any manner. 21 As there is no relation between stones and iron nails, so the body, the senses, the mind and the intellect bear no relationship with one another, though they are found to reside together in the same person.
22 Once the great error of the unreal ego has obtained its footing among mankind, it has put the world to an uproar with the expressions of “mine” and “yours” and this is mine and that is yours, and that other is another’s and the like. 23 Lack of the light of reason has given rise to meaningless and marvelous expressions of ego which are made to vanish under the light of reason, just as ice dissolves under the heat of sunlight. 24 It is my firm belief that there is nothing in existence except the spirit of God. This makes me believe the whole universe is a manifestation of the great Brahman himself.
25 The error of personal ego presents itself before us as vividly and colorfully as the various colors that paint the sky. It is better to obliterate it from the mind rather than retain any trace of it. 26 I have completely rid myself of the error of my ego and now rest my tranquil soul in the Universal Spirit of God, like an autumn cloud resting in the infinite vacuum of the sky.
27 The idea of egoism produces the great variety of our selfish acts which create only misconduct and misery. 28 Egoism has taken a deep root in the moist soil of our hearts and sprouts forth in the field of our bodies with the germs of innumerable evils. 29 Here is death closely following the course of life. There is a new life hereafter waiting upon our death. Now there is a non-being state of being distinct from its deprivation. And again there is the opposite in our reincarnation, only to our great annoyance. 30 “This I have gained” and “this I will gain” are the thoughts that constantly employ the minds of men. The desire of a new gain is constantly lit in the minds of the senseless, like the ceaseless flame of the sun-stone is increased in summer heat. 31 That “this I want” and “this I must have” are thoughts ever attendant on egoism. The dull-headed pursue dull material objects with as much ardor as heavy clouds hastening to halt on high-headed hills.
32 Decay of egoism withers away the tree of worldliness, which then ceases to germinate, like a plant on sterile rocks. 33 Your desires are like black serpents creeping in the hole of your heart, but hiding their heads at the sight of the snake-eater garuda bird of reason. 34 The unreal world gives rise to the error of appearances. The unreal “I” and “you” seem to be realities, though they are caused by mere pulsations of the unreal mind.
35 This world rises at first without a cause and to no cause. How then do we call a reality that which is sprung from and to no cause at all? 36 As a pot made of earth long before continues in the same state at all times, so the body which has long ago come into existence still continues and will continue the same. 37 The beginning and end of waves is mere water and moisture, and the intermediate part only presents a figure to view. So the beginning and end of bodies are mere earth and water, and the intermediate state is one of bustle and commotion. 38 Only the ignorant trust this temporary and fluctuating state of the body which, like a wave, is hastening to subside in its original liquid and quiet state.39 What reliance is there on anything that makes a figure in the middle and is an unreality both in its prior and latter states? 40 So the heart also is as quiet as consciousness, both at first and in the end. It remains immersed in itself, both when it exists in the body or not. What then if it heaves for a little while in between?
41 Marvelous things pass in our dreams and in our deluded sights, just as it happens in the giddiness of inebriation, journeying in boats, 42 in cases of weakened humors and delusion of senses, in cases of extreme joy and grief, and under some defect of the mind or body. 43 Some objects come to sight and others disappear. Some appear to be smaller or larger than they are, and others to be moving. So do all these objects of our vision appear and disappear from our sight in the course of time.
44 O my heart! All your conduct is of the same nature at the different times of your joy and grief. It makes the long of short and the short of long, just as the short space of a single night for separated lovers becomes as tedious as an age, and an age of joyful wealth as short as a moment. 45 My long habit of thinking makes untruth appear as truth to me. Like the mirage of the desert, our mirage of life presents its falsehoods as realities to us. 46 All things that we see in the phenomenal world are unrealities in their nature. As the mind comes to know the nothingness of things, it feels in itself its nothingness also.
47 As the mind becomes impressed with the certainty of the unsubstantially of external objects, its desire for worldly enjoyments fades away like the fading green of autumn.48 When the mind comes to see the pure soul by means of its intellectual light, it rids itself of its temporal exertions. Being thereby freed from its passions and affections, it rests in itself with calm composure. 49 The heart attains its perfect purity when, by withdrawing attention from the sense organs, it casts itself into the flame of the Supreme Soul where all its impurity is burnt away.
50 As a hero boldly faces his death, fighting bravely in battle with the thought of ascending to heaven, so the mind conquers all impediments by casting off all worldly desires and attachments. 51 The mind is the enemy of the body and the body is the enemy of the mind, but each dies away without the other and both pass away without desire which supports them both. 52 Owing to the hostility between mind and body and their passions and affections towards each other, it is better to destroy both for our attainment of supreme bliss. 53 The existence of either of these after death is as incapable of heavenly joy as it is for an aerial fairy to live on earth.
54 When things that are naturally repugnant and opposed to one another meet together in any place or person, there is a continuous clashing of mutual mischief, like the crashing of conflicting arms. 55 The base man who has a liking for this world of conflicts is like one left to burn in a conflagration of showering flames. 56 The mind stout with its greedy desires loads the body with labor and feeds upon its precious life, like a yaksha ghost seizing the body of a boy. 57 The body being harassed and oppressed with toil attempts to stop and stay the mind like an impious son intends to kill his father who openly abuses him. 58 There is no one who in his nature is a foe or friend to another. One becomes a friend to the person who is friendly to him and a foe to he who harms him.
59 The body attempts to kill the mind and the mind is ever intent to make the body the receptacle of its afflictions. 60 What good can possibly accrue from the union of the body and mind? They are repugnant to one another. They are irreconcilable in their own natures. 61 The mind being weakened, the body has no pain to undergo, so the body is always striving to weaken the mind. 62 The body, whether alive or dead, is subject to all sorts of evils by its hostile mind unless it is brought under the subjugation of reason.
63 When both body and mind become resolute and strong, they join together to break all bonds, like a lake and rainwater join to overflow banks. 64 Though both are troublesome to us in their different natures, yet their union to one end is beneficial to us, just as the cooperation of fire and water for the purpose of cooking. 65 When the weak mind is wasted and worn out, the body also becomes weakened and weak. But the mind being full, the body is flushed like a flourishing tree shooting forth with verdure.
66 The body pines away with weakened desires and weakened mind. But the mind never grows weak at the weakness of the body. Therefore the mind must be curbed and weakened by all means. 67 Therefore I must cut down the woody weed of my mind with its trees of my desires and plants of my thirst and, having reclaimed a large tract of land, wander about at my pleasure. 68 After my egoism is lost and the net of my desires removed, my mind will regain its calm and clarity like the sky after clouds disperse at the end of rainy weather.
69 It is of no matter to me whether my body, which is a collection of my humors and a great enemy to me, should waste away or last after the dissolution of my mind. 70 The enjoyments my body craves are not mine, nor do I belong to them. Therefore, what is the good of bodily pleasure to me? 71 It is certain that I am not the body, nor is this body mine in any way, just as a corpse with all its parts intact is nobody at all. 72 Therefore I am something other than my body, and that is everlasting and never setting in its glory. It is by means of this that I have the light in me with which I perceive the bright sun in the sky. 73 I am not ignorant of myself or subject to misery, nor am I the dull unintelligent body which is subject to misery. My body may last or not, I am beyond all bodily accidents.
74 Where there is the soul or self, there is no mind, no senses, and no desire of any kind, just as vile commoners and idiots never associate with kings. 75 I have attained that state in which I have surpassed all things. It is the state of my singleness, my extinction, my indivisibility, and my want of desires. 76 Now I am loosened from the bonds of my mind, body and senses, like oil extracted from sesame is separated from sediments. 77 I walk about freely in this state of transcendence. My mind disconnected from the bonds of the body considers its body parts to be its dependent instruments and accompaniments. 78 Now I find myself situated in a state of transparency and buoyancy, of self-contentment and intelligence, and of true reality. I feel my full joy and calmness and preserve my reserve in speech. 79 I find my fullness and magnanimity in my pleasantness and even temper. I see the unity of all things and feel my fearlessness and want of duality, choice and option.
80 I find these qualities to be ever attendant on me. They are constant and faithful, easy and graceful and always propitious to me. My unshaken attachment to them has made them like my heartily beloved consorts. 81 I find I am all and in all at all times and in every manner. Yet I am devoid of all desire or dislike for anyone. I am equally unconcerned with whatever is pleasant or unpleasant, agreeable or disagreeable to me. 82 Removed from the cloud of error and melancholy, and released from doubt and duplicity in my thoughts, I traverse like a flimsy cloud in the cooling atmosphere of the autumn sky.
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Chapter 54 — Uddalaka’s Meditation and Samadhi
1 Vasishta continued:— Thinking himself raised to this state of his transcendence, the saint sat in lotus posture with his eyelids half shut and began to meditate in his translucent mind.
2 Then he thought that the syllable Om is the true symbol of Brahman, and that he who utters this monosyllabic word rises to the highest state. 3 He uttered the word with a raised voice and high note which rang with a sound of a ringing bell. 4 His utterance of Om shook the seat of his intellect in the cranium and reached the seat of the pure soul in the topmost part of his head. 5 The pranava Om, consisting of three and half letters [“a for waking, “u” for dreaming, “m” for deep sleep, and bindu (dot) for super consciousness, see Mandukya Upanishad], fills the whole body with the breath of inspiration by having its first part or the letter “a” uttered with an acute accent.
6 He exhaled the breath from his body and it became as insubstantial as the sea after Agastya sucked it up. 7 His vital breath was filled with the vitality of the intellect and rested in the outer air by leaving his body, like a bird leaving its snug nest and floating in open air. 8 The burning fire of his heart burned away his whole body and left it as dry as a forest scorched by the hot wind of a fire.
9 He was in this state at the first step of his practice of pranava yoga by chanting Om. He did not practice hatha yoga at all because it was physical. 10 Then he attended to the other parts of the mystic syllable and remained unshaken by suppressing his breath by the kumbhaka breathing.11 His vital breaths were not allowed to pass out of his body, nor were they allowed to circulate up and down in it, but were shut up in the nostrils, like water pent up in a drain.
12 The fire consumed his body and was blown out in a moment, like the flash of lightning. He left his whole frame consumed to ashes, lying cold and grey on the naked ground. 13 The white bones of his body seemed to be sleeping unmoved, lying in quiet rest on the bed of grey ashes looking like camphor powder strewn on the ground. 14 These ashes and bones were carried aloft by the winds and covered his body which looked like the body of Shiva smeared with ash and wearing a garland of bones. 15 Afterwards the high winds of the air, flying to the face of the upper sky, bore aloft and scattered about those ashes and bones, resembling an autumn mist in the air. 16 The saint attained this second or middle stage of his pranava yoga, and it was through kumbhaka breathing and not by hatha yoga.
17 He then came to the third stage of his pranava yoga, the inhalation which confers a quiet rest to the yogi, and is called puraka for its fulfillment of his object. 18 In the process of this practice, the vital breath is carried through the intellect to the region of emptiness where it is cooled by the coldness of its climate. 19 From the region of vacuum, the breath ascended to the lunar sphere. There it became as cold as when the rising smoke turns into a watery cloud in the upper sky. 20 Then the breath rested in the orb of the full moon, as in the ocean of ambrosial waters, and there became as cool as in the meritorious samadhi meditation.
21 The respiring breaths were then exhaled like cooling showers of rain and were brightened by the moonbeams into the form of fine wires of gold. 22 These fell like a dew drop on the remaining ashes, like the stream of the heavenly Ganges fell on Shiva’s head, and resuscitated the burnt body to its former form. 23 The body became as bright as the orb of the moon. It had the four arms of Vishnu. It glistened like a parijata tree on the shore after the sea was churned by Mandara Mountain. 24 The body of Uddalaka competed in beauty with that of Vishnu Narayana. His bright eyes and lotus-like face shone with a celestial light.
25 The vital breaths filled his body with a humid juice, like a lake filled with sweet water and trees supplied with moisture from a spring. 26 The internal airs filled the lungs and heart cavity like seawater flowing into a whirlpool. 27 His body was restored and regained its natural state, as when the earth regains its prior and pure state after it is washed by rain waters.
28 He sat in lotus posture and kept his body fixed and firm in a straight and erect position. The five organs of his sense were bound as tightly as strong chains on the feet of an elephant. 29 He strove to practice an unshaken samadhi, wanting to make himself appear as clear as the autumn sky. 30 He controlled his breath and restricted his heart from its inclinations, tying it tightly as if by a rope to the post of his bosom. 31 He forcibly stopped his heart from running madly into the pits of its affection, just as they stop the course of over-flowing waters with embankments. 32 His eyes were half hidden under his half-closed eyelids. His eyeballs remained as fixed and unmoved as the contracted petal of the lotus against buzzing bees fluttering about and seeking to suck their honey.
33 He practiced raja yoga, at first by remaining silent with a graceful countenance. 34 He abstracted his senses from their objects just like they separate oil from sesame seeds. He contracted the sense organs within himself like a tortoise contracting his limbs under his hard covering. 35 With his steady mind, he cast off the external sensations afar from him like a rich and brilliant gem casts off its outer coating and rubbish, then scatters its rays to a distance. 36 He compressed his external sensations without coming in contact with them, like trees contracting their sap in the cold season. 37 He stopped the circulation of his respiration to the nine openings of his body and their passing through the mouth and anus. By means of his breath control he compressed the winds in the internal cells of his body.
38 He held his neck erect like the peak of Mount Meru in order to receive the light of the soul which irradiated in the form of flowers before the vision of his mind. 39 He confined his subdued mind in the cavity of his heart just like they imprison a big elephant in a cave of the Vindhya Mountains after being captured by some artifice. 40 When his soul gained its clarity resembling the serenity of the autumn sky, it forsook its unsteadiness like the calm ocean when it is full and not agitated by wind.
41 The mist of doubts which sometimes gathered in his breast and hid the light of his reason and truth fled from before him, like a flight of gnats driven by the wind. 42 As crowds of doubt rose repeatedly in his breast of their own accord, he dispersed them boldly by the sword of his reason like a hero driving the enemy before him. 43 Upon the dispersion of the thick mists of doubts and all worldly desires from his mind, he saw the bright sun of reason rising in his breast from the parting gloom of ignorance. 44 He dispelled this darkness by the sunbeams of his full intelligence which rose in his mind like a blast of wind and dispersed the clouds of his doubts in the skies. 45 After this darkness was dispersed, he saw a beautiful collection of light shining upon him like morning twilight alighting upon his lotus bed.
46 But this clear light of his soul was soon after removed by the worldliness (rajas, the principle of action) of his mind which consumed the light like a young elephant feeds upon red lotuses, and like vetala demons lick up drops of blood.
47 After he lost this heavenly light, his mind turned flighty from the giddiness of his passions. He became as drowsy as sleeping lotuses at night, and as tipsy as a drunken sot over his drinks. 48 But his reason soon returned and made him shake off his sleepiness, like winds dispersing clouds, a snake inhaling air, an elephant devouring a lotus bush, and sunlight dispelling the darkness of night.
49 After his drowsiness was removed, his mind saw the broad expanse of the blue sky filled with fancied forms of animals and flights of peacocks and other birds. 50 As the rainwater washes blackness off tamara tree leaves, a gust of wind drives away the morning mist, and the light of a lamp disperses darkness, so his spiritual light returned to him and removed the blue emptiness of his mind by filling it with its benign radiance. 51 The idea of an empty void was replaced with that of his self consciousness. His idea of the mind was absorbed in it, just as the drunken frenzy of a man is drowned in his sleep.
52 Then his great soul rubbed out the impressions of error from his weakened mind, like the bright sun driving the darkness of night from the world. 53 In this way, his misty mind, free from its shades of light and dark and from the impurity of its drowsiness and error, obtained its rest in the state of samadhi which no language can describe. 54 In this state of calm and quiet repose, his limbs dropped down as in the drowsiness of sleep. Their powers were absorbed in the channel of his self consciousness, like a flood flows to its basin when blocked by an embankment.
55 Then by means of his constant inquiry he advanced from a state of consciousness of himself to the state of intellectuality, like gold molded into the form jewelry is reduced to the pure metal. 56 Then leaving his intellectuality, he thought of himself as the consciousness of his intellect. He became another form and figure, like clay made into a pot. 57Then leaving his nature of a thinkable being (or objectivity), he became the subjective thinking intellect itself, and next to that, as identical with the pure universal consciousness, just as the waves of the sea create mist in the common air. 58 Losing the sight of particulars, he saw the great One as the container of all. He became as one with the sole empty consciousness.
59 He found his joy in this extra-phenomenal state of the ideal which, like the ocean, is the reservoir of all moistures. 60 He passed out of the confines of his body and went to a certain place where, leaving his ordinary form, he became like a sea of joy. 61 His intellect swam over that sea of joy like a floating swan, and remained there for many years with as serene a light as the moon shining in her fullness in the clear sky. 62 His intellect remained as still as a lamp in the still air and like the shadow in a painted picture. It was calm as a clear lake without waves, like the sea after a storm and as immovable as a cloud after it has poured out its waters.
63 As Uddalaka was sitting in this full blaze of light, he saw the aerial spiritual masters (siddhas) and a group of gods advancing towards him. 64 The groups of spiritual masters were eager to confer the positions of Sun god and Indra upon him. They assembled around him with groups of heavenly gandharvas and apsara nymphs from all sides of heaven.65 But the saint took no notice of them, nor gave them their due honor. He remained in deep thought, continuing his steady meditation. 66 Without paying any regard to the assembled spiritual masters, he remained still in that blissful abode of his bliss, just like the sun remains in the northern hemisphere for half of the year. 67 While he continued in the enjoyment of his blessed state of living liberation, the gods Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma waited at his door, together with groups of spiritual masters, disciples and other gods.
68 Uddalaka remained in his state of detachment which lies between the two opposites of sorrow and joy, neither of which is of long continuance, except the middle state of detachment which endures forever. 69 When the mind is situated in its state of neutrality, and whether it is for a moment or a thousand years, it no longer has any taste for pleasure. It already sees its future joys of the next world as already begun in this. 70 When holy men have gained that blissful state in this life, they no longer look upon the outer world. They turn aside from it like men avoiding a thorny bush of brambles. 71 The saints who attain this state of transcendental bliss do not stoop to look upon the visible world, just like one who is sitting in the heavenly car of Chitraratha, the king of the gandharvas, never gets out to step on a thorny khadira bush. 72 They who enjoy this joy of the invisible in them take no account of the visible world, just like a self-sufficient rich man takes no account of the condition of the miserable poor. 73 The wise heart that has found its rest in that blissful state either keeps from the thoughts of this world or shrinks from it with disgust and hatred.
74 Uddalaka thus remained in his holy seat for six months, after which he awoke from his samadhi and moved to another place like the sun gets out of the mists of frost in spring season. 75 He saw before him an assembly of bright beings of enlightened minds who, their faces shining like the bright moon, hailed the hermit with great veneration. 76They were fanned with fans flapping about them, like swarms of bees smeared with the white powder of mandara flowers, sitting on their heavenly cars decorated with flags waving in the sky. 77 Sitting in the aerial cars were great saints, like ourselves, decorated with ringlets of sacred grass on their fingers and accompanied by vidyadharas, gandharvas, and damsels ministering to them. 78 They addressed the great soul and saintly Uddalaka saying, “Consent, O venerable sage, to look upon us. We have been waiting here with our greetings for you. 79 Please mount on one of these heavenly cars and come to our celestial abode. Because heaven is the last home where you shall have the full gratification of your desires after this life.”
80 “Remain in heaven to enjoy your desired pleasures until the end of this kalpa age. Pure heavenly bliss is the inheritance of saints and the main aim and object of ascetic austerities on earth. 81 See the vidyadhara ladies waiting for you with fans and flower garlands in their hands. They have been hailing and inviting you to them, like a young elephant cow entices the big elephant towards her. 82 The main object of riches and good acts is only the desire for rewards, and the greatest of our enjoyments is the company of fairy ladies, just as flowers and fruit are the desired products of the spring season.”
83 The hermit heard his heavenly guests speaking in this manner. He honored them politely without being moved by anything they said unto him. 84 He neither complemented them with courtesy nor changed the even course of his even and unexcitable mind. He bid them to depart in peace and returned to his tapas.
85 The spiritual masters honored him for his devotion to his practice and for refusing the desires of carnal gratifications. Then they left to return to their paradise abode, after tarrying there in vain for some days hoping to entice the hermit to their romantic fields.
86 Afterwards the saint continued to wander about at pleasure in his character of a living liberated yogi. He frequented the hermitages of ascetics at the edges of woods and forests. 87 He roved about freely over the mountains of Meru, Mandara, and Kailash and on the table lands of the Vindhyan and Himalayan ranges. He travelled through woods and forests, gardens and deserts and to distant islands everywhere. 88 At last the saintly Uddalaka chose his home in a cave lying at the foot of a mountain. There he dedicated the rest of his life to secluded tapas and meditation.
89 It was then in the course of a day, then of a month, and sometimes after the lapse of a year or many years, that he rose once from his meditation. 90 After his yoga was over, he came out and mixed with the world. Though he sometimes was engaged in the affairs of life, yet he was quite reserved in his conduct and abstracted in his mind. 91 Being practiced in mental abstraction, he became one with the Divine Mind and shone resplendent in all places, like broad daylight. 92 He was habituated to ponder on the community of the mind until he became one with the universal Mind which spreads alike throughout the universe and neither rises nor sets anywhere like sunlight.
93 He gained the state of perfect tranquility and his even mindedness in all places, which released him from the snare of doubts and the pain of repeated births and deaths. His mind became as clear and quiet as the autumn sky, and his body shone like the sun everywhere.
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Chapter 55 — The Pure Consciousness and Being of Uddalaka
1 Rama said, “Venerable sage, you are the sun of the day of spiritual knowledge and the burning fire of the night of my doubts. You are the cooling moon to the heat of my ignorance. Please explain to me, what does the state of pure existence mean?”
2 Vasishta answered:— When the thinking principle, the mind, is wasted and weakened and appears to be extinct and null, the consciousness which remains in common in all beings is called the common consciousness of all, pure being. 3 This consciousness when devoid of its reasoning and absorbed in itself becomes transparent as it is nothing of itself. Then it is called pure consciousness. 4 Similarly, when the intellect ignores knowledge of all internal and external objects, it remains as pure consciousness and is unconscious of any personality. 5 When all phenomena are considered to have a common existence and to be of the same nature as one’s self, this is called pure consciousness. 6When phenomena are all dissolved of themselves into the one common spirit and there remains nothing different from it, then it is the one consciousness, pure being.
7 This common view of all things as one and the same is called Self realization and it is the same for embodied and disembodied beings in both worlds. It places the liberated being above the fourth stage of consummation. 8 It is the enlightened soul exalted by ecstasy, and not the ignorant, who can have this consciousness of all as one. 9 This common view of all existence is known by all great and liberated beings, just like the same moisture and air is spread throughout the earth and emptiness. 10 Sages like ourselves, Narada and others, and the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva have this common view of all things in existence.
11 The saintly Uddalaka entertained this view of the community of all beings and things, and having thereby attained that state of perfection, free from fear or fall, he lived as long as he liked to live in this earthly sphere. 12 After a long time, he thought of enjoying the bliss of disembodied or spiritual liberation in the next world by quitting his frail mortal frame on earth. 13 With this intention, he went into the cave of a mountain where he made a seat for himself with dried tree leaves. He sat upon it in lotus posture, his eyes half closed under his eyelids. 14 He shut up the opening of the nine organs of sense, then having compressed their properties of the nine senses in the one single sense of consciousness, he confined them all within his intellect. 15 He compressed the vital airs in his body and kept his head erect on his neck. Then by fixing the tip of his tongue to the roof of his palate, he sat with his blooming face turned upwards to heaven. 16 He did not allow his breath to pass up or down or out or inside his body, or fly into the air. He did not let his mind or sight to be fixed on any object. He compressed them all within himself with his teeth joined together.
17 There was a complete stop of breathing his vital airs and his face was composed and clear. His body was erect with the consciousness of his intellect and his hairs stood on their ends like thorns. 18 His habitual consciousness of reasoning taught him the community of consciousness. It was by his constant communion with pure consciousness that he perceived a flood of internal bliss stirring in himself. 19 This feeling of internal bliss, resulting from his consciousness of intellectual community, led him to think himself as identical with the entity of the infinite soul and supporting the universal whole. 20 He remained in his state of stillness in pure being with an even composure. He enjoyed an even bliss in himself with a serene countenance.
21 Being unruffled by his spiritual bliss and having attained the state of divine holiness, he remained in his samadhi meditation for a long time by withdrawing his mind from all thoughts and errors of the world. 22 His great body remained as fixed as an image in painting, and shone as bright as the autumn sky illuminated by the beams of the full moon. 23In course of some days, his soul gradually forgot its mortal state and found its rest in pure spiritual bliss, like the moisture of trees is dried by the sun at the end of autumn. 24 Being devoid of all desires, doubts and levity of his mind, and freed from all foul and pleasurable inclinations of his body, he attained that supreme bliss on the loss of his former joys, before which the prosperity of Indra appears like a straw floating on the vast expanse of the ocean.
25 The brahmin then attained that state of supreme good which is immeasurable and pervades through all space of the measureless vacuum, and which fills the universe and is felt only by the bliss of a yogi. It is called the supreme and infinite bliss, having neither beginning nor end and being a reality without any property assignable to itself.
26 While the brahmin first attained this state of samadhi and had the clearness of his understanding, during the first six months of his tapas, his body became emaciated by sunbeams and the winds of heaven whistled over his dry frame with the sound of lute strings. 27 After a long time elapsed in this manner, Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king, came to that place accompanied by other goddesses, shining like flames of fire with the grey locks of hair on their heads, as if to confer the boon to reward Uddalaka’s austere meditation. 28 Among them was the goddess Chaumundi who is adored by the gods. She took up the living skeleton of the brahmin and placed it on her crown, which added a new brightness to her body at night. 29 Thus the disgusting and dead-like body of Uddalaka was set over the many other ornaments on the goddesses’ body. She valued it as more precious than all her other jewels because of its intrinsic merit of spiritual knowledge.
30 Whoever plants this plant of life and the conduct of Uddalaka in the garden of his heart will find it always flourishing within himself with flowers of knowledge and fruit of divine bliss. Whoever walks under the shadow of this growing tree is never subject to death, but will reap the fruit of his higher progress in the path of liberation.
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Chapter 56 — Characteristics of Samadhi; Indifference to Surroundings
1 Vasishta continued:— Proceed in this manner to know the Universal Soul in your own soul and thereby obtain your rest in that holy state.
2 You must consider all things by the light of the scriptures and dive into their true meaning. You will also benefit from your teacher’s lectures, by pondering them in your own mind, and by your constant practice of ignoring phenomena until you come to know the invisible one. 3 You can attain that holy state and come to God through habitual dispassion, your acquaintance with the scriptures and their meanings, listening to the lectures of the spiritual teachers, and your own conviction.
4 You can also attain that everlasting state of joy without the medium of anything else by your enlightened understanding, when it is acute and unbiased.
5-6 Rama said, “Tell me sage, who is acquainted with past and future, which of these two has greater merit: one employed in the affairs of life and at the same time is enlightened and situated in his quietude, or another who remains alone immersed in samadhi apart from worldly connections?”
7 Vasishta replied:— He who does not associate his soul with phenomena enjoys a cool tranquility within himself called samadhi. 8 He who is certain that phenomena relate only to his mind and have no connection with his soul, and who remains calm and cool in himself, may either be engaged in business or sitting quietly in meditation. 9 Both of these are happy souls as long as they enjoy a cool calmness within themselves. This samadhi is the result of great and austere penance.
10 If the mind of a man who appears to be in samadhi is unsteady, he is a mad man. 11 On the other hand, when the mind of a man who appears to be mad is devoid of desires in his mind, he is in samadhi and his foolish frolics resemble the rapturous emotions and gestures of Buddhist mendicants.
12 The worldly man who is enlightened in his mind and the enlightened sage who is sitting in his hermitage are both alike in their samadhi and have undoubtedly reached the state of enlightenment.
13 The man who is unrelated with the actions he does, whose mind is free from desires, as if engrossed with other thoughts, senses what he hears and sees only with his sense organs without being affected by them. 14 A man becomes the agent of an act, even without actually doing it, who is fully intent upon the action, just as an unmoving man thinks himself to be moving about and falling down in a ditch. 15 Know the inaction of the mind is the best state of samadhi, and one-pointedness of the mind (samadhana) is the best means to your detachment. 16 Activity and inactivity of the mind are the sole causes of the restlessness and quietness of men, and also the causes of one-pointed meditation and lack of one-pointedness. Therefore destroy the germs of your rising desires.
17 Lack of desire is called neutrality of the mind and this constitutes its steadiness and meditation. This gives singleness to the soul and contributes to its everlasting tranquility.18 Diminishing desires leads the man to the highest station of innocence and lack of desires. 19 Thickening desires serve to fill the mind with the vanity of its agency, which is the cause of all its sorrows. Therefore try to weaken your desires at all times.
20 Samadhi or enlightenment is when the mind is tranquil, freed from its fears, grief and desires, and the soul is at rest and quiet for lack of its passions. 21 Renounce the thoughts of all things from your mind. Wherever you live, whether on a mountain or in a forest, live as calmly as you do in your own home. 22 To householders with well governed minds and to those without personal ego, their houses are like solitary forests to them. 23 Cool-minded men see living in a house or in a forest in same light as they see all visible objects, only in the light of an empty vacuum. 24 Men of pacified minds see beautiful buildings of cities in the same indifferent light as they see the woods in the forest. 25 It is the nature of ungoverned minds to see even solitary woods as full of people like large towns and cities.
26 The restless mind falls asleep after it gets rid of its labor, but the quiet mind has its enlightenment after its nirvana. Therefore do as you like. 27 Whether one gets rid of worldly things or not, it is his sight of the infinite spirit that makes him meek and quiet.
28 He is called serious and detached, and cool and meek, whose mind is expanded by his indifference to both the objects of his desire and disgust, and to whom all things are alike insignificant everywhere. 29 He who in his innermost soul sees the world in God and never as without the Divine Spirit, and whose mind sees everything in waking as in his sleep, is truly the lord of mankind. 30 As people in a market, whether coming in or going out, are strangers unrelated to one another, so the wise man looks upon the concourse of men with unconcern and thinks his own town a wilderness. 31 The mind fixed to its inner vision and inattentive to external objects thinks a populous city is like a wilderness, both when awake or asleep, active or inactive. 32 Those who are attentive to the inner mind see the outer world as a empty space. They see the populous world like a desolate desert owing to its unworthiness of attention.
33 The world is all cool and calm to the cold hearted, just as the body is quiet cool to one without a fever. 34 Those who are parched with their internal thirst find the world is like a burning fire because everybody sees the same outside as he sees within himself. 35 The external world, with all its earthy, watery and airy bodies, and with all its rocks, rivers and quarters, is the counterpart of the inner mind and is situated outside the mind as it is contained within. 36 The big banyan tree and small barley plants are exact copies of their foreshadowed counterparts in the eternal mind. They are exhibited outside of it as they are within, like the fragrance of flowers diffused in the air.
37 There is nothing situated inside or outside this world other than casts and copies displayed by their patterns in the great mind of God. 38 The external world is a display of the essence contained in the Universal Soul. It appears outside from within its concealment, like the smell of camphor coming out of its casket. 39 The Divine Soul manifests itself in the form of ego and the world. Everything that we see externally or think internally is unreal, except the real images that are imprinted in the soul. 40 The soul is conscious of its innate images. It sees them in their intellectual appearances within the mind and in their external manifestations in visible creation.
41 He who has his internal and external tranquility, enjoys his peace of mind, and sees the world inseparable from the soul, enjoys his quiet samadhi everywhere. But he who perceives differences and differentiates his ego from all others is always subject to be tossed about like the rolling waves of the sea. 42 A soul harassed by the troubles of this world sees the earth, sky, air and water, together with the hills and all things in them, burning like the universal fire at the end of the world.
43 The dispassionate yogi performs his work with his organs of action, has his soul fixed in its internal meditation, and is not moved by any joy or grief. 44 The tranquil yogi beholds the all pervading soul in his own self and by remaining unruffled in his mind, never grieves or thinks about anything. 45 He who looks calmly into the course of the world as it has passed or is present before him, and who sits still smiling at its changing states of fortune, that man is named the dispassionate yogi.
46 Because these changing phenomena do not belong to unchanging spirit of God. They do not participate with my own egoism. They only resemble glittering atoms of gold in bright sunshine. They do not exist in the sky.
47 He is the one who truly exists who has no sense of “I” or “you” in himself and who makes no distinction of things in his mind, such as between conscious and unconscious things, and not the other who thinks otherwise. 48 The calm and quiet man conducts all his affairs with ease by remaining like the intangible and translucent air about him, and remaining as unconscious of his joy and sorrow as a block of wood or stone. 49 He who, of his own nature and not through fear, looks on all beings as himself and accounts the goods of others as worthless stones is the man who sees them in their true light.
50 No object whether great or small is slighted as a trifle by the polished or foolish. They value all things, but the foolish do not perceive in their hearts the Reality that abides in them, like the wise.
51 One possessed of such detachment and equality of his mind attains his highest perfection. He is quite unconcerned with regard to his rise and fall and about his life and death. 52 He is quite unconcerned with anything, whether he is situated amidst the luxuries of his home or the unnecessary things of the world, whether he is deprived of all his possessions and enjoyments or is exposed to a dreary and deep solitude. 53 He is indifferent whether indulging in sensual pleasure or drunken revelry, or remaining retired from society and observing silence, 54 whether he anoints his body with sandal paste or smears it with powdered camphor, or whether he rubs his body with ash or casts himself into the flames, 55 whether drowned in sinfulness or marked by his merits, or whether he dies this day or lives for a kalpa age. 56 The man of detachment is nothing in himself and therefore his doings are not his own acts. He is not polluted by impurity, just as pure gold is not sullied by dirt or dust.
57 The wrong application of the words “consciousness” and “soul” to “I” and “you” (or the subjective and objective) has led the ignorant to the blunder (of duality), just like the silvery shell of clams misleads men to the error of silver.58 The knowledge of the extinction of all existence in the Supreme Spirit is the only cure for this blunder of one’s entity and the only means to peace of mind. 59 The error of “I” or “you” of the conscious soul, which is the source of its vain desires, causes the varieties of mankind’s happiness and sorrow in repeated births. 60 As the removal of the fallacy of the snake in the rope gives peace to the mind that there is no snake, so the subsidence of egoism in the soul brings peace and tranquility to the mind.
61 He who is conscious of his inner soul and unconscious of all he does, eats, drinks, and of his going to others and offering his sacrifice, is free from the results of his acts. It is the same to him whether he does them or not. 62 He who slides from outward nature and abides in his inner soul is released from all external actions and their resulting good and evil. 63 No wish stirs in such a calm soul, in the same manner as no germ sprouts from the bosom of a stone. Such desires as ever rise in it are like the waves of the sea, rising and falling in the same element.
64 All this is Himself and He is the whole of this universe without any partition or duality. He is one with the holy and Supreme Soul, and the only entity called the true reality (tat sat).
• • •
Chapter 57 — Dualism Is Innate in the Soul
1 Vasishta continued:— Everyone feels consciousness residing in the soul, just like everyone feels the sharp smell inherent in pepper. It is this consciousness whereby we have reasoning of ego and non-ego and the distinctions of duration and space in what is undivided dimension and infinite. 2 The soul is like the universal ocean of salt, and consciousness is the salt in it. Consciousness gives us the knowledge of ego and non-ego and appears in the forms of infinite space and time. 3 The consciousness of which we have knowledge is inherent in the soul, like the sweetness of the sugarcane, and spreads itself in the different forms of ego and non-ego of worldly objects.
4 The intellect, the hardness inherent in the stone-like soul, diffuses itself in the shapes of the compact ego and the unsolid non-ego of the world. 5 The rock-like soul solidifies itself in the forms of “I” and “you” and the diversity of the world all about us. 6 The soul, like a great body of water, presents its fluidity in the form of the intellect and assumes the forms of the whirlpools of the ego, and the varieties of non-ego in the world. 7 The great tree of the soul stretches itself in the plentiful branches of consciousness producing the fruits of ego and the various forms of non-ego in the world.
8 The intellect, which is only a gap in the great vacuum of the soul, produces the ideas of “I” and “you” and of the universe beside. 9 The intellect is as vain as vanity itself in the emptiness of the soul. The intellect gives rise to the ideas of “I” and “you” and of the world beside. 10 The intellect situated within the environs of the soul has its egoism and non-egoism situated without it.
11 When the intellect is known to be of the same essence as the soul, then the difference between ego and non-ego proves to be only an act of reasoning and not reality. 12The reflection of the inner soul is understood to be the ego, mind and animated soul.
13 When the bright and moonlike soul entertains and enjoys the ambrosial beams of consciousness within itself, it forgets its egoism, which rises no more in its bright sphere.14 When the sweetness of consciousness is felt within the molasses of the soul, the mind tastes it with a zest and forgets its egoism in itself. 15 When the bright gem of the soul shines with the radiance of consciousness in itself, it finds its egoism to be completely lost under the brightness of its intellectual light.
16 The soul perceives nothing in itself because of the complete lack of phenomena in it. It does not taste anything in itself for want of anything to be tasted. 17 It thinks of nothing in itself for want of anything to be thought of, nor does it know anything in itself for want of anything to be known there. 18 The soul remains blank of all impressions of the subjective and objective, and also of the infinite fullness of space in itself. It remains by itself in the form of a firm and solid rock.
19 By way of common speech we use the words “I” and “you” and refer to an objective world. In reality, they are nothing whatever. 20 In the soul there is no seat or agent of thought, nor any error of the world. The soul remains like a mute and transparent cloud in the autumn sky.
21 As the fluidity of water causes it to form vortices in the sea, so the delusion of the knower and known in the intelligent soul assumes its errors of “I” and “you” in its undivided self. 22 As fluidity is inherent in water and motion in air, so egoism and the objective known world are innate in the subjective knower.
23 The more a man understands the truth, the more clearly he knows that objects are the display of Divine Omniscience, the living god or jiva Brahma. But if owing to his vitality and activity he comes to conceive the individual self or objectivity of all others, even a learned or knowing man is no better than an egoist. 24 To the extent the intelligent soul (jiva) derives pleasure from its knowledge of objects, it identifies with the knowledge of its sameness with or difference from that object.
25 Living, knowing, and the knowledge of things are properties of the animated or concrete soul, but there is no difference of these in the distinct, or universal and intellectual soul. 26 As there is no difference between the intelligent and the living soul, so there is no diversity between the intelligent soul and Shiva, the lord of animated nature who is the undivided whole.
27 Know the all quiescent and the unborn one who is without beginning, middle or end, who is self manifest and joy itself, and who is inconceivable and beyond all assignable property or quality. He is all quiescent and all verbal and visual descriptions of him are entirely false. Yet for the sake of our comprehension, he is represented as the holy one, or Om.
• • •
Chapter 58 — Legend of King Suraghu; His Doubt and Sage Mandavya’s Teaching
1 Vasishta said:—
Rama, let me tell you an old legend to illustrate this subject.
It is the story of the Kirata Chief Suraghu, which is marvelous in its nature.
2 There was a land in the north which was as white with its snowfalls as a heap of camphor, and which seemed to smile like the clear night under the moonbeams of the bright fortnight. 3 It was situated on the summit of Himalaya called Mount Kailash. It was free from mountain elephants and the chief of all other peaks. 4 It was milk-white like the bed of Vishnu in the Milky Ocean, and as bright as the paradise of Indra in heaven. It was fair as the seat of Brahma in the core of the lotus, and as snow-white as the snowy peak of Kedarnath, the favorite seat of Shiva. 5 It appeared like the surging sea owing to the waving of rudraksha trees over it, the parade of the apsara nymphs about it, and the reflections of its various gems. 6 The playful pramathas and other demigods merrily sported here as gaily as blossoms of asoka plants tossed by the feet of wanton damsels. 7 Here the god Shiva wanders about and sees waterfalls receding into the caves of the mountain diluting the moon-stones contained in them.
8 By Mount Kailash there was a place enclosed by trees, plants, creepers and shrubs of various kinds, intersected by lakes, hills and rivers, and interspersed by herds of deer and does of various species. 9 That was where a Kiratas people called Hemajatas (yellow-haired) lived. They were as numerous as ants living at the foot of a big banyan tree. 10 They lived like owls in the shades and hollows of trees and subsisted upon the fruits and flowers and herbage of the nearby forests and by felling and selling the rudraksha woods of Mount Kailash.
11 They had a chief among them who was noble-minded and brave to defeat his enemies. He was the arm of the goddess of victory and he stretched it to protect his people. 12His name was Suraghu. He was mighty killing his brave and dreadful enemies. He was powerful like the sun and as strong as the god of wind in his figure. 13 In the extent of his kingdom, dignity and riches, he surpassed Kubera, the lord of the Guhyakas. He was greater in wisdom than the guru of the lord of gods, and he excelled the teacher of the asura demons in learning.
14 He discharged his royal duties by giving rewards and punishments as he saw men deserve them. He was firm in the acquittal of his duties as the sun in making the day and his daily course. 15 He began to think about the pain or pleasure that his punishments and rewards caused his people, and to which they were like birds caught in nets from their freedom of flight. 16 “Why do I forcibly pierce the hearts of my people,” he thought, “like they bruise sesame seeds for oil? It is plain that all persons are susceptible of pain and affliction like myself. 17 Yes, they are all capable of pain. Therefore I will cease to inflict them anymore, but give riches and please everyone.”
18 “But if I refrain from punishing those who torment the good, the wicked are sure to eliminate good, just as a river bed dries up for lack of rain. 19 I am in such a painful dilemma! My punishment and mercy to men are both grievous to me, or pleasing and unpleasing to me by turns.” 20 Being in this manner much troubled in his mind, his thoughts disturbed his spirit like waters in whirlpools.
21 It happened one time that sage Mandavya met him at his house, just like the divine sage Narada, in his journey through the regions of the sky, meets Indra in his celestial abode. 22 The king honored the sage with reverence and asked that he remove his doubt, as they cut down a poisonous tree in the garden with the stroke of the axe at its roots.
23 Suraghu said, “I am supremely blessed, O sage, at your call at my place, which has made me as joyful as the visit of spring on the surface of the earth and gives a fresh bloom to the fading forest. 24 Your visit, O sage, has made me more blessed than the blessed, and makes my heart bloom like the rising sun opens closed lotus petals.”
25 “O lord, you are acquainted with all truths and you are quite at rest in your spirit. Therefore please remove this doubt from my mind, as the sun displaces the darkness of night by his beams from the east. 26 A doubt festering in the heart is said to be the greatest pain of man, and this pain is healed only in the society of the good and wise.”
27 “The thoughts of my rewards and punishments to my subjects have been tormenting my heart, just as scratches inflicted by a lion’s claws afflict the bruised body of the elephant. 28 Therefore, O sage, remove my pain and cause the sunshine of peace and equanimity to brighten the gloom of my mind.”
29 Mandavya replied:— O prince, through one’s self-exertion, self-dependence and self-help the doubts of the mind are melted down like snow under sunshine. 30 It is also by self-discrimination that all mental anguish is quickly put to an end, just as thick mists and clouds are dispersed in autumn. 31 One must consider the nature and powers of one’s own internal and external organs, and the faculties of his body and mind.
32 Consider in your mind. What am I, and what are all these things and where do they come from? What does our life mean and what is this death that waits upon it? 33 As you come to know your true nature by your introspection into the state of your mind, you will remain unchanged by your joys and grief, like a firm rock. 34 As the mind is freed from its habitual unsteadiness and feverish heat, it regains its former tranquility, just like a rolling wave returns to the state of still water from which it arose. 35 As the mind remains aloof in living liberated men, all its imaginations are wiped off, just like its impressions and memories of past lives are lost and effaced upon its rebirth.
36 The dispassionate are honored as the most fortunate among mankind on earth. The man knowing this truth and remaining self-contented is regarded as venerable father by everybody. 37 When you come to see the greatness of your soul by the light of reason, you will find you are of greater magnitude than the extent of the sky and ocean put together. You see the rational comprehensiveness of the mind has more meaning in it than the irrational comprehension of the spheres.
38 When you attain such greatness, your mind will no longer dive into worldly affairs, just as a big elephant will not fall into a hole made by a bullock’s hoof. 39 But the base and debased mind will plunge itself in mean and vile matters of the world, just as the contemptible gnat drowns in a drop of water in a little hole. 40 Greed drives little minds to dive into dirty affairs, like insects moving about in dirt. Their miserliness makes them covet all outward things. 41 But great minds avoid taking notice of outward things in order to behold the pure light of Supreme Soul shining in themselves.
42 Ore is cleared and washed until pure gold is obtained. Spiritual knowledge is to be cultivated by men until spiritual light fills their souls. 43 Always see all things with a universal view in all places, with utter indifference to the varieties of their outward forms and figures. See all with the eye of your soul fixed to one Universal Soul pervading the whole. 44 Until you are free from seeing particular specialties, you can have no sight of the Universal Spirit. After all particulars disappear, there remains the universal, transcendental spirit. 45 Until you get rid of all individuality, it is impossible for you to come to the knowledge of universality, much less comprehend the all-comprehending soul of all.
46 When one endeavors to know the Supreme Soul with all his heart and soul and sacrifices all other objects to that end, then only is it possible for him to know the Divine Soul in its fullness. 47 Therefore forsake seeking anything for your own soul. Only by leaving all other things can you come to the sight of the best of things.
48 All these visible objects which appear to be linked together by the concatenation of causes and their effects are the creation of the mind. The mind combines them together like a string ties together a necklace of pearls. That which remains after expunging the mind and its created bodies is the sole soul, and this is that Supreme Soul.
• • •
Chapter 59 — King Suraghu’s Self Inquiry and Realization
1 Vasishta continued:— O progeny of Raghu, after sage Mandavya advised the Kirata king in this manner, he retired to his solitary abode suited for holy saints and sages. 2 After the sage left, the king also retired to a lonely place where he began to reflect upon the nature of his soul and the manner of his existence.
3 Suraghu thought:— I am not in this mountain nor is it mine. I am not the cosmos nor is this world me. 4 This land of the Kiratas does not belong to me nor do I belong to it. It is the consent of the people that has made me the ruler of this place. 5 Without this election I am nobody here, nor is this place anything to me, even though this city and this land may last forever.
6 The city, so magnificent with its high flying flags, its gardens and my servants, and the long retinue of horse, elephants and soldiers, is, alas, nothing to me. 7 All this was nothing to me before my election and will not be mine after I am gone. All these possessions, enjoyments and consorts neither belong to me nor I to them. 8 Thus this government with all its force and officers in the city is nothing to me, nor am I aught to it in reality except mere governmental compliments to one another.
9 I think I am my body composed of my legs, hands, and feet. I believe I am placed in the midst of these. 10 But I perceive my body to be composed of flesh and bones and not my reasoning self which, like the lotus flower rising in the water, bears no relation to that element. 11 I find the flesh of my body to be dull and gross matter which does not make my soul. I find my rational part to be not this gross flesh at all. I find my bones likewise to be unconscious substances, consequently forming no part of my sentient soul.
12 I am none of the organs of action, nor do these organs compose me. All organic bodies are composed of gross matter and consequently do not constitute the animated soul. 13 I am not the nourishment which nourishes the body, and not the soul which makes me. I am not any of the organs of sense which perceive material impressions and have no consciousness without the intellect.
14 I am not the mind which is a passive agent and minds whatever it feels. It is called understanding because it stands under all its external and internal perceptions and conceptions, and it is the root of all worldly evils caused by its egoistic feelings. 15 Thus I am not the mind or understanding or the internal senses or the external organs of action. I am not the inner subtle body or its outer material and self locomotive form, but I am something beside all of these which I want to know.
16 I see at last my intelligent living soul reflecting on what is perceptible, thence called its intelligence. But this intelligent principle being roused by others does not come under the category of the soul. 17 Thus I renounce the knowable (living soul) and do not acknowledge the intelligible intelligence as myself. It is at the end of all the immutable and pure Consciousness which remains to be owned as myself.
18 Ah, it is wonderful at last to come to know the soul and find it to be me, the infinite soul, and the Supreme Spirit which has no end. 19 As Indra and the gods reside and are resolved in Brahman, so the spirit of God pervades through all material bodies, like the string of a necklace passing through the holes of all the pearls of which it is composed.
20 The power of the soul known as consciousness is pure and unstained in its nature. It is devoid of the dirt of thinkable objects and fills infinite space with its immense and stupendous figure. 21 Consciousness is devoid of all attributes and pervades all existence in its subtle form. It stretches itself from the highest heaven to the lowest depths. It is the reservoir of all power. 22 It is full with all beauty and it is the light that enlightens all objects to us. It is the connecting chain to which all the worlds are linked together like pearls in a necklace.
23 It is formless but capable of all forms and mutations, being connected with all matters and conversant with all subjects at all times. It has no particular name or form, but is taken as varied in different forms according to the operations of the intellect. 24 It assumes fourteen forms in its awareness of so many sorts of beings contained in the two wombs of the world. It is varied in all these forms in order to be aware of all things composing the whole body of the natural world.
25 The course of human happiness and misery is a false representation of understanding. The varieties of representations in the mind are mere operations of the soul and its attribute of the intellect. 26 My soul is the same with the all pervading spirit, and this understanding in me is no other than that all knowing consciousness.
The same mind represents these imaginary images in the senses of my mind and causes the error of my kingship in me.
27 It is by good grace of Consciousness that the mind is seated in the vehicle of the body and ranges with joy amidst the play and diversions of the diverse scenes of this world.28 But this mind and this body and all diversities are nothing in reality. They are all destroyed by the cruel hand of death and not a trace of them remains behind. 29 This world is a stage stretched out by the mind, its chief actor. The soul sits silently as a spectator of this scene, under the light of consciousness.
30 Alas, I find my painful thoughts of punishment, retribution and well being of my people to be all for nothing because whatever is done for the body also perishes with the body. 31 O, that I am awakened to truth at present and released from the mirage of my long held false views. I have come to see what is worth seeing and have found everything that is worth having. 32 All these appearances seen throughout this universe are nothing more than false phantoms presented or produced by the vibrations of consciousness. They do not last long.
33 Then what is the good of these my punishments and rewards to my people, which produce their pain and pleasure for a short time and do not lead to the lasting welfare of their souls? 34 What do these pains and pleasures mean to us when they both proceed from ourselves and are alike in the sight of God? All along I have been ignorant of this truth which, fortunately, has now dawned upon me.
35 What shall I now do under the influence of this light? Shall I now be sorry or joyous for it? What have I to look at and do now? Shall I remain in this place or go away from here? 36 I behold this wonderful sphere of consciousness shining upon me in its full splendor. I hail you, O holy light which I see blazing before me, but of which I can describe nothing. 37 I am now so awakened and enlightened and come to know the whole truth in me. Therefore I hail myself now knowing infinity and omniscience.
38 Being freed from the paintings of my mind, cleared from the loss of the sensible objects, and released from the errors of this world, I rest myself in the lap of my tranquil soul as in a state of sound sleep, in utter oblivion of all my internal and external impressions.
• • •
Chapter 60 — King Suraghu’s Realization During and After Life
1 Vasishta continued:— Thus the lord of Hemajata attained the state of his perfect joy. It was by means of his self inquiry that he found his liberation in Brahman, like the son of Gadhi. 2 He was no longer employed in the discharge of his painful daily rituals, which are attended with repeated misery to those practicing them, but remained like the unchanging sun in its rotation of ever changing days and nights. 3 From then on he remained without any care or anxiety. He continued as firm and unmoved amid the righteous and wrongful acts of his subjects as a rock stands in the midst of boisterous waves playing about and dashing against it.
4 He was not susceptible to gladness or anger at others’ conduct in the discharge of their daily duties. He remained as grave as the deep ocean under the heaving waves of his clamorous people. 5 He subdued his mental actions and passions like a man does in his sound sleep. He shone with an unshaken luster like the flame of a lamp in still air. 6 He was neither unkind nor always kind to anybody, nor of was he envious or inimical to anyone. He was neither too wise nor unwise, nor was he a seeker or despiser of fortune. 7 He looked upon all with an even eye and in an equal light. He conducted himself with unwavering steadiness and was as cool and gentle in his mind as the calm ocean and gentle moonlight.
8 Knowing all things in the world to be only workings of the mind, he remained quiet in every state of pleasure and pain with the soundness of his understanding. 9 His mind was enlightened. His entranced soul enjoyed its trance in every state of his life and was full in itself both when he sat and slept as when he moved about or did anything.
10 He continued for a full hundred years to rule over his kingdom with his mind unattached to state affairs and with his unimpaired body and intellect. 11 At last he left his home of the frail body of his own accord, like dew dropping itself down impregnated with sunbeams. 12 Then his soul fled on the wings of his intelligence to the primary and final cause of causes, like the current of a stream runs to the main ocean by breaking down the bounds of its banks on its way. 13 His intelligent soul, being freed from its remorse (of leaving the body) and released from the conditions of its reincarnation, became one with the immaculate spirit and was absorbed in the Supreme One, just as the air contained in a pot mixes with the all-encompassing sky after the pot is broken.
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