BOOK VI, Part 1 A – On Liberation (Nirvana Khanda Purvadha)
This section explains that the atman is the true form (swarupa) of the individual being (jiva). The seeker is instructed to give up all ideas of diversity and to still the movement of the mind. Once the mind is quiescent one should persist in remaining absorbed in the atman in the form of pure consciousness (chit).
From this practice, a stage comes when the person perceives the identity of his or her own atma with Brahman (God). The manifest universe is perceived as no different from Brahmanand, like the subtle tree that lies embedded in the seed, this whole universe in the form of created and uncreated beings is seen as a subtle seed-form lying within each persons own heart.
This sub-section also includes the highly instructive teachings that Lord Shiva gave to Sage Vasishta. At this stage of the discourse Rama becomes absorbed in deep dhyana meditation.
• • •
Chapter 1 — Description of Evening and the Assembly Breaks
1 Valmiki said:— You have heard the discussion of the subject of detachment or composure of the soul. Attend now to that of nirvana, which will teach you how to attain your final liberation.
2 As the chief of sages was giving his grand speech in this manner and the princes remained mute with intense attention to the sage’s captivating oration, 3 the assembled chiefs remained like silent and motionless portraits. They forgot their devotions and duties, so impressed on their minds were the sense and words of the sage’s speech. 4 The assembly of saints reverently reflecting upon the deep sense of the words of the sage, with their curled brows and signs of their index fingers (indicating their wonder). 5 The ladies in the harem were lost in wonder, and turned their wondering eyes upward, resembling a cluster of black bees intently sucking the nectar honey of the new blown flowers (of the sage’s speech).
6 The glorious sun sank down in the sky at the fourth and last watch of the day and was divested of his radiant beams as he set in the west. 7 The winds blew softly at the eve of the day, as if to listen to the sage’s sermon, and blew about the sweets of his moving speech like the fragrance of gently shaking mandara flowers. 8 All other sounds drowned in the deep meditation of the audience, as when the humming of the bumble bees is paused when they rest in the cells of blooming flowers at night. 9 Bubbling waters of pearly lakes sparkled unmoved amidst their enclosed beds, as if they were intently listening to the sage’s words which dropped like strings of pearls from his fluent lips.
10 Beams from the declining sun penetrating the windows of the palace indicated the halting of the departing sun under the cooling shade of the royal canopy after his weary journey throughout the day. 11 The pearly rays of the parting day, covered by the dust and mist of dusk, seemed to be smeared like the body of an ascetic with dust and ashes. The day gained its coolness after its journey under the burning sun.
12 The chiefs of men, their heads and hands decorated with flowers, were so entertained with the sweet speech of the sage that their senses and minds remained in bliss. 13Ladies listening to the sage were now roused by the cries of their infants and the birds in their cages to get up and to give them their food.
14 Now the dust flung by the wings of fluttering bees covered the petals of the night blooming kumuda flowers. Flapping chowrie fans were now at rest with the trembling eyelids of the princes. 15 The rays of the sun, fearing to be attacked by the shade of dark night loosened from dark mountain caves, fled through windows to the inner apartment of the palace. 16 The time watches of the royal palace, knowing it had passed the fourth watch of the day, sounded their drums and trumpets mixed with the sound of conch shells loudly resounding on all sides. 17 The high-sounding speech of the sage was drowned under the loud sound of the jarring instruments, just as the sonorous sound of the peacock is hushed under the sound of roaring clouds.
18 Birds in cages began to quake and shake their wings with fear. The leaves and branches of lofty palm trees shook in the gardens, as if by a tremendous earthquake. 19 Babies sleeping on their nurses’ breasts trembled with fear at the loud uproar. They cried like smoking clouds of the rainy season resounding between two mountain crags resembling the breasts. 20 This noise made the chieftains’ helmets shed the dust of their decorating flowers all about the hall, just as the moving waves of the lake sprinkle the drops of water upon the land.
21 Thus Dasharata’s palace, full of apprehension at the close of the day, regained its quiet at the gradual fall of the fanfare of conch shells and the noisy confusion of drum beatings heralding the advance of night. 22 The sage put a stop to his discourse and in a sweet voice and graceful language he addressed Rama sitting in the midst of the assembly.
23 Vasishta said:— O Raghava! I have already spread before you the long net of my words. Trap your flying mind in the same way and bring it to your heart and under your subjection. 24 Take the meaning of my discourse in such a way as to leave out what is unintelligible and lay hold of its substance, just as the swan separates and sucks the milk from water. 25 Reflect upon it repeatedly, consider it well in your mind, and go on in this way to conduct yourself in life.
26 By going on in this manner, you are sure to evade all dangers. Otherwise you must soon fall like a heavy elephant in some pit of Vindhya Mountain. 27 If you do not receive my words with attention, and act accordingly, you are sure to fall into the pit like a blind man left alone in the dark and be blown away like a lit lamp exposed in the open air. 28 In order to derive the benefit of my lectures, you must continue in the discharge of your usual duties with indifference, knowing detachment to be the correct teaching of the scriptures, and regardless of everything besides.
29 Now I bid you, O mighty monarch, and you princes and chiefs, and all you present in this place, to get up and attend to the evening services of your daily ritual. 30 Let all attend to this much at present, as the day is drawing to its close. We shall consider the rest when we meet in the morning.
31 Valmiki related:— After the sage said this, the assembled chiefs and princes rose up, their faces blooming like full blown lotuses at the end of the day. 32 The chiefs paid their obeisance to the monarch, made their salutation to Rama, offered their reverence to the sage, and departed to their respective homes.
33 Vasishta rose up from his seat with the royal sage Vishwamitra. They were saluted on their departure by the aerial spirits who had attended the audience all along. 34 The sages were followed closely for a long way by the king and chieftains. They parted after approaching them on the way, according to their rank and dignity. 35 Celestials took their leave of the sage and took to their heavenward journey. Munis returned to their hermitages in the woods. Some of the saints turned about the palace, like bees flying about a lotus bush. 36 The king offered handfuls of fresh flowers at the feet of Vasishta, then entered the royal seraglio with his royal consorts.
37 But Rama and his brother princes kept company with the sage until they his hermitage. Then, having prostrated themselves at his feet, they returned to their princely houses.
38 Those who had heard the sage speak, having arrived at their houses, made their ablutions. Then they worshipped the gods and offered their offerings to their ancestors. They treated their guests and gave alms to beggars. 39 Then they took their meals with their brahmin guests and family members. Their dependants and servants were fed one after the other according to the rules and customs of their order and caste. 40 After the sun had set down with the daily duties of men, the bright moon rose on high, imposing many nightly duties on mankind.
41 At last the great king and princes, chiefs of men and munis, together with the sages and saints and all other terrestrial beings took themselves to their several beds, with silken bedspreads and bed cloths of various kinds. 42 They lay thinking intensely about the teachings of sage Vasishta, and on the mode of their passing over the boisterous gulf of this world by means of this spiritual knowledge. 43 Then they slept and lay with closed eyelids for only one watch of the night, then opened their eyes like the opening buds of lotuses to see the light of the day.
44 Rama and his brother princes passed three full watches of the night in waking and pondering over the deep sense of the lectures of their spiritual guide. 45 They slept with closed eyelids for only one and a half watches that night. Then they shook off the dullness of their sleep, after driving the fatigue of their bodies by a short nap.
46 Now minds being full of goodwill raised by the rising reason in their souls and knowledge of truth, they felt the crescent of spiritual light lightening their dark bosoms, just as the crescent of the moon illuminates the gloom of night, which afterwards disappeared at the approach of daylight and the gathering heat of daytime.
• • •
Chapter 2 — On the Perfect Calm and Composure of the Mind
1 Valmiki related:— Then the shade of night, her face as dark as the darkened moon, began to waste and wane away, just as the darkness of ignorance and the mists of human wishes vanish before the light of reason. 2 Now the rising sun showed his crown of golden rays on the top of the eastern mountain by leaving his rival darkness to take its rest west beyond the setting Mount Astachala. 3 Now the morning breeze began to blow, moistened by moonbeams and bearing particles of ice, as if to wash the face and eyes of the rising sun.
4 Now rose Rama, Lakshman and their attendants from their beds and couches. After discharging their morning services, they returned to Vasishta’s holy hermitage. 5 There they saw the sage coming out of his closet, having completed his morning devotion. They worshipped his feet with offerings of arghya. 6 In a moment, the sage’s hermitage was crowded with munis and brahmins and the other princes and chiefs, whose vehicles, chariots, horses and elephants completely blocked the pathways. 7 Then the sage, accompanied by these and attended by their suite and armies, followed by Rama and his brothers, was escorted to the palace of King Dasharata.
8 The king, who had completed his morning service, hastened to receive the sage and walked a great way to welcome, do him honor, and pay homage. 9 They entered the court hall which was adorned with flowers and strings of gems and pearls. There they seated themselves on rich sofas and seats set in rows for their reception. 10 In a short time the entire audience from the previous day, composed of both earthly men and celestial spirits, assembled at that place seated in their respective seats of honor. 11 All who entered that graceful hall respectfully saluted one another. Then the royal court shone as brilliantly as a bed of blooming lotuses gently moved by a fanning breeze. 12 The mixed assembly of munis, rishis, saints and sages, Vipra and Raja brahmin priests, and kshatriya caste warriors sat in proper order on seats set for each.
13 The soft sounds of their mutual greetings and welcomes gradually faded away. The sweet voices of eulogists sitting in a corner of the hall were all hushed and lulled to silence.
14 Sunbeams appearing through cracks in the windows seemed to be waiting to join the audience and listen to the sage’s lectures. 15 The jingling sound of bracelets on the shaking of hands of visitors in the hall was likely to lull those hearing the sage to sleep. 16 Then, just as Kumara looks reverently on the face of his father Shiva and as Kacha looks with veneration upon the face of Brihaspati (Jupiter), the teacher of the gods, and as Prahlada gazes upon the face of Shukra (Venus), the teacher of demons, and as Garuda views the face of Vishnu, 17 so did Rama gaze upon the face of Vasishta, his eyes gazing upon it like black bees fluttering about a full blown lotus.
18 The sage resumed where he left off from his last lecture. He delivered his eloquent speech to Rama, who was also well versed in eloquence.
19 Vasishta said:— Rama, do you remember the lecture I gave yesterday, which was filled with deep sense and knowledge of transcendental truth? 20 Now I will tell you some other things for your instruction, and you shall have to hear it with attention to complete your spiritual wisdom. 21 A habit of dispassion and the knowledge of truth enable us to cross the boisterous ocean of the world. Therefore, you must learn, O Rama, to practice and gain these in good time. 22 Your full knowledge of all truth will drive away your bias towards untruth. Riddance of all your desires will save you from all sorrow.
23 There exists only one Brahman unbounded by space and time. He is never limited by either. He is the world himself, though it appears to be a distinct duality beside Him. 24Brahman abides in all infinity and eternity and is not limited in anything. He is tranquil and shines with equal brilliance on all bodies. He cannot be any particular thing other than his nature of universality. 25 Knowing the nature of Brahman as such, be free from the knowledge of your personal egoism. Knowing yourself to be the same with Him, think of yourself as bodiless and as great as He and thus enjoy the tranquility and joy of your soul.
26 There is neither mind nor ignorance, nor any living principle which is a distinct thing in reality. They are all words describing a fiction. 27 The same Brahman exhibits Himself in the forms of our enjoyments, in the faculties of enjoying them, in our desires and desires for the same, and also in the mind for their perception. The great Brahman that is without beginning or end underlies them all, just as the great ocean surrounds the earth.
28 The same Brahma is seen in the form of his intellect or wisdom in the heavens, on earth, in the infernal regions, and in the plant and animal creations. There is nothing else beside Him. 29 The same Brahma, who has no beginning or end, spreads himself like a boundless and unfathomable ocean under all bodies and things and in whatever we consider as favorable or unfavorable to us, such as our friends and our enemies. 30 The fiction of the mind, like that of a serpent in a rope, continues as long as we are subject to the error and ignorance of taking these words for real things and remain unacquainted with the knowledge of Brahman.
31 The error of the mind and what it perceives continue as long as one believes his personality is associated with his body, understands the world of phenomena to be a reality, and has the selfishness to think such and such a thing to be his own. 32 So long as you do not raise yourself by the counsel and company of the wise and good, and as long as you do not get rid of your ignorance, you cannot escape from the meanness of your belief in the mind. 33 So long as you do not lose your worldly thoughts and have the light of the Universal Spirit before your view, you cannot get rid of the contracted thoughts of your mind, yourself and the world. 34 As long as there is the blindness of ignorance and one remains subject to worldly desires, there is the delusion of falsehood and the fictions of the delusive mind. 35 As long as the exhalation of yearnings infest the forest of the heart, the chakora parrot of reason will never live with you but will fly far away from the infected air.
36 The errors of thought disappear from the mind that is unattached to sensual enjoyments, that is cool with its pure lack of desire, and which has broken loose from its net of greed. 37 He who has gotten rid of his thirst and delusion of wealth, who is conscious of the inner coolness of his soul, and who possesses the tranquility of his mind is said to have fled from the province of his anxious thoughts. 38 He who looks upon unsubstantial things as unworthy of his regard and reliance, and who looks upon his body as extraneous to himself, is never misled by the thoughts of his mind. 39 He who meditates on the Infinite Mind and sees all forms of things as copies of the Universal Soul, and who views the world absorbed in himself, is never misled by the false conception of the living principle.
40 The incomplete understanding of a distinct mind and a living principle serves only to mislead men. All such conceptions vanish at the sight of the rising sun of the one Universal Soul. 41 A complete understanding gives the full view of one undivided soul, a view which consumes the particulars, just as a bright fire burns the dry leaves of trees and a sacrificial fire consumes the offerings of butter.
42 Men of great souls who have known the supreme one and who are self-liberated in their lifetime have their minds without their essences, which therefore are called nonentities (asatwas). 43 The body of a living liberated man has a mind employed in its duties but free from its desires. Such minds are not active agents but merely passive objects. They are no longer self-willing free agents but are acted upon by their paramount duties.
44 They who know the truth are mindless and unmindful of everything except their duty. They wander about at pleasure and discharge their duties by memory and practice in order to gain any object. 45 They are calm and cold with all their actions and in all their dealings. They have the members of their bodies and their senses under full control, and know no desire or duality. 46 The saint has his sight fixed upon his inner soul and sees the world burnt down like straw by the fire of his intellect. His false conceptions of the mind fly far away, like flies from a fire.
47 The mind purified by reason is called the sattwa, as said before, and does not give rise to error, just as fried paddy seed cannot produce a plant. 48 The meaning of sattwa is the opposite of chitta, which latter is used in lexicons to mean the mind that has the quality of being reborn on account of its actions and desires. 49 You have to attain the attainable sattwa or true calm state of your mind, and to have the seed of your active mind, chitta, singed by the blaze of your spiritual mind, sattwa.
50 The minds of the learned, lighted by reason, immediately melt down to liquidity. Those of the ignorant, hardened by their worldly desires, will not yield to the force of fire and steel but continue to sprout like grass the more they are mowed and put on fire.
51 Brahman is vast expanse, and such being the vastness of the universe, there is no difference between them. The consciousness of Brahman is as full as the fullness of his essence. 52 Divine Consciousness contains the three worlds, as pepper has its pungency within itself. Therefore the triple world is not a distinct thing from Brahman and its existence and nonexistence. 53 Popular language speaks of existence and nonexistence as different things, but they are never so in reality to right understanding because whatever is or is not in being is ever present in the Divine Mind. This emptiness contains all things in their empty state. God as the absolute, eternal, and spiritual substance is as empty as thought.
54 If you do not believe in the intellectual, then you can have no belief in your spirituality. Then why fear death or future punishment when you leave your body turning into dust? Tell me Rama. How can you imagine the existence of the world without the intellectual principle? 55 But if you find by the reasoning of your mind that all things are always merely reasoning of consciousness, then tell me. Why do you rely on the substantiality of your body?
56 Rama, remember your transparent intellectual and spiritual form which has no limit or division to it, but is an unlimited and undivided whole. Do not mistake yourself to be a limited being by forgetting your true nature. 57 Thinking yourself as such, take all the discrete parts of the universe as forming one concrete whole, and this is the substantial intellect of Brahman. 58 You abide in the womb of your consciousness. You are neither this nor that nor any of the many discrete things interspersed in the universe. You are as you are and last as the end in your obvious and yet hidden appearances. 59 You are contained within no particular category, nor is there any predicate which may be predicated of you. Yet you are the substance of every predicate in your form of the solid, heavy and calm consciousness. I salute you in that form of yours.
60 You are without beginning or end and abide with your body of solid intellect amidst the crystal sphere of your creation, shining as the pure and transparent sky. You are calm and quiet, and yet display the wonderful world as the seed vessel shows the wood of vegetation.
• • •
Chapter 3 — The Unity and Universality of Brahman: Intellect Is the Soul and Is Brahman
1 Vasishta continued:— As the countless waves continually rising and falling in the sea are no other than its water assuming temporary forms to view, so consciousness exhibits the forms of endless worlds heaving in itself. Know, O sinless Rama, this intellect (chidatma, the intellectual soul) is your very self or soul.
2 Tell me, O Rama who has the intellectual soul, what relation does your immaterial soul bear to the material world? Being freed from your earthly cares, how can you entertain any earthly desire or affection? 3 It is Consciousness that manifests itself in the forms of living soul (jiva), mind and its desires, and the world and all things. Say then what else can it be to which all these properties are to be attributed? 4 The consciousness of the Supreme Spirit is like a profound sea with its huge surges, and yet, O Rama, it is as calm and cool as your soul and as bright and clear as the transparent sky.
5 As heat is not separate from fire, and fragrance not apart from the flower, and as blackness is inseparable from collyrium, and whiteness from ice, and as sweet is inborn in sugarcane, so is reasoning inherent in and not separate from consciousness. 6 As light is nothing distinct from sunbeams, so reasoning is no other than consciousness itself. As waves are no way distinct from the water, so the universe is in no way different or separate from the nature of consciousness which contains the universe. 7 Ideas are not apart from the intellect, nor is the ego distinct from the idea of it. The mind is not different from the ego, nor is the living soul anything other than the mind. 8 The senses are not separate from the mind and the body is connected with the senses. The world is the same as the body and there is nothing apart from the world. 9 Thus the great sphere of the universe is nothing other than the unbounded sphere of consciousness. There is nothing now done or made or ever created before.
10 Our knowledge of everything is only our memory of it. This is to continue for evermore, in the manner of all partial spaces being contained in infinity without distinction of their particular localities. 11 As all spaces are contained in endless emptiness, so the vastness of Brahman is contained in the immensity of Brahman. As truth resides in verity, so this fullness of space is the fullness of the Divine Mind.
12 Seeing the forms of outward things, the intelligent man never takes them to his mind. Only the ignorant set their minds to the worthless things of this world. 13 They are glad to long after what they like, but for their trouble only in this world. But he who takes these things as nothing remains free from the pleasure and pain of having or not having them.
14 The apparent difference between the world and the soul of the world is as false in reality as the meaning of the words sky and skies, which though taken in their singular and plural senses, still denote the same uniform emptiness. 15 He who remains with the internal purity of his vacant mind, although he observes the customary differences of external things, remains as unaffected by the feelings of pain and pleasure as an unconscious block of wood or stone. 16 He who sees his blood-thirsty enemy in the light of a true friend is the person who rightly sees into the nature of things. 17 As the rapid currents and flood of a river uproot big trees on both sides, so does the dispassionate man destroy the feelings of his joy and grief to their very roots.
18 The sage who does not know the nature of passions and affections, and does not guard himself from their impulse and emotions, is unworthy of the respect which awaits saints and sages. 19 He who has no sense of his egoism and whose mind is not attached to this world saves his soul from death and confinement after his departure from this world. 20 The belief in one’s personality is as false as one’s faith in an unreality which does not exist. This wrong notion of its existence is removed only by one’s knowledge of the error and his riddance from it. 21 He who has extinguished the ardent desire of his mind, like the flame of an lamp without oil, and who remains unshaken under all circumstances, stands as the image of a mighty conqueror of his enemies in a painting or a statue.
22 O Rama, that man is said to be truly liberated who is unmoved under all circumstances and has nothing to gain or lose in his prosperity or adversity, nor anything to elate or depress him in either state.
• • •
Chapter 4 — The Unity and Universality of Brahman: All Derives from Consciousness
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, knowing your mind, understanding, egoism and all your senses to be unconscious of themselves and deriving their consciousness from the intellect, tell me. How can your living soul and vital breaths have any sensation of their own? 2 The one great soul infuses its power to those different organs, just as the one bright sun dispenses his light to all the various objects in their diverse colors.
3 As the pangs of poisonous thirst after worldly enjoyments come to an end, so the unconsciousness of ignorance flies away like darkness at the end of the night. 4 Only spiritual knowledge is able to heal the pain of harmful greed, just as only the power of autumn can dispel the clouds of the rainy season. 5 The dissipation of ignorance washes the mind of its desires, just as the disappearance of rainy weather scatters clouds in the sky. 6 The mind being weakened by unmindfulness loses the chain of its desires, just as a necklace of pearls loosened from its broken string tosses the precious gems all about the ground.
7 Rama, they who are unmindful of the scriptures and wish to undermine them resemble worms and insects that mine the ground where they remain. 8 The unsteady eyesight of the idle and curious gazer on all things becomes motionless after their ignorant curiosity is over and has ceased to stir, just as the shaking lotus of the lake becomes steady after the gusts of wind have passed and stopped. 9 O Rama, you have rid yourself of your thoughts of entities and non-entities and found your steadiness in the ever-steady unity of God, just as restless winds at last mix with calm emptiness.
10 I believe you have been awakened to sense by my series of sermons, like kings awakened from their nightly sleep by the sound of their eulogists and the music of tambourines. 11 Seeing that common people of low understanding are impressed by the preaching of their family teacher, I have every reason to believe that my sermons must have made their impression upon the good understanding of Rama. 12 As you are in the habit of well considering the good counsel of others, so I do not doubt that my counsel will penetrate your mind as cool rainwater enters parched earth. 13 Knowing me as your family priest and my family as the spiritual guides of the Raghu race forever, you must receive my good advice to you with regard and set my words like a precious garland in your heart.
• • •
Chapter 5 — Rama Acknowledges the Effect of Vasishta’s Preaching
1 Rama said:— O my venerable guide! My contemplation and memory of your sermons have set my mind to perfect rest. I flee the traps and turmoil of this world before me with a quite indifferent and calmed mind. 2 My soul has found its perfect tranquility in the Supreme Spirit. It is like after a long and painful dryness when parched ground is cooled by snow or rainfall.
3 I am as cool as coldness itself. I feel the joy of an entire unity in myself. My mind has become as tranquil and transparent as a clear lake undisturbed by elephants. 4 O sage, I see Brahman as the whole fullness of the universe in its pristine pure light and as clear as the face of the wide extended sky without the dimness of frost or mist. 5 I am now freed from my doubts and exempted from the mirage of the world. I am equally aloof from affections and have become as pure and serene as the lake and sky in autumn.
6 I have found that boundless bliss in my innermost soul which knows no bounds or decay. I have enjoyment of that taste which defies the taste of the ambrosial nectar of the gods. 7 I am now set in the truth of actual existence. My repose is in the joyous rest of my soul. I have become the delight of mankind and my own joy in myself, which makes me thank my blissful self, and you also, for giving me this blessing.
8 My heart has become as expanded and pure as the expanse of clear lakes in autumn. My mind has become as cold and serene as the clear and humid sky in autumn season. 9Doubts and creations of imagination which mislead the blind have now fled afar from me, just as the fear of ghosts appearing in the dark disappear at the light of daybreak.
10 How can there be the spot of impurity in the pure and enlightened soul? How can the doubts of the objective nature arise in the subjective mind? All these errors vanish to nothing, like darkness before moonlight. 11 All these appearances appearing in various forms are only the diverse manifestations of the identical soul. It is therefore a fallacy to suppose this is one thing and that another, by our misjudgment of them.
12 I smile to think how I had been the miserable slave of my desires and how now I am so well satisfied without them. 13 Since I received my bath with the ambrosial shower of your words, I remember how my single and solitary self is one and all with the Universal Soul of the world. 14 O the highest and holiest station to which I have now attained, from where I behold the sphere of the sun to be situated as low as the infernal region. 15 I have arrived from unreality and seeming existence to the world of sober reality and existence. Therefore I thank my soul that has become so elevated and adorable with its fullness of the divine.
16 O venerable sage, I am now situated in everlasting joy, far removed from the region of sorrow, by the sweet sound of the honeyed words which have crept like humming bees into the core of my lotus-like heart.
• • •
Chapter 6 — Excellent Sayings to Edify the Audience: Disparagement of the
1 Vasishta continued:— My dear Rama, let me tell you some excellent sayings for your good, and also for the benefit of everyone here in my audience. 2 Though you are unlike others in the greater enlightenment of your understanding, yet my lecture will equally edify your knowledge and that of less enlightened men.
3 He who is so senseless as to take his body for the soul is soon found to be upset by his unruly senses, like a charioteer thrown down by headstrong and restless horses. 4 But the wise man who knows and relies on the soul without body has all his senses subject to his soul. They do not overthrow him, as obstinate horses do their riders. 5 He who praises no object of enjoyment, but rather finds fault with all of them and discerns well their evils, enjoys the health of his body without any complaint. 6 The soul has no relationship to the body, nor is the body related to the soul. They are as unrelated to each other as the light and shade.
7 The distinct soul is different from concrete matter and free from material properties. The soul is ever shining and does not rise or set like the physical sun and moon. 8 The body is a dull mass of vile matter. It is ignorant of itself and its own welfare. It is quite ungrateful to the soul that makes it conscious. Therefore it well deserves its fate of diseases and final dissolution.
9 How can the body be considered an intelligent thing when the knowledge of the one (soul) as consciousness proves the other (body) to be only dull mass? 10 But then, how is it that they reciprocate their feelings of pain and pleasure to one another, unless they are the one and the same thing and have same properties? 11 Rama, it is impossible for feelings that never agree in their natures to reciprocate. The gross body has no connection with the subtle soul, nor has the rarefied soul any relationship to the solid body. 12 The presence of one nullifies the existence of the other, as in the cases of day and night, of darkness and light, and of knowledge and ignorance.
13 The soul without body presides over all bodies without its adherence to any, just as the omnipresent spirit of Brahman pervades throughout all nature without uniting with any visible object. 14 The embodied soul is as unattached to the body as a dew drop on a lotus leaf remains separate from the leaf. The Divine Spirit is quite unconnected with everything it fills and supports. 15 The Soul residing in the body is as unaffected by the body’s affections as the sky remains unmoved by the motion of winds raging in its bosom.
16 Knowing that your soul is no part of your body, rest quietly in your soul to eternity. But if you believe you are the body, be subject to repeated reincarnations of it in endless forms. 17 All that is visible is seen like rising and falling waves in the boundless ocean of the Divine Soul. Reliance on the Supreme Soul will show only the light of the soul. 18 This bodily frame is the product of the Divine Soul, just as the wave is produced of the water of the sea. Though bodies are seen to move about like waves, yet their receptacle the soul is ever as steady as the sea, the reservoir of all moving waves.
19 The body is the image of the soul, just as the sun seen in the waves is a reflection of that luminary. Though the body, like the reflected sun, is seen to be moving and waving, yet its archetype the soul is ever as steady as the fixed and un-fluctuating sun in the sky. 20 The error of the substantiality and stability of the body is put to flight as soon as the light of the permanent and spiritual substratum of the soul comes to shine over our inner sight.
21 To the partial and unspiritual observers of materialism, the body appears to be in constant motion like a wheel. They believe it is perpetually subject to birth and death, like the succession of light and darkness. 22 These unspiritual men who are unconscious of their souls are as shallow and empty minded as arjuna trees that grow without any pulp or core inside. 23 Dull headed men devoid of intelligence are as contemptible as grass on the ground. They move their limbs like blades of grass moved by the force of passing winds. Those unacquainted with the conscious soul resemble senseless and hollow bamboos that shake and whistle by breath of the winds.
24 The unconscious body and its limbs are actuated to perform their acts by the vital breath, just as the movement of trees and leaves is caused by the breeze. Both bodies and trees cease to move when the currents of airs cease agitating them. 25 Dull bodies are like the boisterous waves of the sea, heaving with huge shapes and tremendous noise. They look like drunken men staggering with drinks of luscious juice of the vine. 26 Foolish men resemble the rapid currents of rivers which, without a jot of sense in them, keep up their continual motion to no good to themselves or others. 27 Their lack of wit reduces them to the utmost meanness and misery, which make them groan and sigh like a blacksmith’s blowing bellows. 28 Their continuous motion is of no real good to themselves, but brings on their death like the calm after a storm. They clash and clang like the twang of a bowstring without an arrow to hit the mark.
29 The life of an unintelligent man serves only for his death. His desires of fruition are as false as the fruit of an unfruitful tree in a woody forest. 30 Seeking friendliness in men is like wishing to sleep on a burning mountain. The society of the unintelligent is like associating with the headless trunks of trees in a forest. 31 Doing any service for ignorant and foolish men goes for nothing, as worthless as beating a bush or empty air with a stick. Anything given to the senseless is like throwing it in the mud. 32 Talking with the ignorant is like calling dogs from a distance. Ignorance is the seat of evils which never befall the conscious and the wise.
33 The wise pass over all errors in their course amidst the world, but the ignorant are exposed to constant troubles in their ceaseless intense efforts to thrive in the pleasures of life. 34 As the carriage wheel revolves constantly about the axle to which it is fixed, so the body of man turns continually about the wealthy family to which the foolish mind is fixed for gain. 35 The ignorant fool can never get rid of his misery as long as he is bound to the belief that his body is his soul, and knowing no spiritual soul besides. 36 How is it possible for the infatuated to be freed from their delusion when their minds are darkened by illusion and their eyes are blind-folded by unreal appearance? 37 The man who sees things that entertain his eyes with unrealities is finally deluded by them, like a man moonstruck by fixing his eyes on the moon, or becoming giddy with the profuse fragrance of flowers.
38 As watering the ground favors the growth of grass, thorns and thistles, so fostering the body breeds desires in the heart as thick as reptiles growing in the hollow of trees. They strengthen the mind in the form of a rampant lion or elephant. 39 The ignorant nourish their hopes of heaven on the death of their bodies, just as the farmer expects a bountiful harvest from his well cultivated fields. 40 Greedy hell-hounds are glad to look upon the ignorant who are bound in the coils of their serpentine desires, just as thirsty peacocks are pleased to gaze on the black clouds that form in the rainy season.
41 Beautiful women with their glancing eyes resembling the fluttering bees of summer, lips blooming like new leaves of flowers, make a showy appearance to catch hold of ignorant men, like poisonous plants displaying themselves to catch ignorant flies. 42 The plant of desire which shoots out of the good soil of ignorant minds shelters flying passions under its shady foliage, just as coral plants shelter the coral animals in them.
43 Hatred is like a wildfire. It consumes the tree of the body and lets out the smoke through the orifice of the mouth in the desert land of the heart, exhibits the flower of heat like burning cinders.
44 The mind of the ignorant is like a lake of envy covered with the leaves of spite and calumny. Jealousy is its lotus-bed and anxious thoughts are like bees continually fluttering over the lotuses. 45 The ignorant man who is subject to repeated births, rising and falling like waves in the tumultuous ocean of this world, is also exposed to repeated deaths. The burning fire that engulfs his dead body is like an undersea fire. 46 The ignorant are exposed to repeated births accompanied by the changing fortunes of childhood, youth, manhood and old age, and followed at last by a painful death and cremation of the beloved body on the funeral pyre.
47 The ignorant body is like a bucket in a well tied by the rope of reincarnation to the winch of acts, to be plunged and lifted over again in and over the dirty pool of this world.48 This world is a plain pavement or a narrow hole to the wise because they are unconsciousness of it. However, this world appears like a boundless and unfathomable sea to the ignorant owing to their great concern about it. 49 The ignorant are unable to see beyond their limited circle, just as birds long confined in their cages have no mind to fly out. 50The revolution of repeated births is like the constant rotation of a chariot wheel. There is nobody able to stop the motion of rebirths by restraining his earthly desires, ever turning like spokes affixed to the center of the heart.
51 The ignorant wander at large about the wide extended earth like hunters roving the forest in search of their prey, until they become a prey at the hand of death and make their bodies as morsels for the vultures of their sensual desires. 52 The ignorant mistake the sights of these mountainous bodies, these material forms made of earthly flesh, for realities, just as they mistake figures in painting for real persons.
53 How flourishing is the tree of this delusion, filled with the endless objects of our false imagination, which has stretched out these innumerable worlds because of our ignorance of them. 54 How flourishing is the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree, the all fruitful tree of delusion, which is ever filled with endless objects of our imaginary desires and stretches out infinite worlds as its leaves for our false conception. 55 Here our restless craving minds, like birds of variegated colors, rest and remain and sit and sport in and all about this tree. 56 Our acts are the roots of our repeated births, just as the trunk of the tree is of its shoots. Our posterity and properties are the flowers of this tree, and our virtues and vices are its fruits of good and evil. 57 Our wives are like tender plants that thrive best under the moonlight of delusion and are the most beautiful things to behold in this desert land of the earth.
58 As the darkness of ignorance prevails over the mind soon after the setting of the sunlight of reason, there rises the full moon of errors in the empty mind, with all her changing phases of repeated births. 59 Under the influence of the cooling moonlight of ignorance, our minds foster fond desires of worldly enjoyments and, like the chakora birds of night, drink their fill of delight as ambrosial moonbeams. 60 Under this delusion men view their beloved ones as buds of roses and lotuses, and their loose glancing eyes as the black bees fluttering at random. They see black clouds in the braids and locks of their hair, and a glistening fire in their glowing bosoms and breasts.
61 It is delusion, O Rama, that depicts damsels with the beams of fair moonlight nights. The wise view them in their true light as being as foul as the darkest midnight. 62 Rama, know the pleasures of the world are like the destructive fruits of ignorance: at first pleasant to taste, but prove to be full of bitter gall at last. It is therefore better to destroy this harmful tree than to lose life and soul by the mortal taste of its fruits.
• • •
Chapter 7 — Condemnation of the Ignorant View of Creation
1 Vasishta continued:— These young ladies, so decorated with precious gems and jewels and embellished with strings of brilliant pearls, are like the playful waves of the moonbeams of our fond desires in the Milky Ocean. 2 The side looks of their beautiful eyes look like a cluster of black bees setting on the center of a full blown lotus. 3 To the enslaved minds of deluded men, these beauties appear as charming as spring flowers scattered on the ground in forest lands. 4 Their attractive bodies, which fascinated minds compare with the moon, the lotus flower, and sandal paste for their coolness, are viewed indifferently by the wise as by the unconscious beasts which make prey of them.
5 The wise view ladies’ swollen breasts, often compared to lotus-buds, ripe pomegranates and cups of gold, as a lump of flesh, blood and nauseous liquor. 6 Their fleshy lips, distilling impure saliva and spittle, are said to exude with ambrosial honey and to bear resemblance to ruby and coral and bimba fruits. 7 Their arms with crooked joints of wrists and loins, composed of hard bones inside, are compared with creeping vines by their infatuated admirers and erotic poets. 8 Their thick thighs are like the stems of thick plantain trees, and the decorations of their protuberant breasts are compared to strings of flowers hung upon the towers of temples. 9 Women are pleasant at first, but become quarrelsome afterwards, then fly away in haste, like Lakshmi the goddess of fortune. Yet they are desired by the ignorant.
10 Ignorant minds are subject to many pains and pleasures in this life. The forest of their misdeeds shoots forth in a thousand branches, bearing only sorrowful fruits of misery.11 The ignorant are bound in the net of their folly. Their ritual functions are the ropes that lead them to the prison-house of the world. The words from their lips, like the mantras and musical words of their mouths, are more for their bewilderment. 12 The covering mist of ignorance stretches out a maze of ceremonial rites and envelopes the minds of common people in utter darkness, just as the River Yamuna overflows its banks with its dark waters. 13 The lives of the ignorant, so pleasant with their tender affections, turn out to be as bitter as hemlock juice when the affections are cut off by the strong hand of death. 14 The senseless mob is driven and carried away like withered and shattered tree leaves by the ever blowing winds of their pursuits. They scatter them all about like the sediments of earth, and splash them with the dirt and dust of their sins.
15 All the world is like a ripe fruit in the mouth of death, whose hungry belly is never filled with all its devastations, for millions and millions of kalpa ages. 16 Men are like the cold bodies of creeping reptiles of the earth. They crawl and creep continually in their crooked course by breathing the vital air, like snakes living upon the currents of air.
17 The time of youth passes like a dark night without the moonlight of reason. It is infested by the ghosts of wicked thoughts and evil desires. 18 The talkative tongue in the mouth becomes faint with cringing flattery, just as the pistil rising from the seed vessel becomes weak under freezing frost. 19 Like the thorny salmali tree, poverty branches out in a thousand branches of misery, distress, sorrow, sickness and all kinds of grief to human beings. 20 Concealed covetousness, like the unseen owl of night, is hidden within the hollow cavity of the human heart resembling the stunted chaitya trees of mendicants. Then it shrieks and hoots out during the dark night of delusion which has spread over the sphere of the mind. 21 Old age lays hold on youth by the ears like an old cat seizing and devouring a mouse after playing with it for a long while.
22 The accumulation of unsubstantial materials, which causes the formation of the stupendous world, is taken for real substantiality by the unwise, just as foaming froths and icebergs in the sea are thought to be solid rocks by an ignorant sailor. 23 The world appears like a beautiful tree glowing with blooming blossoms of divine light displayed over it. The belief of its reality is the plant filled with the fruit of all our actions and duties.
24 The great building of the world is supported by the great pillar called Mount Meru under the great dome of heaven. The sun and moon are the great gateways to this pavilion. 25 The world resembles a large lake over which vital breaths are flying like swarms of bees on the lotus-beds of the living body, exhaling the sweets that are stored in the cell of the heart. 26 The blue roof of heaven appears as a spacious and elevated dome to the ignorant who think it contains all the worlds enlightened by the light of the sun situated in the midst. But it is an empty sphere, and so are the other worlds beyond the solar system to which sunlight never reaches.
27 All worldly minded men are like old birds tied down on earth by the strong ropes of their desires (vasanas). Their hearts move about the confines of their bodies, and their heart strings throb with hopes in the confines of their bodies, like birds in cages hoping to gain their release. 28 The lives of living beings are continually dropping down, like withered leaves of trees, from the fading trees of their decayed bodies, by the constant breathing of their breath of life.
29 Respectable men, happy with their worldly grandeur for a short time, are entirely forgetful of the severe torments of hell awaiting them afterwards. 30 But godly people enjoy their heavenly delights like gods in the cooling orb of the moon, or range freely under the blue sky like heavenly cranes about clear lakes. 31 There they taste the sweet fruits of their virtuous deeds on earth and inhale the fragrance of their various desires like bees sipping the sweets of an opening lotus. 32 All worldly men are like little fishes swimming on the surface of this pool of the earth, while sly and decrepit death pounces upon them like a kite and bears them away as his prey without any delay or remorse.
33 The changing events of the world pass by every day like the gliding waves and foaming froths of the sea, and the ever changing digits of the moon. 34 Time, like a potter, continually turns his wheel and makes an immense number of living beings as his pots, breaking them every moment like the fragile playthings of his own whim. 35 Innumerable kalpa ages have been constantly rolling over the shady stillness of eternity. Multitudes of created worlds have been burnt down like thick woods and forests by the all desolating conflagrations of desolation. 36 All worldly things are undergoing constant change, appearing and disappearing in turns. The changing fortunes of our circumstances, from pleasure and prosperity to pain and misery and vice versa, proceed in endless succession.
37 In spite of the instability of nature, the ignorant are bound by the chains of their desires (vasanas) which are not to be broken even by a thunderbolt from heaven. 38 Human desires are like the invulnerable body of the god Indra which, being wounded on all sides by the demons of disappointment, resumes fresh vigor at every stroke. 39 All created beings are like dust particles in the air flying with the currents of wind into the mouth of serpent-like death who draws all things to his bowels by the breath of his mouth. 40 As all the impure matter of the earth, its raw fruits and vegetables, and the froth of the sea and other marine productions, are carried by currents to be consumed by undersea heat, so all existence is carried to the devouring fire of death to be dissolved into nothing.
41 It is by a fortuitous combination of qualities that all things present themselves to us with their various properties. It is the nature of these which exhibits them with those forms as they present to us. She gives the property of vibration to the elementary bodies which show themselves in the forms of water and air unto us.
42 Death like a ferocious lion devours mighty and opulent men, just as a lion kills a big elephant with his fangs. 43 Ambitious men upon earth are like greedy, hungry vultures on the tops of high hills, born to live and die in their aerial exploits on the wings of clouds in search of their prey. 44 Their minds are like painter’s paintings on the canvas of their intellects, showing all the variegated scenes of the world with various pictures of things perceptible by the five senses. 45 But all these moving and changing scenes are breaking up and falling to pieces at every moment, producing our vain sorrow and grief upon their loss in this passing and aerial city of the world.
46 Animal creations and the plant world stand like passive spectators witnessing and meditating upon the marvelous acts of time, sparing them from time’s destruction of others. 47 Every moment moving creatures are subject to the recurrent emotions of passions and affections, and to the alterations of affluence and want. They are constantly decaying under age and infirmity, disease and death from which their souls are entirely free. 48 Reptiles and insects on the surface of the earth are continually subjected to their tortuous motions by their fate of which they are capable in their underground cells, owing to their want of quiet inaction. 49 But all these living bodies are eaten every moment by all destructive time in the form of death, which like the deadly and hungry serpent lies hidden in his dark den.
50 Trees, however, are not affected by any of these accidents because they stand firm on their roots. Though suffering under heat and cold and the blasts of heaven, yet they yield their sweet fruits and flowers to support and delight all living creatures. 51 Meek yogis who dwell in their secluded and humble cells are also seen to move about the earth, imparting the fruits of their knowledge to others, just as bees living in lotuses distribute their stores of honey after the rains are over. 52 They preach lectures, like bees chanting their buzzing sounds all about, saying that the earth is like a big warehouse that supplies the wants of the needy in order to make them a morsel in the mouth of the goddess of death.
53 The dreaded goddess Kali, wearing the veil of darkness over her face and eying all, as bright as the orbs of the sun and moon, gives all beings all that they want in order to grasp and gorge them in herself. 54 Her protuberant and exuberant breasts, bountiful as the bounty of God, suckle the gods and men and all beings on earth and hills and in the waters below. 55 The energy of Divine Consciousness is the mother of all and assumes the forms of density and thinness and also of motion and mobility. The clusters of stars are the rows of her teeth, and the morning and evening twilights are the redness of her two lips. 56 Her palms are red like lotus petals and her face is as bright as the paradise of Indra. She is decorated with the pearls of all the seas and clad with a blue covering all over her body. 57 Asia forms her middle and the woods and forests form the hairs of her body. She appears in many shapes and again disappears from view. She plays her part in all three worlds as the most veteran sorceress. 58 She dies repeatedly and is reborn again, then passes into endless transformations. She is now immersed in the great ocean or bosom of Kala or Time (Death) her consort, and rises up to assume other shapes and forms again.
59 The great kalpa ages are like passing moments in the infinite duration of eternity, and cosmic eggs are like passing bubbles upon the unfathomable ocean of infinity. They rise and last and are lost by turns. 60 Creative powers rise and fly about at the will of God like birds in the air. It is also by his will that risen creation becomes extinct like the burning flash of lightning. 61 In the sunshine of the Divine Consciousness and under the canopy of everlasting time, creations are continually rising and falling like the fog owls of forestlands, flying up and down under the mist of an all encompassing cloud of ignorance.
62 As a tall palm tree lets its ripened fruits fall constantly upon the ground, so the towering tree of time perpetually drops down created worlds and the lords of gods into the abyss of destruction. 63 The gods also are dying away like the twinkling of their eyes. Old time is wearing away all its ages by its perpetual ticking. 64 There are many Rudras existing in the essence of Brahman and they depend on the twinkling of that god for their existence. 65 Such is Brahman, the lord of gods, under whom these endless acts of evolutions and involutions are forever taking place in the infinite space of his eternal Consciousness and omnipotent will. 66 What wonderful powers are there that cannot possibly reside in the Supreme Spirit? His unchanging will gives rise to all positive and possible existences. Therefore it is ignorance to imagine the world as a reality of itself.
67 Therefore all that appears to you as the changing fortunes of prosperity and adversity, and as the changes of childhood, youth, old-age and death, and also the occurrences of pain and pleasure and of sorrow and grief is the display of the deep darkness of ignorance.
• • •
Chapter 8 — Allegory of the Spreading Tree of Ignorance
1 Vasishta continued:— Rama, listen to me explain how this poisonous tree of ignorance has come to grow in this forest of the world and be situated by the side of consciousness, and how and when it came to blossom and bloom.
2 This plant encompasses all the three worlds and has all of creation for its rind and mountains for its joints 3 It is filled with its leaves, roots, flowers and fruit by the continuous births, lives, pleasures, pains, knowledge and errors of mankind. 4 Prosperity gives rise to our ignorance of desiring to be more prosperous in this or our next lives, which produce future welfare also. So adversity leads us to greater error of practicing many bad deeds to get rid of it, but which on the contrary expose us to greater misfortunes. 5 One birth gives rise to another and that leads to others without end. Hence it is foolish to wish to be reborn again.
6 Ignorance produces greater ignorance and brings on unconsciousness as its effect. So knowledge leads to higher knowledge and produces self-consciousness as its result. 7The creeping vine of ignorance has passion for its leaves and desires for its fragrance. It is continually shaking and shuffling the leafy garment on its body. 8 Sometimes this plant grows in the way of the elephant of reason. Then it shakes with fear and the dust that covers its body is blown away by the breath of the elephant’s trunk. Yet the vine continues to creep on byways according to its accustomed habit.
9 Days are its blossoms and nights are the swarms of black bees that cast shadows over its flowers. The continuous shaking of its boughs throws down the dust of living bodies from it, both by day and night. 10 It is overgrown with its leaves of relatives and overloaded with the shooting buds of its children. It bears the blossoms of all seasons and yields the fruits of all kinds of flowers. 11 All its joints are full of the reptiles of diseases and its stem is perforated by the seabirds of destruction, yet it yields the luscious juice of delight to those who are deprived of their reason and good sense.
12 Its flowers are the radiant planets that shine with the sun and moon every day in the sky. Space is the medium of their light and rapid winds are vehicles that bear their rays to us like odors.
12a Ignorance blossoms every day in the clusters of bright planetary bodies that shine with the sun and moon by day and night. Winds playing in the air bear their light to us like perfume. 12b Ignorance blossoms in clusters of stars and planets shining about the sun and moon every day, and breathes in the breezes blowing at random amidst the empty firmament. 13 O son of Raghu’s race, the innumerable stars that you see scattered in the dome of heaven are the blooming blossoms of this tree of ignorance.
14 The beams of the sun and moon and the flames of fire that are scattered about us like the crimson dust of flowers resemble red paint on the fair body of ignorance with which this delusive lady attracts our minds to her. 15 The wild elephant of the mind ranges at large under the tree of ignorance, and the birds of our desires are continually hovering and warbling upon it, while the serpents of sensual desires are infesting its stem and greed settles like a huge snake at the root.
16 It stretches its head to the blue dome of the sky, forming a canopy over it like black tamara trees. The earth supports its trunk and the sky covers its top, making it a garden of the universe. 17 It is deeply rooted underneath the ground and is watered with milk and curds in the canals of the milky and other oceans dug around its trunk.
18 The rituals of the three Vedas flutter like bees over the tree blooming with the blossoms of beautiful women and shaking with the turnings of the mind while it is corroded inside by sore-making worms of cares and actions. 19 The tree of ignorance, blossoming like the flowers of the garden of paradise, exhales the sweet odors of pleasure around. The serpent of vice twining round it perpetually leads living souls to evil deeds to support their lives.
20 It blooms with various flowers to attract the hearts of wise. It is filled with various fruits distilling their sweets all around. 21 With water about, it invites the birds of the air to drink. Being smeared with the dust of its flowers, it appears to stand like a rock of red earth or granite. 22 It shoots out with buds of mistakes and is beset by the briars of error. It grows luxuriant in hilly districts with the exuberance of its leafy branches.
23 It grows and dies and grows again, and being cut down it springs out again. So there is no end of it. 24 Though past and gone, yet it is present before us. Though it is all hollow within, it appears as thick and sound to sight. It is an ever fading and an evergreen tree. The more it is lopped and cropped, the more it grows and expands itself.
25 It is a poisonous tree whose very touch benumbs the senses in a moment. But being pressed down by reasoning, it dies away in an instant. 26 All distinctions of different objects are dissolved in the crucible of the reasoning mind. But they remain undissolved in their crude forms in the minds of the ignorant, who are employed in differentiating the various natures of men and brutes, and of land and sea animals. 27 They distinguish one world as the nether world and the other as the upper sky. They make distinctions between the solar and lunar planets, and the fixed starry bodies. 28 Here there is light and there is darkness on the other side. This is empty space and that is the solid ground. These are the scriptures and those are the Vedas. All such distinctions are unknown to the wise.
29 The same spirit flies upward in the bodies of birds or remains above in the form of gods. The same spirit remains fixed in the forms of fixed rocks or moves in continuous motion with flying winds. 30 Sometimes it resides in the infernal regions, and at others it dwells in the heavens above. Sometimes it is exalted to the dignity of gods, and somewhere it remains in the state of mean insects and worms. 31 In one place it appears as glorious as the god Vishnu, and in another it shows itself in the forms of Brahma and Shiva. Now it shines in the sun and then it brightens in the moon. Here it blows in winds, and there it sways in the all-subduing Yama.
32 Whatever appears as great and glorious and all that is seen as mean and ignoble in their form, from the biggest and bright sun down to the most contemptible grass and straw, are all pervaded by the Universal Spirit. Ignorance dwells upon the external forms, but knowledge that looks into the inner soul sees the reality.
• • •
Chapter 9 — Three Gunas; Gods are Pure Sattvic; No Such Thing as Ignorance
1 Rama said, “Sage, you said that all forms are representations of illusion or ignorance. How do you account for the pure bodies of Vishnu, Shiva and other gods who are of pure essence in their embodied forms, and which cannot be the creation of our error or delusion? Please, sage, explain these clearly to me and remove my doubts and difficulties on the subject.”
2 Vasishta replied:— The perceptible world represents the manifestation of the one quiescent and all inherent soul, and exhibits the glory of being-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda) which is beyond conception or thought. 3 This gives rise to the shape of a partial aspect or essence, or there arises of itself principles resembling the rolling fragment of a cloud appearing as a watery substance or filled with water. 4 This fragment is also conceived in its three different lights or phases of rarity, density and rigidity or grossness, resembling the twilight, midday light, and darkness of sunlight. The first of these is called the mind or creative will, the second the Brahma Hiranyagarbha or the creative power, and the third is known as Virat, the framer of the material frame, and is identical with creation itself. 5 These are also called the three qualities (gunas) of reality, brightness and darkness (sattva, rajas and tamas, the qualities of preservation, creation, and destruction) which are also called the triple nature of things or their swabhavas orprakriti. 6 All nature is characterized by ignorance of the triple qualities of creation, preservation and destruction which are inbred in all living beings, except the Being that is beyond them and which is the supreme one.
7 Each of the three qualities of balance, activity and passivity (sattva, rajas and tamas) has its three subdivisions of the same names. 8 Thus original Ignorance becomes nine kinds by the differences of its several qualities. Whatever is seen or known here below is included under one or the other in various degrees.
9 Now Rama, know the positive (sattvic) quality of ignorance includes several classes of living beings known as the rishis, munis, spiritual masters, naagas, vidyadharas and suras. 10 Again this quality of positive goodness comprises the Suras or gods Shiva and others of the first class who are purely and truly good. The sages and spiritual masters forming the second or intermediate class are endued with a less share of goodness in them, while naagas or vidyadharas making the last class possess it in the least degree. 11 The gods born with the pure essence of goodness and remaining unmixed with the properties of other natures have attained the state of purity like the divine Vishnu, Shiva and others.
12 Rama, whoever is filled with the quality of goodness (sattva) in his nature and is acquainted with divine knowledge in his mind is said to be liberated in this life and free from further reincarnation. 13 For this reason, O high minded Rama, the gods Shiva and others who possess the properties of goodness in them are said to continue in their liberated state to the final end of the world. 14 Great souls remain liberated as long as they continue to live in their mortal bodies. After they drop their frail bodies, they become free as their disembodied spirits and they reside in the Supreme Spirit.
15 The part of ignorance is to lead men to perform acts which, after their death, become the roots of producing other acts in all successive states of reincarnation. 16 Ignorance rises from knowledge like a hollow bubble bursting out of water, and ignorance likewise sets and sinks in knowledge like the bubble subsiding to rest in the same water. 17 As there is no such thing as a wave, only a word coined to denote the heaving of water, so there is nothing as ignorance but a word fabricated to express the lack of knowledge. 18 As water and waves are identical in their true sense, and there being no material difference between them, so both knowledge and ignorance relate to the same thing, expressing either its presence or absence. There can be no essential difference in their meaning.
19 Leaving aside the sights of knowledge and ignorance, there remains that which always exists of itself. Only the contradiction of adverse parties has introduced these words.20 The sights of knowledge and ignorance are nothing. Therefore be firm in what is beyond these, and which can neither be known nor ignored by imagination of it.
21 There is something which is not anything, except that it exists in the manner of the intellect and consciousness. There is no way to describe this, therefore that being (sat) is said to be unknowable (avidya). 22 That one existent Being is said to be the destroyer of ignorance. Lack of knowledge gives rise to the false conception of ignorance. 23 When knowledge and ignorance are both lost in oblivion within the one consciousness, it is like when both sunshine and its shadows are lost in the shade of night. 24 Then there remains only the One that is to be gained and known, and thus the loss of ignorance likewise tends to the dissipation of self knowledge, just as the lack of oil extinguishes the lamp. 25What remains afterwards is either emptiness or the whole fullness of space in which all these things appear to exist, or it is nothing at all.
26 As the minute seed of the banyan tree contains the future tree in its undeveloped state, so the almighty power of omnipotence is lodged in the minute receptacle of the spirit before its expansion into immensity. 27 The Divine Spirit is more rarefied than subtle air, and yet is not an emptiness because it has consciousness (chit). It is like the sunstone with its inherent fire, or like milk with the latent butter unborn in it. 28 All space and time reside in that spirit for their development, just as the spark proceeds from the fire and light issues from the sun in which they are contained. 29 So all things are settled in Supreme Consciousness and show themselves to us as like waves on the sea or the radiance of gems. Our understandings are also reflections of Divine Consciousness 30 which is the storehouse of all things and the reservoir of all consciousness. The divine essence pervades the inside and outside of everything.
31 The Divine Soul is as imperishable as the air within a pot which is not destroyed when the pot is broken, but mixes and continues forever with its surrounding air. Know also the lives and actions of living beings are dependent upon the will of God, just as the movement of iron depends upon the attraction of the loadstone. 32 The action of the inactive or quiescent spirit of God is to be understood in the same manner as the motion of iron is attributed to magnetic attraction. The inert bodies of living beings are moved by force of the conscious soul.
33 The world is situated in that mundane seed of the universe which the wise know by the name of consciousness. The world is as void and formless as empty air. It is nothing and has nothing in it except consciousness. It represents all and everything by itself, like the playful waves of the boundless ocean.
• • •
Chapter 10 — Inert Is Not Realized; Ignorance Is of the All-Pervading God
1 Vasishta continued:— Therefore this world with all its moving and unmoving beings is nothing. There is nothing that has its real being or entity except the one true Being that you must know. 2 O Rama, seek him who is beyond our thought and imagination and comprises all entity and non-entity in himself. Cease to seek any living being or anything in existence.
3 I would not have my heart be enticed and deceived by the false attachments and affections of this world. They are all as delusive as our misconception of a snake in a rope. 4Ignorance of the soul is the cause of our error of conceiving distinctions between things. Knowledge of the identical soul and the reality of things put an end to all distinctions. Distinctive knowledge of existences (bheda jnana) is false, but their generalization leads to right reasoning. 5 They call it ignorance (avidya) when the intellect is weakened by its acceptance of phenomena, but phenomena being left out, the intellect comes to know the soul which is free from all attributes.
6 All this illusion is caused by the mind. If the mind vanishes, the illusion will also vanish. The embodied soul (purusha) is said to last as long as there is consciousness in the body, like the air (ghatambare) in the pot lasts with the lasting of the pot and vanishes upon the pot being broken. 7 The wandering intellect sees the soul wandering, and calm understanding thinks it to be stationary, just as one perceives his breath of life to be slow or quick according to whether he is sitting still or running about. In this manner, bewildered understanding finds the soul to be distracted. 8 The mind wraps the inner soul with the cover of its various desires, just as the silkworm twines the thin thread of its desires (vasanas) round about itself, which its lack of reason prevents it from understanding.
9 Rama said, “I see, sage, that when our ignorance becomes too gross and solid, it becomes as dull and solid as stone. But tell me, O venerable sage, how does consciousness become a fixed tree or any other inert substance?”
10 Vasishta replied:— They have abandoned the capability of thinking which is inherent in human consciousness, so they remain like a living and immoveable plant or an inert material substance. 11 The liberation of no mind is impossible for those whose organs of eight senses lie dormant, dumb, blind and inert as in any dull and dirt matter. If they have any perception, it is only pain.
12 Rama replied, “O sage, who best knows what is knowable, but if consciousness remains as unshaken in a fixed tree, with its reliance in unity and without knowledge of duality, does that not approximate perfection and approach liberation?”
13 Vasishta replied:— Rama, perpetual liberation of the soul follows upon rational investigation into the natures of all other things, their false appearances, and the realization of one common entity. 14 A man only reaches his state of singleness (kaivalya) when he understands that all existence dwells in the unity and when he forsakes his desire for this thing and that. 15 One inclined towards spiritual contemplation, who has investigated divine knowledge in the scriptures, and who has discussed the subject in the company of the learned sages is said to rest in Brahman.
16 One who is dormant in his mind and has the seed of his desires lying latent in his heart resembles an unmoving tree bearing the vegetative seed of future transmigrations within its bosom. 17 All those men are called blocks who, like blocks of wood or stone, lack brains and whose desires are gone to the rack. Men possessing the property of dullness like dull matter are subject to the pains of repeated births, recurring like the repetitions of their remaining desires. 18 All stationary and inert things are endowed with the property of dull matter and are subject to repeated reproductions.
19 Know, O pure hearted Rama, that the seed of desire is as inbred in the heart of plants as flowers are inborn in seeds and earthenware is contained in clay. 20 The heart that contains the fruitful seed of desire can never have its rest or realization even in its dormant state. But this seed being burnt and fried to unproductiveness produces sanctity, though it may appear fully active. 21 The heart that preserves the slightest remnant of any desire can again be filled with its full, luxuriant growth, just as a little remainder of fire or the enemy, or of a debt and disease, and also of love and hatred, is enough to involve one in his ruin, just as a single drop of poison kills a man.
22 He who has burnt away the seed of his desire for anything and everything and who looks upon the world with an even eye of detachment is said to be perfectly liberated both in his embodied state in this earth and in his disembodied or spiritual form of the next world, and is no more subjected to any trouble.
23 Intellectual power enveloped by the seed of mental desire supplies moisture for it to germinate everywhere in the forms of animals and plants. 24 This inherent power resides like productive power in the seeds of living beings, and in that of inertness in dull material bodies. It is of the nature of hardness in all solid substances and that of softness in soft and liquid things. 25 It exhibits ash color in ash and shows particles in the dust of the earth. It shows darkness in all swarthy things and flashes in the whiteness of a glittering blade. 26 Spiritual power assumes the form and figure in which it resides in the community of material things, such as a picture, a pot and the like. 27 In this way the Divine Spirit fills the whole phenomenal world like a cloud filling the sky in rainy season.
28 I have explained the true nature (swarupa) of the unknown almighty power according to my best understanding, and as far as it had been determined by the reasoning of the wise. It fills all and is not the all itself. It is the true entity appearing as no entity at all. 29 Our inability to see this invisible spiritual power leads us to the false conception of the external world, but a slight sight of this Almighty Being removes all our pains in this scene of vanity.
30 The wise call our dim vision of Almighty Power blindness or ignorance. This ignorance give rises to the belief in the existence of the world and thereby produces all our errors and misery. 31 Who is free of this ignorance and beholds the glorious light of God finds darkness disappear from his sight, just as the icicles of night melt away at the appearance of sunlight. 32 A man’s ignorance flies off like the dream he tries to remember after he wakes from his sleep. 33 Again, when a man ponders well the properties of the object before him, his ignorance flies away like darkness at the approach of light. 34 Darkness recedes from a man who advances to explore into it with a lamp in his hand. Butter is melted down by application of heat. In the same way, one’s ignorance is dispelled and dissolved by application of the light of reason.
35 One in darkness with a lit torch in his hand sees only a blaze of light before him and no shadow of darkness about him. In the same way, one who seeks truth perceives the light of truth shining in his face with no trace of the darkness of falsehood behind him. 36 Ignorance flies away and disappears with the light of reason. Although an unreal nothing, illusion appears as something real wherever there is lack of reason. 37 The great mass of thick darkness disappears into nothing at the advance of light. In the same way, the substantiality of gross ignorance is dissolved into insubstantiality at the advance of knowledge.
38 Unless one examines a thing, it is impossible to distinguish it from another. But upon examination, he comes to detect the fallacy of his prejudgment. 39 He who considers whether the flesh, blood or bones of his bodily frame constitutes his personality will at once understand that he is none of these and all these are distinct from himself. 40 Nothing belonging to a person makes the person. Something beyond forms one’s personality. Nothing in the world from its first to last is that spirit which has neither beginning nor end and is the eternal and Infinite Spirit. 41 Ignorance being overcome, there remains nothing except the one eternal soul which is the adorable Brahman and substantial whole.
42 The unreality of ignorance is evident from the negative term of negation and ignoring its essentiality, and requires no other proof to disprove its essence, just as the taste of a thing is best proved by the tongue and no other organ of sense. 43 There is no ignorance or inexistence except the consciousness and existence of God who pervades all visible and invisible natures, to which the names existence and inexistence are attributed.
44 Ignorance (avidya) is not of knowledge but of Brahman. The dispersion of this ignorance brings us to the knowledge of God. 45 Ignorance of Him is the belief that all things in the world are distant and distinct from Brahman. The belief that all things visible in the world are the manifestation of omnipresence causes the removal of ignorance by presenting the presence of God.
• • •
Chapter 11 — The Supreme Truth: Knowledge of Brahman
1 Vasishta said:— I tell you again and repeatedly, O pious Rama, for your understanding. You can never know the spirit without a constant habit of contemplating on it. 2 Gross ignorance becomes compact by the accumulated false knowledge of previous births and past lives. 3 The perceptions of external and internal body senses, both in the states of consciousness and unconsciousness, cause the great errors of embodied beings. 4 Spiritual knowledge is far beyond the perception of the senses and can only be attained after controlling the five external organs of sense and the mind, which is the sixth organ of sensation.
5 How is it possible to know the spirit whose essence is beyond the reach of our faculties of sense and whose powers transcend those of all our sensible organs? 6 If you want to be an adept in divine wisdom, you must use the sharp sword of your knowledge to cut off this creeper of ignorance which has grown up in the hollow of the tree of your heart.
7 Rama, conduct the practice of your spiritual knowledge like King Janaka with his full knowledge of all that is knowable to man. 8 Janaka remains certain in his knowledge of the truth when involved in active duties, in his waking state, and when he remains quiet at his leisure. 9 Vishnu was led to perform his various acts in his repeated incarnations through his reliance on this certain truth. 10 May you, Rama, be certain of the main truth which conducted the three-eyed god Shiva in the company of his fair consort, and which led the dispassionate Brahma to the act of creation. 11 It was the assurance of this eternal truth which led the teachers of the gods and demons, even Brihaspati and Bhargava, in their duties, and which guide the sun and moon in their courses, and even directs the elements of fire and air in their wonted ways. 12 This truth was well known to the host of rishis, including Narada, Pulastya, Angira, Pracheta, Bhrigu Krutu, Atri and Suka, as it is also known to me. 13 This is the certainty which has been arrived at by all other learned brahmins and sages, and this is the firm belief of everybody who has been liberated in his lifetime.
14 Rama said, “Tell me truly, O venerable sage, the true nature of the truth upon which the great gods and wisest sages have grounded their belief and became freed from their sorrow and grief.”
15 Vasishta replied:— O worthy prince who is great in arms and in your knowledge of all things, hear me tell you the plain truth in reply to your question, the certainty arrived at by all of them.
16 All these spacious worlds that you see spread all about you is situated in the immensity of Brahman. 17 Brahman is consciousness and this world and all its animate and inanimate creatures. Brahman is me, Brahma, you, and all our friends and enemies. 18 Brahman is the triple times of past, present and future, all of which are comprehended in his eternity like waves and surges in the immensity of the ocean. 19 This same Brahman appears to us in all the various forms of our perception, and in the different shapes of the actor, action and its act, as those of the feeder, feeding and food, and of the receiver, reception and the thing received.
20 Brahman expands in himself by his power of evolution, unfolding himself by his expansion power. Hence he would be our enemy if he would do anything unfavorable into us. 21 Thus Brahman being situated and employed with himself, does nothing either good or evil to any other. The attribution of passions to him is like planting a tree in empty air.
22 They who are dead to their desires are very delighted to reflect on this truth, that they are continually living and moving in the all pervading Brahman. 23 All things are full of Brahman and there is nothing of pleasure or pain. Brahman resides in his identical all and is pleased with all in himself. 24 The Lord is manifest in his Lordship, and I am no other person beside himself. This pot, that painting, and I myself are full with the identical Brahman. 25 Hence it is in vain to speak of our attachment or aversion to worldliness since we bear our bodies and dare to die in Brahman only. 26 Our bodies being the abodes of Brahman, it is false to think of our bodily pains or enjoyments, like thinking a rope to be a snake.
27 How can you say that this or that is your doing when you have no power to do anything? Waves on the surface of the sea cannot move the waters deep below. 28 You, me, he and all others are only breaths of the Universal Spirit. We heave and then subside like waves in the sea, but the spirit of God, like the waters of the deep, does not rise or fall at anytime.
29 All persons returning to Brahman after their death have their bodies and their personal identities reduced into Him and retaining in Him, just as moving and still waters rest alike in the sea. 30 All moving and inert souls and bodies rest alike in the supreme Brahman, just as the individual soul (jiva) and its form resides in God, and whirling and still waters remain in the same sea. 31 The soul and the body are the two states of the likeness and unlikeness of Brahman. One is the living soul of bodies and the other is the gross body itself.
32 Irrational souls who are ignorant of this truth are truly subject to delusion. Rational souls are not so, but enjoy their full bliss on earth while the other is ever doomed to misery. 33 The blind see the world as all dark, while the clear sighted find it fully bright and shining. So the wise are blessed with the knowledge of the one soul of the whole, while the ignorant are immersed in misery by their lack of such knowledge. 34 As the darkness of night presents its demons and ghosts only to the sight of children, and not those of grown up adults, so the world presents its delusions to the ignorant and never to the wise who behold only one Brahman in all things before them. 35 There is nothing here that lives of itself or dies away to nothing. All exist equally in God at all times. Nothing is doomed to be born or perish here to happiness or misery. 36 All beings are situated in the Universal Soul just like waves in the vast expanse of the ocean. Therefore it is false to say that one resides in the spirit and another is beside it.
37 As there is an inborn light in crystal which is capable of reflecting a variety of rays, so the spirit of God dwells in his own spirit in the form of the universe showing various shapes to view by the inner light of the spirit. 38 As water particles fly from waves, fall into the sea, and mix with its water, so the bodies of dying people fall into the body of Brahman where they existed during their lifetimes. 39 There is no being beside the being of Brahman, just as there is no wave or foam or froth of the sea beside the water of the deep. 40 As waves, surges, whirling currents, and their froth, foam, and bubbles and minute particles are all formations of water in the great body of waters, so are all beings only productions of the spirit in the Infinite Spirit.
41 All bodies with their various modes and organs of sense and their several functions, and all visible objects and their growth and decay, together with everything conducive to our happiness and misery, and all other energies and their gains, are the works of Brahma in himself. 42 The production of these various beings in existence is from the essence of Brahman, just as the formation of different ornaments is from the substance of gold. There is no cause of form or formation other than Brahma, and the distinction between cause and creation is the false conception of the ignorant.
43 Mind, understanding, egoism, the elemental atoms, and the organs of sense are all the various forms of Brahman, which is the cause of our joy or grief. 44 The words “I”, “you”, “he”, “this” and “that”, as also the terms of “mind” and “matter” all describe the identical Brahman in the same manner as the roaring of a cloud in the hills resounds in a hundred echoes through their caverns. 45 Brahman appears as an unknown stranger to us through our ignorance of him, like visions in our minds’ dreams appear futile to us.
46 Ignorance of Brahman as what he is makes men reject divine knowledge altogether, just as our ignorance of the quality of gold causes us to throw it away as waste. 47Brahman is known as the Supreme Spirit and sole Lord by those who are acquainted with divine knowledge. But He is said to be unknown and involved in ignorance by those who are ignorant of Him. 48 Brahman being known as Brahman becomes manifest as such in a moment, just as gold when known as such is taken in due esteem. 49 Those who are versed in divine knowledge know Brahman to be without cause and causing nothing by himself, and that he is free from decay and is the Supreme Spirit and sole Lord of all.
50 He who can meditate on the omnipotence of the Supreme Spirit of Brahman comes to behold him as such in a short time, even without a teacher to guide him in his spiritual knowledge. 51 The lack of divine knowledge is called the ignorance of the ignorant. The knowledge of God constitutes the true knowledge which removes the ignorance.52 As an unknown friend is no friend at all until he is recognized as such after removal of one’s forgetfulness, so God is no god to one as long he continues in ignorance of Him.
53 We can only know God when the mind comes to perceive the soul unconnected with the body, whereby it alienates itself from all worldly connections in disgust. 54 When the mind is freed from its knowledge of duality, then we come to know the one true God. By the mind’s distaste of dualism, it abandons its attachment to the world. 55 We come to the knowledge of God when we come to know ourselves to be other than our bodies and when we get rid of our personal egoism and forsake our affection for this un-kindred world. 56 The thought of God arises in our minds when we come to the true knowledge of thinking ourselves the same with Brahman, and when the mind is absorbed in meditation of the divine truth in one’s self.
57 God being known as the all of everything and comprising the whole fullness of space, we come to believe the same as Brahman. Losing our egoism and references to others, we come to know the sole entity that comprises the entire universe. 58 When I come to know this true and all-form Brahman as all in all and forming the entire whole, I become released from all my sorrows and grief. I am set free from all my delusions and desires and the responsibility of my duties. 59 I am quite calm and at ease, without any sorrow or grief, by my knowledge of the truth that I am no other than Brahman himself. I am as cool as the moon without her spots and phases in me. I am the all entire, without any disease, decay or diminution in me.
60 It is true that I am the all pervading Brahman. Therefore I cannot wish to have or leave anything from me, because I am also the blood, bones and flesh of my body. 61 It is true that I am Brahman the Universal Soul, and therefore my intellect, mind and physical senses also. I am the heaven and sky with their luminaries and quarters and the nether worlds also. 62 It is true that I am Brahman composing this pot and painting, these bushes and brambles, these forests and their grass, and also the seas and their waves.
63 The unity of Brahman is a certain truth. It is the Self which manifests in seas and mountains and all living beings, and in the qualities of reception and emission, and of extension and contraction in all material bodies.64 All things of extended forms are situated in the intellectual spirit of Brahman who is the cause of the growth of seeds, vines and other plants. 65 The Supreme Brahman resides in his sheath of the intellectual soul like flavor in the cup of the flower, and thence diffuses itself on all sides in the form of everything everywhere.
66 He who is called the Supreme Spirit is known as the only soul of all. He is called the intellectual soul, Brahman the great, the only entity and reality, the Truth and Intelligence and apart from all. 67 He is said to be the all-inherent element and Consciousness only without anything intelligible in it. He is the pure light that gives every being its consciousness of itself. 68 To the spiritual man God appears to exist everywhere as the tranquil and intelligent Brahman, and contains in himself the powers of all the faculties of the mind and body, such as the understanding and the organs of sense. So the scriptures say, “He is the mind of the mind, the sight of the eye.”
69 Give up the thought of you being different from Brahman by knowing yourself as the reflection of the conscious soul which is the cause of the causes of the existence of the world, just like air is cause of sound caused by empty spirit of God. 70 The consciousness of Brahman is the transparent receptacle of all essences. My ego is of the same essence, which exudes continually like a shower of rain from the transparent spirit of God. 71 I am that light which shines in the souls of yogis. I am that silent spirit supported by the ambrosial drops of Divine Consciousness which continually distils its nectar juice into our souls so that we may feel in ourselves. 72 I am a wheel or a circle without beginning or end because I have the pure consciousness of Brahman in me. I am quiet in my deep sleep of samadhi meditation and I perceive that holy light shining within me.
73 The thought that “I am Brahman” affords a far greater delight to the soul than the taste of any sweet meat, which gives but a momentary delight. So the scriptures say, “God is all sweetness.”
74 One who knows his soul and intellect knows the indestructible Brahman and himself to be identical with Brahman, just as one whose mind is possessed with the image of his beloved sees her bright face in the shining orb of the moon. 75 As the sights of earthly people are fixed on the ethereal moon, so the sight of intellectual beings is fixed on the supreme and indestructible soul, which he knows to be identical with himself. 76 The intellectual power situated in the emptiness of the heart is truly the truth of pure Brahman himself. Its pleasure, pain, mutability and divisibility are attributed only through ignorance.
77 The soul who has known the truth knows himself as Supreme Consciousness, just as the pilgrim on the way sees only his saint before him and no intermediate object besides. 78 The belief that I am the pure and all pervading Consciousness is attended with purity and holiness of the soul. Knowledge of the divine power as the cause of the union of earth, air and water in the production of the germ of creation is the main creed of all creeds.
79 I am that intellect of Brahma which is inherent in all things as their productive power. I am that soul which causes the sweetness of honey and the bitterness of nimba fruits.80 I am that Divine Consciousness which inheres alike in all flavors, which is devoid of pain and pleasure, and which I perceive in my mind by my consciousness. 81 I am the consciousness of Brahman without decay. I consider my gain and loss in an equal light of detachment while I view this earth, sky, sun and moon displayed before my eyes in all their glory. 82 I am that pure and serenely bright Brahman whose glory is displayed alike in all of these, and which I see shining vividly before me whether I am awake or asleep, dreaming or in deep sleep. 83 I am that Brahman who is without beginning or end, who is known by his four-fold essences, and who is ever indestructible and without decay. He resides in the souls of men through all their reincarnations like sweetness in sugarcane. 84 I am that intellect of Brahman which, like sunshine, equally pervades in the form of transparent light in and above all created beings. 85 I am that all pervasive intellect of Brahman which, like charming moonlight, fills the whole universe, and which we feel and taste in our hearts as the delicious drink of nectar. 86 I am that intellect of Brahman which extends undivided over the whole and all parts of the universe, and which embraces all existence as the moving clouds of heaven encompasses the sky.
• • •
Chapter 12 — Qualities of the Self-Realized
1 Vasishta said:— Great minded men who are certain of these truths are purified from their sins. Finding their tranquility in reliance on truth, they enjoy the delight of the even balance of their souls, both in prosperity and adversity. 2 So the wise men of perfect understanding, being evenly dispassionate in their minds, do not feel happiness or sadness in the enjoyment or deprivation of their lives. 3 They remain as unseen and marvelously mighty as the arms of Vishnu, and as straight and firm and yet as low and fragile as the body and broken rocks of Mount Meru. 4 They roam about at pleasure in woodlands and over islands and in cities also. Like the gods of paradise, they wander about the beautiful gardens and sceneries of nature. 5 They rove in flowery gardens shaken by playful breezes and in romantic forests on the foothills and tops of mountains.
6 They conquer their enemies and rule their kingdoms with the royal symbols of the chowry fly-whisk and umbrella. They enjoy the various produce and wealth of their kingdom and observe the various customs and usages of their country. 7 They follow all the rules and rites established by the laws of their countries and inculcated as duties for the observance of all. 8 They do not disdain to taste the pleasures that would make beauties smile, nor are they adverse to the enjoyment of luxuries that they can rightly use and enjoy. 9 They smell the fragrance of mandara flowers and taste the sweet juice of mango fruit. They regale themselves with the sweet songs of apsara nymphs and revel in the trees of Nandana pleasure garden.
10 They never disregard the duties that bind all mankind to them, or neglect to perform the sacrifices and observe the ordinances that are imperative in domestic life. 11 But they are saved from falling into dangers and evils of all kinds, escape the danger of falling under the feet of murderous elephants, and avoid the uproar of trumpets and the imminent death in battlefields.
12 They live with those who are afflicted in their hearts and among the marauding plunderers of the country. They dwell among oppressed cowardly people and among their oppressors. Thus they are conversant with the practices of all opposing parties without mixing with any one of them.
13 But their minds are clear of doubts and free from errors. They are unaffected by passions and affections and unattached to any person or thing. They are quite discrete and disengaged, free and liberated, tranquil and serene, inclined to goodness reclining and resting in Supreme Spirit. 14 They are never immersed in great dangers, nor are they ever involved in very great difficulties. They remain like the boundary mountains that are not immersed in the water they surround.
15 They are never elated with joy at the fluctuating favors of fond and fascinating fortune, nor are they swollen, like the sea, with the increasing digits of the moon. 16 They do not fade away under sorrow or sickness, like plants under the scorching sun, nor are they refreshed by refreshments, like medicinal plants under the refreshing dews of night. 17Calmly and without anxiety, they are employed in the discharge of their duties and in the acts of fruition. They neither long for nor relinquish the results that are attendant upon their acts.
18 They are neither elated with the success of their undertakings, nor are they depressed by the mishap of their efforts. They are not joyous at their joy and exultation, nor do they under danger and difficulty. 19 They do not droop down under despondence, nor are they dejected in despair. They are not merry in their prosperity, nor do they wail and weep in their adversity. 20 They discharge their customary duties as prescribed by law and usage, but their minds remain as firm and unmoved as a mountain against all the efforts of the body.
21 Now Rama, remove your sight from your own egoism and keep it fixed on the true Ego which is a destroyer of all sins. Then go on with your ordinary course of conduct as you may like. 22 Look at these creations and their various creatures as they have existed in their successive stages and phases, but remain as firm as rock and as deep as the sea, and get rid of your errors. 23 Know this grand hole as the reflection of one sole Consciousness beside which there is nothing as a reality or unreality, or as something or nothing.
24 Rama, have your greatness as the great Brahman and preserve the dignity of human nature about you. Reject all that is unworthy of you. With an unattached heart to everything, manage yourself with gentleness everywhere and thus pass the days here. 25 Why do you weep with your heart full of sorrow and grief? Why do you lament like the deluded? Why wander with your wandering mind like a bit of straw carried by whirling currents?
26 Rama replied, “Truly sage, my questions are now erased from my mind. My heart is awakened to its good senses by your kindness, just as the lotus is enlivened by rising sunlight. 27 My errors are dispersed like morning fog in autumn. My doubts are set down by your lectures, which I will always follow. 28 I am now set free from the follies of pride, vanity, envy and unconsciousness. I feel lasting spiritual joy rising within me after the subsidence of all my sorrows. And now if you are not tired, please deliver your lectures with your clear understanding, and I will follow and practice them without fear or hesitation.”
• • •
Chapter 13 — The Two Yogas of Pranayama and Self Inquiry Lead to Meditation
1 Rama said, “I am truly calmed and set at ease, O brahmin, by renouncing all my desires, by my full knowledge of their impropriety, and by my being staid in the state of the liberated, even in this my present life. 2 But tell me, sage, how can a man have his liberation by restraining his breathing for a time? How can restraining the breath restrict the desires that reside and rise from the mind? The breath belongs to the body and comes in and out of the heart and lungs.”
3 Vasishta said:— O Rama, the means of crossing the ocean of this earth is known by the word yoga. Yoga means pacifying the mind in either of the two ways. 4 One is the acquisition of religious instruction, leading to the knowledge of the soul and of the Supreme Soul. The other is restraining breath (pranayama), which you will learn from the lecture that I am about to deliver.
5 Here Rama interrupted and said, “Tell me, sage, which of the two is easier and less painful?”
6 Vasishta replied:— Rama, although I have mentioned two kinds of yoga, yet in common usage the word refers to the restriction of breathing. 7 True yoga is the concentration of the mind in God, which is the only means of our salvation in this world. This is achieved in either of two ways: regulation of breathing and perfection in learning. Both tend to the one and same effect, of fixing the attention in divine meditation.
8 Yoga practices appear too arduous a task to some people, while proficiency in knowledge seems to be too difficult to others. But to my understanding, the ascertainment of truth by theoretical knowledge seems far better than practice. 9 Ignorance is ever ignorant of truth, which does not lend its light to us in either our walking or sleeping states. So the ignorant practitioner is always in ignorance both when he is meditating or otherwise. But knowledge is always knowing, both when the knower is awake or asleep. 10 Yoga practices require fixed attention, painful postures, and proper times and places. It can be impossible to practice owing to the difficulty of getting all these advantages at all times.
11 I have described both kinds of yoga propounded in the scriptures and the superiority of pure knowledge which fills the intellect with its unfading light. 12 The regulation of breath, the firmness of the body, and dwelling in sequestered cells are helpful to reach the goal. But tell me, which of these can give knowledge to understanding, which is the greatest perfection in human nature?
13 Now Rama, if you think it is possible for you to sit quietly with utter suppression of your breaths and thoughts, then you can attempt to sit in your calm posture of meditation without uttering a single word.
• • •
Chapter 14 — Bhushunda, the Ancient Crow; and Description of Mount Meru
1 Vasishta related:— The vast universe, O Rama, is only an evolution of the will of the Infinite Brahman, just as the various representations in a mirage are only variations of sunlight. 2 Here the divine Brahma, born of the lotus-form navel of Vishnu, takes the title of the creator and preserver of all that has been produced by the Supreme Spirit. He is called also the great father of all because he produces the prime progenitors of mankind.
3 This divine being brought me forth from his mind. Therefore I am called mind-born (manasaputra), a child of the mind of this holy person. He made me settle first in the fixed polar circle of the starry frame where I watched the revolutions of the planetary spheres and the successive Ages of Manu (manvantara) before me. 4 Once when I lived in the imperial court of Indra, the lord of gods, I heard sage Narada and other messengers of the gods talk about many long lived persons. 5 Among those talking was sage Salatapa, a person of great understanding and a man of honor restrained in his speech. He said by way of conversation 6 that on the northeast summit of Mount Meru there was a place full of sparkling gems. There was a wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of the mango kind there which yielded its fruit in all seasons of the year. 7 The tree was covered with fresh and beautiful vines, and a branch extending towards the south had a large hollow in its top that contained the nests of birds of various kinds.
8 Among them there was a nest belonging to an old crow named Bhushunda who lived quite happy with himself, just as the god Brahma dwells content in his lotus bed. 9There is no one in the womb of this world who is as long lived as Bhushunda. Not even the gods in heaven can boast of a greater longevity than he among the feathered group, and it is doubtful whether there may be another as old as he in times to come. 10 This old crow was beautiful even in old age. He had become passionless and great-minded by his long experience. He remained quiet with the tranquility of his mind and was graceful as he was full of knowledge of all times. 11 If anyone may have the long life of this crow, his life becomes meritorious and his old age is crowned with wisdom.
12 In this manner, sage Salatapa related the virtues of the bird in full at the request of the gods in heaven. He did not utter anything more or less before the assembly of the gods who knew all things. 13 After the gods were satisfied with the story of the veteran crow, I felt a great curiosity in me to see and know more about this old aged bird. 14 With this desire, I hastened to where the crow was said to rest in his happy nest. In a short time I reached the summit of Meru, shining with its precious stones.
15 The peak of the mountain was flaming like fire with the glare of its gems and red earth, and these painted the upper sky with the bright color of flowery honey and sparkling wine. 16 The mountain shone as brightly as if it were burning with the blaze of the last conflagration. The sky was reddened by their reflection with shades of clouds appearing like the smoke of fire or the blue luster of sapphire. 17 The mountain appeared to be formed by a collection of all kinds of colors on earth, giving it the appearance of the western sky at sunset.
18 The flame of fire proceeding from its crater and emitted through the crevice on its top seemed like the fire of the yogi in yoga, carried up from his bowels to the crown of the head. 19 The reddish peaks and heights of Sumeru resembled his arms and fingers painted with scarlet lac-dye in order to lay hold of his consort, the fair moon, by way of play.
20 The lurid flame of wildfire on this mountain seemed like the burning blaze of sacrificial fires rising to heaven, fed with clarified butter.
21 The mountain with its elevated summit seemed to kiss the face of the sky, raising its fingers in the form of its peaks, their blazing gems resembling the nails of the fingers, in order to count the scattered stars.
22 The clouds roared on one side with the loud noise of drums. On the other, young plants and vines were dancing in happy trees, clusters of flowers were smiling like blooming beauties, and swarms of humming bees were hovering over them. 23 Here the lofty palm trees seemed to be smiling, showing their teeth in their denticulate leaves on seeing the giddy groups of apsara nymphs swinging and loosely strolling about in their amorous dalliances under their shade. 24 There celestials went in pairs to their caves in the mountain in order to relieve themselves of the trouble of trudging over the rugged paths of the craggy mountain. They were clothed in the white vest of the open, and having the stream of the Ganges falling from high for their sacred thread.
25 The white mountain stood like a grey headed hermit, holding reeds as canes in his hand. The celestial inhabitants of the mountain rested under the cover of vines, being lulled by to sleep by the gurgling sound of waters falling from precipice to precipice. 26 The mountain king was crowned by full blown lotuses that grew on its top, regaled by the sweet fragrance which the breezes bore from them. It was decorated with gems of the starry sky on its crown and charmed with the sweet songs of gandharvas playing their tunes on it. 27 His hoary head pierced the silvery region of heaven and was one with the home of the gods.
28 The many colored tops of Meru, emitting the various colors of red, white, black, blue, yellow and gray stones that are embodied in its body, lent the sky its variegated colors in the morning and evening, while the various color blossoms on its tops invited heavenly nymphs to their rambles and sports over them.
• • •
Chapter 15 — Vasishta’s Visit & Description of Meru and Bhushunda
1 Vasishta continued:— I saw the kalpa tree on the top of one of these peaks, surrounded by its branches on all sides and covered with flowers appearing like tufts of hairs on its head. 2 This tree was covered with the pollen of its flowers which shrouded it like a thick mist or cloud. Its flowers shown as bright as brilliant gems. Its great height reaching the sky made it look like a steeple standing upon the peak. 3 Its flowers were twice as many as the stars in heaven, and its leaves doubled the clouds in their bulk and thickness. Its filaments were more shiny than flashes of lightning, and its flower pollen was far brighter than the surrounding sunbeams.
4 The songs of the gandharvas dwelling on the branches of this tree played to the buzz of humming bees. The nimble feet and waving palms of apsara nymphs, dancing and playing on every leaflet, were double the number of leaves. 5 The spirits of the aerial spiritual masters and gandharvas hovering on this tree far out-numbered the birds that flocked and fluttered about it. The grayish frost which wrapped it like a shiny covering outshone the glossy rind that served for its raiment of fine linen. 6 The top of this tree touched the moon and by deriving its moisture from that humid planet, yielded its fruits of larger size than the orb of the moon itself. The clouds gathering about its trunk had doubled the size of its joints. 7 Gods rested on the trunk of this tree and kinnaras reclined on its leaves. Clouds covered its trees and asura demons slept under its branches.
8 The apsaras repelled their mates by the sound of their bracelets, as bees put beetles to flight by their buzzing, and sucked the honey from the flower cup to their fill. 9 The tree of desire extends on all sides of the sky and fills the space of the whole world by embodying the gods and demigods and men and all kinds of living beings in it. 10 It was full of blooming buds and blossoms and covered with its tender leaves and leaflets. It was filled with flourishing flowers and graced the forest all around. 11 It flushed with its filaments and abounded with its shining small flowers. With its radiant coverings and ornamented trappings, it was full to provide to the needs of its devotees, and it was ever in a flurry with the playful dance of tender plants and vines all around it. 12 It was fully laden with flowers on all sides and abundant with fruit on all its branches. Covered with copious pollen from its flowers, which it lavished and scattered on all its sides, it became charming and attractive to all hearts.
13 I saw a flock of feathered birds fluttering about the happy covered shelter and resting about the broad branches of the tree. Some were resting within the covering of the leafy tree. Others pecked at the flowers and fruit with their bills. 14 I saw the storks and swans that are the vehicles of Brahma, resembling the digits of the bright moon in whiteness, feeding on fragments of lotus stalks and picking the bulbous roots of arjuna and lotus plants in the lakes. 15 The swans of Brahma muttered the sacred sound of Om, the initial syllable of the Vedas, as they were addicted to it by their teacher, the god Brahma himself.
16 I saw parrots with their blue wings resembling the blue clouds of heaven, their red beaks shining like the flashes of lightning, and uttering their shrill sound like the swaha of the Veda. 17 I also saw the green parrots of the god of fire scattered all about like green kusa grass lying scattered on the sacrificial altar of the gods. I saw young peacocks with their crests glowing like the glistening flames of fire. 18 I saw groups of peacocks fostered by the goddess Gauri, and also the big peacocks that belong to the god Kumara. I also saw the vehicle of Skanda, the peacocks that are versed in knowledge.
19 I saw many heavy and huge bodied birds born to live, breed and die in their natal air, never descending to the ground. These were as white as the clouds of autumn and nestled with their mates in the air. They are commonly known under the name of aerial birds. 20 I saw the goslings of the breed of Brahma’s geese and the younglings of the brood of Agni’s parrots. I saw the peacocks forming the vehicles of the war god Skanda. 21 I saw bharadwaja birds and many other kinds of big charui sparrows. I also saw kalavinca sparrows, little cranes, pelicans, cuckoos, vultures, cranes and cocks. 22 I saw a great variety of other birds such as bhushus, chushus and partridges of many kinds, whose numbers are no less than all the living animals of this earth taken together.
23 Then I began to peer from my ethereal seat, through the thickening leaves of the tree to the nests of the birds, amidst the hollows of far distant branches towards the south.24 After some time I spied a body of crows at a distance, sitting in rows like leaves of branches, resembling streaks of dark clouds on either sides of the Lokaloka horizon. 25 After a while, I noticed there a lonely branch with a spacious hollow in it. It was scattered over with various flowers and smelling with a variety of perfumes. 26 It was the happy home of virtuous women in heaven who are perfumed with sweet scenting clusters of flowers. There were crows sitting in rows. They were perfectly freed from all cares and sorrows. 27Their great group appeared like the big body of a cloud separated from the tumultuous air of the lower atmosphere and resting on the calm firmament of the upper sky. There I saw the venerable Bhushunda sitting quietly with his exalted body.
28 He sat there like a sapphire shining prominently among fragments of glass. He appeared to have a brave heart and mind, and of a dignified and graceful appearance. 29Being heedful of the rule of the restriction of his respiration and suppression of his voice, he was quite happy with his long longevity and was renowned everywhere as a long lived seer. 30 He witnessed the course of ages and aeons, marking their advent and exodus in repeated succession, and thereby was known as the time-worn Bhushunda in this world, being of stout and unflinching mind. 31 He was weary with counting revolutions of kalpa cycles and the returns of the preserving divinities of the world, such as the Shivas, Indras, the gods of the winds, and others. 32 He was the chronicler of all antiquity, the recorder of the wars of the gods and demons and the hurling of high hills in heaven. Yet he was of a clear countenance and profound mind. He was complacent to all and his words were as sweet as honey.
33 This old seer had direct experience of all that was unknown and indistinct to others. He had no egotism or selfishness. He was the lord over all his friends and children, and his servants and their seniors. He was the true narrator of all things at all times. 34 His speech was clear and graceful, sweet and pleasing. His heart was tender like a cooling lake and as soft as a lotus flower. He was acquainted with all usages and customs, his knowledge was deep and profound, and he was ever the serene in appearance.
• • •
Chapter 16 — Vasishta and Bhushunda Meet; Vasishta’s Question
1 Vasishta continued:— I then came before the veteran crow with my brilliant ethereal body, like a bright meteor falling from the sky on the top of a mountain. My sudden appearance startled the assembly, as if they were disturbed by my intrusion. 2 The assembly of the black birds trembled like the lotuses of a lake at the shaking of the gentle breeze. The agitation of the air at my slow descent troubled them as much as an earthquake troubles the waters of the deep. 3 But Bhushunda, who was a seer of the three times, was at not all disturbed at my arrival. He knows me as Vasishta, now in attendance upon him.
4 He rose from his leafy seat and advanced slowly before me. With sweet sounds like honey, he said, “I welcome you, great sage, to my humble cell.” 5 Then he stretched both hands to me, holding clusters of flowers that he had at his will and then scattered them in handfuls upon me like a cloud scattering dewdrops over the ground. 6 “Take this seat,” said he, and stretched a newly shorn rind of the kalpa tree with his hand. This he had plucked with his own hand. He did not need the help of his attendant crows for this happy task.
7 On the rising of Bhushunda, the menials also arose from their seats. Then on seeing the sage seated on his seat, they again took their respective seats and posts. 8 Having refreshed myself with the sweet scent of the kalpa vines all about me, all the birds gathered around me sitting face to face with their chief. 9 Having offered me water and honey for my refreshment, together with the arghya worthy of me, the high minded Bhushunda felt the cheer of his mind, then approached me with a pleasing disposition and words as sweet as honey.
10 Bhushunda said, “O lord, after so much time you have favored me with your kind visit, which by its ambrosial influence has resuscitated our tree and ourselves. 11 O great muni who is honored of the honorable, I think that my long earned virtues have brought you here to this place. I would like to know from where your course is bent to my humble abode. 12 You sage, who has long wandered amid the great gloom of this world and know its errors by your infallible experience, must have your peace of mind. 13 What I wish to know is what makes you take this trouble today. We who await your answer will consider it a great favor. 14 By the sight of your holy feet, O venerable sage, we are given knowledge of everything. Yet my obligation at this uncalled for visit emboldens me to ask this further favor from you.”
15 “I know that your knowledge of us as among the long lived has directed your attention towards me and made your holiness sanctify this place by your gracious visit to us. 16Although I know this is the reason for your visit, yet it is my desire to satisfy myself with the sweetness of your nectar words. That has prompted me to propose this question to you.”
17 In this manner did the long-lived crow, clear sighted with his knowledge of the three times, deliver his question by way of formality.
18 Vasishta answered, “Yes, O king of birds! It is true as you say that I have come here to see your long lasting self. 19 You are truly very fortunate with your serenity, and your wisdom has fortunately saved you from falling into the dangerous snares of this world. 20 Now sage, consent to answer my questions regarding to your great age. Tell me truly. Of what family were you are born and how did you come to know what is worth knowing? 21 Tell me sage, if you remember the length of life that you have passed and if you recollect by your long clear vision how you came to be settled in this lodging.”
22 Bhushunda replied, “I will relate to you all that you ask of me, O great sage. Your great soul shall have to hear it attentively without any inadvertence of your mind. 23 It is certain, O venerable sage, that the topics which deserve the attention of great minded souls like yourselves will prove effective to destroy the evils of the world, just as the influence of the clouds and their propitious rains remove the heat of the sun.”
• • •
Chapter 17 — Description of Bhushunda
1 Vasishta said:— Now Rama, this Bhushunda, whose complexion was as black as a cloud heavy with water in the rainy season, had a face which was neither merry nor sorry and a mind free from deceit or cunning. 2 His voice was grave and mild and his words were accompanied by a gentle smile. He spoke of the three worlds as if he balanced three bel fruit in his hands. 3 He looked upon all things as if they were mere straws before him. He weighed the lives of men in proportion to their enjoyments and by the ratio of their rations on earth. He had the knowledge of what could be known and the unknowable One. 4 He was big bodied, grave and quiet, and calm as Mount Mandara. His mind was full and clear as the calm ocean after a storm. 5 His mind was perfectly tranquil and quite at ease, full of joy within itself. He was acquainted with the appearance and disappearance of all beings born in this world. 6 His face was delightful with his inner delight and his voice was as sweet as the melody of a sweet song. He seemed to have taken a new born form on himself, and his joyfulness dispelled the fears of men.
7 After he had respectfully received and approached me with his pure and sweet words, he began to tell me his own story, just as the rumbling of a rainy cloud delights the hearts of the thirsty world.
1 Bhushunda related:— In this world there is the god of gods, Hara (Shiva) by name, who is chief among the gods and honored by all the gods of heaven. 2 He had his consort Gauri (Parvati) who is the better half of his body and by whom he is embraced like an ivy clings to a young amra tree. Her bosom resembled a cluster of blooming blossoms and her eyes resembled the lines of black bees fluttering in the summer sky. 3 The hoary locks of hair Hara’s matted head were like white lace made by the snow-white stream of the Ganges, whose waves were like clusters of flowers on a hair-band. 4 The crown of his head was decorated with the shining milk-white disc of the crescent moon which sprung from the bosom of the Milky Ocean and spread her bright radiance and ambrosial dews about his body. 5 The constant flow of ambrosial nectar from the moon on his crest made him immortal by reducing the heat of the deadly poison which he swallowed. That poison marked his throat with the bluish color of sapphire or lapis lazuli, for which he is named blue-throated, Nilakantha.
6 The body of the god is smeared with ash symbolic of the dust to which the world was reduced by the flame of his all destructive fire. The stream of water flowing from the Ganges on his head is typical of the current of his clear knowledge of all things. 7 His body is decorated with strings of bleached bones far brighter than the silvery beams of the fair moon. These serve as necklaces of silver and pearly gems decorating his body. 8 His vest is the open sky with its plates of folded clouds washed by milk-white moonbeams and studded with the many colored spots of the stars.
9 He is surrounded by prowling jackals devouring burnt carcasses on funeral grounds. He lives beyond the habitations of men, in cemeteries and mortuaries in the outskirts of cities.
10 The god is accompanied by the Mother Goddesses, the Matrikas who are decorated with strings of human skulls about their necks and girt with the threads of entrails on their bodies. The fat and flesh of dead bodies and the blood and moisture of putrid carcasses form their delectable food and drink. 11 Their bodies are soft and shining like gold. They move about with sparkling gems on their heads and bracelets of snakes curled round their wrists.
12 The acts of this god Shiva are dreadful to relate and strike terror in hearts of gods and demons, and all others beings beside. One glance of his eye is enough to set mountains on fire and his hunger grasps the whole world in one morsel. 13 The perpetual rest of his meditative mind in holy samadhi trance has restored the world to rest, and the movement of his arms at intervals is attended with the destruction of demons. 14 His forms of the elements are intently bent on their fixed purposes without being deterred by the impulses of his anger, hatred or affection. The wind of his breath makes mountains tremble and turns the humid earth to arid ground. 15 His playmates are devils with their heads and faces resembling those of bears, camels, goats and serpents. They have heads for hoofs, hoofs as their hands, hands that serve as their teeth, and faces and mouths set in their bellies and breasts.
16 His face shone brightly with the rays of his three eyes, and the Matrikas were dependent on him as were his dependent demonic bands of deity attendants (ganadevata, the gods of categories).
17 The Mother Goddesses, together with bands of demons, dance about Shiva lowly at his bidding and feed upon living bodies born and dying in all fourteen regions of creation. 18 These Matrikas, having faces like asses and camels, passed at great distances from Shiva. They are fond of feeding on flesh and fat and drinking the red hot blood as their wine. They have fragments of dead bodies hanging around their bodies like strings of pearls.19 They live in the hollows of hills, in the open sky, and other regions also. They also dwell in holes under the ground, and they like to live in cemeteries and in the pores of human and brute bodies.
20 There are the goddesses known under the names of Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanti, Aparajita, Siddha Rakta and Alambusha, and another bearing the name of Utpata. 21 These eight are called the leaders of the whole body of Matrikas. The others are subordinate to these, and there are others again subordinate to them. 22 Among all these venerable Matrikas, there is one named Alambusha who is the source of my birth. I revealed this to you on account of your great favor to me, by your kind call to my cell.
23 She had the crow named Chanda for her vehicle, which had its bones and bills as strong as the bolts of Indra’s thunder. Chanda was as dark as a mountain of black blue agate. He served her goddess like Garuda served the consort of Vishnu.
24 Once this group of eight Matrika goddesses assembled and bent their course in the ethereal firmament on some of their malevolent purposes. 25 They made their merry makings and religious revels in the air, then turned their course to the left side where they halted at the shrine of Tumburu which was sacred to Shiva. 26 There they worshipped the forms of Tumburu and Bhairava, which are adored in all the worlds, then entertained themselves with a variety of discourses seasoned with drinking and singing. 27 They look up the topic, among other subjects of their conversation, whether they were slighted and disliked by their paramour (Shiva) who had given one half of his body to his spouse, Uma (Parvati). 28 “We shall now show him our prowess so that he may never think of despising our great powers even by a contemptuous look. For though the god feigns to be single and naked, yet we know he is divided in two parts with his consort Uma forming his better half.”
29 Thus determined, the goddesses overpowered Uma by one of their potent charms and by sprinkling a little water upon her, as they do to distract a beast about to be sacrificed before the alter. By this spell they succeeded changing the fine features of Durga (Parvati), and weakening her body. 30 By their power of enchantment, they managed to detach Uma from the body of Hara (Shiva) and bring her before them with an intent to curse her by converting her fair form to their own dark form.
31 There was great rejoicing on the day they cursed Parvati. All the Matrikas joined dancing and singing and making their giddy revelries before her. 32 The shouts of their great joy and loud laughter resounded in the sky, and the jumping and hopping of their big bodies laid open their backs and bellies to sight. 33 Some laughed so loudly with deafening claps of their hands that the sound rebounded in the sky like the roaring of lions and clouds. Their bodies moved in their warlike dances and the sound of their singing rang through the forests and reached the mountains, 34 sounding loudly echoing in mountain caves and running to the depth of the ocean which swelled with surges like the full moon tide. 35 Others drank their bowels and daubed their bodies from head to foot with liquor, muttering their drunken chatters that chattered in the sky.
36 They drank again and sang louder and louder. They spun around like tops, uttering and muttering like drunkards. They laughed and sipped and chopped and fell down and rolled and prattled aloud. Thus they reeled in fits and chewed pieces of their flesh meats until these drunken dancing goddesses did all their orgies in their giddy revels.
• • •
Chapter 19 — Bhushunda’s Birth with Twenty Brothers, Blessings of Brahmi, His Father’s Advice to Live in the Kalpa Tree on Mount Meru
1 Bhushunda continued:— While the goddesses were making merry, their attractive vehicles, their carrier birds, also caught the infection and indulged themselves in giddy jigs and giggles, drinking the red blood of their victims for liquor. 2 Giddy from their drink, the chattering swans that were fit vehicles for Brahma’s consorts danced and frolicked in the air in company with the crow Chanda, the vehicle of Alambusha. 3 Then as the swans darted down, dancing and drinking and chattering on the banks of streams, they felt impassioned and inflamed by lust, because the borders of waters excite desire. 4 The swans excited by their carnal desires dallied with that crow in their state of giddiness, which is often the cause of unnatural desires. 5 Thus that single crow, Chanda by name, mated with seven swans at once on that bank, one by one with everyone of them according to their desire. 6 The swans became pregnant after gratification of their lust, and the goddesses being satisfied by their merry dance became quiet and took rest.
7 Then these goddesses of great delusion went to their consort Shiva and presented his favorite Uma to him for his food. 8 The god bearing the crescent moon on his forehead and holding the trident in his hand, came to know that they had offered his beloved for his meat. He became highly enraged at the Mother Goddesses. 9 Then these Matrikas brought out parts of Uma’s body which they had swallowed in their bodies as their food and presented her entire for her remarriage with the moon-headed deity. 10 At last the god Hara and his consorts, being all reconciled to one another together with their dependents and vehicles, retired to their respective quarters with gladness of their minds.
11 Brahma’s swans, perceiving their pregnancy, returned to the presence of their goddess (Brahmi, the spouse of Brahma) and described what had happened, as I have, O chief of sages, already described to you. 12 On hearing their words, the goddess spoke kindly and said, “You my servants, cannot now be capable of bearing my car in the air as before. You must be allowed to move about at your pleasure until you have delivered of your burdens.” 13 After the kind goddess said these words to her swans who were ailing under the load of their unborn, she returned to her customary meditation and remained in her irreversible rest with the gladness of her mind.
14 The swans, big with the burden of their unborn, grazed in the lotus bed of Vishnu’s navel which had been the birth place of the great Brahma. 15 The swans matured in their pregnancy by feeding upon the lotus-like navel of Vishnu. They brought forth their tender eggs in time, as calm vines shoot out sprouts in the spring. 16 They laid twenty-one eggs in their proper time, which afterwards cracked apart like so many cosmic eggs in the lake located in Vishnu’s navel.
17 It was these eggs, O great sage, that gave birth to twenty-one brothers, all of whom are known under the name of the fraternity of Chanda crows. 18 Born in the lotus bed of Vishnu’s navel, we were fostered and brought up in that place until we were fledged and able to fly and flutter in the air. 19 Then we joined our mother swans in the service of our Matrika goddess, who after our long services unto her, was roused from her intense meditation at last.
20 Now sage, it was in course of time that goddess Brahmi, inclined of her own wish to please, received us into her good graces and favored us with the gift (of foresight), whereby we are quite liberated in this life. 21 We thought of remaining in peace and in the tranquility of our minds. Being determined to take ourselves to solitary contemplation, we went to our father, the old crow Chanda, for his advice. 22 We were received by our father’s embraces and favored with the presence of his goddess Alumbusha. They looked on us with kindness and allowed us to remain near them with our self-restricted conduct.
23 Chanda said, “O my darlings! Have you obtained your release from weaving the web of your desires? You are then set free from the snare of this world which binds fast all beings in it. 24 If not so, then I will pray to my goddess, who is always generous to her devotees, to confer on you the blessing of complete knowledge.”
25 The crows replied, “O sir, we have known whatever is knowable by the good grace of the goddess Brahmi. Now we seek only a good solitary place for the sake of undisturbed meditation.”
26 Chanda returned. “I will point it out to you. It is in the high mountain of Meru in the polar region, which is the seat of all the celestials and the great receptacle of all the treasures and gems on earth. 27 This mountain stands like a lofty pillar of gold in the middle of the great dome of the universe. It is lit by the luminous orbs of the sun and moon as its two lamps, and it is the home of all kinds of animals. 28 This lofty mountain stands like the lifted arm of this orb of the earth, its shining peaks and heights resembling its fingers and their jewels and having moonbeams as a golden canopy raised over its head and the main islands for its bracelets.”
29 “Mount Meru is situated as the sole monarch in the middle of Asia. It is surrounded on all sides by boundary mountains as its chieftains. With its two eyeballs, the rolling sun and moon, it glances over the surrounding hillocks like a king seated in the center looking upon his courtiers sitting around him. 30 Clusters of stars in the sky hang like wreaths of malati flowers around his neck. The bright moon that leads the retinue of stars forms the crowning jewel over its head. The sky on ten sides girds it as its vest, and the naagas of both kinds are the guards at its gates. 31 The apsaras of heaven are employed fanning it with breezes from all quarters, flapping their fly-whisk fans of passing clouds, their hands decorated with the many colors of heaven as their ornaments. 32 Its huge body is stretched over a huge distance, and its feet are rooted fast many fathoms underneath the earth where they worshipped by naagas, asuras and large serpents.”
33 “It has thousands of ridges and steeps, crags and cliffs below its two eyes of sun and moon. These are praised as celestial regions by the gods, gandharvas and kinnaras who inhabit them. 34 There are fourteen kinds of superior beings inhabiting the supernatural world of this mountain. These dwell there with their households and relatives in their respective circles without ever seeing the others’ cities.”
35 “On the northeast corner of this mountain there is a large ridge with its shining summit rising as high and bright as the shining sun. 36 There stands a large wish-fulfilling kalpa tree on the outside of that ridge. This tree is peopled with living beings of various kinds and presents a picture of a whole world in miniature. 37 The southern stem of this tree has a protruding branch with golden leaves. Its blossoms bloom like clusters of brilliant gems. Its fruit are bright and luscious to view, like the bright and cooling orb of the moon.”
38 “Formerly I had built my nest on that branch and decorated it with all sorts of shining gems. There it was, O my children, that I played and enjoyed myself while my goddess sat in meditation. 39 My nest was hidden under shining flowers and stored with luscious fruits. Its door was fastened with bolts of precious gems. 40 It was full of young crows who knew how to behave properly with one another. Its inside was scattered with flowers and was cooling at all times and seasons. 41 Therefore, my children, go to that nest which is inaccessible even to the gods. By remaining there, you will obtain both your livelihood and liberation without any molestation.”
42 Saying so, our father kissed and embraced everyone of us and presented us with meat food he had received from his goddess. 43 After taking our meal, we prostrated ourselves at the feet of our father and his goddess, then flew in the air from the Vindhyan range which is sacred to the goddess Alumbusha. 44 We passed over the nether sky, entered the region of the clouds, then coming out of their hollow caves, we flew on the wings of winds to the empty void of the ethereal gods to whom we paid our homage. 45Having passed the solar world, we arrived at another sphere of the fixed stars above where we saw the heaven of the immortals. From there we reached the highest heaven of Brahma.
46 There we bowed down to the goddess Brahmi and our mother (the swan) which was her vehicle, and described in detail what our father had told us to do. 47 They endeared and embraced us with kind affection, then bade us to do as we were bid by our father. At this we bowed down to them, then departed from the seat of Brahma.
48 We directed our flight to Meru where we found this kalpa tree and our appointed nest. Here, apart and remote from all, we hold our silence in all matters. 49 We passed the region of the rulers of the skies which shone to a great distance with the blaze of solar rays. We fled through empty air with the speed of winds.
50 I have told you in length in answer to your question regarding the manner of our birth and how we are settled in this place. I have also told you how we came to the knowledge of truth, whereby we have come to this state of undisturbed peace and tranquility. Now bid us, O great sage, what more can I say to satisfy your curiosity about me?
• • •
Chapter 20 — Bhushunda’s Survival of the Ends of Ages
1 Bhushunda continued:— This world has existed in the previous kalpa in the very same state as it does at present. There is no variation in the formation or location of anything in any way. 2 Therefore, O great sage, I am accustomed to look to the past and present with an equal eye. I will relate the events of my past life and bygone ages for your information as if they exist with me even now. 3 Today, O great sage, I find the fruits of my past lives’ pious acts have rewarded me with your blessed presence in this, my humble cell. 4 My nest, this tree branch, this kalpa tree, and I myself are all blessed by your propitious presence in this place. 5 Sage, consider to accept of this seat and this gift offered to you by a suppliant bird. Having purified us by your kind acceptance of our poor offerings, please command what other service we can render to you.
6 Vasishta said:— Rama, after Bhushunda had again presented the seat and gift to me, I offered another request to him in these words. 7 I said, “Tell me, O senior among birds, why don’t I see your brothers here? They must be equally old and strong in their bodies and intellects as you show yourself to be.”
8 Bhushunda answered and said:— I am destined to remain here alone, O muni, to witness the continuous course of time and to count and recount the revolutions of ages as they reckon the succession of days and nights. 9 During this length of time, I had the misfortune to witness all my younger brothers give up their mortal frames as trifling straw and find their rest in the blessed state.
10 O great sage, I have seen the very long lived, the very great indignant, the very strong, and very wise all be gorged in the unconscious bowels of bodiless death.
11 Vasishta said, “Say, O venerable father, how did you remain unmolested by the world-ending flood, the great storm which outstripped the winds in its velocity and bore the great bodies of the sun, moon and stars like jewels hanging about its neck. 12 Say, O primeval seer, how did you escape unscathed by the burning flame of solar rays which melted mountains and consumed forests in one all-devouring conflagration.
13 O venerable sage, how did you remain unfrozen under cold moonbeams that froze clear water into hard stone? How did you flee unhurt from the showers of hail which poured in profusion from great flood clouds? 14 Tell me, O ancient bird, why were you not crushed under snow that fell from flood clouds as thickly as huge trees felled by axes from the tops of high hills. 15 Say, why this kalpa tree, which rises higher than all other forests, was not broken down when all other trees on earth were leveled to the ground by the universal tornado?
16 Bhushunda replied:— O brahmin, my station in the open and empty air is quite unsupported, without any solid or fixed support. It is either unnoticed or looked upon with disregard and contempt by all. My living and livelihood are the most despicable among all living beings. 17 Thus has the Lord of beings appointed these aerial beings to remain free from disease and death in these forests, or fly about in empty air in their aerial course. 18 O venerable sage, then how can any sorrow or sickness befall us here? We are born to be immortal and rove freely in open air. We are free from those pains and sorrows which take the birds bound in traps of their own desires, hopes and fears.
19 Sage, I have always placed my reliance on the peace and contentment of my soul. I never allow myself to fall into the error of taking the unsubstantial for substantial. 20 I am quite content with what simple nature requires and affords. I am entirely free from those cares and endeavors that are attended with pain. I live only to pass my time in this, my lonely lodging. 21 I neither wish to entirely wallow in my bodily enjoyments nor desire death to avoid the retribution of my acts. I live as long as I have to live and will die when death comes upon me.
22 I have seen the changeful states of mankind, witnessed many examples of the changing fortunes of human affairs, and thereby have banished all sorts of restlessness from my body and mind. 23 By the constant light of my internal spirit, I am kept from the sight of all sorrow and grief. From my seat on the height of this kalpa tree, I clearly see the course of the world and the changes of time. 24 Though the changes of days and nights are not visible on the high heights of our heavenly mountain, yet I am not ignorant of the changing fortunes of the times and events in the solar and lunar worlds rolling constantly below us. 25 Though my home in the cell of this kalpa tree is always illuminated by the light of gems inlaid in it, yet I can know the course of time by the respirations of my breath, which like a chronometer informs me of the regular course of time.
26 Knowing what is real from all that is unreal, I have refrained from pursuing unrealities and settled in my knowledge of the true reality. By forsaking its natural unsteadiness, my mind is practiced to rest at all times in its perfect peace and tranquility. 27 I am not led to the snare of false worldly affairs, nor frightened like earthly crows in our yearning after food by the hissings of men. 28 By the serene light of the supreme joy of our souls and by the virtue of the unalterable patience of my mind, I look into the errors and delusions of the world without falling in them myself.
29 Great sage, know that our minds remain calm even under the shock of those dangers and perils which ruffle the tempers and understandings of ordinary people, just as pure crystal remains unstained by the blackest colors that surround it. 30 The course of the world appears very smooth and pleasant upon first glance, but as one goes on in it and upon mature consideration, it proves to be frail, unsteady and false. 31 Thus all living beings are seen to pass away. Whether they return here again or not, nobody can tell. Then what is it that we must fear?
32 As the course of streams runs continually to the ocean, so the progress of life tends constantly to the depth of eternity. But I, who stands on the border of the great ocean of eternity, have escaped from being carried away by the current of time. 33 I neither cling to my life nor fling it away, but bear it as well as I may. I remain like airy orchids, lightly touching and unattached to their supporting tree.
34 Moreover, the good of the best sort of men who are beyond the reach of fear, sorrow and pain, like yourself, has set us free from all sorts of malady. 35 From the examples of such persons, my mind has become cold and unconcerned about the affairs of busy life. It is employed only in scanning truth and the true nature of things. 36 My soul find its rest in its unchangeable and unperturbed state. It has the fullness of its light and delight, just as the sea has its floodtide at the rising of the full moon upon its bosom.
37 Sage, I am as highly pleased at your presence here at this time as the Milky Ocean overflowed when it was churned by Mandara Mountain. 38 Sage, I do not account anything as more precious and more favorable than holy saints who have nothing to desire should take pains to pay their kind visit to my humble cell. 39 What do we gain from our enjoyments that are pleasant for the time being, then lose their zest the next moment? Only the company of the great and good gives the best gifts like the philosopher’s stone. 40You sage, who is cool and grave in your nature, and soft, sweet and slow in your speech, are like the beneficent bee that sits and sips the juice from the flowers in the three worlds and converts it into the sweet balm of honey. 41 I think, O spiritual sage, that all my sins are removed at your blessed sight. The tree of my life is blessed with its best fruit of spiritual bliss which results from the society of the virtuous whose taste removes all diseases and dangers.
• • •
Chapter 21 — Explanation of Bushunda’s Longevity; His Memories of the Past
1 Bhushunda continued:— This kalpa tree where we live remains firm and unshaken amidst the revolutions of ages and the blasts of all destroying cyclones and hurricanes. 2This tree of desire is inaccessible to other people dwelling in all worlds. Therefore we reside here in perfect peace and delight without disturbance of any kind.
3 When Hiranyakha, the gigantic demon of the antediluvian race, strove to hurl this earth with all its seven continents into the lowest abyss, even then did this tree remain firm on its roots on the summit of this mountain. 4 When the mountainous home of the gods trembled with all other mountains of this earth, even then this tree remained unshaken on its firm basis. 5 When Narayana held the seat of the gods with two of his arms and lifted Mandara Mountain with the other two, even then this tree remained unshaken.
6 When the sun and the moon shook with fear at the tremendous warfare between gods and demons, and the whole earth was in a state of commotion and confusion, even then this tree stood firmly on its root. 7 When mountains were uprooted by hailstorms blowing with tremendous violence, sweeping away the huge forest trees of this Mount Meru, even then this tree was unshaken by the blast. 8 When Mount Mandara rolled into the Milky Ocean and gusts of wind filling its caves bore it afloat on the surface of the water, and great masses of flood clouds rolled about in the dome of heaven, even then this tree remained steadfast as a rock.
9 When this Mount Meru was under the grasp of Kalanemi who was going to crush it by his gigantic might, even then this tree remained steady on its roots. 10 When the spiritual masters were blown away by the flapping wings of Garuda, the king of birds, in their warfare with each other for this ambrosial food, even then this remained unmoved by the wind. 11 When the snake that upholds the earth was attacked by Rudra in the form of Garuda, who shook the world by the blast of his wings, even then this tree was unshaken by the wind. 12 When the flame of the last conflagration threatened to consume the world with its seas and mountains, and made the snake which supported the earth on his hoods throw out living fire from all his many mouths, even then this tree was neither shaken nor burnt down by the gorgeous and all-devouring fire.
13 Such being the stability of this tree, O sage, there is no danger that can take us here, just as there is no evil that can ever befall the inhabitants of heaven. How can I, O great sage, ever be exposed to any danger when I am situated in this tree which defies all casualties? I am out of all fear and danger as those who are situated in heaven.
14 Vasishta replied, “But tell me, O sagely bird who has borne the blasts of dissolution, how could you remain unhurt and unimpaired when many suns, moons and stars have fallen and faded away?”
15 Bhushunda said:— The order of the world and the laws of nature are broken and dissolved at the end of a kalpa period. Then I am compelled to forsake our nest as an ungrateful man alienates his best friend. 16 Then I remain in the air freed from my fancies, the members of the body become defunct of their natural functions, and the mind is released from its acts of willing. 17 When the zodiacal suns shine in their full vigor and melt down the mountains by their intense heat, I remain with my understanding under the influence of the power of the Varuna mantra. 18 When the doomsday flood winds blow with full force, shattering and scattering huge mountains everywhere, then by remembering the Parvati mantra I remain as fixed as a rock. 19 When the earth with its mountains is dissolved in water and presents the face of a universal ocean over its surface, then by virtue of the flying power of the Vayu mantra I keep myself aloft in the air.
20 Then I convey myself across this visible world and rest in the holy state of the spotless spirit. I remain in a state of profound sleep without any agitation of body or mind. 21 I remain in this mentally tranquil state until the lotus-born Brahma is again employed in his work of creation. Then I reenter into the limits of the re-created world, where I again settle on this tree of desire.
22 Vasishta said, “Tell me, O lord of birds, why don’t other yogis remain as steady as you by the fixed attention of your dhyana meditation?”
23 Bhushunda replied:— O venerable sage, the inseparable and overruling power of destiny that nobody can prevent or set aside dooms me to live this way, as it does others in their own particular modes of life. 24 None can oppose or remodel what must come to pass on him. It is nature’s law that all things must be as they are ordained to be. 25 Because of my firm desire things are so fixed and allotted to my share that they must so come to pass as my fate at each kalpa and over again, that this tree must grow on the summit of this mountain, and that I must have my nest in its hollow.
26 Vasishta said, “Sage, you are as long-lived as our salvation is lasting. You are able to guide us in the paths of truth because you are wise in true wisdom and calm in your purpose of yoga of deep meditation. 27 Sage, you have seen the many changes of the world, and have been experienced in all things in the repeated course of creations. You must be best able to tell me the wonders that you have witnessed during the revolution of ages.”
28 Bhushunda replied:— O great sage, I remember that the earth beneath this Mount Meru was once a desolate land without a hill, rock, trees, plants or even grass upon it. 29 I also remember the earth under me was full of ashes for a period of numberless centuries of years. 30 I remember a time when the lord of day, the sun, was unproduced, when the moon was not yet known, and when the earth under me was not divided by day and light but was lit by the light of this Mount Meru. 31 I remember this mountain throwing the light of its gems on one side of the valley below and leaving the other in utter darkness. It resembled Lokaloka Mount presenting its light and dark side to people on either side of the horizon.
32 I remember seeing war between gods and demons and the flight and slaughter of people on all sides of the earth. 33 I remember witnessing the revolution of the four yuga ages of the world, and the revolt of the haughty and giddy asuras all along. I also have seen Daitya demons driven back to the wall. 34 I remember the spot of the earth carried beyond the boundaries of the universal flood, and I recollect how the cottage of this world had only the uncreated three (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) left in it. 35 I remember seeing no other creature on earth except plants for the long duration of half of the four yuga ages. 36 I also remember this earth full of mountains for the space of four full yugas when there were no men on earth and their customs and usages had no ground in it.
37 I remember seeing this earth filled with the bones of dead Daityas and other fossil remains rising in heaps like mountains and continuing in their dilapidated and crumbling state for myriads of years. 38 I remember the formless state of the world when darkness prevailed over the face of the deep, when the serpentine support of the earth fled for fear, the celestials left their ethereal courses, and the sky presented neither a bird or a tree top. 39 I remember the time when the northern and southern divisions (of India), were both included under the one boundary mountain (of Himalaya). I remember also when the proud Vindhya Hills contended as equals with the great Mount Meru.
40 I remember these and many other events which will be too long to relate. But what is the use of long narrations if you listen to me describing the main substance in brief?
41 I have seen innumerable munis and primogenitors (manvantaras) pass away before me. I have known hundreds of the quadruple yugas glide away, one after the other, all of which were full of great deeds and events but which are now buried in oblivion.
42 I remember the creation in this world of one sole body named Virat, when the world was entirely devoid of men and asuras.
43 I remember that age of the world when brahmins were addicted to wine and drunkenness, when the shudras (the lowest caste) were cast out by the suras (gods), and when women had the privilege of marrying many men, 44 when the surface of the earth was one great sheet of water entirely devoid of any vegetation, and when men were produced without men knowing women. 45 I remember that age of the world when it was a void. There was no earth or sky or any of their inhabitants. No men and no mountains were in existence, nor were there the sun and moon to divide the days and nights.
46 I remember the sphere of heaven shrouded under a sheet of darkness when there was no Indra or other king to rule in heaven or earth, which had not yet its high and low and middle classes of men. 47 It was after that when Brahma thought of creating the worlds and divided them into the three spheres of upper, lower and intermediate regions. Then he settled the boundary mountains and distinguished Asia from the rest. 48 Then the earth was not divided into different countries and provinces, nor were there distinctions of caste and creed or institutions for the various orders of its people. Then there was no name for the starry frame or any name for the polar star or its circle. 49 It was then that the sun and moon had their birth and the gods Indra and Upendra had their dominions. After this occurred the slaughter of Hiranyakashipu and the restoration of the earth by the great Varaha, the boar-like incarnation of Vishnu.
50 Then there was the establishment of kings over the peoples on earth and the revelation of the Vedas given to mankind. After this Mandara Mountain was uprooted from the earth and the ocean was churned by the gods and giant races of men. 51 I have seen the birth of the garuda bird of heaven that bore Vishnu on his back. I have seen the seas breaking in bays and gulfs. I remember all these events as if they were the latest occurrences in the course of the world, like the memories of my youngsters and yourself likewise.52 In former ages I have known the god Vishnu with his vehicle of garuda to have become Brahma with his vehicle of the swan, and the same transformed to Shiva having the bull for his vehicle, and vice-versa.
• • •
Chapter 22 — Further Memories of Past Ages, Gods and Scriptures
1 Bhushunda continued:— Moreover sage, I will tell you many other things that I remember occurred in the course of the world in bygone times. I remember the births of the seers Bharadwaja, Pulasta, Atri, Narada, Indra, the Marichis and you also. 2 I bear in my mind the venerable Pulaha, Uddalaka, Kratu, Bhrigu, Angiras, Sanatkumara, Bhringi, Ganesha, Skanda and others in their retinue who were known as the Master Rishis of yore. 3 I retain the memory of Gauri, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Gayatri and many more who are reckoned as the female personifications of divine attributes. I have seen the mountains Meru, Mandara, Kailash, Himalayas and the Dardura hills. 4 I carry in my memory the exploits of the demons Hiranyaksha, Kalanimi, Hayagriva, Hiranyakashipu, Vati and Prahlada and many others of the Danava and other demonic races. 5 I keep in my mind the memories of the renowned Sibi, Nyanku, Prithu, Vainya, Nala, Nabhaga, Mandhata, Sagara, Dilipa and Nahusa, kings of men and rulers of earth. 6 I know by heart the names of Atriya, Vyasa, Valmiki, Sukadeva, Vatsyayana and other sages, and the names of Upamanyu, Manimanki, Bhagiratha and other pious princes of old.
7 So there are many things of remote past times, and others of later ages, and some relating to the present time, all of which are imprinted in the memory. It is needless to recount them over again.
8 O sagely son of Brahma, I remember your eight births in the eight different epochs of the world. This is your eighth birth in which you have come as a guest to my nest. 9 At one time you were born of air, and at another of heavenly fire. One time you were produced from water, and at others from emptiness and of solid rock.
10 The constitution of created bodies conforms us to the nature of the principle elements of which they are formed. The positions of heavenly bodies have a great influence on their production. I have witnessed three such formations of the world composed of fiery, watery and earthly substances at different times. 11 I remember ten repeated creations in which the usages of people were uniform and alike and the gods were settled in their homes. They were contemporary with the asuras whom they braved in battle and were located in their homestead. 12 I saw the earth sinking five times under, and lifted up as many times from the ocean by the divine Kurma Manvantara, the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of the tortoise.
13 Twelve times I have witnessed the great battle of gods and demigods, uprooting and uplifting Mandara Mountain to churn out the last ambrosia from underneath the ocean. 14 Thrice I have seen the tyrant Hiranyaksha levy his tax upon the gods in heaven, hurling the fruitful earth with all her healing and medicinal plants underneath the ocean.15 I saw Hari (Vishnu) come down six times in the shape of Renuka’s son, Parashurama, and remove the kshatriya warrior caste for very long periods. 16 O sage, I remember the return of a hundred Kali Yuga ages and a hundred incarnations of Hari in the form of Buddha and as the son of royal Suka or Suddhadana in the land of Kirata.
17 I bear in my memory the overthrow of the demon Tripura by Shiva thirty times, and the disruption of King Daksha’s yagna more than once by the angry Hara (Shiva). I recall the downfall of ten Indras by the offending god who bears the crescent moon on his forehead. 18 I recollect the battle fought eight times between Hari and Hara, and the first appearance of Vishnu and Shiva, and the cold typhoid fevers in these conflicts.
19 I remember, O silent sage, the difference in the intellects of men at every succeeding age and the various readings of Vedas at the ceremonial observances of mankind. 20 O sinless saint, the Puranas, though they agree in the main substance, are so full of interpolations that they have been greatly multiplied in successive ages. 21 I remember also many historical works composed in succeeding ages by authors learned in the Vedas.
22 I remember the wonderful composition of legendary accounts under the title of the Maharamayana, a work comprising one hundred thousand couplets (slokas) full of sound wisdom. 23 This work presents the conduct of Rama for the imitation of men and sets the misbehavior of Ravana as an example for the reproach of mankind. This teaching contains the essence of all wisdom and serves as the luscious fruit of the tree of knowledge placed in the hands of all people. 24 This work is composed by Valmiki, who in time will compose some others also. These you will come to know when they are presented to the world in time. 25 This work, whether it is a composition of Valmiki or of some other person, has been published twelve times and is now going to be almost forgotten by men.
26 The other work of similar importance is known under the name of Mahabharata. I remember it was first written by Vyasa, but it is becoming obsolete at present. 27 Whether it is the composition of a person known by the name of Vyasa or a compilation of some other person, up to this time it has undergone its seventh edition and is now quickly being forgotten.
28 I remember also, O chief of sages, many tales and novels and other scriptures composed in every age and yuga which have been written in a variety of styles and diction. 29O good sage, I also remember having seen many new productions and inventions following one another in succeeding ages. It is impossible to enumerate this innumerable series of things.
30 I remember Lord Vishnu descending many times on earth to destroy ferocious rakshasa demons, and is now to appear here the eleventh time under the name of Rama. 31 I know Lord Hari (Vishnu) has come down three times in his form of the half lion half man Narasimha to thrash the demon Hiranyakashipu as many times like a lion killing an elephant. 32 Vishnu is yet to be born in his sixteenth incarnation at Vasudeva’s abode for the purpose of rescuing the earth from the burden of the oppression of its tyrant lords and despots.
33 This cosmic phenomenon is no reality, nor it is even in existence. It is only a temporary illusion. It appears like a bubble of water to disappear in the next moment. 34 This temporary illusion of phenomena rises and sets of its own accord in the conscious soul, just as boisterous waves rise and subside of themselves in the bosom of waters.
35 I have known the world to be sometimes uniform in its course and in its state of things. At others, there is a partial difference in their nature and order. At other times also, I observed total change take place in the constitution of things. 36 I remember the former nature and state of things, and the manner and actions of former people and the customs of those times. I saw them give room to others in their turn, and those again to be displaced by others.
37 O brahmin, every revolution of time (manvantara) is attended with a reversion in the course of the world. A new generation is born to supplant the old men of renown. 38Then I have a new set of friends and a new retinue of relatives. I get a new batch of servants and a new house for my dwelling.
39 Sometimes I had to remain in my solitary retreat by the side of the Vindhya range, and sometimes on the ridge of Sahya Mountain. At other times I had my residence on the Dardura Hills, so my lodging is ever shifting from one place to another and never fixed in any spot forever. 40 I often have been a resident of the Himalayas, of Malaya Mountain in the south of India, then led by destiny, as I described before, I found my last abode on this Mount Meru. 41 By getting to it, I built my nest on the branch of a mango tree and continued to live there, O chief of the munis, for ages and time without end.
42 It is by my pristine destiny that this tree has grown here for my residence. Therefore, O sage, I can have no release from my body to come to my desirable end. 43 By appointment of predestination, the same tree has grown here in the form of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree. It preserves its beauty even now as it did when my father Chanda was living.
44 Being thus preordained by destiny, I settled in this place when there was no distinction of the quarters of heaven as north or east, nor of the sky or mountain. 45 Then the north was on another side and this Meru was in another place. I was then one and alone, devoid of any form or body and bright as the essence which is never shrouded by the darkness of night. 46 After awaking from the unconsciousness of my trance, I saw and recognized all the objects of creation. I knew the locations of Meru and other hills and valleys from the positions of the stars and the motions of heavenly bodies. 47 The site of the polar circle of Meru and the course of the planets being changed in different creations, there follows an alteration of the points of the compass and a difference in the sides of the quarters. Therefore there is nothing as a positive truth except our conception of it as such and such.
48 The vibration of the soul displays these wonderful conceptions in the mind and excites the various phenomena in nature. It converts a son to a father and makes a son of the father. It represents friend as foe and again shows a foe in the light of a friend. 49 I remember many men became effeminate and many women grew quite masculine. I have seen the good manners of the Satya golden age prevail in the Kali Yuga iron age, and those of Kali gaining ground in its preceding ages. 50 I also have seen many men in the Treta and Dwapara Yugas ages of the world who were ignorant of the Vedas and unacquainted with their precepts. They followed the fictions of their own invention which led them to heterodoxy.
51 I also remember, O brahmin, the laxity of manners and morals among the gods, demigods and men since the beginning of the world. 52 I remember, after the lapse of a thousand cycles of the four yuga ages, that Brahma created from his mind some aerial beings of unearthly forms. These spiritual beings occupied a space extending over ten cycles of creations. 53 I remember likewise the varying positions and boundaries of countries, and also the very changing and diverse actions and occupations of their people. I remember too the various costumes and fashions and amusements of men during the ceaseless course of days and nights in the endless duration of time.
• • •
Chapter 23 — Bhushunda’s Fate to Survive Creations; Nothing Is as Precious as Knowing the Soul
1 Vasishta replied:— I then besought the chief of the crows, sitting on one end of a branch of the kalpa tree, to tell me how he avoided falling into the hands of death when all other animals moving about the expanse of the world are doomed to be crushed under its all-devouring jaws.
2 Bhushunda replied:— Sage, you know all things. Yet you would ask me to say what you know full well. Such bidding of my master emboldens your servant to speak out where he should otherwise hold his tongue. 3 Yet when you desire me to tell, I must do it as well as I can because it is considered the duty of a dependant to carry out the commands of their kind masters.
4 Death will not demolish the man who does not wear the pearl necklace of vicious desires on his chest, just as a robber does not kill a traveler who does not have the destructive chain of gold hanging on his breast. 5 Death will not destroy the man whose heart is not broken down by sorrows, whose breast is not sawed like timber by the friction of his sighs, and whose body is not ruined by toil like a tree by worms.
6 Death will not overtake the man whose body is not beset by cares, like a tree with poisonous snakes lifting their hoods above its head, and whose heart is not burnt by its anxieties, like wood by fire. 7 Death will not prey upon the person who is not weakened by the poison of anger and hatred, whose heart cave does not foster the serpent of greed in its darkness, and whose heart is not corroded by the sores of cares.
8 He is not carried away by the cruel hand of death whose body is not already fried by the fire of his resentment, which like the hidden heat of an undersea fire, sucks up the waters of reason in the reservoir of the mind. 9 Death will not kill the person whose body is not inflamed by the fiery passion of love, which like a wildfire consumes the hoarded grain of good sense, and like a pair of sharp scissors snips the heart strings of reason. 10 Death does not approach the man who puts his trust in the one pure and purifying spirit of God, and who has the rest of his soul in the refuge of the Supreme Soul. 11 Death does not lay hold of the person who is firm and calm in the same posture, who does not wander like a monkey from one tree to another, and whose mind is a foreign to unsteadiness.
12 Thus, when the mind is settled in the unalterable state of calm repose in its Maker, it is impossible for the evils and diseases of this world to overtake it at anytime. 13 The fixed and tranquil mind is never overtaken by the sorrows and diseases of the world, nor is it liable to fall into the errors and dangers that befall the restless mob here below. 14 The well composed mind has neither its rising nor setting, nor its recollection or forgetfulness at anytime or other. It has no sleeping or waking state, but has its heavenly revelry which is quite different from dreaming. 15 Distressing thoughts that take their rise from weakened desire and feelings of resentment and other passions, darkening the region of the heart and mind, can never disturb the serenity of those souls who have their repose in the Supreme Spirit. 16 He whose mind is absorbed in holy meditation neither gives away nor receives anything from others, nor does he seek or forsake whatever he has or has not at anytime. He does his duties always by rote as he ought without expectation of reward or merit. 17 He whose mind has found its repose in holy meditation has no cause to repent of any misdeed for his gain or pleasure at anytime. 18 He whose mind has met with the grace of God has enough gain, an excess of delight, and a good deal of every good.
19 Therefore employ your mind to what brings your ultimate good and lasting welfare, in which there is nothing of doubt or difficulty and which is exempt from false expectation. 20 Exalt your mind above the multiplicity of worldly possessions which the impure and unseen demon of evil presents to allure your heart. Settle your mind in the unity of God. 21 Set your heart to that supreme joy which is pleasant both in the beginning and end, delectable to taste, pleasant to sight, sweet to taste, and wholesome in its effect. 22 Fix your mind to what is sought by all good and godly people, which is the eternal truth and the best diet of the soul, from its beginning and during its course in the middle and end and throughout its immortality. 23 Apply your mind to what is beyond your comprehension, the holy light that is the root and source of all in which is all our best fortune and the ambrosial food for our souls.
24 There is nothing more permanent or auspicious among immortals or mortals, or among the gods, demigods, asuras, gandharvas, kinnaras and vidyadharas, or among the heavenly apsara nymphs, than the spiritual bliss of the soul. 25 There is nothing so very graceful or lasting to be found in cities and mountains, in the vegetable creation, among mankind and their kings, or anywhere in earth or heaven as this spiritual joy. 26 There is nothing steady or graceful among the naaga snake or asura demon races and their females, or in the entire infernal region. 27 There is nothing so lovely and lasting in the regions above, below, all around us, and in the spheres of all other worlds as lasting peace of mind. 28 There is nothing blissful or persistent in this world amidst all its sorrows, sicknesses and troubles which encompass all about. All our actions are for trivial matters and all our gains are only trifles at best. 29 There is nothing of any lasting good in all those thoughts that occupy the minds of men and gladden their hearts, and which serve at best to delude the wise to become unsteady in their spirits. 30 No permanent good is derived from the ever busy thoughts and desires of mankind, which at best tend to trouble their minds, as when the gods and demons used Mandara Mountain to disturb the waters of the deep. 31 No lasting good results to anybody from his continuous, various efforts to bring his gain and loss at the edge of the sword. 32 Sovereignty over the whole earth is not so great a boon, nor is one’s elevation to the rank of a god in heaven so great a blessing, nor even the exaltation of one to the position of the world supporting serpent is as great a gain as the sweet peace of mind of the good.
33 It is of no good to trouble the mind with its attention to all the branches of learning, nor is it of any advantage to employ one’s wits and enslave his mind to the service of another. It is of no use to anybody to learn the histories of other people when he is ignorant of himself and his own welfare. 34 It is of no good to live long under the trouble of disease and the sorrow of life. Life and death, learning and ignorance, heaven and hell give no advantage or disadvantage to anybody until there is an end of his desires within himself.
35 Thus these various states of the world and all worldly things may freely appear to the ignorant vulgar, but they afford no pleasure to the learned who knows their instability.
• • •
Chapter 24 — Bhushunda Describes Vital Air as the Living Principle
1 Bhushunda continued:— All things in the view of the wise being unstable, unprofitable and unpleasant to man, there is only one reality which is beyond all error and imperishable, which though present in all things and all places transcends the knowledge of all. 2 This essence is the Soul or Self and meditation on it removes all sorrow and affliction. It is also the destroyer of the false vision of the world which has affected every man and biased his understanding by long habit of thinking this phantom of his dream to be a sober reality.
3 Spiritual contemplation dawns in the clear atmosphere of an unpolluted mind and traverses the entire mind like sunlight destroying the darkness of all sorrows and false thoughts. 4 Divine meditation, unaccompanied by any desire or selfish view, penetrates like moonbeams through the darkness of the night of ignorance. 5 This spiritual light is easily obtainable by sages like you, and too difficult to be retained by brutes like ourselves. Because it is beyond all imaginable resemblance, it is known by the spiritual sages as the transcendent light.
6 How can a man of common understanding come to know the clear understanding of the meditative sage? 7 There is a little resemblance between this spiritual light and the intellectual light of philosophers, whose minds are enlightened by the cooling moonbeams of philosophy, just as the minds of inspired saints are illuminated with spiritual light. 8Among the associates of spiritual knowledge, there is one particularly friendly to me which alleviates all my sorrows and advances my prosperity, and thus relates to the investigation of the vital breath which is the cause of life.
9 Vasishta said:— After speaking in this manner the sagely bird Bhushunda held his silence. I calmly spoke and asked my question by way of amusement, though I was full well acquainted with the subject. 10 I addressed him saying, “O you long living bird and remover of all my doubts, tell me truly, my good friend, what you mean by meditation of the vital breath?”
11 Bhushunda replied:— Sage, you are learned in the knowledge of Vedanta with sure answers for all questions about spiritual science. You are now joking with me, asking this question of me who is only a brute bird and an ignorant crow. 12 Or perhaps you may be testing my shallow knowledge of the subject with an idea to instruct me where my knowledge is imperfect. Either way, I have no objection.
13 Listen as I tell you something related to meditation on vital breath, which is the cause of my longevity and the giver of my spiritual knowledge. 14 Sage, this beautiful fabric of the body, supported upon the three strong pillars of the three humors and having nine doorways about it, 15 is the home of its owner, the haughty householder (egoism) who always dwells in it with his favorite consort, the subtle body (puryashtaka) and his dependants, the five subtle forms of matter (tanmatras). 16 You well know the inside of this house, so I need not describe it. Its two ears are like its two upper story rooms. The two eyes are as its two windows, and the hairs on the head are like its thatched covering on the top of the house. 17 The opening of the mouth is the great doorway to the house. The two arms are like its two wings. The two sets of teeth are like strings of flowers hung on the gateway for decoration.18 The organs of sense are the porters to this house, conveying sights, sounds, flavors and feelings to it. These are enclosed by the great wall of the body, and the two eyes keep watch on the tower of this edifice. 19 The blood, fat and flesh form the plaster of this wall, and the veins and arteries are the strings that bind the bamboo bones together. The thick bones are the big posts that uphold this fabric.
20 There are two tender nerves, the energy channels (nadis) called ida and pingala, which lie and stretch along the two sides of this building. 21 There are three pairs of lotus-like organs formed of soft flesh and bones, and these stretch up and down vertically in the body, attached to one stalk-like artery connecting them with one another.
22 The ethereal air inhaled through the nostrils supplies these lotus-form organs with moisture, like water poured on their roots, making them shoot out in soft leaflets that shake gently with the breath of air passing constantly through the lungs and nostrils. 23 The shaking leaves agitate the vital energy like moving leaves of the trees in a forest increase the force of air currents in the sky. 24 The inflated vital energy then passes in many ways through holes in the entrails inside the body, and extends and fills all the pores and canals of the frame from top to bottom. 25 Those who are skilled in pranayama, the science of vital energy, give them different names according to their course, such as the fivefold vital energies of prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana.
26 All the vital powers reside in the triple lotus-form organ of the heart, and from there extend up and down and on all sides like beams from the moon. 27 These vital powers are employed passing in and out, taking in and letting out, rising and falling, and moving throughout the body. 28 The learned say that prana, the energy or air of life, is situated in the lotus-form organ of the heart and also has the power of moving the eyelids when they twinkle. 29 This power sometimes assumes the form of touch or the feeling of perception, and at others it takes the shape of breath by blowing through the nostrils. Sometimes it is seated in the stomach for digestive action, and often it gives utterance to speech.
30 What more shall I say, other than that it is our lord the air that moves the whole machine of the body, just as a mechanic models everything by means of his machinery. 31Among these there are two principal airs, by name of prana and apana, which take their two different courses upward and downward. One is the breath of life and the other is the weakened that is let out. 32 It is by watching the course of these airs that I remain quietly at this place and undergo the changing fortunes of heat and cold, as is destined for the feathered tribe.
33 The body is a great machine and the two subtle energies are its indefatigable mover. It has the sun and moon, fire and moonlight, shining in the midst of its heart. 34 The body is a city and the mind is its ruler. The two airs are like the chariot and wheels of the body. Egoism is the monarch of this city, and the eight members are like so many horses attached to the car of the body. 35 Thus by watching the motion of those airs, I find the course of my life to be as interminable as the continuity of my breaths.
36 The vital airs serve the body in all its states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep. His days glide on imperceptibly who remains in his state of profound sleep. 37 These breaths of subtle energy divide into a thousand threads as they pass through the many canals of the body. They are as imperceptible as the white fibers inside the stalks of lotus plants. 38 By watching the constant course of vital airs, by attending to the continued course of time, by thinking of the interminable course of his breaths and the moments of time and the parade of his thoughts, and by attempting to restrain their course by the habit and practice of pranayama, one is sure to lengthen the duration of his life in this world and attain eternal life in the next.
• • •
Chapter 25 — Bhushunda on Pranayama: the Inward and Outward Breaths and the
States in between (Samadhi)
1 Vasishta said:— Listen Rama. When the bird had said this much, I interrupted him and said, “Tell me, O ancient seer, how and what is the nature of the course of vital airs?”
2 Bhushunda replied:— O sage, how is it that you who knows everything should ask this question of me, as if in jest? But as you ask as this of me, I must tell you all that I know.
3 O brahmin, the vital breath by nature is a moving energy. It is always in motion. It pervades both inside and outside the bodies which its animates. 4 The apana emitting air is also a self motive power that is in constant motion, both inside and outside the living body in its downward or receding direction. 5 It is good for livings being to restrain these vital breaths, both in their waking and sleeping states. Now hear me tell you, O learned sage, how it is to be retrained for the best gain.
6 The internal vital energu (prana) extends from the lotus-like heart to the crevice in the cranium. The wise call its effort to come out (by the mouth and nostrils) exhalation (rechaka).
7 The meeting of breaths twelve inches from and below the nostrils is called inhalation (puraka).
8 Puraka is also when the breath passes from outside and enters the inner apana (downward breath; the abdomen) without any effort, filling the inside from the heart to the head. 9 When the apanaair has subsided in the heart and prana breath does not circulate in the breast, it is called the state of holding the breath (kumbhaka) which is known only to yogis. 10 All these three sorts of breaths (inhale, hold and exhale) are perceived at the place where the apana takes its rise. This is twelve inches below and outside the tip of the nose.
11 Hear now, O great minded sage, what clear minded adepts have said about the natures of the ever continuing and effortless. 12 The air inhaled from twelve inches outside of the tip of the nose is called puraka (inhalation).
13 As the outer part of a pot planted in the earth appears to sight, so the downward breath apana stretching twelve inches outside the tip of the nose is perceptible to the yogi and is called kumbhaka by the learned. 14 The exhaling air which rises from the heart and extends to the tip of the nose is called the primary and external puraka (taking in) breath by adepts in yoga practice.
15 There is another (or secondary) external puraka air known to the wise which arises at the tip of the nose and extends twelve inches outside of it. 16 After the prana breath sets outside the nostrils, and before the apana downward breath has risen, this interval of the entire suspension of both is known as the state of perfect equalization, the external kumbhaka. 17 The air which breathes out in the heart or pulsates within it, without raising the apana breath, is called the externalrechaka (exhalation) in the yoga system. Its knowledge confers perfect liberation to man. 18 The rechaka rising twelve inches is called the strong rechaka. 19 There is another kind ofpuraka (taking in) which is on the outside of the apana and when it stretches inside of the navel within, it is known under the names of kumbhaka and others. 20 The intelligent man who meditates day and night on the eightfold nature and course of prana and apana, the inhaling and exhaling airs, is not doomed to be reborn anymore in this miserable earth.
21 I have described the various courses of the vital airs or energies. Restraining this life force in the waking and sleeping states of man, whether sitting or waking, produces his liberation. 22 Though these energies are very fleeting in their natures, yet they are restrained by the good understanding of man, even when he is employed in work or eating. 23 However, a man who practices suppression of breathing (kumbhaka) cannot be employed in any action but must remain calmly in this act of suppression by giving up all external thoughts and actions. 24 A few days practice of this yoga, by renouncing all outward objects from the mind, enables a man to attain the state of his unity with the sole Being that is God.
25 Intelligent men have no fondness for worldly things, but bear an aversion to them like a holy brahmin has against sweet milk contained in a skin bag. They remain regardless of visible objects, their eyes closed against them like a blind man who takes no heed of outward appearances. 26 They are in possession of all, which is the sum total of what is to be had as the best gain. Whether they are awake, asleep, walking or sitting, they never lose sight of that true light which leads them to the other world. 27 Those who have obtained the knowledge of the course of his breathings have rid themselves of all delusion and rest quietly within themselves. 28 Whether intelligent people are employed in a busy life or sit inactive at home, they are always quiet and at rest by following the course of their breathing.
29 O brahmin, I know the exhaling breath rises from its source in the lotus-like heart and stretches twelve inches outside where it sets and stops. 30 The apana of inhaling breath is taken from the same distance of twelve inches and is deposited in the cup of the lotus situated in the human heart. 31 As the prana respiration is exhaled out in the air twelve inches from the heart, so the inhaled apana energy is taken into the heart from the same distance in the air.
32 The prana or exhaling breath runs towards the open air in the form of a flame of fire. The inhaled breath turns inward to the region of the heart and goes downward like a current of water. 33 The apana inhaled breath is like cooling moonlight refreshing the body from without. Prana exhalation resembles sunshine or a flame of fire warming the insides of the body. 34 Every moment the prana breath warms the region of the heart, like sunshine inflaming the sky. Then it burns the atmosphere before it by the exhalation of breath through the mouth.
35Apana air is like the moonlight before the moon. Inhaled inward, it washes the sphere of the heart like a flood, then in a moment it refreshes the whole inside. 36 When the last phase of the moon, like apana inhaling breath, is swallowed by the sun of pranaexhaling breath, it sees the Supreme Spirit and has no more cause for affliction. 37 So also when the last portion of the sun-like prana exhaling breath is swallowed by the moon-like apana inhaling breath, then Brahman visits inside and the soul is emancipated from further reincarnation in this world.
38 The prana exhaling breath assumes the nature of solar heat both inside and outside the body. Afterwards it becomes and remains like cooling moonlight. 39 The prana expiration forsakes its nature of the cooling moon and in a moment turns to assume the nature of the hot sun that dries and sucks up everything before it. 40 As long as the prana exhalation is not converted to the nature of the moon after forsaking its nature of the sun, it is considered unconditioned by time and place and free from pain and grief.
41 He who sees the seat of his soul in the mind situated within his heart and at the confluence of the sun-moon prana and apana breathings in the kumbhaka retained breath is no longer subject to be reborn and die. 41a He who feels the sun and moon of his prana and apana breaths ever rising and setting in the kumbhaka retained breath with his heart, truly sees the seat of his mind and soul placed at their confluence and is freed from further birth and death. 42 He truly sees the soul in its full light who beholds this bright sun (prana) shining in the sphere of his heart in conjunction with the rising and setting apana moonbeams in his mind.
43 This light never fades or grows faint at anytime, but dispels the darkness of the heart and produces the completion and perfection of the meditative mind. 44 As the dispersion of outward darkness presents the world to view, so the disappearance of inward obscurity gives out the light of the spirit before the mental sight. 45 The removal of intellectual darkness produces the liberation of the soul and shows the rising and setting sun of the vital breath vividly to view. 46 When the moon of the apana inspired breath sets in the cavity of the heart, the sun of the prana exhalation breath rises immediately to flow out of the heart.
47 The apana inhaled breath having set in the cell of the lotus-like heart, the exhaling breath of prana rises at that very moment to come out of it, just as the shadow of the night is dispersed when the bright sun of day ushers his light.
48 As the prana expiration expires in the open air, in a moment the inhaling breath rises and rushes, just as light having fled from the horizon is immediately succeeded by deep darkness. 49 Intelligent men know that the apana downward breath becomes extinct where the prana upward breath comes to be born, and prana is lost where apana takes its rise. 50 When prana breathing out has ceased and apana has its rise downward, then one supports himself upon the kumbhaka retained air and does not depend on two other passing breaths.
51 On completion of the apana breath in and before the rise of prana breath out, one relying on the kumbhaka air within himself is exempt from pain and sorrow. 52 By depending on the rechaka exhaled breath and practicing the suppression of kumbhaka breath sixteen inches from the apana, a man has no more to be sorry for anything. 53 By making the apana a receptacle of rechaka, filling the prana inside, and finding himself filled with the puraka all within his body, a man has no more to be born on earth. 54 When a man finds the perfect tranquility of his soul by subsidence of both prana and apana within himself, he no longer has to sorrow for anything whatever. 55 When a man reflects upon his prana breath overcome by apana air both inside and outside himself, and loses his thoughts of time and space, he has no more any cause for sorrow. 56 He who sees his prana breath devouring the apana air, both inside and outside himself, together with his sense of space and time, has no more his mind to be reborn on earth.
57 When prana is swallowed up by apana, or apana by prana, both inside and outside the adept, together with his thoughts of time and place, 58 then at that moment the yogi finds his prana set down and his apana to rise no more. Though the interval between the two is common to all animals, only yogis know it. 59 The kumbhaka suppression of breath taking place of itself on the outside is known as the divine state, but when it happens to occur inside without any effort on the part of the adept, it is said to be the state of the most supreme.
60 This is the nature of the Divine Soul and this is the state of Supreme Consciousness. This is the representation of the eternal spirit, and one who attains this state is never subject to sorrow. 61 Like fragrance in the flower, there is an essence dwelling within the vital energies and this is neither prana nor apana but the conscious soul which I adore. 62As taste dwells in water, so is there an essence immanent in apana, and it is neither apana nor not apana but the intelligent soul which I adore. 63 At the end of the extinction ofprana, and beyond the limit of the exhaustion of apana, and situated in the interval between the extremities of both of these, there is that which I always adore. 64 That which forms the breathing of breath and is the life of life, what is the support and bearer of the body, is the intellectual spirit which I ever adore. 65 That which causes the thinking of the mind and the reflection of the understanding, as also the egotism of egoism, is the conscious soul which I have learnt to adore. 66 That which contains and produces all things, which is all as everything is evolved from itself, and what is changed to all at all times, is that mind which I adore forever. 67 What is the light of lights, what is holiness and the holy of holies, and what is unchangeable in its nature, is the consciousness which I adore.
68 I adore that ray of pure intellectual light that rises at the juncture of the setting of the apana and springing up of the prana breath. 68a I adore that consciousness which moves around on the tip of the nose, at the point where the prana sets in and the apana has not yet taken its rise. 69 I adore the consciousness that rises at the time when both prana and apana breaths have stopped, and when neither of them has taken its rise. 70 I adore that consciousness which appears before the yogi and supports him when he has reached the setting of prana and apana breaths, both within and without himself. 71 I adore that consciousness which is force of all forces and rides in the car of prana and apana energy breaths, and when both energies are compressed in the heart of the yogi. 72 I adore the lord consciousness which is the kumbhaka breath in the heart and the apana kumbhaka on the outside, and a part of the puraka left behind.
73 I adore the essence of that consciousness which is attainable by concentration upon breath, and which is the formless cause of our intelligence of the natures of the pranaand apana breaths, and also the motive principle of their actions. 74 I adore the essence of that consciousness which is the cause of causes and the main spring of the vibrations of vital energies, the giver of the joy derived from the vibrations of breath.
75 I adore that prime and Supreme Being Brahman who is worshipped by the gods bowing down before him, who makes himself known to us by his own power, and who is known by the particles of vital energies under the name of Spirit.
• • •
Chapter 26 — Bhushunda’s Self-Control and Spiritual Knowledge Are the Cause
of His Longevity
1 Bhushunda continued:— This is the tranquility of the mind that I have attained by degrees through my meditation on the nature and course of vital energy in me.
2 I sit quietly at all times, my attention fixed at the movement of my breath. I never stir even for a moment from my meditative mood, though Mount Meru may shake under me. 3 Whether I am awake or asleep, or move about or remain unmoved in my seat, I am never without this meditation even in dream, nor does it slide a moment from my steadfast mind. 4 I am always calm and quiet, ever steady and calm in this ever varying and unsteady world. I always remain with my face turned inward in myself, fixed firmly on the object I have at heart.
5 The breeze may cease to blow and the waters may stop to flow, but nothing can prevent my breathing and meditation of them, nor do I ever forget to live without them. 6 By attending to the course of my inhaling and exhaling breaths, I have come to the sight of the soul and have thereby become freed from sorrow by seeing the prime Soul of all souls.
7 The earth has been sinking and rising repeatedly since the great flood, and I have been witnessing the submersion and immersion of things and the destruction and reproduction of beings without any change in the calmness of my soul and mind. 8 I never think of the past and future. My sight is fixed only on the present and my mind sees the remote past and future as ever present before it. 9 I am employed in the business that presents itself to me. I never care for their toil or their reward. I live as one in sleep and solely with myself.
10 I examine all that is and is not, and what we have or have not, and consider likewise all our desires and their objects. Finding them to be only frailties and vanities, I refrain from their pursuit and remain untroubled by their cares forever. 11 I watch the course of my inhalation and exhalation and behold the presence of the super excellent (Brahman) at their coming together. By this I rest satisfied in myself and I enjoy my long life without any sorrow or sickness. 12 I have no such ruinous thoughts of mortal men like “I got this boon now and I will get that beautiful thing later”, so I live long with no discomfort.
13 I never praise or disparage any act by me or others. My indifference to all concerns has brought me to this happy state of carefree longevity. 14 My mind is not elated by success or depressed by adversity, but preserves its self-control at all times, and this is what has brought this happy state on me. 15 I have relied upon my religious renunciation of the world and upon my apathy to all things at all times. I have also abandoned the desire of sensuous life and the objects of the physical senses, and these have set me free from death and disease. 16 O great muni, I have freed my mind from its faults of unsteadiness and curiosity, setting it above sorrow and anxiety. My mind has become deliberate, calm and quiet, and this has made me live long without sickness.
17 I see all things in an equal light, whether it be a beauty or a ghost, a piece of wood or stone, a straw or a rock, or whether it is air, water or fire. My self-control has made me sane and sound in every state of life. 18 I do not think about what I have done today or what I have to do tomorrow, nor do I become troubled under the fever of vain thoughts regarding past and future. This has kept me forever sound and sane. 19 I am not afraid of death, disease or old age, nor am I elated with the idea of possessing a kingdom. My indifference to anything good or evil is the cause of my long life and the soundness of my body and mind. 20 O brahmin, I do not regard anyone in the light of friend or foe, and this equality of my knowledge of all persons is the cause of my long life and lack of complaint.
21 I regard all existence as the reflection of the self-existent One who is all in all and without beginning or end. I know myself as consciousness and this is the cause of my longevity and lack of disease or decay. 22 Whether I get or give away anything, or walk or sit, or rise and breathe, or am asleep or awake, I never think of myself as the gross body but its pure consciousness, and this made me long lasting and durable forever. 23 I think of myself as quite asleep, and I believe this world with all its bustle to be nothing in reality, and this has made long-lived without decay. 24 I take the good and bad accidents of life occurring at their stated times to be all alike to me, like my two arms both of which are serviceable to me. This has made me long lived and imperishable. 25 With my fixed attention and the cool clarity of my mental vision, I see all things in their favorable light. I see all things as even and equal, and this view of them in the same light has made me lasting without any waste. 26 I never see my material body in the light of my ego, and this has made me undying and without decay. 27 Whatever I do or take as my food, I never take them to my heart. My mind is free from the acts of my body, and my freedom from action has caused my undiminished longevity. 28 O sage, whenever I come to know the truth, I never feel proud of my knowledge but desire to learn more about it. This increasing desire of knowledge has increased my life without life’s usual infirmities.
29 Though possessed of power, I never use it to do wrong or injure another. Though wronged by someone, I am never sorry. Though ever so poor, I never crave anything of anyone. This has prolonged my life and kept it safe and sound. 30 I see in these visible forms the consciousness that abides in all bodies. As I behold all these existent bodies in an equal light, I enjoy an undiminished longevity. 31 I am so composed in my mind that I never allow its faculties to be entangled in the snare of worldly desires and expectations. I do not allow these to touch even my heart, and this conferred on me the bliss of my unfading longevity.
32 I examine both worlds as two balls placed in my hands, and I find the nonexistence of the visible world as it appears to a sleeping man. The spiritual and invisible worlds appear fully open to my view, as the world does to a waking person, and my sight has made me as immortal as the world of immortality. 33 I behold the past, present and future as set before me. I see all that is dead and decayed, and all that is gone and forgotten as presented anew in my presence. This view of all keeps me alive and fresh to them alike.
34 I feel myself happy at others’ happiness and sorry to see the misery of other people. This universal fellow-feeling of mine with the welfare and grief of my fellow creatures has kept me alive and fresh at all times. 35 I remain as unmoved as a rock in my adversity and I am friendly to everyone in my prosperity. I am never moved by lack or affluence, and this steadiness of mine is the cause of my undiminished longevity.
36 The firm conviction that has laid hold of my mind, and which has made me live long without feeling sick or sorry for another, is that I am neither related nor belong to anybody, and that none is either related or belongs to me. 37 It is my belief that I am the one Ego with the world and with all its space and time, and that I am the same with the living Soul and all its actions. This faith of mine has made me long lived and undiminished. 38 It is my belief that I am the same Consciousness which shows itself in the pot and the picture, and which dwells in the sky above and in the woods below. My firm reliance has been on this full Consciousness and this has made me long abiding and free from disease.
39 It is thus, O great sage, that I live in the receptacle of the three worlds like a bee living in a lotus flower, and am famous in the world as the everlasting crow named Bhushunda. 40 I am destined to dwell here forever in order to behold the visible world rising and falling in tumultuous confusion in the infinite ocean of the immense Brahman, and assuming their various forms for all eternity like the waves of the sea at their alternate rise and fall.
• • •
Chapter 27 — Conclusion of the Story of Bhushunda
1 Bhushunda added, “O sage, I have described what I am and how I am situated at this place. Only because you commanded was I lead to the arrogance of speaking so much to one of superior intelligence.”
2 Vasishta replied, “O sage, it is a wonderful account that you have given of yourself. O excellent! It is a jewel to my ears and fills me with admiration. 3 Blessed are those great souls who have the good fortune to behold your most venerable person, which in respect of antiquity is next to none except the great grandfather of the gods, the lotus born Brahma himself. 4 Blessed are my eyes that are blessed this day with the sight of your holy person, and thrice blessed are my ears filled with the full recital of your sacred knowledge and all purifying wisdom.”
5 “In my wanderings all about the world, I have witnessed the dignity and grandeur of the great knowledge of gods and learned men, but never have I come to see anywhere so holy a seer as yourself. 6 It may be possible by long travel and search to meet with a great soul somewhere or another, but it is hard to find a holy soul like yourself anywhere. 7We rarely come to find the grain of a precious pearl in the hollow of a lonely bamboo tree, but it is rarer still to come across a holy person like you in any part of this world.”
8 “I have truly achieved an act of great piety and sanctity having paid a visit to your holy shrine and seen your sacred person and liberated soul this very day. 9 Now please enter your cell and go well in this place. It is now the time of midday devotion and the duties of my noontide service call my presence to my heavenly seat.”
Vasishta speaking:— 10 Hearing this, Bhushunda rose from his seat in the tree and held out a golden twig from the tree with his two fictitious hands. 11 The full knowing crow made a vessel with his beak and hands, filled it with the snow-white leaves, flowers and pistils of the kalpa plant, and put a brilliant pearl in it to be offered as symbol of respect (arghya) worthy of a divine sage. 12 Then the long-born, ancient bird took the arghya with some water and flowers and sprinkled and scattered them over me from head to foot with great veneration as when they adore the three-eyed god Shiva.
13 Then I said, “It is enough. You need not take the pains to walk after me.” So saying I rose from my seat like a bird stretching its wings to fly in the air. 14 Yet the bird followed me a few miles in the air, until I hindered his proceeding farther by compelling him to return after shaking our hands. 15 The chief of birds looked up for some time as I soared upward in my ethereal journey, then he returned with reluctance because it is difficult to part company from the good. 16 Then both of us lost sight of one another like the sight of the waves is lost after they sink down in the sea. Full with the thoughts of the bird and his sayings, I proceeded upward to meet the munis there. At last I arrived at the sphere of the seven stars of the Pleiades (the saptarshi, the seven rishis) where I was honorably received by my wife Arundhati.
17 It was two hundred years into the prior golden age (satya yuga) when I had been at Bhushunda’s and sat with him upon the tree on the summit of Sumeru. 18 Now, O Rama, that golden age has gone by and we are in the middle of the silver age (treta yuga) when you are born to subdue your enemies. 19 Only eight years ago I met with him again on the same mountain, and found him as sound and the same as I had seen him long before.
20 Now I have told you the whole of the exemplary character of Bhushunda. As you have heard it with patience, so should you consider it with diligence and act according to his sayings.
21 Valmiki says:— The man of pure heart who well considers the story of virtuous Bhushunda will undoubtedly pass over the unstable gulf of this world full of formidable dangers on all sides.
• • •
Chapter 28 — The Body, like Creation, Is a Reflection of the Mind
1 Vasishta said:— I have told you, O sinless Rama, the story of Bhushunda who had passed over the perilous sea of delusion by means of his intelligence and wisdom. 2 Keeping this example in mind and following his practice of breath control (pranayama), O mighty armed Rama, you also will pass over the wide ocean of this hazardous ocean. 3 As Bhushunda obtained the obtainable One by means of his knowledge and by virtue of his continued practice of yoga, you also strive to gain the same by imitating his example. 4 Men of understanding may attain the stability of Bhushunda and his reliance on the transcendental truth by practicing pranayama, restraining of their breath.
5 You have heard me tell you many things about true knowledge. Now it depends on your own understanding and choice to do as you like.
6 Rama replied, “Sage who is the luminous sun of spiritual light on earth, at once you have dispelled the thick gloom of unspiritual knowledge from my mind. 7 I am fully awake and joyful in my divine knowledge. I have entered into my state of spirituality. I have known the knowable and I am seated in my divine state like yourself.”
8 “The wonderful life of Bhushunda that you have described fills me with admiration, and it is instructive of the highest wisdom. 9 In the account you gave of Bhushunda, you said that the body is the abode of the soul and that it is composed of flesh and blood, inner bones and outer skin. 10 Sage, please tell me who made this body and how it came to be formed? How it is made to last and who abides inside?”
11 Vasishta answered:— Rama, now listen to what I will explain to you for the instruction of supreme knowledge, and also to remove the evils that have taken root instead of true knowledge.
12 This dwelling of the body that has bones for its posts, blood and flesh for its mortar, and the nine holes for so many windows, is built by no one. 13 It is a mere reflection. It reflects itself to our vision just as the illusion of two moons in the sky is both real and unreal. 14 It may be right to speak of two moons from their double appearance, but in reality there is only one moon and the other is its reflection.
15 Belief that the body exists makes it a reality. The unreal seems as real and therefore it is said to be both real and unreal at the same time. 16 Anything seen in a dream is true as a dream, and appears to be so in the state of dreaming, but afterwards it proves to be untrue. A bubble of water is true as a bubble, which comes to be known afterwards as false in reality. 17 The body seems to be substantial as it does its bodily actions, but proves otherwise when we see only the essentiality of the spirit. In the same way, the reflection of the sun on the sandy desert makes a mirage appear like water, whose reality proves to be unreal the next moment. 18 The body existing as a reflection disappears the next moment. It is nothing more than a reflection, and so it reflects itself.
19 It is your error to think that you are the material body made of flesh and bones. The inner thought of your mind situated in the body makes you think you are “so and so” and “such a one”. 20 Therefore forsake the body that you build for yourself at your own will. Do not be like those who transport themselves to various countries while they are sleeping in their pleasant beds.
21 O Rama, see even in your waking state how you transport yourself to the kingdom of heaven in the fanciful reverie of your mind. So tell me then, where is your body situated? 22 Tell me Rama, where is your body situated when your mind wanders on Mount Meru in your dream, and when you dream to ramble with your body about this earth?23 Rama, think how you seem to be aimlessly walking about the rich domains in the fancied kingdom of your mind, and tell me whether you are there with your body or if is it left behind. 24 Tell me, where is that body of yours situated when you think of doing many of your bodily and worldly acts in the fancied kingdom of your mind? 25 Tell me, O strong armed Rama, where is your body located when you are thinking about flirting and caressing your loving courtesans in the court of your painful mind? 26 Where is your body with which you seem to enjoy everything? Enjoyment belongs to the mind and not to the body. Both of them are real as well as unreal owing to their presence at one time and absence at another. 27 The body and the mind are present simultaneously with their actions when they participate with one another in their acts. Therefore it is false to say that, “I am this body situated here and these things are mine,” all of which are illusory and caused by illusion. 28 All this is the manifestation of the will or energy of the mind. You must know it either as a long dream or lengthened fallacy of the mind.
29Know, O son of Raghu’s race, that this world is a display of the vast kingdom of your imagination. It will vanish into nothing when you come to good understanding by the grace of your god. 30 Then you will see the whole as clearly as the light of the rising sun, and you will know this would is like a creation of your dream.
31 This world is a display of the will of the lotus-born Brahma, as I have said before at length in the book of creation.
32 A willful creation arises of itself in the mind as if it were so ordained by destiny. The mind, being fully possessed of the great variety of forms, becomes lost in the error of taking them for true. 33 The world is only a creation and a display of the will just like the fancied mental fabrication of being Brahman possessed the minds of the ten sons of Indu.
34 After the soul has passed from its former form, it receives the same form that it had in the fancy of its mind, which is either what it had been long accustomed or what it fondly longed in the mind. 35 The body shows itself in the form shaped by a person’s prior acts. By the courageous efforts of some, the body can also be shaped by the intellect. 36He who thinks he is another is transformed into that nature. The thought that you are this or that, and have this thing or others for yourself, is what actually makes you so in this world. 37 Whatever is thought upon keenly and firmly comes to take place accordingly. Whatever is thought of with intensity and great force must occur in a short time.
38 Every day we see the objects of our desire presenting their fair forms to our view like the attractive faces of our beloved ones, just like sights in a dream and distant objects are recalled in the minds of men with their closed or half-shut eyes. 39 This world is said to be a creation of the thoughts of men. It appears to sight from habitually thinking of it, just like the sights in a dream appear to the mind in daytime.
40 The temporary world appears to be as lasting as the river which appears in the sky under burning sunshine. 41 This nonexistent earth also appears as existent in our thought, just as bundles of peacock’s feathers appear in the sky to the weakened eye lacking insight. 42 Only weakened understanding dwells upon the beauties of creation, just as weakened eyesight looks upon the various colors in the sky. But to the clear sighted, understanding the beauty of creation is as fleeting as colors in the sky are to the clear sighted eye.
43 The sharp sighted man is never led away by the display of worldly grandeur, just as even the most timid man is never afraid of a tiger in his imagination. 43a This great show of worldly grandeur can never mislead the penetrating sight of the wise, just as a monstrous creature of imagination cannot terrify even the most timid. 44 The wise man is never afraid of his imaginary world which he knows to be the production of his own mind’s nature of self-evolution. 45 He who has walked in the path of this world need not fear anything in it. He who is afraid of the world for fear of falling into its errors should learn to purify his understanding.
46 Rama, know that the soul is free from the false conception of the world, and free from the errors which pervade all over it. Look well into these things and you will have a nature as pure as your inner soul. 47 The soul is not soiled by impurity, just as a pure gold is not spoiled by dirt. Though gold sometimes may appear tarnished like copper, it soon resumes its color after its dirt is cleansed or burnt away. Thus the world being a reflection of the omnipresent Brahma, it is neither an entity nor a nonentity of its own nature.
48 Thus the abandonment of all thoughts other than of the Universal Soul, Brahman, is called the true discernment of the mind. Such abandonment makes thoughts of life and death, and heaven and hell into nothing, and proves all such knowledge to be only ignorance. 49 The knowledge that everything is only the reflection of Consciousness is called the right discernment of the mind which removes the thoughts of a separate, independent existence of the ego and “you” and also of this world and its ten sides. 50 True and right discernment of the mind means knowing all things to be only reflections of the soul. This knowledge is derived from the mind’s observation of the true nature of things in this real and unreal world. 51 That nothing rises, sets, appears or disappears in this world is what the mind perceives by its right discernment of things and by its investigation into the true and apparent natures of all. 52 Right discernment gives the mind its peace and tranquility, its freedom from all desires, its indifference to joy and grief, and its indifference to all praise and criticism.
53 The mind comes to find this truth of mortality as the cooling salve of the heart: that we and all our friends and relations in this world are doomed to die one day or another.54 So why should we lament at the death of our friends when it is certain that we must die sooner or later? 55 When we are destined to die, and we have no power to prevent it, then why should we be sorry for others for something we cannot prevent?
56 It is certain that anyone who has come to be born in this world must have some state and property for his support, but what is the cause of rejoicing about it? 57 All men dealing in worldly affairs gain wealth with labor and pain only for their trouble and danger. Therefore, what is the reason for yearning at its want or lamenting at its loss?
58 These spheres of worlds enlarge, expand and rise to our view like bubbles of seawater that swell and float and shine for a time, then burst and subside in the waters of eternity. 59 The nature of reality is real at all times. The condition of the unreal world is insubstantial forever and can never be otherwise or real, though it may appear as such for a time. Then why sorrow for what is nothing and unreal? 60 I am not of this body nor was I in it, nor shall I remain in it, nor is it anything, even at present, except a picture of the imagination. Then why lament its loss? 61 If I am something else besides this body, that is a reflection of pure consciousness. Then tell me, what use are these states of reality and unreality to me, and where shall I rejoice or regret?
62 The sage who is fully conscious in himself of the certainty of this truth does not feel any rise or fall of his spirits at his life or death, nor does he rejoice or wail at having or losing his life. 63 Because after the loss of his gross body, he gains his residence in the transcendental state of Brahman, spiritual existence, just like a little titter bird builds its new nest of tender blades after its previous grassy home is broken down or blown away. 64 Therefore we should never rely on our frail and fragile bodies, but bind our souls to the firm rock of Brahman by the strong rope of our faith, just like they use a strong rope to tie a bull to a post.
65 Having thus ascertained the certainty of this truth, place your faith in the reality of your spiritual essence. By giving up reliance on your frail body, manage yourself with detachment in this unreal world. 66 Adhere to what is your duty here and avoid whatever is prohibited to you. Proceed on your course with an even course of action your mind. 67He who shuts out the reflections of all worldly objects from his view gets a cool composure of his mind like the coolness at the close of a hot summer day.
68 Look on this universe, O sinless Rama, as one common display of Divine light, like the appearance of daylight which is common to all. The mind colors it with various forms like sunbeams reflecting differently off of different objects. 69 Forsake all reflections. Be without any impression in your mind. Be of the form of pure intellectual light which passes through all without being contaminated by any. 70 You will be quite stainless by your dismissal of all colors and appearances from your mind, and by thinking of yourself as nothing without any true enjoyment in this world. 71 These phenomena are nothing in reality. They show themselves to us only for our delusion. You also will appear as nothing when you think everything is only a display of Divine Consciousness.
72 In addition, the understanding that these phenomena are not false, but they do not lead to our illusion because they are the manifestation of Supreme Consciousness, is also very true and leads to your enlightenment. 73 It is for your good, Rama, if you know either of these (whether the world is real or unreal, it is all a display of the mind) because both of these views will tend equally to your joy.
74 Conduct yourself in this manner, O blessed Rama, and gradually lessen all your affections and dislikes in this world for all worldly things. 75 You can obtain all that exists in this earth, sky and heaven by renouncing of your eager desires and hatreds.
76 Whatever a man endeavors to do with his mind free from his fondness or hatred for it takes place shortly, unlike the attempts of the ignorant. 77 No good quality can have its abode in a heart troubled by waves of faults, just as no male deer will set foot on burning sands or in wildfires. 78 What is there that cannot be acquired in the heart where the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree grows and which is not infested by the snakes of ardent desires or dislikes?
79 Men who are wise and discreet, learned and attentive to their duties, and at the same time influenced by feelings of love and hatred are no better than jackals in human shape. They are accursed with all their qualifications. 80 Look at the effects of these passions on men. They lament others’ use of their wealth and having to leave their hard earned money behind them. 81 All our riches, relatives and friends are as transitory as passing winds. Then why should a wise man rejoice or lament at their gain or loss? 82 All our gains and wants and enjoyments in life are mere illusion (maya) spread by divine power like a net over creation, entrapping all in it. 83 There is no wealth or any person that is real or lasting to anyone in this temporary world. It is all frail and fleeting, stretched out to sight like a fake magic show. 84 What wise man will place his attachment on anything which is an unreality both in its beginning and its end, and is quite unsteady in between? No one has any faith in the tree of his imagination or a castle built in the sky.
85 One fancies seeing a fairy in a passing cloud and is pleased with the sight of what he can never enjoy but only passes by his view to be seen by distant peoples. It is the same with this passing world which passes from the sight of some to that of others without anyone fully enjoying or possessing it for any length of time. 86 The bustle of these fleeting bodies in the world is like the commotion of a castle in the sky, or the appearance of a city in an fleeting dream and fancy. 87 I see the world as a city in my protracted dream, with all its movable and fixed objects lying as quietly and as still as in profound sleep.
88 Rama you are wandering in this world like one rolling in his bed of indolence, lulled to the long sleep of ignorance which leads you from one error to another as if dragged by a chain of continuous dreaming. 89 Rama, break off your long chain of lazy ignorance. Forsake the idol of your errors. Lay hold of the inestimable gem of your spiritual and divine knowledge. 90 Return to your right understanding and, like an unfolding lotus beholds the rising sun, behold your soul in its clear light as a manifestation of the unchangeable luminary of Consciousness.
91 I repeatedly urge you, O Rama, to wake from your drowsiness, and by remaining ever wakeful to your spiritual concerns, see the un-decaying and un-declining sun of your soul at all times. 92 I have roused you from your lazy state of rest and awakened you to the light of your understanding by the cooling breeze of spiritual knowledge and the refreshing showers of my elegant diction. 93 Rama, do not delay enlightening your understanding even now. Attain your highest wisdom in the knowledge of the Supreme Being. Come to the light of truth and shun the errors of the delusive world. 94 You will no longer be subject to any more birth or pain, nor will you be exposed to any error or evil, if you will only remain steady in your soul by forsaking all your worldly desires.
95 O high minded Rama, remain steadfast in your trust in the tranquil and all-encompassing soul of Brahman in order to attain the purity and holiness of your own soul. Thereby you will be freed from the snare of your earthly desires and get a clear sight of that true reality in which you will rest in perfect security, as if in profound sleep.
• • •
Chapter 29 — The World Full with Supreme Soul; Shiva Explains the Best Way to Worship God
1 Valmiki relates:— Hearing the sage’s discourse, Rama remained calm with his mind unconsciousness, his spirits tranquil, and his soul full of bliss. 2 The entire audience being quiet, calm and silent, the sage withheld his speech for fear of disturbing their spiritual repose. 3 The sage stopped distilling the drops of his ambrosial speech after the hearts of the audience were lulled to rest by their draughts, just as the clouds cease to drop rain after they penetrate the hearts of ripened grains.
4 After a while, as Rama and the rest were roused from their mental inactivity, the eloquent Vasishta resumed his discourse to explain his former lecture.
5 Vasishta said:— Rama, now you are fully awakened to light and have attained knowledge of yourself. Hence forward remain fixed to the only true object on which you must place your faith. Never set your feet on the field of the false phenomenal world.
6 The wheel of the world is continually revolving round the center of desire. Put a peg in its axis and it will stop from turning about its pole. 7 If you are slack fastening the hub of your mind by your heroic efforts, it will be hard for you to stop the wheel of the world which runs faster the more you slacken your mind. 8 Exert your heroic courage with the aid of your mental powers and wisdom. Stop the motion of your heart which is the center of the wheeling course of the world. 9 Know that everything is obtainable by means of courageous effort joined with good sense and good nature and assisted by a knowledge of the scriptures. Whatever is attained by these cannot be attained by any other means. 10Relinquish your reliance on destiny which is a creation of childish imagination. Rely on your own efforts and govern your heart and mind for your lasting good.
11 The unsubstantial mind which appears to have substance has had its rise since the creation of Brahma. It has taken a wrong and false course of its own. 12 The unreal and false mind weaves and stretches out a lengthening web of its equally unreal and false conceptions, which afterwards leads the mind to mistake it for a substantial world. 13 All these bodies seen to move around us are the products of the fancies and fond desires of the mind. Though these frail and false bodies cease to exist forever, yet the mind and its wishes are imperishable, showing themselves either in the mind’s reproductions in various forms, or they become altogether extinct in their total absorption in the Supreme Spirit.
14 A wise man is not led away by seeing the pain or pleasure of the soul on the face of man. A sorrowful and weeping face is the indication of pain, and a cheerful and tearless face is the sign of pleasure.
15 You see a man in two ways, one with his body and the other his representation in a picture or statue. Of these the former kind is more frail than the latter because the embodied man is beset by troubles and diseases in his fading, moldering, decaying and dying body, whereby the other is not. 16 The fleshy body is assuredly doomed to die in spite of all our efforts for its preservation, but a body in a portrait being taken good care of, lasts for ages with its undiminished beauty.
17 As the living body is sure to die despite all your care for it, the pictured body must be considered far better than the false and fancied fleshy body produced by will of the mind. 18 The quality and stability that abide in a pictured body are not to be found in the body of the mind. Therefore the living body of flesh is more insignificant than its image in a picture or statue.
19 Think now, O sinless Rama, what reliance is there in this body of flesh, a production of your long fostered desire and a creature of your brain? 20 This body of flesh is more contemptible than those ideal forms which our dreams and desires produce in our sleeping and waking states because the creature of a momentary desire is never attended with long or lasting happiness or misery. 21 The bodies produced by our long desire continue for a longer time and are subjected to a longer series of miseries in this world.
22 The body is a creature of our fancy, neither a reality nor an unreality in itself. Yet ignorant people are fondly attached to it, only to prolong their misery. 23 As the destruction of a man’s portrait does no harm to him, and as the loss of an imagined city is no loss to the city, so the loss of anyone’s much desired body is no loss to him in any way. 24 Again, as the disappearance of the moon’s halo is no deprivation of the moon itself, and as the fleeting passing of a dream world does not annihilate the external world, 25 and as the disappearance of water from the sunny banks of rivers is no deprivation of the river’s water, so the creations of fancy which are not negative in their nature cannot destroy what is positive or do any damage to the machine of the body, and can never injure the disembodied soul.
26 The body is a piece of work created by the architect of the mind in its dreaming sleep walking over the sleeping world. Its decoration or disfigurement is of no essential advantage or disadvantage to the inner soul. 27 There is no end of Consciousness in its extent, or any motion of the soul from its place. There is no change in the Divine Spirit of Brahman, nor do any of these decay with the decline of the body.
28 In its delirium, the inner core of the mind sees spheres over spheres revolving in empty air, like an inner, smaller wheel making an outer, larger wheel turn about it. 29 By its primitive and causeless error, the mind views the constant rotation of bodies both inside and outside of it. Some are moving forward, others are falling down, and many have dropped below. 30 Seeing the rise and fall of these rotating bodies, a wise man must rely on the firmness of his mind and not allow himself to be led away by these repeated successive rotations.
31 Fancy forms the body and error makes the unreal appear as real. The formations of fancies and the fabrications of untruth cannot have any truth or reality in them. 32 The unreal body appearing as real is like the appearance of a snake in a rope. All the affairs of the world are quite untrue and false, appearing as true only for the time being.
33 Whatever a person does unawares is never accounted as the person’s own action. Hence everything done by senseless bodies is not considered as done by them. 34 Will is the active agent of its actions, and this being so, neither the inactive body nor the unchanging soul is the actor of any action. 35 The inert body has no will or effort, so it never is the doer of any act desired by its presiding soul. It is only from the perspective of the soul viewing the action that sees it so. 36 Like the still flame of a lamp burning in still air, the silent and steady soul dwells as a witness to all things and acts that exist and go on in the world.
37 The celestial, luminous orb of the day regulates the daily works of the living world from his seat on high. In the same way, O Rama, administer the affairs of your state from your elevated seat on the royal throne.
38 Thinking one’s being or ego resides in the body is like children seeing ghosts in empty space. 39 The learned are at a loss to explain how unsubstantial ego, which is like an empty ghost, takes possession of the inner body under the name of mind. 40 Never enslave yourself, O wise Rama, to this ghost of your egoism which like a ghostly light leads you to a limbo lake or a bog of hell. 41 The mad and giddy mind, with its capricious desires and whims, plays its foolish pranks in its home in the body like a hideous demon dancing in a dreary desert.
42 The demonic mind, having made its way into the hollow heart of the human body, plays its fantastic parts in such an odd manner that wise men shut their eyes against the sight and sit in their silent contemplation of the secluded soul. 43 After the demon of the mind is driven out, there is no more fear for anyone. All can peacefully dwell in the body as nobody is afraid of living in a deserted and desolate city.
44 It is astonishing that men should place any reliance on their bodies or consider them as their own when they have had thousands of such bodies in repeated prior births, and when they invariably were infested by the demon of the mind. 45 They who die in the grasp of the cannibal of the mind have minds like those of pisacha cannibals in their future births, and never of any other kind of being. 46 The body possessed by the demon of egoism is consumed by the fires of the triple afflictions of local, natural and accidental evils. It is not to be relied upon as anyone’s safe or lasting abode. 47 Therefore, stop dancing with your mind and cease following the dictates of your individual, selfish ego. Let you mind be extended and elevated by forgetting your individual ego in your magnanimity. Rely only on the Supreme Spirit.
48 Hellish people, seized and possessed by the devils of ego, are blinded in their self-delusion and giddiness. They are abandoned by their fellows and friends, just as they are unfriendly to others in this world. 49 Whatever action is done by one bewitched by his ego grows up like a poisonous plant and produces the fatal fruit of death. 50 An ignorant man elated by his egoistic pride is lost both to his reason and his patience. One who is attached to the former by his neglect of the latter is quickly approaching his destruction. 51 The simpleton seized by the devil of egoism is made into fuel for the fires of hell. 52 When the snake of egoism hisses hard in the hollow heart of the tree of the body, it is sure to be cut down by the relentless hand of death who like a wood cutter fells the harmful tree to the ground.
53 O Rama who is the greatest among the great, never look at the demon of egoism, whether it may reside in your body or not, because the very look of it is sure to delude anyone. 54 If you disregard, deride or drive away the demon of egoism from the recess of your mind, there is no damage or danger that it can ever bring upon you in any way. 55Rama, though the demon of egoism may play all its freaks in its abode of the body, in no way can it affect the soul which is quite aloof of it. 56 Egoism brings a great many evils upon those who have their minds weakened by its influence. It requires hundreds of years to count and recount their harmful effects. 57 Rama, the despotic power of egoism makes men groan under its bondage, constantly uttering piteous exclamations, “We are dying and burning” and such other bitter cries. 58 The soul is free to wander everywhere without having any connection with anyone’s ego, just as the ubiquity of the all pervading sky is unconnected with anything in the world.
59 Whatever is done or taken in by the body in its connection with the airy thread of life, all this is the doing of egoism which empties and impels the body to all its various actions. 60 The quiet and still soul causes all the efforts of the mind, just as the inactive vacuum is the material cause of the growth of trees. 61 Owing to the presence of the soul, the mind develops itself in the form of the body and all its members, just as the presence of light makes a room display its contained objects to sight.
62 Rama, think about the relationship between the ever unconnected soul and mind. It resembles the lack of relation between the disconnected earth and sky, or between light and darkness, or between consciousness and gross bodies. 63 Those who are ignorant of the soul see the mind as quiet after its motion and fluctuation are stopped bypranayama restraint of respiration.
64 But the soul is self-luminous, everlasting, omnipresent and super-eminent. The mind is deceptive and the ego is situated in the heart with too much pride and vanity. 65 In reality you are the all-knowing soul and not the ignorant and deluded mind. Therefore drive away your delusive mind from the seat of the soul because mind and soul can never meet or agree.
66 The mind, like a demon, has also taken possession of the empty house of the body. Like an evil spirit, the mind has silenced and overpowered the intangible soul in it. 67Whatever you are, remain only quiet in yourself by driving away the demon of your mind, because it robs you of your best treasure of patience and loads all kinds of evils upon you.
68 A man seized by the hungry yaksha demon of his own mind has no chance for any release from the demon’s grasp, either by the lessons of the scriptures or by the advice of his friends, relatives and teachers. 69 A man who has appeased the demon of his mind is capable of being released from its clutches by scriptures and friends just as it is possible to free a deer from a shallow quagmire. 70 All things seen stored in this vacant city, the empty world, are all polluted by the cravings of the mind that licks them from inside the house of its body. 71 Tell me, who is not afraid in this dreary wilderness of the world, infested in every corner by the demonic mind? 72 There are some wise men in this city of the world who enjoy the abodes of their bodies in peace, having tranquilized the demon of their minds.
73 Rama, all the countries that we hear of in any part of the world are found to be full of senseless bodies in which the giddy demons of delusion reside in the cemetery that is the body. 74 Let people rely on their patience and reconsider their souls by their own efforts. Otherwise they will wander about in the forest of this world like lost children. 75 Men wander in this world like herds of male deer in burning deserts. But Rama, take care never to live content grazing on dry grass like a young and helpless deer. 76 Foolish men graze like a young male deer in their pastures in the wilderness of this world. But you, Rama, must stir yourself to kill the great elephant of ignorance and pursue the courageous course of subduing everything in your way.
77 Do not allow yourself, O Rama, to ramble about like other men who wander like senseless beasts in their native forests of Asia. 78 Do not sink yourself like foolish bullocks in the mud of your relatives and friends. For a while it appears to you like a cold bath, but then it daubs you with its mud and mire. 79 Drive away your desire of bodily enjoyments and follow the steps of respectable men. Having well considered the sole object of your soul, attend to your soul only. 80 It is not proper that you should plunge yourself into a sea of intolerable cares and troubles for the sake of your impure and frail body, which is only a trifle compared to the inestimable soul.
81 The body of the ignorant is the product of one thing and is possessed by another which puts a third one to the pain of its support and affords its enjoyment to a fourth one, all like a complicated machinery of many powers. 82 As solidity is the only property of stone, so the soul has the single property of its being. The existence of the soul being common in all objects, it is impossible for anything else to exist beside it. 83 As thickness is the property of stone, so the mind and others are only properties of the soul. There is nothing distinct from the common entity of the soul. It is impossible for anything to have a separate existence. 84 As density relates to the stone and dimension bears relation to the pot, so the mind and all other things are not distinct from one common existence of the soul.
85 Hear another view of spiritual light for dispelling the darkness of delusion, as it was revealed to me in a cave of Mount Kailash. 86 There is a mountain peak, bright as the collected mass of moonbeams and penetrating the dome of heaven, where the god with the crescent moon on his forehead (Shiva) delivered this doctrine to me to ameliorate the miseries of the world. 87 This mountain peak, famed by the name of Kailash, is the dwelling of the consort of Gauri, the god Hara who wears the crescent moon on his head.
88 Long ago I once dwelt on that mountain to worship this great god. I constructed my hermit-cell on the bank of the holy stream of Ganges. 89 I remained there practicing ascetic austerities and performing my holy tapas. The place had many bodies of adepts discoursing on subjects of the sacred scriptures. 90 I made baskets to be filled with flowers for my worship and to store my collection of books. I was employed in other sacred tasks in the forest gardens of Mount Kailash.
91 While I was passing my time discharging the austerities of my penance, it happened on the eighth day of the dark side of the moon of the month of Sravana. 92 After evening twilight was over and sunlight had faded away from the four quarters of the sky, all objects became invisible and stood enraptured in their saint-like silence. 93 It was after half of the first watch of the night had passed. A thick darkness passed over the gardens and woodlands that required a sharp sword to cut it. 94 My intense meditation was broken at this instant, and my trance gave way to the sight of outward objects. I kept looking at them for some time, then I saw a flaming fire suddenly rising in the forest.
95 It was bright as a big white cloud and as brilliant as the shining orb of the moon. It illuminated the gardens on all sides. I was struck with amazement at the vision. 96 As I studied it with the sight of my understanding, the mental vision that was glowing in my mind, I came to see the god Shiva with the crescent of the moon on his forehead, manifest and standing on the tableland. 97 With his hand clasping the hand of Gauri, he was led onward by his attendant Nandi walking before him. After telling my pupils about the vision, I proceeded forward with an appropriate offering in my hand. 98 Led by the sight, I came before the presence of the god with a glad mind. Then I offered handfuls of flowers to the three-eyed god from a distance, in token of my reverence to him. 99 After giving the offering (arghya) worthy of him, I bowed down before the god and approached him. He cast his kind look upon me from his moon-bright and clear sighted eyes. 100 Being blessed by his gracious look, which took away all my pain and sin from me, I did my homage to the god who was seated on the flowery level land viewing the three worlds lying open before him. 101 Then advancing forward, I offered him the arghya of flowers and water that I had with me, and scattered on him heaps of the mandara flowers that grew there. 102 Then I worshipped the god with repeated obeisance and praise, then adored goddess Gauri with the same kind of homage, then her attendant goddesses and demigods.
103 After my adoration was over, the god having the crescent moon on his head spoke to me, who was seated by him, with speech as mild as the cooling beams of the full moon. 104 “Say, O brahmin, whether your affections are at peace within yourself and have found their rest in the Supreme Spirit. Are your blissful feelings settled in the true object of divine essence? 105 Is your tapas going on unobstructed by the demons of your passions? Does joy attend you? 106 Have you obtained the obtainable One that is alone to be obtained? Are you set above the fears that constantly hunt all mankind?”
107 After the lord of gods and the sole cause of all created beings spoke in this manner, I replied submissively with the following words. 108 “O Lord, there is nothing unattainable, nor is there anything to be feared by anyone who remembers the three-eyed god at all times, and whose hearts are filled with bliss by their constant thoughts of you. 109 There is no one in the womb of this world, in any country or quarter, or in the mountains or forests, who does not bow down his head before you.”
110 “Those whose minds are entirely devoted to their thoughts of you get the rewards of the meritorious acts of their past lives. They water the trees of their present lives to produce their manifold fruit in future births and lives. 111 Lord, your remembrance expands the seed of our desire. You are the jar of the nectar of our knowledge. You are the reservoir of patience, just as the moon is the receptacle of cooling beams. 112 Your remembrance, Lord, is the gateway to the city of salvation. I consider your remembrance as the invaluable gem of my thoughts. 113 O Lord of creation, your remembrance sets its foot on the head of all our disasters.”
114 Having said this much, I bowed down lowly before the pleasing deity. Then I addressed him, O Rama, in the manner as I shall describe. 115 “Lord, it is by your favor that I have the fullness of my heart’s content on every side. Yet as there is one question lurking in my mind. I will ask you to explain it fully to me. 116 Tell me, with your clear understanding and without hesitation or weariness, how to worship the gods to remove all our sins and obtain all good confirmed on us.”
117 Shiva replied: Hear me, O brahmin who is best acquainted with the knowledge of Brahma. I will tell you about the best mode of worshipping the gods, which worship is sure to set the worshipper free. 118 But first, O great armed brahmin, tell me if you know at all who is that god whom you make the object of your worship if it is not the lotus-eyed Vishnu or the three-eyed Shiva? 119 It is not the god born of the lotus Brahma, or he who is the lord of the thirteen classes of gods, the great Indra himself. It is not the god of winds, Pavana, or the god of fire, Agni, or the rulers of the Sun and Moon. 120 The brahmin (the earth god, Bhudeva) is no god at all, nor is the king called the shadow of God any god. Neither I, the ego or you are gods, nor is the body or any embodied being, or the mind or any conception or creation of the mind is the true god. 121Neither Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, nor Saraswati, the goddess of intelligence, is a true goddess, nor is there anyone that may be called a god except the one true God who is without beginning or end.
122 How can a body that can be measured by form and dimensions be the immeasurable deity? It is the real and unlimited Consciousness that is known as the Shiva or the blissful one. 123 That is the meaning of the word god (deva) and that is the object of adoration. That is the only existent being out of which all other beings have proceeded and in which they have their existence, and wherein they exist with their forms.
124 Those unacquainted with the true nature of blissful Shiva worship the forms of idols and images, just as a weary traveler thinks the distance of a mile to be many miles long.125 It is possible to be rewarded for one’s worship of the Rudras and other gods, but the reward from meditation of the true God is the unbounded joy of the soul. 126 He who forsakes the reward of true joy for that of fictitious pleasures is like one who quits a garden of mandara flowers for thorny karanja plants.
127 True worshippers know the purely intellectual and blissful Shiva is the only adorable god. Understanding and tranquility and equanimity of the soul, rather than garlands of flowers, are the most acceptable offerings to this god. 128 Know that the true worship of God the spirit is with the flowers of understanding and tranquility of the spirit. 129 Worship the Soul as consciousness and forsake the adoration of idols. Those devoted to any form or fictitious cult are subject to endless misery. 130 Those knowing the knowable One are called saints, but those who slight meditation of the Soul and adore idols are like little children playing with dolls.
131 Lord Shiva is the spiritual god and the supreme cause of all. He is to be worshipped always and without fail with only understanding. 132 You should know the soul to be the intellectual and living spirit, without decrease as the very nature herself. There is no other to be worshipped. True worship (puja) is of the spirit.
133 Vasishta said, “The soul having the nature of intellectual void, just as this world also is an empty void, please tell me, my lord, how Consciousness could become the living soul, as you have declared.”
134 Shiva replied: There being only empty Consciousness in existence which is beyond all limits, it is impossible for an intelligible object to exist anywhere which may continue to all eternity. 135 That which shines of itself is the self-shining Being. It is the Self, the spontaneous agitation of that Being, which has stretched out the universe. 136 Thus the world appears like a city in dream before the conscious soul. This soul is only a form of empty consciousness and this world is only a baseless fabric.
137 It is altogether impossible for any perceptible phenomena to exist anywhere except in the empty sphere of consciousness. Creation is whatever shone forth in the beginning in the plenitude of Divine Consciousness.
138 Therefore this world which shows itself in the form of a fairyland in dream is only an appearance in the empty sphere of Consciousness. It cannot be any other in reality. 139 Consciousness is human speech and the cosmos that supports the world. Consciousness becomes the soul and the living principle. It forms the chain of created beings.
140 Tell me, what else could know all things in the beginning and even before creation of the universe, except the Consciousness which saw and exhibited everything in heaven and earth as contained in itself? 141 The words “sky”, “firmament” and the “emptiness” of Brahman and the world all apply to Consciousness, just like the words “tree” and “tree” mean the same thing. 142 And as both dreams and desires arise in us by our delusion, so only our illusion in the empty space of consciousness makes us perceive the existence of an outer world. 143 Our empty consciousness shows the sight of the external world in our dream. The same thing shows us the world in our waking dream.
144 It is not possible for a city in a dream to be seen anywhere except in the hollow space of our consciousness. In the same way, it is impossible for the waking dream of the world to be shown anywhere except in the emptiness of consciousness. 145 As it is not possible for anything that can be thought of to exist anywhere except in the thinking mind, so it is impossible for this thinkable world to exist in any place other than the Divine Mind.
146 The triple world rose of itself at the will and in the empty space of Supreme Consciousness, like a dream rising and setting in the mind, and not as anything other than Supreme Consciousness or any duality beside Supreme Consciousness. 147 As one sees the diverse appearances of pots and paintings in his dream, all lying within the hollowness of his mind, so at the beginning of creation, the world appears of itself in the emptiness of Divine Consciousness. 147a As there is no substantiality of anything in the fairyland of one’s dreams except his pure consciousness of the objects, so there is no substantiality of anything seen in this triple world, except our consciousness of them. 148 Whatever is visible to sight, and all that exists or does not exist in the present, past or future, and all space, time and mind are nothing other than appearances in the empty consciousness of Brahman.
149 Brahman is truly the god of whom I have spoken. Only he is supreme in its transcendental sense. He is all and unbounded and includes me, you and the endless world in Himself. 150 The bodies of all created beings, whether yours, mine, or others, and of all in this world are all full with the consciousness of the Supreme Soul and no other. 151 As there is nothing, O sage, except the bodies produced from the empty consciousness of Brahman resembling images produced in the fairyland of one’s dream, so there is no form or figure in this world other than what was made in the beginning of creation.
• • •
Chapter 30 — Shiva Explains How the Consciousness Forgets Itself
1 Shiva said:— Consciousness is all this fullness of space. It is the sole Supreme Soul. It is Brahman the immense and the transcendent vacuum. It is said to be the Supreme God. 2 Therefore, its worship is of the greatest good and confers all blessings to men. It is the source of creation. All this world is situated on it. 3 It is unmade and uncreated, without beginning or end. It is boundless and without a second. It is to be served without external service, and all joy is obtained thereby.
4 You are enlightened, O chief of sages. I tell you that the worship of gods is not worthy to the wise, and offering flowers and incense is of no use to them. 5 Those who are unlearned and have minds as simple as those of children are the ones mostly addicted to false worship and devoted to the adoration of gods. 6 Such people, not having the quietness of their understandings, are led to ceremonious observances and they falsely attribute the images of their own making to the soul. 7 It is only for children to remain content with offering flowers and incense to gods they honor and have adopted of their own choice. 8 Men worship gods in vain to gain the objects of their desires. Nothing that is false of itself can ever give the required fruit. 9 Adoration with flowers and incense is childish understanding. I will tell you the worship that is worthy of men enlightened like yourself. 10 O most intelligent sage, know that the God we adore is the true God, the receptacle of the three worlds, the Supreme Spirit and no other. 11 He is Shiva, the joy, who is above the ranks of all other gods and beyond all of men’s fictions and fictitious images. He is accompanied with all desires and is the enjoyer of neither all or any part of the production of his will. He is full of imaginations of all things, but is neither the all nor any one of the objects in his mind. 12 He encompasses all space and time, and is neither divided nor circumscribed by either. He manifests all events and things, and is nothing except the image of pure Consciousness Himself. 13 He is undivided consciousness situated in the heart of everything. He produces and absorbs everything in himself.
14 Know Brahman is situated between existence and inexistence. It is He who called God the Supreme Soul, the transcendental, that which is (tat sat), and the syllable Om. 15 By his nature of immensity, he spreads alike in all space. Being the great Consciousness himself, he is said to be transcendent and the Supreme Being. 16He remains as all in all places, just as sap circulates through the bodies of plants. The great soul of the Supreme Being similarly extends as the common entity of all things.
17 It is He who abides in the heart of your wife Arundhati, just as He does in yours. He also dwells in the heart of Parvati and in those of her attendants. 18 That reasoning which is the universal mind is one and in everyone in all the three worlds. That truly is the God of the wisest among philosophers.
19 Tell me, O brahmin, how can idols and images be called gods if they have hands and feet but are devoid of consciousness which is the core of the body? 20 Consciousness is the core and foundation of the world containing the sap which supplies everything in it. It is the One and all-ego (sarvahm) and therefore all things are obtained from it.
21 He is not situated at a distance, O brahmin, nor is He unobtainable by anybody. He resides always in all bodies and abides alike in all places, as also in all empty space and sky. 22 He does, He eats, He supports all, and He moves everywhere. He breathes and feels and knows every member of the body. 23 Know, O chief of sages, that He is seated in the city of the body, directing the various functions it manifests under his direct appointment. 24 He is the lord of the cavity of the heart and the several hidden sheaths (koshas) contained within the body which He makes and moves as he pleases.
25 The pure soul is beyond the essence and actions of the mind and the six organs of sense. It is only for our use and understanding that we apply the word consciousness (chit) to Him. 26 That intellectual Spirit is too minute, subtle, pure and all-pervading — and it is his choice and will — to manifest a visible representation of himself or not. 27 This consciousness is too fine and pure, and yet manages the whole machinery for beautifying the world, just as the subtle and intelligent season of spring beautifies the vegetable world with freshness and moisture.
28 The beautiful and wonderful properties residing in Divine Consciousness are astonishing to behold in their various displays, such as the sky. 29 Some of these take the name of “living soul” and others assume the name “mind.” Some take the general name of space and others are known as its parts and divisions. 30 Some pass under the name of substance and others of their action. Some are called the different categories of mode and condition, genus, species and adjuncts. 31 Some shine as light and others stand as mountains and hills. Some brighten as the sun and moon and the gods above, and others are like the dark yakshas below. 32 All these continue in their own states without any option on their part. They evolve of their own nature and the causation of the Divine Spirit, just as the sprouts of trees grow of their own accord under the influence of spring season.
33 It is Consciousness alone that extends over all the works of nature and fills all bodies spread over the vast ocean of the world, just as aquatic plants swim over the surface of waters. 34 The deluded mind wanders like a wandering bee, collecting the sweets of its desire from the lotus of the body. Consciousness sits as its mistress, tasting their essence from within.
35 The world with all its gods, gandharvas, seas and hills rolls about in the circuit of Consciousness just like water in a whirlpool. 36 Human minds, like the spokes of a wheel, are bound to the axles of their worldly affairs, turning around and around in the ever revolving world, all within the circumference of Consciousness.
37 It was Consciousness in the form of four-armed Vishnu who destroyed the entire host of demon asuras, just as the rainy season dispels solar heat with its thundering clouds and rainbows. 38 It is Consciousness in the form of the three-eyed Shiva, accompanied by his symbols of the bull and the crescent moon, who continues to show affection, like a fond bee, on the lovely, lotus-like face of his consort Gauri. 39 It was Consciousness that was born in the form of Brahma, like a bee in the lotus-like navel of Vishnu, and settled in his meditation upon the lotus of the triple Vedas. 40 In this manner Consciousness appears in various forms, like innumerable leaves of trees, and like different kind of ornaments made of the same gold metal.
41 Of its own pleasure, Consciousness assumes the paramount dignity of Indra, who is the crown jewel over the three worlds and whose feet are honored by the entire assembly of gods. 42 Consciousness expands, rises and falls, and circulates everywhere in the womb of the triple world, just as the waters of the deep overflow, recede and move about in itself. 43 The moonbeams of Consciousness scatter their brightness everywhere to display to full view the lotus lake of all created beings in the world. 44 The translucently bright mirror of Consciousness shows the reflections of the world and benignly receives the images of all things in its bosom, as if it were pregnant with them. 45 Consciousness gives existence to the circles of the fourteen great regions of creation above and below. It plants them in the watery expanse of the sea on earth, and in the ethereal expanse of the waters in heaven.
46 Consciousness spreads itself like a vine in the empty field of air, and becomes fruitful with multitudes of created beings. It blossoms in the varieties of different peoples and shoots forth in the leaves of their dense desires. 47 These throngs of livings beings are like its pollen flying about. Their desires are like the juice that gives the blossoms their different colors. Their understandings are their covering skins, and the efforts of their minds are buds that unfold with the flowers and fruit of their desires. 48 The graceful pistils of these small flowers are countless in the three worlds. Their constant quivering in the air express their gay dance with the sweet smiling of opening buds. 49 Consciousness stretches out all these real and unreal bodies that expand like gentle and attractive flowers for a time, but never endure forever.
50 Consciousness produces men everywhere like moon-bright flowers, and these flush and blush and sing and dance about considering themselves to be real bodies. 51 It is by the power of this great Consciousness that the sun and other luminous bodies shine in the sky, just as two lovers are attracted to each another to taste the fruit of their enjoyment as gross bodies.
52 All visible bodies seen to move about in this phenomenal world are like flakes of dust dancing in a whirling current.
53 Consciousness is like the light of the universe. It manifests all the phenomena of the three worlds to us, just as the flame of a lamp shows us the various colors of things. 54 All worldly things exhibit their beauty to our sight because they are immersed in the light of Consciousness, just as the dark spot on the moon becomes fully apparent to view by its immersion in lunar beams. 55 By receiving the gilding of Consciousness, all material bodies are shaded in their various colors, just as different trees receive their freshness, foliage and fruit from the influence of rainy weather.
56 Shadow causes the dullness of an object. All bodies are inanimate without Consciousness, just as a house becomes dark without light. 57 If the wonderful powers of Consciousness are lacking in anything, it becomes a shapeless thing and cannot possibly have any form or figure. 58 Consciousness is like light from the sky. Its active power or energy is like its consort residing with her children of desires in the abode of the body, ever restless and busy in her actions. 59 Without the presence of Consciousness, it is impossible for anyone to perceive the taste of any flavor, though it is set on the tip of his tongue.
60 Hear me and tell me. How can this tree garden of the body exist, with its branching arms and hairy filaments, without being supplied with the sap of Consciousness? 61Know hence that Consciousness, by growing and feeding and supporting them all, is the cause of all moving and immovable things in nature. Know also that Consciousness is the only thing in existence. All else is nonexistent without it.
62 Vasishta said:— Rama, after the moon-bright and three-eyed god had spoken to me in his clear intelligible speech, I asked the moon-bright god again in a clear and audible voice, saying, 63 “O lord, if Consciousness alone is all pervading and the soul of all, then I have not yet been able to know this visible earth in its true light. 64 Tell me. Why do people describe a living person as endued with consciousness as long as he is alive, and say he is devoid of consciousness when he is laid down as a dead and lifeless mass?”
65 The god Shiva replied:— Hear me tell you, O brahmin, all about what you have asked me. It is a question of great importance and requires, O greatest of devotees, a long explanation.
66 Consciousness resides in everybody and all things as their inherent soul. The one is viewed as the individual and active Spirit, and the other is known as the unchanging and Universal Soul. 67 The mind misled by its desires views the inner spirit as another, just as a greedy person takes his consort for another in his dream. 68 As the same man seems to be changed to another person during his fit of anger, so sober consciousness is transformed to a changeable spirit by one’s mistake of its true nature.
69 Consciousness loses its state of purity when it is attributed with many variable qualities and desires. By thinking constantly of it gross nature, consciousness is at last converted to the very gross object of thought. 70 Then the subjective intellect (chit) becomes itself the object of thought (chetya), and having assumed the subtle form of a minute ethereal atom, it becomes the element of sound. Afterwards it is transformed into the rudimentary particle of air. 71 Then this aerial particle, qualified by time and place, becomes the vital principle, which next turns into understanding, then finally to the mind. 72 Consciousness transformed into the mind dwells on its thoughts of the world. Then it is amalgamated with it, in the same manner as a brahmin is changed into a tribal by constantly thinking himself as one.
73 Thus Divine Consciousness forgets its universality by its thoughts of particulars and assumes the gross forms of the objects of its thoughts and desires. 74 Thus Consciousness being full of endless thoughts and desires grows as dull as the gross objects it thinks upon, until at last the subtle intellect grows as stony dull as pure water frozen into massive hailstones. 75 The impassive intellect takes the names of mind and sense and becomes subject to ignorance and illusion by contracting a gross impassivity. Restrained from its flight upwards, the intellect has to grovel forever in the regions of sense.
76 First the intellect becomes subjected to ignorance, then it is fast bound to the fetters of its desires, and then pinched by its yearnings and angry sufferings, it is tormented by the pleasure of affluence and the pains of privation. 77 By forsaking the endless joy (of spirituality), the intellect is subjected to the constantly changing fortunes of mortality. It becomes dejected in despair, lamenting over its grief and sorrow, then burning amidst the fires of its sorrows and misery.
78 See how it is harassed with the vain thought of its personality that “I am such a one.” Look at the miseries to which it is exposed by its reliance on the frail and false body. 79See how worried it is by being pushed to and fro in the alternate swinging beds of prosperity and adversity. See how it is plunged into the deep and muddy puddle of misery, like a worn out elephant sinking in the mud. 80 Look at this deep and impassable ocean of the world, all hollow within and rolling with the eventful waves of causation. It emits undersea fire from within its bosom, just as the human heart flashes forth with its hidden fire of passions and affections.
81 The human heart staggers between hope and fear like a stray dear in the forest, alternately cheered and depressed at the prospects of affluence and want. 82 The mind led by its desire is always apprehensive of disappointment. It coils back for fear of a reverse, just as a frightened girl flies away from the sight of a ghost. 83 Man encounters all kinds of pain to obtain a certain pleasure, just as a camel browses thorny shrubs in hope of honey inside. But the man slips part way and is hurled headlong to the bottom. 84 A man meeting with a reverse falls from one danger to another, so he meets with fresh disasters, as if one evil invited the other. 85 The mind, captivated by its desires and led onward by its efforts, meets with one difficulty after another and has cause to repent and grieve at every step. 86 As a man advances in life, so he improves in his learning. But alas! At best, all his worldly knowledge serves to bind his soul even more to the earth.
87 Cowards are in constant fear of everything until they die in their fear, just as little shrimp, being afraid of a waterfall, fall on dry land where they perish struggling. 88 The helplessness of childhood, the anxieties of manhood, and the misery of old age are all preliminaries to the sad deaths of men engaged in a busy life.
89 The propensities of past lives cause some to be born as celestial nymphs in heaven, and others as venomous serpents in underground holes. Some become fierce demons, and many are reborn as men and women on earth. 90 Men’s past actions make them born again as rakshasas among savages or as monkeys in forests. Some become kinnaras on mountains and many as lions on mountain tops. 91 The vidyadharas of the Devagiri Mountains, the naagas of forest caves, the birds of the air, woodland animals with four feet, forest trees and plants, bushes on hills and orchids on trees are all only reincarnations.
92 It is the same Consciousness which causes Narayana to float on the surface of the sea and makes the lotus-born Brahma remain in his meditation. It keeps Hara in the company of his consort Uma and places Hari over the gods in heaven. 93 It is this Consciousness which makes the sun make the day and the clouds give rain. It makes the sea breathe out in waves and volcanic mountains blow out in fire and flame. 94 It makes the wheel of time continually revolve in the circle of the seasons, and causes day and night to rotate in their cycles of light and darkness. 95 Here it causes seeds to sprout and grow with the juice in them, and there it makes stones and minerals lie down in mute silence. 96Sometimes it blooms in fruit ripened by the sun’s heat, and at other times matured by burning fuel. Somewhere it gives us cold and icy water, and at other places it gives spring water that cannot be tasted. 97 Here it glows in luminous bodies, and there it shows itself as impenetrable thickets and inaccessible rocks. It shines bright and white in one place, and dark and blue in another. It sparkles in fire and dwindles in earth. It blows in air and spreads in water.
98 Being the all-pervading, omnipresent, and omnipotent power itself, Consciousness is the one in all and the whole fullness of space. Therefore, it is more subtle and transparent than the rarefied and translucent air. 99 As Consciousness spreads out and contracts itself in any manner in any place or time, so it conceives and produces the same within and without itself, just as the agitation of waters produces both little waves and huge surges of the sea.
100 Consciousness stretches itself in the various forms of ducks and geese, of cranes and crows, of storks, wolves and horses also. It becomes the heron and partridge, the parrot, the dog, the male deer, the monkey, and kinnara likewise. 101 It is the abstract qualities of understanding, beauty and modesty, and of love and affections also. It is the power of illusion and the shadow and brightness of night and moonlight. 102 It stretches itself in these and all other forms of bodies, and is born and reborn in all kinds and species of things. It wanders and rolls all about the revolving world like straw whirling in a whirlpool. 103 It is afraid of its own desires, just as the she-ass is seen to shudder at its own braying, yet it has no one like itself.
104 I have told you already, O great sage, how this principle of the living spirit becomes weakened by its animal propensities and is later debased to the nature and condition of brute creatures. 105 The Supreme Soul receiving the name of living soul, the principle of action becomes a pitiable object. It becomes subject to error and illusion and is subjected to endless pains and miseries. 106 Then the deluded soul is overpowered by its past actions which cause it to choose the wrong unreality for itself. The unreality being frail and perishable makes the active soul perish and undergo countless troubles. Just like the husk born with the rice grain, this consciousness carries its impurity with it. 107 The soul, degraded from its state of endless joy to the miserable condition of mortal life, laments over its fallen state like a widow wailing over her fate.
108 Look on the deplorable condition of consciousness (chit), which having forgotten its original state of purity, is subjected to impotent ignorance. Ignorance casts the living soul into the miseries of degradation, just like they use rope to cast a bucket in a well, lowering it lower and lower until it sinks to the bottom of the pit.
• • •
Chapter 31 — Shiva on Consciousness, Living Soul, Understanding, Mind, Vital Air and the Body
1 Shiva continued:— When Consciousness takes the vanities of the world to itself and thinks itself to be a miserable being, it is said to have fallen into error. Then it resembles a dreaming or intoxicated man who is deluded to think he is someone else. 2 Though immortal, yet Consciousness is deceived to believe itself to be mortal by its infatuated understanding, just as a sick man weeps to think he is dead when he is still alive. 3 As an ignorant man sees the revolving spheres to be at a standstill, so the deluded intellect sees the world and thinks its personality as sober realities.
4 The mind alone is said to cause the perception of the exterior world, but the mind cannot be the cause because it is impossible for the mind to have a separate existence independent of consciousness.
5 Thus, it being impossible for the mind to cause, whatever phenomena the mind appears to cause also cannot exist. Therefore consciousness is the only cause of thought, and not the mind or phenomena. 6 There is no spectacle or spectator of anything anywhere other than a delusion, like that which makes oiliness appear on a rock. There is no matter, making or work of any kind unless it is a mistake like darkness in the moon.
7 The terms measure, measurer, and measurable are as nonexistent in nature as a forest of plants in the sky. The words consciousness, intellect, reasoning and intelligible are as meaningless in themselves as the absence of thorns and thistles in the Nandana garden of paradise. 8 The personalities of “I”, “you”, and “it” are as false as mountains in the sky. Differences among persons are as untrue as whiteness in ink. 9 The Divine Spirit is neither the same nor different in all bodies because it is as impossible for the Universal Soul to be confined in anybody as it is impracticable for Mount Meru to be contained in an atom of dust. It is impossible to express the Divine Spirit using words and their meanings, just as sandy soil is incapable of growing tender herbs.
10 The saying, “Not this, not that,” is as untrue as the belief that the darkness of night exists in company with daylight. Substantiality and insubstantiality are both as lacking in the Supreme Spirit as heat is lacking in ice. 11 It is as wrong to call the Supreme Spirit empty or solid, just as it is wrong to say a tree is growing in the womb of a stone. To call Spirit either the one or the other is to describe it as the infinite vacuum or the full existence.
12 The sole Unity remains in its state of pure transparency forever. Being unborn from anyone’s thought or mind, it is not subject to misrepresentation by anyone. 13 However, the thoughts of men attribute many faults and failings to Spirit, but all these imputations and false attributes vanish before the person knowing its true nature.
14 The learned, devoid of detachment, are employed in many thoughts and things though not even a straw in all this vast world is under anyone’s command. 15 It is in everyone’s power to get rid of his thoughts, but it is very difficult to get the object of his thought. Then how is it possible for one to have that which is impracticable for him to seek?
16 The one sole and immutable Consciousness that pervades all nature is the supreme One without equal. It is more transparent than the translucent light of a lamp and all other lights. 17 It is this intellectual light that enlightens everything. It is everywhere and ever translucent. It is ever shining without shade and immutable in its nature and mind. 18It is situated everywhere and in all things, such as pots and pictures, trees and huts, houses, four-footed animals, demons, devils, men, beasts, the sea, earth and air. 19 It remains as the all witnessing Spirit without any vibration or motion of its own to any place. It enlightens all objects without flickering or doing any action by itself. 20 It remains without stained by any connection with an impure body. It continues unchangeable in its relation with the changeful mind. It does not become dull by being joined with the dull body, and it is never changed to anything by its extension over all things.
21 The extremely minute and immutable Consciousness retains its consciousness in itself. By rolling itself like a spool of thread, it enters the body in the form of a particle of air.22 Then it is accompanied by the powers of vision and reflection, which are wakeful in the waking state and lie dormant in sleep, which is why these are said to be existent and nonexistent by turns. 23 Then the clear and pure consciousness comes to think of many things in its waking state. Thus it is perverted from its purity, just as an honest man who keeps company with the dishonest ends up turning to dishonesty. 24 The intellect contracting and distracting itself with vicious thoughts is like pure gold alloyed with copper that is restored to purity by removing the copper. 25 A good mirror cleaned of its dirt shows a face in clear light. In the same way, the intellect born in a human body attains its divine nature through its good understanding. 26 If the intellect lacks knowledge of itself as the All, it presents a false world as a true reality. But upon coming to know its true nature, it attains the divine state.
27 When the mind thinks it is different from Consciousness and separate from the unrealities in nature, it gets the sense of its egoism, then it perishes though originally it is imperishable in its nature. 28 As a slight wind scatters the fruit of trees growing on the sides of a mountain, so the consciousness of self drops down at the gust of a slight disease.29 The existence of form, color and other qualities is due to consciousness, just as the position of inferiors depends upon the station of the superior. Through lack of understanding the pure consciousness, infinite and indefinite in itself, is described as a unity, duality or plurality.
30 It is only because of Consciousness that the mind and senses derive their faculties of thinking and perception, just as daylight gives rise to the daily routines of business. 31The action of vital energy gives pulsation to the pupils of the eye whose light is called sight and which is the instrument of perceiving the forms and colors of things placed outside it. But perception is the power and action of Consciousness.
32 Air and skin are both contemptible and unconscious things, yet their union gives the perception of touch and feeling. The mind becomes conscious of that feeling, but its awareness depends upon and is caused by Consciousness.
33 The particles of scent carried by air to the nostrils give the sense of smell to the mind, but it is Consciousness which perceives the smell.
34 The particles of sound are conveyed by the fluctuations of air to the organ of hearing for the mind to perceive, and the Intellect is conscious of this as in its sleep.
35 The mind is the principle of willing action from some desire or to some end and aim of its own. The thoughts of the mind are mixed with foulness, while the nature of the intellectual soul is quite pure and simple. 36 Consciousness is manifest by itself and is situated of itself in itself. It contains the world within itself like a crystal stone retains the images of all things in its bosom. 37 It is the single and sole Consciousness which contains the whole, without dividing or transforming itself into parts or forms other than itself. It neither rises nor sets, nor moves nor grows at any place or time. 38 It becomes the living soul by fostering its desires, and remains as pure Consciousness by forsaking them forever. Seated in itself, it reflects on its two gross and pure states.
39 Consciousness has the living soul for its vehicle, and the individual ego is the vehicle of the living soul. Understanding is the vehicle of the individual ego, and the mind is the seat of the understanding. 40 The mind has vital breath for its vehicle, and the senses are the vehicles of the vital airs. The body is the carriage of the senses, and the organs of action are the wheels of the body. 41 The motion of these vehicles forms the course of this world and the continued rotation of the body until old age and death, which is the dispensation of the almighty power.
42 The world is shown to us as an optical illusion of the Supreme Soul, like a scene in our dream. It is a reflection and completely untrue, like water in a mirage.
43 Know, O sage, that the vital breath is called the vehicle of the mind only by fiction because wherever there is the vital breath, there is also the process of thinking going on with it. 44 Wherever the vital breath circulates like a thread, acting like a spring, the body is made to shake with it, just as the forms and colors of bodies present themselves to view in light. 45 The mind employed with its desires moves the vital breath and the body like a storm shakes a forest. But when the mind is confined within the cavity of the heart, it stops their motion like winds confined in the upper skies. 46 Confinement of the vital breath in the emptiness of the heart stops the course of the thoughts just as hiding a light removes the visibility of objects. 47 As dust ceases to fly after winds are over, so the thoughts in the mind cease to move when the breath is pent up in the heart.
48 As a carriage is driven wherever the driver wishes to drive it, so the mind driven by the vital breath runs from country to country in a moment. 49 As a stone flung from a sling is lost forever, so the thoughts of the mind are dispersed in the air unless they are fixed upon some object. Thoughts are inherent in the mind and vitality just like fragrance is inherent in flowers and heat in fire. 50 Wherever there is vital breath breathing, there is the principle of the mind with its trains of thoughts, just as whenever the moon appears it is accompanied by its beams. Our consciousness is the result of the vibrations of vital air, like our perception of phenomena. This air sustains the body by supplying juice from food to all the nerves and arteries.
51 Mind and intellect both belong to the body, the one residing in the hollow of vital air, and the other is as clear as consciousness and resides in all gross and subtle bodies, like the all pervading and transparent emptiness. 52 Consciousness remains in the form of conscious self-existence in dull inanimate bodies and appears to be afraid of the vibrations of animal life. 53 The mind recognizes the dull body, enlivened by vital breath, as belonging to itself, and plays many parts and sports with it, just like in its prior state of existence.
54 The mind no longer vibrates after breathing ceases, then, O sage, pure Consciousness is reflected in the eightfold receptacle of vacuum. [The eight basic
elements are earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect and identity.]
55 As only a mirror can reflect an image and not a rock, so only the mind serves as the eightfold receptacle, the agent of all actions, and is called by different names according to the views of different spiritual teachers.
56 That which gives rise to the network of our imaginary visible world, and that in which it appears to be situated, and that whereby the mind is made to revolve in various bodies, know that supreme substance to be the Immensity of Brahman, the source of all this world.
• • •
Chapter 32 — Shiva on the Preservation and Dissolution of the Body
1 Shiva continued:— Listen, holy sage! I will now explain how the active and oscillating principle of consciousness acts on the human body and makes it move, whereby it receives the noble title of its active agent. 2 But a mind compelled by its former propensities prevails over the intellect. Being hardened in its vicious deeds, the mind pursues its changing wishes and desires. 3 The mind strengthened by illusion, the intellect becomes as dumb and hard as a rock. This power of delusion, growing stronger by divine dispensation, displays the universe to view.
4 It is by the good grace of this power that consciousness is sometimes allowed to perceive the fallacy of this city-in-the-sky world, and at others times to believe it to be a reality. 5 The body is as dumb as a rock without the presence of intellect, mind and its individual ego. When these are present, then the body moves about like a stone flung in the air. 6 As dull iron is made to move by the presence of a magnet, so the living soul acts its parts by the presence of the omnipresent Soul.
7 The power of the all pervading Soul makes the living principle shoot out into infinity forever, just as seeds sprout into trees everywhere. Just like a mirror receives the reflection of objects situated some distance away, so the living soul reflects the image of the distant Supreme Spirit.
8 Forgetting its own real nature, the living soul contracts to become a foul gross object, just as a legitimate twice born man (brahmin), forgetting his birth, mistakes himself for a shudra (low caste). 9 By forgetting its own essence, consciousness is transformed into the sensuous mind, just as some great souls are deceived to believe they are miserable by being distracted from their awareness of their consciousness.
10 The intellect moves the dull and inert body, just as the force of winds shakes the waters of the deep to roll and range about in successions of waves. 11 The active mind, always prone to action, randomly leads the body machine together with the passive and helpless living soul, just as the winds blow in different directions carrying inert materials with it. 12 The body is the vehicle, and God employs the mind and vital breath as the two horses or bullocks that drive it. 13 Others say that the rarefied consciousness assumes a compact form, which becomes the living soul, and this riding on the car of the mind drives it by the vital airs as its racers.
14 Sometimes consciousness seems like something born and in being, as in its state of waking and witnessing objects all around. At others it seems to be dead and lost as in its state of deep sleep. Again, it appears as many as in its dreaming state. At last it comes to know itself as one when it comes to the knowledge of truth and its identity with the sole unity. 15 Sometimes it seems to be of a different form, without forsaking its own nature, just as milk becomes butter and curds, and just as water appears in the shapes of waves and foam.
16 As all things depend upon light to display their different forms and colors, so the mental powers and faculties all depend upon the conscious soul for their different actions.17 The Supreme Spirit situated in the mind within the body gives the animal soul its life and action, just as all things appear to sight while a lamp shines inside the room.
18 The ungoverned mind gives rise to all diseases and difficulties rising as quickly and thickly as rough waters rise in waves foaming with thickening froth. 19 The living soul, dwelling like a bee in the lotus bed of the body, is subject to diseases and difficulties like the bee is to rains and flood. The living soul is as disturbed by the casualties of life as calm seawater is disturbed to waves by blowing winds.
20 The idea that “the Divine Soul is omnipotent, and the living soul is impotent and limited in its powers; therefore the human soul is not the same as the divine” is the cause of our grief and serves to darken understanding, just as clouds raised by the sunlight obscure the sun.
21 The living soul passes through many incarnations in its ignorance and utter lack of self consciousness, like one subdued to dullness by some sleeping drug that makes him insensitive to the pain inflicted upon his own body. 22 But as the living soul comes to know itself through some means or another, it recovers from its dull unconsciousness and regains its state of original purity, just as a drunken or deluded person turns to his duty once he comes to remember himself. 23 The living soul fills the body and is employed in enlivening all its members. It does not strive to know the cause of its consciousness, just as a leper never attempts to use the parts of his body he is incapable of raising.
24 When the soul is devoid of its consciousness, it no longer makes the lotus-like heart beat and vibrate with the breath of respiration. The heart becomes as motionless as a sacrificial vessel untouched by the priest. 25 When the action of the lotus-shaped heart stops, the motion of the vital breaths also stops, just as the fanning of the palm leaf being over, there is no more breeze. 26 Cessation of the vital air in the body and its flight to some other form (i.e., death) silences life which recedes into the original soul, just as flying dust settles when the winds die down. 27 At this time, O sage, the mind remains in its unstained state without support until it gets another body in which it rests like a seed in soil and water. 28 Thus, the causes of life cease, the eight principles of the body become inert and extinct, and the body drops and becomes defunct and motionless. 29 Forgetting intellect, the intelligible (truth), and intelligence produces the desires to vibrate. This brings memories of the past, or they are buried in oblivion.
30 The expansion of the lotus-like heart causes the subtle body (puryashtaka, astral body) to expand also, but when the organ of the heart ceases to blow and breathe, the body ceases to move. 31 As long as elements of the subtle body remain in the physical body, it lives and breathes, but when these elementary powers are quiet and still, the body becomes inert and is said to be dead.
32 When the contrary humors, or feelings and passions and conscious perceptions, or outward wounds and strokes cause the inner actions of the heart to stop, 33 then the eight-fold material body forces are pent up in the cavity of the heart, just as the force of winds is lost in the hollow of a pair of bellows.
34 When a living body has its inner consciousness but becomes inert and motionless in its outer parts and members, it is still alive by the action of breathing in the inner organ of the heart. 35 Those whose pure and holy desires never forsake their hearts live in a quiet and even state of life. They are known as the living liberated and long living seers.
36 When the action of the lotus-like machine of the heart has ceased and breath no longer circulates in the body, it loses its steadiness and falls unsupported on the ground like a block of wood or stone. 37 As the eight-fold body mixes with the air in the emptiness of the sky, so the mind also is absorbed in it at the same time. 38 But being accompanied by thoughts to which it has been long accustomed, the mind continues to wander about in the air in the regions of heaven and hell where it had long believed it would go upon leaving the body. 39 The body becomes a dead corpse after the mind has fled into the air. The body remains like an empty house after its occupant has left.
40 The all pervading Consciousness, by its power of reasoning, becomes both the living soul and the mind. Passing from its embodied form, it assumes its spiritual nature. 41 In its heart it fosters the subtle essence of the elemental mind, which later assumes a grosser form like the thoughts of things appear in dream. 42 Then, as the intensity of its thoughts makes the unreal world appear as real, it comes to forget and forsake its spiritual nature and transforms itself into a gross body. 43 By mistake it thinks the unreal body is substantial, the unreal is real, and the real is unreal. 44 The intellect is only a particle of the all pervading Consciousness that makes the living soul and which reflects itself in the form of the intelligent mind. Then the mind ascends on the vehicle of the eight-fold body and surveys the phenomenal world as a sober reality.
45 Consciousness is the prime mobile power that gives force to the eight-fold material body to move itself. The action of the breath in the heart, called life, resembles the spiritual force of a ghost rising up in an inert body. 46 When the aerial mind flies into the empty air, after its material frame is weakened and worn out, then the lifeless body remains like a block of wood or stone. Then it is called dead by the living.
47 As the living soul forgets its spiritual nature, becoming decayed in course of time and according to the frail nature of material things, it fades and falls away like withered leaves. 48 When the vital power forsakes the body and the action of the heart muscles stop, the breath of life becomes extinct and the animated being is said to die.
49 All beings, having been born and come to life, fade away in time like all created things in the world. Human bodies also fade and fall away in time, like the withered leaves of trees. 50 The bodies of all embodied beings are equally doomed to be born and die in their time, just as the leaves of trees constantly grow and fall off in season. Why then should we lament the loss of what is surely to be lost?
51 Look at these chains of living bodies, indiscriminately and constantly rising and falling like bubbles and waves in the vast ocean of Divine Consciousness. There is no difference between any and another. Why then should the wise make any distinction between objects that are equally frail in their nature, and proceed from and return to the same source? 52 All-pervading Consciousness reflects itself only in the mind of man, and nowhere else, just as only the mirror receives the reflections of objects and not any other opaque substance.
53 The acts and fates of men are all imprinted in the spacious and clear page of Divine Consciousness, yet all embodied beings cry and complain loudly against the decrees of Heaven which are the results of their own ignorance and tend towards their bitter grief and vain lamentation.
• • •
Chapter 33 — Shiva: Resolution of Duality into Unity; Creation Really Exists
1 Vasishta said, “Tell me, my lord who bears the crescent moon on his forehead. How does the pure and simple essence of Consciousness, which is an infinite unity and ever uniform and immutable in its nature, become transmuted to the finite dualities of the variable and impure soul and mind? 2 Tell me, O great god, how this uncaused prime cause becomes diffused in endless varieties. How can we get rid of the plurality of our creeds by our wisdom and put an end to our miseries?”
3 Shiva replied:— When the omnipotent God remains as one unity of immensity, then of course it is absurd to speak of his duality or plurality, or of any manifestation of a part of himself. 4 Taking the single to be double is to ascribe duality to unity. It is futile to ascribe duality to simple consciousness that by its nature is indivisible. 5 The lack of the number one means there is neither unity or duality. There can be no dual without the singular, or single unless there be the number two. 6 The cause and its effect being of one nature, they are both of the same kind, just as the fruit and the seed contained in it. The difference attributed to cause and effect from the change of one thing to the other is only the mere fiction of imagination.
7 The mind itself evolves in its thoughts at its own will. The changes occurring in itself are in no way different from its own nature, just as the seed and fruit are of the same nature. The same fruit produces the same seeds, and these again bring forth the same fruit. 8 Many modifications constantly arise in the infinite mind of the almighty Maker as its eternal will. These actually take place in positive existences. In this world, substantive forms bear the relation of causes and their effects. 9 These productions are like waves in the sea, or a mirage to the children of a barren woman, or the horns of a rabbit, all which are nothing and not in being. They are all as negative as water on a mountaintop or barley growing on the head of a hare.
10 If we inquire into the real truth, we must refrain from arguing over words. Though all things tend to establish the unity, yet it is difficult even in thought to do away with differences, such as those between words and their meanings.
11 The essence of divine omnipotence is not divisible into portions or fractions, like sea waves that are broken into foam and spray. 12 As the leaves, stalks, branches and flowers of trees are nothing other than the same substance, so unity, duality, I, you, and the objectivity of the phenomenal world are not different from the essence of the subjective Consciousness which contains and puts forth itself in all these forms. 13 All time and place and variety of forms are only modifications of Consciousness, so it is improper for us to question the reality of those and assert the certainty of this Consciousness.
14 Time and space and the powers of action and destiny all derive from and are directed by Consciousness and have their own conscious natures. 15 As the power of thinking, the thought and its object together compose the principle of the mind, so the whole universe and everything that bears a name are all included under the term Consciousness (chit) in the same way as water and its rise and fall are all included under the word “wave”. 16 The thoughts that continually rise and fall in the great ocean of the Intellect are like the waves that heave and settle on the surface of the noisy sea.
17 This Supreme Consciousness is known by the various names of the Lord, God, Truth, Shiva, Intellect and others, as it is by the various names of emptiness, unity and Supreme Spirit. 18 Such is the nature of God, whom no words can express and who is called the Ego or the subjective “I am that I am”. God is beyond the power of speech to describe.
19 All that is seen is only the leaves, fruit, flowers and branches of the all creeping vine of Consciousness which, being diffused in all, leaves nothing that is different from it.
20 Divine Consciousness (chit) being omniscient has the great ignorance underlying it. Then looking at this side of itself, it takes the name of the living soul and beholds this shadowy world stretched outside the Divine Mind, as when we see a second moon in the moon’s reflection cast upon clouds. 21 Then, the intellect thinking itself to be a living being and other than what it is, it becomes of the same nature as it thinks and forms itself by its own will. 22 Being transformed from its perfect and immaculate state to that of an imperfect and impure nature, it is made to wade in the stream of this world without ever thinking.
23 The intellectual form, being then assimilated with the elemental body (puryashtaka, astral or subtle body), receives its vital or mortal life and living soul which lives by reflection of the essence of Supreme Consciousness. 24 The spiritual body is transformed into the frail living body, which being joined with quintessence of the five-fold elements, comes to know itself as material substance. 25 Next this substance is infused with the vital breath and receives its vigor and strength like the seed of a plant. Then it feels itself to be endued with life and is conceived in the uterus in its own conception. 26 The same false conception of its gross materiality misleads consciousness into the belief of its own ego and personality. It also conceives its state as a moving or inert being, and this conception instantly converts it into that same form.
27 Again, the simultaneous meeting of a person’s memories and desires changes its former habitual and meaner form to that of a larger and grosser kind. 28 Duality from one’s essential identity and unity results from thinking oneself to be other than what he really is, just as a man becomes a devil by thinking he is possessed by a ghost. 29 The thought of duality of one identical soul in its two aspects of Supreme Soul and individual souls is driven away by the conviction that I do nothing and the agency of all actions rests in the great God himself.
30 The unity is perceived as duality by the dualistic habits of men. Belief in unity destroys the sense of dualism and plurality. 31 There is no duality or secondary being in the individual soul. The living soul may be regarded as the Supreme Soul because there is only one soul, unchangeable without decay at all times and everywhere.
32 All works of imagination disperse with the dispersion of the fumes of fancy, just as one’s aerial castle and fairy city vanish after the frenzied flight of the imaginary dream. 33It is painful to erect a fabric of imagination, but there is no pain whatever in breaking it down. The mental machinery of imagination is well skilled in building the aerial cities, but not in demolishing them. 34 If the fullness of one’s desires and fancies fill life with pains and troubles, the lack of such wishes and views must serve to set him free from these pains forever. 35 If even a slight desire is enough to expose a man to many cares in life, then its utter privation must afford him complete rest and quiet in his transient state of being.
36 When your mind is loosened from your many serpentine desires, then you will enjoy the sweets of the garden of paradise. 37 Drive away and disperse the clouds of your desire by the breeze of your reason. Come and enjoy your rest under the calm and clear autumn sky of your detachment. 38 Dry the impetuous currents of your rapid desires by the charms of amulets and mantras, then restrain yourself from being carried away by the flood and restrict your mind to its dead inaction. 39 Place your trust in the conscious soul (chit atma) seated in the cavity of your heart, and look upon mankind driven to and fro by the gusts of their desire to be like bits of straw flying randomly in turbulent air. 40 Wash the dirt of your desires out from your mind by the pure water of your spiritual knowledge. Secure the perfect tranquility of your soul and continue to enjoy the highest bliss of a holy life.
41 God is all powerful and omnipresent and displays himself in all forms everywhere. 42 It is thought or imagination that makes the false world appear as true. To make the world vanish into nothing also depends upon thought. 43 The network of our thoughts and desires is interwoven with the threads of our repeated births. The winds of our detachment and indifference blow off this web and settle us in the state of supreme joy.
44 Greed is a thorny plant that has taken deep root in the human heart. It is fostered under the shade of the tree of desire. Root out this tree of desire and the thorny bush of greed will fade away of itself.
45 The world is a shadow, a reflection that rises to view and disappears by turns. An error of the brain presents the sight of the course of nature, like that of a fairyland presented to us in a dream. 46 The king who forgets his nature as the Almighty mistakes himself for a prince who has become the ruler of a land. This concept springs from ignorance of his divine nature. It soon vanishes after he comes to the real knowledge of himself. 47 The king in possession of his present royalty has no memory of his past states, as in the serenity of the autumn we do not remember the foulness of past rainy weather. 48 The thought that is predominant in the mind naturally prevails over fainter and weaker thoughts, just as the highest pitch in music overcomes the bass tones and takes possession of the ear.
49 Think in yourself that you are One. Keep this single reflection before you and holding fast to it, you will become the object of your meditation.
50 Such is the spiritual meditation of spiritually minded people like you who aspire to the highest joy of the Supreme Being. The external forms of worship are fit only for ungoverned minds who seek only their temporal welfare. Worship composed of the worshipper, the forms of the ritual, and the offerings are of ignorant minds and are too insignificant to the wise.
• • •
Chapter 34 — Shiva: Three Stages of Awakening
1 Shiva continued:— Such is the constitution of this world made up of reality and unreality and bearing the stamp of the Almighty. It is composed of unity and duality, yet is free of both.
2 Foul ignorance disfigures the conscious intellect so that it views the outer world as distinct from its maker, but to the clear sighted there is no separate outer world. Both inner and outer blend together in unity. 3 The perverted intellect that considers itself to be the body is truly confined in it. But when it considers itself to be a particle of and identical with the divine, it is liberated from its confinement. 4 The intellect loses its integrity by believing the duality of its form and sense. Combined with pleasure and pain, it no longer retains its real essence. 5 Its true nature is to be free from all designation and application of any name or meaning. The words pure, undivided, real and unreal bear no relation to what is an all pervasive emptiness.
6 Brahman the all and full, who is perfect tranquility without a second, equal or comparison, expands himself by his own power as the infinite and empty air, and stretches his mind in the three different directions of the three three-fold functions [creation, preservation, and destruction; waking, sleeping, and dreaming; supernatural, natural, and material; and rajas, tamas and sattva].
7 When the senses and organs of the mind are curbed in the great soul, a dazzling light appears before it and the false world flies away from it, just as the darkness of night disappears before sunlight. 8 The imaginary world recedes from view and falls down like a withered leaf. The living soul remains like a fried grain without power to grow or reproduce. 9 The conscious intellect, cleared of the cloud of illusion that hangs over a deluded mind, shines as clearly as the autumn sky. Having renounced all worldly impressions, it is called that which can be seen (pashyanti) from supernatural sight. 10 Consciousness settled in its original, pure and calm state, after it has passed beyond the commotions of worldly thoughts, when it views all things in an equal and indifferent light, is said to have crossed over the ocean of the world. 11 When consciousness is strong in its knowledge of perfect sleep (susupti) over worldly matters, it is said to have obtained its rest in the state of supreme joy, and to be freed from the doom of reincarnation.
12 Now I have told you, O great brahmin, all about curbing and weakening the mind, which is the first step towards the beatification of the soul by yoga. [The first stage is curbing the mind so it rests in supreme peace beyond rebirth; consciousness of the All. The second is freedom from all vestiges of duality: beyond awake, dream sleep and deep sleep. The next stage, the third that Shiva describes here is turiya, Brahman, and is beyond description.] Now listen as I tell you about the second step in the edification and strengthening of intellect.
13 Unrestricted power of consciousness is when it is filled with perfect peace and tranquility, full of light and clear of the darkness of ignorance, and stretched as wide as the clear dome of heaven. 14 It is as deep as our consciousness in profound sleep, as hidden as a mark in the heart of a stone, and as sweet as the flavor in salt, like the breath of wind after a storm. 15 When in course of time the living principle comes to its end at any place, consciousness takes flight in open air, like some invisible force, and mixes with the transcendent vacuum. 16 It gets freed from all its thoughts, as when the calm sea is freed from its waves. It becomes as calm as when the winds are still, and as imperceptible as when a flower emits its fragrance. 17 It is liberated from the bonds and ideas of time and place. It is freed from the thought of belonging to or being a part of anything in the world. It is neither a gross or a subtle substance. It becomes a nameless essence. 18 It is not limited by time or space. It is of the nature of the unlimited essence of God. It is a form and fragment of the fourfold state of Brahma, God the Creator, without any stain, disease or decay. 19 It is something witnessing all things with its far seeing sight. It is the all at all times and places. It is full light in itself, and far sweeter than the sweetest thing in the world.
20 What I told you is the second stage of yoga meditation. Now listen, O sage who is true to your vows, and well understands the process of yoga. I will tell you about the third stage.
21 Consciousness is without a name because it contains Divine Consciousness and all the objects of thought within its ample sphere, like the great ocean of the world contains all it parts within its spacious circumference. It extends beyond the meaning of the word Soul-of-the-Creator (brahmatma) in its extension without limit. 22 Through great enduring patience in course of a long time, the soul attains the steady and unstained state of its perfection (purushartha). After passing this and the fourth stage, the soul reaches its supreme and ultimate state of joy. 23 After passing successive grades and until reaching the ultimate state, one must practice his yoga like Shiva, the greatest of the yogis. Then he will obtain in himself the unremitting holy composure of the third stage.
24 By long continuance in this course, the pilgrim is led to a great distance which transcends all my description, but may be felt by the holy devotee who advances in his course.
25 I have told you already of the state, which is beyond these three stages. You, O divine sage, ever remain in that state if you wish to arrive to the state of the eternal God.
26 This world which seems to be material, when viewed in its spiritual light, appears infused with the spirit of God. Upon right observation, it is neither the one nor the other, neither springing into being nor ceasing to exist, but ever calm and quiet and of one uniform luster, swelling and extending like an embryo in the womb. 28 The non-dualistic unity of God, his motionlessness, and the solidity of his intelligence, together with the unchangeableness of his nature, prove the eternity of the world, although it appears as instantaneous and fleeting. 29 The solidity of Consciousness produces worlds like frozen water causes hailstones. There is no difference between the existent and nonexistent, since all things are ever existent in the Divine Intellect.
30 All is good, quiet, and perfect beyond the power of description. The syllable Om is the symbol of the whole, and its components compose the four stages for our salvation.
• • •
Chapter 35 — Adoration of the Great God, Mahadeva, in the Form of the Ishtadeva
1 Vasishta said:— Then Hara, who is the lake of the lotus of Gauri, desiring my enlightenment, glanced at me for a minute and uttered his words. 2 His eyes flashed with light under his heavenly forehead, like two treasure chests of his understanding, which scattered its rays about us.
3 The god Shiva said:— O sage, call your thoughts home and employ them to think of your own essence and to bring about your ends, just as the breezes of heaven convey fragrance to the nostrils. 4 When the object long sought for is in one’s possession, what else is there to desire? I who have known and come to the truth have nothing to expect as desirable or anything to reject as despicable. 5 When you have mastery over yourself, both in the states of your peace and disquiet, you should apply yourself to the investigation of your own soul without attending to anything besides. 6 At first you may depend upon your observations of phenomena, which you will learn from what I have said if you attend to it with diligence.
Vasishta speaking:— 7 After saying this, the holder of the trident told me not to rely on my knowledge of the externals, but to attend to internal breathing that moves this abode of the body, just as the physical forces move a machine.
Shiva speaking:— 8 The lifeless body without breath becomes dull and dumb as a block. Its power of movement is derived from the vital air (prana, subtle energy), but its powers of thought and knowledge are attributed to the consciousness.
9 This conscious intellect has a form more rare and transparent than empty air. It is a being which is the cause of all entities. It is not destroyed by destruction of the living body or lack of vital air. 10 The consciousness is more rarefied and translucent than ethereal air and never perishes with the body. It remains as the power of reasoning in the mental and living body.
11 Like a clear shining mirror receives the reflection of external things, so the mind of God reflects all images from within itself and from nothing situated without. 12 As a dirty mirror receives no reflection of outward things, so the lifeless body has no reflection of anything, though it is preserved to our view. 13 All-pervasive consciousness, formless itself, is yet aware of the movement of sensible objects owing to its sense perceptions. But coming to the pure understanding of its spiritual nature, it becomes the supreme Shiva again.
14 The sages cultivate this immaculate intellect under the different names of Hari, Shiva, Brahma and Indra, the gods that are the givers of the objects of desire to all living beings. 15 Consciousness is also called the fire and air, the sun and moon, and the supreme lord. The All is known as the Omnipresent Soul and Consciousness, which is the mine of all Consciousness. 16 It is the lord of gods, the source of celestials, Brahma the Creator, and the lord of heaven. Anyone who feels the influence of this great Consciousness in himself is never subject to illusion. 17 The great souls known in this world under the names of Brahma, Vishnu, Hara and others are all only offspring of Supreme Consciousness endowed with a greater portion of it. 18 They are all like sparks of hot iron or particles of water in the immense ocean of creation. All those who are mistaken for gods have sprung from the source of the Supreme Consciousness.
19 As long as the seeds of error and the sources of endless networks of imagination exist, the tree of gross illusion continues to sprout in endless ramifications.
20 The Vedas, its exposition and other Vedic literature are only tufts of the tree of ignorance for the bondage of men. These again produce many other clumps to hold men tightly in their ignorance. 21 Who can describe the productions of nature in the course of time and place? The gods Hari, Hara, and Brahma are among the number, and they all have their origin in the Supreme Being, their common father.
22 Mahadeva (Great God, Shiva) is the root of all, just as the seed is the source of the branches of trees. He is called the All because He is the essence of all things and the sole cause of our knowledge of all existence. 23 He is the giver of strength to all beings. He is self manifest in all. He is adored and hallowed by all. He is the object of perception to those who know him, and he is ever present in all places. 24 There is no need to address invocatory mantras to the lord, who being omniscient and omnipresent, knows and sees all things as present before him at all places and times. 25 But being always invoked in the mind, this god who resides in everything is attainable by us in every place. In whatever form one’s intellect appears to him, it is all for his good. 26 He takes upon himself a visible form according to the thoughts in the mind of the worshipper. This form is to be worshipped first of all with proper homage as the most adorable lord of gods. 27 Know this as the ultimate knowledge of the greatest minds. Whoever has seen his identical soul is freed from the fears and sorrows of old age and is released from future reincarnations, like a fried grain which grows no more. 28 By worshipping this well known and unborn first cause in one’s self and at ease, everyone is freed from his fears and attains his supreme joy. Why then do you bewilder yourselves with the visible vanities of the world?
• • •
Chapter 36 — Shiva Describes the Supreme God
1 The god Shiva added:— Know now the lord god Rudra (Shiva), who in the form of one identical Consciousness is situated within every form of being, is the self-consciousness in everyone. 2 He is the seed of seeds and the core and foundation of the course of nature. Know Rudra also as the agent of all actions and the pure gist of Consciousness 3 He is the pure cause of all causes, without any cause of himself. He is the producer and sustainer of all without being produced or supported himself by any other.
4 He is the sensation of all conscious beings, and the sense of all sensitive things. He is the consciousness of all sensuous objects, the highest object of our sensuousness, and the source of endless varieties. 5 He is the pure light of all lights and yet is invisible by all of them. He is the uncreated and supernatural light, the source of all sources of light and the great mass of the light of Consciousness. 6 He is no positive (material) existence but the real entity. He is all quiet and beyond the common concepts of reality or unreality. Among the positive ideas about God, know him only as Consciousness and no other.
7 He becomes the color, coloring and the one coloring. He becomes as high as the lofty sky and as low as a lowly hut. 8 In the expanded mind of this Conscious Intellect there are millions of worlds like grains of sand in the desert, or as many as the blossoms of trees that have blown away, are in full blown, and have yet to come here after. 9 Like an inextinguishable flame, he is ever burning by his own inherent fire. Though always emitting innumerable sparks of his essence all about, yet there is no end of his light, heat and fire.
10 His inner parts contain the great mountains like particles of dust. He covers the highest mountains, like the lofty sky hides dust on earth. 11 He comprehends the great mahakalpa aeons like a twinkling of the eye, and a kalpa age is contained in his quick twinkling motion. 12 Though more minute than the point of a hair, yet he encompasses the whole earth. The seven oceans that encircle the earth cannot encircle the great Infinity.
13 He is called the great creator of the universe though he creates nothing. Though he does all actions, yet he remains calmly as if doing nothing. 14 Though God is included under the category of substance, yet he is no substance at all. Though there is no substantiality in him, yet his spirit is the substratum of all things, the Universal Form (Vishwarupa, body of the universe). 15 He is today and tomorrow, and though the past and future, yet he is always present. Therefore he is not now or then, but everlasting and forever.
16 He is not in the babbling and prattling of babes and children, nor in the crying of beasts and brutes, nor in the language of savages, but he is equally understood by all in their peculiar modes of speech. 17 These words are meaningless and yet are true, like the obsolete words in the Vedas. Therefore no words can truly express what is God because they are not what He is.
18 I bow down to He who is all, in whom all reside and from whom they all proceed, who is in all places and times, and who is diffused throughout all and is called the one and all.
19 In this excessive use of obscure words, there will be found some fully expressive of the meaning, just as in a forest of thick wood we happen to find fragrant flowers, which we pluck and carry by the handfuls.
• • •
Chapter 37 — Shiva: The Stage Play and the Dance of Destiny
1 Shiva continued:— The beauty of the words I have said before is tangible and their meanings all allude to the truth, that the Lord of all is the rich chest of gems of all things in existence.
2 How very bright are the rays of the gems contained in the receptacle of the Supreme Consciousness! They shine forth with the collected light of all the luminous worlds. 3 The essence of consciousness flies in the air in the form of the granular dust powder, and becomes the embryonic cell; which in the manner of the vegetable seed, sprouts forth into the germ in its proper time, soil, moisture and temperature.
4 This power of consciousness moves like froth and foam and whirling currents and whirlpools in the sea, and rolls its waters against the hard stones of the beach. 5 It is settled in the form of flavor in flower clusters. It makes them full blown and carries their fragrance to the nostrils. 6 Seated on bodies of stone, it makes them produce un-stone-like substances (trees and flowers) and makes mountains support the earth without actually upholding it.
7 Consciousness takes the form of the air, which is the source of all vibrations, and touches the organ of touch with as much tenderness as a father touches the body of his child. 8 As the divine power extends itself in everything, so it contracts the essences of all things into a mass within itself. Having absorbed the whole in the divine entity, it makes all nature an empty nothingness.
9 It casts the reflection of its own clear image in the transparent mirror of emptiness. It takes upon itself the transparent body of eternity, containing all the divisions of time. 10Then there issues the power of Destiny, which predominates over the five principal divinities and determines the ultimate fate of all that “this is to be so, and this other wise.” 11The picture of the universe presents itself to our sight in the presence of the bright light of the all-witnessing eye of the great God, just as the presence of a burning lamp in the room shows us the light of things contained in it. 12 The universal emptiness contains the great theatre of the universe in which divine powers and energies are continually playing their parts, and the spirit of God is their witness.
13 Vasishta asked, “What are the powers of that Shiva, my lord? Who are they and where are they situated? How many are there and how are they employed? Who is their witness?”
14 The god replied:— The god Shiva is the gracious, incomprehensible and tranquil Supreme Soul. He is gracious and formless and of the nature of the pure consciousness. 15His essences are volition, emptiness, duration, destiny, infinity and fullness. 16 Beside these he has the properties of intelligence, action, causality and stillness. There are many other powers in the spirit of Shiva, of which there is no reckoning or end.
17 Vasishta replied, “Where do these powers come from? How do they get their variety and plurality? Tell me, my lord. From where do they arise and how were they separated?”
18 The god replied:— The god Shiva, who is only consciousness of himself, also has endless forms. The powers that I have said belong to him are small and in no way different from his essentiality. 19 The powers of God are said to be many and different from one another, like the waves of the sea, because God can discriminate among the powers of intelligence, action, passion, vision and others. 20 Thus those different powers act their several parts forever on the grand stage of the universe. The ages, years, months, weeks and days play their parts under direction of Time, the stage manager.
21 That power that appears as one or the another is called the divine powers of destiny. It is distinguished under various names such as the action, energy or will of God, or the dispensation of his Time. 22 That power which determines the states of gods, and those of the great Rudras, and what regulates the conduct of all things from a mean bit of straw to the great Brahma is called predominant destiny. 23 This destiny continues to dance about the great arena of the universe until anxiety and her imaginary source of fear are cleared from the mind through knowledge of truth.
24 The play of destiny is very pleasing to behold owing to the variety of its characters and contrivances, and the quick changes of scenes, and the repeated entrances and exits of its players and actors. It is presented with the music of the drums and trumpets of the roaring kalpantha clouds of doomsday. 25 The dome of heaven is the canopy over this stage, flowers in season are its decorations, and showers of rain serve as the sprinkling of rose water over it.
26 Dark clouds hanging about the heavens are the blue hanging screens around this stage, and the seven oceans of the earth with gems shining in their womb serve as the decorated pits and galleries of this playhouse. 27 The shining sky with its sight of the days and watches, and its eyes of twinkling stars, witnesses the continual rise and fall of all beings and the plunging and upheaval of mountaintops at the great deluge.
28 The revolving luminaries of the sun and moon and the rolling currents of the Ganges River appear as the pearly jewels on the body of this actress, Destiny, and the luster of twilight is like the red dye of her palms. 29 The constant motion of upper and nether worlds, with the continued jingling of their peoples, resemble the footsteps of this Destiny dancing with ringing trinkets and anklets fastened to her feet. 30 Sunshine and moonbeams represent the light of her smiling face, and twinkling stars in the sky resemble drops of sweat trickling down her face. 31 These many, many worlds are like so many apartments of this great theatre. The beings of the three worlds, oppressed by evil forces, are her flowing robes. 32 The two states of pleasure-pain or joy-grief, which are the destined lot of all living beings, are the different comedies and tragedies.
33 God himself, who is neither distant or distinct from this, nor is this stage play distant or distinct from God, is continually witnessing the changing scenes that always take place in the play of Destiny on the great stage of this world.
• • •
Chapter 38 — Shiva on the External and Internal Worship of God
1 The god Shiva continued:— This God, the supreme Lord, is the one worshipped by the wise. He is in the form of the intellect and conscious soul. He is the all-pervading and support of all. 2 He is situated alike in a pot or a painting, in a tree or a hut, in a chariot, and in all men and brute animals, under the different names of Shiva, Hara, and Hari, and also Brahma, Indra, Agni, and Yama. 3 He is the Universal Soul inside and outside all. He always dwells in spirit and in the soul of every wise person. This Lord is worshipped in various forms by different people in the many ways described below. 4 First, let me tell you, O great sage, how this God is worshipped with outer forms and formulas. Then you will hear me describe the inner form with which he is worshipped in spirit.
5 In all forms of worship you must cease to think of your body. You must separate your mind from your body, however purified it may be. Then you must diligently apply your mind to think of the pure and bodiless soul that witnesses the body’s operations from inside. 6 Worship of God consists only of inner meditation and not in any form of outer worship. Therefore, apply your mind to the adoration of the Universal Soul by meditating only upon God in your soul.
7 He has the form of consciousness. He is the source of all light and he is as glorious as millions of suns. He is the light of the inner intellect and the origin of “I” and “you”. 8 His head and shoulders reach above the heaven of heavens and his lotus-like feet descend far below the lowest abyss of the void. 9 His arms extend to the endless bounds of all sides and space. In them he holds the many worlds of infinite space like he is wielding weapons. 10 Worlds rolling over each another rest in a corner of his spacious chest. His brightness passes beyond the limits of unlimited emptiness, and his body stretches beyond all imaginable bounds. 11 Above, below, in all four quarters, and on all sides of the compass, he extends unspent and without end. He is surrounded on all sides by the host of gods, Brahma, Rudra, Hari and Indra, and the demigods also. 12 These series of creatures are to be considered as rows of hairs on his body. The different courses of their actions are like strings that bind the machinery of the worlds together. 13 His will and destiny are powers proceeding from his person, his active agencies in nature. Such is the Lord, the Supreme One who is always to be worshipped by the best of men.
14 He is the intellect and the conscious soul, the all-pervading and all-supporting spirit. He resides alike in the pot and the painting, as in the moving chariot and in living animals. 15 He is Shiva, Hari and Hara, Brahma, Indra, Fire and Yama. He is the receptacle of endless beings and the aggregate body of all essences, the sole entity of entities. 16 In himself he contains this mundane sphere together with all the worlds with their mountains and all other contents. All powerful Time which hurls them ever onward is the guard at the doorway of his eternity.
17 The great god Mahadeva is to be thought upon as dwelling in some part of this body of eternity and infinity, with his body and its members and with a thousand ears and eyes. 18 Moreover, this figure has a thousand heads and a thousand hands all decorated. It has many eyes all over its body with their powers of sight, and so many ears also with their power of hearing. 19 His body has the powers of feeling and touch and taste all over its body, as also the power of hearing and that of thinking in its mind within.
20 However, he is wholly beyond all conception. He is perfectly good and gracious to all. He is always the doer of all things that are done and the one who bestows every blessing on all beings. 21 He is always situated inside all beings. He gives strength and energy to all. Having thought upon the Lord of gods in this manner, the devotee is to worship him in the usual ways of rituals.
22 Now listen as I tell you, who is best acquainted with Brahma, how to worship him in spirit, which consists only in adoring him in the conscious soul and not in presenting offerings to him.
23 It requires no light or incense. It has no need of flowers or decorations, nor does it require sprinkling rice, perfumes or sandalwood paste. 24 It needs no fragrance of saffron or camphor or any painting or anything else. It has no need for pouring water which is easily obtainable everywhere. 25 It is only by pouring the nectar juice of understanding that God is worshipped. The wise call this the best kind of meditation and adoration of God.
26 Pure consciousness, which is known to be always present within one’s self, is to be constantly looked into and sought after, heard about, and felt when one is sleeping or sitting or moving about. 27 By constantly talking on the subject and resuming the inquiry after leaving it off, one becomes fully conscious of himself. Then he should worship his Lord in his meditation as identical with his own soul.
28 The offering of the heart in meditation of the Lord is more delectable to him than the sweetest articles of food offered with the most choice and fragrant flowers. 29Meditation joined with self-consciousness or penitence of the soul is the best padya and arghya water (washing feet and hands) and offering that is worthy of the Lord. The best meditation is accompanied with the flower of self-offering to the Lord. 30 Without this kind of meditation, it is impossible to please the Supreme Soul in one’s self. Therefore spiritual meditation is said to abound with the grace of God and the greatest enjoyment of happiness and prosperity.
31 As the animal soul enjoys all its pleasures in the abode of its body, so the rational, spiritual soul derives all its happiness from meditation. 32 An ignorant man who meditates on the Lord, even for a hundred twinkles of the eye, obtains a reward equal to the merit of giving a milk cow to a brahmin. 33 The man who worships the Lord in his soul for half an hour in this manner reaps the reward of making a horse sacrifice. 34 He who meditates on the Lord in spirit and in his own spirit and presents the offering of his reflections to him, is entitled to the merit of making a thousand horse sacrifices. 35 Whoever worships the Lord in this manner for a full hour receives the reward of making a Rajasuya sacrifice. By worshipping him in this way at midday, a man obtains the merit of making many thousands sacrifices of such kind.
36 The man who worships him in this way for a whole day settles in the abode of God. 37 This is called the superior yoga meditation, the best service of the Lord, and the external adoration of the soul. 38 This mode of holy adoration destroys all sins. Whoever practices it for a minute with a steady mind is certainly entitled to veneration of gods and demigods and is placed in the rank of emancipated spirits like myself.
• • •
Chapter 39 — Shiva on the Internal Worship of God
1 Shiva resumed:— I will now describe to you the way of inner worship of the spirit in spirit, which is reckoned as the holy of holies and the dispeller of all darkness. 2 This mode of worship also depends on mental meditation. It is conducted in every state of life, whether sitting, walking, waking or sleeping. 3 It requires the supreme Shiva, who is always situated in the body of man and who is the cause of the perception of all things, to be worshipped in spirit and in the spirit of man.
4 Whether you think him as sleeping or rising, walking or sitting, or whether you conceive him touching or making intangible contact with anything, or as quite unconnected and aloof from everything about him, 5 or whether you take him as enjoying the gross objects, or shunning them all by his spiritual nature, or as the maker of all outward objects, and the one who ordains all forms of action, 6 or whether you consider him as remaining quiescent in all material bodies, or that he is quite apart from all substantial forms, you may worship him in whatever form your understanding presents him to you, or as what you can best conceive of him in your consciousness.
7 Whoever has fallen in and is carried away by the currents of his desires, and who is purified from his worldliness by the sacred ablution of his good sense, should worship the Shiva linga as the symbol of understanding by offering whatever is his knowledge of God. 8 He may be contemplated in the form of the sun, shining brightly in the sky, or that of the moon which cools the sky with its benign moonbeams.
9 God is always conscious in himself of all sensible objects, which are ever being brought to his awareness by means of his senses, just as breathing brings fragrance to the nostrils. 10 He gives flavor to all sweets and enjoys the sweetness of his joy in himself. He employs breaths as his horses, and carried in the car of respiration, sleeps in the cave of the heart. 11 Shiva is the witness of all sights and the actor of all actions. He enjoys all enjoyments and remembers all of what is known. 12 He is well acquainted with all the members of his body and he knows all that exists and doesn’t exist. He is brighter than all luminous objects and is to be thought upon as the all-pervading spirit. 13 He is without parts and without the totality of all parts. Being situated in the body, he resides in the emptiness of the heart. He is colorless himself, yet he paints all things in their many colors. He is the sensation of every member of the body. 14 He dwells in the faculty of the mind and breathes in the respirations of all beings. He resides within the heart, the throat and the palate of the mouth. He has his seat between the eyebrows and in the nostrils (as conscious intellect and the subtle breath of life).
15 He is situated beyond the limit of the thirty-six categories of Saivite scriptures, as he is beyond the ten powers (shakti) known to the Shaktas. He moves the heart and gives articulation to sounds. He makes the mind fly about like a bird in the air. 16 He resides both in ambiguous words and words with alternative meanings, situated in all things like oil in sesame seeds. 17 He is without blemish or parts, compact with all the parts of the world taken together. He is situated alike in a part of the lotus-like heart of the wise, as well as in all bodies in general. 18 He is as clear as the pure and spotless intellect. The imputation of parts or divisions to him is only the work of mere imagination. He is seen palpably in everything at all places. He is perceptible to us in our inner perception of him.
19 Though originally of the nature of universal consciousness, yet he appears in the form of individual souls according to the desires of men. Residing in every individual, he is divided into endless dualities. 20 Then this god thinks of himself as an embodied being, endowed with hands, legs, and other body parts with its hairs, nails and teeth. 21 He thinks of having various different powers and faculties and he is employed in a variety of actions according to the desires of the mind. He feels happy when served by his wives and servants. 22 He thinks the mind is the porter at the gate, conducting information of the three worlds to him. He thinks that his thoughts are his chambermaids, waiting at his door with clean clothes. 23 He believes his knowledge of his individual ego is his greatest power and wife, and his power of action is his mistress. He thinks his knowledge of various ancient beliefs are his decorations.
24 He knows his organs of sense and action are the doors to the house that is his body. He is conscious of being the infinite soul from which he is inseparable. 25 He knows himself to be full of the Universal Spirit, filled by and filling others, and that he has the admirable figure of the body through his dependence on the Divine Spirit. 26 He knows that he is filled with the Godhead within him and therefore he is no contemptible soul himself. He never rises or sets or is glad or displeased at anytime. 27 He never feels fully satisfied or hungry, nor does he long after or forsake anything. He is ever the same and of an even course of action, temper and conduct and form at all times. 28 He retains the gracefulness of his person, the clarity of his mind, and the calmness of his views at all times. He is ever the same since his birth, and the self-composure of his soul never forsakes him at anytime.
29 He is devoted to the adoration of his god for long days and nights. The mind abstracted from his body becomes the object of his worship. 30 This god is worshipped with whatever offerings are available to the devotee. All the powers of the understanding are employed in the adoration of the sole Intellectual Spirit. 31 God is to be worshipped with all things suitable for the ritual. No attempt should be made to make any offering which has never been made before. 32 Man being endowed with a body should worship the Lord with his bodily actions and with all things that lead to bodily enjoyment. 33 So Shiva is to be worshipped with food and drink of the best and richest kind, with beddings and seats and vehicles as one can afford to offer.
34 Men must also entertain their souls, which are the homes of the Divine Spirit in their bodies, with all kinds of things that they think are pleasurable to themselves, such as excellent food and drink and all other things that give enjoyment and pleasure. 35 They must diligently serve the Supreme Soul in their souls regardless of any calamity, difficulty, danger or disease that may befall them, and also when they are overtaken by the illusions of their misunderstandings. 36 The ends of all the efforts of mankind in this world, being no more than life, death and sleep, are all to be directed in the service of the soul of nature.
37 Whether reduced to poverty or elevated to royalty or carried by the currents of casualty, men must always serve their souls with the flowers of their best efforts. 38 Whether overwhelmed by conflict and confusion or buffeted in the waves of mishaps, whether undergoing troubles or enjoying the comforts of domestic life, men must serve their souls at all times.
39 When the gentle beams of feeling fellowship with others spreads over the breast of kind hearted men, and when the sweet influence of sympathy melts the heart, then we serve the soul seated inside. 40 When a man has restrained the turbulent passions of his heart by the power of his right judgment, and he has spread the vest of soft tenderness and sweet content over his heart and mind, then let him worship the serene aspect within himself.
41 Let men worship the soul upon the sudden changes of their fortunes, both when they come into possessions and when they lose their enjoyments.
42 The soul should be adhered to and adored, both when you lose and when you abandon your legal or illegal possessions and enjoyments of anything on earth. 43 Isha, the lord of wealth, is to be worshipped by renouncing all wealth which one may have collected by his own efforts or otherwise. 44 Do not regret what is lost. Make use of what you have and adore the Supreme Soul without any inconstancy in your mind and soul.
45 Retain your constancy amidst the scenes of men’s wicked pursuits. Maintain your vow of holy devotion of the Supreme Spirit at all times. 46 Everything appears as good in the sight of the godly who view all things in God. Everything appears mixed with good and evil to the worshipper of material wealth. Therefore look on all things as situated in the Divine Spirit and continue in your vow of the adoration of the Supreme Soul. 47 Things that appear as pleasant or unpleasant at first sight are all to be taken in an equal light by those who are firm in their vow to worship the one Universal Soul.
48 Give up thinking yourself as such a one or not such a one. Forsake all particularities and knowing that all is the universal One, continue in your vow of adoring the Supreme Soul. 49 Worship the Supreme Spirit always residing in all forms and changes of all things. 50 Forsake your pursuit after things and your attempt to avoid anything. Remain indifferent to both extremes. Continue in your adoration of the soul at all times. 51 Neither seek nor forsake anything, but receive what comes to you of itself or by your own lot. Enjoy all things as the sea does the streams of water that flow into it of their own accord.
52 Placed in this wide world of misery, man should take no heed of the lesser or greater sights of grief that constantly present themselves to his view. They are like fleeting shades and colors that paint the empty dome of the skies and soon vanish into nothing. 53 All good and evil befall us by turns at the proper time, place and action. Therefore take them with unconcern and serve your own soul.
54 Whatever is mentioned as fit offerings for worship of the Supreme Spirit, the calmness of your soul is considered the best and fittest offering. 55 Things of different tastes, such as sour, bitter, acid, sharp and pungent, are useless in the service of the spirit. The calm and sweet composure of the soul is delectable to the Supreme Spirit. 56 Equanimity is sweet to taste. It has the supernatural power of transforming everything to ambrosia. 57 Whatever a man thinks upon with the ambrosial sweetness of his disposition, the same is immediately changed to ambrosia, just like nectar-like dew drops under moonbeams. 58 Calmness expands the soul and gladdens the mind, just as sunlight fills the dome of heaven. The unchangeable calmness of the mind is the highest devotion.
59 The mind of man must shine with an even luster, like bright moonbeams in their fullness. The mind must blaze with the transparent light of consciousness, like a bright crystal in sunlight. 60 He who is employed in his outward actions of life with his mind as bright as the clear sky, free of the mist of worldly affections, is said to be the full knowing devotee. 61 The true devotee shines as brightly as the clear autumn sky when worldly impressions are effaced from the heart and not seen even in dreams, when the cloud of ignorance is cleared away and the fog of egoism is utterly scattered.
62 Let your mind be as clear as the moon and as spotless as the blazing sun. Let your mind hide the thoughts of the measurer and measured. Let it have simple consciousness of itself, like a newborn child, perceiving only the steady light of Consciousness, the seed of all intelligence. Then you will attain the state of highest perfection in your lifetime.
63 Living amidst the fluctuations of pain and pleasure, attending on the lot and actions of all living beings occurring at their fixed times and places, remain in the steady service of your soul, the leader of your body, by tranquilizing all the passions and desires of your heart and mind.
• • •
Chapter 40 — Shiva on the Worship of God
1 The god Shiva continued:— It is of no consequence whether or not a devotee observes formal worship in its proper time and manner. It is enough if he adores the form of Shiva as the consciousness within himself, which is equivalent to worship of the soul (atma). 2 This is attended with a delight that becomes manifest within himself. Full of spiritual light and delight, the devotee is assimilated and becomes the same as his god.
3 The meanings of the words affection and hatred do not belong to the holy soul as its separate properties. Rather, they blend together and die in the soul like sparks in fire. 4The knowledge that the dignity and poverty of men, and also their happiness and misery, proceed from God is considered to be worship of the Supreme Spirit which ordains them all. 5 The consciousness of the world as a manifestation of the Divine Spirit is also reckoned as devotion. A pot or other token for the spirit of God is also worship because God resides in it. 6 The quiet and lightless spirit of Shiva is manifest in all his works of creation, so the whole sensible world is the form of the Supreme Spirit.
7 It is astonishing that every soul forgets its own nature and thinks itself to be a living soul residing in the body, just as they believe the Supreme Soul is confined in a pot or a painting. 8 It is also astonishing how they attribute false ideas of worship, worshipper and the worshipped to the god Shiva who is the infinite soul of all and a pure spirit. 9 The ritual of worship and adoration, which applies to the finite forms of gods (idols), cannot be applied to the worship of the infinite spirit of God. 10 The pure spirit of the eternal, infinite and all powerful cannot be the object of ritualistic worship which relates to finite gods or idols.
11 Know, O brahmin, that the spirit of God which pervades the three worlds and is of the nature of pure consciousness, is not to be circumscribed by any form or figure. 12Know, O wisest of the wise, that we do not regard those who have their god limited by time and place as among the wise. 13 Therefore, O sage, retract your sight from idols and idolatrous worship. Adopt your view to spiritual adoration. Be of an even, cool and clear mind. Be dispassionate and free from decay and disease. 14 Continue to worship the Supreme Spirit with an unshaken mind by making him offerings of your desires and of all the good and evil that occur to you at anytime.
15 O sage who is acquainted with the sole unity, in the one uniform, even course of your soul and mind, you are thereby set above the reach of the miseries attending this frail life, just as a pure crystal is clear of the shades and impurities of all worldly things.
• • •
Chapter 41 — Shiva on How to Know God, the Development of Mind, and Desires & Thoughts Cause Misery
1 Vasishta asked, “What is called god Shiva? What is meant by Supreme Brahman? What is the meaning of soul and what is its difference from the Supreme Soul? 2 All that exists is the true entity and all else is non-entity. What is the emptiness that is nothing? What philosophy knows everything? Explain to me these differences, for you Lord know them all.”
3 The god Shiva replied:— There exists one real being in itself which is without beginning or end and without any appearance or reflection of its own. This entity appears as a non entity because it is imperceptible to the physical senses.
4 Vasishta replied, “Lord, if this entity is not perceptible by the organs of sense and unknowable by understanding, then how, O ruler, is it to be known at all?
5 The god replied:— A man who desires his salvation but sticks to his ignorance is a sage in name only. Such men are subjected to greater ignorance by the scriptures that guide them. 6 Let one ignorance remove another, as washerman cleanses one dirt by another (soap). 7 When the error of ignorance is removed by opposition of the other, then as a matter of course, the soul appears of itself to be seen. 8 A child dirties his fingers by rubbing one piece of charcoal against another, but cleans them by washing his hands. 9 As they examine both sides of a question in a learned discussion, and the truth comes out from amidst them both, so the knowledge of the soul appears from midst of the mist of ignorance.
10 When the soul perceives the soul and scans it by itself, and as it comes to know it in itself, it is said to get rid of its ignorance, which is then said to be utterly destroyed. 11The paths of learning and the lectures of a teacher are not the proper means to the knowledge of the soul. One comes to know the unity of this thing by his own intuition. 12 All the teachers of scriptures place the soul among the bodily senses, but Brahma is situated beyond the senses and is known after the sense organs have been subdued. Something obtainable in the absence of something else can never be had in the presence of that other thing.
13 However, many things are used as causes for things which they do not cause at all, just as they use a teacher’s lectures as means to attain spiritual knowledge. 14 Of course, a course of lectures is calculated to throw light on the student’s knowledge of what can be known, but in matters of abstract knowledge and the invisible soul, it is the soul itself that must throw its own light. 15 No explanation of the scriptures and no lectures of the teacher are calculated to give light on spiritual knowledge, unless they are understood by the intuitive knowledge of the spirit itself. 16 Again, the soul is always learning and getting lectures, therefore both must combine with inquiry to bring us to the light of the soul. 17Therefore a combination of book knowledge with the teacher’s instruction joined with the investigation of the inquirer is calculated to enlighten us on spiritual knowledge, just as the appearance of the day with the rising sun and waking world gives an impetus to the rise of daily duties.
18 After the physical senses and actions have subsided and the sensations of pain and pleasure have become imperceptible, we come to the knowledge of Shiva, otherwise known as the soul, the He that is (tat sat) and many other names. 19 This infinite entity has existed in its empty form, rarer than the ether, since this matter which fills space was not and existed only in its spiritual or ideal forms. 20He is continually meditated upon by the good discernment of seekers of salvation, and he is variously represented by the pure minded and those of weakened minds.
21 There are others who are situated in the sight of and not far from the path of living liberation, who are employed in leading others to salvation and in the exposition of the scriptures. 22 Many thinking and learned men have used the words Brahma, Indra, Rudra and the names of the rulers of worlds for God in order to justify the doctrines of the Puranas, Vedas and Siddhantas. 23 Others have applied fictitious titles like consciousness or intellect (chit), Brahma, Shiva, the soul or spirit (atma), the Lord (isha), the Supreme Spirit and God (ishwara) to the nameless God that is apart and aloof from all. 24 Such is the truth of nature and of you also, called Shiva the blissful, which always confers all joy to the world and to you also. 25 The words Shiva, soul, supreme Brahman and others have been coined by the ancients to express the Supreme Being. Though they differ in sound, there is no difference in meaning or what they signify.
26 Know, O chief of sages, that wise men always adore this God whom we serve and to whom we return as the best and ultimate state of all.
27 Vasishta said, “Lord, please explain to me briefly how the ever existent God remains as nonexistent. How can God come into existence from its prior state of nonexistence?”
28 The god Shiva replied:— Know that the meaning of the word Brahma and other names for God are related only to our consciousness. Though God is as clear as the sky and as minute as an atom, God contains the great bulk of Mount Meru. 29 Although this is unintelligible to us, far beyond our conception or comprehension, yet it becomes intelligible when we think of God in the form of our consciousness. 30 By taking it objectively, it becomes intelligible to us like our own individual ego. By thinking on its personality, we have the same idea as one has of a wild elephant from seeing one in a dream. 31 These ideas of God’s ego and personality, being limited by time and space, consequently give rise to many aerial forms as attendants upon God. 32 Among these is the entity called the living spirit (jiva), with its vibration and respiration, in the form of a pencil of air.
33 After the power of vitality is established and has come into force, there follows the faculty of understanding which at first remains in utter ignorance. 34 It is followed by the faculties of hearing, action and perceptions, all of which operate inward by without their development into outward organs. 35 All these powers uniting together lead to the excitement of memory, which soon exhibits itself in the form of the mind, the tree of desires. 36 What the learned call the spiritual body is the inner power of God in the form of the conscious soul, seeing the Divine Soul in itself.
37 Afterwards the powers in the mind arise which develop themselves in the outer organs, although their powers may be wanting in them. 38 These are the essences of air and motion, and of feeling also, together with the senses of touch and heat emitted by the eyes. 39 There are the essences of color, water and taste also, and likewise the essences of smell and flavor too. 40 There are the essences of earth and gold, and the essences of thick mass, and also the essences of time and space, all of which are without form and shape.41 The spiritual body contains all these essences in itself as its component parts, just as the seed of a fruit contains in its cell the leaves and germ of the future tree. 42 This spiritual body contains the eight elementary senses. Therefore it is also called the astral body (puryashtaka, subtle or minute body). These elementary senses afterwards develop into the organs of sense. 43 The primary or spiritual body which is formed in this manner is actually nobody at all because it is devoid of understanding, intellect, senses and consciousness.44 It is only the Supreme Being which contains the essence of the soul, just as the sea contains clear waters.
45 The soul possesses its consciousness and knowledge. Everything else is dull and inert matter viewed by the soul like a fairyland in a dream. 46 Shiva can be known by consciousness and knowledge, and what cannot be known by consciousness and knowledge can be nothing at all.
47 The Supreme Soul sees all things within itself as parts of itself. He beholds particles of his atomic self formed into innumerable bodies. 48 These bodies increased in bulk, became big bodies, and bore the marks of the organs upon them. 49 Then it became in the form of a man from his thought of being so. This soon grew up in its size of a full grown man, 50 and this is how our bodies appear to us in our living state, like a fairyland appearing in a dream.
51 Vasishta said, “I see how appearance of the human body resembles the vision of a fairyland in a dream. I also see the miseries awaiting human life in this world. Now tell me, my lord. How is all this misery to be removed from the world?”
52 The god Shiva replied:— All human sorrow is the result of desires and belief in the reality of the world. The entire world must be known to be as unreal as the waves of water seen in a mirage. 53 For what good or use is desire? Why should a dreaming man be deluded to drink the show of water in the mirage?
54 The viewer of truth, freed from his views of personal ego and objective reality, who has abandoned deluded and delusive thoughts and in the utter absence of all worldly thoughts from his mind, truly beholds the true existence of God in his presence. 55 Where there is no desirer or desire or the desired object, but only the thought of the one unity, all error and misery are an end. 56 He whose mind is free of the true and false imaginary demons of common and imaginary error and is settled in the thought of one unity alone, sees nothing but the unity before him.
57 Desires of the mind arise like demons in the midway sky. Thoughts of the world wander about the sphere of the mind like numerous worlds revolving in the sky. Hence there is no peace of the soul unless these desires and thought subside.
58 It is useless to counsel a man towards wisdom if he is elated by his own personal ego and deluded by the waters of the mirage of this fleeting world. 59 Wise men should advise only the prudent and not throw their instruction away to children who wander in error and are shunned by good people. To give good counsel to the ignorant is like offering a fair daughter in marriage to the apparition of a man seen in a dream.
• • •
Chapter 42 — Shiva on the Phases and Names of the Supreme Soul; Spiritual Cords
1 Vasishta asked, “Tell me Lord, what happens to the living soul after its situation in the open air, and after it observes the vanity of the elemental and material body on its first creation?”
2 Shiva replied:— The living soul, having sprung from the Supreme and being situated in the open firmament, views the body formed in the manner I have described, just as a man sees a vision in his dream. 3 The living soul, being everywhere, enters and acts in every part of this body according to the command of the embodied intellect, just as a sleeping man acts his parts in a dream yet still bearing his body.
4 Before it was the indiscrete infinite soul. Then it became the discrete spirit called the first male. This spirit was the primary cause of creation in itself. 5 Thus this animated spirit became like Shiva at the beginning of the first creation. It was called Vishnu in another. It became the lotus-born Brahma or the great patriarch in others. 6 The great progenitor of one creation becomes the intellect in another, then the male agent of will to create afterwards, and at last it looks upon itself as a male form according to its will. 7 The primary will of ideal creation becoming compact in time, it takes the form of the mind which feels itself able to bring about whatever it wills in itself.
8 This creation of the world by Brahma is mere imagination, like the sight of an apparition in the air or in a dream. But it appears as a positive reality to the false sight of one who believes it is real. 9 The prime male agent who becomes the beholder of his creation retains the power of exhibiting himself in the empty air every moment, or to retract them into himself. 10 To him, a kalpa or great kalpa age is a mere twinkling of his eye. By his own expansion or contraction the world makes its appearance or disappearance. 11 Worlds appear and disappear at his will at each moment of time, in each particle of matter, and in every pore of space. There is no end to these successions in all eternity.
12 Many things are seen to occur one after another in conformity with the course of our desires. But with our sight of the Divine Spirit, we never find anything taking place. 13All created things do not occur to the unchanging Shiva. They are like shadowy appearances in empty air that rise of themselves and disappear in air. 14 All real and unreal appearances vanish of themselves, like mountains appearing in dreams. All these creations have no command over their own causation or space or time. 15 Therefore all these phenomena are not real, potential, imaginary or temporary appearances. There is nothing produced or destroyed at anytime. 16 All these are the wonderful phenomena of our ideas and wishes exhibited by the intellect in itself. This world is like the appearance of a castle in the sky in a dream, and subject to its rise and fall by turns.
17 Visible forms that appear to be moving about in time and space actually have no motion whatever in either. They remain as fixed as an ideal rock in the mind forever. 18 So also, the extension of the unreal world is no extension at all, just as the magnitude of an ideal rock has no dimension. 19 The situation and duration of the unreal world conform exactly to the ideas of its time and place that exist in the mind of the Maker of all. 20 In this manner he is instantly changed to a worm from his idea of it, and so are all the four orders of living beings born in this world. 21 Thus, from his ideas of them, the creative Power becomes all things in an instant, from the great Rudras down to mean bits of straw and the most minute atoms and particles of matter.
22 This is how past and present creations are produced from the memories of the past, which is the cause of the delusion of taking the world for a real existence. 23 After giving up the thought of any difference between the creator and the created, and by the habit of thinking all as unity, one becomes Shiva in a minute, and by thinking so for a longer period, one is assimilated into the nature of Supreme Consciousness.
24 Individual consciousness proceeds from the original Consciousness and rises without occupying any place. It is of the nature of understanding or the intellect and it resides in the soul like empty air in the middle of a stone. 25 The soul, which is like eternal light, is known under the name of Brahma. The intellect seated in this soul becomes weakened as the creative power increases and strengthens in it. 26 Next the particles of time and place join together to form minute atoms which, by forming the elementary bodies, have the living principle added to them. 27 These then become plants, insects, beasts, brutes and the forms of gods and demigods. These being stretched out in endless series remain like a long chain of being connected by the strong and lengthening line of the soul (sutratma, spiritual cord). 28 Thus the great God who pervades all his works in the world connects all things in being and not in being like pearls in a necklace by the thread of his soul. He is neither near us nor far from us, nor is he above or below anything whatever. He is neither the first nor last but everlasting. He is neither the reality nor unreality, nor is he in the midst of these. 29 He is beyond all alternatives and antitheses. He is not to be known beyond our imaginary ideas of him. He has no measure or dimension or any likeness or form to represent him. Whatever greatness and majesty men attribute to him, they are all extinguished in his glory like fire cooled in water.
30 I have answered all your questions. Now I shall proceed to my desired place. Be happy, O sage, and go your way. Rise, O Parvati, and let us make our way.
31 Vasishta said:— When the god with his blue throat had spoken in this manner, I honored him by throwing handfuls of flowers upon him. Then he rose with his attendants and pierced the emptiness of heaven. 32 For some time after the lord of Uma and master of the three worlds had departed, I remained reflecting on all I had heard from the god. Then having received the new doctrine with the purity of my heart, I gave up the my external forms of worshipping God.
• • •
Chapter 43 — Vasishta Exhorts Rama; Rama without Questions
1 Vasishta said:— I well understand what the god told me. You too, O Rama, know the nature of this world very well. 2 When the false world appears in a false light to the false understanding of man, and everything is proven to be only vanity of vanities, tell me, what is true and good and what is untrue and bad?
3 The alternative of something is not that thing itself, so the form of the soul, though not the soul itself, yet serves to convey some idea of the soul. 4 As fluidity is the nature of liquids and fluctuation is that of wind, and as emptiness is the state of the sky, so is creation the condition of the spirit or Divine Soul.
5 Ever since hearing Shiva’s explanations, I have worshipped spirit in spirit and given up my eagerness for the outward adoration of gods. 6 I pass these days of my life under this rule, even when I am peacefully employed performing prescribed and popular rituals. 7 I have worshipped the Divine Spirit in all modes and forms and offerings of flowers as they present themselves to me. In spite of interruptions, I have uninterruptedly adored my God at all times, day and night. 8 All people in general are concerned with making their offerings acceptable to their receiver, God, but the meditation of the yogi is the true worship of the spirit.
9 Having known this, O lord of Raghu’s race, abandon the society of men in your heart and walk in your lonely path amidst the wilderness of the world, thereby remaining without sorrow and remorse. 10 When exposed or reduced to distress or aggrieved at the loss or separation of friends, rely on this truth and think upon the vanity of the world. 11We should neither rejoice nor regret the acquisition or loss of friends and relations because all things are so frail and unstable in this transitory world.
12 Rama, you well know the precarious state of worldly possessions and their destructive effects. They come and go of their own accord, but overpower a man in both states (of prosperity and adversity). 13 So uncertain are the favors of friends and fortune and so unforeseen is their loss, that it is impossible for anybody to account for them. 14 O sinless Rama, such is the course of the world, that you have no command over it nor is it ever subject to you. If the world is so insubordinate, then why should you be sorry for something you cannot manage?
15 Rama, mind your spiritual nature and know you are an expanded form of your consciousness. See how you are cooped up in your earthly frame. Forsake your joy and grief at the repeated entrances and exits of your corporeal body. 16 Know my boy that you are purely of the form of your consciousness, inherent throughout all nature. Therefore there is nothing in the world that you can assume or reject. 17 What cause of joy or grief is there in the changing fortunes of things in the world? They are all the results of the mind’s revolutions on the pivot of conscious intellect. They resemble the whirling waters of the sea caused by a vortex current.
18 Rama, take yourself to the fourth stage of deep sleep trance (susupta). This even course of action results in samadhi. 19 Be as cold and composed, with your peaceful face and expanded mind, as the quiet spirit of God is diffused and displayed throughout all nature. Remain as full as the vast ocean in the contemplation of that soul, whose fullness fills the whole.
20 You have heard all this already, Rama! You are filled with the fullness of your understanding. Now if you have anything else to ask with regard to your former question, you can ask.
21 Rama said:— Sage, my former questions are all dispersed at present. I have nothing more to ask you. 22 I have known all that is to be known. I have a heartfelt satisfaction at this, and now I am free from the foulness of the objective, of dualism and of fictions.
23 The foulness of the soul proceeds from ignorance, and this ignorance which had darkened my soul is now removed by the light of spirituality. 24 I have now come to understand that I was under error that is neither foul matter nor is it born nor does it die at anytime. 25 I am now confirmed in my belief that all this is Brahman diffused throughout nature, and I have ceased from all doubts and questions on the subject, nor do I have any desire to know anything more about it. 26 My mind is now as pure as purified water. I have no need to learn anything from the preaching and moral lessons of the wise.
27 I am unconcerned with all worldly affairs, just as Mount Sumeru is unaware of the golden metals in its bosom. Having all things about me, I am quite indifferent to them because I have not what I expect to have, nor do I possess any object of my fond desire. 28 I expect nothing that is desirable nor reject anything to which exception can be taken, nor is there a mean between desirable and undesirable in this world. There is nothing that is really acceptable or avoidable in the world, nor anything which is truly good or bad.
29 Thus, O sage, the false thought of these opposites is entirely dispelled from me. I neither care for a seat in heaven nor fear the terrors of hell. 30 I am as fixed in the one Spirit as Mount Mandara is firmly seated in the sea. That one Spirit scatters its particles throughout the three worlds just like that mountain splashed water when it churned the ocean. 31I am as firm as fixed Mandara, while others wander in their errors of discriminating between positive and negative and the true and false. 32 The heart of that man who thinks the world is one thing and the Divine Spirit is another must be entangled with the weeds of doubts. 33 He who seeks his real good in anything in this world never finds it in the unsubstantial material world, which is full of the confused waves of eternity.
34 It is by your favor, O venerable sage, that I have passed over the noisy ocean of this world to the limits of its perilous coasts. I have arrived at the shore of safety and found the path of my future prosperity. 35 I am no longer lacking that supreme joy which is the supreme good of all things. I am full in myself as the lord of all. I am quite incapable of being subdued by anybody since I have defeated the wild elephant of my own greed. 36 Being loosened from the chain of desire and freed from the fetters of choice, I am rich and blessed with the best of all things. This is the internal satisfaction of my soul and mind which gives me a cheerful appearance in all the three worlds.
• • •
Chapter 44 — Vasishta Praises Rama’s Understanding; Warns Him to Maintain It
1 Vasishta said:— Rama, whatever acts you do with your organs of action and without application of the mind to the work, know such work to be no doing of yours. 2 Be like one who does not feel a pleasure upon achieving an action which he did not feel a moment before, and in the next moment, is unaware that he has done the work. 3 Memory of an experience does not repeat the same delight, therefore it is childish and not manly to take any delight in a momentary pleasure. 4 Whatever is pleasant during its desire has only that desire as the cause of pleasure. Hence the pleasure of a thing lasting until it becomes unpleasant is no real pleasure. Therefore the wise forsake this frail pleasure together with its temporary cause of desire.
5 If you have arrived to that high state, then be careful for the future. Merge yourself no more in the narrow pit of your personality. 6 You who have found your rest and repose seated in the highest height of spiritual knowledge must not allow your soul to plunge into the deep and dark cave of your egoistic individuality. 7 Thus seated on the peak of your knowledge, as on the top of Mount Meru, and remembering the glories all around, you cannot choose to fall down into the hell pit of this earth to be reborn in the dark cave of a mother’s womb.
8 It appears to me that you, O Rama, are of an even temperament. You have the quality of truth fully in your nature. I understand you have weakened your desires and have entirely gotten over your ignorance. 9 You appear to be settled in your nature of purity. The temperament of your mind appears to be as calm and quiet as the sea when it is full and untroubled by the rude and rough winds of heaven. 10 May your expectations set at ease and your wants end in contentment. Let your madness turn to right-mindedness. Live unconnected with and aloof from all. 11 Whatever objects you see placed before you, know them to be full of Divine Consciousness which is consolidated and extended through all as their common essence.
12 One ignorant of the soul is tightly bound to his ignorance. One acquainted with the soul is liberated from his bondage. Hence, O Rama, learn to meditate constantly and intensely upon the Supreme Soul in your own soul. 13 Detachment wants to enjoy nothing and refuses the enjoyment of whatever presents itself. Know that being without desire is the cool calm of the mind, resembling the serenity of the sky. 14 Preserve the cold detachment of your mind. Discharge your duties with the cool application of your organs of action. This detachment of your mind will render you as steady as the sky throughout all the accidents of life.
15 If you can combine the knower, knowable and the knowledge in your soul, then you will feel the tranquility of your spirit and you will no longer feel the troubles of earthly life. 16 The expansion and contraction of the mind cause the display and dissolution of the world. Therefore try to stop the action of your mind by restraining the breaths of your desire. 17 The breath of life conducts and stops the business of the world by its movements and rest. Therefore restrain the breathing of the vital air by your practice of regulating your breathing.
18 Ignorance gives rise to ceremonious works. Knowledge represses them. Therefore boldly put ignorance down by your own forbearance, the instructions you derive from the scriptures, and your teachers. 19 As winds flying with dust darken the fair face of the sky, so consciousness sullied with phenomena obscures the clear face of the soul. 20 The relationship between vision and what can be seen causes the appearance of the world and its course, just as the relationship between sunlight and forms makes them appear in various colors to the eye. 21 But the lack of this relationship removes the phenomena from sight, just as the absence of light takes away the colors of things.
22 Fluctuations of the mind cause illusions, just as the heart throbbing raises emotions. They all stop when these organs are suspended. The waves raised by the motion of water and the action of winds subside in the deep where these actions cease. 23 The abandonment of every jot of desire, the suspension of breath, and the exercise of reasoning will contract the actions of the heart and mind, thereby preventing the rise of passions, affections and illusions.
24 The unconsciousness that follows the inaction of the heart and mind when vital breath is suspended is the highest perfection. 25 There is pleasure seeing phenomena which is common to all living being. But this being felt spiritually amounts to holy pleasure. The sight of God in one’s consciousness, which is beyond the province of the mind, transcends mental pleasure and gives a divine ecstasy called brahmananda (bliss of Brahman). 26 The true bliss of the soul is known when the mind is dormant and unconscious. Such bliss cannot be found even in heaven, just as it is not possible to have a cooling bath in a sandy desert. 27 The inertness of the heart and mind is attended with a delight felt in the innermost soul that cannot be described in words. It is an everlasting joy that neither rises nor falls, nor increases or decreases.
28 Right understanding weakens the sensuous mind, but wrong understanding only serves to increase its irrational sensuousness. Then it sees the thickening mists of error rising like ghosts and apparitions before children. 29 Though the sensational mind exists in us, yet it seems to be quite nonexistent and extinct before the light of our rationality, just as copper appears to disappear when melted with gold. 30 The mind of the wise is not sensuous because the wise mind is an essence of purity by itself. The mind of the senses is changed in name and nature to that of the understanding, just as copper is converted to the name and nature of gold.
31 But it is not possible for the mind to be absorbed in consciousness all at once. Its errors are removed only by right understanding. Its essence is never annihilated. 32 Things taken as symbols of the soul are all as unsubstantial as the mind and vital principle, all of which are as unreal as the horns of a rabbit. They are only reflections of the soul which vanish from view once the soul is known. 33 The mind exists only for a short time, during its continuance in the world. After it has passed its fourth stage of unconsciousness, it arrives to the state of mental inactivity (turiya) which is beyond the fourth stage.
34 Brahman is all even and one, though appearing as many amidst the errors that rule the world. He is the soul of all and has no partial or particular form of any kind. He is not the mind or anything else, nor is He situated in the heart (as a finite being).
• • •
Chapter 45 — Parable of the Bael Fruit as Creation
1 Vasishta said:— O Rama, listen to a pleasant story, never told before, which I will briefly narrate for your instruction and amusement.
2 There is a big and beautiful bael fruit tree, as large as the distance of many thousands of miles, and so solid that it does not ripen or rot in the course of many, many ages. 3 Its fruit has a lasting flavor like sweet honey or celestial ambrosia. Though grown old, yet the tree increases with fresh and beautiful foliage day by day like the new moon. 4 This tree is situated in the midst of the universe, just like the great Mount Meru is placed in the middle of the earth. It is as firm and fixed as Mandara Mountain, immovable even by the force of the winds of the great flood.
5 Its root is the foundation of the world and it stretches on all sides to distances of immeasurable extent. 6 There were millions of worlds within this fruit like its innumerable seeds. These worlds were minute compared to the great bulk of the fruit. They appeared like dust particles at the foot of a mountain. 7 The bael is filled with all kinds of delicacies that are tasteful and delicious to the six organs of sense. Not one of the six kinds of tasty pleasures is lacking in this fruit.
8 The fruit is never found in its green or unripe state, nor is it ever known to fall down over-ripe on the ground. It is always ripe of itself, never rotten or dried or decayed at anytime by age or accident.
9 The gods Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are not as everlasting as this tree, nor do they know anything of the origin of this tree or anything about its extent and dimensions. 10 No one knows the germ and sprout of this tree, and its buds and flowers are invisible to all. There is no stem or trunk or bough or branch of the tree that bears this great fruit. 11 This fruit is a solid mass of great bulk. There is nobody who has seen its growth, change or fall.
12 This is the best and largest of all fruits and having no central core or seed, it is always sound and unsoiled. 13 It is as dense in its fullness as the inside of a stone, and as overflowing with bliss as the disc of the moon drizzling with its cooling beams. It is full of flavor and distils its ambrosial nectar to the conscious souls of men. 14 It is source of delight in all beings. It is the cause of the cooling moonbeams by its own brightness. It is the solid rock of all security, the stupendous body of joy. It contains the core and foundation that support and sustain all living souls, which are the fruits of the prior acts of people.
15 Therefore that transcendent central core, which is the wonder of souls, is contained in the infinite spirit of God, deposited and preserved in that auspicious fruit, the bael. 16God is deposited with its wonderful power in that small bael fruit, which represents the human as well as the Divine Soul, without losing its properties of thinness and thickness and freshness forever.
17 The thought that “I am this” clothes unreality with a gross form. Though it is absurd to attribute differences to nullities, yet the mind makes them of itself, then believes its fictitious creatures as real ones. 18 The Divine Ego contains the essential parts of all things set in their proper order, as the emptiness of the sky is filled with minute atoms out of which the three worlds burst forth with all their varieties. 19 In this manner the power of consciousness grew in its proper form, yet the essence of the soul retains its former state without exhausting itself.
20 The power of consciousness, being thus stretched about, makes it perceive the fabric of the world and its great bustle in its tranquil self. 21 It views the great vacuum on all sides and counts the parts of time as they pass away. It conceives a destiny which directs all things and comes to know what is action by its operation. 22 It finds the world stretching as the wish of one, and the sides of heaven extending as far as the desires of men. It comes to know the feelings of love and hatred and the objects of its liking and dislike. 23 It understands its egoism and non-egoism, the subjective and the objective, and views itself in an objective light by forgetting its subjectivity. It views the worlds above and, being itself as high as any one of them, finds itself far below them. 24 It perceives one thing to be placed before and another to be situated beside it. It finds something to be behind and others to be near or far away from it. Then it comes to know some things as present and others as past or yet to come. 25 Thus the whole world is seen like a play house in the power of consciousness with various imaginary figures blooming like lotuses in a lake.
26 Our consciousness is seated in the center of the lotus of our hearts. It has knowledge of our endless desires budding about it. It sees the countless worlds turning around like a rosary of lotus seeds. 27 Its hollow, cell-like skies are filled with the great Rudras who wander about in the distant paths of the midway sky, like falling comets with flaming tails. 28It has the great Mount Meru situated in its middle like the bright core in the middle of a lotus flower. The moon-capped summit of this mountain is visited by the immortals who wander about it like bees in quest of ambrosial honey distilled by the moonbeams on high. 29 Here is the tree of the Nandana garden of paradise with its clusters of beautiful flowers diffusing their fragrance all around. There is the deadly tree of the old world, scattering its destructive pollen that makes us chose death and hell. 30 Here the stars are shining like bright filaments of flowery trees growing on the banks of the wide ocean of Brahman. There is the pleasant lake of the Milky Way in the boundless space of emptiness.
31 Here roll the uncontrolled waves of ceremonial acts filled with frightful sharks, and there are the dreadful whirlpools of worldly acts that whirl mankind in endless births for ever more. 32 Here runs the lake of time in its meandering course forever with the broad expanse of heaven for its blooming blossom and having moments and ages for its leaves and petals, and the luminaries of sun, moon and stars for its bright pistils and filaments. 33 Here it sees the bodies of living beings filled with health and disease, teeming with old age, decay and the torments of death. There it beholds the jarring expositions of the scriptures, some delighting in their knowledge of spiritual wisdom, others rambling in the gloom of ignorance.
34 In this manner our inner consciousness represents the wonders contained in the pulp of the bael fruit which is full of the unsubstantial substance of our desires and wishes and the coreless essence of our false imagination. 35 It sees many that are tranquil, calm, cool and dispassionate, who are free from their restraints and desires. They are heedless of both their activity and inactivity. They do not care for works whether done or left undone by them.
36 Thus this single consciousness presents her various aspects, though she is neither alone nor many of herself. She is what she is. She has in reality only one form of peaceful tranquility, though she is possessed of the vast capacity of conceiving in herself all the manifold forms of things at liberty.
• • •
Chapter 46 — Parable of a Carved Rock as the Soul
1 Rama said, “Venerable sage who knows the substance of all truths, I understand the parable of bael fruit, which you just told me, is related to the essence of compact consciousness, which is the only unit and identical with itself. 2 The whole totality of existence together with the personalities of I, you, this and that form the fullness of consciousness. There is not the slightest difference between them, such as this is one thing and that another.”
3 Vasishta answered:— As this cosmic egg, the universe, is similar to a gourd containing mountains and all other things as its inner substance, so does consciousness resemble the bael fruit, the great foundation that contains even the universe as the kernel inside it. 4 But although the world has no other receptacle beside Divine Consciousness, yet it is not literally the kernel inside that crust. 5 Consciousness resembles the hard coating of the pepper seed, containing inside the soft substance of its central core. It is also similar to a block of stone bearing carved figures peacefully sleeping in it.
6 O moon-faced Rama, hear me relate another pleasant story which will appear equally charming and wonderful to you.
7 There is a huge block of stone somewhere which is as big as it is thick and solid. It is bright and glossy, and cold and smooth to touch. It never wastes or wears out, or becomes dark and dim. 8 Within the bosom of this wonderful stone there are many full blown lotuses and unnumbered buds of water lilies growing in a clear lake of water.
9 There are many other plants also growing in that lake, some with their long and broad leaves and others with their alternate and joint thin leaves. 10 There are many flowers with uplifted and downcast heads, and others with their petals hanging before them. Some flowers grown on a single stalk and others grow separate and apart from one another. Some are concealed and others manifest to view. 11 Some have their roots formed of the fibers of the outer layer and others have their outer layers growing upon the roots. Some have their roots on the tops and others at the foot of trees, while there are many without their roots at all.
12 There are a great many conch shells about these, and unnumbered diseases also scattered all about.
13 Rama said, “All this is true. I have seen this large saligrama stone in my travels. I remember it was placed in the shrine of Vishnu in a bed of lotus flowers.”
14 Vasishta replied:— You say truly that you have seen that great stone and know its inside also. But do you know the unperforated and hollow-less stone of the Divine Mind that contains the universe in its hollow receptacle and is the life of all living beings? 15 The stone of which I have been describing is marvelous and supernatural and contains in its void-less bosom all things as nothing. 16 The stone-like consciousness contains all these massive worlds within its spacious sphere. It is figuratively called a stone from its solidity, cohesive impenetrability and indivisibility, qualities like those of a block of stone.
17 This solid substance of consciousness, in spite of its density without any void, contains all the worlds in itself, just as the infinite space of heaven is filled with subtle and atmospheric air. 18 The mind is occupied with all its various thoughts, just as the world is filled by earth, sky, air and atmosphere, and the mountains and rivers on all sides. There is no hole or hollow that is not occupied by something or another. 19 The solid soul of God resembles this massive stone. It contains all these worlds that are displayed like so many beds of lotuses in their blooming beauty. Yet there is nothing so very pure and unstained as this solid crystalline soul.
20 It is the practice of men to paint blocks of stones with figures of lotuses, conch shells and other images. So it is the tendency of the fanciful mind to picture many fantastic forms on the solid rock of the soul. 21 All things in the world appear exactly like the various figures carved on a stone, seeming to be separate but carved in relief. 22 As a lotus carved in rock is not different from the rock itself, so no part of existence is set apart from the substantiality of Divine Consciousness which represents its subtle ideas in their condensed forms. 23 The forms of creation are as inseparable from the formless intellect of God just as the forms of lotus flowers carved in stone are not separate from the shapeless stone.
24 These endless chains of worlds are all linked together in the boundless intellect of God in the same way as clusters of lotus flowers are carved together in stone, and like seeds are set together inside a long pepper. 25 These revolving worlds do not rise or fall in the sphere of the Infinite Intellect, but they remain as firm as the kernel of a bael fruit and as fixed as the fidelity of a faithful wife. 26 The revolution of worlds and their changing scenes seen taking place in Divine Consciousness do not prove a change within the all-containing Infinite Intellect because its contents of finite things are so changeable in their nature. 27 At last, all these changes and varieties subside in the Divine Intellect, just as waves and water drops sink down in the sea. The only change observable in the Supreme Intellect is its absorption of all finite changes into its infinity.
28 The word that has produced all this causes their changes and their dissolutions in itself. But know that the word “change” is altogether meaningless because it is from Brahman that this divine command and these changes have sprung, and all these and the original divine command are only Brahman. 29 Brahman being both the mainspring as well as the mainstay of all changes in nature, he is neither excluded from or included under any change which occurs in the sphere of his immensity.
30 Know change in one or the other of two senses. Change of the Divine Spirit in the works of creation resembles the change or development of the seed into its stem, fruits and flowers and other parts. The other is change is a display of delusion like the appearance of water in a mirage.
31 As the substance of a seed gradually transforms itself into the various states of its development, so the density of Divine Consciousness condenses itself more and more in its production of solid and compact worlds, and this is the course of the formation of the cosmos by slow degrees. 32 The union of the seed with the process of its development forms the duality that is destroyed by the loss of either of these. Only imagination paints the world as a dull material thing when there is no such grossness in pure Consciousness. 33 Consciousness and dull matter cannot combine, nor can the one be included within the other. Therefore the ideal world resembles marks carved in stone and in no way different in their natures.
34 As the core and foundation of a fruit is nothing other than the fruit itself, so the cosmos forms the gist of solid Consciousness and is no way separable from Consciousness which is like a thick stone containing marks and under-marks layered under one another. 35 So we see the three worlds lying under one another in the womb of the unity of God, just as we see the sleeping and silent marks of lotuses and conch shells carved in the hollow of a stone. 36 There is no rising or setting of the course of the world, but everything is as fixed and immovable in it as an inscription carved in stone.
37 The core and foundation of Divine Consciousness causes the creative power and the act of creation, just as the substance of stone produces and reduces the figures in the stone. 38 As the figures carved in stone have no action or motion of their own, so the agents of the world have no action of their own, nor is this world ever created or destroyed at anytime. 39 Everything stands fixed in the mind of God as if they were firm and immovable rocks. All have their forms and positions in the same manner as they are ordained and situated in the Divine Mind.
40 All things are filled with the essence of God and remain in a state of near sleep in the Divine Mind. The various changes and conditions of things that appear to us in this world are the mere aimless digressions of our false fancy, for everything is as fixed and unchanged in the mind of God as the inert images on a stone. 41 All actions and motions of things are as motionless in mind of God as the carved figures lying asleep in the hollow of a stone. It is the wrong, irrelevant view of things that presents all these varieties and changes to us. Considered in the true and spiritual light, there is no body or any change that presents itself to our sight.
• • •
Chapter 47 — The Density of the Intellect; Bael Fruit, Stones and Peahen
1 Vasishta continued:— The great Consciousness, which can be compared to a bael fruit, contains the universe as its own matter and marrow within itself. It broods upon the universe as in its dream. 2 All space and time and action and motion being but forms of itself, there can be no distinction of them in Consciousness. 3 All words and their senses, and all acts of volition, imagination and perception being actions of Consciousness, they can not be unrealities in any respect.
4 As the substance contained in a fruit is called different names like kernel, core, pulp and seeds, so the core and foundation of solid Consciousness being only one and the same thing takes many names according to their varied forms. 5 A thing though the same yet has different names according to its different states and changes of form. As it is with the contents of a fruit, so it is with the subjects included under Consciousness.
6 Consciousness reflects its image in the mirror of the world, just as sculptured images are expressed in a slab of stone. 7 The brilliant gem of Supreme Consciousness produces numberless of worlds in itself, just as the gem of your mind casts the reflection of every object of your desires and imagination. 8 The casket of Consciousness contains the spacious world set inside it like a pearl of vast size, but the world is only a part of the other, although appearing to be distinct and different.
9 Consciousness is like the shining sun that illuminates all things in the world. It brings on the days and nights by turns, showing and hiding things to and from our view. 10 As the waters of a whirling current rotate and hurl down into the turbulent center of the sea, so do these worlds roll and revolve in the cavity of Consciousness. Though its contents are of the same kind, yet they appear different from one another like the pulp and seeds of fruit.
11 The body of a stone, like Consciousness, contains the marks of whatever exists in present creation and the marks of whatever does not presently exist. 12 All real essence is the substance of the apple-like Consciousness, whether it is in being or not in being. All objects whether in being or not being obtain their form and figure according to the core and foundation of that intellectual fruit.
13 As a lotus loses its own separate being by being carved in stone, so do all these varieties of existence lose their differences by being engrossed into the unity of intellectual substance. 14 As the diversity of the lotus changes to the identity of the stone by its union with and entrance into its cavity, so the varieties of creation become all one in the solid mass of Divine Consciousness. 15 As a mirage appears to be a sheet of water to a thirsty deer, while the intelligent know it to be a reflection of sunlight on sandy desert, so reality appears as unreal and the unreal appears as real to the ignorant. In truth, there is neither the one nor the other here, only images of the Divine Mind.
16 As the body of waters fluctuates itself, so there is vibration within the solidity of Divine Consciousness.
17 The lotuses and conch shells are of the same substance as the stone in which they are carved. But the world and all its contents contained in Consciousness are not of the same substance or nature. 18 The big block of stone which we are using as a metaphor for Divine Consciousness is itself contained in the Divine Consciousness. While figures on the stone are carved out of its body, those of Divine Consciousness are eternally inherent in it.
19 This creation of God is as bright as the autumn sky and as fair as liquid moonbeams. 20 The world is eternally situated in God, like figures in stone which are never erased. The world is as inseparably connected with God as the godhead of God with himself. 21 There is no difference in these, just as there is none between the tree and its plant. All the worlds that are seen all about are not different from Divine Consciousness.
22 These worlds as well as Consciousness are neither produced nor destroyed at anytime because they exist in the spirit of God. The spirit of God shows them in their various forms, just as the heat of the sun exhibits a sheet of water in sandy desert.
23 The world with all its solid rocks, trees and plants dissolves into Divine Consciousness at the sight of the intelligent, just as hard hailstones are seen to melt into pure, liquid water. 24 As water vanishes into air and that again into vacuum, so all things pass away in the Supreme Spirit. Again, it is the consolidation of Consciousness that forms the solid substances of hills, plants and all tangible things. 25 The central core hidden in the minute substance becomes the innermost essence in its enlarged state. So the flavor of things concealed in the atoms becomes perceptible in their density with their growth.
26 The power of God resides in the same manner in all physical things, such as the properties of flavors and moisture inherent in the vegetable creation. 27 The same power of God manifests itself in many forms in things, just as the same light of the sun shows itself in the various colors of things according to the constitution of their component particles.28 The Supreme Soul shows itself in various ways in the substance and properties of things, just as Divine Consciousness represents the forms of mountains and all other things in the changeful mind.
29 As the soft and liquid yolk of a peahen’s egg contains the toughness and various colors of future quills and feathers, so there are varieties of all kinds inherent in Divine Consciousness, requiring time to develop. 30 As the multicolored feathers of a peacock’s tail are contained in the moisture within its egg, so the diversity of creation is ingrained in the Divine Mind. 31 The judicious observer will find the one self same Brahman is present everywhere before his sight. He will perceive his unity amidst all diversity, as in the yolk of the female peahen.
32 In reality, the knowledge of the unity and duality of God, and that of God containing the world in himself, are all as false as the belief in the entity and nonentity of things. All these are to be considered as the one and same thing, identical with one another. 33 Know him as the supreme, the source of all entity and nonentity, and on whose entity they depend, whose unity comprises all varieties which appear as virtual and are not real existences. 34 Know the world to be compressed within the category of Consciousness. Consciousness is assimilated within the works of creation in the same manner as the feather is related to the moisture in the egg, the one being the production and the other the producer of another.
35 The cosmic egg resembles the peahen’s egg. The spirit of God is as the yolk of that egg. It abounds with many things, like the many colored feathers of peacocks, all of which serve only to mislead us into error. Know therefore there is no difference in outer form or the internal spirit of the world, just as there is none in the outer peacock and the inner yolk.
• • •
Chapter 48 — Unity and Identity of Brahma and World; the Realized
1 Vasishta continued:— That which contains this wide extended universe within itself without manifesting its form to us is very much like the egg of the peahen. It contains all space and individual bodies in its yolk. 2 In reality it has nothing in it, yet it appears to contain everything in itself, just as a spotless mirror reflects the image of the moon and a hollow egg bears the figure of a future peacock. 3 In this manner gods and sages, saints and holy men, and spiritual masters and great rishis meditate on the true and self-existent form of God, and find themselves seated in their fourth state of bliss above the third heaven.
4 These devout persons sit with their half-shut eyes, without any movement of their eyelids, and continue to view the visible glory of God shining in its full light in their inner souls. 5 Thus enraptured in their conscious presence of God, they are unconscious of any other thought in their minds. Though living, they remain without respiration of their vital breath. 6 They sit quietly like figures in a painting, without breathing, silent as carved statues without any action of their minds. 7 They remain in their state of holy bliss without using their minds for any fleeting thoughts. Whenever they have any agitation they can effect anything, just as the Lord God works all things with his slightest nod. 8 Even when their minds are employed in meditative thoughts, they are usually attended with a charming gladness, like that of charming moonbeams falling and pleasing the leafy branches of trees. 9 The soul is as delighted with seeing the holy light of God as the mind is delighted at the sight of cooling moonbeams emitted afar from the lunar disc.
10 Pure consciousness is as clear as the fair face of the bright moon. It is neither visible nor in need of admonition. It is neither too near nor too far from us. 11 Only through one’s self-reflection can the pure intellect be known, and not through physical organs, the living spirit or mind, or by our desire to know it. 12 It is not the living soul or its consciousness, or the vibrations of the body, mind or breath. It is not the world or its reality or unreality, its emptiness or solidity, or the center of anything. 13 It is not time or space or any substance at all. It is neither a god nor any other being. It is whatever is free from all these and unconfined in the heart or any of the sheaths inside the body. 14 The soul is that in which all things are moving, and which is neither the beginning nor the end of anything, but exists from eternity to eternity. The soul is not characterized by any of the elements of air and the like. 15 The soul is an entity that is never annihilated in this or the next world, though sentient bodies may be born and die away a thousand times here below, like earthen pots. 16 There is no removal of this empty spirit from its seat, both inside and outside of everybody. Know, O you who are the best of the spiritually minded, that all bodies are equally situated in the all pervading Spirit.
17 The imperfection of our understanding creates the difference between spirit and body. The perfection of our judgment is when we believe the Universal Soul is diffused throughout the universe. 18 Though warmly engaged in business, yet remain not addicted to worldliness by your indifference to the world and to all moving and unmoving things that exists on earth. 19 Know all these as the great Brahman, the pure soul that is without the properties and attributes of mortal beings. It is without change or beginning or end. It is always tranquil and in the same state.
20 Rama, through your spiritual vision you now know that all things, including time and action and all causality, causation and its effects, together with the production, preservation and dissolution of all, is composed of the spirit of God. You are freed from your wanderings in the world in your bodily form.
• • •
Chapter 49 — Changes in the World Are no Changes; Ignorance Does Not Exist
1 Rama said, “Sage, if there is no change in the immutable spirit of God, then how do these various changes constantly appear to occur in this world?”
2 Vasishta replied:— Listen Rama. The alteration of a thing that does not revert to its former state is called its change. Change occurs in the example of milk converted to curds or butter. It never becomes pure milk again. 3 Milk converts to curds, but curds never revert to their former state of milk. Such is the nature of change in the state of things. But such change can never affect the great God who remains the same through the first, intermediate and last states of things. 4 There is no change in the immutable Brahman such as with milk or with any other thing. Brahman, having no beginning or end, has no age or stage of life assigned to him. 5 Attributing any state of beginning or end to eternal God is the false imputation of ignorance and error. There can be no change in the changeless one. 6 Brahman is not our consciousness or the object of our consciousness. He is as unconnected with us as our soul and intellect are. He is only known to us by the word.
7 A thing is said to be the same if it is the same in the beginning and end. The difference that takes place in form is only a mist of error and is not taken into account by the wise.8 Only the soul remains the same with itself, both in the beginning, middle and end of it, and in all places and times. The soul never changes with changes of the body or mind and therefore forms the identity of the person. 9 The soul, formless and identical with itself, forms the personality and individuality of a being. Because it is not subject to any pattern or mutation at anytime, it constitutes the essential identity of everybody.
10 Rama replied, “If the Divine Soul is always the same and perfectly pure in itself, from where does the error of change come? What is the cause of the ignorance that shows these changes to us?”
11 Vasishta replied:— The concept of Brahman implies that He is all that is, what was, and what will be in future, that he is without change, beginning or end, and that there is no ignorance in him. 12 The intended meaning of the word Brahman does not include anything that is nonexistent or the negative idea of ignorance. 13 You and I, this earth and sky, the world and all its sides, together with the elements of fire and others, are all the everlasting and infinite Brahman. Within Brahman there is not the slightest misunderstanding. 14 Ignorance (avidya) is only a name and an error. It is another word for unreality. Rama, you can never call something a reality which never exists of itself.
15 Rama said, “Why sage, you yourself talked about ignorance in the chapter on Tranquility (Upasama, Book 5) and told me to know all these as products of error.”
16 Vasishta answered:— Rama, all this time you have been immersed in your ignorance. At last you have come to your right understanding by your own reasoning.
17 It is the practice of pundits and men of learning to use words like ignorance, living soul and the like in order to awaken the unenlightened to their enlightenment. 18 So long as the mind is not awakened to the knowledge of truth, it remains in the darkness of error forever, even though it may travel a hundred miles. 19 When the living soul is awakened to its right sense by the force of reason, it learns to unite itself to the Supreme Soul. Without the guidance of reason, the living soul is successful in nothing despite all its efforts. 20He who tells a vile, unenlightened man that all this world is the great Brahman himself does no more than communicate his sorrows to the headless trunk of a tree. 21 A fool is brought to his senses by reasoning, and the wise man knows the truth from the nature of the subject. The ignorant never learn wisdom without the persuasion of reason. 22 You have been unwise for so long relying upon your own judgment. But being guided by me, you are now awakened to truth.
23 I am Brahman, you are Brahman, and the visible world is Brahman himself. Know this truth and nothing else, and do as you please. 24God is inconceivable. No conception of God can be true. The visible world is all that is known of him. Know him as the One and the Infinite and you will not be misled into error.
25 Rama, whether when you are sitting or walking, waking or sleeping, constantly think in yourself that you are this Supreme Spirit which is of the form of light and intelligence and pervades all things. 26 Rama, if you are without your individual ego and selfishness, and if you are intelligent and honest, then be as universal and tranquil as Brahman himself who is equally situated in all things. 27 Know your self as the pure consciousness situated as one in all, without beginning or end, the essence of light, and the most transcendent of all being.
28 What you call Brahman or the Universal Soul or the fourth, transcendent state, know that they are all the same as matter and nature. It is the inseparable One in all, just as clay is the essential substance of a thousand water pots. 29 Nature is not different from the nature of the soul, just as the clay is no other than the pot itself. The divine essence is like the clay, and the Divine Spirit extends as the inner matter of all things.
30 The soul has its pulsation like the spinning of the whirlpool. This force is named matter (prakriti) and it is nothing other than an effort of the spirit. 31 As the different words pulsation and vibration mean the same thing, so the soul and nature express the same substance and are not different in their essence. 32 Mere ignorance makes their difference which is removed by their knowledge, just as sheer ignorance represents a snake in the rope which is soon removed by knowledge of their nature.
33 As the seed of imagination falls in the field of the intellect, it shoots forth in the sprout of the mind, which becomes the germ of the wide spreading tree of the universe. 34The seed of false imagination, scorched by the flames of spiritual knowledge, will be unable to vegetate though it be sprinkled with the water of fond desire. 35 If you do not sow the seed of imagination in the soil of your intellect, you will stop the germination of the plants of pain and pleasure in the field of your mind.
36 Rama, you have come to know the truth. You must forsake your false conception of such a thing as ignorance or error existing in the world. Know that there is no duality in the unity of God. Being full with the knowledge of one Supreme Soul, you must repudiate your ideas of pain or pleasure in anything here below. Pain turns to pleasure and pleasure to pain. Know them both as unreal as they are vain.
• • •
Chapter 50 — How the Soul Receives Sensations and the Objects of Senses
1 Rama said, “Sage, I have known whatever is to be known. I have seen all that is to be seen. I am filled with the ambrosial nectar of divine knowledge which you have kindly imparted to me. 2 I see the world full with the fullness of Brahman. I know the fullness of God has produced this complete creation. The fullness of God fills the universe. Its size depends on the fullness of the all pervading deity.”
3 “With much fondness I would like to propose another question to improve my understanding. I hope you will not be angry but will instruct me like a kind father does his fondling boy.”
4 “We see that the organs of sense, such as ears, nose, eyes, mouth and touch, exist in all animals. 5 Why do the dead do not perceive the objects of their senses as well as the living? 6 How is it that the dull organs perceive outer objects, like a pot and other phenomena, which are imperceptible to the inner heart, in spite of its natural sensitivity?
7 The relation between outer objects and the organs is like that between magnet and iron which attract one another without coming into contact. But how can the small cavities of the organs be able to bring huge objects that surround us on all sides into the mind?”
8 “If you well know these secrets of nature, then please communicate them to me in a hundred ways in order to satisfy my curiosity.”
9 Vasishta answered:— Now Rama, I tell you in brief that neither the organs nor the heart and mind, nor the pots and pictures are things in reality because it is impossible for anything to exist apart and independent of the pure and intelligent spirit of God.
10 Divine Consciousness, purer than air, takes the form of the mind by itself. Then it assumes its elemental form of the physical body and exhibits all things agreeably to the ideas engraved in the mind. 11 The same elements, stretched out into matter and nature, exhibit the whole universe as its ensemble, and the organs and their objects as its parts.12 The mind takes the elemental form of its own nature and reflects itself in all the parts of nature in the forms of pots and all the rest of things.
13 Rama replied, “Tell me sage, what is the form of that elemental body that reflects itself in a thousand shapes on the face of the eight-fold elemental world, as it were, on the surface of a mirror?”
14 Vasishta replied:— This elemental body, the seed of the world, is the Brahman without decay who is without beginning or end. Brahman is of the form of pure light and intellect, devoid of parts and attributes. 15 Brahman, being disposed to its desires, becomes the living soul. This being desirous of collecting all its desires and the parts of the body together, becomes the beating heart in the middle of all. 16 It becomes ego from the thought of its egoism. It is called the mind from its minding the many things in itself. It takes the name of understanding (buddhi) from its understanding (bodha) of things, and the name of sense from its sensation of external objects. 17 It thinks of taking a body and becomes the same body, just as a potter having the idea of a pot forms it in that manner. Such being the nature of the soul, being and doing all what it likes, it is therefore manifest in its eight different forms.
18 Consciousness is also called the eight-fold soul because it presides over each person’s eight-fold functions, such as those of perception, action, passion, witnessing all things, and the like, and also its inner consciousness and its power of vitality. 19 The living soul takes different forms at different times according to how it is employed in any one of these eight-fold functions, and also according to how it is moved by the various desires that arise by turns. 20 The eight-fold nature of the soul causes it to expand itself into the same form as it is led to by its varying desires at anytime. It is similar to a seed that shoots forth its leaves according to the quantity of water with which it is watered.
21 The soul forgets its intellectual nature and thinks it is a mortal and material being embodied in the form of a living creature or some inanimate being. It remains unaware of itself under the influence of its false belief. 22 In this way the living soul wanders about the world as if dragged back and forth by the rope of desire tied about its neck. Now it soars high and then it plunges below like a plank rising up and sinking below the waves and currents of the sea.
23 There are some who, being released from imprisonment in this world, come to know the Supreme Soul and attain that state which has neither beginning nor end. 24 There are others who, weary and worried by their many reincarnations after the lapse of much time, come to their knowledge of the soul and thereby obtain their state of final bliss. 25 In this way, O intelligent Rama, the living soul passes through many bodily forms. Now you shall hear how it comes to perceive the outer objects of pots and the like through the external organs of perception.
26 After consciousness takes the form of the living soul and the living soul has received its vitality, the action of the heart sends its feelings to the mind which is the sixth organ of the body. 27 As the living soul passes into the air, it comes in contact with external objects through the sense organs of the body. Then joining with consciousness it perceives external sensations within itself. 28 The union of the living soul with outer objects causes sensations and carries them to the mind. When the soul is defunct and the mind dormant, there is no perception of externals. 29 Whatever outer object is set in the open air, it casts its reflection on the subtle senses of living beings coming in contact with the living soul that feels the sensation. But if the soul has departed, the dead body has no life or feeling of anything in existence.
30 When the form of an object comes in contact with a person’s eyesight, it casts its picture on the eyes which is instantly conveyed to the inner soul. 31 The image cast on the retina is reflected to the clearer mirror of the soul, which perceives it by its contact with the reflection. Thus outer things come to the knowledge of the living soul.
32 Even babies can know what comes in touch with them, just as brutes and vegetables have the power of feeling the objects they touch. How then it is possible for the sensitive soul to be ignorant of its tangible objects? 33 The clear rays of eyesight that surround the soul present it with pictures of visible objects carried to the mind’s consciousness, whereby the soul comes to know. 34 The process is the same with the other senses, also, whether taste, smell, sound, or touch. The soul contacts through the mind and the sense organ. 35 Sound remaining in its receptacle of air passes into the cavity of the ear, and from there it enters the hollow space of the soul, giving it the sensation of its nature.
36 Rama said, “I see that reflections of things are cast in the mirror of the mind, like images of things carved on wood and slabs of stone. But tell me sage, how is the reflection of the image cast onto the mirror of the mind?”
37 Vasishta replied:— O best of those who know spiritual wisdom, know that the gross images of the universal and particular souls which are reflected in the mirror of the mind are as false as the images of God and gods carved in stone and wood. 38 Rama, never rely on the substantiality of this false world. Know it to be a great vortex of whirling waters, and ourselves as the waves rolling upon it.
39 There is no limitation of space or time or any action in the boundless ocean of the infinity and eternity of God. You must know that your soul is identical with the Supreme which is everywhere and omnipresent. 40 Remain always with a calm and quiet mind, without addiction to anything in this world. Know the vanity of worldly pleasures and pains and go on with a contented mind wherever you will.
• • •
Chapter 51 — One Becomes Many; Ignorance; Consciousness Precedes Sense;
Scriptures & Agnostic Doctrines
1 Vasishta resumed:— Rama, you have heard me tell you that even the lotus-born Brahma, who was born long before you, at first had no organs of sense. 2 Brahma, the collective agent of creation, was endowed with only consciousness to perform all his functions. All individual personalities are endowed with only their self-consciousness to discharge all their necessary duties. 3 The living soul, dwelling in its body in the mother’s womb, reflects on the actions of the senses and finds their proper organs supplied to its body immediately. 4 The senses and the organs of sense are forms of consciousness. This I have fully explained to you in the case of Brahma, who represents the collective body of all individual souls.
5 At first there was the pure consciousness in its collective form in the Divine Intellect. This afterwards came to be diffused in millions of individual souls from its sense of egoism. At first was the Divine Soul “the I am all that I am” and afterwards became many as expressed in the Vedic text eko’ham bahu
syam (“I am one. May I be many”). 6 There is no stain in the pure universal, undivided and subjective Divine Spirit from being divided into the infinity of individual and objective souls because the universal and subjective unity is the innumerable objective individualities which it evolves of itself. 7 The objectivity of God does not imply his becoming either the thinking mind or the living soul, or his assuming an organic body or any elemental form. 8 He does not become the intelligible or the unintelligible. He is ever existent, appearing nonexistent to the ignorant. This is called the Supreme Soul which is beyond the comprehension of the mind and apprehension of the senses.
9 The living soul arises from Him, as well as the thinking mind. For explanation purposes, we can describe them like sparks emitted from fire. 10 From whatever source ignorance may have sprung, you have no need to inquire as to its cause. Taking ignorance as an illness, you should seek the remedy of reasoning for its cure. 11 After all forms of things and all false knowledge of particulars are removed from your mind there remains a knowledge of unity in which the whole firmament is lost, like a mountain concealed in an atom. 12 That in which all the actions and commotions of the world remain still and motionless, as if buried in dead silence and nothingness, is the surest rock of your rest after the bustle of worldly business.
13 The unreal, or the negative idea that we call ignorance, also has a form as insubstantial as it is nothing. Look at her and she becomes nothing. Touch her and she perishes and vanishes from sight.
14 Seek after her and what can you find but her nothingness? If by your efforts you can get anything of her, it is like water in a mirage. 15 Ignorance alone creates her reality. Her unreality appears as a reality and destroys the seeming reality at once.
16 Agnosticism imputes false attributes to the nature of God. The doctrine of agnostics is to misrepresent the Universal Spirit as having the forms of a living soul and a perishable body. 17 Now listen closely as I tell you that scriptures have been invented to propagate agnostic religion and belief in ignorance by setting up the living soul and other phenomena as God instead of the Supreme Spirit.
18 The scriptures are fond of representing Divine Consciousness in a visible form. People have stained the pure Spirit with many gross forms, such as the elemental and organic body which is enlivened by the vital Spirit dwelling in it. 19 Whatever they think a thing to be, they believe in that. They make truth out of an untruth and its reverse likewise, just as children make a devil of a doll and afterwards break it into nothing.
20 People take the frail body formed of the five elements as a reality and believe that the body’s organ openings are the locations where the sensing soul resides. 21 They believe the five-fold organs perceive the five-fold objects of the senses, which serve at best to represent objects in a different light from what they are, just as a seed produces leaves of various colors. 22 They reckon some as the internal senses, such as the faculties of the mind and the feelings of the heart, and others as external, such as the outer organs of action and sensation. They place their belief in whatever their souls and minds suggest to them to be either as false or true.
23 They believe the moonlight is hot or cold depending on how their outward perception feels. 24 The pungency of pepper and the emptiness of the sky are all according to one’s knowledge and perception of them. They do not belong to the nature of things. For sweet is sour to some, and sour is sweet to others. Many think the sky is empty, but it is found to be full of air by others who assert the dogma that nature abhors a vacuum.
25 People have made certain actions and rituals which are in common practice the articles of their creed, and they have built their faith of a future heaven on the observance of those usages. 26 The living soul, full of its desires, is led by two different impulses. One is its natural tendency to some particular action. The other is whatever some particular law or another directs. However, natural propensity gets the better of the other.
27 The soul produces all objective dualities from what is only the subjective unity, just as the sweet sugarcane produces candy and the clay of the earth forms water pots. 28 In these as well as in all other cases, the changes that take place in the forms of things all result from time and place and other circumstances, but nothing God produces in the universe has any relation to the nature of God. 29 As sugarcane produces its leaves and flowers from its own sap, so the living soul produces dualities from the essence of its own unity, which is the Supreme Soul itself. 30 It is God seated in all souls that views the dualities of a pot, picture, a cot and personal ego in itself, and so they appear to every individual soul in the world. 31 The living soul appears to assume the different forms of childhood, youth, and age at different times, just as a cloud in the sky appears as an exhalation, a watery cloud, and the sap of the earth and all its plants at the different times of the hot and rainy seasons of the year. 32 The living soul perceives all these changes as they are exhibited before it by the Supreme Soul in which they are all present. There is no being in the world who is able to alter this order of nature.
33 Even the sky, which is as clear as a looking glass and is spread all about and within everybody, is unable to represent all the various forms presented to the soul by the great Soul of souls. 34 The soul situated in the Universal Soul of Brahman shines as the living soul of living beings. But it amounts to a duality to impute even an incorporeal idea of ignorance to God because the nature of God is pure Consciousness which cannot admit an ignorant spirit. 35 Whatever is ordained to manifest in any manner is its nature and stamp (swabhava). Though such appearance is no reality, yet you can never undo what is ordained from the beginning.
36 As a golden ornament presents the joint aspects of its reality and unreality at the same time, so are all things only combinations of the real and unreal in their substantial essence and outward appearance. But both of these dissolve at last in the Divine Spirit, just as a gold ornament is melted down to liquid gold in a crucible. 37 Divine Consciousness being all pervasive by reason of its intellectuality is also diffused over the human mind, just as the gold of an ornament settles and remains dull in the crucible.
38 The heart, having the passive nature of dull intellectuality, receives fleeting impressions from the active mind and takes the form that it feels strongly impressed upon it at the time. 39 The soul assumes many shapes at different times according to the ever changing prospects that various desires always present. 40 Likewise, the body takes different forms according to its inner thoughts and feelings, just as a city seen in a dream varies considerably from what is seen with open eyes. So we shape our future forms by the even course of our minds.
41 As a dream presents the shadows of things that disappear on our waking, so these living bodies that we see all about must vanish into nothing upon their death. 42 What is unreal is doomed to perish, and those who die are destined to be born again. The living soul takes another form in another body, just as it sees itself in a dream. 43 This body does not become another, though it may change from young to aged in course of time, because the natural form of a person retains its identity in every stage of life through which it has to pass.
44 In his dream, a man sees all that he has seen or heard or thought of at anytime. The whole world being incorporated in the state of dreaming, the living soul becomes the knower of all that is knowable in his dream. 45 That which a man has not seen awake, but is known to him only by name, can never be seen in dream, such as the pure soul and the intellect of God. 46 The living soul sees in its dreams the objects that it has seen before. The intellectual part of the soul also sees many things that were unknown to it.
47 Subdue your former desires and propensities by your present, courageous efforts. Exert your utmost to change your habitual misconduct in favor of your future good behavior. 48 You can never subdue your senses or prevent your reincarnation without gaining your liberation. Without liberation, you must continue to rise and plunge in the stream of life forever. 49 The imagination of your mind causes the body to understand your soul to be like a shark and the desire of your soul like a ghost that lays hold of children in the dark.
50 The mind, understanding and personal ego, joined with the five elements, form the body composed of the eight-fold subtle properties. 51 The bodiless or intellectual soul is finer than empty air. The air is its great tree, and the body is its mountain.
52 One devoid of passions and affections and exempt from all the conditions of life is entitled to liberation. He remains in a state of profound deep sleep in which gross objects and the desires of life lie wiped out and buried forever. 53 The state of dreaming is one in which the dreamer is conscious of his body and self-existence. The dreamer has to wander about or remain fixed in some place until his attainment of final liberation. Such is the state of living beings and plants. 54 Sometimes the sleeping, and often the dreaming person, have to carry movable bodies (ativahika) with them until they obtain their final emancipation from life. 55 When some ominous dream awakens the sleeping soul from mental inactivity, it awakens to a fire created by its own misery. 56 The state of unmoving minerals, including even that of a fixed branch of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree, exhibits no sign of intelligence, only gross dullness. 57 When dull, deep sleep (susupta) is interrupted by some dream, the dreamer is led to the miseries of life in this world. But he who awakes from his trance with full consciousness finds the perfect joy of the fourth (turiya) state open fully to his view.
58 The living soul finds liberation by means of its intelligence. It is also through intelligence that the soul recognizes its spirituality, just as copper, cleansed of its rust by some acid, assumes the brightness of pure gold. 59 A living soul obtains two kinds of liberation through its intelligence. One is called emancipation from life and the other is known as release from the burden of the body (deha mukta). 60 Emancipation from life means the attainment of the fourth state of perfection. Intelligence means the enlightenment of the soul, which is obtainable by cultivation of understanding. 61 The soul acquainted with scriptures and knowing the Supreme Spirit in itself becomes full of God. The ignorant soul sees only horrors rising before it, like the ghosts of his troublesome dreams.
62 Horrors arising in man’s heart serve only to disturb his inner peace. There is nothing in the heart of man other than a particle of Divine Consciousness. 63 Men are truly subjected to misery if they see God in any light other than the divine light that shines in the soul of man, and if they do not understand that there is no other light.
64 Look at the world whenever you will and you will find it full of illusion everywhere, just as you find nothing in a pot full of foul water except dirty sediments. 65 In the same manner you see the atoms of human souls, full with the vanities of this world. Vanities are from the chains of man’s worldly desires. Men are released by breaking those bonds of desire. 66 The soul sleeps under the spell of its desires and sees those objects in its dream. After desires are dispersed, the soul wakes to the state of turiya joy. The spell of gross desire extends over all animate and inanimate creation. 67 The desires of superior beings are of a pure nature. Those of intermediate natures are less pure. The desires of inferior beings are of a gross nature, and there are others without desires such as pots and blocks of wood or stone.
68 The living soul becomes united with an outer object when one perceives and the other is the object of perception. Both, namely the inner soul and the outer object, being pervaded by the all pervasive Intellect of God, become one and the same with God, the common receptacle of all. 69 Hence the belief in separate perceiver, perception, and the object of perception is as false as water in a mirage. There is nothing we can shun or grasp as desirable or disgusting when they are all the same in the sight of God. 70 All things internal or external manifest as parts of the one universal and intellectual Soul. All worlds are only the manifestations of Divine Consciousness. It is vain to attribute any difference to them. All of us are displayed in Consciousness which forever contains the inner and outer worlds.
71 As the ocean is a calm expanse of water after its waves subside, reflecting the sky clearly, so it is that after we lose sight of the diversities presented to our superficial view, the entire universe appears as the reflection of one glorious and everlasting God.
• • •
Chapter 52 — Story of Vishnu’s Dual Incarnations as Krishna and Arjuna
1Vasishta said:— Rama, know that this world is like a dream that is common to all living beings. It is filled with many agreeable scenes that form the daily romance of lives. The world is neither true nor entirely false. 2 Because the living souls of men do not always sleep, their waking state is also considered dreaming. 3 Life is a longer dream than the short ones in our sleep. Intelligent Rama, know that it is as untrue as it is unsubstantial and airy in its nature.
4 The living souls of the living world continually pass from dream to dream. It is their nature to view the unrealities of the world as positive realities. 5 They ascribe solidity to the subtle and subtlety to what is solid. They see the unreal as real and in their ignorance, they think the dead are the living. 6 They think the revolution of all worlds is confined within the solar system. They wander about like dream-walkers or fluttering bees about the living soul, which they distinguish from the Supreme. 7 They consider and meditate upon the living soul as a separate reality owing to its omnipresence and immortality and as the source of their own lives.
8 Listen as I share the best lesson of detachment, the one which lotus-eyed Lord Krishna taught to Arjuna and whereby that sagely prince became liberated in his lifetime. 9Thus Arjuna, the son of Pandu, will happily pass his life. I hope you will imitate his example if you want to pass your days without grief or sorrow.
10 Rama said, “Tell me sage, when will this Arjuna, the son of Pandu, come to be born on earth? Who is this Hari (Vishnu) who will deliver this lesson to him about indifference to the world?”
11 Vasishta replied:— There is only the one Soul to whom a name is applied only by fiction. He remains in himself from time without beginning or end, just as the sky is situated in emptiness. 12 We behold in him the optical illusion of this extended world, just as we see the different ornaments in gold and many waves in the sea. 13 The fourteen kinds of created beings display themselves in him. In him is the network of this universe in which all worlds are suspended, like birds hanging in the net in which they are caught. 14 In him live the gods Indra and Yama and the sun and moon who are renowned and hallowed in the scriptures. In him abide the five elements of creation and those who have become rulers.
15 That one thing is virtue and therefore expedient, and another is vice and therefore improper, are both placed in him as his laws which men in their freedom may accept or reject as good or evil. 16 It is obedience to divine law that employs the gods in their fixed duties with steady minds.
17 Lord Yama, the god of death, is accustomed to make his penance at the end of every four yugas on account of his greatness destroying God’s creatures. 18 Sometimes he sat in penance for eight years, at others for a dozen years. Often he sat in penance for five or seven years, and many times for a full sixteen years. 19 On one occasion, as Yama sat observing his austerity, indifferent to his duties, death ceased to hunt living beings in all the worlds. 20 Hence a multitude of living beings filled the surface of the earth and made the ground pathless and impassable by others. They multiplied like filth-born gnats in rainy weather that obstruct the passage of elephants. 21 Then the gods sat together in council. After various deliberations they decided upon exterminating all living beings to relieve the over burdened earth. 22 In this way many ages have passed away and many changes have taken place in the customs of people. Unnumbered living beings have come and gone with the revolutions of the worlds.
23 Now it will come to pass that this Yama, the son of the sun god Surya and the lord of the regions of the dead, will again perform his penance after the expiration of many ages to come. 24 He will again resume his penance for a dozen years to atone for his sin of destroying the living. Then he will abstain from his habitual conduct of destroying the lives of human beings. 25 At that time, the earth will be filled with deathless mortals. This wretched earth will be covered and overburdened with people like trees in a dense forest. 26 The earth, groaning under her burden and oppressed by tyranny and lawlessness, will have recourse to Hari (Vishnu) for her redress, just as a virtuous wife seeks the protection of her husband from the aggression of tribals.
27 For this reason, Hari will be incarnate in two bodies joined with the powers of all the gods. He will appear on earth in two persons of Nara and Narayana, the one a man and the other Lord Hari himself. 28 With one body Hari will become the son of Vasudeva and therefore will be called Vasudeva (i.e., Lord Krishna). With the other he will be the son of Pandu and therefore will be named Pandava Arjuna, Arjuna the Pandava. 29 Pandu will have another son named Yudhisthira who will adopt the title of Son of Righteousness (dharma). Acquainted with politics, he will rule over the earth to its utmost limits of the oceans. 30 His rival will be Duryodhana, his cousin by his paternal uncle. There will be a dreadful war between them, like the struggle between a snake and a weasel. 31 The belligerent princes will wage a furious war for the possession of the earth, armies of eighteen legions on both sides. 32 The god Vishnu will cause Arjuna to slay them all with his great bow Gandiva, thereby relieving the earth of her burden of riotous peoples.
33 The incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Arjuna will comprise all the qualities incident to humanity. He will be filled with feelings of joy and vengeance which naturally co-exist with mankind. 34 Seeing the armies on both sides arrayed against each other, friends and kinsmen ready to meet their fate, pity and grief will seize Arjuna’s heart and he will not want to participate in the war.
35 Then Hari, in his intelligent form of Krishna, will persuade his ignorant person in the form of Arjuna to perform his part as hero and crown his valor with success. 36 Krishna will teach Arjuna about the immortality of the soul by telling him that the soul is never born, nor does it die at anytime. The soul has had no prior birth nor will it be born again on earth. It is unborn and ever lasting, indestructible with the destruction of the body. 37 He who thinks the soul kills or is killed by anybody is ignorant of its nature. The soul neither kills nor is ever killed by anybody. 38 It is immortal and uniform with itself, more rare and subtle than air and emptiness. The soul is the form of the great God himself. It is never and in no way destroyed by anybody.
39 O Rama who is conscious of yourself, know your soul is immortal and unknown, without beginning, middle or end. It is of the form of consciousness and clear without any stain. By thinking yourself as such, you become the unborn, eternal and un-decaying soul yourself.
• • •
Chapter 53 — Krishna Admonishes Arjuna
1 The Lord Krishna said:— Arjuna, you are not the killer (of any soul). You must shun your false conceit. The soul is ever lasting and free from death and decay. 2 He who has no sense of individual ego in him and whose mind is not moved (by joy or grief) neither kills nor is killed by anybody, though he may kill everyone in the world.
3 Whatever is known in our consciousness, the same is felt within us. Therefore shun your inner consciousness of your individual ego, such as this is “I”, these are mine, and these others are theirs. 4 The thought that you are connected with persons and things, the thought that you might be deprived of them, and the resulting joy or grief to which you are subjected, must affect your soul in great measure.
5 He who does something with his body and connects even the least amount of his soul’s attention with what he is doing becomes infatuated by his egoism and believes himself to be the doer of his action. 6 Let the eyes see, the ears hear, and your touch feel their objects. Let your tongue taste the taste of a thing, but why take them to your soul? Where is your sense of “I” situated in these sensations? 7 The minds of even the great are truly employed in what they are doing, but where is your ego in all this that you should be sorry for its pains? 8 Your assumption that you are doing any action, actions which result from many, only amounts to a conceit of your vanity and exposes you not only to ridicule, but to frustrate the merit of your act.
9 Yogis and hermits do their rituals and their ordinary actions with the attention of only their minds and senses, often only with the physical body, in order to acquire and preserve the purity of their souls. 10 Those who have not subdued their bodies with the sleep of detachment are employed repeating their actions without ever being healed of their disease (of anxiety).
11 No person is graceful whose mind is soiled with selfishness, just as no man however learned and wise is held in honor whose conduct is blemished with impoliteness and misbehaviors. 12 He who is devoid of his selfishness and egotism, patient both in prosperity and adversity, is neither affected nor dejected whether engaged in activities or not.
13 O son of Pandu, know that this battlefield is the best field for your martial action, worthy of your great good, glory and ultimate happiness. 14 Though you reckon it as heinous on the one hand and unrighteous on the other, yet you must acknowledge the excellence of the occasion and the imperative of the duties required of your martial race. So do your duty and immortalize yourself. 15 Even the ignorant stick fast to the proper duties of their race. No intelligent person can neglect or set his duties at nothing. The mind devoid of vanity cannot be ashamed or dejected, even if one fails or falls in the discharge of his duty.
16 O Arjuna, do you duty with the fixed attention of your yoga on it and avoid all company. If you do your works as they come to you by yourself alone, you will never fail or be foiled in any. 17 Be as quiet as Brahman. Do your works as quietly as Brahman. Like Brahman, leave the result to Him and by doing so, assimilate yourself into the nature of Brahman. 18 Commit yourself and all your actions and intentions to God. Remain as unaltered as God himself. Know him as the soul of all and thus be the decoration of the world.19 If you can lay down all your desires and become as even and cool mind as a muni if you can join your soul to the yoga of contemplative renunciation (sannyasa). Then you can do all your actions with a mind unattached to any.
20 Arjuna said, “Please Lord, explain to me fully. What is meant by the renunciation of all connections, commitment of our actions to Brahman, dedication of ourselves to God, and abdication of all concerns? 21 Tell me also about the acquisition of true knowledge and divisions of yoga meditation, all of which I require to know in their proper order to remove my gross ignorance on those subjects.”
22 The Lord Krishna replied:— The learned know the true form of Brahman, of which we can form no idea or conception, but which may be known after restraining our imagination and pacifying our desires. 23 After these, readiness of action constitutes our wisdom, and perseverance in these practices is what is called yoga. Self dedication to Brahman rests in the belief that Brahma is all this world and myself also.
24 As a stone statue is hollow inside and outside, so is Brahman as empty, tranquil and transparent as the sky, which is neither to be seen by us nor is it beyond our sight. 25Then Brahman bulges out a little from itself and appears as something other than what it is. It is the reflection of the universe, but all as insubstantial as this empty void. 26 What is this idea of your own ego when everything is evolved out of Supreme Consciousness? Of what account is anyone’s personality which is only an infinitesimal part of the Universal Soul?
27 The ego of the individual soul is not apart from the Universal Spirit, although it seems to be separate, because there is no possibility of exclusion or separation of anything from the omnipresent and all comprehensive soul of God. Therefore, a distinct ego is meaningless.
28 As is the case with our egos, so it is with the individuality of a pot or a monkey. Nothing is separate from the universal whole. All existences are likes drops of water in the sea. It is absurd for anyone to presume an ego. 29 Things that appear to be different to the conscious soul are to be considered as the various imageries represented in the one soul. 30Knowledge of particulars and species is lost in the idea of the general and the highest all. Renunciation of the world means renouncing the results of our actions. 31 Without attachment means renouncing all our worldly desires and intensely applying the mind to the one sole God of the many varieties of the creation in His imaginary representations. 32 Dualism is the belief that one’s self-existence is distinct from that of God. Lack of dualism constitutes dedication of oneself to God. Ignorance creates distinctions by giving different names and attributes to the one Intellectual Soul. 33 The meaning of the term “Intelligent Soul” undoubtedly is that God is one with the universe and that Consciousness is the same with all space and its contents of worlds and their motions. 34Consciousness is the unity of Eternity, and Consciousness is duality and plurality in the world, and the variety of its many varied productions. Therefore be devoted to the sole Ego of Consciousness, and drown your own individual ego in the universal Ego.
35 Arjuna asked, “There being two forms of God, one transcendent of spiritual and the other transparent or material, tell me, to which of these I shall resort for my ultimate perfection?”
36 Lord Krishna replied:— Truly there are two forms of the all pervading Vishnu, the ordinary or exoteric and the other supreme or esoteric. The ordinary has a body and hands holding the conch shell, the discus, and the mace and lotus. It is the common form for public worship. 37 The other is the esoteric or spiritual form which is undefined and without beginning or end. It is usually expressed by the term Brahman (great).
38 As long as you are unacquainted with the nature of the Supreme Soul and you are not awakened to the light of the spirit, you continue to adore the form of god with four arms. 39 By this means you will be awakened to light by your knowledge of the Supreme. When you come to comprehend the Infinite in yourself, then you shall no longer have to be born in any mortal form. 40 When you are acquainted with the knowledge of the knowable soul, then your soul will find its refuge in the eternal soul of Hari (Vishnu) who absorbs all souls in him.
41 When I tell you “this is I” and “I am that”, bear in mind that I mean to say “this and that is the consciousness of the Supreme Soul” which I assume to myself for your instruction.
42 I understand you to be enlightened to truth and to rest in the state of supreme joy. Now that you are freed from all your temporal desires, I wish you to be one with the true and Divine Spirit. 43 See yourself as the soul of all beings and those beings themselves. Think your own self or soul as the microcosm of the great universe, and be tolerant and broad sighted in your practice of yoga. 44 He who worships the Universal Soul that resides in all beings as the one identical and undivided spirit is released from the doom of repeated births, whether he leads a secular or holy life in this world.
45 The meaning of the word “all” is unity and the meaning of the word “one” is the unity of the soul. The phrase “all is one” means that the whole universe is collectively only one soul.
46 He who shines as light within the minds of all persons and dwells in the inner consciousness and perception of every being, is no other than the very soul that dwells within me also. 47 That which is settled in shape of taste in the waters all over the three worlds, what gives flavor to milk, curd and butter, what dwells as taste in salt and imparts its sweetness in sweet foods, that is this savory soul which gives a delight to our lives and a good taste to all the objects of our enjoyment. 48 Know that your soul is the capacity to perceive which is situated in the hearts of all physical beings. Its subtle rarity eludes our perception of it, and it is quite removed from all perceptible phenomena. Therefore it is omnipresent everywhere in everything.
49 As butter is in all kinds of milk and the sap of all sappy substances is inborn in them, so the Supreme Soul is intrinsic and immanent in everything. 50 As all the gems and pearls of the sea have a luster inherent in them which shines forth both inside and outside, so the soul shines in and out of everybody without being seated in any part of it, whether inside or outside anywhere. 51 As air pervades both inside and outside of all empty pots, so the spirit of God is diffused in and about all bodies in all the three worlds. 52 As hundreds of pearls are strung together by a thread in the necklace, so the soul of God extends through and connects these millions of beings without it being known by any.
53 He who dwells in the hearts of everybody in the world, from Brahma the Creator to the simples grasses that grow on the earth, the essence which is common in all of them is Brahman the unborn and undying. 54 Brahma is a slightly developed form of Brahman who resides in the spirit of the great Brahman. The same dwelling in us makes us mistake the true Ego to be our individual ego.
55 The Divine Soul being manifest in the form of the world, tell me what can destroy or be destroyed in it? Tell me, Arjuna, what can be subject to or involved in pleasure or pain? 56 The Divine Soul is like a large mirror showing the images of things upon its surface, like reflections on glass. Though these reflections disappear and vanish in time, yet the mirror of the soul is never destroyed but looks as it looked before.
57 When I say “I am this and not the other”, I am quite wrong and inconsistent with myself. Similarly it is wrong to say that the human soul is the spirit or image of God, and not that of any other being, when the identical Divine Spirit is present and immanent in all.
58 The revolutions of creation, preservation and final dissolution take place in an unvaried and unceasing course in the spirit of God, and so are feelings on the surface of the waters of the sea. 59 As stone is the essence of rocks, wood of trees and water of waves, so the soul is the constituent element of all existence. 60 He who sees the soul in all substances and every substance in the soul, and who views both as the component of each another, sees the uncreated God as the reflector and reflection of Himself. 61 Arjuna, know that the soul is the integral part of everything, the constituent element of the different forms and changes of things, just as water is of waves and gold is of jewelry. 62 As loud, noisy waves are let loose in the waters and jewelry is made of gold, so all things exist and are composed of the spirit of God. 63 All material beings of every species are forms of the great Brahman himself. Know this one as all, and there is nothing apart or distinct from him.
64 How can there be an independent existence or any voluntary change of anything in the world? Where can they or the world be except in the essence and omnipresence of God? Then why do you think of them in vain?
65 By knowing all that I have told you, the saints live fearlessly in this world by reflecting on the Supreme Being in themselves. They move about liberated in their lifetime with the inner calmness of their souls. 66 Enlightened saints attain their imperishable states by being invincible to the errors of fiction without being subdued by the evils of worldly attachment. They always remain in their spiritual and holy states by being free from temporal desires and the conflicts of jarring passions, doubts and dualities.
• • •
Chapter 54 — Krishna Admonishes Arjuna: Do Your Duty with Detachment
1 Lord Krishna continued:— Listen moreover, O mighty armed Arjuna, to the enlightening speech which I am about to deliver to you for the sake of your lasting good and welfare.
2 Know, O child of Kunti, that the perception of the senses, the feelings conveyed to our minds by the physical senses, such as those of cold and heat and the like, cause our physical pleasures and pains. But as these are transitory, coming to us and passing away by turns, you must remain patient under them. 3 Knowing neither pleasure nor pain to be uniform and monotonous, what is it that you call real pleasure or pain? A thing having no form or figure of its own can have no increase or decrease in it.
4 Those who have suppressed the feelings of their senses by knowing the illusory nature of sense perceptions are content to remain quiet with an even course of action their minds, both in their prosperity and adversity. They truly are the men who taste the ambrosial nectar of immortality in their mortal state. 5 Knowing the soul to be the same in all states, alike in all places and times, they view all differences and accidents of life with detachment. Being sure of the unreality of unrealities, they retain their endurance under all the varying circumstances of life. 6 Never can joy or grief take possession of the one soul which, being universal in its nature, can never be exceptional or otherwise.
7 The unreal has no existence. It is not positive or negative at anytime, so there can be nothing that is a positive joy or lack of joy in any place when God himself is present everywhere. 8 Abandon the thoughts of joy or lack of joy of the world. Seeing there is no such difference in the mind of God, stick fast in a state of indifference to both.
9 Though the intelligent soul and external phenomena are closely situated inside and outside the body, yet the inner soul is neither delighted nor depressed by the pleasures or pains that envelop the external body. 10 All pleasures and pains relate to the physical body. They touch the mind which is situated in it, but no bodily hurt or debility affects the soul which is seated beyond it. 11 The assumption that the soul participates in the pleasures or pains that affect the gross body is caused only by error arising from our ignorance.12 The material is no reality. Its feelings of pain or pleasure are never real ones that touch the intangible soul. Who is so senseless as not to perceive the wide separation between soul and body?
13 The full understanding of what I am telling you, O descendant of Bharata, will surely destroy the error arising from ignorance. 14 As knowledge removes the error and fear arising from one’s ignorance of a snake in a rope, so our misconception of the reality of our bodies and their pleasures and pains is dispelled by our knowledge of truth.
15 Know that the entire universe is identical with uncreated Brahman. It is neither produced nor dissolved by itself. Knowing this as a certain truth, believe only in Brahman as the most supreme source of the tree of all knowledge. 16 You are only a little wave in the sea of Brahman’s essence. You rise and roll for a little while, then subside to rest. You foam and froth in the whirlpool of Brahman’s existence, a drop of water in the endless ocean of Brahman.
17 As long as we are in action under the command of our general, we act our parts like soldiers in the field. We all live and move in Brahman alone, and there is no mistake of right or wrong in this. 18 Abandon your pride and haughtiness, your sorrow and fear, and your desire of pain or pleasure. It is bad to have any duality or doubt in you. Be good with your oneness and integrity at all times. 19 Think this about the destruction of these multitudes of forces under your arms, that all these are evolved out of Brahman and you are reducing them to Brahman himself. 20 Do not care for your pleasure or pain, your gain or loss, or your victory or defeat. Rely only on the unity of Brahman. Know the world as the vast ocean of Brahman’s existence.
21 Being alike and unchanged by your loss or gain, and thinking yourself as nobody, go on in your proper course of action, just as a gust of wind takes its own course. 22Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever sacrifices you make, or any gift that you give to anyone, commit them all to Brahman and remain quiet in yourself. 23 Whoever thinks of becoming anything in earnest, he undoubtedly becomes that in process of time. Therefore, if you wish to become like Brahman himself, learn in all your thoughts and deeds to assimilate yourself to the nature of Brahman.
24 Let one who knows the great Brahman be employed in doing his duties as they occur to him without any expectation or reward. As God does his works without any aim, so should the godly do their works without any object. 25 He who sees the inactive God in all his active duties and sees all his works in the inactive God, that man is called the most intelligent among men. He is said to be the readiest discharger of his deeds and duties. 26 Do not do your works in expectation of their rewards, or engage yourself to do anything that is not your duty or improper for you. Do your duties as your yoga of fixed meditation and not in connection with others or their rewards. 27 Do not be addicted to active duties or decline your inactivity either. Never remain ignorant or negligent of your duties in life, but continue in your work with an even temper at all times.
28 Though employed in business, a man is said to be doing nothing at all who does not foster the hope of a reward for his acts, and who is ever content in himself, even without a patron or refuge. 29 The addiction of one’s mind to anything makes it his action, and not the action itself. Ignorance causes this tendency to believe actions are one’s own. Therefore ignorance is to be avoided by all means.
30 A great soul settled in divine knowledge, freed from need or desire for anything, may be employed in all sorts of works without being reckoned as the doer of any. 31 He who does nothing is indifferent about its result. This detachment amounts to his equanimity, which leads to his endless joy, which is next to the state of Godhead. 32 Believe in the unity of the Supreme Spirit by avoiding the dirt of duality and plurality of beliefs. Whether or not you do your ceremonial acts, you will not be accounted as the doer.
33 The learned consider a man to be wise whose acts in life are free from desire or some object of desire, and whose ceremonial acts are burned away by the fire of spiritual knowledge. 34 He who remains peaceful, calm, quiet and tranquil in his soul, without any desire or greed for anything in this world, may be doing his duties here without any disturbance or anxiety in his mind. 35 A man who does not argue with anyone but is always settled with calm and quiet rest of his soul, united with the Supreme Soul without ceremonial observances, and who is satisfied with whatever is obtained of itself, such a man is considered as a decoration of this earth.
36 They are called ignorant hypocrites who, having repressed their organs of actions, still indulge themselves in pleasures of the senses by recalling their memories in their minds. 37 He, who by the power of his wise mind has governed his outer and inner senses and employs his organs of action to perform his physical work and ceremonial acts without addiction to them, is quite different from the one described before.
38 As the overflowing waters of rivers fall into the profound and motionless sea, so the souls of holy men enter into the ocean of eternal God where they are attended with a peaceful bliss never to be obtained by those who are greedy and worldly.
• • •
Chapter 55 — Krishna: The Soul is Permanent, the Body Perishes; Mind Creates Body
1 Lord Krishna said:—
You need not abstain from your enjoyments, or hold back your mind from them, or give up their acquisition. Simply remain with an even course of action your mind and be content with what comes to you. 2 Never be intimately related to your body because it is not intimately related with you. Remain intimately connected with yourself, which is your uncreated and imperishable soul. 3 We suffer no loss by the loss of our bodies, but we lose everything by the loss of our souls which last forever and never perish. 4 The soul is not weakened, like the sentient mind, by loss of the objects of sense enjoyment. Constantly employed in action, yet the soul does nothing by itself. 5 One’s addiction to an action makes it his act, even though in reality he is no actor. Only ignorance incites the mind to action, and therefore this ignorance must be removed by all means.
6 A great minded man, acquainted with the superior knowledge of spirituality, forsakes his tendency to action and does everything that comes to him without his being the actor. 7 Know that your soul is without beginning or end, without decay and imperishable in its nature. The ignorant think the soul perishable. You must not fall into this sad error like them. 8 The best of men, blessed with spiritual knowledge, do not regard the soul in the same light as the ignorant vulgar who either believe soulless matter to be the soul or think themselves as incorporate, individual souls by the vanity of their individual ego.
9 Arjuna said, “If it is so, O Lord of worlds, then I believe that the loss of the body is attended with no loss or gain to the ignorant.”
10 Lord Krishna replied:—
So it is, O mighty armed Arjuna! They lose nothing by losing the perishable body. But the soul is imperishable and its loss is the greatest of all losses. 11 I see no greater mistake of men in this world than when they say that they have lost anything or gained something that never belongs to them. It appears like the crying of a barren woman for her child which she never had, nor is expected to have at anytime. 12 It is axiomatic truth established by the learned and well known to all men of common sense, though the ignorant may not perceive it truly, that an unreality cannot come to reality, nor a reality go to nothing at anytime.
13 That which has spread out this perishable and frail world is imperishable. There is no one that can destroy the indestructible. 14 Finite bodies are said to be the abode of the infinite soul, yet the destruction of the finite, frail body is no loss to the infinite and imperishable soul. Therefore know the difference between the two.
15 The soul is a unity without duality. There is no possibility of the soul’s nonexistence. The eternal and infinite reality of the soul can never be destroyed with the destruction of the body. 16 Leave aside unity and duality and take that which remains. Know the transcendental deity to be that state of tranquility situated between reality and unreality.
17 Arjuna replied, “Such being the nature of the soul, then tell me, O Lord. What causes the certainty in a man that he is dying? What makes him think that he is either going to heaven above or hell below?”
18 The Lord replied:—
Arjuna, know that within the body composed of the elements of earth, air, water, fire and ether, and also within the mind and understanding, there is a living soul dwelling. 19The embodied and living soul is led by its desire, like the young of a beast led by a rope tied around its neck, and it dwells in the recess of the body, like a bird in a cage. 20 Then as the body is worn out and becomes infirm over course of time, the living soul leaves it, like moisture from a dried leaf, and flies to where it is led by its inborn desire. 21 The living soul carries with it the senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, taste, touch and smell from its body, just as the breeze blows the fragrance from flowers. 22 The body is the production of one’s desire. It has no other assignable cause. It weakens by the weakening of its desire and being altogether weak and wasted, it becomes extinct in its final absorption in the Godhead.
23 A greedy man, staunch in his desires, passes through many wombs into many births, like a magician is skilled leaping up and down in earth and air. 24 The parting soul carries the properties of the senses from the body’s sense organs, just as the flying breeze bears the fragrance of flowers in its flight through the sky. 25 After the soul has fled, the body becomes motionless, like the leaves and branches of trees remaining still after winds die down. 26 When the body becomes inactive and insensitive to wounds inflicted upon it, it is then called dead and lifeless.
27 As this soul, in its form of vital air, resides in any part of the sky, it sees the same form of things manifest before it as was accustomed to desire when living. 28 The soul comes to find that all these forms and bodies are as unreal as those it left behind. So must you reckon all bodies after they are destroyed, unless you are so profoundly asleep as to see and know nothing.
29 Brahma, the lord of creation, has created all beings according to the images that were impressed in his mind in the beginning. He sees them still, continuing and dying in the same forms. 30 Whatever form or body the soul finds on itself on its first and instantaneous springing to life, the same is invariably impressed in its consciousness until its last moment of death. 31 The original desire of a man is the root of his present manliness, which becomes the cause of his future success. A man’s present effort is able to correct and make up past mistakes and deficits and support him in his old age. 32 Whatever is pursued with ardent exertion and diligence, the same is gained among all other objects of one’s former and future pursuit. 33 Whether a man is exposed on the barren rocks of the Vindhya Hills or blown and carried away by the winds, he is supported by his manhood. Therefore at all times, a wise man should never decline to discharge the legal duties required of him.
34 Know that the heaven and hell of which you ask are the creatures of men’s old prejudices. They are the productions of human wish existing only in the customary bias of the populace.
35 Arjuna said, “Tell me, O Lord of the world! What cause gave rise to the prejudice of a heaven and hell?”
36 The Lord replied:—
These prejudices are as false as airy dreams. They have their rise from our desires which, waxing strong by our constant habit of thinking them as true, make us believe them as such. Desires mislead us to rely upon the reality of the unreal world. Therefore for our real good, we must shun our desires.
37 Ignorance is the source of our desires. Ignorance is the mainspring of our error of taking what is not-self for the true self. Knowledge of the self combined with right understanding can dispel the error of our desires.
38 You are best acquainted with the self, O Arjuna! You well know the truth, therefore try to rid your error of yourself and not yourself, as this “I” and that “another.” Also rid yourself of your desires for yourself and other.
39 Arjuna said, “I believe the living soul dies with the death of its desires, because the desire is the support of the soul, which must languish and droop down for want of a desire. 40 Tell me, what is subject to future births and deaths after the living soul perishes with its body at anytime or place?”
41 The Lord replied:—
O intelligent Arjuna, know that the yearning soul has the form of desires in the heart, and any other form that one has framed for himself in his imagination. 42 A soul is said to be liberated in this life if it is identical with itself, unaltered in all circumstances, never subject to the body or any desire on earth, and freed from all desires by its own discretion. 43Living in this manner, you must always seek the truth. Being released from the snare of worldly cares, you are said to be liberated in this life.
44 The soul burdened with its desires is like a bird in its cage. Though a man may be very learned and observant of all his religious rites and duties, yet he is not said to be liberated as long as he labors under his desires. 45 The man who sees the chain of desires glimmering in the recesses of his heart and mind is like a short-sighted man who sees a glittering, colorful peacock tail in the spotless sky. He is liberated whose mind is not bound to the chains of desires. Release from this chain is called his liberation in this life and in the next.
Chapter 56 — Krishna’s Description of the Mind
1 Lord Krishna continued:— Arjuna, forsake your sympathy for your friends using the cold detachment that you have acquired from the abandonment of your desires and cares, and using the liberation that you have attained to in this your living state. 2 Be dispassionate, O sinless Arjuna, by forsaking your fear of death and decay of the body. Be as clear in your mind as the clear sky by driving away the clouds of your cares and dispelling all your aims and attempts of either good or evil for yourself or others. 3 Discharge your duties as they come to you in the course of your life. Do well whatever is proper to be done so that no action of yours may go to waste. 4 Whoever in the course of his life does work that comes to him of itself, that man is called liberated in his lifetime. The discharge of such deeds belongs to the condition of living liberation.
5 That I will do this and not that, or accept of this one and refuse the other, are the conceits of foolishness. They are all alike to the wise. 6 Those who do works that occur to them with the cool calmness of their minds are said to be the living liberated. They continue in their living state as if in profound sleep. 7 He who has contracted the members of his body and curbed the organs of his senses from their outward objects resembles a tortoise that rests quietly by contracting its limbs within itself.
8 The universe resides and continues in the Universal Soul in all three times, present, past and future, just as the mind, like a master painter, draws the picture of the world on the aerial canvas. 9 The multicolored picture of the world, drawn by the painter of the mind in empty air, is as void as empty air, yet it appears as prominent as a figure in relief and as plain as a pike staff. 10 Though the formless world rests on the plane of emptiness, yet the wonderful error of our imagination shows it to be conspicuous to view, just as a magician shows his aerial cottage to our deluded sight. 11 As there is no difference in the flat surface of the canvas which shows the swelling and depression of figures in the picture to our sight, so there is no convexity or concavity in the dead flat of the spirit which presents the uneven world to view.
12 O lotus-eyed Arjuna, know that the picture of the world in the empty vacuum is as void as emptiness itself. It rises and sets in the mind just like temporary scenes that appear in the imagination of a mentally disturbed person. 13 Though it appears as real as a city in the air drawn by our imagination because of our long habit of thinking it so, this world is all hollow inside and outside. 14 Without self reflection, truth appears as false and false as true, as in a delirium. By mental analysis, truth comes to light and the error of untruth vanishes into nothing. 15 The autumn sky, appearing bright and clear to the naked eye, still has flimsy clouds. The picture drawn over the plane of the empty mind presents the figures of our fancied objects in it.
16 The baseless and unsubstantial world appearing on the outside is only a fantasy without reality. When there is nothing such as you or I or anyone in real existence, then tell me, who can destroy or be destroyed? 17 Drive away the false ideas of slayer and slain from your mind. Rest in the pure and bright sphere of the Divine Spirit. There is no movement in the intellectual sphere of God which is ever calm and quiet. All activity belongs to the mental sphere and the action of the restless mind.
18 Know that the mind contains everything in its clear sphere, such as time and space, the clear sky, and all actions and motions and positions of things, just like a map of an area presents the sites of all places upon its surface. 19 Know that the mind is more empty and rarified than empty air, and Consciousness has painted the picture of this immense universe upon this canvas of the mind. 20 But infinite vacuum being wholly empty, it does not have diversity or divisibility in it as they are exhibited in the mind as it creates and destroys its castles in the sky. 21 Earthly mortals seem to be born and die every moment, just as the changeful thoughts of the all-engrossing mind are ever rising and existing in it.
22 The false thoughts of the mind, so instantaneous and temporary, have the power to stretch out ideas of length and duration of the world, as they have of producing a new idea of all things from nothing. 23 Moreover, the mind has power to prolong a moment into a kalpa age, as it does of enlarging a minute speck into a mountain and of increasing a little to a multitude. 24 It also has the power to produce a thing from nothing, and of converting one to another in a trice. This capacity gives rise to the false conception of the world, just like it is the nature of the mind to create castles in the air and fairylands in a moment. 25 Likewise, the mind has brought this wonderful world into existence, which arose in the twinkling of an eye, as a reflection and not a creation of the mind. 26 All these are only ideal forms and shadowy shapes of imagination, though they appear hard and solid as a diamond. They are the mistaken ideas of some unknown form and substance.
27 Whether you desire or dislike your worldly interests, whether you have concern or indifference for the world, show me. Where is its solidity? The mind itself being located in the intellect of the divine contriver, the picture of the world cannot be located anywhere else.
28 O how very wonderfully bright is this prominent picture, drawn without base or coating, so conspicuous before us in various pieces without any paint or color with which it is made. 29 O how pleasant is this transparent picture of the world, and how very attractive to our sight. It was drawn on the inky coating of chaotic darkness and exhibited to the full blaze of various lights. 30 It is decorated with diverse colors and filled with various objects of our desire in all its different parts. It exhibits many shows pleasant to sight and presents all things to view of which we have notions in our minds. 31 It presents many planets and stars before us, shining all about with their different shapes and spheres. The blue dome of heaven resembles a blue lake brightened with the shining sun, moon and stars like blooming lotuses. 32 There are multicolored clouds, hanging like many colored leaves of trees on the blue sky, appearing like pictures of men, gods and demons, drawn over the domes of the three regions (earth, heaven and hell).
33 The unsteady and playful painter that is the mind has sketched and stretched out the picture of the sky as a theater to exhibit the three worlds as its three different stages, where all deluded peoples are portrayed as joyful players, acting their parts under the encircling light of Supreme Consciousness. 34 Here is an actress with her calm body of golden color, her thick braids of hair, and her eyes glancing on the people with flashes of sunshine and moonbeams. The rising ground is her back and her feet reach the infernal regions. Clothed with the robe of the scriptures, she acts the plays of morality, opulence and the farce of enjoyments. 35 The gods Brahma, Indra, Hari and Hara form her four arms of action. The property of goodness is her bodice, and the two virtues of discretion and apathy are her prominent breasts. The earth resting on the head of Adisesha, the serpent of the underworld, is her lotus-like footstool held up by its stalk. Her face and forehead are decorated with the paints of mineral mountains whose valleys and caves form her belly and bowels. 36 The fleeting glances of her eyes dispel the gloom of night, and the twinkling of stars are like the erection of hairs on her body. The two rows of her teeth emit the rays of flashing lightning, and all earthly beings are like the hairs on her body, rising like piles about the bulb of a kadamba flower.
37 This earth is filled with living souls that exist in the spacious vacuum of the Universal Soul, appearing like figures painted in it. This skillful artist of the mind has displayed this illusive actress of the universe to show her various features as in a puppet show.
• • •
Chapter 57 — Krishna on the Abandonment of Desire and Result of Tranquility
1 Lord Krishna said:— Look here, O Arjuna! The great wonder about this subject is that the picture appears before the canvas upon which it is drawn. 2 The painting is prominent, but the basis on which it exists does not appear. This is all as wonderful as a block of stone that floats on water or a gourd which sinks, as in a magic play. 3 The universe resting in the emptiness of the Divine Spirit appears like a picture on the tablet of the mind. Say then, how does this ego, the self knowledge of your substantiality, arise from the bosom of the empty nothingness?
4 All these are the vacant production of emptiness, so they are equally swallowed up in the empty womb of an infinite emptiness. They are no more than hallow shadows of emptiness stretched out in empty air. 5 This empty air is covered with the snare of our desires, stretching as wide as the sphere of these outstretched worlds. The band of our desire encircles the worlds as their great belt. 6 The world is situated in Brahman like a reflection in a mirror. It is not subject to partition or obliteration because it is identical with the receptacle in which it exists. 7 The nature of Brahman as a permanent emptiness is inseparable from his essence. No one could ever be able to divide empty air in half or remove it from its place.
8 Your ignorance of this has made you accustomed to your desires, so although you are filled with every virtue, it is hard for you to get rid of your desires. 9 He who has planted the smallest seed of desire in the soul of his heart, though he may be very wise and learned in all things, is confined like a lion in the cage. 10 Desire which has become a habit grows as rank as a thick wood in his breast unless its seed is burnt away by the knowledge of truth so it cannot sprout anymore. 11 When the seed of desire has been burned, the mind is no longer inclined to anything and one remains untouched by pleasure and pain, like a lotus leaf in water.
12 Now therefore, O Arjuna, remain calm and quiet in your spirit. Be brave and devoid of all desire in your mind. Melt down the mist of your mental delusion by the heat of your tapas without desire. From all that you have learned from my holy lecture to you, remain in perfect tranquility with your reliance in the Supreme Spirit.
• • •
Chapter 58 — Arjuna Understands Krishna’s Words
1 Arjuna said, “Lord! It is by your kindness that I am freed from my delusion and have regained my memory of who I am. Now I am placed above all doubts and I will act as you have said.”
2 Lord Krishna replied— Your soul has attained its tranquility and the purity of its nature when you find the feelings and faculties of your heart and mind are fully pacified through your knowledge. 3 In this state, the soul becomes unconscious of all mental thoughts. It is full of consciousness in itself. Freed from all inner and outer perceptions, it perceives the one Brahman in itself who is all and everywhere.
4 No worldly being can observe this elevated state of the soul, just as nobody can see a bird that has fled from the earth into the upper sky. 5 A pure soul devoid of desire becomes full of consciousness and spiritual light. It cannot be perceived by even the most foresighted observer. 6 Unless one has purified his desires, one cannot perceive this transcendental and transparent state of the soul. It is a state as imperceptible to the impure as the smallest particle of an atom is imperceptible to the naked eye. 7 Attainment of this state drives away knowledge of all objects that can be sensed, such as pots, plates, and other phenomena. What is there so desirable that it is worth having more than the Divine Presence?
8 As frost and ice melt when a volcanic mountain erupts, so our ignorance melts away at our knowledge of the conscious soul. 9 What are these mean desires that we have which blow away like the dust of the earth? What are our possessions and enjoyments but traps for our souls? 10 As long as our ignorance displays herself in her various shapes, we remain ignorant of the pure and modest nature of our inner souls. 11 In the inner soul, all outward appearances fade away and appear in their transparent forms. The soul grasps the whole in itself, just as emptiness contains the fullness of all in it. 12 That which shows all forms in it, without having any form of itself, is that transcendent substance which is beyond description and transcends our comprehension of it.
13 Now get rid of the poisonous and colic pain of your desire for gain and the permanence of your own existence. Utter inwardly to yourself the mantra of your renunciation of whatever can be desired, and thus prosper in the world without fear for anything.
14 Vasishta said:— After the Lord of the three worlds had spoken these words, Arjuna remained before him silent for a moment. Then like a bee sitting beside a blue lotus, Arjuna uttered the following words to the dark bodied Krishna. 15 Arjuna said, “Lord! Your words have dispelled all grief from my heart. The light of truth is rising in my mind like the sun rising to awaken the closed and sleeping lotus.”
16 Vasishta said:— After saying this, Arjuna being cleared of all his doubts grasped his Gandiva bow and rose with Hari (Krishna) for his charioteer in order to proceed to his warlike exploits. 17 He will transform the face of the earth into a sea of blood flowing out of the bodies of combatants. He will wound their charioteers and horses and elephants. The flights of his arrows and thickening darts will hide the sun in the sky and darken the face of the earth with flying dust.
• • •
Chapter 59 — Knowledge of the Latent and Inscrutable Soul
1 Vasishta continued:— Keep this lesson in mind, O Rama! Know it as the purifier of all sins. Remain in your renunciation of all attachments and resign yourself to God. 2 Know the Supreme Soul in which all things reside, from which everything has issued, and which is everything itself on all sides of us. It is changed through all and is ever the same in itself. 3 It seems to be far away but it is nearest to us. It appears everywhere always situated in everything. It is by that essence that you live and it undoubtedly is what you are.
4 Know that the thinking principle, consciousness itself, is the highest state, above whatever can be known by the mind. It is knowledge and intelligence by itself, beyond our thoughts and what we can think about. 5 It is the highest consciousness and that supreme joy which surpasses the majesty of majesties and is the most honored of the honored. 6This thing is the soul and its consciousness. Emptiness is the immensity of the supreme Brahman. It is the supreme good which is joy and tranquility. It is full of knowledge and omniscience, the highest of all states.
7 The soul abides in the intellect. It has the form of consciousness of all things, feeling and perceiving everything. It exists of itself. 8 It is the soul of the universe, like oil in the sesame seed. It is the central core of the tree of the world, the light and life of all animal beings. 9 It is the thread that connects all beings like pearls in a necklace suspended on the breast of empty air. It is the flavor of all things, like the pungency of pepper. 10 It is the essence of all substance, the truth that is the most excellent of all the truths of truths. It is the goodness of whatever is good and the greatest good in itself.
11 By its omniscience, the soul becomes the all that is present in its knowledge and which we take by our misjudgment for real entities in this world. 12 We are the soul, but we mistake ourselves to be in the world. All these mistaken entities vanish away before the light of reason. 13 The emptiness of Brahman, the space occupied by Divine Spirit, is without beginning or end and cannot be comprehended within the limited space of our souls. Knowing this for certain, the wise are employed in their outward duties.
14 That man is free from ups and downs who always rests in the calm tranquility of his soul, whose mind is never elated or dejected at any event, but always retains the evenness of its course. 15 He whose mind is as vacant as empty air is called a great soul (mahatma). His mind resting in the state of unity remains with the body in a state of sound sleep. 16 An ideal man with a great soul who preserves the evenness of his mind remains as undisturbed under the pressures of his duties as a reflection in a mirror. They are both the same, being only shadows of reality. 17 He who retains the impression in his mind like images in a mirror, in their even and unvaried state, is himself a reflection in Divine Consciousness. 18 So let a man discharge the customary duties of life as they occur to him, with a pure transparent mind, as all the creatures of God perform their various parts like images imprinted in Divine Consciousness.
19 There is no unity or duality in Divine Consciousness. The application of the words “I” and “you” to one or the other really refers to the same, as they have come to be used from the instruction of our elders.
20 Consciousness which of itself is tranquil in itself, acts its wonders in itself. It is the pulsation of consciousness that displays the universe as its development, and this pulsation is the omnipotence of God. 21 If the pulsation of Divine Consciousness stops, the course of the universe ceases. As it is with Supreme Consciousness, so it is with its parts of individual consciousness whose action and inaction spread out and limit the sphere of their thoughts.
22 What is called individual consciousness or its action is a non-entity in nature. The subtle body of Consciousness is a mere emptiness. 23 The world appears as something by our thinking of it as such. It vanishes when we cease to think of it as something objective, disappearing like figures in a picture burnt to ashes. 24 The world appears as one with the deity only to one who sees unity in himself. Only the vibration of the intellect causes the revolution of worlds like the turning of a potter’s wheel. 25 As the measure, shape and form of a gold ornament are not different from the gold, so the action of the intellect is not separate from the world. Intellect forms the world, just as gold becomes the ornament. The world and intellect are the same thing, just as the ornament and its gold. 26 Not knowing that the mind is the pulsation of intellect is what frames a separate world, just as ignorance of the gold makes an ornament appear as something else. 27 The mind is wholly absorbed in intellect, so pure intellect is all that is. As we come to understand the nature of one’s self or soul, there is an end of worldly enjoyments. 28 Disregard of enjoyments is an education of the highest wisdom, therefore no kind of enjoyment is acceptable to the wise. 29 Know that another indication of wisdom is that no man who has eaten his fill ever has a craving for any bad food (sensual pleasure) that is offered to him. 30 Another sign of wisdom is our natural aversion to craving enjoyments. He knows that the vibrations of his intellect creates the sense of one’s perception of all pleasures. 31 A wise man is one who has this good habit deeply rooted in his mind. An intelligent man refrains from enjoying whatever is enjoyable in this world.
32 Whoever pursues his perfection in order to be admired by others may as well strike the air with a stick or beat the bush searching for perfection because it requires sincerity of purpose to be successful in anything. 33 Sometimes people emaciate and torture the body in order to have a full view of the inner soul.
34 As long as the unconscious spirit flutters in its unsteadiness and goes on wandering from one object to another, the light of understanding do not rise or shine within. 35 But as soon as the light of tranquil consciousness appears in its brightness within the inner soul, the fluttering of the unsteady spirit is put to flight, like the flickering of a lamp after it is extinguished. 36 There is no such thing as vibration or suspension of the tranquil spirit because the quiescent soul neither moves forward nor backward. It has no motion in any direction.
37 The soul that is neither unconscious of itself nor has any vibration in it, is said to be calm and quiet. As the soul remains indifferent to vibrations and gains its forms of pure transparence, it is no more liable to its bondage in life nor seeks to know its liberation to set it free from rebirth. 38 The soul that is settled in Supreme Soul has no fear of bondage or need of its liberation. Consciousness being without its reasoning, or having no object to dwell upon, becomes unconscious both of its existence as well as extinction. 39 He that is full with the spirit of God in himself is equally ignorant of his bondage and his liberation. The desire of being liberated indicates a lack of self-sufficiency and perfection. 40 “Let me have my equanimity and not my liberation.” This desire is also a bondage in itself. Unconsciousness of equanimity and liberation is reckoned as our chief good. The supreme state is pure consciousness without a shadow.
41 The restoration of consciousness to its proper form consists in divesting it of all that it can perceive. Phenomena are only vibrations of the great Consciousness. 42 Only that which is seen and destructible in its nature is subject to bondage and liberation. The invisible soul, which can take the name of ego, is indestructible and has no position or form or figure of itself. 43 We know not what there is to be brought under or loosened from bondage by anyone. It is not the pure desire which the wise form for themselves, and it does not affect the body.
44 Therefore, the wise practice the restraint of their breath in order to restrain their desires and actions. Being devoid of these, they become pure Consciousness. 45 These being suppressed, the idea of the world is lost in the density of Consciousness because the thoughts of the mind are caused only by the vibration of Consciousness. 46 This is the realization of the truth. The world is born of the vibrations of Consciousness. The world vanishes being destroyed by the knowledge of the light of splendid Divine Consciousness. 47 There remains nothing, no action of the body or mind, only the vibration of Consciousness. The phenomenal world is nothing but a protracted dream from one sight to another. The learned are not deluded by these appearances which they know to be exhibitions of their own minds.
48 Know within yourself in your meditation that hidden soul which gives rise to our consciousness of the essences of things appearing constantly before us. All these fantasies of our brain dissolve in that hidden soul like dirt in the water. All our perceptions and conceptions of the passing world are flowing in a perpetual stream within the soul.
• • •
Chapter 60 — The Majesty and Grandeur of God
1 Vasishta continued:— Such is the first great truth concerning Divine Consciousness that contains the gigantic forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. 2 Through the greatness of God, all people in their own separate worlds are as flashy as great princes, ever exulting in their power to float and traverse in the regions of open air. 3 By dwelling in the spirit of God, earth born mortals are as happy as the inhabitants of heaven.
4 Yes, they live in Him who have found him. They who have taken their refuge under the shade of the Supreme Spirit are not to be restrained by anybody. 5 He who meditates for a moment on the universal essence of all becomes liberated in an instant and lives as a liberal minded sage, a muni on earth. He does what are his duties in this world and never grieves in discharging them.
6 Rama said, “Sage, how is it possible to meditate on the Universal Soul in all things when one has buried his mind, understanding, ego and self in the unity of God? How can the soul be viewed in plurality when all things have been absorbed in the unity?”
7 Vasishta replied:— The God that dwells in all bodies, moves them to their actions, receives their food and drink in himself, produces all things, and annihilates them at last, is of course unknowable to our consciousness. 8 This indwelling principle in everything without beginning or end and inherent in the nature of all is called the common essence of all because it constitutes the tattwa identity (essential nature) of everything in the world.
9 It dwells as emptiness in the vacuum and as the property of loudness in sound. It is situated as feeling in whatever is felt and as texture in the objects of touch. 10 It is the taste of all that can be tasted by the tongue. It is the light of all objects that can be seen and the vision of the organs of seeing. 11 It is the sense of smell in the act of smelling and the odor in all odorous substances. It is the plumpness of the body and the solidity and stability of the earth. 12 It is the fluidity of liquids and the breezes of the air. It is the flame and flash of fire and the thinking of the understanding. 13 It is the thinking principle of the thoughtful mind and the ego of our egoism. It is the consciousness of the conscious soul and it is the conscious heart. 14 It is the power of growth in vegetables and perspective in all pictures and paintings. It is the capacity of all pots and vessels and the tallness of stately trees. 15 It is the immobility of inert object and the mobility of movable bodies. It is the dull unconsciousness of stones and blocks, and the intelligence of intelligent beings. 16 It is the immortality and Godhead of the immortal gods and the humanity of human beings. It is the curvedness of crooked beasts and the supine proneness of crawling and creeping insects. 17 It is the current of the course of time and the revolution and aspects of the seasons. It is the passing of fleeting moments and the endless duration of eternity. 18 It is the whiteness of whatever is white and the blackness of all that is black. It is activity in all actions and it is stern fixity in the doings of destiny.
19 The Supreme Spirit is quiescent in all that is calm, and lasting and fleeting in whatever is passing and perishing. He shows his productiveness in the production of things. 20He is the childhood of children and the youth of young men. He shows himself as fading in the decay and decline of beings and as his extinction in their death and death. 21 Thus the all pervading soul is not apart from anything, as the waves and froths of the foaming sea are no way distinct from its body of waters.
22 These many forms of things are all unrealities. They are taken for true in our ignorance of the unity which multiplies itself in our imagination, just as children create and produce false apparitions from their unsound understandings.
23 “It is I,” says the Lord, “who am situated everywhere, and it is I who pervades the whole and fills it with all varieties at pleasure.” Know therefore, O high minded Rama, that all these varieties are only creatures of imagination in the mind of God, and from there are reflected into the mirror of our minds. Know this rest in the calm tranquility of your soul, and enjoy the undisturbed solace and happiness of your high mind.
24 Valmiki said:— As the sage was saying these things, the day passed away under its evening shade, the sun sank down in its evening devotion, and the assembly broke with mutual salutations to the performance of their evening ablutions, until they reassembled on the next morning.
• • •
YOGA VASISHTA MAHA RAMAYANA
BOOKVI-PART1A-CHAPTERS1-60 – LIBERATION – NIRVANA KHANDA
A horror mystery about a painter Prithvi, who suddenly starts having visions about an anonymous girl in trouble. Being unable to deal with these shocking incidences, he paints his visions. However, he cannot believe his eyes when he meets that anonymous girl, Nandita, in person and alerts her from the probable risks. What happens when […]
Unified Field Meditation courtesy of www.councilofone.org Many thanks & blessings to our friends at Council of One. You can download the audio and printed versions of the galactic version of the Unified Field Meditation. go to www.councilofone.org The act of meditation is the best way to get plugged in and turned on to the power […]
Hollywood’s award-winning green filmmaker, Greg Reitman, takes us on a cinematic journey to take notice, stop the cycle of violence, and seek ways to find personal and ecological peace. source Related posts: Road to Peace Happy 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama BRAND: A Second Coming Sirius
The muladhara chakra meditation is to help you relax and ground and is an active way that you can move toward a sense of safety and freedom from fear. It is the first in a series of meditations I have written and set to the beautiful music of Peter Davison Related posts: Vital Energy: Meditation […]
Hannah: Buddhism’s Untold Journey’ tells the story of Hannah Nydahl and her adventure bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. From her wild and idealistic roots as a hippy in Copenhagen, the film follows Hannah and her husband Ole to the hedonistic city of Kathmandu, where in 1968 they became two of the first Western students […]