Chapter 10 — Brahma Propounds the Knowledge of Liberation to Vasishta

Vasishta resumed:—

This thing called destiny is as true as the reality of God. It is the cause of causes and effect of effects.

Now attend to my words, depend on your efforts, and intently apply your ever confident mind to the attainment of your chief good. Use your effort to control your misleading senses from pursuing their objects.

I will now set out a system for you that contains the essence of the best means for liberation, and which will confer the fruits of your exertions and lead you to your welfare in both worlds. Let those who have great minds forsake their worldly desires in order to avoid future births and attend to these lectures with calm contentment. Weigh well the meanings of previous discussions and those to come, repress your mind from its worldly cares, and compose yourself in calmness in order to inquire after truth. Hear me relate to you, Rama, the way to emancipation which will remove your feelings of pain and pleasure, and which will become the surest means to lead you to supreme happiness. On hearing this lecture on liberation in the company of all those reasonable men, you will know that highest state which is free from pain, and of which there is no end. This was spoken of old in a former kalpa age by Brahma abiding in the Supreme Spirit. It is the remover of all anxiety and giver of all comfort to the soul.

10 Rama asked, “Say, O brahmin who is my guide, what cause moved Brahma himself to reveal this knowledge of old, and how did you obtain it?”

11 Vasishta replied:—

The Supreme Soul of infinite manifestations exists by itself. It passes through and supports the whole in the form of void and understanding and as light to all living beings. 12 From Him who remains the same (unaltered being) in his rest and motion, the great Vishnu was born, like a moving wave on the quiet waters of the sea. 13 Then Brahma was produced from the lotus of his heart, having Mount Meru for its seed, the points of the compass for its petals, and the stars for its pistils.

14 He, being beset by gods and sages acquainted with the Vedas and their meanings, created all the worlds and all minds with their various thoughts. 15 Then he created groups of men in the Bharata division (India) and in a corner of Jambudwipa (Asia) and subjected them to all manner of diseases and afflictions. 16 They are also troubled by the possession and desire of many things and their subjection to dangers and diseases. Here all species of created beings are subject to a variety of tribulations and afflictions. 17 The lord and creator of worlds, seeing the misery of these people, felt compassion for them like a father for his children. 18 Then, for a moment he pondered within himself, with intensity of thought and for the good of all creatures, how to end the misery of these beings who were subjected to death and despair.

19 With this thought the lord god Brahma himself established the rules of austerity, piety, charity, veracity and pilgrimage. 20 Having established these, the lord and creator again thought within himself: how to make an end of the many miseries of the men he had created. 21 He thought upon self-extinction as the supreme bliss, obtainable only through knowledge of God, and whereby man might be exempted from repeated births and deaths. 22 It was divine knowledge, he thought, that was the only means by which men could crossing the ocean of this world. Austerity, charity and pilgrimage were no means to it. 23 With this he said, “I will immediately make a new and sure bridge for the salvation of men and for their liberation from pain.”

24 Having thought so, Lord Brahma sitting on the lotus meditated in his mind and produced me from himself. 25 Being thus produced, I immediately stood in the presence of my ancestor, like a wave rising from the sea leans towards it. 26 Holding a pitcher in one hand and prayer beads made of seeds in the other, I bowed down to the god who held a water-pot in one hand and prayer beads in the other. He addressed me like this.

27 “Come my son,” he said, then holding me with his hand, he made me sit on the northern petal of his lotus of truth that shone as brightly as the moon amid silvery clouds. 28 Wearing the skin of an antelope and with the voice of a gander addressing a stork, my father Brahma spoke to me who was similarly dressed. 29 He said “For a moment I will overpower your fickle-mindedness under a mist of unconsciousness, like a dark cloud obscures the moon.”

30 It was under this curse that I lost my reason and forgot everything, even the clear idea I had of God. 31 I became as helpless as one out of his wits, and came to be afflicted with distress and sorrow like an indigent person. 32 “Ah, how sorrowful is this world,” said I. “How did evil come to dwell in it?” With these thoughts I remained in silence.

33 Then he my father spoke to me saying, “Ah my son, why are you so afflicted? Ask me for a remedy for your affliction and you shall become happy.”

34 Then, seated as I was on the gold-colored leaflet of the lotus, I asked the lord creator of all peoples about the medicine for worldly sorrows. 35 “How, my lord,” I asked, “did this world come to be so full of misery, and how can people be rid of it? This is what I ask of you.”

36 I then learnt the most holy wisdom that my father Brahma gave me. Following his advice, I became quite composed. 37 Then, seeing me knowing the knowable and restored to my own natural state, the creator of the world and revealer of all causes said, 38 “My son, I had turned you to insanity by an illusion in order to make you inquire into the essence of true knowledge for the welfare of mankind. 39 Now you are released from the curse of illusion and you have arrived to your highest state of understanding. You have become as one soul (with the Supreme) and as pure as gold. 40 Now shut your heart against the world and proceed to the surface of the earth, to the land of Bharata, for the good of mankind. 41 There employ yourself to ceremonial duties to the best of your knowledge and advise others on how to properly conduct rituals. 42 But those who are disgusted (with the world) in their hearts, and are rational with their elevated understandings, are to be counseled with the esoteric knowledge that confers true joy.”

43 Being thus appointed by him who was born in the lotus, I continue to abide here throughout the succession of beings. 44 I have no duty to perform here but live my life free from all cares. I always do my acts with a mind as tranquil as if it were in a state of sleep. I do my works with the body, but I do nothing here with my soul (which is fixed in God).