Chapter 5 — On the Original Cause (Mula-Karana)

Rama said, “O chief of the sages, what is the cause that leads to our misconception of the mind? How it is produced, and what is the source of its illusion? Tell me sage, in brief, about the first production (of the mind), and then, O best of the eloquent, you may say what else there is to be said on the subject.”

Vasishta replied:—

Incident to the universal dissolution, when all things are reduced to nothing, this infinity of visible objects remains in a state of calm and quiet before their creation. There is only great God in existence, who is uncreated and without decay, who is the creator of all at all times, who is all in all and Supreme Soul of all, and who resembles the sun that never sets. He whom language fails to describe, and who is known only to the liberated, who is termed the soul only by fiction and not by his real nature (which is unknowable). He is the Cosmic Man (purusha) of the Samkhya philosophers, the Brahman of Vedanta followers, the Intelligence of Gnostics, wholly pure and apart from all. He is known as Vacuum by vacuists, and the One who gives the sun its light. He is truth itself, the power of speech and thought and vision, and all action and passion forever.

He is who, though ever existent everywhere, appears as nonexistent to the world, and though situated in all bodies, seems to be far from them. He is the Enlightener of our understanding, like the light of the sun to the world. It is He from whom the gods Vishnu and others are produced, like solar rays from the sun, and from whom infinite worlds have come into existence like bubbles of the sea.

10 It is He to whom these multitudes of visible creations return, like the waters of the earth to the sea, and who enlightens all souls and bodies like a lamp. 11 He is present alike in heaven, in earth, and in the nether worlds, who abides equally in all bodies whether of the mineral, vegetable or animal. He resides alike in each particle of dust as in the high and huge mountain ranges, and He rides as swiftly on the wings of winds as He sleeps in the depths of the earth. 12 He appoints the eight internal and external organs of sense and action to their several functions, and He has made dull and dumb creatures as inert as stones and mute as if they sitting in meditation. 13 He has filled the skies with emptiness and the rocks with solidity. He has dissolved waters to fluidity and has concentrated all light and heat in the sun. 14 He has spread these wonderful scenes of the world like clouds sprinkle charming showers of rain, both as endless and constant as they are charming and sweet to sight.

15 It is He who causes the appearance and disappearance of worlds in the sphere of His infinity, like waves in the ocean, and in whom these phenomena rise and set like the running sands of the desert. 16 His spirit is the indestructible soul that resides as the germ of decay and destruction inside animals. It is so minute as to lie hidden within the body, and so huge as to fill all existence.

17 His nature (prakriti) spreads Herself like a magic vine throughout the space of emptiness and produces the fair fruit in the form of the cosmic egg (brahmanda), while the outward organs of bodies, resembling the branches of this plant, keep dancing about the stem (the intelligent soul), shaken by the breeze of life which is ever fleeting. 18 It is He who shines as the gem of intelligence in the heart of the human body, and it is He from whom the luminous orbs constituting the universe continually derive their luster.

19 It is that colossus of intelligence which like a cloud sheds ambrosial draughts of delight to soothe our souls and showers forth innumerable beings everywhere like raindrops. It bursts into constant flashes showing the prospects of repeated creations which are as momentary as flashes of lightening. 20 It is His wonderful light that displays the worlds to our wondering sight, and it is from His being that both real and unreal derive their reality and unreality.

21 The unconscious and ungodly soul turns to the attractions of others against its own purpose, while the tranquil soul rests in itself.

22 It is He who transcends all existences, and by whom all existent beings are bound, in their proper times and places, to their destined actions, as they are also bound to their free actions, motions and efforts of all kinds. 23 It is He who from His personality of pure consciousness (cit, cosmic consciousness), became of the form of emptiness, then by means of His empty mind and empty thoughts filled it with substances, wherein His soul was to reside, and whereon His spirit had to preside.

24 Having thus made the infinite hosts of worlds in the immense sphere of the universe, He is yet neither the agent of any action nor the author of any act in it, but remains ever the same as the sole One alone, in His unchangeable and unimpaired state of self-consciousness, and without any fluctuation, evolution or adhesion of Himself, as He is quite unconcerned with the world.