Chapter 17 — Leela Sees Padma and His Court in the Spirit World, Checks Her Own Court to Make Sure It Still Exists

Saraswati said, “My child, move the dead body of your husband over to that shrine, strew those flowers over it, and you shall have your husband again. Never will this body rot or fade as long as the flowers are fresh over it. Know that your husband will shortly return to life again. His individual soul, pure as air, will never leave this cemetery of your inner apartment.”

The black-eyed queen, her eyebrows resembling a cluster of black-bees, heard the goddess’ consolatory speech and was cheered in spirit, like a lotus-bed upon return of the rains. She placed the corpse of her husband on the shrine, hid it under flowers, and remained in expectation of its rising, like a poor man fosters hope of finding a treasure.

It was at midnight of the very day, when all the members of the family had fallen fast asleep, that Leela went to the shrine in the inner apartment. There, in the recess of her understanding, she meditated on the Goddess of Knowledge and called her in earnest from the sorrow of her heart, when she heard the divine voice addressing her, “Why do you call me, child? Why are you so sorrowful in your face? The world is full of errors, glaring as false water in a mirage.”

Leela answered, “Tell me goddess, where does my husband reside at present? What has he been doing? Take me to his presence, as I am unable to bear the load of my life without him.”

10 Saraswati replied, “His spirit is now wandering in the sky, of which there are three kinds: the physical, the firmament or region of worlds that can be sensed; the other is mental, the region of the mind, the seat of will and creation; and the third is the spiritual region of Consciousness which contains the two others [bhutakasha, element-space; chittakasha, mind-space; and chidakasha, consciousness-space]. 11 Your husband’s soul is now in the sheath of the region of Consciousness. Things can be found in consciousness-space which do not exist here.”

12 “As in passing from one place to another you are conscious of standing in between, so you will instantly arrive at the intermediate region of the mental world (lying between the physical and spiritual worlds). 13 If, after forsaking all your mental desires, you abide in the spiritual world you will certainly come to the knowledge of that spiritual Being who comprehends all in Himself. 14 It is only by your knowledge of the non-existence of the world that you can come to know the positive existence of that Being, as you will now be able to do by my grace, and by no other means whatever.”

15 Vasishta said:—

So saying, the goddess repaired to her heavenly seat and Leela sat gladly in her mood of steadfast meditation. 16 Within a moment, she left the prison house of her body. Her soul broke out of its inner bound of the mind to fly freely in the air, like a bird freed from its cage. 17 She ascended to the airy region of Consciousness and saw her husband sitting there amidst a group of princes and rulers of the earth.

18 He (as King Viduratha) was sitting on a throne, hailed with the loud shouts of “Long live the king!” and “Be he victorious!” His officers were prompt in the discharge of their different duties. 19 The royal palace and hall were decorated with rows of flags, and there was an assembly of innumerable sages, saints, brahmins and rishis at the eastern entrance of the hall. 20 At the southern porch stood a throng of princes and chiefs of men without number, and standing at the western doorway, a bevy of young ladies. 21 The northern gateway was blocked by lines of horses, carriages and elephants.

A guard advanced and informed the king of a war in the Deccan. 22 He said that the Karnatic chief had attacked the eastern frontier, and that the chieftain of Surat had subjugated the barbarous tribes on the north, and that the ruler of Malwa had besieged the city of Tonkan on the west.

23 Then there was the reception of the ambassador from Lanka, coming from the coast of the southern sea. 24 Next appeared the spiritual masters (siddhas) coming from the Mahendra mountains bordering the eastern main, having traversed the many rivers of their river districts. Next appeared the ambassador of the Guhyaka or yaksha tribes that inhabited the shores of the northern sea. 25 Likewise there were envoys visiting from the shores of the western ocean and relating the state of affairs of that territory to the king. The assembly of innumerable chieftains from all quarters filled the entire courtyard with luster.

26 The sounds of brahmins chanting on sacrificial altars were drowned under the sound of tambourines, shouted announcements, and the loud praises of speakers, all re-echoed by the uproar of elephants. 27 The vault of heaven resounded to the sounds of vocal and instrumental music, and the dust raised by the procession of elephants and chariots, and the trotting of horses’ hoofs, hid the face of the sky like a cloud. 28 The fragrance of flowers, camphor and heaps of frankincense perfumed the air, and the royal hall was filled with presents sent from different provinces. 29 His fair fame shone forth like a burning hill of white camphor raising a column of splendor reaching to the sky and casting sunlight into shade. 30 There were district rulers busily employed in their grave and momentous duties, and great architects who conducted the building of many cities.

31 Then the ardent Leela entered the royal assembly hall of the ruler of men. She was unseen by any, just as one void mixes with another void, and as air is lost in the air. 32 She wandered about without anyone there seeing her, just like a fair figure formed by false imagination of our fond desires is not to be perceived by anyone outside ourselves. 33 In this manner she continued to walk about the palace unperceived by all, just like a castle in the air built in one’s mind is not perceived by another.

34 She saw them all assembled in the royal court in their former forms, and saw all the cities of the princes concentrated in that single city of her lord. 35 She viewed the same places, the same dealings, the same concourse of children, the same sorts of men and women, and the same ministers as before. 36 She saw the same rulers of earth and the very same pundits as before; the identical courtiers and the same servants as ever. 37 There was the same assembly of learned men and friends as before, and the like throng of citizens pursuing their former course of business.

38 She suddenly saw the flames of wildfire spreading on all sides, even in broad midday light, and the sun and moon appearing both at once in the sky, and the clouds roaring with a tremendous noise, with the whistling of the winds. 39 She saw trees, hills, rivers and cities flourishing with population, and the many towns and villages and forests all about. 40 She saw her royal consort as a boy of ten years of age after shaking off his former frame of old age, sitting amidst the hall with all his former retinue, and all the inhabitants of his village.

41 Leela, having seen all these, began to reflect within herself whether the inhabitants of this place were living beings or the ghosts of their former individual souls. 42 Then having recovered her (ordinary) sense at the removal of her trance, she entered her inner apartment at midnight and found the residents fast bound in sleep. 43 She woke her sleeping companions one by one and said she was anxious to visit the royal hall. 44 She wanted to sit beside the throne of her lord and to clear her doubt by seeing the courtiers all alive.

45 The royal servants rose up at her call and obedient to her command they said, “Be it so” and attended to their respective duties. 46 A group of staff-bearers ran to all sides to call the courtiers from the city, and sweepers came and swept the ground as clean as if the sun had shed his rays upon it. 47 A better set of servants cleaned the courtyard as clean as autumn days clear the sky of its rainy clouds. 48 Rows of lights were placed about the courtyard, which looked as beautiful as clusters of stars in the clear sky. 49 Throngs of people filled the courtyard, like the ancient earth had been covered by the floods of the great deluge.

50 Dignified ministers and chiefs attended first and took their respective seats, appearing as if they were a set of newly created rulers of the various peoples of the world, or the regents of the quarters of the sky. 51 The cooling and fragrant odor of thickly pasted camphor filled the palace, and the sweet-scented breezes profusely breathed the fragrance of the lotus flowers, which they bore from all sides. 52 The chamberlains stood all around in their white garbs, appearing like an assembly of silvery clouds hanging over the burning hills under the equator. 53 The morning breeze had strewn heaps of flowers over the ground, bright as the beaming dawn dispelling the gloom of night, and bleached as clusters of stars fallen upon the ground. 54 The retinue of the chiefs of the land crowded the palace which seemed like a lake full of full-blown lotuses with fair swimming swans rambling about.

55 There Leela took her seat on a golden seat by the side of the throne. She appeared as beautiful as Rati seated in the joyous heart of Kama. 56 She saw all the princes seated in their order as before, and the elders of the people and the nobles of men and all her friends and relatives seated in their proper places. 57 She was highly delighted to see them all in their former states. Her face shone brightly like the moon to find them all alive again.