Chapter 18 — Leela Wonders which World Is Real; Saraswati Explains

Leela said, “I have much consolation in you, and now will I console my sorrowing heart.” So saying, she made a sign for the assembly to break and rose from her royal seat. She entered the inner apartment and sat by the side of the dead body of her lord, hidden under the heap of flowers, and began to reflect within herself.

She thought, “O the wonderful magic that presents these people of my palace situated in the same manner outside myself as I saw them seated within me in my meditation. O how great is the extent of this delusion that contains the same high hills and the same spacious forests of palm and hintala trees situated both outside and within me. Like a mirror shows the reflection of hills within itself as they are without it, so the reflector of the intellect presents the whole creation inwardly as it has outside of itself. I must now invoke the goddess of wisdom to determine which of these is illusion and which the sober and certain reality.”

So thinking, she worshipped and invoked the goddess, and immediately saw Saraswati in the form of a virgin. She made the goddess sit on an elevated seat and, having seated herself low upon the ground before her, asked that divine power to tell her the truth. Leela said, “Be gracious, O goddess, and clear this doubt of your suppliant, for it is your wisdom that first framed this beautiful system of the universe and knows the truth. 10 Tell me, O great goddess, about what I am now going to relate you, for it is by your favor alone that I may be successful to know it.”

11 “I saw the pattern of this world in the intellect, which is more transparent than the ethereal sphere and so extensive that it contains millions and millions of miles in its small space. 12 No definite words can express what is known as the calm, cool and indescribable light. This is called unintelligible intelligence and is without any cover or support (niravarana nirbhitti). 13 It exhibits the reflections of space and the course of time, and those of the sky and its light, and the course of events concentrating in itself. 14 Thus the images of the worlds are to be seen both within and outside the intellect, and it is hard to distinguish the real and unreal ones between them.”

15 The goddess asked, “Tell me fair maiden, what is the nature of the real world, and what you mean by its unreality?”

16 Leela replied, “I know the real is where I find myself sitting here and looking upon you as seated in this place. 17 What I mean by unreal is the state in which I saw my husband in the ethereal region some time ago, because emptiness has no limit of time or place in it.”

18 The goddess replied, “Real creation cannot produce an unreal figure. A similar cause cannot produce a dissimilar effect.”

19 Leela replied, “But O goddess, we often see dissimilar effects produced from similar causes. The earth and an earthen pot are similar in substance, yet one melts in water and the other holds water.”

20 The goddess said, “Yes, when an act is done by the aid of auxiliary means, there the effect is found to be somewhat different from the primary cause.” (Thus the earthen pot being produced by the auxiliary appliances of fire, the potter’s wheel and the like, differs in its quality from the original clay.)

21 “Say, O beautiful maiden, what were the causes of your husband being born in this earth? The same led to his birth in the other world also. 22 When the soul has fled from here, how can the material earth follow him and what auxiliary causes can there be in connection with this cause? 23 Whenever there is a contributing cause in addition to the apparent cause, everyone usually attributes the result to some unknown prior cause or motive.”

24 Leela said, “I think, O goddess, that the expansion of my husband’s memory caused of his regenerations, because it is certain that memory is the cause of the reproduction of objects before us.” 25 The goddess replied that memory is an aerial substance and its productions are as unsubstantial as itself.

26 Leela said, “Yes I find memory to be an airy thing, and its reproduction of my husband and all other things within me are only empty shadows in the mind.”

27 The goddess replied, “Therefore your husband and all those other things that appeared to your sight in your reverie truly were such reproductions, my daughter. And so is the appearance of all things I see in this world.”

28 Leela said, “Tell me goddess, in order to remove my conception of the reality of the world, how the false appearance of my formless lord was produced before me by the unreal world.”

29 The goddess replied, “As this illusionary world appeared a reality to you before you had memories of it, so you must know that all this is unreal from what I am going to relate to you.”

Saraswati speaking:—

30 In some part of the sphere of Consciousness there is the great fabric of the world, with the glassy vault of the firmament for its roof on all sides. 31 Mount Meru (the polar axle or mountain) is its pillar, surrounded by the regents of the ten sides, like statues carved upon it. The fourteen regions are like so many apartments of it, and the hollow vault containing the three worlds is lighted by the lamp of the luminous sun. 32 Its corners are inhabited by living creatures resembling ants. They are surrounded by mountains appearing as anthills in the sight of Brahma, the prime lord of creatures and the primeval patriarch of many races of men. 33 All animal beings are like worms confined in cocoons of their own making.

The blue skies above and below are like the soot of this house, beset by bodies of departed spirits resembling groups of gnats buzzing in the air. 34 The fleeting clouds are the smoke of this house or like spider webs in its corners, and the hollow air is full of aerial spirits, like holes of bamboos filled with flies. 35 There are also the playful spirits of gods and demigods hovering over human houses like swarms of busy, buzzing bees about vessels of honey. 36 Here and there, amidst the cavity of heaven, earth and the infernal regions, lay tracts of land well watered by rivers, lakes and the sea on all sides.

37 In a corner of this land was a secluded piece of ground sheltered by hills and crags about it. 38 In this secluded spot sheltered by hills, rivers and forests, there lived a holy brahmin man with his wife and children, free from disease and care of gain and fear of a ruler. He passed his days in his fire-worship and hospitality with the produce of his cattle and lands.