Chapter 20 — Saraswati Explains Leela’s Former Life as Arundhati

Saraswati said to Leela, “That brahmin whom I described before, the one who become a monarch on earth, is the same as your husband. His wife Arundhati is no other than yourself, the best of women. You two are the same pair now reigning over this realm, resembling a pair of doves in your nuptial love, and the gods Shiva and Parvati in your might.”

“I have related your past lives to you so that you may know the individual soul to be only air, and that knowledge of its reality is an error. False knowledge casts its reflection on consciousness and causes its error also. (Errors in the senses breed errors in the mind.) This makes you doubtful of the truth and untruth of the two states (of the material and intellectual worlds). Therefore the question, ‘Which is true and which is untrue?’ has no better answer than that all creations are equally false and unsubstantial.”

Vasishta said:—

Hearing these words of the goddess, Leela was confused in her mind, and with her eyes staring with wonder, she addressed her softly.

Leela said, “How is it, O goddess, that your words are so incoherent with truth. You make us the same as the brahmin couple who are in their own house. We are sitting here in our palace. How is it possible that the small space of the room in which my husband’s body is lying could contain those spacious lands and hills and the ten sides of the sky? It is as impossible as confining an elephant in a mustard seed, or a gnat fighting with a body of lions in a nutshell. 10 It is as incredible as to believe a lotus seed contains a hill, or to be devoured by a little bee, or that peacocks are dancing hearing the roaring of clouds in a dream. 11 O great goddess of gods, it is equally improbably to say that this earth, with all its mountains and other things, is contained within the small space of a sleeping room. 12 Therefore, O goddess, please explain this mystery clearly to me, because it is by your favor only that the learned are cleared of their questions.”

13 The goddess Saraswati said:—

Hear me, fair maiden! I did not tell you a lie. Transgression of the law is a thing unknown to us. (The law is nanritam vadeta — never tell an untruth.) 14 It is I who established the law when others are about to break it. If I should slight the law, who else is there who would observe it?

15 The individual soul of the village brahmin saw within itself and in his own house the image of this great kingdom, just as his departed spirit now sees the same in its empty void. (Therefore both these states are equally ideal.) 16 After death you lost the memories of your former lives, just like one loses memories of waking events when in the dream state. 17 All are like the appearance of the three worlds in dream, or their formation in the imagination, or like the description of warfare in an epic poem, or like water in the mirage of a sandy desert. 18 The hills and houses seen in the empty space of the brahmin’s house were nothing but the capacity of his own mind to form the images of its fancy and receive the external impressions like a reflecting mirror. 19 All these, though unreal, appear as real substances on account of the reality of consciousness which is seated in the cavity of the innermost sheath of the body and reflects the images. 20 But these images derived from the memories of unreal objects of the world are as unreal as those objects which cast their reflections upon consciousness. Waves rising in the river of a mirage are as unreal as the mirage itself.

21 Know that this chair sitting in this room of your house, as well as myself and yourself and everything else about us, are only the reflections of our consciousness, without which nothing would be perceptible. 22 Our dreams and fallacies, our desires and fancies, and also our notions and ideas serve as the best evidence to understand this truth (that nothing is true beside the subjective mind, which creates and forms, produces and presents all objects to our view).

23 The spirit of the brahmin resided in the emptiness of his house (the body), with the seas, forests and the earth within itself, like a bee lives in the lotus. 24 Thus the habitable earth with everything it contains is situated in a small cell in one corner of consciousness, like a spot of flimsy cloud in the sky. 25 The house of the holy brahmin was situated in the same locality of consciousness which contains all the worlds in one of its atomic particles. 26 Every atom of the intelligent soul contains unnumbered worlds within worlds, enough to remove your doubt of the brahmin being able to see an entire kingdom within the space of his intellect.

27 Leela asked, “How can we be the brahmin couple when they died only eight days before and we have been reigning here for so many years?”

28 The goddess replied:—

In reality, there is neither any limit of space or time, nor any distance of place or length of time. Hear me now tell you the reason why.

29 As the universe is the reflection of the Divine Mind, so are infinity and eternity but representations of Himself. 30 Listen to what I tell you about how we form the idea of time and its subdivisions, whether a moment or an age. It is the same way that we make distinctions among the individuals that are me, you and this or that person.

31 As soon as one feels the lack of senses after his death, he forgets his former nature and thinks himself to be another being. 32 Then, in the twinkling of an eye, he assumes an empty form in the womb of emptiness and in that container he thinks within himself, 33 “This is my body with its hands and feet.” Thinking about body, he finds it presented before him. 34 Then he thinks in himself, “I am the son of this father and am so many years old. These are my dear friends and this is my pleasant home. 35 I was born and became a boy, and then grew up to this age. There are all my friends and in the same course of their lives.” 36 Thus the compact density of the sphere of his soul presents him with many other images that appear to arise in it as in some part of the world. 37 But they neither rise nor remain in the soul itself, which is as transparent as empty air. They appear to consciousness like a vision seen in a dream.

38 A person dreaming remains in one place but sees all manners of things in different places. Everything in the other world appears equally real, just like in his dream. 39 Again, whatever is seen in the other world, the same occurs to men in their present states also. The unreality of the world of dreaming and the reality of this physical world are alike. 40 Just like there is no difference among the waves of the same seawater, so the produced visible creation is the same as the unproduced intellectual world, both of which are equally indestructible.

41 But in reality, the appearance is nothing but a reflection of consciousness which, apart from the intelligible spirit, is merely an empty void. 42 Although presided over by the intelligible spirit, creation itself is a mere void, its only substance being the intelligible soul, like water is to waves.

43 Waves though formed of water are themselves as unreal as the horns of hares. Their appearance as natural objects is altogether false (because they are the effects of the auxiliary cause of the winds that have raised them). 44 Therefore, there being no visible object in reality, how can the observer have any idea of materiality which loses its delusion at the moment of his death?

45 After the visible outer world has disappeared from sight, the soul, in its inner world of the mind, reflects on its memories of creation according to the proper time and place of everything. 46 It remembers its birth, its parents, its age and its residence, with its learning and all other pursuits in their exact manner and order. 47 It thinks of its friends and servants, and of the success and failure of its attempts. The uncreated and incorporeal soul, in its intellectual form, reflects on the events of its created and corporeal state.

48 However, it does not remain in this state for long. Soon after death it enters a new body to which the properties of the mind and senses are added afterwards in their proper times. 49 It then becomes a baby, finds a new father and mother, and begins to grow. Thus whether one may perceive it or not, it is all the product of his former memories. 50 Then upon waking from this state of trance, like a fruit from the cell of a flower, it comes to find that a single moment appeared to it as the period of an age.

51 It was in this way that in times past, King Harish Chandra thought one night to be twelve years. One day seems like a year to those who are separated from their beloved objects. 52 Again, it is all false, whether the birth or death of someone in his dream, or being born and recognizing a father in infancy, or a hungry man imagining he is dining on dainty food. 53 So who would believe a satisfied man after eating who says he is starving, or one who declares that he is an eyewitness of something he had not seen, or an empty space full of people, or that someone found lost treasure in his dream?

54 But this visible world rests in the invisible spirit of God, like the property of pungency resides in the particles of the pepper seed, and like the painted pictures on a column. But where are the open and clear sighted eyes to perceive this?

55 The vision of Leela, called samadhi in yoga and clairvoyance of spiritualism, was the abstract meditation of her lord in her memory that presented her with a full view of everything imprinted on it. Memory is taken for the whole consciousness (chit), which is identified with God in whose essence the images of all things are said to be eternally present.