Chapter 25 — Description of Astral Travel over the Earth

Vasishta speaking:—

Then these ladies in their forms of intelligence alighted from the sky and, passing over the mountainous regions, saw the houses of men on the surface of the earth. They saw the world appearing like a lotus in the heart of Nara (the primeval Man or eternal Spirit pervading the universe). Its eight sides form the flower petals, the hills its pistils, and the center contains its sweet flavor. The rivers are the tubes of its filaments, covered with drops of snow resembling their pollen. Days and nights roll over it like swarms of black-bees and butterflies, and all its living beings appear like gnats fluttering about. Its long stalks, white as bright daylight, are composed of fibers serving for food, and of tubes conducting the drink to living beings. It is wet with moisture, sucked by the sun, resembling a swan swimming about in the air. In the darkness of night and absence of the sun, it folds itself in sleep.

The earth, like a lotus, is situated on the surface of the waters of the ocean. At times the motion of the ocean makes the earth shake causing earthquakes. The earth rests upon the serpent Sesha as its support, and is girt about by demons as its thorns and prickles. Mount Meru and other mountains are its large seeds. There are great hives of human population where the fair daughters of the giant race embraced with the sons of gods and created the race of men.

It has the extensive continent of Jambudvipa (Asia) situated in one petal, it veins forming its divisions and the tubular filaments its rivers. The seven elevated mountains, forming the boundary lines of this continent, are its seeds, and in its middle, the great Mount Sumeru reaches the sky. 10 Its lakes are like dewdrops on a lotus leaf, and its forests are like the flower’s pollen. The people inhabiting the land all around are like a swarm of bees.

11 Its extent is a thousand leagues (yojanas) square, and it is surrounded on all sides by the dark sea like a belt of black bees. 12 It contains nine divisions (varshas) ruled by nine brother kings, resembling the regents of its eight petal sides, with the Bharata varsha (India) in the midst. 13 It stretches a million miles with more land than water. Its habitable parts are as thick as frozen ice in winter. 14 The continent is surrounded by the briny ocean twice as large, like a bracelet encircles the wrist. 15 Beyond it lies the circular form of Saka continent, twice the size of Jambudvipa and also encircled by a sea. 16 This is called the Milky Ocean because of the sweetness of its water, and it is double the size of the former salt sea.

17 Beyond that and double its size is Kusadwipa continent, full of population. It is also circular and surrounded by another sea, 18 the belt of the sea of curds, delectable to the gods and double the size of the continent it encircles. 19 After that lies the circle of Krauncha continent, also twice the size of the former one and surrounded by a sea like a canal surrounds a city. 20 This sea is called the sea of butter and is twice as large as the continent it surrounds. Beyond it lies Salmali continent surrounded by the foul sea of wine. 21 The fair belt of this sea resembles a wreath of white flowers, like the girdle of the Sesha serpent forming the necklace hanging on the breast of Vishnu. 22 Thereafter stretches Plaxa continent, double the size of the former and surrounded by the belt of the sea of sugar that appears like the snowy plains of Himalaya. 23 After that lies the belt of Pushkara continent, twice as large as the preceding one and encircled by a sea of sweet water double its circumference.

24 There, at the distance of ten degrees, they saw the belt of the south polar circle with its hideous cave below, the descent to the infernal regions. 25 The way to the infernal cave is full of danger and fear and ten times in length from the circle of the continents. 26 This cave is surrounded on all sides by a dreadful emptiness, and below it is half covered by a thick gloom, as if a blue lotus were attached to it. 27 There stood Lokaloka Sumeru or South Polar mountain, which is bright with sunshine on one side and covered by darkness on the other, studded with various gems on its peaks, and decked with flowers growing upon it. 28 It reflected the glory of the three worlds situated on its peak, like a cap of hairs.

29 At a great distance from it is a great forest that is not trodden by the feet of any living being. Then proceeding upward, they saw the great northern ocean encompassing the pole on all sides. 30 Further on they saw the flaming light of the aurora borealis which threatened to melt the snowy mountain to water. 31 Proceeding onward they met with the fierce north winds, blowing with all their fury and force. 32 They threatened to uproot the mountains as if they were dust or grass. They traversed the empty vacuum with their noiseless motion. 33 Far away they saw the empty space of vacuum stretching wide all about them. 34 It spreads unlimited and encompasses the worlds like a golden bracelet encircles the wrist.

35 Thus Leela, having seen the seas and mountains, the rulers of the worlds, the city of the gods, the sky above and the earth below in the unlimited vault of the universe, suddenly returned to her own land and found herself in her room again.