Chapter 26 — Return to the Holy Brahmin’s House; Description of Gloom; Vasishta Explains Astral Appearance

Vasishta said:—

After the excellent ladies had returned from their visit of physical sphere, they entered the house where the holy brahmin used to live.

There the holy ladies, unseen by anyone, saw the tomb of the brahmin. The maid servants were dejected with sorrow, and the faces of the women were soiled with tears, faded like lotuses with their withered leaves. All joy had fled from the house, leaving it like the dry bed of the dead sea after its waters were sucked. It was like a garden parched in summer, or a tree struck by lightening. It was as joyless as a dried lotus torn by a blast or withering under frost; and as faint as the light of a lamp without its wick or oil; and as dim as the eyeball without its light. The house without its master was as sad as the face of a dying person, or like a forest with its falling and withered leaves, or like dry and dusty ground for lack of rain.

7-8 Then Leela, with her gracefulness of divine knowledge, the elegance of her perfections, and her devotion for truth, thought within herself that the residents of the house might see her and the goddess in their ordinary forms as human beings. Then the people of the house saw the two ladies as Lakshmi and Gauri, brightening the house with the light of their being.

10 Wreaths of unfading flowers of various kinds adorned the two women from head to foot. They seemed like the personifications of spring season, perfuming the house with the fragrance of a flower garden. 11 They appeared to rise like a pair of moons with their cooling and pleasant beams infusing a freshness to the family, like moonlight does to medicinal plants in forests and villages. 12 The soft glances of their eyes under the long, loose and pendant curls of hair were like a shower of white malati flowers from the dark cloudy spots of their black lined eyes. 13 Their bodies were as bright as melted gold and as vibrant as a flowing stream. Their brilliance cast a golden color on the spot where they stood, as it did over the forest all around. 14 The natural beauty of Lakshmi’s body and the trembling glare of Leela’s body spread as it were, a sea of radiance about them in which their bodies seemed to move like undulating waves. 15 Their relaxed arms resembling loose vines, their palms like red leaflets shook like the fresh kalpa vines in the forest. 16 They touched the ground with their feet that resembled the fresh and tender petals of a flower, or like lotuses growing upon the ground. 17 Their appearance seemed to sprinkle ambrosial dews all around and made the dry withered and brown branches of tamara trees sprout new tender leaflets.

18 On seeing them, the whole family with Jyeshtha Sarma, the eldest son of the deceased brahmin, cried aloud and said, “Hail to the woodland goddesses,” and threw handfuls of flowers on their feet. 19 The flower offerings that fell on their feet resembled showers of dewdrops falling on lotus leaves in a lake of lotuses. 20 Jyeshtha Sarma said, “Hail, you goddesses who have come here to dispel our sorrow. It is inborn in the nature of good people to deliver others from their distress.”

21 The goddesses addressed him gently, “Tell us the cause of your sorrow which has made you all so sad.”

22 Then, one by one, Jyeshtha Sarma and others described their sorrows owing to the death of the brahmin couple. 23 They said, “Know, O goddess pair, there lived here a brahmin and his wife who had been the support of guests and a model for brahmins. 24 They were our parents who recently died. They have abandoned us, leaving all their friends and domestic animals here. They have departed to heaven and left us quite helpless in this world.”

25 “The birds sitting on the top of the house have been continually pouring their pious and mournful sounds over the bodies of the deceased. 26 Mountains on all sides have been lamenting their loss with the hoarse noise of winds howling in their caverns, shedding showers of tears in the courses of the streams issuing from their sides. 27 Clouds have poured their tears in floods of rainwater, then fled from the skies. The heavenly quarters have been sending their sighs in sultry winds all around.”

28 “The poor village people are wailing in piteous notes, their bodies disheveled from rolling upon the ground. They are trying to yield up their lives with continued fasting. 29 The trees are shedding their tears every day in drops of melting snow exuding from the cells of their leaves and flowers, resembling the sockets of their eyes. 30 The streets are deserted for lack of passers-by and have become dusty without being watered. They have become as empty as the hearts of men forsaken by their joys of life. 31 Among the sad notes of cuckoos and the humming of bees, fading plants are wailing and withering from the sultry sighs of their inner grief. 32 Snows are melting from the heat of their grief, their waters falling in cataracts that break into to a hundred channels as they fall upon stony basins.”

33 “Our prosperity has fled from us, and we sit here in dumb despair of hope. Our houses have become dark and gloomy as a desert. 34 Here the humble bees are humming in grief upon the scattered flowers in our garden that now sends forth a putrid smell instead of their former fragrance. 35 The vines that twined so gaily round the spring trees are dwindling and dying away with their closing and fading flowers. 36 The rivulets, with their loose and low rippling murmur and the light wavelike motion of their liquid bodies on the ground, are running hurriedly in their sorrow to cast themselves into the sea. 37 Despite the disturbance of the gnats flying constantly upon them, ponds are as still in their sorrow as men sitting in meditation. 38 Truly this day, the presence of our parents is adorning that part of the heaven where heavenly singers, the kinnaras, gandharvas and vidyadharas, welcome them with their music.”

39 “Therefore, O Devis! reduce our excessive grief, because the visit of the great never goes for nothing.”

40 Hearing these words, Leela gently touched the head of her son with her hand, as the lotus bed leans to touch its offshoot by the stalk. 41 At her touch the boy was relieved of all his sorrow and misfortune, just like the summer heat of the mountain is reduced by the showers of rainy season. 42 All others in the house were as highly gratified at the sight of the goddesses as when a pauper is relieved of his poverty, or the sick are healed by a draught of nectar.

43 Rama said, “Remove my doubt, sage. Why didn’t Leela appear in her own form of Arundhati before her eldest son, Jyeshta Sarma?”

44 Vasishta answered:—

You forget, O Rama, and think that Leela had a material body or could assume one at pleasure. She was in an astral form, her form of pure intellect, and it was with her spiritual hand that she touched the inner spirit of the boy and not his material body.

45 Belief in materialism leads one to think that his unreal earthly frame is real, just like a boy’s belief in ghosts makes him take a shadow for a spirit. 46 But this belief in one’s materiality is soon over upon conviction of one’s spirituality, just like the traces of our visions in a dream are removed on the knowledge of their unreality upon waking. 47 Belief that matter is an empty nothing leads to the knowledge of the spirit. A glass door appears as open space to someone of an irritable temperament. In the same way matter appears as nothing to the wise.

48 A dream presents the sights of cities, lands, air and water where there are no such things in actuality. A dream causes the movements of our limbs and bodies for no purpose. 49 As air appears as earth in dreaming, so the nonexistent world appears to exist in waking. It is thus that men see and talk of things unseen and unknown in their fits of delirium. 50 Children see ghosts in the air and a dying man sees a forest in it. Others see elephants in clouds, and some see pearls in sunbeams. 51 Those who are panic-struck and deranged in their minds, the half-waking and passengers in vessels, see many appearances like such ghosts and forests and betray what they see (in dreams) by the movements of their bodies.

52 In this manner, everyone is of the form of whatever he thinks himself to be. It is only habit that makes him to believe himself as such. He is not so in reality. 53 But Leela, who had known the truth of the nonexistence of the world, was conscious of its nothingness and viewed all things as false conceptions of the mind. 54 Thus he who sees only Brahma filling the sphere of his consciousness has no room for a son or friend or wife. 55 He who views the whole as filled with the spirit of Brahma, with nothing produced in it, has no room for affection or hatred for anybody in it.

56 The hand that Leela laid on the head of Jyeshtha Sarma, her eldest son, was not lain from her maternal affection for him, but for his edification in intellectual knowledge. 57 Consciousness being awakened, there is all joy attendant upon it. It is more subtle than ether and far purer than vacuum, and leads the intellectual being above the region of air. All other things are like images in a dream.