Chapter 28 — Leela’s Vision in Meditation; Description of the Mountain Hamlet

Rama said, “Tell me sage, how did the goddesses break out of the strongholds of their bodies and the prison-house of this world and pass through infinite space and survey the scenes beyond its confines?”

Vasishta replied:—

Where is the world and where is its support or solidity? They were all situated in the region within the minds of the goddesses. In their minds they saw the hilly tract where the brahmin Vasishta lived and had his desire for royalty. They saw his deserted house and in their minds they saw the surface of the earth stretching to the seas.

In that imaginary spot of earth they saw the city of the king and the royal palace which he had enjoyed with Arundhati, his wife. They saw how she was born under the name of Leela and how she worshipped the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati, by whom she was miraculously conveyed to the delightful region of the sky. It was in the house situated in that hilly village that she saw the world placed within the space of her mind.

Having come out of her vision of the world, she found herself sitting in her house, just like one finds himself lying in his own bed after rambling from one dream to another. All that she saw was mere vision and void. There was no world, no earth, no house, and no distance. 10 It was the mind that showed them these images, just like the mind presents the objects of our desire to our view. Otherwise, there is neither world nor earth in actuality.

11 The sphere of consciousness is infinite and without any covering. If agitated by the powers of one’s intellect, it presents all the objects of nature to his view, like the sky when agitated by heat produces the winds. 12 The sphere of consciousness is uncreated. It is ever calm everywhere. Deluded minds suppose the world to exist. 13 He who understands rightly sees the world is as unsubstantial as air. But whoever is misled by wrong judgment takes it to be like a solid mountain.

14 As a house and city are manifested to us in our dream, so this unreal world is presented as a reality to our understanding. 15 It is like the misconception of water in the mirage and the mistake of gold in a bracelet. All this unreality appears as a reality to the mistaken mind.

16 Discoursing in this manner between themselves, the two charming ladies, walked out of the house with their graceful steps.

17 Being unseen by the village people, they viewed the mountain standing before them, kissing the vault of heaven and touching the orb of the sun with its lofty peaks. 18 It was decorated with flowers of various colors and covered with a variety of trees of various colors. There were waterfalls gushing with their tremendous roaring on one side, and groves resounding with the warbling of birds in another. 19 The clouds were variegated by many colored clusters of flowers sweeping over them, and cranes and storks sat screeching on the cloud-capped tops of guluncha trees. 20 There were robust reeds lining the banks of rivers with their wide stretching stems and roots. Strong winds tossed the tender vines growing out of the rocky caves.

21 Clouds from the vault of heaven hung over the tops of trees covered with flowers and shed their pearly drops of rainwater profusely upon them, forming streams below. 22 The banks of the streamlets were continually lapped by waves raised by winds playing upon the shaking trees. Branches spread a cooling shade all around.

23 Standing on that spot, the ladies saw the hilly hamlet in the grass, like a fragment of heaven had fallen on the ground. 24 There the rippling streams softly glided by, and here the brimming brooks wobbled in the ground. The birds of the air chirped on the sprays, and aquatic fowls flew about the holes of the seashore. 25 There they saw herds of cattle slowly moving and grazing in the plains, filling the echoing woods with their loud lowing. They saw an open space broken with shady groves and trees and green meadows all about. 26 The cliffs were white with snow, impenetrable by sunbeams. Hill tops were covered with bushy brambles, forming like braids of hair upon their craggy heads.

27 Cascades falling in torrents in the cavities of rocks, scattering their pearly particles afar like the churning of the Milky Ocean by Mandara Mountain. 28 The trees in the glens, loaded as they were with their fruit and flowers, appeared like waiters upon the goddesses, standing to welcome their approach with their rich presents. 29 Shaken by gusts of roaring winds, the forest trees were shedding showers of their honey sweetened flowers as offerings to the woodland gods and people.

30 The birds that approached fearlessly to drink the water dropping from the hill now fled for fear because the water seemed like sleet, or the shells and shots of archers. 31 Birds, parched by thirst and wishing to drink the water dashed by the waves of the rivulet, hovered upon it like stars in the sky. 32 There were rows of crows sitting on the tops of tall palm trees from whose sight children were hiding the remains of their sweetmeat.

33 They saw country lads with garlands of flowers on their heads and garments roaming in the cooling shades of the date, jam and neem trees. 34 They saw a lean and hungry beggar woman passing by slowly, clad in cloth of flax with garlands of blossoms over her ears. 35 They saw lazy rustics lying in their lonely retreats, talking away from the noisy brooks where they could hardly hear one another. 36 They saw naked beggar children crowding in a compound, curd smeared on their faces and hands, cow dung on their bodies, and holding flowery branches of plants in their hands.

37 On the green river banks, waves shook bushes as if they were a swing, leaving their marks on the sandy shore as the waters receded to their bed. 38 There was a house full of flies attracted by sweet milk and curds, but children were crying for lack of food. 39 Herdswomen were fretting at seeing their bracelets daubed by the cow dung they were spreading to dry. Men were smiling at seeing the eagerness of women tying the loosened knots of their hair. 40 Crows from the hilltops were alighting to pick up the offerings of the holy sages, and the paths around their houses were strewn with sacred kuru and kurunta leaves.

41 Every morning flowering plants growing in the caves of the hills and around the house covered the ground heel-deep with heaps of flowers. 42 There were whisk-tailed cattle and antelope grazing in one part of the forest, and tender young deer sleeping on beds of grass under gunja groves. 43 There were young calves lying on their sides shaking their ears to drive away the flies that fluttered around their faces, milk dripping from the sides of their mouths.

44 Rooms stored honey collected by driving bees from their hives. Gardens were full of flowering asokas. Rooms were painted with red dye. 45 Winds moistened by rain showers had brought the garden of trees to bloom, and yellow kadamba buds hung like a canopy over the beds of green grass below. 46 The ketaka tree grove was blooming white from having its weeds removed, and the water-course glided along with its soft murmuring tune. 47 Winds whistled in the windows of caves and clouds rested on mountain tops. Ponds were brimful of water covered with lotuses like so many moons.

48 A grove of green trees cast its cooling and undivided shade upon the ground where dewdrops trembled on blades of grass and glistened like twinkling stars in the blue sky. 49 Trees constantly dropped their ripened fruit, dried flowers and leaves of various sorts, like showers of snow on whitened ground. 50 Some clouds were seen to hang continually over the household compound, like aristocratic girls who never forsake their parents’ home. Other clouds hovered over the roof of the house flashing lightening to supply the light.

51 The altar here reverberated to the loud roaring of winds confined in the caves of mountains. The temple there was graced by twittering swallows and parrots that perched upon it from their numerous flights. 52 Soft breezes moved slowly as they passed along the lawn loaded with fragrance exhaled by sleepy flowers and gently shaking the leaves of trees.

53 There the ladies listened to prattling and playful parrots and partridges, and here they heard the melodious notes of the kokila nightingale calling back to the jarring crows on the branches. 54 Palm and tamara trees were loaded with fruit, and the forest trees were entwined with vines that waved their leafy palms around them. 55 There were tender ivy vines clasping the branches on one side, and the fragrance of efflorescent kandala and silindhra plants exhaled on the other. Tapering palm and tamara trees rose as high as spires, and a cooling breeze was blowing amidst the flower plants in the gardens.

56 There were cattle hastening to drink water in troughs, and garden trees hung with loads of green unripe fruit and beautiful flowers. Running streams were hidden under rows of trees by their banks. Stalks of plants were studded with flowers. 57 Gardens were perfumed with the nectar fragrance of kunda flowers, and lakes were redolent with the odor of lotuses hiding humble bees giddy with liquor in their honey cells. The air was reddened with rose-colored pollen flying from crimson lotuses, as if mocking the redness of Indra’s palace in the sky.

58 The scene was enchanted with the gurgling noise of small rivers running precipitately down from the hills, kundu flowers as white as clouds hanging over them, the beauty of the flower gardens around the house, and the musical warbling of songbirds singing joyfully in the air. 59 Boys were sporting on beds of flowers, and playful maidens were decked with flowery wreaths hanging down to their feet. Everywhere the ground was adorned with sprouting and prickly shrubs and blades of grass. There was a beauty displayed in the clasping of vines about the clumps of reeds. 60 New shooting buds and blossoms covered the trees and fragments of clouds shrouded the houses below. The ground was decorated by wreaths of icicles, and the flashes of lightning in the clouds over the houses terrified the women within.

61 There was a sweet fragrance of blue lotuses, and the hoarse lowing of the cattle hurrying to their green grazing ground. Confident deer and does were lying tamely in the yard, and peacocks danced merrily before waterfalls as if they were showers of rainwater. 62 Fragrant breezes were blowing giddily with the flavors of the fragrances they bore. Medicinal plants were lending their lights like lamps at night. Bird nests resounded with ceaseless warbling, and the noise of waterfalls deafened the ears of men on the bank.

63 Pearly dewdrops continually falling on the ground from the leaves of trees and blades of grass, the gleaming beauty of the ever blooming blossoms above, and the other everlasting charms of mountain hamlets baffle the description of poets.