Chapter 41 — Leela & Saraswati enter King Viduratha’s Tent; He Remembers His Past Lives; Everything Is within the Temple of the Mountain Brahmin; Discrimination of Error

Vasishta said:—

When the ladies entered the tent, it appeared like a bed of lotuses. Its white ceiling seemed as graceful as the vault of heaven with two moons rising at once under it. A pure and cooling fragrance spread about it, as if blown by the breeze from mandara flowers, and lulled the prince to sleep. Everyone was lying in their camps. It made the place as pleasant as the celestial pleasure garden of Nandana and healed all the pains and cares of the people there. It seemed like a spring garden filled with the fragrance of the fresh blown lotuses in the morning.

The cooling and moon-bright radiance of the ladies roused the king from his sleep as if he had been sprinkled with the juice of ambrosia. He saw the forms of two apsaras sitting on two stools, appearing like two moons risen on two peaks of Mount Meru. The king saw them with wonder and after composing his mind, he rose up from his bed like God Vishnu rises from his bed of the serpent. Then advancing respectfully to them, with long strings of flowers in his hands, he made offerings of them to the ladies with handfuls of flowers flung at their feet.

Leaving his pillowed sofa in the midst of the hall, he sat with folded legs on the ground. Lowly bending his head, he addressed them saying, “Be victorious, O moon-bright goddesses who by your radiance drive away all the miseries and evils and pains and pangs of life, and who by your sun-like beams dispel all my inward and outward darkness.” 10 Saying so he poured handfuls of flowers on their feet, as trees on the banks of a lake drop down their flowers on the lotuses growing in it.

11 Then the goddess, desiring to reveal the ancestry of the king, inspired his minister, who was lying nearby, to relate it to Leela. 12 Upon waking, the minister saw the nymphs manifested before him, and advancing humbly before them, threw handfuls of flowers upon their feet. 13 The goddess said, “Let us know, O king, who you are and when and of whom you are born.”

Hearing these words of the goddess, the minister spoke saying, 14 “It is by your favor, O gracious goddesses, that I am empowered to relate of my king’s ancestry to your kind graces.”

15 “There was a sovereign born of the imperial line of Ikshvaku named Mukundaratha, who had subjugated the earth under his arms. 16 He had a moon-faced son by name of Bhadraratha, whose son Viswaratha was father to the renowned prince Brihadratha. 17 His son Sindhuratha was the father of Sailaratha, and his son Kamaratha was father of Maharatha. 18 His son Vishnuratha was father of Nabhoratha, who gave birth to this my lord of handsome appearance.”

19 “He is renowned as Viduratha and is born with the great virtues of his sire, as the moon was produced of the Milky Ocean to shed his ambrosial beams over his people. 20 He was begotten by his mother Sumitra like the god Guha of Gauri. He was installed king of the realm in the tenth year of his age, owing to his father taking himself to asceticism. 21 He has been ruling the realm with justice since that time, and your appearance here tonight indicates the blossoming of his good fortune.”

22 “O goddesses, whose presence is hard to be had, even by the merit of long devotion and a hundred austerities, you see here present before you the lord of the earth, famed Viduratha. 23 He is highly blessed today by your favor.” After saying these words, the minister remained silent with the lord of the earth.

24 They were sitting on the ground with folded legs, clasped hands and downcast looks when the goddess of wisdom, by her inspiration, told the king to remember his former births. 25 So saying, she touched his head with her hand and immediately the dark veil of illusion and oblivion was dispersed from over the lotus of his mind. 26 It opened like a blossom by the touch of the genius of consciousness and it became bright as the clear sky with the rays of his former memories. 27 By his intelligence, he remembered his former kingdom, of which he had been the sole lord, and recollected all his past play with Leela. 28 He was carried away by the thoughts of the events of his past lives, as one is carried away by the current of waves, and reflected in himself that this world is a magic sea of illusion.

29 He said, “I have come to know this by the favor of the goddesses, but how is it that so many events have occurred to me in course of one day after my death? 30 Here I have passed a lifetime full of seventy years and remember having done many works and having seen my grandson. 31 I recollect the bygone days of my boyhood and youth, and I remember well all the friends and relatives and all the clothes and attendants that I had before.”

32 The goddess replied:—

Know O king that after the fit of unconsciousness attending your death was over, your soul continued to remain in the emptiness of the same place where you still reside. 33 This royal pavilion, where you think yourself living, is situated in the empty space within the house of the brahmin in that hilly district. 34 It is inside that house that you see the appearances of your other homes present before you, and it was in that brahmin’s house that you devoted your life to my worship. 35 It is the shrine within that same house and on the same spot that contains the whole world which you are now seeing all about you. 36 This abode of yours is situated in that same place and within the clear firmament of your mind.

37 It is a false notion of your mind, which you have gained by your habitual mode of thinking, that you are born in your present state of the race of Ikshvaku. 38 Mere imagination has made you suppose yourself to be named so and so, and that such and such persons were your ancestors; that you had been a boy of ten years; 39 that your father became an ascetic in the woods and left you governing the realm; that you have subjugated many countries under your dominion and are now reigning as the lord paramount over them; 40 and that you are ruling on earth with these ministers and officers of yours, observing sacrificial rites and justly ruling your subjects.

41 You think that you have passed seventy years of your life and that you are now beset by very formidable enemies, 42 and that having waged a furious battle, you have returned to this tent of yours where you are now seated and intend to adore the goddesses who have become your guests here. 43 You are thinking that these goddesses will bless you with your desired object, because one of them has given you the power of recollecting the events of your former births; 44 that these goddesses have opened your understanding like the blossom of a lotus, and that you have the prospect of getting rid of all questions; 45 that you are now at peace and rest, and enjoy the solace of your solitude; and that your long continued error (of this world) is now removed forever.

46 You remember the many acts and pleasures of your past life in the body of King Padma before you were snatched away by the hand of death. 47 You now perceive in your mind that your present life is only a shadow of the former, as it is the same wave that by its rise and fall carries one onward. 48 The constant current of the mind flows like a river and leads a man, like a weed, from one whirlpool to another. 49 The course of life now runs alone as in dreaming, and then accompanied by the body as in the waking state, both of which leave their traces in the mind at the hour of death.

50 The sun of consciousness being hidden under the mist of ignorance, there arises a network of a false world which makes a moment appear like a hundred years. 51 Our lives and deaths are mere phantoms of imagination, just like we imagine houses and towers in aerial castles and icebergs. 52 The world is an illusion, like the delusion of moving banks and trees to a passenger in a vessel on water, or a rapid vehicle on land, or like the trembling of a mountain or quaking of the earth to one affected by a convulsive disease. 53 As one sees extraordinary things in his dream, such as the decapitation of his own head, so he views the illusions of the world that can hardly be true.

54 In reality you were neither born nor dead at anytime or any place, but ever remain as pure consciousness in the tranquility of your own soul. 55 You seem to see all things about you, but you are seeing nothing real in them. Your all-seeing soul sees everything in itself. 56 The soul shines by its own light like a brilliant gem. Nothing that appears beside it, whether this earth or yourself or anything else, is a reality.

57 These hills and cities, these people and things, and ourselves also, are all unreal and mere phantoms, appearing in the hollow vault of the brahmin of the hilly district. 58 The kingdom of Leela’s husband was only a picture of this earth, and his palace with all its grandeur is contained within the sphere of the same hollow shrine. 59 The known world is contained within the empty sphere of that shrine, and it is in one corner of this mundane house that all of us here are situated.

60 The sphere of this vaulted shrine is as clear as emptiness itself, which has no earth or house in it. 61 It is without any forest, hill, sea or river, and yet all beings are found to rove about in this empty and homeless abode. 62 Here there are no kings, no royal retinue, and nothing else that kings have on earth.

Viduratha asked, “If it is so, then tell me goddess, how did I happen to have these dependants here? 63 A man is rich in his own mind and spirit. Is it not so ordained by Divine Mind and spirit? If not, then the world must appear as a mere dream, and all these men and things are only creatures of our dreams. 64 Tell me goddess, what things are spiritually true and false? How are we to distinguish the one from the other?”

65 Saraswati answered:—

Know prince that those who have known the only knowable One and are assimilated in the nature of pure understanding view nothing as real in the world except the empty consciousness within themselves. 66 The misconception of the serpent in a rope being removed, the fallacy of the rope is removed also. The unreality of the world being known, the error of its existence also ceases to exist. 67 Knowing the falsity of water in a mirage, no one thirsts after it anymore. Knowing the falsehood of dreams, no one thinks himself dead as he had dreamt. The fear of dreaming death may overtake the dying, but it can never assail the living in his dream.

68 He whose soul is enlightened with the clear light of his pure consciousness is never misled into believing his own existence, or that of others, by the false application of the terms “I”, “you”, “this” or the like.

Valmiki speaking:—

69 As the sage was lecturing in this manner, the day departed to its evening service with the setting sun. The assembly broke with mutual greetings to perform their evening rituals, and it met again with the rising sun, after dispersion of the gloom of night.