Chapter 52 — The Second Leela Reflects upon the First Leela’s Own Self-Concept: Life after Death

Vasishta said:—

In the meanwhile, O Rama, the first Leela saw her husband lying unconscious before her and about to breathe his last. She spoke to Saraswati, “Behold, O mother, my husband is about to shuffle his mortal coil in this perilous war that has laid waste his whole kingdom.”

Saraswati replied:—

This combat that you saw, fought with such fury and lasting so long in the field, was neither fought in your kingdom nor in any part of this earth. It occurred nowhere except in the vacant space of the shrine containing the dead body of the brahmin where it appeared only as the phantom of a dream. This land that appeared as the kingdom of your living lord Viduratha was situated with all its territories in the inner apartment of Padma. Again it was the tomb of the brahmin Vasishta, situated in the hilly village of Vindya, that showed these varying scenes of the mortal world within itself. As the departed soul views the vision of the past world within its narrow tomb, so is the appearance of all worldly accidents unreal in their nature.

These objects that we see here as realities, including these bodies of mine and yours and this of Leela, together with this earth and these waters, are just the same as phantoms rising in the tomb of the deceased brahmin of the hilly region. It is the soul that presents the images of things, and nothing external which is wholly unreal can cast its reflection on the soul. Therefore know your soul to be the true essence which is uncreated and immortal, and the source of all its creations within itself.

10 The soul reflects on its inborn images without changing itself in any way. Therefore it was the nature of the brahmin’s soul that displayed these images in itself within the sphere of his tomb. 11 But the illusion of the world with all its commotion was viewed in the vacant space of the souls of the brahmin and Padma, and not displayed in the empty space of their tombs, where there was no such false reflection of the world.

12 There is no error or illusion anywhere except in the misconception of the observer. Therefore the removal of the fallacy from the mind of the viewer leads him to the perception of the light of truth. 13 Error consists in taking the unreal for the real and in thinking the viewer and the view, or the subjective and objective, is different from each other. It is the removal of the distinction of the subjective and objective that leads us to the knowledge of unity (the one or Aum). 14 Know that the Supreme Soul is free from the acts of production and destruction, and it is His light that displays all things of which He is the source. Learn that the entire outer nature has no existence nor change in itself.

15 The souls of other beings exhibit their own natures in themselves, just like those in the burial tomb of the brahmin displayed the various dispositions to which his mind was accustomed. 16 The soul has no notion of the outer world or any created thing in it. Its consciousness of itself is like an uncreated emptiness. It comprehends its knowledge of the world in itself.

17 The knowledge of the mountain ranges of Meru and others is included within the knowledge in the emptiness of the soul. There is no substance or solidity in them, just like a great city seen in a dream. 18 The soul sees hundreds of mountain ranges and thousands of solid worlds all drawn in the small compass of the mind, like in its state of dreaming. 19 Multitudes of worlds are contained in a grain of the brain of the mind, just like the long leaves of the plantain tree are contained in one of its minute seeds. 20 All three worlds are contained in an atom of consciousness in the same manner as great cities are seen in a dream. Each of all the particles of consciousness within the mind has the representation of a world in it.

21 Now this Leela, your stepmother (i.e., Arundhati, the wife of the hill-brahmin Vasishta), has already gone to the world that contains the tomb of Padma before the spirit of Viduratha could get there. 22 The moment when Leela fell in a swoon in your presence, know her spirit was immediately conveyed to him and placed by his side.

23 Leela asked, “Tell me, O goddess, how was this lady endowed with my form? How did she come to placed as my stepmother beside my deceased husband (Prince Padma)? 24 Tell me in short, in what form do the people in Padma’s house see her, and how are they now talking to her?”

25 The goddess replied:—

Leela, hear what I will tell you in brief answer to your question regarding the life and death of this Leela as an image of yourself.

26 It is your husband Padma, in the person of Viduratha, who beholds these illusions of the world spread before him in the same tomb. 27 He fought this battle which you saw in his imagination, and this Leela who resembles you (Viduratha’s wife) was also a delusion. These his men and enemies were only illusions, and his ultimate death was as illusory as a phantom of the imagination, like all other things in this world. 28 It was his self delusion that showed him this Leela as his wife, and it is the same deceit of a dream that deludes you to believe that you are his wife. 29 It is merely a dream that makes both of you Leelas think yourselves as his wives. In the same way he dreams that he is your husband, and I also rely on my own existence.

30 The world with all its beauty is said to be the image of a vision. When we know it to be merely a visionary scene, we must refrain from having any faith in the sights of this magic projection lantern. 31 Thus this Leela, you, and this King Viduratha are only phantoms of your fancy. So am I, unless I believe to exist in the self-existent spirit. 32 The belief of the existence of this king and his people, and of ourselves as united in this place, proceeds from the fullness of that Consciousness which fills everything.

33 So this Queen Leela, also situated in this place with her youthful beauty and smiling so charmingly with her blooming face, is only an image of divine beauty. 34 See how gentle and graceful are her manners and how very sweet is her speech. Her voice is as sweet as the notes of the kokila nightingale, and her motions as slow as those of a lovelorn maiden. 35 Behold her eyelids are like the leaves of the blue lotus and her swollen breasts are rounded like a pair of snowballs. Her form is as bright as liquid gold and her lips are as red as a brace of ripe bimba fruit. 36 This is only a form of you as you desired to be to please your husband. It is the very figure of your own self that you now behold with wonder.

37 After the death of your husband (Padma), his soul caught the same reflection of your image as you did desire to be hereafter, and which you now see in the person of the young Leela before you.

38 Whenever the mind has a notion or sensation or fancy of some material object, the abstract idea of its image is surely imprinted in the intellect. 39 As the mind comes to perceive the unreality of material objects, it begins to entertain the ideas of their abstract entities within itself.

40 It was Padma’s thought of his sure death, his false conception of the transmigration of his soul in the body of Viduratha, and your desired form of a youthful Leela, the idol of his soul, that represented the youthful Leela to Padma. 41 He saw you and you saw him according to your desires. Thus both of you, although possessed of the same unvaried soul that pervades all space, are made to see one another according to your desires.

42 The spirit of Brahma is all pervasive. It manifests itself in various ways in all places. It is seen in different light according to the varying fancies or tendencies of men like ever-changing scenes appearing in visions and dreams. 43 The omnipotent Spirit displays its various powers in all places. These powers exert themselves everywhere according to the strong force and capability it has infused in them.

44 When this pair remained in their state of death-like lack of physical senses, they saw all these phantoms in their inner souls by virtue of their memories and desires. 45 That such and such persons were their fathers and such their mothers before, that they lived in such places, had such properties, and did such acts some time ago are all memories of the soul. 46 That they were joined together in marriage, and the multitudes they saw in their minds, appeared to them as realities for the time in their imagination.

47 This is an example that shows our physical-sense perceptions to be no better than our dreams. It was in this deluded state of Leela’s mind that she worshipped and prayed to me. 48 In order to confer the boon on her that she might not become a widow, and by virtue of my blessing, this girl died before her husband’s death. 49 I am the progeny of Brahma, and the totality of that intelligence in which all beings participate. It is for this reason that she adored me as the guardian divinity of all living beings.

50 In the end her soul left her body through the orifice of her mouth and fled with her mind in the form of her vital breath. 51 Then, after the unconsciousness attendant upon her death was over, she understood in her consciousness that her individual soul was placed in the same empty space as the departed spirit of Padma. 52 In her memory she pictured herself in her youthful form and she saw herself as in a dream, situated in the same tomb. She was like a blooming lotus with her beautiful countenance, and her face was as bright as the orb of the moon. Her eyes were as large as those of an antelope, and she was attended by her graceful speech for the pleasure of her husband.