Chapter 71 — Suchi’s Remorse

Vasishta continued:—

After the carnivorous fiend Karkati had feasted for a long period on the flesh and blood of human kind, she found her insatiable appetite to know no bounds. She was never satisfied with anything. She used to be satisfied with a drop of blood in her form of the needle. Now she became sorry at the loss of the insatiable thirst and appetite of her former state.

She thought in herself, “O pity it is that I came to be a vile needle. With so weak and slender a body, I can take nothing for my food. How foolish I have been to forego my former gigantic form and change my dark cloudy figure for something like the dry leaf of a forest tree. O wretch that I am to have foregone my dainty food of flesh flavored with fat. I am doomed to dive in dirt and drop down on the ground to be trodden and trampled under the feet of people, soiled and sullied in filth. O me miserable, helpless and hopeless thing, and without any support or status. From one sorrow I fall to another, and one danger is succeeded by another! I have no mistress or maidservant, no father or mother. I have no son or brother, nor anyone to serve or befriend me. I have nobody, no home, and no refuge or asylum anywhere. I have no fixed dwelling anywhere. Instead I am driven about like falling leaves by driving winds. 10 I am subject to all accidents and exposed to every kind of calamity. I wish for my extinction, but it wishes not to approach me.”

11 “What have I done? In the foolishness of my heart, I have given away my own big body, like a madman gives away a precious jewel for a paltry piece of glass. 12 One calamity is enough to turn the brain out of order, but what will be my case when it is followed by other disasters in endless succession? 13 I am hung up to be suffocated by smoke and dropped down in the streets to be trodden underfoot. I am cast away with dirt and hidden under grass to my great distress. 14 I serve at another’s will, and am guided by my guide. I am stark naked while I sew for others, and I am ever a dependent on another’s guidance. 15 Long do I work and walk for a small worthless gain, and stitching alone is all the work that I have to perform for life. O unlucky that I am, that even my bad luck is so very unlucky.”

16 “With my remorse today, I see the demon of despair rising before me and threatening to make an end of this body of which I have made an offering to him. 17 After my foolishness losing so big and bulky a body, what better fate can await me than to be annihilated into nothing, rather than be a thing which is good for nothing? 18 What man will pick me up, who is as lean as a thread worm, from the heap of ashes under which I lie buried by the wayside? 19 No keen sighted man will take such a wretched and forlorn being into his consideration, just like nobody living on a high hill ever stoops to take notice of the grass growing on the ground below. 20 I cannot expect to raise myself higher while I am lying in a sea of ignorance. What blind man guided by the flash of fireflies can perceive the glorious sunlight? 21 I find myself drowned in a sea of misery and I know not how long I shall have to labor under my difficulties.”

22 “When shall I be restored to the form of the daughter of Anjanagiri Mountain and stand like a pillar over the ruins of the nether and upper worlds? 23 When shall I have my arms reach the clouds and my eyes flashing like lightning, my clothes as white as snow and my hair touching the sky? 24 When will my big belly resemble a huge cloud and my long breasts hang below like pillows shaking with the motion of my body, dancing like the wings of a peacock? 25 When will the ash-white light emitted by my laughter cast shade onto the sun, and my former high stature threaten to devour the terrible god of death? 26 Some time ago my hollow sockets, deep as the holes of mortars, flashed with living fire like the rays of the sun, and my large legs moved in my rambling like two monumental pillars. 27 When shall I have my big belly with its huge pot-belly? When shall I again have my soft black nails that resemble the dark and humid clouds of autumn. 28 When will those tender smiles return to me with which I moved the great rakshasa demons to my favor? When shall I dance in my giddy circles at the music of the tabor in the forests? 29 When will that big belly of mine be filled with pots full of fattened liquor and be fed with heaps of flesh and bones from dead bodies? 30 When shall I get drunk drinking the blood of human gore and become merry and giddy until I fall fast asleep?”

31 “It was I, by my bad choice of austerities, who destroyed my former brilliant body and accepted this petty needle-like form, like one who takes the sulphate of gold instead of the precious metal. 32 Ah! Where is that huge body that filled all sides and shone like the dark hill of Anjanagiri? What is this puny and pin form in the shape of a spider’s leg, thin and lean like a tender blade of grass? 33 The ignorant, thinking it useless, throw a golden jewel on the ground like a piece of glass. So I have cast aside my shining body for a bit of this black needle.”

34 “O great Vindhya Mountains with your hollow and snow covered caves! Why do you not destroy your dull elephants with your native lions? It is I who is as silly as an elephant. 35 O my arms that used to break down mountain peaks, why do you fail to pluck the butter-like moon with your moony nails? 36 O my breast that was as fair as snowy mountain sides, even without my glassy ornaments. Why do you not show your hairs, which were as large as leeches that feed on lion’s flesh? 37 O my eyes that used to dispel the darkness of the darkest night and kindle dry fuel with your glaring fire. Why do you cease to lighten the air with your brightness? 38 O my shoulder blades! Are you broken down and leveled with the earth, or are you crushed and smashed or moldered and worn out by age? 39 O my moon-bright face! Why do you not shine over me with your bright beams that resemble the everlasting light of the orb of the moon? Are you now at an end forever? 40 O my hands! Where is your strength fled today? Do you not see how I am transformed into an ignoble needle that is moved by the touch of the foot of a fly? 41 Alas! The cavity of my navel was as deep as a well and beset by hair resembling rows of beautiful plants about it. My protuberant posteriors were like the bottom of the Vindya hills. 42 Where is that towering stature reaching to the sky, and what is this new earned contemptible form of the needle? Where is that mouth, hollow as the vault of the sky, and what is this hole of the needle? Where is my heap of flesh meat and what is this drop of watery food?”

“Ah, how lean have I grown. But who is to be blamed for an act of my own doing?”