Chapter 72 — Suchi Again Performs Tapas

Vasishta continued:—

Afterwards Suchi became silent and motionless and thought of resuming her austerities for the sake of regaining her long lost body. With this intention she returned to the Himalayas where, abstaining from her desire of human gore, she sat repeating her criticisms and rebukes. In her mind she saw her needle form entering into her heart with her breathing. Meditating on her mental form of the needle, she was blown upwards by her vital breath to the top of the hill and alighted on it like a vulture from high. There she remained alone and apart from all living beings, sitting amidst burning fire with her form of an ash-colored stone. She sat there like a sprout of grass springing in that dry and grassless spot. But soon she faded away into a blade of withered hay in the sandy desert. She remained standing on the toe of one foot, and she continued criticizing and rebuking her own self. In her tiptoe position, she lightly touched the ground and avoiding all sidelong looks. She gazed on the upper sky with her face upraised and her eyes uplifted. The fine point of the black iron needle penetrated the ground and firmly preserved its standing posture. It fed itself upon the air which it inhaled by its uplifted mouth. 10 The scarcity of food in the forest made her look like she was in search of some prey coming from a distance. Her shadow shaking with the wind enticed the unwary to approach towards it.

11 The ray of light issuing like a pencil from the needle hole served as her attendant guard on the hinder part. 12 As men are kindly disposed towards the mean who are favorites to them, so the needle was attached to the thin pencil of light that became its constant attendant. 13 The needle had another constant companion: the devotion in its own shadow; but the blackness of its body made it always remain behind the back. 14 Thus these three — the iron needle, the thin pencil of light passing through its eye, and the needle’s shadow — having firmly adhered themselves to the iron needle, become intimate friends, like all good people mutually assisting one another.

15 On seeing Suchi in this plight, the trees and plants of the mountain forest felt compassion for her. Who is there who bears no sympathy for a pious devotee or her penances and austerities? 16 The needle that was stuck to the ground by its foot and had sprung up like some faculty of the mind was fed with the fragrance of fruits blown and borne by the breeze to its uplifted mouth. 17 Woodland gods and demigods continued to fill its mouth with the dust of buds and full blown flowers of the woods. 18 But Suchi did not swallow the powdered meat dust that God Indra had caused to be thrown into her mouth for the purpose of frustrating the effect of her tapas. 19 Her fixity of purpose did not permit her to swallow the delicious powder because a person, however mean he may be, is sure of success by the firmness of his mind.

20 Vayu, the god of winds with his power of uprooting mountains, was astonished to find the needle adverse to swallowing the food. He ministered to it in the form of the pollen of flowers. 21 The resolute devotee is never shaken from his purpose, though he be plunged into mud or drowned in water or scattered by winds and thrown into burning fire; 22 or when he is shattered by showers of hailstones, or struck by lightning or battered by raindrops and intimidated by thunder claps. 23 The resolute mind is not changed in a thousand years and the feet of the firm, like those of the drowsy and dead drunk, never move from their place. 24 A holy hermit who is devoted to his purpose in time loses the motion of his external organs, but by the exercise of his reason, he obtains the light of true knowledge in his soul.

25 Thus did Suchi gain the light of knowledge and become a seer of the past and future. She became cleansed of the impurity of her sins, and her impurity (visuchi) turned to purity (suchi). 26 She came to know the truly knowable in her own understanding. After the removal of her sins by tapas, she felt true bliss in her soul. 27 She continued in her austere tapas for many thousands of years, to the great astonishment of seven times seven worlds that became frightened at her austerities. 28 The fervor of her tapas set great mountains on fire, and that flame spread to all the worlds like the blaze of an auspicious meteor.

29 This made Indra, the god of heaven, ask Narada about the cause of this intense tapas, saying, “Who is so immersed in tapas that she obtains the fruit of worlds by her austere tapas?”

Narada replied, 30 “It is Suchi, who by her continued tapas of thousands of years, has attained her highest state of enlightenment. She is that light which now enflames all the worlds. 31 It is Suchi’s tapas, O lord of gods, that makes naaga serpents sigh and hills tremble. It causes the celestials to fall down and the sea to overflow on earth. It dries up all things and casts a shade over bright orb of the sun itself.”