Chapter 73 — Narada Explains Suchi’s Tapas to Indra Who Sends Maruta to Disturb Her Tapas

Vasishta related:—

Indra, having learned about Karkati’s austere tapas, was curious to know more about her from Narada. Indra asked, “I know Suchi acquired her fiendish practice of blood sucking by means of her tapas, but who is this apish Karkati that is so greedy to gain flesh and bones?”

Narada replied:—

It is Karkati, the malevolent fiend, who became the individual soul Suchi, the colic pain of the living, and assumed the shape of an iron needle as its support. Afterwards, having forsaken that prop, it entered the human body, then it flew up to the heart on the vehicle of vital breath, and is seated in the car of the current air in atmosphere. This colic of life Suchi, having entered into the bodies of vicious lives, passes through the canals of their entrails and the pores of their flesh, fat and blood, then nestles in the interior part like a bird. It enters the intestines with the breath of air and settles there in the form of flatulent colic. Afterwards, seated at the end of the nyagrodha artery, it becomes the various forms of colic with fullness of blood and inflammation. It also enters the body through other parts and organs and receives different names according to its situation. Then it feeds upon their flesh and marrow. Fastened to the knots of flower wreaths and stuck to leafy garlands decorating the breasts and cheeks of fond maidens, she sleeps enraptured with them on the bosoms of their loving spouses.

She flies to the bodies of birds in woodland retreats free from worldly sorrow and strife. She flutters on the tops of flowers of kalpa trees of Nandana paradise, or rolls on beds of lotuses in the lakes. 10 She flies in the forms of fluttering bees over the high hills of the gods, and she sips honey drops perfumed with the fragrance of mandara flower pollen. 11 In the form of vultures, she devours the entrails of the dead bodies of warriors through the wounds made by sword blades. 12 She flies up and down in the translucent and glassy paths of the sky and pierces into the human body through all pores, arteries, and orifices, just like expansive winds pass on all sides through every creek and corner.

13 Just like the universal vital air runs in the heart of every living being in the form of the pulsation of air, so Suchi oscillates in everybody as if they were her own home. 14 Just like intellectual powers are lodged in every person like blazing lamps, so she resides in her dwelling and blaze as the mistress of everybody. 15 She sparkles like the vital spark in blood particles, and she flows in bodies like liquid. She rolls and trolls in the bowels of living beings like whirlpools whirl about in the bosom of the sea. 16 She rests in the milk-white mass of flesh, just like Vishnu reclines on his bed of the serpent Sesha. She tastes the flavor of blood from all hearts, just like Goddess Kali drinks the liquor of her goblet of wine. 17 She sucks the circulating, red hot blood of hearts, just like the wind absorbs the internal and vivifying juice from the hearts of plants and trees.

18 Now this living Suchi, intending to become a devotee, remains as motionless as an immovable substance and as fixed and steady in her mind. 19 The iron-hearted needle, being now rarefied like invisible air, is traversing to all sides on the swift wings of winds resembling its riding horses. 20 It goes on feeding on the flesh and drinking the blood of all living beings, and carrying on its various acts of giving and receiving, and dancing and singing all along. 21 Though the incorporeal Suchi has become aeriform and invisible as vacuum, yet there is nothing which she is unable to accomplish by the powers of her mind, outstripping the swiftness of the winds. 22 But though she runs mad with her meat and turns giddy with her drink, yet she is curbed by fate from running at random, like an elephant in chains.

23 The living body, like a running stream, moves apace with billows in its course. The painful and destructive diseases under which it labors are like greedy sharks lying hidden underneath. 24 This frail body, like the formless Suchi, being disabled by its inability to gorge on its fleshy food, begins to lament its fate, like old and sickly rich folks for their lack of hunger and appetite.

25 The body with its members moves about like the beasts of the forest (for their prey). It plays its parts like an actress on stage dressed with good clothes and ornaments. 26 The body’s internal and external winds move the it back and forth. Its natural weakness (immobility) is always in need of being moved by the vital airs, just like the immovable fragrance requires to be blown by a breeze.

27 Men in vain rely on mantras and medicines, on austerities and charities, and on the adoration of idols for relief, while their bodies are subject to diseases like the sea to its surges. 28 The unseen force of mobility is soon lost in the solid body, just like the light of the lamp is lost in darkness. So the living Suchi came to be lost in the iron needle in which she had her rest.

29 Everyone aspires to a state according to his natural propensity. The rakshasi’s own inclination led her to choose being a needle. 30 A man tired from travelling far and wide returns at last to take his rest at home. So the big and living Karkati turned into the form of the thin iron Suchi in order to rest. But like ignorant people who prefer the grosser pleasures of the body to the nicer delights of the soul, she still wanted her grosser enjoyments that now are lost to her. 31 With the intention of satisfying her thirst, she travelled to all parts and quarters in her form of the poor needle. But she derived more mental pleasure from the experiences than the satisfaction of her physical appetites.

32 When the container is in existence, it is possible to fill it with its contents and not otherwise. So one having his body can seek and get every pleasurable object to give it delight. 33 Remembering now the past enjoyments of her former body, she became sad in her mind that before she had been so highly pleased and satisfied filling its belly. 34 Then she resolved to undertake austere tapas for the purpose of recovering her former body. With this object in view, she chose for herself the proper situation for her castigations.

35 The individual soul of Suchi thought of entering into the heart of a young vulture flying in the air. Thus by the help of her vital breath, she soared to it and rested herself in the air like that bird. 36 The vulture, filled with the malevolent spirit of the choleric Suchi in itself, began to think of executing the purposes that Suchi had in her mind. 37 Thus the vulture, bearing the unsatisfied Suchi within its body, flew to its intended spot on the mountain. It was driven there like a cloud by the wind and it was in this place that Suchi was to be released from her needle shape.

38 It sat there in its state of asceticism on a spot of the solitary forest, seeming to be freed from all desires of the world. 39 It stood there on one of its legs, supported on the tip of its toe. It looked like the statue of some god that had been consecrated on the top of the mountain by someone in the form of garuda. 40 There standing on one leg, supported on an atom of dust, she remained like the mountain peacock that stands on one leg with its head raised to the sky.

41 The vulture, seeing the living Suchi coming out of his body and standing on the mountain like a statue, fled and disappeared from that place. 42 Suchi came out from the body of the bird like a spirit coming out of it, and the intellect aspiring to higher regions. She came out like particles of fragrance fly upon the wings of winds to be borne into a nose and meet the breath of the nostrils. 43 The vulture fled to his own place after leaving Suchi at that place, like a porter unburdening himself of his load, and on his return found himself relieved of his lecherous diseases.

44 Now the iron Suchi, being seated in her tapas in the form of the living Suchi, appeared as graceful as a good man engaged in the performance of his proper duty. 45 Because a formless spirit is unable to do anything without the support or instrument of form, so the living Suchi supported herself on the tip of her toe in order to perform her tapas. 46 The living Suchi sheathed the iron needle like an evil female pisacha spirit wraps itself around a sinsapa tree, and like the winds enfold particles of odor which they bear away in their bosom.

47 From then, O Indra, she has undertaken her protracted tapas and she has passed many years in the solitary wilderness in her steady position and posture of body. 48 It now behooves you, O Indra who is skilled in stratagems, to devise some plan to delude her from her object, or else her tapas will destroy the people you have so long preserved.

49 Vasishta said:—

Indra, having heard these words of Narada, sent Maruta, the god of winds, to search for Suchi in all quarters of the globe.

50 Then God Maruta, in his spiritual form of intelligence, proceeded in quest of her. Having traversed the ethereal regions, he alighted upon the nether world. The winds and all other elemental and physical powers are also believed to be endued with intelligence. They are not mere brute forces. They could never regularly discharge their proper functions without intelligence.

51 He saw everything instantly at a glance of his intelligence which perceived all things at one view, just like the sight of the Supreme Spirit sees through all bodies without exception or hindrance. 52 His sight stretched to Lokaloka Mountain in the polar circle, far beyond the seven seas of the earth, where there is a large tract of land abounding with gems. 53 He viewed the circle of Pushkara continent, surrounded by a sea of sweet water and containing mountains with their dales and valleys. 54 He next saw Gomeda Islands surrounded by the liquid sea of liquor with its marine animals, and its land abounding with cities and towns. 55 He saw also the fertile and peaceful continent of Kraunchadwipa bounded by the sweet Saccharine Sea and beset by a range of mountains. 56 Further on was the Swetadvipa (white island) with its subsidiary isles surrounded by the Milky Ocean and having the temple of Vishnu in the midst of it. 57 After that appeared the sea of butter surrounding Kushadwipa Island and having chains of mountains and cities with buildings in them. 58 Then came the Sakadwipa in view amidst the ocean of curds, containing many countries and many large and populous cities in them. 59 Last appeared the Jambudwipa (Asia) girded by the sea of salt, having Meru and other boundary mountains and many countries in it.

60 Thus the intelligence of air (Marut), having alighted on earth upon the wings of winds, rapidly spread himself to its utmost ends. 61 The god of air then directed his course to Jambudwipa (Asia). Having arrived there, he made his way to the summit of the snowy mountain, the Himalayas where Suchi was performing her tapas. 62 On the highest top of the summit, he saw a great desert as extensive as the expanse of the sky and devoid both of living creatures and the vestiges of animal bodies. 63 It was unproductive of greens or grass owing to its nearness to the sun, and it was covered with dust like that which makes this earth. 64 There, like the lucid waters of a river, spread a wide ocean of mirage to excite the thirst and allure the longings of men by its various colors that resemble the variegated colors of a rainbow. 65 Its wide expanse, reaching almost to infinity, was not measurable even by the regents of the quarters of heaven, and the gusts of wind blowing upon it served to cover it with a canopy of dust. 66 It resembled a wanton woman smeared with red powder like sunbeams and sandalwood paste like the moonbeams, and attentive to the whistling of the breeze.

67 The god of the winds having travelled all over the seven continents and their seas, and being tired with his long journey on the surface of the earth, rested his gigantic body, which fills the infinite space in all directions, on the top of that mountain; like a butterfly resting on the twig of a tree after its wearied flight in the air.