Chapter 76 — Refraining from Unlawful Food

Vasishta continued:—

Suchi the needle now became the demoness Karkati again. Her leanness turned to bulkiness in the manner of a flimsy cloud assuming a gigantic form in the rainy season. Now returning to her native air and element, she felt some joy in herself. But she renounced her fiendish nature by the knowledge she had gained, like a snake throws off its old skin. There seated in her lotus posture, she continued to reflect on her future course. Relying on the purity of her new life and faith, she remained fixed as a mountain peak.

After six months of continued meditation, she obtained the knowledge of what she sought, like the roaring of clouds rouses the peacock to the sense of an approaching rain. Being roused to her sense, she felt the pains of her thirst and hunger, because the nature of the body never forsakes its appetites as long as it lasts in the same state.

She became sad not knowing what food she should take, because she thought the killing of animal life for food was unlawful and repugnant to her nature. Food forbidden by the respectable and obtained by unjust means must be rejected even at the expense of one’s valuable life. “If my body,” she thought, “should perish for lack of lawful food, I will not transgress the law for that. The guilt lies in sustaining my own life by taking unlawful food. Whatever is not obtained according to the customary rules of society is not worth taking. If I should die without proper food, or live upon improper fare, it amounts to the same thing whether I live or die. 10 I was only the mind before, to which the body is added as a base appendage. It vanishes upon the knowledge of self. Hence its care and neglect are both alike.”

11 Vasishta resumed:—

As she was uttering these words in silence to herself, she heard a voice in the air coming from the god of winds who was pleased at the renunciation of her fiendish disposition. 12 “Arise Karkati”, the voice said, “and go to the ignorant and enlighten them with the knowledge you have gained. For it is the nature of the good and great to deliver the ignorant from their error. 13 Whoever does not receive this knowledge of lawful food from you, make him truly the object of your derision, and take him as being a right meat and proper food for you.”

14 On hearing these words she responded, “I am much favored by you, kind god!” So saying, she got up and descended slowly from the height of the craggy mountain. 15 Having passed the heights, she came to the valley at the foot of the mountain. From there she proceeded to the homes of the Kirata people who inhabit the lands at the bottom of the hills. 16 She saw those places abounding in provisions of all sorts, such as humans and their cattle with their fodder and grass. There were vegetable as well as animal foods, with various kinds of roots and plants. There were eatables and drinkables also, with the flesh of deer and fowls, and even of reptiles and insects.

17 The nocturnal fiend then walked her way under the shade of the deep darkness of night. In her form of the dark mountain of Anjanagiri (unperceived by the inhabitants), she went towards the homes at the foot of Himalayas.