Chapter 79 — The Rakshasi Karkati’s Questions

Vasishta continued:—

After saying so, the fiend began to ask her questions. You should be attentive to them Rama, like the king who told her to go on.

The rakshasi resumed:—

What is that miniscule atomic particle that is one yet many, and is as vast as the ocean, and which contains innumerable worlds like the bubbles of the sea? What is a void yet no void, which is something yet nothing? What makes me and you, and where do I or you abide and subside? What moves unmoved and unmoving, and stands without stopping? What is intelligent yet is as dull as a stone? What presents its variety in the emptiness of understanding?

What has the nature of fire without its burning quality? What is that non-flammable substance that produces fire and its flame? Who is not of the nature of the ever-changing solar, lunar and stellar lights, but is the never changing enlightener of the sun, moon and stars? Who, having no eyes, gives the eye its sight? Who gives eyesight to the eyeless vegetables and the blind mineral creation?

Who is the maker of heavens and who is the author of the natures of things? Who is the source of this world of jewels and whose treasure are all the gems contained in it? What is that monad which shines in darkness and is the point that is and is not? What is that iota which is imperceptible to all, and what is that jot that becomes an enormous mountain? 10 To whom is the twinkling of the eye as long as a kalpa millennium and a whole age only a moment? Whose omnipresence is equal to his absence, and whose omniscience is the same as his total ignorance? 11 Who is called spirit but is no air in itself? Who is said to be sound or word but is none of them himself?

He is called the All, but is nothing at all of all that exists. He is known as Ego, but no ego is he himself.

12 What is gained by the greatest effort over a great many births which, when gained at last, is hard to retain (owing to the spiritual carelessness of mankind)? 13 Who being in easy circumstances in life has not lost his soul in it?

Who, being only an atom in creation, does not reckon the great Mount Meru as a particle? 14 What is no more than an atom and fills a space of many leagues? What atomic particle is measured in many miles? 15 Whose glance and nod makes all beings act their parts as players? What minute particle contains many mountain chains in its bosom? 16 Who is bigger than Mount Meru in his minuteness and who, being smaller than the point of a hair, is higher than the highest rock?

17 Whose light brought out the lamp of light from the bosom of darkness? What minute particle contains the minutiae of ideas without end? 18 What has no flavor and gives savor to all things? Whose presence when withdrawn from all substances reduces them to infinitesimal atoms? 19 Who is it that by his self-permeation connects the particles composing the world and, after their separation and dissolution, what imperceptible power rejoins the detached particles to recreate the new world?

20 Who, being formless, has a thousand hands and eyes, and in whose twinkling of an eye comprehends the period of many cycles together? 21 In what microscopic particle does the world exist as a tree in its seed, and by what power do the unproductive seeds of atoms become productive of worlds? 22 Whose glance causes the production of the world, like from its seed? Who creates the world without any motive or material? 23 Who has no visual organs and enjoys the pleasure of seeing (drishti) and is the viewer (drashta) of himself, which he makes the object of his view? 24 Who has no object of vision before him, sees nothing without him, but looks upon himself as an infinity void of everything visible within it? 25 Who shows the subjective sight of the soul by itself as an objective view and represents the world like the shape of a bracelet in his own metal? 26 Who has nothing existent beside himself, and in whom all things exist, like the waves existing in the waters, and whose will makes them appear as different things?

27 Both time and space are equally infinite and indivisible, like the essence of God in which they exist. Then why do we try to differentiate and separate them like water from its fluidity? 28 What inner cause in us makes the soul believe the unreal world to be real, and why does this fallacy continue at all times? 29 The knowledge of the worlds, whether present, past or future, is all a great error. Yet what is that immutable being that contains the seed of this phenomenal wilderness? 30 What being, without changing itself and before it develops itself into creation, shows these phenomena such as the shape of the seed of the world that becomes the form of a developed forest of created beings?

31 Tell me, O king, on what solid foundation does the great Mount Meru stand like a tender filament of the lotus? What gigantic form contains thousands of Meru and Mandara mountains within its spacious womb? 32 Tell me, what immeasurable consciousness has spread myriads of intelligences in all these worlds? What supplies your strength for ruling and protecting your people, and in conducting yourself through life? In whose sight do you either lose yourself or think to exist

Tell me all these, O clear sighted and fair faced king, for the satisfaction of my heart. 33 Let your answer melt down the doubt that has covered the face of my heart as with snow. If it fails to completely efface this dirt of doubt from the surface of my heart, I will never account it as the saying of the wise. 34 But if you fail to lighten my heart of its doubts and set it at ease, then know for certain that you shall immediately be made fuel to the fire of my bowels. 35 I shall fill this big belly of mine with all the people of your realm. But should you answer rightly, you shall reign in peace. Otherwise, you shall meet your end like the ignorant who are satisfied with the enjoyments of life.

Vasishta speaking:—

36 Saying so, the nocturnal fiend made a loud shout like a roaring cloud to express her joy. Then she sat silently with her fearful features, like a light hearted cloud in autumn.