1 Vasishta continued:—
I will relate to you Rama, agreeably to your request, the story that Brahma himself told me of old. The mind (manas) produced Manu, the progeny of the mind, who begat the Manujas otherwise called men (manavas or manushyas), the offspring of the mind. 2 Once before I had asked the lotus-born god to tell me how these hosts of creation had come to being. 3 Then Brahma, the great progenitor of men, granted my request and related the story of the ten Aindava (Moon-like) brothers in his loud voice.
4 Brahma said:—
All this visible world is the manifestation of the Divine Mind, like circling whirlpools and rippling swirls of water on the surface of the sea. 5 Hear me tell you how I (the personified mind) first awoke on the day of creation in a former kalpa with my volition to create (expand) myself.
6 Previously I remained alone, quietly intent upon the creation at the end of the prior day (kalpa). I had compressed the whole creation in the focus of my mind and hid it under the gloom of the primeval night. 7 At the end of the chaotic night I awoke like from a deep sleep and performed my morning prayers as it is the general law (of all living beings).
I opened my eyes with a view to create and fixed my look on the emptiness all about me. 8 As far as I could see, it was empty space covered by darkness with no light of heaven. It was unlimitedly extensive, all void and without any boundary. 9 Being then determined to bring forth creation, and with the acuteness of my understanding, I began to discern the world in its simple (ideal) form within me. 10 Then I saw in my mind the great cosmos of creation, set unobstructed and apart from me in the wide extended field of emptiness. 11 Then the rays of my reflection stretched out over them from amidst the lotus-cell of my abode, and sat in the form of ten lotus-born Brahmas over the ten worlds of this creation, like so many swans brooding upon their eggs. 12 Then these separate orbs (cosmic eggs) brought forth multitudes of beings to light within their transparent aqueous atmospheres.
13 Thence sprang the great rivers and the roaring seas and oceans, and thence again rose the burning lights and blowing winds of the sky. 14 The gods began to play in the ethereal air, men moved about on the earth, and demons and serpents were confined in their homes under the ground. 15 The wheel of time turned with the revolution of seasons and their produce, and adorned the earth with her various productions by change of the seasons. 16 Laws were fixed for all things on all sides, and human actions were regulated in the Smriti scriptures as right or wrong and producing the reward of heaven or the torments of hell as their fruits.
17 All beings pursue their enjoyments and liberty, and the more they strive for their desired objects, the better they thrive in them. 18 In this way the seven worlds and continents, the seven oceans and the seven boundary mountains were brought to existence, and they continue to exist until their final dissolution at the end of a kalpa period. 19 The primeval darkness from the face of open lands fled before the light and took its refuge in mountain caverns and hollow caves. It abides in some places allied with light, as in the shady and sunny forest lands and lawns.
20 The blue sky, like a lake of blue lotuses, is haunted by fragments of dark clouds resembling swarms of black bees on high. The stars that twinkle in it are like the yellow filaments of flowers shaken by the winds. 21 The huge heaps of snow setting in the valleys of high hills resemble the lofty cottonwood trees beset by their pods of cotton. 22 The earth is surrounded by the polar mountains serving as her girdles, and the circles of polar seas serve as her sounding anklets and trinkets. She is covered by the polar darkness as if by a blue garment, and studded all about with gems growing and glowing in the bosoms of her rich and ample mines and seas. 23 The earth, covered by the ornaments of her greenness of vegetation, resembles a lady sitting dressed in her robes, having the produce of rice for her food and the busy buzz of the world for her music.
24 The sky appears like a bride veiled under the black covering of night, with glittering chains of stars for her jewels. Seasonal fruits and flowers hanging in the air resemble wreaths of lotuses about her body. 25 The orbs of worlds appear like beautiful pomegranate fruits containing all their peoples in them, like the shining seeds in the cells of those fruit. 26 Bright moonbeams, stretching both above and below and all around the three sides, appear like the white sacred thread girding the world above and below and all about, or like the Ganges River running in three directions in the upper, lower and nether worlds. 27 The clouds dispersing on all sides with their glittering lightning appear like the leaves and flowers of air-borne forests, blown away by the breezes on all sides.
28 But all these worlds with their lands and seas, their skies and all their contents, are in reality as unreal as visionary dreams and as delusive as the enchanted city of a fairyland. 29 The gods, demons, men and serpents seen in multitudes in all worlds are like bodies of buzzing gnats fluttering about fig trees.
30 Here time is moving on with his train of moments and minutes, his ages, yugas and kalpas, in expectation of the unforeseen destruction of all things.
31 Having seen all these things in my pure and enlightened understanding, I was quite confounded to think from where all these could have come into being. 32 Why is it that I do not see all that I perceive with my visual organs, like a magic scene spread out in the sphere of my mind? 33 Having looked into these for a long time with my steadfast attention, I called to me the brightest sun of these luminous spheres and addressed him saying, 34 “Approach me, O god of gods, luminous Sun! I welcome you to me!” Having approached, I said, 35 “Tell me what you are and how this world with all its bright orbs came to being. If you know anything of this, then please reveal it to me.”
36 Being thus addressed, he looked upon me, and then having recognized me, he made his salutation, and uttered in graceful words and speech.
37 The Sun replied, “O lord, you are the eternal cause of these false phenomena. How is it that you do not know it and ask me about its cause? 38 But should you, all knowing as you are, take a delight in hearing my speech, I will tell you of my unasked and un-thought of production, which I beg you to listen to.”
39 “O great Spirit, this world is composed of reality and unreality in its twofold view. It beguiles understanding to take it sometimes for a real and at others for an unreal thing. It is the great mind of the Divine Soul that is employed in these constant and unceasingly endless creations for its diversion.