Chapter 6 — Shukra Imagines Indra’s Paradise

Vasishta said:—

Henceforth Shukra with his closed eyes continued to think of the nymph and indulge himself in his dreams of an imaginary kingdom. He thought that the nymph was passing through the air to the paradise of Indra, the god with thousand eyes. He imagined he was following her closely to the happy regions of the celestial gods. He thought he saw the gods decorated with garlands of beautiful mandara blossoms on their heads, hanging resplendent as liquid gold. He seemed to see the heavenly maidens with their eyes like blue lotuses regaling the eyes of their spectators, and others with their eyes as beautiful as those of antelopes playing with their sweet smiles all about.

He saw also the Marutas (gods of the winds) bearing the fragrance of flowers, breathing their sweet scent on one another and resembling the omnipresent Vishwarupa by their heavenly journey. He heard the sweet hum of bees, giddy with the perfume exuding from the trunk of Indra’s elephant. He listened to the sweet strains sung by a heavenly choir. There were the swans and storks gabbling in lakes with lotuses of golden color in them.

There were celestial gods lying in the tree gardens beside the holy stream of the Milky Way (Mandakini), the heavenly Ganges. These were the gods Yama and Indra, and the sun and moon, and the gods of fire and the winds. And there were the regents of the worlds, whose shining bodies shaded the luster of vivid fire. On one side was Airavata, the warlike elephant of Indra, with the scratches of demonic weapons on his face and tusks gory with the blood of the defeated hosts of demons.

10 Those who were transported from earth to heaven in the form of luminous stars were wandering in their aerial vehicles, blazing with golden beams of the shining sun. 11 The gods were washed by showers falling from the peaks of Mount Meru below, and the waves of the Ganges rolled on with scattered mandara flowers floating on them. 12 The alleys of Indra’s groves were tinged with saffron from heaps of mandara flower dust, and they were trodden by groups of apsara ladies playing wantonly upon them.

13 There were gentle breezes blowing among parijata plants, bright as moonbeams in the sacred bowers and blowing fragrant honey from the cups of kunda and mandara blossoms. 14 The pleasure garden of Indra was crowded with heavenly maidens smeared with the frosty dust of kesara flowers covering them like vines of the grove in their yellow robes. 15 Here were heavenly nymphs dancing in their gaiety at the tune of their lovers’ songs. There were the heavenly musicians Narada and Tamburu joining their vocal music in unison with the melody of the stringed instruments, lute and lyre.

16 Holy men and the pious and virtuous were seen to soar high in their heavenly cars, sitting there with decorations of various kinds. 17 The amorous maidens of the gods were clinging around their god Indra, like the tender vines of the garden twine about the trees. 18 There were guluncha fruit trees studded with clusters of their ripening fruit resembling sapphires and rubies and set like rows of ivory teeth.

19 After all these sights, Shukra thought of making his obeisance to Indra, who was seated on his seat like another Brahma, the creator of the three worlds. 20 Having thought so, Shukra bowed down to Indra in his own mind, as Indra was the second Bhrigu in heaven (i.e., a second father). 21 Indra received him with respect and having lifted him up with his hand, made him sit by himself.

22 Indra addressed him saying, “I am honored, Shukra, by your call. This heaven of mine is graced by your presence. May you live long to enjoy the pleasure of this place.” 23 Then Indra sat in his seat with a graceful face that shone with the light of the unspotted full moon.

24 Shukra, sitting by Indra’s side, was saluted by all the assembled gods of heaven. He continued to enjoy every joy there, having been received with paternal affection by the lord of gods and men.