Chapter 8 — Reincarnations of Shukra

Vasishta related:—

Thus the son of Bhrigu, in his daydream, believed himself to be enjoying heavenly pleasures. He thought of enjoying the company of his beloved, like the full moon accompanied by the evening star, bedecked with garlands of mandara flowers and inebriated with the drink of ambrosial draughts.

He roved about the ideal lake of heaven (Manasarovar) filled with golden lotuses and frequented by the giddy swans and gabbling geese of heaven. He roamed beside the bank of the celestial Mandakini River (the Milky Way) accompanied by celestial singers. He drank sweet nectar juice beaming like moonbeams in company with the gods. He rested under trees in groves formed by the shaking branches of parijata plants. He amused himself with his favorite air spirits (vidyadharas), swinging himself in hanging cradles formed by the shady vines of the arbor and screening him from the spring sunbeams.

The flower beds of the Nandana gardens were trodden down under the feet of Shiva’s followers, as when the ocean was churned by Mandara Mountain. Tender weeds and willows growing like golden shrubs, and the tangled bushes by the beach of the river, were trampled under the legs of heated elephants, as when they infest the lotus lakes on Mount Meru.

Accompanied by his sweetheart, Shukra passed moonlit nights in the forest groves of Kailash, listening to the songs and music of heavenly singers. Roaming on the tablelands of Gandhamadana Mountain, he decorated his beloved from head to foot with lotus garlands. 10 He wandered with her to the polar mountain which is full of wonders, having darkness on one side and light on the other. Here they played together with tender smiles and fond caresses and embraces.

11 He thought he remained in a celestial abode beside the marshy lands of Mandara for sixty years, and passed his time in the company of the young aspara of the place. 12 He believed he passed half a yuga with his companion on the border of the Milky Ocean, and they associated with the maritime people and islanders of that ocean. 13 Next he thought to live in a garden of the city of celestial singers (gandharvas), where he believed to have lived for an immeasurable period like the genius of Time himself, who is the producer of an infinity of worlds. 14 He again found himself by the celestial seat of Indra, where he believed to have resided with his mistress for many cycles of the four yuga ages.

15 It was at the end of the merit of their acts that they were doomed to return on earth, shorn of their heavenly beauty and fine features. 16 Being deprived of his heavenly seat and vehicle, and bereft of his godlike form and features, Shukra was overcome by deep sorrow, like a hero falling in the field of warfare. 17 His great grief at his fall from heaven to earth broke his frame as if into a hundred fragments, like a waterfall falling on stony ground and breaking into a hundred streams below.

18 With their emaciated bodies and sad minds, they wandered about in the air, like birds without their nest. 19 Afterwards their disembodied minds entered into the network of lunar beams. Then, in the form of molten frost or rainwater, they grew as vegetables on earth. 20 Some of these vegetables were prepared and eaten by a brahmin in the land of Dasarna, the confluence of ten streams. The substance of Shukra changed to the semen of the brahmin and then conceived as a son by his wife. 21 The boy was trained in the society of ancient sages (munis) to the practice of rigorous austerities, and he dwelt in the forests of Meru for a whole manvantara observing his holy rites.

22 There he gave birth to a male child of human figure in a doe (to which his mistress was transformed in her next birth), and became exceedingly fond of the boy, to the neglect of his sacred duties. 23 He constantly prayed for long life, wealth and learning of his darling, and thus forsook the constancy of his faith and reliance in Providence. 24 Thus his falling off from the thought of heaven, to those of the earthly success of his son, made his shortened life an easy prey to death, just as the inhaling of air by the serpent. 25 His worldly thoughts weakened his understanding and caused him to be reborn as the son and successor to the King of Madras.

26 Having long reigned in his Kingdom of Madras by eliminating all his enemies, he was overtaken at last by old age, as the lotus flower is stunted by frost. 27 The King of Madras was released of his royal body by his desire for asceticism, whereby he became the son of a hermit in the following birth in order to perform his austerities. 28 He retired to a bank of the meandering Ganges River and there, being devoid of all his worldly anxieties and cares, absorbed himself in tapas.

29 Thus the son of Bhrigu, having passed in various forms in his successive births according to the desires of his heart, remained at last like a fixed tree on the bank of a running stream.