Chapter 32 — Dama, Byala & Kata Obtain Liberation; On Good Conduct

Rama said, “Tell me sage, how did Dama, Byala and Kata finally obtain their liberation, like all other virtuous souls, and become released from the torments of hell, like children getting rid of the fear of yaksha demons and pisacha ghosts?”

Vasishta replied:—

Hear, O support of Raghu’s race, what Yama said about Dama, Byala and their companions when they asked for their liberation through his attendants in hell. Yama said that Dama and others would obtain their liberation upon death releasing them from their demonic bodies, and upon hearing the account of their lives and actions.

Rama said, “Tell me sage, how, when and from what source did Dama and others come to learn the accounts of their lives, and how they obtained their release from hell.”

Vasishta replied:—

These demons, transformed into fish in a pool by the bank of the great lotus lake in Kashmir, underwent many miserable births in their fish-like forms in that same pond. In that marshy ground, they were crushed to death under the feet of buffaloes. Then they were transformed into the shapes of cranes frequenting that lake of lotuses. They fed upon moss and mushrooms and tender petals of lotuses. They had to live upon the leaves of aquatic plants and vines that floated on the surface of the waves. They swung in cradles of flowers, rested on beds of blue lotuses, dived in vortices of the waters, and flew under the cooling showers of rainy clouds. At last, these charming cranes and herons were cleansed of their brutish foulness by their vegetable food of sweet fruits and flowers and by their pure beverage of the crystal lake, the food of holy saints.

10 Having by these means obtained a clear understanding, they were prepared for their release from their brutish states, like men who become able to distinguish and get hold of the good and virtuous qualities of sattva (purity, balance) and rajas (activity) from the evil of tamas (passivity) are entitled to their liberation.

11 Now in the happy valley of Kashmir there is a city by name of Adhisthana which is surrounded on all sides by mountains and trees. It is very romantic in appearance. 12 In the middle of that city there is a hill known as Pradyumna Sekhara. It resembles a pistil rising from the center of a lotus flower. 13 On the top of that hill there is an building towering above all other buildings, and piercing the sky with its high turrets that appear like pinnacles above its summit. 14 On the northeast corner of that building, there is a hollow at the top of its towering turret. It is overgrown with moss and continually resounds to the blowing winds. 15 There the demon Byala, in the form of a sparrow, built his nest and chirped his meaningless notes, like one who repeats Vedic hymns without knowing their meaning.

16 At that time there was a king in that city named Yasaskara or the renowned who reigned there like Indra over the gods in heaven. 17 The demon Dama became a gnat and dwelt in that building and continued to buzz his low tune in the crevice of a lofty column.

18 It came to pass that the citizens of Adhishthana prepared a playground named Ratnavati-vehara in that city. 19 There resided the king’s minister, Narasimha by name. He understood the fates of human kind, just as the astronomer knows the stars of heaven on a small celestial globe which he holds in his hand. 20 It also happened at that time that the deceitful demon Kata was as reborn as a parrot and became the minister’s favorite, kept in a silver cage in his house.

21 It then turned out that the minister recited the poetic story of the war between demons and gods to the residents of his palace. 22 The parrot Kata happened to hear it. He remembered his past life, whereby he was absolved of his sins and attained his final liberation. 23 The sparrow living on top of Pradyumna Hill also chanced to hear the story of his life in that palace, and he obtained his liberation thereby. 24 Dama, who lived in the palace in the form of a gnat, also happened to hear the minister’s recital of his tale, and thereby obtained his peace and release.

25 In this manner, O Rama, the sparrow on Pradyumna Hill, the gnat in the palace, and the parrot in the playground all had their liberation.

26 Thus I have told you the whole story of the demon Dama and the others, which should fully convince you of the vanity of the world. 27 Only the ignorant are tempted to vanity by their error, just like those led to the delusion of water in a mirage. Even the great are liable, like these demons, to fall low by their error. 28 Think how one of these demons who had reduced the high Meru and Mandara Mountains with a nod of his eyebrows was constrained to remain as a contemptible gnat in the crack of a pillar in the palace. 29 Look at the other who threatened to destroy the sun and moon with a slap, living at last as a poor sparrow in a hole of the peak of Pradyumna Hill. 30 Look at the third who balanced Mount Meru like a flower bouquet in his hand, lying imprisoned as a parrot in the cage at the house of Narasimha.

31 When the sphere of pure consciousness is colored with ego, it is debased into another form and another birth without changing its nature. 32 A man’s wrong desires make him take the untruth for truth, just like a person’s excessive thirst makes him mistake a mirage for water, and thereby he loses both his way and his life.

33 Only those men can cross the ocean of the world who by the natural bent of their good understanding are inclined to study scriptures and look forward to their liberation by rejecting whatever is vicious and untrue. 34 Those prone to false reasoning and heresy by rejecting revelations are subject to various changes and miseries. They lose the best of life and fall like running water into a pit. 35 But those who walk by the dictates of conscience and follow the path pointed by the Vedas are saved from destruction and attain their best state.

36 O high-minded Rama, he whose greed makes his mind always long after having this thing and that thing loses the highest goal of his being (parama purushartha), leaving not even ashes or any other trace behind. 37 The high-minded man regards the world like straw and shuns all its concerns like a snake casting off its skin. 38 He whose mind is illumined by the wonderful light of truth is always taken under the protection of the gods, just as the cosmic egg is protected by Brahma.

39 Nobody should walk in paths that are long and wearisome, crooked and winding, and surrounded by dangers and difficulties. Rahu, the ascending node of the moon, lost its life by its curved course to drink the nectarine beams of the moon. 40 He who abides by the dictates of the true scriptures and associates with the best of men is never subject to the darkness of error. 41 Those renowned for their virtues have the power to bring their destiny under their command, convert all their evils to good, and render their prosperity perpetual.

42 Those who are unsatisfied with their qualifications, and those who thirst after knowledge and are seekers of truth, are truly called human beings. All others are only brutes. 43 Those whose hearts are like lakes brightened by the moonbeams of fame have the form of Vishnu seated in their hearts, just as in the sea of milk.

44 Repeatedly desiring enjoyments of what has been enjoyed and seeing what has often been seen is not the way to get rid of the world. It is the cause of repeated birth for the same enjoyments and sights.

45 Continue to abide by the established rule of conduct, act according to the scriptures and good customs, and break off the bonds of worldly enjoyments, which are all only vanities. 46 Let the world resound with the renown of your virtues reaching to the skies, because your fame and not the enjoyments you have enjoyed will immortalize your name. 47 Those whose good deeds shine like moonbeams and are sung by the maidens of heaven are said to be truly living. All others unknown to fame are really dead.

48 They who aspire to their utmost perfection by their unfailing effort and acting according to the precepts of the scriptures are surely successful in their attempt. 49 Patiently adhering to the scriptures without hastening for success and perfecting one’s self by long practice produce the ripe fruits of consummation.

50 Now Rama, renounce all your sorrow and fear, your anxieties, pride and hastiness. Conduct yourself according to the law and scriptures and immortalize your name. 51 Take care that your sensuous soul does not perish like prey in the snare of your sensual appetites, or like a blind old man falling into the hidden pits of this world. 52 Do not allow yourself to be degraded below the vulgar, but consider well the scriptures as the best weapons to defeat the dangers and difficulties of the world.

53 Why endanger your life in the muddy pit of this world, like an elephant falling in a pit under the keen arrows of the enemy? Avoid and only taste its enjoyments and you are free from all danger. 54 Of what use is wealth without knowledge? Therefore devote yourself to learning and consider your riches to be only trash and bubbles. 55 Knowledge of heretical scriptures has made beasts of men, making them miserable and unhappy by their unprofitable arguments. 56 Now wake and shake off the dullness of your long, deep and death-like sleep, like the torpor of an old tortoise lying in a bog. 57 Rise and accept an antidote to ward off your old age and death. This prescription is knowledge that all wealth and property are for our evil and all pleasures and enjoyments tend only to sicken and weaken our bodies.

58 Know difficulty to be your prosperity and your detachment from the world to be your great gain. Conduct yourself according to the meaning of the scriptures, as they are supported by good custom. 59 Acts done according to the scriptures and good customs produce the best fruits, that of immortality. 60 He who acts well according to good customs, who considers everything by good reason, and who is indifferent to the pains and pleasures of the world flourishes like an tree in spring with the flowers and fruits of long life and fame, virtues and good qualities and prosperity.