1 Rama said, “O venerable sage who is acquainted with all religious doctrines and is versed in all branches of the Vedas, I am set at perfect ease by your holy preaching. 2 I never tire of hearing your speech, which is equally abundant, clear and elegant.”
3 “Sage, you have spoken of the birth of Brahma during your lecture on the productions of sattva and rajas qualities. I want you to tell me more about that subject.”
4 Vasishta answered:—
There have been many millions of Brahmas and many hundreds of Shivas and Indras together with thousands of Narayanas that have gone by. 5 There have also been various kinds of beings in many other worlds, having manners and customs widely differing from one another. 6 There also will be many other productions in the worlds, simultaneous with others, and many to be born at times remotely distant from one another. 7 Among these, the births of Brahma and the other gods in the different worlds are as wonderful as the productions of many things in a magic show.
8 Some creations were made with Brahma as the first born, others with Vishnu and some with Shiva as the next created beings. There were some other (minor productions) having the munis for the patriarchs.
9 One Brahma was lotus-born, another was produced from the water, a third was born of an egg, and the fourth was produced in the air. 10 In one egg the sun was born with all his eyes, and in another Indra as Vasava lord of the Vasus (his attendant gods). In some, one was born the lotus-eyed Vishnu, and in another he with his three eyes as Shiva.
11 In one age a solid earth was born having no holes for the growth of vegetables. In another, it was overgrown with vegetation. In some it was filled with mountains and finally covered by living creatures. 12 The earth was full of gold in some place and it was hard ground at others. It was mere mud in many places and covered with copper and other metals in some. 13 There are some wonderful worlds in the universe, and others more wonderful still than they. Some are luminous and bright and others whose light has never reached us. 14 There are innumerable worlds scattered in the vacuum of Brahma’s essence, and they are all rolling up and down like waves in the ocean.
15 The splendors of worlds are seen in the Supreme like waves in the sea, and as a mirage in the sandy desert. They abide in Him as flowers on a mango tree. 16 It may be possible to count the particles of the solar rays, but not the number of worlds abounding in the Supreme Spirit. 17 These multitudes of worlds rise and fall in the Universal Spirit, like gnats flying and following others in swarms during the rainy season. 18 It is not known how long they have been in existence, what numbers have gone by, or how many remain at the present time. 19 They have been rolling without beginning like the waves of the sea. Those that are past and gone had their previous ones, and they their prior ones also. 20 They rise over and over to sink lower and lower again, just like the waves of the sea rise aloft and fall low by turns.
21 There are many series of mundane worlds like the egg of Brahma which pass away in the thousands, like the hours in course of the year. 22 There are many such bodies beside the world system of Brahma (brahmanda) revolving at present in the spacious mind of Brahma. 23 Many more physical worlds will grow in the infinity of the Divine Mind, and they will also vanish away in course of time, like the fleeting sounds in the air. 24 Other worlds will come into existence in the course of other creations, just as pots come to be formed of clay and leaves grow from germs in endless succession. 25 The glory of the three worlds appears to sight in consciousness just like it exists in the Divine Mind.
26 The rising and falling of worlds are neither true nor wholly false. They are like the bragging of fools and the orchids of the air. 27 All things are like sea waves which vanish no sooner than they appear to view. They are all like paintings impressed on the mind. 28 The world is a perspective, and all things are only paintings in it. Without the canvas of the mind, they are not. They are represented in it like figures on a canvas.
29 Those learned in divine knowledge consider creations proceeding from the Spirit of God like showers of rain falling from water contained in the clouds. 30 Visible creation is no more distinct from God than seawater exuding from the earth and the earth itself, or the leaves and seeds of the simul tree from the tree itself. 31 All created things that you see in their gross or subtle forms have proceeded from the emptiness of the Divine Mind. They are strung together, like a rosary of large and small gems and beads.
32 Sometimes the subtle air is solidified in the form of atmosphere, and from that is produced the great Brahma, thence called the air-born lord of creatures. 33 Sometimes the atmospheric air is condensed into a solid form, and that gives birth to a Brahma under the title of the atmospheric lord of creation. 34 At another time light is thickened into a luminous body, and thence is born another Brahma bearing the name of the luminous lord of all creatures. 35 Again, water condensed at another time produces another Brahma designated the watery lord of creation. 36 Sometimes the particles of earth take a denser form and produce a Brahma known as the earthly Brahma. 37 By extraction of the essences of these four Brahmas a fifth is formed under the name of the fivefold Brahma who is the creation of the present world.
38 Sometimes by the condensation of water, air or heat, a being is produced in the form of male or female. 39 Sometimes from the speaking mouth of this being, and from his feet and back and the eyes, different men are produced under the names of brahmins, kshatriyas, vaisyas and shudras (the four castes of priests, rulers and warriors, those engaged in business, and workers). 40 Sometimes the great Being causes a lotus to grow out of his navel in which is born the great Brahma known as the lotus-born.
41 All these theories of creation are idle dreams, false as the dreams in our sleeping state. They are the reveries of fancy like the whirling currents of water. 42 Tell me, what do you think of these theories in your own judgment? Do they not appear like stories told to children?
43 Sometimes they imagine a being produced in the pure emptiness of the Divine Mind. This they call the golden and mundane egg which gave birth to the egg-born Brahma. 44 It is also said that the first and Divine Male casts his seed in the waters which grows up into a lotus-flower which they call the great world. 45 This lotus is the great womb of the birth of Brahma, and at another time of the sun also. Sometimes the gods Varuna and Vayu are born of it, and therefore they are called egg-born.
46 Thus Rama are the different accounts of the production of Brahma the Creator. Equally various are the descriptions of this un-solid and unsubstantial creation. 47 I have already told you about the creation of one of these Brahmas, and mentioned the production of others without specifying their several works. 48 It is agreed by all that creation is only the development of Divine Mind, although I have described various processes of its production for your acquaintance. 49 The pure (satwiki) and other productions, of which I told you before, have all come to existence in the manner I have described for you.
50 Now know the endless succession of all things in the world. Creation is followed by destruction like pleasure is followed by pain, and ignorance is followed by knowledge, and bondage by liberation.
51 Past creations and objects of affection being gone, others come to rise in future, as lamps at home are lit and extinguished by turns. 52 The production and destruction of all bodies are like those of Brahma and the lamps. They assume their forms in their time, but become an undistinguishable mass after death.
53 The four ages of the world, namely the Satya, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali Yugas (golden, solver, brass and iron ages) revolve in endless rotation, like the wheel of the potter or of any other engine. 54 The manvantaras (ages of Manu, fourteen to a day of Brahma) and kalpa cycles succeed one another like day and night, morning and evening, and the times of work follow those of rest. 55 All worlds and things are under the subjection of time. They are subject to repeated successions, and there is nothing without its rotation. 56 They all proceed of their nature from the vacuum of Divine Consciousness, like sparks of fire flash from a red-hot iron.
57 All things once manifest, are next concealed in the Divine Mind, just as a season’s fruits and flowers disappear after their appearance in season. 58 All productions are only fluctuations of the mind of the Supreme Spirit. Their appearances to our view are like the sight of two moons to weak eyes. 59 It is the consciousness alone that exhibits these appearances to our view. They are always situated in consciousness, though they appear outside it like beams from an inner disc.
60 Rama, know that the world is never in existence. It is a motionless show of the power that resides in the Supreme Spirit. 61 It is never as it appears to you, but quite a different thing from what it seems to be. It is a show that depends on the power of the Omnipotent. 62 The conclusion of the learned holds good to the present time: What world exists since the great will of God (mahakalpa). There is no more any other world to come into existence in future. 63 All this is Brahman to the intelligent, and there is no such thing as the world, which is a mere theory of the unintelligent.
64 The unwise consider the world as eternal from the continued uniformity of its course. But the effect of the everlasting error raises the false supposition of the world. 65 It is their theory of repeated reincarnations. They cannot say anything otherwise, but must conclude the world as such in order to keep pace with their doctrine. 66 But it is to be wondered, if they see the constant perishable nature of all things all around, why do they not consider the world to be destructible? 67 So others (the Samkhyas), seeing the continuous course of the sun and moon and the stability of mountains and seas all about, conclude from these false analogies that the world is indestructible.
68 There can be nothing whatever which does not reside in the wide expanse of the Divine Mind. But as these are only the conceptions of the mind, they can never have any visible or separate form of existence. 69 All these appear in repetition, and also repeated is the course of our births and deaths, as those of pain and pleasure follow one another, and our rest and actions following each other for evermore. 70 This same vacuum and these quarters of the sky, with all these seas and mountains, appear in the recurrent course of creation with their various colors, like sunshine seen through the chink of a wall. 71 Gods and demigods appear again and again and all people come and depart by turns. Bondage and liberation are ever recurrent, and Indras and Somas ever reappear to view.
72 The god Narayana and the demigods appear by turns, and the sky is always revolving with the regents of all its sides, the sun and moon, clouds and winds. 73 Heaven and earth appear again like a lotus flower full open to view, having Mount Meru for its seed core and Sahya Peak for its filament. 74 The sun resumes his course in the maze of the sky like a lion and destroys the thick darkness with his rays, just as the lion kills a huge elephant with his beaming nails. 75 See again the moving moon shining with her bright beams resembling the white filaments of flowers and anointing the faces of the ethereal goddesses with sweet ambrosial light borne by the air and breezes of heaven.
76 Again the holy tree of heaven sheds its heaps of flowers on the deserts of meritorious men as rewards of their virtuous acts. 77 Behold again the flight of time, riding like an eagle on its two wings of acts and actions, and passing with the noise of pat-pat over the vast maze of creation. 78 See another Indra appearing, after the bygone lords of gods have passed away, and taking his seat on the lotus-like throne of heaven like a contemptible bee. 79 Again the wicked age of Kali appears to soil the holy Satya Yuga, like the black body of Narayana fills the clear waters of the deep, or like a blast of wind sweeps the dust of the earth on its transparent surface.
80 Time forms the plate of the earth like a potter, turning his wheel constantly to bring on the revolutions of his creations in successive kalpas. 81 Veteran time, skilled in the work of renovation, withers away the freshness of creation, just like the autumn winds blast the foliage of a forest in order to produce them again. 82 The dozen zodiacal suns, rising at once and burning creation, leaves dead bodies all around like white bones scattered in a country. 83 Again, pushkara and avartaka clouds pour down their rainwater, deluging the tops of the boundary mountains and filling the face of the earth with foaming bubbles swimming on the surface of one sheet of water. 84 After the waters have subsided and the winds have ceased to blow, the world appears as a vast vacuum void of all beings.
85 Again we see living beings filling the earth and feeding for some years upon the moisture of its vegetation, leaving their decayed bodies and being mixed up with their souls in the Universal Spirit. 86 Again at other times, the Divine Mind stretches out other creations, and these are drawn like pictures of fairylands on the canvas of vacuum. 87 Again creation appears to view, and again it is submerged in the waters of the flood, both of which follow one another like the axles of a wheel.
88 Now Rama, consider whether there is any stability of anything in this revolutionary world, other than it being a maze of continuous delusion. 89 The revolution of the world resembles the hallucination of Dasura’s mind. It is a fantasy without any solidity in it. 90 The world appearing so extensive and thickly peopled is only a fancied unreality, like the false appearance of two moons in the sky. Though appearing as real by our ignorance of its nature, it is made of unreality and is not worth reliance.