Chapter 52 — The Allegory of Air-Born King Khottha (Mind) and His Grand City

Vasishta continued:—

Once I passed by that way in my invisible body to bathe in the heavenly stream of Mandakini (Milky Way) in the ethereal regions. After my departure from that region by the way of the Seven Rishis (variously the Pleiades or the Big Dipper), I arrived at the place where Dasura lived on his high kadamba tree. I heard a voice from the hollow of the tree in the forest, which was as charming as the buzzing of a bee fluttering about the bud of a lotus.

“Attend my intelligent son!” said Dasura, “to a story that I will tell you by way of a simile of worldly things. It is pleasant to hear.”

Dasura speaking:—

There is a very powerful king renowned in all the three worlds for his great prosperity. His name is Khottha or air-produced, and he is able to grasp the whole world. All the lords of the earth bend their heads lowly under his rule and bear the badge of their submission to him as a great honor, as poor men are proud to carry a bright gem on the head. He exulted in his valor and possession of all kinds of rarities. There was no one in the three worlds was able to conquer him.

His unnumbered acts and exploits are filled with successive pains and pleasures. They are as interminable as the continuous waves of the sea. No one has been able to check the prowess of that mighty brave king by force of fire or sword, as none has ever been able to press the wind in his hand. 10 Even the gods Indra, Vishnu and Shiva have fallen short of following his steps in his ambitious pursuits and in the splendid inventions of his imagination.

11 With his triple form of satwika, rajasika and tamasika qualities (pure, active and passive), he encompasses the world and is able to accomplish all sorts of actions. 12 He is born in the extensive emptiness of the spirit of Brahman with his triple body like that of a bird (flesh, bones and feathers) and he remains in vacuum like air and sound.

13 He built a city in that unlimited space of the universe, having fourteen provinces (the planetary spheres) in its triple divisions of the earth and regions above and below it. 14 It is beautified with forests and groves and pleasure-lawns and hills, and bounded by seven lakes of pearly waters on all sides. 15 It is lit by two lamps of hot and cooling light (the sun and moon) which revolve above and below the city in their daily and nightly courses, as those of righteous and nefarious people.

16 The king peopled this great city of his with many self-moving bodies that move in their spheres quite ignorant of themselves. 17 Some of these are appointed in higher and some in lower spheres, and others move in their middle course. Some are destined to live a longer time and others doomed to die in a day. 18 Their bodies are covered with black skins and hairs and furnished with nine holes which are continually receiving air and carrying it out to keep them alive. 19 They are supplied with five lights of sensation and perception. They are supported by three posts, two legs and a back bone, and a framework of white bones for the beams and bamboo rafters. It is plastered over with flesh like moistened clay and defended by two arms like latches on door way.

20 The great king placed his yaksha of egoism as sentinel to guard this house. This guard is as ferocious as a fierce bhairava manifestation of Shiva in the dark (ignorance), and as timid as a bhairava by day. 21 The masters of these moving bodies play many pranks in them, like a bird plays and frolics in its own nest.

22 This triple-formed king is always fickle and never steady. He resides in many bodies and plays his games there guarded by his egoism sentinel. He leaves one body for another at will, like a bird alights from one branch to another. 23 This fickle minded prince is ever changeful in his will. He lives in one city and builds another for his future home. 24 Like one under the influence of a ghost, he stirs up from one place and runs to another, like a man builds, breaks and rebuilds his aerial castle as a hobby. 25 The mind sometimes wishes to destroy its former frame and move to another, and it effects its purpose at will.

26 After it had subsided to rest, the mind is produced again as the wave of the sea. Slowly and gradually it pursues a different course in its renewed course of life. 27 In his new life, this king sometimes repents of his own conduct and acts, and then laments for his ignorance and miseries and knows not what to do. 28 Sometimes he is dejected by sorrow, and at other times elated by success, like the current of a river, now going down in the hot season, then overflowing its banks in the rains.

29 This king is led by his hobbies like the waters of the sea by the winds. It puffs and swells, falls and rises, runs fast and ceases to flow at once as in a calm sea.