Chapter 4 — Dasharata’s Praise; Rama Asks Vasishta to Continue

Valmiki continued:—

Then King Dasharata made this speech to the chief of sages, speaking in a voice that sounded like a deep cloud and in words equally graceful as they were worthy of confidence.

Dasharata speaking:—

Venerable sage, your speech of yesterday speaks of your intellectual light. It reveals that you have overcome all afflictions by your extremely emaciating austerities. Yesterday’s words have delighted us by their discernment and gracefulness, as if by a shower of enlivening ambrosia. The pure words of the wise are as cooling and edifying to the inner soul as clear and nectar-like moonbeams. They both serve to cool and dispel the gloom of the earth. The good sayings of the great give the highest joy resulting from imparting a knowledge of the Supreme and by immediately dispelling the gloom of ignorance. The knowledge of the inestimable gem of our soul is the best light that we can have in this world. The learned man is like a tree covered by the vines of reason and good sense. The sayings of the wise serve to purge our improper desires and doings, as moonbeams dispel the thick gloom of night.

Your sayings, O sage, serve to lessen our desires and greed which chain us to this world, just as autumn winds diminish the black clouds in the sky. Your lectures have made us perceive the pure soul in its clear light, as the eye-salve of antimony makes a man born blind see pure gold with his eyes. 10 The mist of worldly desires that has covered the atmosphere of our minds is now beginning to disperse by the autumn breeze of your sayings. 11 Your sayings of sound wisdom, O great sage, have poured a flood of pure delight into our souls, just as the breezy waves of nectar-like water or the breath of mandara flowers infuse into the heart.

12 O my Rama! Those days spent attending on the wise are truly cheerful. Otherwise, the rest of the days of one’s lifetime are indeed dark and dismal. 13 O my lotus-eyed Rama, ask now what more you need to know about the imperishable soul, as the sage is favorably disposed to tell you everything.

Valmiki speaking:—

14 After the king had ended his speech, the venerable and high minded sage Vasishta, who was seated before Rama, addressed him.

15 Vasishta said:—

O Rama, the moon of your race, do you remember all that I have told you so far? Have you reflected on the meaning of my sayings from first to last? 16 Do you recollect, O victor of your enemies, the subject of creation and its division into the triple nature of goodness and all, and their subdivision into various kinds? 17 Do you remember what I said regarding the one in all, and not as the all, and the one Reality ever appearing as unreality? Do you retain in your mind the nature and form of the Supreme Spirit that I have expounded to you? 18 Do you, O righteous Rama who is deserving of every praise, bear in your mind how this world came to appear from the Lord God of all? 19 Do you fully retain in your memory the nature of illusion, and how it is destroyed by the efforts of the understanding, and how the Infinite and Eternal appears as finite and temporal in space and time? 20 Do you, O blessed Rama, keep in your mind that man is no other than his mind, as I have explained to you by proper definition and arguments? 21 Have you, Rama, considered well the meanings of my words, and did you reflect in your mind at night yesterday’s reasoning?

22 It is by repeated reflection in the mind and learning by heart what you have learnt that you derive the benefit of your learning, and not by negligently laying it aside. 23 You are a proper receptacle for learning only when you retain a rational discourse and a holy sermon like brilliant pearls in the chest of your capacious and reasoning breast.

24 Valmiki said:—

Rama being thus addressed by the sage, the valiant progeny of the lotus-seated Brahma found his time to answer him in the following manner.

25 Rama replied:—

O sage who is acquainted with all scriptures and creeds, you have expounded sacred truths to me. I have, O noble sage, fully comprehended their meaning. 26 I have deposited everything that you said verbatim in the casket of my heart. I have well considered the meaning of your words during the stillness of my sleepless night. 27 Your words like sunbeams dispel the darkness of the world. Your radiant words of yesterday delighted me like the rays of the rising sun.

28 O great sage, I have carefully preserved the substance of all your past lectures in my mind, as one preserves the most valuable and brilliant gems in a safe. 29 What accomplished man is there who will not bear on his head the blessings of admonitions so very pure and holy, and so very charming and delightful at the same time? 30 We have shaken off the dark veil of the ignorance of this world and have become as enlightened by your favor as autumn days after rain clouds disperse. 31 First your instructions are sweet and graceful, then they are enlightening in the middle, then at the end they are sacred by the holiness they confer. 32 Your flowery speech is always delightful to us by the quality of its blooming and unfading beauty, and by virtue of it conferring our lasting good on us.

33 O sage who is learned in all scriptures, who is the channel of the holy waters of divine knowledge, and who is firm in your protracted vows of purity, cleanse us of the impurity of our many sins through your purifying lectures.