Chapter 47 — A Traveler and a Journey Verify Gadhi’s Dream

Vasishta resumed:—

Soon Gadhi was relieved from the disturbances of his mind at the delusions of the world. He was set to rest from his perturbed state, like the disturbed sea after its waves subside. His mind, freed from its painful thoughts, regained its repose after the troublesome dream passed away. He resumed his calmness, like the god Brahma having his rest after the labor of his creation was over at the end of a kalpa. He slowly regained his senses, like a man waking from sleep and like one gains sobriety after passing off his inebriation.

Then he thought to himself, “I am the same Gadhi doing the same thing I was doing (my sacred bath in the water). All that I have been seeing for so long is nothing. This I see as clearly as men see things after the shade of night is dispersed.” Remembering what he was, he lifted his feet from the water like a lotus bud lifting its head above water in spring after the frost is over.

He thought again, “This is the same water, sky and earth (where I stood before). But what I was just seeing is quite astonishing to me. What am I and what do I see now? What was I and what have I been doing all this time?” He remained a long time with these thoughts, knitted brows and staring eyes. “It was my weakness,” he thought, “that showed me this delusion.” Knowing it for certain, he came out of the water like the rising sun appearing above the horizon.

Then rising on the bank, he thought, “Ah! Where is my mother and wife who attended on me at the moment of my death? 10 Or were my parents dead in the ignorant state of my boyhood, like the parent plant of a young shoot cut off by the sword of death? 11 I am not married and I do not know the form of a wife. I am as ignorant of married love as a brahmin is stranger to the destructive taste of forbidden liquor. 12 I am too far from my country and know no friend or relative to whom I can return to die. 13 Therefore all these scenes that I have seen are no more than the forms of a fairyland pictured in my fancy. 14 Be it as it may, all this is only delusion and dream. We are living dead among our friends. It is all magic and delusion, and nothing is true or real here. 15 Our minds are like wild beasts roaming furiously in the forest of errors which presents endless scenes of delusion to living beings.” 16 Reflecting on these delusions in his mind, Gadhi passed some days at his own house in the woods.

17 Then once he happened to entertain a brahmin as a guest at his house. He had stayed there to take rest from his travels. 18 The visitor was highly gratified feasting upon fruit and flower syrups. He was as refreshed supplied with water as a tree supplied by a plentiful spring that in time shoots forth with foliage and fruit. 19 Then they performed their evening service and turned their beads. Afterwards they took to their beds made of tender leaves and grass.

20 There they began to talk on divine subjects with which they were conversant. Words fell from lips like the sweets of spring season. 21 In the course of their conversation, Gadhi asked his guest, “Why is it sage, that you are so thin and lean and appear to lie so very weary?”

22 The guest replied, “Sage, hear me explain the cause of both my leanness and weariness. I will tell you the true facts, not like a travelling teller of tales, deals and lies.”

23 “In this land, in the forest tracts of the north, there is the great kingdom of Kirapura which is renowned for its riches. 24 I lived in the city there and was honored by its inhabitants. My soul and mind were mightily pleased with the variety of dainty foods that I used to get there. 25 There someone told me by way of gossip that a tribal had once been the king of that country for eight years. 26 I asked the village people whether this report was true, and they all told me with one voice that a tribal had really ruled there for full eight years. 27 But at last, being discovered as such, he immolated himself on a burning pyre, which was followed by the self-immolation of hundreds of brahmins on their funeral pyres.

28 “Hearing this news from their mouths, I departed from that district, intending, O brahmin, to do penance by making a pilgrimage to Prayaga [because the brahmin had polluted himself staying and eating in a city once ruled by a tribal]. 29 I made my chandrayana fast for three days and nights and broke my fast only today. This is why I have become so thin and lean as you now find me.”

30 Vasishta said:—

On hearing this, Gadhi asked a hundred questions of his guest about the matter, to which all his guest’s answers verified what had happened. 31 Gadhi was quite surprised at this story and passed the night till sunrise with his heart throbbing. 32 Waking in the morning, he made his sacred bath and discharged his morning prayers. Then he took leave of his guest and began to reflect with bewildered understanding.

33 He said to himself, “What I saw in my delusion is ratified as a fact by my brahmin guest. I am puzzled to think whether this is magic or a fascination of the conjurer Sambara. 34 What I saw about my death among my relatives was undoubtedly a delusion of my mind. But the latter part of my vision (of becoming a tribal) is verified by the brahmin’s observance of the chandrayana penance for having entered the tribal’s city. 35 Therefore I must fully learn the details about this tribal and proceed immediately to the land of Bhuta district with an undaunted mind.”

36 Thus determined, Gadhi arose to visit the distant district, just as the sun rises over the horizon to visit all sides of Mount Sumeru. 37 He travelled onward and at last reached sight of the country he had seen in his dream, like intelligent wayfaring men reach their desired destinations in distant regions. 38 Finding everything, however unattainable it may first appear, to be attained by perseverance, Gadhi resolved to test of the truth of his delusive dream. 39 He left his home with the swiftness of a stream flooded in rainy weather and traversed many unknown countries, like a cloud passing over distant kingdoms on the back of its airy steed. 40 At last he came to the country of the Bhutas, a people following their own debased customs. He thought he was among a savage people, like a camel searching for thorny thistles is confounded to find it has fallen in a karanja forest.

41 There he saw a city like he had seen in his delusion. In every respect it resembled a place where the gandharva race lived. 42 Proceeding onward, he saw on the other side the land of the tribals which resembled the hell pit of the underworld. 43 It was as spacious as the place he had seen in his vision. He saw his own likeness in the dream appearing in the figures of the tribals, just as one sees the shape of a gandharva or ghost in his dream or delirium. 44 In that dwelling place of tribals he saw with grief and coldness of his mind what he had seen before in his delusion. 45 He saw his own hut flooded by rainwater and overgrown with sprouts of barley and brambles. His hut was left roofless and his bedstead was almost indiscernible. 46 His hut presented the picture of poverty and wretchedness. Its compound was a scene of ruin and desolation.

47 Gadhi stood long gazing upon the dry white bones of bulls, cows, buffaloes and horses that lay strewn over the ground around his hut. He remembered they were the remains of the beasts of his prey and slaughter. 48 He saw the dry hollow skulls lying on the ground which had served as his eating and drinking vessels and which still lay unmoved on the spot, filled with rainwater. 49 He saw strings of dried entrails from the beasts he had slaughtered lying like parched plants on the ground and pining with thirst for rainwater.

50 Gadhi, who was conscious of himself as the brahmin, looked long at his former house and its environs, resembling the dry and dilapidated skeleton of a human body lying unburied on open ground. 51 He stood amazed at what he saw, then withdrew to an adjacent village, as when a traveler returns to the land of the Aryans after a journey in the land of barbarians.

52 There he asked a person, “Sage, do you remember anything concerning the former state of that village and the lives of its tribal inhabitants? 53 I have heard all good people say that knowledgeable men are familiar with the history of all places which they know like the backs of their hands. 54 If you know anything about a good old tribal that lived in that village, and if you remember his adventures, as every one does the past accidents of his own life, 55 and if you are acquainted with the details, then please relate them to me. For it is said there is great merit in directing a stranger and in dispelling the doubts of one hanging in suspense.”

56 The brahmin who was a stranger asked such questions of the village people one by one. They were as surprised at his odd questions as physicians are at a patient’s strange complaints. 57 The villagers said, “It is an undeniable truth, O brahmin, as you say, that a tribal of hideous shape named Katanja lived at that place. 58 He was burdened by a large family consisting of his sons, grandsons, friends and servants. He also had other relatives and kinsmen. His children were as many as fruit on a mango tree. 59 But cruel fate snatched all his family in course of time, like a fire burning down a mountain forest with all its fruits and flowers.”

60 “Then he left his native land and went to the city of Kira where he became king and reigned there for eight years. 61 Afterwards, the citizens came to know of his mean origin and drove him away, just as they remove a harmful and poisonous tree from a garden. 62 He, seeing others immolating themselves on funeral pyres, entered a burning pyre which he had prepared for himself, and thus was purified with others by the sacred fire Pavaka.”

63 “But tell us, O brahmin, why you are so curious about the tribal? Was he a friend of yours?”

64 Being approached in this manner, Gadhi made many more inquiries concerning the tribal, and passed a whole month in several of their houses asking questions. 65 He told the village people everything that he knew of the tribal in his dream, and they listened to him attentively relating the whole story from first to last.

66 Gadhi being informed of all the particulars regarding the tribal, both from the hearsay of the people as well as from his personal observations, returned home equally ashamed and astonished with the disgraceful memory of his past vileness, which was stamped like the black spot of the moon upon the tablet of his mind.