Chapter 58 — Legend of King Suraghu; His Doubt and Sage Mandavya’s Teaching

Vasishta said:—

Rama, let me tell you an old legend to illustrate this subject. It is the story of the Kirata Chief Suraghu, which is marvelous in its nature.

There was a land in the north which was as white with its snowfalls as a heap of camphor, and which seemed to smile like the clear night under the moonbeams of the bright fortnight. It was situated on the summit of Himalaya called Mount Kailash. It was free from mountain elephants and the chief of all other peaks. It was milk-white like the bed of Vishnu in the Milky Ocean, and as bright as the paradise of Indra in heaven. It was fair as the seat of Brahma in the core of the lotus, and as snow-white as the snowy peak of Kedarnath, the favorite seat of Shiva. 5 It appeared like the surging sea owing to the waving of rudraksha trees over it, the parade of the apsara nymphs about it, and the reflections of its various gems. The playful pramathas and other demigods merrily sported here as gaily as blossoms of asoka plants tossed by the feet of wanton damsels. Here the god Shiva wanders about and sees waterfalls receding into the caves of the mountain diluting the moon-stones contained in them.

By Mount Kailash there was a place enclosed by trees, plants, creepers and shrubs of various kinds, intersected by lakes, hills and rivers, and interspersed by herds of deer and does of various species. That was where a Kiratas people called Hemajatas (yellow-haired) lived. They were as numerous as ants living at the foot of a big banyan tree. 10 They lived like owls in the shades and hollows of trees and subsisted upon the fruits and flowers and herbage of the nearby forests and by felling and selling the rudraksha woods of Mount Kailash.

11 They had a chief among them who was noble-minded and brave to defeat his enemies. He was the arm of the goddess of victory and he stretched it to protect his people. 12 His name was Suraghu. He was mighty killing his brave and dreadful enemies. He was powerful like the sun and as strong as the god of wind in his figure. 13 In the extent of his kingdom, dignity and riches, he surpassed Kubera, the lord of the Guhyakas. He was greater in wisdom than the guru of the lord of gods, and he excelled the teacher of the asura demons in learning.

14 He discharged his royal duties by giving rewards and punishments as he saw men deserve them. He was firm in the acquittal of his duties as the sun in making the day and his daily course. 15 He began to think about the pain or pleasure that his punishments and rewards caused his people, and to which they were like birds caught in nets from their freedom of flight. 16 “Why do I forcibly pierce the hearts of my people,” he thought, “like they bruise sesame seeds for oil? It is plain that all persons are susceptible of pain and affliction like myself. 17 Yes, they are all capable of pain. Therefore I will cease to inflict them anymore, but give riches and please everyone.”

18 “But if I refrain from punishing those who torment the good, the wicked are sure to eliminate good, just as a river bed dries up for lack of rain. 19 I am in such a painful dilemma! My punishment and mercy to men are both grievous to me, or pleasing and unpleasing to me by turns.” 20 Being in this manner much troubled in his mind, his thoughts disturbed his spirit like waters in whirlpools.

21 It happened one time that sage Mandavya met him at his house, just like the divine sage Narada, in his journey through the regions of the sky, meets Indra in his celestial abode. 22 The king honored the sage with reverence and asked that he remove his doubt, as they cut down a poisonous tree in the garden with the stroke of the axe at its roots.

23 Suraghu said, “I am supremely blessed, O sage, at your call at my place, which has made me as joyful as the visit of spring on the surface of the earth and gives a fresh bloom to the fading forest. 24 Your visit, O sage, has made me more blessed than the blessed, and makes my heart bloom like the rising sun opens closed lotus petals.”

25 “O lord, you are acquainted with all truths and you are quite at rest in your spirit. Therefore please remove this doubt from my mind, as the sun displaces the darkness of night by his beams from the east. 26 A doubt festering in the heart is said to be the greatest pain of man, and this pain is healed only in the society of the good and wise.”

27 “The thoughts of my rewards and punishments to my subjects have been tormenting my heart, just as scratches inflicted by a lion’s claws afflict the bruised body of the elephant. 28 Therefore, O sage, remove my pain and cause the sunshine of peace and equanimity to brighten the gloom of my mind.”

29 Mandavya replied:—

O prince, through one’s self-exertion, self-dependence and self-help the doubts of the mind are melted down like snow under sunshine. 30 It is also by self-discrimination that all mental anguish is quickly put to an end, just as thick mists and clouds are dispersed in autumn. 31 One must consider the nature and powers of one’s own internal and external organs, and the faculties of his body and mind.

32 Consider in your mind. What am I, and what are all these things and where do they come from? What does our life mean and what is this death that waits upon it? 33 As you come to know your true nature by your introspection into the state of your mind, you will remain unchanged by your joys and grief, like a firm rock. 34 As the mind is freed from its habitual unsteadiness and feverish heat, it regains its former tranquility, just like a rolling wave returns to the state of still water from which it arose. 35 As the mind remains aloof in living liberated men, all its imaginations are wiped off, just like its impressions and memories of past lives are lost and effaced upon its rebirth.

36 The dispassionate are honored as the most fortunate among mankind on earth. The man knowing this truth and remaining self-contented is regarded as venerable father by everybody. 37 When you come to see the greatness of your soul by the light of reason, you will find you are of greater magnitude than the extent of the sky and ocean put together. You see the rational comprehensiveness of the mind has more meaning in it than the irrational comprehension of the spheres.

38 When you attain such greatness, your mind will no longer dive into worldly affairs, just as a big elephant will not fall into a hole made by a bullock’s hoof. 39 But the base and debased mind will plunge itself in mean and vile matters of the world, just as the contemptible gnat drowns in a drop of water in a little hole. 40 Greed drives little minds to dive into dirty affairs, like insects moving about in dirt. Their miserliness makes them covet all outward things. 41 But great minds avoid taking notice of outward things in order to behold the pure light of Supreme Soul shining in themselves.

42 Ore is cleared and washed until pure gold is obtained. Spiritual knowledge is to be cultivated by men until spiritual light fills their souls. 43 Always see all things with a universal view in all places, with utter indifference to the varieties of their outward forms and figures. See all with the eye of your soul fixed to one Universal Soul pervading the whole. 44 Until you are free from seeing particular specialties, you can have no sight of the Universal Spirit. After all particulars disappear, there remains the universal, transcendental spirit. 45 Until you get rid of all individuality, it is impossible for you to come to the knowledge of universality, much less comprehend the all-comprehending soul of all.

46 When one endeavors to know the Supreme Soul with all his heart and soul and sacrifices all other objects to that end, then only is it possible for him to know the Divine Soul in its fullness. 47 Therefore forsake seeking anything for your own soul. Only by leaving all other things can you come to the sight of the best of things.

48 All these visible objects which appear to be linked together by the concatenation of causes and their effects are the creation of the mind. The mind combines them together like a string ties together a necklace of pearls. That which remains after expunging the mind and its created bodies is the sole soul, and this is that Supreme Soul.