Chapter 65 — The Story of Bhasa and Vilasa

Vasishta continued:—

As long as one does not come to perceive his soul by his effort to break down his own mind, lotus-eyed Rama, one does not get rid of his egoism and selfishness. There is no end to his worldly misery just as there is no setting of a sun in a painting. His adversity becomes as extended as the vast ocean itself. His misfortunes are as interminable as the succession of waves in the sea. The appearance of the world is as gloomy to him as the face of the sky covered by the dark clouds of rainy season.

Here will I recite an old story containing a discourse between two friends Bhasa and Vilasa in a region of Sahya Mountain.

Now Sahya is a mountain mightier than the three worlds in its superior strength. In its height it surmounted the sky, in its extent it got the better of the ground, and with its foot it reached the infernal region. It was filled with various flowers and furnished with innumerable waterfalls. Its precious stones were watched ever by Guhya mountaineers. It was named Sahya or moderate being situated in the temperate zone, yet it was intolerable as a tropic mountain.

Its girdle of sun-stones seemed studded with pearls from the sloping sunbeams falling upon them. Its base with its pavement of gold looked like the golden Lanka island. Here a hill was full of flowers and there another filled with minerals. There were lakes with flowering water plants on one side and shining stones lying on another with nothing beside the light of the divinity, which shines before the internal sight of the holy. Here cascades were hurling and gurgling in foaming froths. There old bamboos were blowing through their hollow pipes. On one side winds were howling in mountain caves, and on another bees were buzzing on clusters of flowers. 10 Apsara nymphs were singing in concert on mountain tops and wild beasts were growling in the forests. Birds were chirping in the gardens, clouds roared over mountain peaks, and birds of the air were crying and flying about the sky. 11 Vidyadharas rested in mountain caves and black bees hummed on the lotus beds. Foothills resounded with the chorus of keratas and woodlands were resonant with the melodies of singing birds.

12 The mountain appeared as if it was the home of the triple world. It had the seats of the gods on its top, the homes of men at its foot, and the holes of snakes under its bottom. 13 Spiritual masters lived in its caves and precious metals lay hidden in its bosom. Its sandalwoods were the home of snakes and its peaks were the haunts of lions. 14 It was crowned with wreaths of flowers hanging on high over its head. Its body was smeared with the dust and pollen of flowers. It was fanned by fragrant breeze of flowers and was all flowery with the fallen flowers. 15 It was daubed with the grey dust of its metallic ores and stood on its footstool of precious stones. It was often the playground of heavenly damsels who frequented its covered shelters to pick mandara flowers. 16 Its peaks were veiled by the blue covering of clouds and decorated with gems hidden under them. They appeared as beauties beaming with the golden sunbeams and rising to meet their loving gods in heaven.

17 On the northern edge of that mountain there was a tableland overhung by trees loaded with bunches of fruits, and also a shining lake formed by the waters of cataracts falling from high. 18 Small flowers from the waving stalks of amra trees lay scattered on the ground, and its sides were decorated with blossoming kolkara and punnaga plants, shining like blue lotuses around a lake. 19 Sunbeams were shut out by the cover of sheltering alcoves of vines, and the ground sparkled with its gems like the floor of heaven. Jambu fruits distilled their juice like cooling moonbeams, and all these made this spot as delightful as the moon light sky. 20 It was delightful as the heaven of Brahma and the celestial seat of Shiva.

Here sage Atri held his hermitage which blotted away the austerities of spiritual masters. 21 In this hermitage there dwelt two hermits, both of whom were as wise and knowing as Brihaspati and Shukra, the teachers of gods and demigods. 22 The two were of one flesh and soul and in time brought forth two children, like two buds of lotuses growing in the same bed, their bodies as pure as the clear lake from which they sprang. 23 They were named Bhasa and Vilasa.

They grew up in time like two orchids upon the branching arms of their parents. 24 They had one soul and mind in two bodies, united to one another as those of two loving brothers and intimate friends. They remained inseparable like oil in sesame seeds and like a flower and its fragrance. 25 The fond parents became even more attached to each other in their hearts and minds from their affection and taking care of their sons who seemed to be one and the same person in two different bodies. 26 The two children of graceful forms also enjoyed each other in the same hermitage. They moved about like two bees over the same bed of lotuses in the same lake.

27 They passed their boyhood and attained their youth, shining forth in a short time as the two luminaries of the sun and moon rising together. 28 Then the aged parents left their infirm bodies and went to heaven like a pair of birds quitting their broken nest. 29 The death of the parents made the youths as dejected as a drooping lotus in a dried-up channel. The vigor of their bodies gave way to a lack of energy. 30 They discharged the funeral rites and remained long in their mourning. The sad accidents of life cannot be avoided even by the good and great. 31 After they completed the funeral rites, they were overpowered by grief and sorrow. They continued to wail over their memory with piteous cries and tears. They sat silently and inactive like pictures in a painting, their melancholy faces and hearts heavy with sobs and sighs.