Chapter 75 — Examples of the Living Liberated

Vasishta continued:—

See Janaka, the king employed in the government of his kingdom, yet liberated in his lifetime from his bondage in the world because of his mental release from all its cares and anxieties. Remember your grandfather Dilipa who, though deeply engaged in his state affairs, yet enjoyed his long and peaceful rule owing to the dispassion of his disposition. Think of Buddha who ruled over his people free of all passions and affections. Bring to your mind how Manu ruled his kingdom in peace and who was an example of liberation in his lifetime. Remember how the monarch Mandhata obtained the blessed state of liberation even though he was constantly engaged in various wars and state affairs.

Think of Bali who, while he was confined in the infernal region, conducted himself with virtue and became liberated in his lifetime by his unbounded generosity and lack of attachment to the world. Namuchi, the lord of Danava demons, waged continuous wars against the gods yet was of cool and quiet in his mind. Vritra, the asura demon who fell in battle with the god Indra, was of a great, calm and quiet mind as long as he fought with him. Prahlada, the prince of the Daitya demons, dwelling in the demon world underneath the ground, dispensed his administration with an unruffled and glad mind. Sambara, the demon who was a sorcerer in warfare, was cool blooded like water in his heart, whereby he was delivered from the sorcery of the world, like a fleet deer flying from an arrow. 10 The demon Kusala also, whose mind was not bound to the world, waged an unprofitable war against Vishnu from whom he obtained his spiritual knowledge and his deliverance from this temporary scene.

11 Look at fire, how free and uncompressed it is as it serves as the mouth of gods, permitting the offerings to reach the gods and perform endless works of melting for them. 12 See the gods drinking the juice of soma plants and presiding over the endless functions of the world. They are ever as free as air.

13 Brihaspati (Jupiter) the guru of the gods, and Moon, the pursuer of his wife Rohini, have been continually performing their revolutions without changing their places in heaven. So have the other planets also. 14 Shukra (Venus), the learned teacher of the asura demons, shines in the same manner in the heavenly sphere and runs in his unvaried course while protecting the interests of the asuras. 15 See also the winds, flying freely at all times throughout all the worlds with their charge of enlivening and giving motion to all bodies.

16 See Brahma continuing in the same unchangeable state of his mind, giving life and velocity to all beings which thereby have been continually moving about in the world. 17 Lord Vishnu, though ever liberated from every bond, has been continually employed in his contests and combats with the asura demons as if in sport. 18 The three-eyed god Shiva, though ever free from all concerns, is joined in one body with his dearer half, the beautiful Gauri, in the manner of a lover enamored of his beloved one. 19 The fair Hara (Shiva), though ever free, is bound in the embrace of his fair Gauri and wears a crescent of the fair moon and Gauri as a lace of pure pearls about her neck.

20 The heroic Skanda, vast in understanding and like a sea with all the gems of his learning and perfectly free, made war with Taraka of his free will. 21 Mark how Bhringi, Shiva’s attendant, was absorbed in his meditation and, thinking himself to be freed from the burden of his body, made a free offering of his blood and flesh to his goddess Gauri.

22 Sage Narada, who was of a liberated nature from his very birth and resigned the world and all its concerns altogether, was still engaged in many affairs with his cool understanding. 23 The honorable Vishwamitra, who is now present here, is liberated in his lifetime and yet he does not neglect to preside at sacrifices, solemnized according to the ritual of the sacred Veda.

24 The infernal snake bears the earth on its head and the sun makes the day by turns. The god of death is ever employed in his act of destruction, and still they are all free agents of their acts. 25 There are many others among the yakshas, suras and asuras of the world who are all liberated in their lifetime and still are employed in their respective duties.

26 There are many employed in worldly affairs and many more engaged in different courses of life who remain cold blooded and cool headed within themselves, and as still and quiet as cold stones without. 27 Some attain the acme of their understanding and retire to solitude to pass their lives in abstract meditation. Among these are the venerable Bhrigu, Bharadvaja, Shukra and Vishwamitra. 28 Many among mankind were rulers of their kingdoms and held the exalted canopy and flapper-fans and other emblems of royalty on their heads, and were not less distinguished for the piety and spirituality at the same time. Among these, the conduct of the royal Janaka, Saryali and Mandhatri stand preeminent above the rest.

29 Some among the living liberated are situated in the planetary spheres and therefore are adored by their devotees for their blessings on the world. Of these Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Surya (Sun) and Chandra (Moon) are the deities for gods, demons and humans. 30 Some among the gods are seated in their heavenly vehicles and continually minister to the needs of all created beings, as the rulers of fire, air, water and death, and Tumbura and Narada. 31 Some situated in the secluded regions of Patala (the netherworld) are equally distinguished for their holiness and piety, such as Bali, Subotra, Andha, Prahlada and others.

32 Among beasts of the field, fowls of the air, and inferior animals you will find many intelligent beings, such as the bird Garuda, the monkey Hanuman, the bear Jambavan, and others. Among the demigods there are some who are wise and others who are as muddle headed as beasts.

33 Thus it is possible for the Universal Soul, residing everywhere and at all times the same, to show itself in any form in any being according to its will. 34 It is the multiform law of His eternal decree and the manifold display of His infinite power that invest all things with multiple shapes and diverse capacities, as they appear to us. 35 This law of divine decree is the lord of all and embodies in itself the creative, preservative and destructive powers under the titles of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These names are indicative of the intelligent faculties of the Universal Soul.

36 It is possible for the Supreme Soul to reside in all bodies in any manner it likes. It presides sometimes in the manner of grains of pure gold amidst worthless sands and dust, and at others as the mixture of some base metal in pure gold. 37 Seeing some good connected or resulting from evil, our inclinations would lead us to the evil were we not deterred by fear of the sinfulness of the act and its consequent punishment.

38 Sometimes we see something substantial arising from the unsubstantial, such as when we attain the substantial good of divine presence through the unsubstantial meditation on his negative attributes. 39 What never existed before comes to existence at sometime or place unknown to us, just as the horns of a rabbit, never before seen in nature, are shown to us in magic play by the black art of sorcery. 40 Those seen to exist as firm and solid as a diamond become null and void and disperse in air, like the sun, moon, earth, mountains, and the godlike people of the world before the great flood.

41 Seeing these changes in the state of things, you, O mighty armed Rama, must give up your joy and grief on any occasion and preserve the equanimity of your mind at all times. 42 The unreal (material existence) seems as real and the sober reality (of spiritual essence) appears as a nonentity in nature. Therefore give up your reliance upon this deceitful world and preserve the equanimity of your mind under all circumstances. 43 It is true that you gain nothing by your resignation of the world. On the other hand, it is equally true that you lose nothing by your getting rid of its unrealities. 44 But it is true, O Rama, that you gain a certain good by getting rid of this world, and that is your riddance from the manifold evils and misfortunes which are the unavoidable accompaniments with this life. 45 You obtain the certain gain of your salvation by your resignation of the world, which you can never earn by your attachment to it. Therefore strive for your liberation by purging your mind from its attachments to the world.

46 He who wishes for his liberation must take the pains to have an insight of his soul. A single glimpse of the soul is sure to cut off all the pains and pangs of the world at their roots. 47 There are many dispassionate and disconnected men, even in the present age, who are liberated in their lifetimes, like King Janaka and others. 48 So you too are liberated in this life to the extent you have a dispassionate and unprejudiced mind, and may manage to conduct yourself with your tolerant spirit, like the patient earth, stone and motionless metals.

49 There are two kinds of liberation for living beings. One is in their present life and body and the other after separation of life from the body, both of which admit of some varieties as you will hear afterwards. 50 First of all, the peace of mind that comes from its unconcern with everything is termed its liberation. This peace is possible for the sinless man either in this life or in the next. 51 Lessening of affections is filled with the bliss of singleness, and it is possible both in the embodied as well as disembodied states of life. 52 He who lives in perfect apathy and without his affection for anybody is called the living liberated man, but the life which is bound by its affections is said to be in bondage, or else it is free as air.

53 It is possible to obtain liberation by means of diligent inquiry and reasoning. Otherwise, it is as difficult to attain as it is hard for a lame man to leap over a hole, though as small as the footprint of a cow. 54 For know, O Rama of great soul, that the soul should not be cast into misery by your neglect of it, or by subjecting it through ignorance to its affection for others. 55 He who relies on his patience, employs his mind, and meditates upon the Supreme Soul in his own soul to attain his consummation finds the deep abyss of the world like a small chink in his vast comprehension.

56 The high station to which Buddha had attained by his patience, and from which the Arhata prince fell to skepticism by his impatience, and that supreme good which great minds reach, is the fruit of the tree of diligent inquiry, which like the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree, yields all what is desired of it.