Chapter 76 — The World Compared with the Ocean

Vasishta continued:—

These worlds sprung from Brahma the creator are upheld by ignorance and become extinct before right reason. The worlds are like revolving circles of water, whirlpools in the ocean of Brahman. They are as numerous as particles of light and as innumerable as the small particles that fly in sunbeams. Imperfect knowledge of the world causes its existence. Full knowledge makes it vanish into nothing.

The world is a dreadful, unbounded ocean that cannot be forded. There is no way to cross it except by the raft of right investigation and diligent scrutiny. This ocean is full with the water of ignorance. Its vast basin is filled with fatal whirlpools and overwhelming waves of discord and dangers. Here goodness and good actions float on the surface as its froth and foams. But they hide the deadly latent heat of hellfire underneath. Here roll the constant waves of greed, and there snores the huge whale, the great leviathan of the mind. It is the reservoir of the endless channels and streams of life running as its streams and currents. It is the depository of innumerable treasures of brilliant gems hidden under its depth. It is infested with the serpents of diseases and the horrid sharks of the senses.

See Rama! Playful women, resembling the shaking waves of this ocean, are able to attract and pierce the hearts of the wise with the hooks and horns of their looks. Their lips are as red as rubies and their eyes are as black as blue lotuses. Their teeth are like blossoms of fruits and flowers and their sweet smiles are like the white froth of the sea. 10 The curled locks of their hairs are like the curled vines of blue lotuses and their twisted eyebrows are like the slanting of little waves. Their backsides are like protruded little islands and their throats and necks are lined like conch shells. 11 Their foreheads are like plates of gold and their graces are like the sharks of the sea. Their loose glances are like splashing waves and their complexions are gold colored like the sands on the seashore.

12 Such is this ocean-like world with its tremendous surges and rolling waves. The role of a mahatma is to cross it by heroic exertions in order to save one’s self from sinking under them. 13 Shame on that man who having good sense for his vessel and reason for his helmsman does not conduct himself across the wide expanse of this worldly ocean. 14 He is reckoned the most valiant man who measures the immeasurable expanse of this ocean (by his knowledge of the infinite soul). 15 He who well considers this world with the learned, who looks into all its hazards with the eye of the mind, and who places his trust in the Lord becomes blessed forever.

16 You are truly blessed, O Rama, having been employed from your early youth to scrutinize this world. 17 Men who consider the world and take it as you do in the same light of a dangerous ocean, are not likely to be drowned in it when they steer their ship in it after due consideration. 18 The enjoyments of the world are to be duly considered by self inquiry before one dares to enjoy them, like ambrosia, before they feed on any other fare like Garuda enjoying snakes as food. 19 He who considers beforehand the employment in which he should be engaged and the enjoyments he ought to share in this world fares well in his present and future life. Otherwise, he falls in danger like an inconsiderate man. 20 The judicious and forewarned man prospers in his fame and fortune and rises in his power and understanding in his life, like trees flowering and bearing fruit in spring.

21 Rama, you will shine with the elegance of bright and cooling moonbeams and with the beauty of perpetual prosperity if you will only begin your worldly career with full knowledge of all that is to be known respecting the world.