1 Vasishta continued:—
These young ladies, so decorated with precious gems and jewels and embellished with strings of brilliant pearls, are like the playful waves of the moonbeams of our fond desires in the Milky Ocean. 2 The side looks of their beautiful eyes look like a cluster of black bees setting on the center of a full blown lotus. 3 To the enslaved minds of deluded men, these beauties appear as charming as spring flowers scattered on the ground in forest lands. 4 Their attractive bodies, which fascinated minds compare with the moon, the lotus flower, and sandal paste for their coolness, are viewed indifferently by the wise as by the unconscious beasts which make prey of them.
5 The wise view ladies’ swollen breasts, often compared to lotus-buds, ripe pomegranates and cups of gold, as a lump of flesh, blood and nauseous liquor. 6 Their fleshy lips, distilling impure saliva and spittle, are said to exude with ambrosial honey and to bear resemblance to ruby and coral and bimba fruits. 7 Their arms with crooked joints of wrists and loins, composed of hard bones inside, are compared with creeping vines by their infatuated admirers and erotic poets. 8 Their thick thighs are like the stems of thick plantain trees, and the decorations of their protuberant breasts are compared to strings of flowers hung upon the towers of temples. 9 Women are pleasant at first, but become quarrelsome afterwards, then fly away in haste, like Lakshmi the goddess of fortune. Yet they are desired by the ignorant.
10 Ignorant minds are subject to many pains and pleasures in this life. The forest of their misdeeds shoots forth in a thousand branches, bearing only sorrowful fruits of misery. 11 The ignorant are bound in the net of their folly. Their ritual functions are the ropes that lead them to the prison-house of the world. The words from their lips, like the mantras and musical words of their mouths, are more for their bewilderment. 12 The covering mist of ignorance stretches out a maze of ceremonial rites and envelopes the minds of common people in utter darkness, just as the River Yamuna overflows its banks with its dark waters. 13 The lives of the ignorant, so pleasant with their tender affections, turn out to be as bitter as hemlock juice when the affections are cut off by the strong hand of death. 14 The senseless mob is driven and carried away like withered and shattered tree leaves by the ever blowing winds of their pursuits. They scatter them all about like the sediments of earth, and splash them with the dirt and dust of their sins.
15 All the world is like a ripe fruit in the mouth of death, whose hungry belly is never filled with all its devastations, for millions and millions of kalpa ages. 16 Men are like the cold bodies of creeping reptiles of the earth. They crawl and creep continually in their crooked course by breathing the vital air, like snakes living upon the currents of air.
17 The time of youth passes like a dark night without the moonlight of reason. It is infested by the ghosts of wicked thoughts and evil desires. 18 The talkative tongue in the mouth becomes faint with cringing flattery, just as the pistil rising from the seed vessel becomes weak under freezing frost. 19 Like the thorny salmali tree, poverty branches out in a thousand branches of misery, distress, sorrow, sickness and all kinds of grief to human beings. 20 Concealed covetousness, like the unseen owl of night, is hidden within the hollow cavity of the human heart resembling the stunted chaitya trees of mendicants. Then it shrieks and hoots out during the dark night of delusion which has spread over the sphere of the mind. 21 Old age lays hold on youth by the ears like an old cat seizing and devouring a mouse after playing with it for a long while.
22 The accumulation of unsubstantial materials, which causes the formation of the stupendous world, is taken for real substantiality by the unwise, just as foaming froths and icebergs in the sea are thought to be solid rocks by an ignorant sailor. 23 The world appears like a beautiful tree glowing with blooming blossoms of divine light displayed over it. The belief of its reality is the plant filled with the fruit of all our actions and duties.
24 The great building of the world is supported by the great pillar called Mount Meru under the great dome of heaven. The sun and moon are the great gateways to this pavilion. 25 The world resembles a large lake over which vital breaths are flying like swarms of bees on the lotus-beds of the living body, exhaling the sweets that are stored in the cell of the heart. 26 The blue roof of heaven appears as a spacious and elevated dome to the ignorant who think it contains all the worlds enlightened by the light of the sun situated in the midst. But it is an empty sphere, and so are the other worlds beyond the solar system to which sunlight never reaches.
27 All worldly minded men are like old birds tied down on earth by the strong ropes of their desires (vasanas). Their hearts move about the confines of their bodies, and their heart strings throb with hopes in the confines of their bodies, like birds in cages hoping to gain their release. 28 The lives of living beings are continually dropping down, like withered leaves of trees, from the fading trees of their decayed bodies, by the constant breathing of their breath of life.
29 Respectable men, happy with their worldly grandeur for a short time, are entirely forgetful of the severe torments of hell awaiting them afterwards. 30 But godly people enjoy their heavenly delights like gods in the cooling orb of the moon, or range freely under the blue sky like heavenly cranes about clear lakes. 31 There they taste the sweet fruits of their virtuous deeds on earth and inhale the fragrance of their various desires like bees sipping the sweets of an opening lotus. 32 All worldly men are like little fishes swimming on the surface of this pool of the earth, while sly and decrepit death pounces upon them like a kite and bears them away as his prey without any delay or remorse.
33 The changing events of the world pass by every day like the gliding waves and foaming froths of the sea, and the ever changing digits of the moon. 34 Time, like a potter, continually turns his wheel and makes an immense number of living beings as his pots, breaking them every moment like the fragile playthings of his own whim. 35 Innumerable kalpa ages have been constantly rolling over the shady stillness of eternity. Multitudes of created worlds have been burnt down like thick woods and forests by the all desolating conflagrations of desolation. 36 All worldly things are undergoing constant change, appearing and disappearing in turns. The changing fortunes of our circumstances, from pleasure and prosperity to pain and misery and vice versa, proceed in endless succession.
37 In spite of the instability of nature, the ignorant are bound by the chains of their desires (vasanas) which are not to be broken even by a thunderbolt from heaven. 38 Human desires are like the invulnerable body of the god Indra which, being wounded on all sides by the demons of disappointment, resumes fresh vigor at every stroke. 39 All created beings are like dust particles in the air flying with the currents of wind into the mouth of serpent-like death who draws all things to his bowels by the breath of his mouth. 40 As all the impure matter of the earth, its raw fruits and vegetables, and the froth of the sea and other marine productions, are carried by currents to be consumed by undersea heat, so all existence is carried to the devouring fire of death to be dissolved into nothing.
41 It is by a fortuitous combination of qualities that all things present themselves to us with their various properties. It is the nature of these which exhibits them with those forms as they present to us. She gives the property of vibration to the elementary bodies which show themselves in the forms of water and air unto us.
42 Death like a ferocious lion devours mighty and opulent men, just as a lion kills a big elephant with his fangs. 43 Ambitious men upon earth are like greedy, hungry vultures on the tops of high hills, born to live and die in their aerial exploits on the wings of clouds in search of their prey. 44 Their minds are like painter’s paintings on the canvas of their intellects, showing all the variegated scenes of the world with various pictures of things perceptible by the five senses. 45 But all these moving and changing scenes are breaking up and falling to pieces at every moment, producing our vain sorrow and grief upon their loss in this passing and aerial city of the world.
46 Animal creations and the plant world stand like passive spectators witnessing and meditating upon the marvelous acts of time, sparing them from time’s destruction of others. 47 Every moment moving creatures are subject to the recurrent emotions of passions and affections, and to the alterations of affluence and want. They are constantly decaying under age and infirmity, disease and death from which their souls are entirely free. 48 Reptiles and insects on the surface of the earth are continually subjected to their tortuous motions by their fate of which they are capable in their underground cells, owing to their want of quiet inaction. 49 But all these living bodies are eaten every moment by all destructive time in the form of death, which like the deadly and hungry serpent lies hidden in his dark den.
50 Trees, however, are not affected by any of these accidents because they stand firm on their roots. Though suffering under heat and cold and the blasts of heaven, yet they yield their sweet fruits and flowers to support and delight all living creatures. 51 Meek yogis who dwell in their secluded and humble cells are also seen to move about the earth, imparting the fruits of their knowledge to others, just as bees living in lotuses distribute their stores of honey after the rains are over. 52 They preach lectures, like bees chanting their buzzing sounds all about, saying that the earth is like a big warehouse that supplies the wants of the needy in order to make them a morsel in the mouth of the goddess of death.
53 The dreaded goddess Kali, wearing the veil of darkness over her face and eying all, as bright as the orbs of the sun and moon, gives all beings all that they want in order to grasp and gorge them in herself. 54 Her protuberant and exuberant breasts, bountiful as the bounty of God, suckle the gods and men and all beings on earth and hills and in the waters below. 55 The energy of Divine Consciousness is the mother of all and assumes the forms of density and thinness and also of motion and mobility. The clusters of stars are the rows of her teeth, and the morning and evening twilights are the redness of her two lips. 56 Her palms are red like lotus petals and her face is as bright as the paradise of Indra. She is decorated with the pearls of all the seas and clad with a blue covering all over her body. 57 Asia forms her middle and the woods and forests form the hairs of her body. She appears in many shapes and again disappears from view. She plays her part in all three worlds as the most veteran sorceress. 58 She dies repeatedly and is reborn again, then passes into endless transformations. She is now immersed in the great ocean or bosom of Kala or Time (Death) her consort, and rises up to assume other shapes and forms again.
59 The great kalpa ages are like passing moments in the infinite duration of eternity, and cosmic eggs are like passing bubbles upon the unfathomable ocean of infinity. They rise and last and are lost by turns. 60 Creative powers rise and fly about at the will of God like birds in the air. It is also by his will that risen creation becomes extinct like the burning flash of lightning. 61 In the sunshine of the Divine Consciousness and under the canopy of everlasting time, creations are continually rising and falling like the fog owls of forestlands, flying up and down under the mist of an all encompassing cloud of ignorance.
62 As a tall palm tree lets its ripened fruits fall constantly upon the ground, so the towering tree of time perpetually drops down created worlds and the lords of gods into the abyss of destruction. 63 The gods also are dying away like the twinkling of their eyes. Old time is wearing away all its ages by its perpetual ticking. 64 There are many Rudras existing in the essence of Brahman and they depend on the twinkling of that god for their existence. 65 Such is Brahman, the lord of gods, under whom these endless acts of evolutions and involutions are forever taking place in the infinite space of his eternal Consciousness and omnipotent will. 66 What wonderful powers are there that cannot possibly reside in the Supreme Spirit? His unchanging will gives rise to all positive and possible existences. Therefore it is ignorance to imagine the world as a reality of itself.
67 Therefore all that appears to you as the changing fortunes of prosperity and adversity, and as the changes of childhood, youth, old-age and death, and also the occurrences of pain and pleasure and of sorrow and grief is the display of the deep darkness of ignorance.