Chapter 14 — Bhushunda, the Ancient Crow; and Description of Mount Meru

Vasishta related:—

The vast universe, O Rama, is only an evolution of the will of the Infinite Brahman, just as the various representations in a mirage are only variations of sunlight. Here the divine Brahma, born of the lotus-form navel of Vishnu, takes the title of the creator and preserver of all that has been produced by the Supreme Spirit. He is called also the great father of all because he produces the prime progenitors of mankind.

This divine being brought me forth from his mind. Therefore I am called mind-born (manasaputra), a child of the mind of this holy person. He made me settle first in the fixed polar circle of the starry frame where I watched the revolutions of the planetary spheres and the successive Ages of Manu (manvantara) before me. Once when I lived in the imperial court of Indra, the lord of gods, I heard sage Narada and other messengers of the gods talk about many long lived persons. 5 Among those talking was sage Salatapa, a person of great understanding and a man of honor restrained in his speech. He said by way of conversation that on the northeast summit of Mount Meru there was a place full of sparkling gems. There was a wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of the mango kind there which yielded its fruit in all seasons of the year. The tree was covered with fresh and beautiful vines, and a branch extending towards the south had a large hollow in its top that contained the nests of birds of various kinds.

Among them there was a nest belonging to an old crow named Bhushunda who lived quite happy with himself, just as the god Brahma dwells content in his lotus bed. There is no one in the womb of this world who is as long lived as Bhushunda. Not even the gods in heaven can boast of a greater longevity than he among the feathered group, and it is doubtful whether there may be another as old as he in times to come. 10 This old crow was beautiful even in old age. He had become passionless and great-minded by his long experience. He remained quiet with the tranquility of his mind and was graceful as he was full of knowledge of all times. 11 If anyone may have the long life of this crow, his life becomes meritorious and his old age is crowned with wisdom.

12 In this manner, sage Salatapa related the virtues of the bird in full at the request of the gods in heaven. He did not utter anything more or less before the assembly of the gods who knew all things. 13 After the gods were satisfied with the story of the veteran crow, I felt a great curiosity in me to see and know more about this old aged bird. 14 With this desire, I hastened to where the crow was said to rest in his happy nest. In a short time I reached the summit of Meru, shining with its precious stones.

15 The peak of the mountain was flaming like fire with the glare of its gems and red earth, and these painted the upper sky with the bright color of flowery honey and sparkling wine. 16 The mountain shone as brightly as if it were burning with the blaze of the last conflagration. The sky was reddened by their reflection with shades of clouds appearing like the smoke of fire or the blue luster of sapphire. 17 The mountain appeared to be formed by a collection of all kinds of colors on earth, giving it the appearance of the western sky at sunset.

18 The flame of fire proceeding from its crater and emitted through the crevice on its top seemed like the fire of the yogi in yoga, carried up from his bowels to the crown of the head. 19 The reddish peaks and heights of Sumeru resembled his arms and fingers painted with scarlet lac-dye in order to lay hold of his consort, the fair moon, by way of play. 20 The lurid flame of wildfire on this mountain seemed like the burning blaze of sacrificial fires rising to heaven, fed with clarified butter. 21 The mountain with its elevated summit seemed to kiss the face of the sky, raising its fingers in the form of its peaks, their blazing gems resembling the nails of the fingers, in order to count the scattered stars.

22 The clouds roared on one side with the loud noise of drums. On the other, young plants and vines were dancing in happy trees, clusters of flowers were smiling like blooming beauties, and swarms of humming bees were hovering over them. 23 Here the lofty palm trees seemed to be smiling, showing their teeth in their denticulate leaves on seeing the giddy groups of apsara nymphs swinging and loosely strolling about in their amorous dalliances under their shade. 24 There celestials went in pairs to their caves in the mountain in order to relieve themselves of the trouble of trudging over the rugged paths of the craggy mountain. They were clothed in the white vest of the open, and having the stream of the Ganges falling from high for their sacred thread.

25 The white mountain stood like a grey headed hermit, holding reeds as canes in his hand. The celestial inhabitants of the mountain rested under the cover of vines, being lulled by to sleep by the gurgling sound of waters falling from precipice to precipice. 26 The mountain king was crowned by full blown lotuses that grew on its top, regaled by the sweet fragrance which the breezes bore from them. It was decorated with gems of the starry sky on its crown and charmed with the sweet songs of gandharvas playing their tunes on it. 27 His hoary head pierced the silvery region of heaven and was one with the home of the gods.

28 The many colored tops of Meru, emitting the various colors of red, white, black, blue, yellow and gray stones that are embodied in its body, lent the sky its variegated colors in the morning and evening, while the various color blossoms on its tops invited heavenly nymphs to their rambles and sports over them.