Chapter 15 — Vasishta’s Visit & Description of Meru and Bhushunda

Vasishta continued:—

I saw the kalpa tree on the top of one of these peaks, surrounded by its branches on all sides and covered with flowers appearing like tufts of hairs on its head. This tree was covered with the pollen of its flowers which shrouded it like a thick mist or cloud. Its flowers shown as bright as brilliant gems. Its great height reaching the sky made it look like a steeple standing upon the peak. Its flowers were twice as many as the stars in heaven, and its leaves doubled the clouds in their bulk and thickness. Its filaments were more shiny than flashes of lightning, and its flower pollen was far brighter than the surrounding sunbeams.

The songs of the gandharvas dwelling on the branches of this tree played to the buzz of humming bees. The nimble feet and waving palms of apsara nymphs, dancing and playing on every leaflet, were double the number of leaves. 5 The spirits of the aerial spiritual masters and gandharvas hovering on this tree far out-numbered the birds that flocked and fluttered about it. The grayish frost which wrapped it like a shiny covering outshone the glossy rind that served for its raiment of fine linen. The top of this tree touched the moon and by deriving its moisture from that humid planet, yielded its fruits of larger size than the orb of the moon itself. The clouds gathering about its trunk had doubled the size of its joints. Gods rested on the trunk of this tree and kinnaras reclined on its leaves. Clouds covered its trees and asura demons slept under its branches.

The apsaras repelled their mates by the sound of their bracelets, as bees put beetles to flight by their buzzing, and sucked the honey from the flower cup to their fill. The tree of desire extends on all sides of the sky and fills the space of the whole world by embodying the gods and demigods and men and all kinds of living beings in it. 10 It was full of blooming buds and blossoms and covered with its tender leaves and leaflets. It was filled with flourishing flowers and graced the forest all around. 11 It flushed with its filaments and abounded with its shining small flowers. With its radiant coverings and ornamented trappings, it was full to provide to the needs of its devotees, and it was ever in a flurry with the playful dance of tender plants and vines all around it. 12 It was fully laden with flowers on all sides and abundant with fruit on all its branches. Covered with copious pollen from its flowers, which it lavished and scattered on all its sides, it became charming and attractive to all hearts.

13 I saw a flock of feathered birds fluttering about the happy covered shelter and resting about the broad branches of the tree. Some were resting within the covering of the leafy tree. Others pecked at the flowers and fruit with their bills. 14 I saw the storks and swans that are the vehicles of Brahma, resembling the digits of the bright moon in whiteness, feeding on fragments of lotus stalks and picking the bulbous roots of arjuna and lotus plants in the lakes. 15 The swans of Brahma muttered the sacred sound of Om, the initial syllable of the Vedas, as they were addicted to it by their teacher, the god Brahma himself.

16 I saw parrots with their blue wings resembling the blue clouds of heaven, their red beaks shining like the flashes of lightning, and uttering their shrill sound like the swaha of the Veda. 17 I also saw the green parrots of the god of fire scattered all about like green kusa grass lying scattered on the sacrificial altar of the gods. I saw young peacocks with their crests glowing like the glistening flames of fire. 18 I saw groups of peacocks fostered by the goddess Gauri, and also the big peacocks that belong to the god Kumara. I also saw the vehicle of Skanda, the peacocks that are versed in knowledge.

19 I saw many heavy and huge bodied birds born to live, breed and die in their natal air, never descending to the ground. These were as white as the clouds of autumn and nestled with their mates in the air. They are commonly known under the name of aerial birds. 20 I saw the goslings of the breed of Brahma’s geese and the younglings of the brood of Agni’s parrots. I saw the peacocks forming the vehicles of the war god Skanda. 21 I saw bharadwaja birds and many other kinds of big charui sparrows. I also saw kalavinca sparrows, little cranes, pelicans, cuckoos, vultures, cranes and cocks. 22 I saw a great variety of other birds such as bhushus, chushus and partridges of many kinds, whose numbers are no less than all the living animals of this earth taken together.

23 Then I began to peer from my ethereal seat, through the thickening leaves of the tree to the nests of the birds, amidst the hollows of far distant branches towards the south. 24 After some time I spied a body of crows at a distance, sitting in rows like leaves of branches, resembling streaks of dark clouds on either sides of the Lokaloka horizon. 25 After a while, I noticed there a lonely branch with a spacious hollow in it. It was scattered over with various flowers and smelling with a variety of perfumes. 26 It was the happy home of virtuous women in heaven who are perfumed with sweet scenting clusters of flowers. There were crows sitting in rows. They were perfectly freed from all cares and sorrows. 27 Their great group appeared like the big body of a cloud separated from the tumultuous air of the lower atmosphere and resting on the calm firmament of the upper sky. There I saw the venerable Bhushunda sitting quietly with his exalted body.

28 He sat there like a sapphire shining prominently among fragments of glass. He appeared to have a brave heart and mind, and of a dignified and graceful appearance. 29 Being heedful of the rule of the restriction of his respiration and suppression of his voice, he was quite happy with his long longevity and was renowned everywhere as a long lived seer. 30 He witnessed the course of ages and aeons, marking their advent and exodus in repeated succession, and thereby was known as the time-worn Bhushunda in this world, being of stout and unflinching mind. 31 He was weary with counting revolutions of kalpa cycles and the returns of the preserving divinities of the world, such as the Shivas, Indras, the gods of the winds, and others. 32 He was the chronicler of all antiquity, the recorder of the wars of the gods and demons and the hurling of high hills in heaven. Yet he was of a clear countenance and profound mind. He was complacent to all and his words were as sweet as honey.

33 This old seer had direct experience of all that was unknown and indistinct to others. He had no egotism or selfishness. He was the lord over all his friends and children, and his servants and their seniors. He was the true narrator of all things at all times. 34 His speech was clear and graceful, sweet and pleasing. His heart was tender like a cooling lake and as soft as a lotus flower. He was acquainted with all usages and customs, his knowledge was deep and profound, and he was ever the serene in appearance.