Chapter 16 — Vasishta and Bhushunda Meet; Vasishta’s Question

Vasishta continued:—

I then came before the veteran crow with my brilliant ethereal body, like a bright meteor falling from the sky on the top of a mountain. My sudden appearance startled the assembly, as if they were disturbed by my intrusion. The assembly of the black birds trembled like the lotuses of a lake at the shaking of the gentle breeze. The agitation of the air at my slow descent troubled them as much as an earthquake troubles the waters of the deep. But Bhushunda, who was a seer of the three times, was at not all disturbed at my arrival. He knows me as Vasishta, now in attendance upon him.

He rose from his leafy seat and advanced slowly before me. With sweet sounds like honey, he said, “I welcome you, great sage, to my humble cell.” 5 Then he stretched both hands to me, holding clusters of flowers that he had at his will and then scattered them in handfuls upon me like a cloud scattering dewdrops over the ground. “Take this seat,” said he, and stretched a newly shorn rind of the kalpa tree with his hand. This he had plucked with his own hand. He did not need the help of his attendant crows for this happy task.

On the rising of Bhushunda, the menials also arose from their seats. Then on seeing the sage seated on his seat, they again took their respective seats and posts. Having refreshed myself with the sweet scent of the kalpa vines all about me, all the birds gathered around me sitting face to face with their chief. Having offered me water and honey for my refreshment, together with the arghya worthy of me, the high minded Bhushunda felt the cheer of his mind, then approached me with a pleasing disposition and words as sweet as honey.

10 Bhushunda said, “O lord, after so much time you have favored me with your kind visit, which by its ambrosial influence has resuscitated our tree and ourselves. 11 O great muni who is honored of the honorable, I think that my long earned virtues have brought you here to this place. I would like to know from where your course is bent to my humble abode. 12 You sage, who has long wandered amid the great gloom of this world and know its errors by your infallible experience, must have your peace of mind. 13 What I wish to know is what makes you take this trouble today. We who await your answer will consider it a great favor. 14 By the sight of your holy feet, O venerable sage, we are given knowledge of everything. Yet my obligation at this uncalled for visit emboldens me to ask this further favor from you.”

15 “I know that your knowledge of us as among the long lived has directed your attention towards me and made your holiness sanctify this place by your gracious visit to us. 16 Although I know this is the reason for your visit, yet it is my desire to satisfy myself with the sweetness of your nectar words. That has prompted me to propose this question to you.”

17 In this manner did the long-lived crow, clear sighted with his knowledge of the three times, deliver his question by way of formality.

18 Vasishta answered, “Yes, O king of birds! It is true as you say that I have come here to see your long lasting self. 19 You are truly very fortunate with your serenity, and your wisdom has fortunately saved you from falling into the dangerous snares of this world. 20 Now sage, consent to answer my questions regarding to your great age. Tell me truly. Of what family were you are born and how did you come to know what is worth knowing? 21 Tell me sage, if you remember the length of life that you have passed and if you recollect by your long clear vision how you came to be settled in this lodging.”

22 Bhushunda replied, “I will relate to you all that you ask of me, O great sage. Your great soul shall have to hear it attentively without any inadvertence of your mind. 23 It is certain, O venerable sage, that the topics which deserve the attention of great minded souls like yourselves will prove effective to destroy the evils of the world, just as the influence of the clouds and their propitious rains remove the heat of the sun.”