Chapter 29 — The World Full with Supreme Soul; Shiva Explains the Best Way to Worship God

Valmiki relates:—

Hearing the sage’s discourse, Rama remained calm with his mind unconsciousness, his spirits tranquil, and his soul full of bliss. The entire audience being quiet, calm and silent, the sage withheld his speech for fear of disturbing their spiritual repose. The sage stopped distilling the drops of his ambrosial speech after the hearts of the audience were lulled to rest by their draughts, just as the clouds cease to drop rain after they penetrate the hearts of ripened grains.

After a while, as Rama and the rest were roused from their mental inactivity, the eloquent Vasishta resumed his discourse to explain his former lecture.

5 Vasishta said:—

Rama, now you are fully awakened to light and have attained knowledge of yourself. Hence forward remain fixed to the only true object on which you must place your faith. Never set your feet on the field of the false phenomenal world.

The wheel of the world is continually revolving round the center of desire. Put a peg in its axis and it will stop from turning about its pole. If you are slack fastening the hub of your mind by your heroic efforts, it will be hard for you to stop the wheel of the world which runs faster the more you slacken your mind. Exert your heroic courage with the aid of your mental powers and wisdom. Stop the motion of your heart which is the center of the wheeling course of the world. Know that everything is obtainable by means of courageous effort joined with good sense and good nature and assisted by a knowledge of the scriptures. Whatever is attained by these cannot be attained by any other means. 10 Relinquish your reliance on destiny which is a creation of childish imagination. Rely on your own efforts and govern your heart and mind for your lasting good.

11 The unsubstantial mind which appears to have substance has had its rise since the creation of Brahma. It has taken a wrong and false course of its own. 12 The unreal and false mind weaves and stretches out a lengthening web of its equally unreal and false conceptions, which afterwards leads the mind to mistake it for a substantial world. 13 All these bodies seen to move around us are the products of the fancies and fond desires of the mind. Though these frail and false bodies cease to exist forever, yet the mind and its wishes are imperishable, showing themselves either in the mind’s reproductions in various forms, or they become altogether extinct in their total absorption in the Supreme Spirit.

14 A wise man is not led away by seeing the pain or pleasure of the soul on the face of man. A sorrowful and weeping face is the indication of pain, and a cheerful and tearless face is the sign of pleasure.

15 You see a man in two ways, one with his body and the other his representation in a picture or statue. Of these the former kind is more frail than the latter because the embodied man is beset by troubles and diseases in his fading, moldering, decaying and dying body, whereby the other is not. 16 The fleshy body is assuredly doomed to die in spite of all our efforts for its preservation, but a body in a portrait being taken good care of, lasts for ages with its undiminished beauty. 17 As the living body is sure to die despite all your care for it, the pictured body must be considered far better than the false and fancied fleshy body produced by will of the mind. 18 The quality and stability that abide in a pictured body are not to be found in the body of the mind. Therefore the living body of flesh is more insignificant than its image in a picture or statue.

19 Think now, O sinless Rama, what reliance is there in this body of flesh, a production of your long fostered desire and a creature of your brain? 20 This body of flesh is more contemptible than those ideal forms which our dreams and desires produce in our sleeping and waking states because the creature of a momentary desire is never attended with long or lasting happiness or misery. 21 The bodies produced by our long desire continue for a longer time and are subjected to a longer series of miseries in this world.

22 The body is a creature of our fancy, neither a reality nor an unreality in itself. Yet ignorant people are fondly attached to it, only to prolong their misery. 23 As the destruction of a man’s portrait does no harm to him, and as the loss of an imagined city is no loss to the city, so the loss of anyone’s much desired body is no loss to him in any way. 24 Again, as the disappearance of the moon’s halo is no deprivation of the moon itself, and as the fleeting passing of a dream world does not annihilate the external world, 25 and as the disappearance of water from the sunny banks of rivers is no deprivation of the river’s water, so the creations of fancy which are not negative in their nature cannot destroy what is positive or do any damage to the machine of the body, and can never injure the disembodied soul.

26 The body is a piece of work created by the architect of the mind in its dreaming sleep walking over the sleeping world. Its decoration or disfigurement is of no essential advantage or disadvantage to the inner soul. 27 There is no end of Consciousness in its extent, or any motion of the soul from its place. There is no change in the Divine Spirit of Brahman, nor do any of these decay with the decline of the body.

28 In its delirium, the inner core of the mind sees spheres over spheres revolving in empty air, like an inner, smaller wheel making an outer, larger wheel turn about it. 29 By its primitive and causeless error, the mind views the constant rotation of bodies both inside and outside of it. Some are moving forward, others are falling down, and many have dropped below. 30 Seeing the rise and fall of these rotating bodies, a wise man must rely on the firmness of his mind and not allow himself to be led away by these repeated successive rotations.

31 Fancy forms the body and error makes the unreal appear as real. The formations of fancies and the fabrications of untruth cannot have any truth or reality in them. 32 The unreal body appearing as real is like the appearance of a snake in a rope. All the affairs of the world are quite untrue and false, appearing as true only for the time being.

33 Whatever a person does unawares is never accounted as the person’s own action. Hence everything done by senseless bodies is not considered as done by them. 34 Will is the active agent of its actions, and this being so, neither the inactive body nor the unchanging soul is the actor of any action. 35 The inert body has no will or effort, so it never is the doer of any act desired by its presiding soul. It is only from the perspective of the soul viewing the action that sees it so. 36 Like the still flame of a lamp burning in still air, the silent and steady soul dwells as a witness to all things and acts that exist and go on in the world.

37 The celestial, luminous orb of the day regulates the daily works of the living world from his seat on high. In the same way, O Rama, administer the affairs of your state from your elevated seat on the royal throne.

38 Thinking one’s being or ego resides in the body is like children seeing ghosts in empty space. 39 The learned are at a loss to explain how unsubstantial ego, which is like an empty ghost, takes possession of the inner body under the name of mind. 40 Never enslave yourself, O wise Rama, to this ghost of your egoism which like a ghostly light leads you to a limbo lake or a bog of hell. 41 The mad and giddy mind, with its capricious desires and whims, plays its foolish pranks in its home in the body like a hideous demon dancing in a dreary desert. 42 The demonic mind, having made its way into the hollow heart of the human body, plays its fantastic parts in such an odd manner that wise men shut their eyes against the sight and sit in their silent contemplation of the secluded soul. 43 After the demon of the mind is driven out, there is no more fear for anyone. All can peacefully dwell in the body as nobody is afraid of living in a deserted and desolate city.

44 It is astonishing that men should place any reliance on their bodies or consider them as their own when they have had thousands of such bodies in repeated prior births, and when they invariably were infested by the demon of the mind. 45 They who die in the grasp of the cannibal of the mind have minds like those of pisacha cannibals in their future births, and never of any other kind of being. 46 The body possessed by the demon of egoism is consumed by the fires of the triple afflictions of local, natural and accidental evils. It is not to be relied upon as anyone’s safe or lasting abode. 47 Therefore, stop dancing with your mind and cease following the dictates of your individual, selfish ego. Let you mind be extended and elevated by forgetting your individual ego in your magnanimity. Rely only on the Supreme Spirit.

48 Hellish people, seized and possessed by the devils of ego, are blinded in their self-delusion and giddiness. They are abandoned by their fellows and friends, just as they are unfriendly to others in this world. 49 Whatever action is done by one bewitched by his ego grows up like a poisonous plant and produces the fatal fruit of death. 50 An ignorant man elated by his egoistic pride is lost both to his reason and his patience. One who is attached to the former by his neglect of the latter is quickly approaching his destruction. 51 The simpleton seized by the devil of egoism is made into fuel for the fires of hell. 52 When the snake of egoism hisses hard in the hollow heart of the tree of the body, it is sure to be cut down by the relentless hand of death who like a wood cutter fells the harmful tree to the ground.

53 O Rama who is the greatest among the great, never look at the demon of egoism, whether it may reside in your body or not, because the very look of it is sure to delude anyone. 54 If you disregard, deride or drive away the demon of egoism from the recess of your mind, there is no damage or danger that it can ever bring upon you in any way. 55 Rama, though the demon of egoism may play all its freaks in its abode of the body, in no way can it affect the soul which is quite aloof of it. 56 Egoism brings a great many evils upon those who have their minds weakened by its influence. It requires hundreds of years to count and recount their harmful effects. 57 Rama, the despotic power of egoism makes men groan under its bondage, constantly uttering piteous exclamations, “We are dying and burning” and such other bitter cries. 58 The soul is free to wander everywhere without having any connection with anyone’s ego, just as the ubiquity of the all pervading sky is unconnected with anything in the world.

59 Whatever is done or taken in by the body in its connection with the airy thread of life, all this is the doing of egoism which empties and impels the body to all its various actions. 60 The quiet and still soul causes all the efforts of the mind, just as the inactive vacuum is the material cause of the growth of trees. 61 Owing to the presence of the soul, the mind develops itself in the form of the body and all its members, just as the presence of light makes a room display its contained objects to sight.

62 Rama, think about the relationship between the ever unconnected soul and mind. It resembles the lack of relation between the disconnected earth and sky, or between light and darkness, or between consciousness and gross bodies. 63 Those who are ignorant of the soul see the mind as quiet after its motion and fluctuation are stopped by pranayama restraint of respiration. 64 But the soul is self-luminous, everlasting, omnipresent and super-eminent. The mind is deceptive and the ego is situated in the heart with too much pride and vanity. 65 In reality you are the all-knowing soul and not the ignorant and deluded mind. Therefore drive away your delusive mind from the seat of the soul because mind and soul can never meet or agree.

66 The mind, like a demon, has also taken possession of the empty house of the body. Like an evil spirit, the mind has silenced and overpowered the intangible soul in it. 67 Whatever you are, remain only quiet in yourself by driving away the demon of your mind, because it robs you of your best treasure of patience and loads all kinds of evils upon you.

68 A man seized by the hungry yaksha demon of his own mind has no chance for any release from the demon’s grasp, either by the lessons of the scriptures or by the advice of his friends, relatives and teachers. 69 A man who has appeased the demon of his mind is capable of being released from its clutches by scriptures and friends just as it is possible to free a deer from a shallow quagmire. 70 All things seen stored in this vacant city, the empty world, are all polluted by the cravings of the mind that licks them from inside the house of its body. 71 Tell me, who is not afraid in this dreary wilderness of the world, infested in every corner by the demonic mind? 72 There are some wise men in this city of the world who enjoy the abodes of their bodies in peace, having tranquilized the demon of their minds.

73 Rama, all the countries that we hear of in any part of the world are found to be full of senseless bodies in which the giddy demons of delusion reside in the cemetery that is the body. 74 Let people rely on their patience and reconsider their souls by their own efforts. Otherwise they will wander about in the forest of this world like lost children. 75 Men wander in this world like herds of male deer in burning deserts. But Rama, take care never to live content grazing on dry grass like a young and helpless deer. 76 Foolish men graze like a young male deer in their pastures in the wilderness of this world. But you, Rama, must stir yourself to kill the great elephant of ignorance and pursue the courageous course of subduing everything in your way.

77 Do not allow yourself, O Rama, to ramble about like other men who wander like senseless beasts in their native forests of Asia. 78 Do not sink yourself like foolish bullocks in the mud of your relatives and friends. For a while it appears to you like a cold bath, but then it daubs you with its mud and mire. 79 Drive away your desire of bodily enjoyments and follow the steps of respectable men. Having well considered the sole object of your soul, attend to your soul only. 80 It is not proper that you should plunge yourself into a sea of intolerable cares and troubles for the sake of your impure and frail body, which is only a trifle compared to the inestimable soul.

81 The body of the ignorant is the product of one thing and is possessed by another which puts a third one to the pain of its support and affords its enjoyment to a fourth one, all like a complicated machinery of many powers. 82 As solidity is the only property of stone, so the soul has the single property of its being. The existence of the soul being common in all objects, it is impossible for anything else to exist beside it. 83 As thickness is the property of stone, so the mind and others are only properties of the soul. There is nothing distinct from the common entity of the soul. It is impossible for anything to have a separate existence. 84 As density relates to the stone and dimension bears relation to the pot, so the mind and all other things are not distinct from one common existence of the soul.

85 Hear another view of spiritual light for dispelling the darkness of delusion, as it was revealed to me in a cave of Mount Kailash. 86 There is a mountain peak, bright as the collected mass of moonbeams and penetrating the dome of heaven, where the god with the crescent moon on his forehead (Shiva) delivered this doctrine to me to ameliorate the miseries of the world. 87 This mountain peak, famed by the name of Kailash, is the dwelling of the consort of Gauri, the god Hara who wears the crescent moon on his head.

88 Long ago I once dwelt on that mountain to worship this great god. I constructed my hermit-cell on the bank of the holy stream of Ganges. 89 I remained there practicing ascetic austerities and performing my holy tapas. The place had many bodies of adepts discoursing on subjects of the sacred scriptures. 90 I made baskets to be filled with flowers for my worship and to store my collection of books. I was employed in other sacred tasks in the forest gardens of Mount Kailash.

91 While I was passing my time discharging the austerities of my penance, it happened on the eighth day of the dark side of the moon of the month of Sravana. 92 After evening twilight was over and sunlight had faded away from the four quarters of the sky, all objects became invisible and stood enraptured in their saint-like silence. 93 It was after half of the first watch of the night had passed. A thick darkness passed over the gardens and woodlands that required a sharp sword to cut it. 94 My intense meditation was broken at this instant, and my trance gave way to the sight of outward objects. I kept looking at them for some time, then I saw a flaming fire suddenly rising in the forest.

95 It was bright as a big white cloud and as brilliant as the shining orb of the moon. It illuminated the gardens on all sides. I was struck with amazement at the vision. 96 As I studied it with the sight of my understanding, the mental vision that was glowing in my mind, I came to see the god Shiva with the crescent of the moon on his forehead, manifest and standing on the tableland. 97 With his hand clasping the hand of Gauri, he was led onward by his attendant Nandi walking before him.

After telling my pupils about the vision, I proceeded forward with an appropriate offering in my hand. 98 Led by the sight, I came before the presence of the god with a glad mind. Then I offered handfuls of flowers to the three-eyed god from a distance, in token of my reverence to him. 99 After giving the offering (arghya) worthy of him, I bowed down before the god and approached him. He cast his kind look upon me from his moon-bright and clear sighted eyes. 100 Being blessed by his gracious look, which took away all my pain and sin from me, I did my homage to the god who was seated on the flowery level land viewing the three worlds lying open before him. 101 Then advancing forward, I offered him the arghya of flowers and water that I had with me, and scattered on him heaps of the mandara flowers that grew there. 102 Then I worshipped the god with repeated obeisance and praise, then adored goddess Gauri with the same kind of homage, then her attendant goddesses and demigods.

103 After my adoration was over, the god having the crescent moon on his head spoke to me, who was seated by him, with speech as mild as the cooling beams of the full moon. 104 “Say, O brahmin, whether your affections are at peace within yourself and have found their rest in the Supreme Spirit. Are your blissful feelings settled in the true object of divine essence? 105 Is your tapas going on unobstructed by the demons of your passions? Does joy attend you? 106 Have you obtained the obtainable One that is alone to be obtained? Are you set above the fears that constantly hunt all mankind?”

107 After the lord of gods and the sole cause of all created beings spoke in this manner, I replied submissively with the following words. 108 “O Lord, there is nothing unattainable, nor is there anything to be feared by anyone who remembers the three-eyed god at all times, and whose hearts are filled with bliss by their constant thoughts of you. 109 There is no one in the womb of this world, in any country or quarter, or in the mountains or forests, who does not bow down his head before you.”

110 “Those whose minds are entirely devoted to their thoughts of you get the rewards of the meritorious acts of their past lives. They water the trees of their present lives to produce their manifold fruit in future births and lives. 111 Lord, your remembrance expands the seed of our desire. You are the jar of the nectar of our knowledge. You are the reservoir of patience, just as the moon is the receptacle of cooling beams. 112 Your remembrance, Lord, is the gateway to the city of salvation. I consider your remembrance as the invaluable gem of my thoughts. 113 O Lord of creation, your remembrance sets its foot on the head of all our disasters.”

114 Having said this much, I bowed down lowly before the pleasing deity. Then I addressed him, O Rama, in the manner as I shall describe. 115 “Lord, it is by your favor that I have the fullness of my heart’s content on every side. Yet as there is one question lurking in my mind. I will ask you to explain it fully to me. 116 Tell me, with your clear understanding and without hesitation or weariness, how to worship the gods to remove all our sins and obtain all good confirmed on us.”

117 Shiva replied:

Hear me, O brahmin who is best acquainted with the knowledge of Brahma. I will tell you about the best mode of worshipping the gods, which worship is sure to set the worshipper free. 118 But first, O great armed brahmin, tell me if you know at all who is that god whom you make the object of your worship if it is not the lotus-eyed Vishnu or the three-eyed Shiva? 119 It is not the god born of the lotus Brahma, or he who is the lord of the thirteen classes of gods, the great Indra himself. It is not the god of winds, Pavana, or the god of fire, Agni, or the rulers of the Sun and Moon. 120 The brahmin (the earth god, Bhudeva) is no god at all, nor is the king called the shadow of God any god. Neither I, the ego or you are gods, nor is the body or any embodied being, or the mind or any conception or creation of the mind is the true god. 121 Neither Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, nor Saraswati, the goddess of intelligence, is a true goddess, nor is there anyone that may be called a god except the one true God who is without beginning or end.

122 How can a body that can be measured by form and dimensions be the immeasurable deity? It is the real and unlimited Consciousness that is known as the Shiva or the blissful one. 123 That is the meaning of the word god (deva) and that is the object of adoration. That is the only existent being out of which all other beings have proceeded and in which they have their existence, and wherein they exist with their forms.

124 Those unacquainted with the true nature of blissful Shiva worship the forms of idols and images, just as a weary traveler thinks the distance of a mile to be many miles long. 125 It is possible to be rewarded for one’s worship of the Rudras and other gods, but the reward from meditation of the true God is the unbounded joy of the soul. 126 He who forsakes the reward of true joy for that of fictitious pleasures is like one who quits a garden of mandara flowers for thorny karanja plants.

127 True worshippers know the purely intellectual and blissful Shiva is the only adorable god. Understanding and tranquility and equanimity of the soul, rather than garlands of flowers, are the most acceptable offerings to this god. 128 Know that the true worship of God the spirit is with the flowers of understanding and tranquility of the spirit. 129 Worship the Soul as consciousness and forsake the adoration of idols. Those devoted to any form or fictitious cult are subject to endless misery. 130 Those knowing the knowable One are called saints, but those who slight meditation of the Soul and adore idols are like little children playing with dolls.

131 Lord Shiva is the spiritual god and the supreme cause of all. He is to be worshipped always and without fail with only understanding. 132 You should know the soul to be the intellectual and living spirit, without decrease as the very nature herself. There is no other to be worshipped. True worship (puja) is of the spirit.

133 Vasishta said, “The soul having the nature of intellectual void, just as this world also is an empty void, please tell me, my lord, how Consciousness could become the living soul, as you have declared.”

134 Shiva replied:

There being only empty Consciousness in existence which is beyond all limits, it is impossible for an intelligible object to exist anywhere which may continue to all eternity. 135 That which shines of itself is the self-shining Being. It is the Self, the spontaneous agitation of that Being, which has stretched out the universe. 136 Thus the world appears like a city in dream before the conscious soul. This soul is only a form of empty consciousness and this world is only a baseless fabric.

137 It is altogether impossible for any perceptible phenomena to exist anywhere except in the empty sphere of consciousness. Creation is whatever shone forth in the beginning in the plenitude of Divine Consciousness. 138 Therefore this world which shows itself in the form of a fairyland in dream is only an appearance in the empty sphere of Consciousness. It cannot be any other in reality. 139 Consciousness is human speech and the cosmos that supports the world. Consciousness becomes the soul and the living principle. It forms the chain of created beings.

140 Tell me, what else could know all things in the beginning and even before creation of the universe, except the Consciousness which saw and exhibited everything in heaven and earth as contained in itself? 141 The words “sky”, “firmament” and the “emptiness” of Brahman and the world all apply to Consciousness, just like the words “tree” and “tree” mean the same thing. 142 And as both dreams and desires arise in us by our delusion, so only our illusion in the empty space of consciousness makes us perceive the existence of an outer world. 143 Our empty consciousness shows the sight of the external world in our dream. The same thing shows us the world in our waking dream.

144 It is not possible for a city in a dream to be seen anywhere except in the hollow space of our consciousness. In the same way, it is impossible for the waking dream of the world to be shown anywhere except in the emptiness of consciousness. 145 As it is not possible for anything that can be thought of to exist anywhere except in the thinking mind, so it is impossible for this thinkable world to exist in any place other than the Divine Mind.

146 The triple world rose of itself at the will and in the empty space of Supreme Consciousness, like a dream rising and setting in the mind, and not as anything other than Supreme Consciousness or any duality beside Supreme Consciousness. 147 As one sees the diverse appearances of pots and paintings in his dream, all lying within the hollowness of his mind, so at the beginning of creation, the world appears of itself in the emptiness of Divine Consciousness. 147a As there is no substantiality of anything in the fairyland of one’s dreams except his pure consciousness of the objects, so there is no substantiality of anything seen in this triple world, except our consciousness of them. 148 Whatever is visible to sight, and all that exists or does not exist in the present, past or future, and all space, time and mind are nothing other than appearances in the empty consciousness of Brahman.

149 Brahman is truly the god of whom I have spoken. Only he is supreme in its transcendental sense. He is all and unbounded and includes me, you and the endless world in Himself. 150 The bodies of all created beings, whether yours, mine, or others, and of all in this world are all full with the consciousness of the Supreme Soul and no other. 151 As there is nothing, O sage, except the bodies produced from the empty consciousness of Brahman resembling images produced in the fairyland of one’s dream, so there is no form or figure in this world other than what was made in the beginning of creation.