1 Vasishta continued:—
Once, this bird that played beside the lotus seat of Brahma went to the city of Rudra (Shiva) with his god on his back. There he saw the god Rudra face to face. 2 Seeing Rudra, the swan thought himself to be so. The figure of the god was immediately impressed upon his mind, like the reflection of an outer object in a mirror. 3 Being full of Rudra in himself, he left his bird body, just as a flower’s fragrance leaves it petals, mixes with the breeze, and flies in the open air. 4 He passed his time happily at that place, in the company of his attendants and the various different classes of Rudra’s dependent divinities.
5 This Rudra, being full of the best knowledge of divinity and spirituality, looked back into his understanding and the past accounts of his prior lives that were almost countless. 6 Having clear vision and clairvoyance, he was astonished to see the naked truth that appeared to him like sights in a dream, which he recounted to himself as follows.
Jivata, as Rudra, speaking:—
7 O, how wonderful is this illusion stretched all about us. Illusion’s magic wand fascinates the world. It exhibits the tangible untruth as positive truth, just as sunbeams spreading over the sterile sands of the dreary desert present the appearance of clear water.
8 I well remember my primary state of pure consciousness, its conversion into the state of the mind, and how it was changed from its supremacy and omniscience to the bondage of the limited body. 9 By its own desire the living soul assumed a material body to itself, formed and fashioned agreeably to its fancy, like a picture drawn in a painting. It became a mendicant in one of its prior births when it was unattached to the objects exposed to view all around. 10 The same mendicant sat in meditation by controlling the actions of his body and began to reflect on outer objects with great pleasure in his mind. 11 He buried all his former thoughts in oblivion and thought only of the object that he was employed to reflect upon. This thought so engrossed and worked upon his mind that it prevented the rise of any other thought. 12 The phenomenon that appears in the mind also offers itself to view. As the brown of fading autumn supersedes the spring green of leaves and plants, so the man coming to his maturity forgets the helpless state of his boyhood and is thoughtless of his approaching decay and decline.
13 Thus by his fallible and unsteady desire, the mendicant became the brahmin Jivata, making him wander from one body to another, like little ants entering the holes of houses and things. 14 Being reverential towards brahmins in his mind, he became the wished for person in his own body. Reality and unreality have the power of mutually displacing one another according to the greater influence of either.
15 The brahmin next became a chief because of his strong preference for that, just as a tree becomes fruitful by continuously absorbing moisture from the earth. 16 Being desirous of dispensing justice and discharging all legal affairs, the chief wished for royalty and had his wishes fulfilled by this becoming a king. But as the king was over fond of his courtesans, he was transformed into a heavenly nymph that he prized in his heart above all. 17 But because the celestial dame prized the trembling sight of a frightened deer above her own heavenly form and station, she soon changed into a deer in the woods, destined to graze as a miserable beast for her foolish choice.
18 The deer was very fond of browsing tender grass and leaves. At last it became the same creeping plant that had crept into the opening of her craving mind. 19 The creeper, being long accustomed to dote on the bee that used to be in its company, found in its consciousness to be that insect after the destruction of its own form. 20 Though well aware of being crushed under the elephant, together with the lotus flower in which it lived, yet the vine was foolish to take the form of the bee for its pleasure of wandering about the world. 21 Being thus led into a hundred different forms, I have at last become Rudra. It is all because of the capriciousness of my erratic mind in this changing world.
22 Thus have I wandered through the many different paths of life in this wilderness of the world. I have roamed in many aerial regions as if I were treading on solid, substantial ground. 23 In one of my many births I was named Jivata. In another I became a great and respectable brahmin. I became quite another person again, and then found myself as a ruler and lord of the earth. 24 I had been a drake living in lotus plants and an elephant in the valleys of the Vindhya Hills. Then I assumed the body of a stag, fleet in my limbs.
25 After I first deviated from my state of godliness, I was still settled in the state of a devotee with devotion to divine knowledge, practicing the rites befitting my position. 26 In this state I passed many years and ages. Many a day, night, season and century glided on imperceptibly. 27 But I deviated again and again from my habitual course, often subjected to new births and forms, until at last I was changed to Brahma’s vehicle of the swan by virtue of my former good conduct and company.
28 The firmly established habits of a living beings must come out unobstructed, though they may be held back in many intermediate births, even for a millennium. Yet they must come and lay hold of the person some time or another. 29 It is only by accident that one has the blessing of some good company in his life. Then his inborn habit may be restrained for a time, but in the end it is sure to break out with violence in utter defiance of every check and rule.
30 But he who keeps only good society and always strives for his edification in what is good and great is able to destroy the evil propensities that are inbred in him, because the desire to be good is what actually makes one so. 31 Whatever a man is accustomed to do or think upon constantly, in this life or in the next state of his being, the same appears as a reality to him in his waking state of daydream, just as unreality appears as real in the dream of a man in sleep. 32 Thoughts that employ our minds appoint our bodies to do their wished for works. These works have some temporary good and evil also. Therefore it is better to restrain and repress these tumultuous thoughts rather than cherish them for our pleasure or pain.
33 Only the thought in our minds makes us take our bodies for ourselves. Thoughts stretch wide this world of unrealities, like an enclosed seed sprouts forth and spreads itself into a bush. 34 The world is only the visible form of a visible thought and nothing more in reality, a fantasy and illusion of our sight. 35 The illusive appearance of the world presents itself to our sight like the many colors of the sky. Therefore, by ignoring of it, we may wipe those impressions off from our minds. 36 It is an unreal appearance displayed by the Supreme Essence as a real existence only for his pleasure. It cannot do any harm to anybody.
37 I rise and look into all these varieties in nature for the sake of my pleasure and curiosity. I have the true light of reason in me, whereby I discern the one unity quite apart from all varieties.
38 After all this reasoning, the incarnate Rudra returned to his former state and reflected on the condition of the mendicant, whose body was now lying like a dead corpse on the barren ground. 39 He awakened the mendicant and raised his prostrate body by infusing his consciousness into it. Then the resuscitated monk came to understand that all his wanderings were only hallucinations of his mind.
40 The mendicant found himself to be the same with Rudra standing in his presence, as also with the bygone ones that he recollected in his memory. He was astonished to think how he could be one and so many, though it is no wonder to the intelligent who well know that one man acts many parts in life.
41 Afterwards both Rudra and the mendicant got up from their seats and proceeded to the home of Jivata situated in a corner of the intellectual sphere. 42 They passed over many continents, islands, provinces and districts until they arrived at Jivata’s home where they found him lying down with a sword in hand. 43 They saw Jivata lying asleep and unconscious as a dead body. Rudra put aside his bright celestial form in order to enter into the earthly abode of the deceased. 44 They brought him back to life and intelligence by imparting to him portion of their spirit and intellect. Thus this one soul exhibited the triple forms of Rudra, Jivata and the mendicant. 45 With all their intelligence, they remained ignorant of one another. They marveled to look on each other in mute astonishment, as if they were the figures in painting.
46 Then the three went together in their aerial course to the air-built home of the brahmin who had erected his baseless fabric in empty air and which resounded with empty sounds all around. 47 They passed through many aerial regions and barren and populous tracts of air until at last they found the brahmin’s heavenly residence. 48 They saw him sleeping in his house surrounded by the members of his family, his wife’s arms around his neck as if unwilling to part with her deceased husband. 49 They awakened his drowsy intelligence by means of their own intelligence, just as a waking man raises his own sleeping soul by means of his own awareness.
50 From there they went on in their pleasant journey to the kingdoms of the chief and the king mentioned before. These were situated in the bright regions of their intellectual sphere, illuminated by the brightness of their intellect. 51 Having arrived at that region and that very place, they observed the haughty chief lying on his lotus-like bed. 52 He lay with his gold colored body in the company of his golden colored bed-partners like a honey sucking bee lying inside the embrace of a lotus flower’s petals. 53 His mistresses hung about him like the tender stalks and tufts of flowers hanging on a tree, surrounded by a belt of lit lamps, as when a golden plate is studded by a circle of brilliant gems. 54 They awakened him by infusing their own spirit and intelligence into his body and mind, then they sat together marveling at each other, as an identical man with so many forms.
55 Next they went to the palace of the king. After awakening him with their intelligence, they all wandered about the different parts of the world. 56 At last they came to the swan of Brahma. Being all transformed into that form in their minds, they all became the one Rudra personality in a hundred persons. 57 Thus the one consciousness is represented in different forms and shapes according to the various inclinations of their minds, like so many figures in a painting. Such is the divine unity represented as different personalities, according to the various tendencies of individual minds.
58 There were a hundred Rudras, a hundred forms of the uncovered consciousness. They are acquainted with the truths of all things in the world and the secrets of all hearts. 59 There are a hundred and some hundreds of Rudras who are known as very great beings in the world. Among them, only eleven are situated in so many worlds. 60 All living beings who are not awakened to reason are ignorant of the identity of each another. They view them in different and not in the same light. They are not farsighted to see any world other than the one that is the closest to them. 61 Wise men see the minds of others and all things arising in their minds, like waves in the sea. Unenlightened minds remain dormant in themselves, like inert blocks of stone.
62 As the waves mix with themselves because of water’s fluidity, so the minds of wise unite with one another by the solubility of their understandings, like elastic fluids and liquids. 63 Among all the multitudes of living beings that are presented to our sight in this world, we find the one unchanging element of Consciousness to be diffused in all of them, making unreal appear as real. 64 This real but invisible Divine Consciousness remains forever. All the unreal but visible appearances disappear into nothing. An empty space remains after a thing is removed from its place, or a hole is dug in the ground.
65 You can conceive of the idea of existence and the five-fold elemental principles in nature. So you can also comprehend the notion of the omnipresence of Divine Consciousness which underlies the elemental principles. 66 You see various statues and images carved in stone and wood and set in the hollows of rocks and trees. So also you should be able to see all these figures in the hollow space of the universe, situated in the identical Consciousness of the Omnipresent Deity. 67 In the pure Consciousness of the unknown and invisible Deity, the knowledge of the known and visible world resembles the ever-changing, uncaused and unconscious shapes in the sky, the causeless substratum of everlasting and all pervading emptiness.
68 Knowledge of phenomena is the bondage of the soul. Ignoring phenomena leads to its liberation. Therefore do as you like; either towards this or that. 69 Knowledge and ignorance of the world are the causes of the bondage and liberation of the soul. These also produce the reincarnation and final emancipation of the animal spirit. By your indifference to them, you can avoid both. Therefore do as you may best choose for yourself.
70 What disappears is not worth seeking or being sorry for its loss. That which is gained of itself in our calm and quiet without any anxiety or diligence on our part is truly reckoned to be our best gain. 71 That which exists only in our perception is not true knowledge but mere fallacy. True knowledge is that of the subjective consciousness, to which one must always be aware. 72 As a wave is an agitation of water, so this creation is only a vibration of the Divine Consciousness. The only difference between them is that one is the production of the elements in nature and the other is that of the Divine Will.
73 The surging of waves occurs in conjunction with existing elements at certain spots and times, but the production of the world is wholly without the junction of elemental bodies, which were not in existence at its creation. 74 The shining worlds shine with the light of Divine Consciousness in which they are situated. They are thoughts in its consciousness. It transcends the power of speech to define what it is, and yet it is expressed in the Vedas in the words that, “It is the Supreme Soul and perfect joy” (Shiva Paramatma).
75 Thus the world is the form of consciousness in Divine Consciousness and they are not different from one another, just as words can never be separated from their meanings. It is said that the world is the vibration of the Divine Spirit. Only the ignorant say the wave and water are two different things.