Chapter 65 — Rama’s Wonder at the Error of Men

Vasishta continued:—

As the mendicant saw this transient scene of error in his mind, so is the case with all living beings. They look on their past lives and actions apart from themselves and in the persons of other men. The past lives, actions and deaths of all reflective souls are as deeply imprinted in them as any thought is preserved in the retentive mind and empty intellect. Distant and separate things are mingled together in the present sphere of one’s soul, and all persons appear as distinct figures in the dream. The human soul, though it is a form of the divine, but being enclosed in its frail and mortal body, is doomed to misery until its final liberation from birth and body.

Thus I have related to you the fate of all living souls in the example and tale of the mendicant monk.

5 O Rama, know now that the souls of all of us are like that of the mendicant. They are vibrated and moved by the impulse of the Supreme Spirit, yet they are fallible in their nature, falling from error to error in every moment. As a stone falling from a rock falls lower and lower to the ground, so the living soul, once fallen from its height of Supreme Spirit, descends lower and lower to the lowest pit. Now it sees one dream and then passes from it to another, and thus rolling forever in its dreaming sleep, it never finds any substantiality whatsoever.

The soul, hidden under the illusion of errors, sometimes happens to come to the light of truth, either by the guidance of same good instructor or by the light of its own intuition. Then it is released from the wrong notion of its personality in the body and comes to the true knowledge of itself.

Rama said, “O! the impenetrable gloom of error that spreads over the human soul causes it to believe in the mist of its errors, just as a sleeping man enjoys the scenery of his dreams. 10 The gloom of error is shrouded by the thick darkness of the night of false knowledge and falls into the pit of illusion which spreads over the world. 11 O! the remarkable error of taking a thing as our own which in reality belongs to nobody but the lord and master of all.”

12 “It is necessary for you, sage, to explain to me, from where does this error arise? How could the mendicant, with his share of good and right understanding, fall into error? Tell me also, you who knows all, whether he is still living?”

13 Vasishta replied:—

I will explore the regions of the three worlds in my samadhi meditation tonight and tell you tomorrow morning whether the mendicant is living or not, and where he may be at present.

14 Valmiki said:—

As the sage was speaking in this manner, the royal garrison sounded the trumpet of the departing day with the beating of drums. The sound filled the sky with the loud roar of doomsday flood clouds. 15 Princes and citizens assembled in the court and threw handfuls of flowers at the sage’s feet, just like trees dropping their flowers in the ground, blown by a fragrant breeze. 16 They also honored the other great sages. All rose from their respective seats and the assembly broke afterwards with mutual salutations to one another.

17 All the residents of earth and air went to their respective homes with the setting sun and discharged their duties of the departing day in obedience to the ordinances of the scriptures. 18 They all performed their services as prescribed in their ceremonial observances, in which they placed their strong faith and veneration. 19 All the mortals and celestials who formed Vasishta’s audience now began to reflect on the sage’s lecture. The night passed as short as a moment with some, and as long as an age with others.

20 As the morning rose with the returning duties of men, and employed all beings of heaven and earth to discharge their morning services, the court reopened to receive the audience who assembled there with mutual greetings and salutations to their superiors.