1 Rama said, “Tell me, O chief of sages, how was it that the Rudras came to be a hundred in number? Are the attendants of Rudra also Rudras?”
2 Vasishta replied:—
The mendicant saw himself in a hundred forms in a hundred dreams which he dreamt one after another. This I told you before, although not in detail. 3 All the forms that he saw in the dream became so many Rudras, and all these hundred Rudras remained as so many attendants on the principal Rudra.
4 Rama asked, “But how could the one mind of the mendicant be divided into a hundred in so many bodies of the Rudras? Was it undivided like a lamp that lights a hundred lamps without any diminution of its own light?”
5 Vasishta answered:—
Know Rama, that disembodied or spiritual beings of pure natures, because of the liquid-like nature of their souls, are capable of assuming any form they fancy. 6 The soul, being omnipresent and all pervading, takes any form whatever upon itself, whenever and wherever it likes, by virtue of its consciousness.
7 Rama replied, “But tell me sage, why does Lord Shiva wear a string of human skulls about his neck and smear his body with ashes, stark naked? Why does he dwell in funeral grounds, lustful in the greatest degree?”
8 Vasishta replied:—
Gods and perfect beings such as the spiritual masters are not tied down by laws which weak and ignorant men have devised for their own convenience. 9 The ignorant, on account of their uncontrollable minds, cannot go on without the guidance of law. Otherwise they are subject to every danger and fear, like poor fishes. 10 Intelligent people are not exposed to the evils in life that ignorant people of ungoverned minds and passions experience with their restless and vagrant habits. 11 Wise men discharge their business as it occurs to them at times. They never undertake to do anything of their own desire. Therefore they are exposed to no danger.
12 The god Vishnu engaged himself in action and incarnated because of an impulse of the occasion. So did the god Shiva with the three eyes, as well as the lotus-born god Brahma. 13 The acts of wise men are neither to be praised nor blamed because they are never done from private or public motives. 14 As light and heat are the natural properties of fire and sunshine, so the actions of Shiva and other gods are ordained from the beginning, like the caste customs of the twice born, three higher dvija castes.
15 Though the nature of all mankind is the same, as ordained in the beginning, yet the ignorant have created differences among themselves by instituting distinctions among castes and customs. Their institutions are of their own making, so they are subjected by them to the evils of future retribution and reincarnation.
16 Rama, so far I have told you about the four types of silence of embodied beings, but I have not spoken about the nature of the silence of disembodied souls. 17 Now hear how men obtain this chief good by knowledge of the intellectual souls in the clear sphere of their own consciousness, which is far clearer than the ethereal sphere of the sky.
18 Men became renowned as Samkhya yogis or categorical philosophers through their knowledge of all kinds of knowledge and by constant devotion to meditation, and by the study of the numerical philosophy of particulars in the Samkhya system. 19 Yogis pursuing the path of knowledge are those who meditate on the form of the eternal one without decay by suppressing their breath and union with that state which presents itself to their mind. 20 Some obtain the unpretentious and undisguised state of joy and tranquility, desired as the most desirable thing by all, through Samkhya yoga, others through jnana yoga. 21 The result of both forms of yoga is the same. This is known to anybody who has experienced it because the state arrived at by the one is the same as that of the other.
22 In this supreme state, the actions of the mental faculties and vital breath are altogether imperceptible, and the network of desires is entirely dispersed. 23 Desire constitutes the mind, which again is the cause of creation. Therefore by destroying desires and mind, one becomes motionless and inactive.
24 The mind forgets its inner soul, never bothering to look at it even for a moment. It is solely occupied with its body and looks at the phantom of the body like a child sees at a ghost. 25 The mind itself is a false apparition and an unsubstantial appearance of our mistake. The mind can show itself in dream as dying, which is found to be false upon waking. 26 The world is the production of the mind. What am I and who is mine or my children? Custom and education have caused the imaginary demons of our bondage and liberation, which in reality are nothing.
27 There is one thing, however, on which both systems are based. That is the suppression of breath and the restriction of mind, which form the sum and substance of what they call their liberation.
28 Rama replied, “Now sage, if suppression constitutes the liberation of these men, then I may as well say that all dead men are liberated, and all dead animals also.”
29 Vasishta replied:—
Of the three practices of the restriction of the breath, body and mind, I believe the repression of the mind and its thoughts to be the best because it is easily practiced. I will tell you how it is to be done for our good.
30 When the vital breath of a soul quits its mortal frame, it perceives the same in itself and flies in the shape of a particle into the open sky, mixing at last with ethereal air. 31 The parting soul is accompanied by its elementary principles, which are the desires of its mind and which are closely united with breath, and nothing besides. 32 As the vital breath quits one body to enter into another, so it carries with it the desires of the heart, just as the winds of the air bear the fragrance of flowers. These reproduce in the future body to cause it only misery. 33 As a water pot thrown into the sea does not lose its water, so the vital breath mixing with the ethereal air does not lose the desires of the mind which it bears with it. They are as closely united as sunbeams with the sun. 34 The mind cannot be separated from the vital breath without the aid of the knowledge, just as a titteri bird cannot be removed from one nest without its mate.
35 Knowledge removes desires. Disappearance of desires destroys the mind. This produces the suppression of breath, and from that proceeds the tranquility of the soul. 36 Knowledge shows us the unreality of things and the vanity of human desires.
O Rama, hence know that the extinction of desires brings on the destruction of both the mind and vital breath. 37 The mind without its desires, which form its soul and life, can no longer see the body in which it took so much delight. Then the tranquil soul attains its holiest state. 38 Mind is another name for desire. When desire is eradicated, the soul discriminates the truth which leads to knowledge of the supreme. 39 In this manner, O Rama, we came to the end of our false knowledge of the world, just like we use reason to detect the error of seeing a snake instead of a rope. 40 Learn this one lesson: that restraining the mind and suppression of breath mean the one and same thing. If you succeed in restraining one, you succeed in restraining the other. 41 When the waving of the palm-leaf fan is stopped, the movement of air in the room is stopped. In the same way, when breathing vital breath is stopped, thoughts are stopped.
42 When the body is destroyed, the vital breath passes into empty air where it sees everything according to the desires that have blown along with it from the cells of the heart and mind. 43 As living souls find the bodies in which they are embodied and act according to their different natures, so the departed and disembodied spirits see many forms presented before them according to their desires. They enter into those forms and act agreeably to the nature of that being. 44 As the fragrance of flowers ceases to be diffused in the air when the breezes have ceased to blow, so the vital breath ceases to breathe when the action of the mind is at a stop. 45 Hence the course of the thoughts and the respiration of all animals are known to be closely united with one another, just as fragrance is inseparable from the flower, and oil inseparable from oily seeds.
46 Breath is the vacillation of the mind, just as the mind is the fluctuation of the breath. These two go together forever, like the chariot and its driver. 47 Without any one, the two perish together, just as the container and the contained are both lost at the loss of either. Therefore it is better to lose them for the liberation of the soul than to lose the soul for the sake of the body. 48 Keeping only one object or unity in view will stop the course of the mind. The mind being stopped, then as a matter of course, an utter suppression of the breath follows.
49 Investigate well into the truth of the immortality of your soul. Try to assimilate yourself into the eternal spirit of God. Having absorbed your mind in the Divine Mind, be one with it. 50 Distinguish between your knowledge and ignorance. Lay hold of what is more suitable for you. Settle yourself on what remains after both mind and vital breath disappear. Live while you live relying on Consciousness alone. 51 Continue to meditate on the existence of all things in one firm and ever existent entity alone, until by your constant habit of thinking so, you find all outward existence disappear into nonexistence.
52 The minds of the abstinent, their bodies and their vitality, for lack of food and enjoyments, are unconscious to worldly pleasures. There remains only the consciousness of the transcendent One. 53 When the mind is of one even course and habituated to it by constant practice, then there is an end to the thoughts of endless varieties and particulars. They naturally disappear of themselves. 54 There is an end of our ignorance and delusion as we gain wisdom and reason. We gain our best knowledge by learning, but only by practice can we have the object of our knowledge.
55 The mirage of the world will cease to exist after the mind has become calm and quiet in itself, just as the darkness of the sky is dispersed when rain clouds disappear. 56 Know that only your mind causes your delusion. Therefore strive to weaken its force and action. But Rama, you must not weaken it so much as to lose the sight of the Supreme Spirit which shines as the soul of the mind.
57 Know that the mature state of your mind is when the mind is settled with the Supreme Soul, even for a moment. It will soon yield the sweets of its ripeness. 58 Whether you attain tranquility through Samkhya or Vedanta yoga, it is the same if you can reduce yourself to the Supreme Soul. By doing so even for a moment, you are to be reborn in this lower world no more.
59 The term “divine essence” means the mind devoid of its ignorance which, like a fried seed, is unable to reproduce the tree of the world and has no interruption in its meditation on God. 60 The mind without ignorance, freed from its desires and settled in its pure essence, in an instant comes to see a full blaze of light filling the sphere of the firmament in which it rests and which absorbs it completely. 61 Then the mind is in its pure essence, unconscious of itself, and settled in the Supreme Soul. It never relapses into the foulness of its nature, just as copper mixed with gold never becomes tarnished again.