1 Vasishta continued:—
For many years the happy pair enjoyed the pleasures of their youth, tasting with greater zest every new delight that day by day came their way. 2 Years repeated their revolutions over their protracted revelries until by and by their youth began to give way to the decay of age, just as a broken pitcher lets its waters leak out. 3 Then they began to think that their bodies were as frail as the waves on the sea, liable to fall like ripe fruit from trees, and that no one is able to avert death.
4 As arrow-sharp snow tears at lotus leaves, so old age is ready to batter and shatter our frames. The cup of our life is drizzling away day by day, like water held in the palm falls away drop by drop. 5 While our greed is increasing on one hand, like a gourd plant in rainy weather, on the other hand our youth glides away quickly like torrents of waters falling from mountain cliffs. 6 Our life is as false as a magic play. The body is like a heap of rotting things. Our pleasures are few and painful and as fleeting as arrows flying from the archer’s bow. 7 Afflictions pounce upon our hearts like vultures and kites swooping upon fish and flesh. These bodies are as impermanent as the bursting bubbles of raindrops. 8 All reasoning and practice are as unsound as the weak stem of a plantain tree, and our youth is as fleeting as the fickle woman in love with many men.
9 The taste of youthful pleasure is soon succeeded by a distaste for it in old age. The freshness of plants in spring gives way to the dryness of autumn. Then where in this world is that permanent pleasure and lasting good which never grows stale and is ever sweet and lovely? 10 Therefore we should seek that which will support us in all conditions of life, and which will be a remedy of all the evils that surround us in this world.
11 Being thus determined, they both engaged in the investigation of spiritual philosophy. They thought that knowledge of the soul would be the only balm for healing the choleric pain of worldliness. 12 Thus resolved, they devoted themselves to their spiritual growth, employing their head and heart, their lives and souls in the inquiry, and placing all their hope and trust in the development of their spirituality.
13 For a long time they studied spiritual knowledge together, meditating upon and worshipping the Soul of souls in their own souls. 14 They both enjoyed their studies of divine knowledge, and she took a particular delight in constantly attending to the instructions and sermons of divine teachers. 15 She would listen to explanations of spiritual liberation from scholars who expounded upon the scriptures, and she continued to reflect on the soul day and night.
Queen Chudala’s reasoning:—
16 Whether I am engaged in action or not, I see nothing but the one soul in my enlightened and clear understanding. What then, am I that very Self, and is it my own self? 17 Where does this error of my personality come from? Why does it grow up and where does it exist? It cannot be the gross body which has no knowledge of itself and is ignorant of everything. Surely I am not this body. My egoism lies beyond my physical body.
18 The error arises in the mind and grows from childhood to old age. One thinks that the self is lean or fat as if he were the body. It is usual to say “I act” and “I see” and the like as if one’s personality consists in his action, but the acts of the physical body are as unconscious and impersonal as the dull body itself. 19 The part is not different from the whole, nor can one thing produce something that is different. 20 The mind moves the body just like a bat drives a ball. Therefore the mind also must be dull matter, being a part of the material body, differing from it only in its power of will. 21 The determination of the mind impels the physical organs to their various actions, just like a sling sends a pebble in any direction. No doubt this firmness of resolution is a property of matter. 22 Ego leads the body forward in its action, like a channel carries the waters of a stream in its course. This ego has no essence of its own and therefore is as inert and inactive as a dead body.
23 The living principle (jiva) is a false idea, like the phantom of a ghost. The living soul is the one principle of consciousness and resides in the form of air in the heart. 24 Life or the living principle lives by another inner power, finer and more subtle than itself. By means of this internal witness, the soul, all things are known to us and not by means of this gross animal life. 25 The living soul lives in its form of vitality by the primordial power of consciousness. The vital soul, misunderstood as an intelligent principle, exists by means of this intellectual power. 26 The living soul carries with it power infused in it by consciousness, like wind blowing the fragrance of flowers and a channel carrying water to a great distance.
27 The heart, the seat of consciousness, is nothing essential by itself. It is called the center (chitta) for concentrating of the powers of the intellect (chayana) and also the heart (hrid) for its bearing these powers (harana) to the other parts of the body. Therefore it is a dull material substance. 28 All these and the living soul also, and anything that appears real or unreal, disappear in the meditation of consciousness. They are lost in meditation like fire immersed in water. 29 Only our intelligence (chaitanya) awakens us to the knowledge of the unreality and emptiness of gross material bodies.
With such reflections as these, Queen Chudala only thought about how to gain a knowledge of the all-enlightening Intellect. 30 Long did she reflect and ponder in this manner, until at last she came to know what she sought and then exclaimed, “O! After so long I have come to know the imperishable one, the only one to be known.”
Queen Chudala’s thoughts:—
31 No one is disappointed in knowing the knowable or what is worth knowing. This is the knowledge of the intellectual soul and our contemplation of it. All other knowledge that the mind may have from understanding and the senses and all other things, are only steps that lead toward that ultimate end. 32 All other knowledge is mere nothing, just like a second moon in the sky. There is only one Consciousness in existence, and this is called the great entity, the sum total of all existence.
33 It is the one pure, stainless and holy, without equal or personality in the form of pure intelligence, the sole existence and joy and everlasting without decay. 34 This intellectual power is ever pure and bright, always on the summit without rise or fall. It is known among mankind under the names of Brahman, Supreme Soul, and other attributes. 35 The triple names of the Intellect, Intelligence, and Intelligible do not exactly define his nature because He is the cause of these faculties and the witness of the functions of reasoning.
36 The unthinkable intellect within me is the exact and undecaying copy of Supreme Consciousness. It evolves itself into the different forms of the mind and the senses of perception. 37 The intellect evolves the various forms of things in the world, just as the sea rolls and unrolls the waves in its bosom. 38 This world is truly the appearance of that great Intellect which is like pure crystal stone and is manifest in this form. 39 The same Power is manifest in the form of the world, which has no separate existence except in the mind of the ignorant. It is impossible for any other thing to exist except the self-existing One.
40 Gold appears in the various forms of jewelry. In the same way Consciousness appears as everything in the world in the forms in which it sees itself. 41 As the thought of fluidity in the mind causes us to perceive waves in the water, whether it really exists or not, so thoughts in the Divine Mind show us the picture of the world, whether it is or is not in being. 42 As the Divine Soul appears like waves of the sea because of its thoughts fluidity, so am I the same intellect without any personality of myself.
43 This soul has no birth or death, nor does it have a good or bad future state. It is never destroyed because it is a form of consciousness which is indestructible in its nature. 44 It neither burns nor breaks. It is the unclouded light of the intellect. By meditating on the soul in this manner, I am quite at rest and peace.
45 I live free from error and rest as calm as the untroubled ocean. I meditate on the invisible One who is quite clear to me as the unborn, un-decaying and infinite soul of all. 46 It is the empty soul, unrestricted by time or place, stainless by any figure or form, eternal and transcending our thought and knowledge. It is the infinite void. All attempts to grasp it are as vain as trying to grasp empty air in the hand. 47 This soul equally pervades over all the sura demigods as well as the asura demon races of the earth. But it is none of those artificial forms which the people make with their images of clay, like children’s dolls. 48 The essences of both viewer and the view reside together in the unity of consciousness. Only through error do men make distinctions between unity and duality, and between ego and non-ego.
49 What error or delusion can remain, and how, when and from where can it overtake me, when I have attained my truly spiritual and immortal form, seated in my easy and quiet state? 50 I am absorbed and extinct in eternity. All my cares are extinct with my own extinction in eternity. My soul is in its entranced state between consciousness and unconsciousness. It feels what is reflected upon it. 51 The soul settled in the great intellect of God, shining with the light of the Supreme Soul just like the sky is illuminated by the light of the day. There is no thought of this or that or even of one’s self or that of any other being or non-being. All is calm and quiet and having no object in view, except the one transcendent spirit.
52 With these reflections, Chudala remained as calm and quiet as a white cloudy spot in the autumn sky. Her soul was awake to the inspiration of divine truth. Her mind was detached from the feelings of love and fear, of pride and pleasure, and quite insusceptible of delusion.