Chapter 92 — The King Burns His Hermit Possessions

Chudala (as Kumbha) continued:—

Tell me king, what made you decline to accept the advice of Queen Chudala, who is equally skilled in morality as well as in divine knowledge? She is an adept among those who know the truth. She actually practices all that she preaches to others. Her words are the dictates of truth. They deserve to be received with due deference. You rejected her advice because of over confidence in your own judgment. Yet let me know, why did she not prevent you from parting with everything?

Sikhidhwaja replied, “But I ask you another question, and I hope you will answer. Why do you say that I have not renounced everything when I have resigned my kingdom, my home and my country, and when I have left my wife and all my wealth behind?”

5 Chudala (as Kumbha) replied:—

O king, you say truly that you have forsaken your kingdom and home, your lands and relatives, and even your wife and wealth, but that does not make your renunciation complete since none of these truly belong to you. They come of themselves and they go away from man. Only your egoism is yours, and that you have not yet gotten rid of. You have not yet abandoned your egoism, which abandonment is the greatest delight of your soul. You cannot get rid of your sorrows until you are quite free from your egoistic feelings.

Sikhidhwaja said, “You say that my kingdom and possessions were not mine. Now all I have is this forest and these rocks and trees and shrubs. If I am willing to quit all these, would that be complete renunciation?”

Vasishta said:—

Hearing these words of the brahmin boy Kumbha, the conqueror of senses, King Sikhidhwaja held silence for a while, and returned no answer. He wiped off his attachment to the forest from his heart. He made up his mind to move away, just as the current of a stream in rainy weather glides along and carries down the dust and dirt from its shores.

10 Sikhidhwaja said, “Now sage, I am resolved to leave this forest and bid farewell to all its caves and trees. Tell me, does this renunciation of everything form my absolute renunciation of all things?”

11 Kumbha replied:—

The foot of this mountain with all its woodlands, trees and caverns are not your property but are common to all. Then how can forsaking them be your absolute renunciation at all? 12 You still have not forsaken your egoism. You must get rid of your ego in order to be freed from the cares and sorrows of this earthly world. 13 If none of these things is mine, then how can total renunciation come from resigning my hermit’s cell and grove?

14 Vasishta said.:—

The self-governed Sikhidhwaja became awaked to his sense by Kumbha’s admonitions. For a moment the king remained silent with the light that shone within him. 15 His pure consciousness returned to his mind and the blaze of his right knowledge burnt away the impurities of his attachment to the hermitage, like a gust of wind driving dust from the ground.

16 Sikhidhwaja said, “Sage, I have taken this hermitage from my heart. I have forsaken my attachment to all its sacred, covered shelters and trees. Therefore consider me as having resigned my all and everything in world.”

17 Kumbha replied:—

How can I consider you as fully resigned by resigning these gardens and trees and everything else belonging to them? None of them belongs to you. You are not their owner and you do not deserve them in any way. 18 You have another thing that you must forsake, and that is the greatest and best thing that has fallen to your lot in this world. It must be by your renunciation of that thing that you can set yourself free from all.

19 Sikhidhwaja said, “If even this is not the all that I have and which you want me to resign, then take these earthen pots and basins, these hides and skins, and my cave also. Know that I will renounce all these forever and I will take myself elsewhere.”

20 Vasishta said:—

So saying the dispassionate king rose from his seat, his mind composed and quiet like an autumn cloud rising and dispersing on the top of a mountain. 21 Chudala, sitting on her seat as Kumbha, could not help smiling in amazement as she saw the king’s motions and movements, just as the sun laughs from above to see the foolish attempts of men on the earth below. 22 Kumbha looked steadily at Sikhidhwaja, sitting silently with the thought, “Ah! let him do whatever he likes. His sanctification and renunciation of the temporal articles of this world do not serve his spiritual edification at all.”

23 Sikhidhwaja then brought out all his sacred vessels and seats from his cave, collecting them all in one place like the great ocean yielding up all her submerged treasures after the great flood was over. 24 Having collecting them in a pile, the king set fire to them with dried fuel like the sunstone or glass igniting the combustible. 25 The sacred vessels and goods were set on fire and burnt down. The king left them behind and sat on a seat beside Kumbha, just as the sun sets on Mount Meru after he had burnt down in the world by the fire of dissolution.

26 The king said to his prayer beads, “You have been a trusted friend to me, your master, as long as I turn you on my fingers, counting beads. 27 And though I have turned you over and over with my sacred mantras in these forests, yet you have been of no service to me at all. 28 And though I have travelled with you, O my sacred casket, and I have seen many holy places in your company, still you have proved to be no good to me. I now resign you to the flames.”

29 The burning fire rose in flames and flashes in the sky appearing like glittering stars. Then he took his deerskin seat and threw it on the fire saying, “For so long I have carried you on my back like an ignorant stag. 30 My ignorance made me hold onto you for so long. Now you are at liberty to go your own way. May peace and bliss attend you forever. 31 Ascend with the rising fire to heaven and twinkle there like the stars.” So saying he took off his hide garment from his body and committed it to the flames.

32 The king’s funeral pyre spread like a sea of fire driven about by winds blowing from the mountains. Then the king thought of also throwing his water pot into the fire. 33 He said to it, “You sage, who bore sacred water for all my sacred functions, O my good water pot, it is true that I do not have the power of properly compensating you for your past services. 34 You were the best model of true friendship, good nature, benevolence and constancy, and the best example of goodness and all good qualities in your great bounty. 35 O you my water pot, who was the receptacle of all goodness to me, now depart your own way by your purification in the same sacred fire in which I first found you (the potter’s fire). May your ways all be blissful to you!” So saying he cast his water pot into the consecrated fire.

36 “All good things are to be given to the good or to the fire, but all bad things are cast off like the dust of the earth as foolish men fall to the ground by their secret craft. 37 It is well for you, my low mattress, to be put to fire and reduced to worthless ashes.” So saying, he took up his mattress and cast it into the flaming fire. 38 Soon the seat on which he used to sit in his pure meditation on God was committed to the flames, because it is better to give up something quickly if one has to get rid of it soon anyway.

39 “This, my alms-pot, which contained the best articles of food presented to me by good people, I now commit to this flame with whatever it has in it. 40 The fire burns a thing only once, until the burnt article ceases to burn anymore. Therefore I shun all the implements of my ceremonial rites in order to set me free from the bondage of all actions for ever more. 41 Be not sorry that I forsake you, for who is there that will bear things that are unworthy of himself?”

42 So saying, he threw all his cooking vessels, the plates and dishes of his kitchen, and everything else he needed or used in his hermitage into the fire. All these burned in a blaze like the world burning with all destructive fire of the final dissolution.