Chapter 104 — Sikhidwaja & Kumbha Enjoy Each Other’s Company; — Kumbha on the Needs (Fate) Incident to the Body

Vasishta related:—

In this manner these two who knew the knowable God continued their conversation on spiritual matters until the third watch of the day in that forest. Then rising together they wandered in the delightful valleys about cooling lakes and pleasant streams. In this way they wandered in that forest for full eight days, passing their time in conversation on various subjects.

Then said Kumbha to the king, “Let us walk to some other forest.” He gave his consent uttering the word Om, and then they walked forward in each other’s company. 5 In this manner they walked over many forest lands and passed by many jungles and shores. They saw many lakes, thick woods, and rising hills and their thickets of dense woods and plants. They traversed many woodland tracts and rivers, and saw many villages, towns, and woods on their way. They passed by many sweet sounding rivers and gardens, and many holy places and the abodes of men.

They were united together in equal love and friendship, being of equal age and the same even course of mind. They were of equal liveliness, and both walked or stayed together with their unanimity. They worshipped the gods and the spirits of their ancestors in holy places and ate what they got at any place. They lived together both in marshy and dry lands in concord and peace. The loving pair, bearing equal affection for one another in their hearts, dwelt together in friendship amidst woods of tamara trees and in the forests of the Mandara hills.

10 To them no place was their home or own, but they were alike in all. Nothing occurred to disturb their minds which were always as undisturbed as a mountain amidst the winds. 11 Sometimes they walked amidst the flying dust and at other times amidst the far stretching fragrance of sandalwood forests. They were now covered with ashes and then besmeared with sandal paste. 12 They were sometimes clad in good garments and sometimes in multicolored clothes. Now they were covered with tree leaves and at another they were decorated with flowers.

13 Remaining in each other’s company for some days, and having the unanimity of their hearts and minds, the king was as perfected in his nature as another Kumbha himself.

14 The holy and faithful Chudala, seeing the divine form of her husband Sikhidhwaja, began to reflect within herself in the following manner. 15 “How divinely fair has my husband become, and how very charming are these woodland scenes. By living long in this place, we must be an easy prey for the god of love. 16 I see that although one is liberated in his lifetime, yet the sense of his liberation cannot give him freedom from his obligation of testing the pleasures that are presented before him. I think it is ignorance to refuse offered enjoyments for the king. 17 Seeing my husband to be noble minded and free from all bodily disease and debility, and having a flowery grove before, it must be a wretched woman who refuses to advance to her lord at such a time.”

18 “That wretched woman is truly undone who, seated in her covered shelter of flowers, has her husband presented before her and yet fails to approach to him for her satisfaction. 19 Accursed is the woman who being wedded to a handsome husband, and having him alone in her company, fails to associate with him. 20 To one acquainted with true knowledge, of what good is it to reject a lawful pleasure that presents itself before that person? 21 So I must contrive some means in this forest whereby I may be successful to make my husband join with me.”

22 Having thought so in her mind, Chudala, disguised in the form of Kumbha, spoke to the king like a female nightingale mutters to her mate from her flowery covered shelter in the forest. 23 “This is the first day of the new moon of the lunar month of Chaitra, and this is a day of great festivity in the court of Indra in heaven. 24 So I must return to the assembly of the gods and present myself before my father in that assembly. So my departure is ordained by destiny and cannot be averted by any means. 25 You shall have to expect my return to this forest this evening. In the meantime, divert yourself in these flowery trees, which will lull your anxiety for me to rest. 26 I shall positively return here from the blue sky by the evening of this day. I shall soon join your company, which is ever delightful to me.”

27 So saying, she gave a stalk of flowers of the Nandana forest to her beloved to serve as a token of her affection for him. 28 The king said, “You must return to me soon.” She instantly disappeared from his sight and mixed with the air like a light autumn cloud vanishing in the empty sky. 29 He flung flowers after her as she mounted in the sky, and these floated in the air like icicles in the cold season. 30 Sikhidhwaja first saw her flight, then her disappearance from him like a peacock looking at the flight of a cloud with uplifted eyes. 31 At last the body of Kumbha vanished from Sikhidhwaja’s sight and mixed in the open air, as the waves of the sea subside in still and smooth waters.

32 Chudala reached her celestial city, resembling the garden of paradise with its kalpa trees in full bloom, its shining towers waving with flags hoisted on both sides of its charming paths. 33 She secretly entered her private apartment and met the company of the maids waiting for her, just as the graceful beauty of spring meets the long expectant trees of the forest. 34 She attended to her state affairs and discharged them quickly. Then she flew aloft in the air and dropped at Sikhidhwaja’s abode like flowers and fruit of autumn dropping on the ground.

35 She appeared there with a sad face and deeply dejected in her mind, like the fair moon darkened under mist or a beautiful lotus hidden under a fog. 36 Believing her to be his Kumbha, Sikhidhwaja rose up and stood in his presence. But he was troubled in his mind to see him so sad and sorry. He asked the cause and addressed him saying, 37 “I greet you, O Kumbha, but why do you appear so sad today? You are the son of a god and must not be sorry at anything. Please take your seat here. 38 Holy saints and those who know the knowable one, like you, are never moved by joy or grief, but remain untouched by them, as the lotuses remain intact in the water.”

39 Vasishta said:—

Being thus approached by the prince, Kumbha sat on his seat and then said in reply, with a voice as thin and soft as the sound of a bamboo flute.

Kumbha speaking:—

40 I know that those who know the truth, but remain impatient under bodily accidents and mental anxieties, are not truthful men but cheats who cheat people by their pretended truthfulness. 41 Know prince that the most learned, if they foolishly expect to evade the condition to which they are exposed by their nature, are the most ignorant.

42 The sesame seed naturally has oil inherent in it, and the body also has its inherent incidents. He who is not subject to his bodily accidents is like one who can separate wind from air with his sword. 43 Of course, it is best to evade the evils that are incidental to the body, but it is necessary to undergo patiently what is unavoidable by our bodily powers. 44 Again, as long as we have our bodies we must exert our bodily organs to their proper actions and never attempt to suppress them by our understanding, as it is done by many a wise man.

45 Even the great Brahma and the gods are subject to the conditions of their bodily frames. Even they with their great understandings do not have the power to avoid what is determined by irrevocable destiny. 46 It is beyond the power of both the wise and the unwise to deter the power of destiny. Destiny makes all things run in their destined course, just as the waters of rivers run into the sea. 47 The same irrevocable destiny equally determines the fates of the wise and unwise. She guides them with her fingers to the same goal until they get their release from the body.

48 However, the ignorant, whether exposed to prosperity or adversity, are always destined to undergo their effects upon their bodies.

49 Therefore, it must be known by both the wise and unwise that all beings are destined to roll in their repeated rotations of pleasure and pain, and that there is no power to change the ever chanceful ordinances of unchanging destiny.