Chapter 5 — Bhushunda’s Story of a Vidyadhara and His Questions

Vasishta continued:—

A conscious man who employs himself to inquire after truth, after controlling his nature and restraining his organs of sense from their objects, becomes successful at last. But a man of perverted understanding who has no command over his own nature finds it as impossible to gain any good or better state, just as it is in vain to expect any oil from pressing sand. A little instruction is as impressive on the pure mind as a drop of oil sticks to clean linen, but no education has any effect on the hard heart of fools, just as the most brilliant pearl makes no impression on a dirty glass mirror.

I recall an example of this teaching from an old story related to me by the aged Bhushunda in past days, when I was living with him on the top of Sumeru Mountain. In times of old, I once argued this question, among other things, with the time-worn Bhushunda when he was living in his solitary retreat in one of the caves of Mount Meru. I said to him, “O long living seer, do you remember ever having seen a person of infatuated understanding who was unconscious of himself and ignorant of his own soul?”

Bhushunda replied:—

Yes, there lived a vidyadhara spirit of old, on the top of the mountain on the horizon, who was greatly distressed with constant struggle and yet anxious for his longevity. He took up austerities of various kinds and observed abstinence, self-restraint and vows of various forms and thereby attained an life without decay which lasted for many ages of four kalpas of four yugas each. At the end of the fourth kalpa he came to his senses and his perception suddenly burst forth in his mind, like emeralds glaring out of the ground at the roaring of clouds.

10 Then the vidyadhara reflected, “What stability can I have in this world where all beings are seen to come repeatedly into existence, to decay with age, and at last to die and dwindle away into nothing? I am ashamed to live in this state of things and under such a course of nature.” 11 With these reflections he came to me quite disgusted at the frailties of the world and distasteful of harmful vanities. He asked me questions regarding the city with its eighteen compartments [i.e., ten organs, five vital airs, mind, soul, and body]. 12 He advanced before me and bowed down profoundly. After being honored by me, he took the opportunity to ask his questions.

13 The vidyadhara said, “I see these organs of my body, which though so frail are yet as hard and strong as any weapon of steel. They are capable of breaking and tearing everything and hurtful in their acts of injuring others. 14 I find my senses to be dim and dark, always disturbed and leading to dangers. The passions in the heart set fire to the forest of our good qualities and boil with the waves of sorrow and grief. The dark ignorance of our minds envelops everything in the deepest gloom. Hence our real happiness consists in control over our bodily organs, senses, and the passions and feelings of the heart and mind. Happiness is not to be had from any object of sense.”