Chapter 60 — Networks of Alternate Realities, Continued

Vasishta continued:—

Then I went on forward to find the source of the ethereal sounds, continuing my journey onward in the empty region of my mental thoughts without any interruption from any side. Far beyond me I heard the sound that came to my ears resembling the jingling thrill of the Indian lute. It became more distinct as I approached until I heard the metrical flow of sounds with a measure in it called arya [a two-line meter used in Sanskrit verses]. In my meditation, as I glanced towards the source of the sound, I saw a lady as fair as liquid gold brightening that part of the sky.

She had necklaces hanging on her loose garments and her eyelashes were colored with lac dye. With loosened traces and fluttering locks of hair, she appeared like the goddess Lakshmi sitting in the air. Her limbs were as beautiful and handsome as if were made of pure gold. Sitting on the wayside with the bloom of her youth, she was as fragrant as the goddess Lakshmi, beautiful in every part of her body. Her face was like the full moon and she was smiling like a cluster of flowers. Her face was flushed with her youth and her eyelids signified her good fortune. She was sitting under the vault of heaven, the brightness of her beauty blooming like the beams of the full moon. Decorated with ornaments of pearls, she walked gracefully towards me.

With her sweet voice, she recited the verses in arya rhythm, smiling as she recited them by my side in a high tone of her voice, saying, “I salute you, O sage, whose mind is freed from the evil inclinations of those who are deluded to fall into the current of this world, and to whom you are a support, like a tree standing on its border.”

10 Hearing this voice, I looked upon that charming face. Seeing the maiden with whom I had nothing to do, I disregarded her and went on forward. 11 Then I was struck with wonder, seeing the magic display of the mundane system, and was inclined to wander through the air and neglect the company of the lady. 12 With this intention in my mind, I left the ethereal lady in the air and assumed an aerial form to travel through the ethereal regions and scan the fantastic illusion of the world.

13 I went on seeing wonderful worlds scattered about in the empty sky. I found them no better than empty dreams or the fictions in works of imagination. 14 I never saw or heard any of those creations and creatures that existed in former kalpa and great kalpa ages of the world.

15 I did not see the furious pushkara and avarta clouds of the great flood, or the ominous and raging whirlwinds of old. I heard no thunder claps that split mighty mountains and broke worlds asunder. 16 The fires of the end of the world that cracked Kubera’s palaces, and the burning rays of a dozen suns were seen no more. 17 The lofty abodes of the gods hurled headlong on the ground, and the crackling noise of the falling mountains were no more to be seen or heard. 18 The fires at the end of the world raged with tremendous roar all about, boiling and burning away the waters of the ethereal oceans, were now no more. 19 There was no more hideous rushing of waters which flooded over the homes of gods, demigods, and men, nor swelling of the seven oceans which filled the whole world up to the face of the sun. 20 People all lay dead and unconscious of the universal flood, like men singing the battle alarm in their sleep. 21 I saw thousands of Brahmas, Rudras and Vishnus disappearing in the different kalpa ages of the world.

22 Then in my mental thoughts, I dived into those dark and dreary depths of time when there were no kalpa or yuga ages, no years and days and nights, no sun or moon, and no creation or destruction of the world. 23 All these I saw in my intellect, which is all in all, to which all things belong, and which is in every place. It is the intellect which absorbs everything in itself and shows itself in all forms.

24 O Rama, whatever you say to be anything, know that thing is only the intellect. This thing being rarer than subtle air, know it to be next to nothing. 25 Therefore this empty air exhibits everything under the name of the world. As sound proceeding from empty air melts again into the air, so all things are only aerial and transcendent air. 26 All these phenomena and their sight are simply false and pertain only to the empty intellect, exhibited as leaves of a tree in the sky. 27 Intellect, consciousness and emptiness are identical and of the same nature with themselves, and this I came to understand from the entire absence of all my desires.

28 These worlds linked together in the chain of the universe, lying within the limits of its ten sides, are only the one Brahman. The infinite emptiness, with all its parts of space and time and all forms of things and actions, are only the substance and essence of Brahman.

29 In this manner, in the numerous worlds that manifested before me, I saw many great sages like myself, all sons of the great Brahma and named Vasishta, and other men of great holiness and piety. 30 I saw many revolutions of the Treta Age with as many Ramas in them. I marked the rotation of many Satya and Dwapara Ages of the world, which I counted by hundreds and thousands. 31 From my common sense of concrete particulars, I saw this changing state of created things. But by the powers of my reflection and generalization, I found them all to be only the one Brahman, extended as infinite emptiness from all eternity.

32 It’s not that the world exists in Brahman or he in this. Brahman is the uncreated and endless all himself. Brahman is whatever bears a name or is thought of in our understanding. 33 He is like a block of silent stone that bears no name or description. It is of the form of pure light, which is also named the world. 34 This light shines within the sphere of infinite intellect beyond the limit of our finite intelligence. It manifests itself in the form of the world, which is as formless and as unknown to us as anything in our dreamless sleep.

35 Brahman is nothing other than himself. All else is only his reflection. His light is the light of the world, and shows us all things like sunlight. 36 It is by that light that these thousands of worlds appear to view. It is by that light that we have understanding of heat in the moon and of cold in the sun.

37 There are some creatures that see in the dark and not in daylight, such as owls and bats. There are men of the same kind. 38 There are many here who are lost by their goodness, and others who prosper and ascend to heaven by their wickedness. Some come to life by drinking poison, and many die by the taste of nectar. 39 Whatever a thing appears to be by itself, or whatever is thought of it in another’s understanding, the same comes to occur and is presented to the lot of everyone, be it good or evil.

40 The world is a hanging garden in the air, with all its orbs fixed as trees with their firm roots in it, yet rolling and revolving about like the shaking leaves and tossing fruits of this tree. 41 Sand, like mustard seeds crushed under stony oil mills, yield the fluid substance of oil. The tender lotus flower grows out of the clefts of rocks. 42 Moving images carved out of stone or wood are seen in the company of celestial goddesses conversing with them. 43 The clouds of heaven are seen shrouding many things as their vests, and many trees are found to produce fruits of different kinds every year. 44 All terrestrial animals are seen moving upon the earth in different and changing forms with different parts of their bodies and heads.

45 The lower worlds are filled with human beings who are without the regulations of the Vedas and scriptures. They live without any faith or religion and lead their lives like beasts. 46 Some places are peopled by heartless peoples who are without feelings of love or desire. Others are not born of women but appear to be scattered like stones on the ground. 47 There are some places full of serpents that feed only on air. There are other places where gems and stones are taken with indifference, and others where many people are without greed and pride. 48 There were some beings who look on their individual souls and not on those of others, and other beings regard the Universal Soul that resides alike in all.

49 As the hairs and nails and other parts of a person are parts of his same body, though they grow in different parts, so do all beings pertain to the one Universal Soul, which is to be looked upon in all. 50 The one infinite and boundless vacuum seems like many skies about the different worlds which it encompasses. By exertion of divine energy, these empty spaces are filled with worlds.

51 There are some who are entirely ignorant of the meaning of the word liberation and move about like wooden machines without any sense in them. 52 Some creatures have no knowledge of astronomical calculation and are ignorant of the course of time. Others are quite deaf and dumb and conduct themselves by signs and body movements. 53 Some are devoid of eyesight, so the light of the sun and moon are all in vain to them. 54 Some have no life in them. Others have no sense of smell. Some are quite mute and cannot utter any sound, while others are deprived of the sense of their hearing. 55 There are some who are entirely dumb, without the power of speech. Some have no sense of touch or feeling and are like unconscious blocks of stone. 56 Some have only their sense of conception without the organs of sense. Others manage themselves as foul pisacha demons and therefore are inadmissible in human society.

57 There are some made of one material only and others have no solidity in them. Some are composed of watery substance and others are full of fiery matter. 58 Some are full of air and some are of all forms. All these are empty forms and are shown in the emptiness of understanding.

59 So the surface of the earth, air and water swarm with living beings. Frogs live in the cave of stones and insects dwell in the womb of the earth. 60 There are living beings in vast bodies of water, as in lands, forests and mountains. So there are living creatures gliding in the other elements and air, like fish swimming in the air. 61 There are living things peopling the element of fire, moving in fiery places where there is no water to be had. There they fly and move about like sparks of fire. 62 The regions of air are also filled with other kinds of living beings. These have airy bodies like the bilious flatulency which runs all over the body. 63 Even the region of vacuum is full of animal life. These have empty bodies moving in their particular forms.

64 Whatever animals are shut up in infernal caves, or skip aloft in the upper skies, and those that remain and wander about all sides of the air, these and all those which inhabit and move about the many worlds in the womb of the great vacuum, were seen by me in the emptiness of my intellect.