1 Vasishta continued:—
Once I gently looked upon a graceful vidyadhari with lotus-like eyes, her sidelong glances darting like a string of malati flowers. I asked her with tenderness, 2 “Who are you sweet lady, who is as fair as the pollen of the lotus flower and comes to my company? Say, whose and what are you? Where do you live and where are you going? What do you desire of me?”
3 The vidyadhari replied:—
It is fitting, O silent sage, that you greet me in this way. I come to you with a grieving heart and I will lay my case confidently before you for your kind advice.
4 This worldly dwelling of yours is situated in a corner of the cell of the great vault of emptiness. 5 This dwelling house of the world has three apartments, namely earth, heaven and the infernal regions. In this house the great architect (Brahma) placed a young girl by name of fancy as a mistress of this dwelling.
6 Here the somber surface of the earth appears as the store-house of the world, encompassed with numerous islands surrounded by oceans and seas. 7 The earth stretches on all sides extending ten thousand leagues with many islands in the midst of its seas and with many mines of gold underneath. 8 It is bright and visible, fair as the vault of heaven. It supplies us with all the objects of our desire and the luster of its gems competes with the starry heaven. 9 It is the pleasure and promenade ground of gods, spiritual masters, and apsara nymphs. It abounds with all objects of desire, filled with all things for our enjoyment. 10 The two polar mountains called the Lokaloka Ranges are at its two ends. The two polar circles resemble two belts at both extremities of the earth.
11 One side of the Lokaloka Mountains is always covered by darkness, like the minds of ignorant people. The other side shines with eternal light, like the enlightened souls of the wise. 12 One side of these is as delightful as society with the good and wise, while the opposite is as dark as company with the ignorant and evil. 13 On one side all things are as clear as the minds of intelligent men. On the other, there is an impenetrable gloom such as hangs over the minds of unlettered brahmins. 14 On one part there is no sunshine or moonlight. One side presents the habitable world and the other shows the vast void and waste beyond the limits of nature. 15 One side abounds with the cities of gods and the other with those of demons. One side lifted its lofty summits on high, the other bent below towards the infernal regions.
16 Somewhere eagles hover over valleys and at others, lands appear charming to sight, mountain peaks appearing to touch the celestial city of Brahma on high. 17 Somewhere there appears a dismal and dreary desert forest with loud blasts of death hovering over them. At others there are flower gardens and groves with the vidyadharis of heaven sitting and singing in them. 18 In one part there is a deep infernal cave containing horrible Kumbhanda demons. In another are beautiful Nandana pleasure gardens with the hermitages of holy saints. 19 On one part hang eternal clouds roaring loudly like furious elephants, while rain clouds shower on the other. There are deep and dark caves in one part and thick forest trees on another.
20 Laboring woodmen cut down the trees of woodlands inhabited by evil spirits on one side, driving away the devils by felling the woods where they haunt. The other is full of inhabited tracts with men more polished in their manners than the celestials of heaven. 21 Some places are laid desolate by their inhabitants and by driving and whirling winds. Others, secure from every harm, flourish in their produce. 22 Somewhere there are great and desolate deserts, dreary wastes dreadful with howling winds. In some places there are rippling lakes of lotus with rows of noisy cranes gracing their shores.
23 In some places gurgling waters can be heard, and in others the growling of clouds. In others gay and merry apsara nymphs, turned giddy with their swinging, can be heard. 24 On one side the landscape is troubled by horrible demons and is shunned by all other beings. On the other, the happy spirits of spiritual masters, vidyadharas and others are seen sitting and singing by the side of cooling streams. 25 Somewhere rain pouring from clouds cause ever flowing rivers to encroach upon the lands. And there were light and flimsy clouds also, flying like sheets of cloth driven here and there by gusts of wind.
26 There are lotus bushes on one side with swarms of humming bees fluttering about their leafy faces. Rosy reddish teeth of celestial damsels can be seen blushing with the stain of betel leaves on the other. 27 In one place there is a pleasant gathering of people pursuing their various callings under the shining sun. In another is an assembly of hideous demons dancing in their demonic revelry in the darkness of night. 28 Somewhere the land and its people are laid waste by devastations and portents befalling on them. Elsewhere the country is smiling with rising cities under the blessings of a good government. 29 Sometimes a dreary waste distracts, and at others a beautiful population attracts the sight. Sometimes deep and dark caves occur to view and at others a dreadful abyss appears.
30 Some spot is full of fruitful trees and luxuriant vegetation and another is a dreary desert devoid of water and living beings. Somewhere you see bodies of big elephants and at others groups of great and greedy lions. 31 Some places are devoid of animals and others peopled by ferocious rakshasa demons. Some places are filled with the thorny karanja thickets and others are full of lofty palm forests. 32 Somewhere lakes are as large and clear as the expanse of heaven, and at others there are vast barren deserts as void as the empty air. Somewhere there are tracts of continually driving sands, and at others there are excellent groves of trees flourishing all seasons of the year.
33 This mountain has many a peak on its top, as high as ordinary hills elsewhere. Kalpa clouds are perpetually settled upon them, blazing with the radiance of gems by the colors of heaven. 34 There are forests growing on milk-white and sunny stones of this mountain, serving as homes for foresters and always resorted to by lions and monkeys.
35 There is a peak on the north of this mountain, with a grotto towards the east, and this cave affords me a secluded home in its hard and stony interior. 36 There I am confined, O sage, in that stony prison-house, and there I have passed a series of yuga ages.
37 Not I alone, but my husband also is confined in the same cave with me. We are doomed to remain imprisoned there, like bees closed up at night within the cup of a closing lotus flower. 38 My husband and I have continued to live in the stony dungeon for a very long period of many years. 39 It was our own fault that we do not obtain our release even now, but continue to remain there as prisoners forever. 40 But sage, it is not only we who are confined in this stony prison-house. All our family, friends, and dependants are enslaved in the same stronghold without end.
41 An ancient person, my twice-born brahmin husband, is confined there in his dungeon. Though he has remained there for many an age, yet he has never moved from his seat. 42 He is employed in his studentship and living as a celibate since boyhood. He listens to recitals of the Vedas and is steadfast in his observances without deviation.
43 But I am not so, O sage. I am doomed to perpetual distress because I am unable to pass a moment without his company. 44 Hear now, O sage, how I became his wife and how there grew a sincere affection between us.
45 When my husband was still a boy, he acquired a little knowledge by remaining in his own house. 46 He thought in himself, “Ah, I am a Vedic brahmin. Can it be possible for me to have a suitable partner?” 47 Then, out of himself, he produced me with this beautiful figure, just like the bright moon causes moonlight to issue out of his body.
48 Being thus produced from the mind of my husband, I remained as his mental consort and grew up in time like blossoms in spring, as beautiful as a mandara plant in bloom. 49 My body became as bright as the face of the sky by its nature. All my features glittered like the stars in heaven. My face was as fair as the full moon and attracted all heart towards it. 50 My breasts were swollen like flower buds and luscious like juicy fruit. My arms and the palms of my hands resembled two tender vines with their red leaflets.
51 I became the delight and captor of the hearts of living beings. The side long glances of my stretched antelope eyes infatuated all minds with a maddening passion of love. 52 I was prone to the allurements and dalliance of love, and prompt in jokes, impulsiveness and disguised smiles and glances. I was fond of singing and music and was unsatisfied in my joy. 53 I was addicted to the enjoyment of all bliss, both in prosperity and adversity, both of which are alike friendly to me. I was never tempted by the delusive temptations of the one and never frightened by the threatening persecution of the other.
54 I do not sustain the household of my brahmin lord alone, but I support the mansions of the inhabitants of all the three worlds because by being a mental being, I have access to all places far and near. 55 I am the legal wife of the brahmin, fit to propagate and support his offspring, and also fit to bear the burden of this house of the triple worlds.
56 Now I am a grown young woman with swollen breasts. I am as giddy with my youthful gaiety as a cluster of flowers swaying in the air. 57 My husband, owing to his natural disposition of procrastination and studiousness, is employed in his austerities. In expectation of getting his liberation, he is delaying marriage to me to this day. 58 But I am advanced in my youth and fond of youthful dalliance. I burn in the flame of my passion for him, like a lotus flower in a fiery furnace. 59 Though I am always cooling myself with the breezes of brooks and lotus lakes, yet I constantly burn throughout my body, like sacrificial embers reduced to ashes in the sacred fire place.
60 I see gardens covered with flowers falling in showers from shady trees, but I burn as the land under the burning sands of a burning desert without shade. 61 The soft gurgling of waters, the gentle breeze of lakes full with blooming lotuses and lilies, and the sweet sounds of cranes and water fowls are all rough and harsh to me. 62 Though decked with flowery wreaths and garlands and swinging upon my cradle of flowers, yet I think I am lying down on a bed of thorns. 63 Sleeping on beds made of the soft leaves of lotus and plantains, I find them dried under the heat of my body, powdered to ashes by the pressure of my body.
64 Whatever fair, lovely, charming, sweet and pleasant things I come to see and feel, I am filled with sorrow at their sight and my eyes are filled with tears. 65 My eyes steam with tears from the heat of my inner bosom. They trickle and fall from my eyelids like dew drops on lotus leaves. 66 Swinging with my playmates on the hanging branches of plantain trees in our pleasure gardens, I think of the burning grief in my heart and burst out in tears. I cover my face with my hands. 67 I look at our gardens of cooling plantain leaves, scattered with snow all over. But fearing them as bushes of thorny brambles, I fly far away from them.
68 I see the blooming lotus of the lake and the fond crane showing affection with its stalk-like arm, then begin to despise my youthful bloom. 69 I weep at seeing whatever is handsome and keep quiet at what is moderate. I delight in whatever seems ugly and I am happy in my utter unconsciousness of everything. 70 I have seen the fair flowers of spring and the hoarfrost of winter and thought them all to be only heaps of the ashes of lovelorn ladies, burnt down by the flame of love and scattered by relentless winds on all sides. 71 I have made beds from the blue leaves of lotuses and other plants and covered myself with wreaths of snow white flowers. But I found them turning pale and dry by their contact with my body. So pity me, that my youthful days have all gone in vain.