Chapter 71 — Vasishta Describes a Final Dissolution of the World (1)

Vasishta added:—

So saying, the brahmin Brahma sat in lotus posture and resumed his intense meditation in samadhi, as did his celestial companions also. He fixed his mind on the pause placed at the end of half syllable “m”, the final letter of the holy mantra of omkara, and sat quietly with steady attention like an unmoved picture in a painting. His lustful consort, Desire, also followed his example. She sat reclined at the end of all her endless wishes, an empty and formless emptiness.

When I saw them growing thin for lack of their desires, I also reduced myself by means of my meditation until I found myself one with all pervading Intellect in the form of endless emptiness. I saw that as the desires of Brahma were drying up in himself, so I found all nature to be fading away with the contraction of the earth and ocean, together with the diminution of their hills and islands.

I saw trees and plants and all sorts of vegetables fading away with the decay of their growth. All creation seemed to come to its end in a short time. It seemed that the stupendous body of Viraj containing the whole universe was sick in every part. The great earth carried in his body was falling unconsciously into decline and decay. She was stricken with years, grown dull and dry without her mild moisture, wasting away like a withered tree in the cold season. As the unconsciousness of our hearts numbs our bodies, so did one’s loss of sensation produce the lack of consciousness of all things in the world.

10 The world was threatened by many a portent and ill omen on all sides, and men were hastening to hellfire, burning in the flame of their sins. 11 The earth was a scene of oppression and famine. Troubles, disasters and poverty waited on mankind everywhere. As women trespassed the bounds of behavior, so men sinned against the bounds of order and conduct. 12 The sun was hidden by mist and frost resembling gusts of ash and dust. People were greatly and equally afflicted by excess heat and cold, two opposites they did not know how to prevent. 13 Low caste shudras were tormented by burning fires on one side and floods of rainwater on the other. Wars being waged devastated entire provinces. 14 Tremendous omens were accompanied by falling mountains and cities and the loud cries of people upon the destruction of their children and many good and great men. 15 The land burst into deep ditches where there had been no water channels before.

Peoples and the rulers of men indulged themselves in promiscuous marriages. 16 All men lived like travelers and all paths were full of tailor shops. All women were engrossed with their hair and promiscuity. All rulers imposed head taxes on their people. 17 All men lived by hard labor, farmers living only upon litigation. Women lived in impiety and impurity and the rulers of men were addicted to drinking. 18 The earth was full of unrighteousness, its people misled by heretical doctrines and vicious scriptures. All wicked men were wealthy and fortunate and all good people in distress and misery. 19 The evil non-aryans (foreigners) were the rulers of earth and respectable and learned men had fallen into disrepute and disregard. People were all guided by their evil passions of anger, greed, hatred, envy, malice, and the like. 20 All men were apostates giving up their religion, inclined to the faith of others. Brahmins were despised for their sermons and the evil inhabitants of border regions persecuted others. 21 Robbers infested cities and villages, robbing temples of gods and the houses of good people. There were parasites pampered with others’ delicacies, but short lived and sick with their gluttony. 22 All men indulging themselves in idleness and luxury and neglected their rituals and duties.

All quarters of the globe presented scenes of dangers and difficulties, sorrows and grief. 23 Cities and villages were reduced to ashes and districts were laid waste on all sides. The sky appeared to be weeping with vaporous clouds and the air disturbed by whirling tornadoes. 24 The land resounded with the loud crying and wailing of widows and unfortunate women. Those who remained were compelled to live by beggary. 25 The country was dry and destitute of water, lying bare and barren in all parts. The seasons were unproductive of seasonal fruits and flowers. So every part of this earthly body of Brahma was out of order and painful to him.

26 Upon her approaching dissolution, there was a great famine on earth. The body of Brahma grew senseless owing to the loss of the watery element in all its canals of rivers and seas. 27 The spirit of Brahma being disturbed, there occurred a disorder in the course of nature. It brought on a transgression of good manners, as when the waters of rivers and seas overflow their boundaries. 28 Then furious water surges began to break down their shores and run madly upon the ground, flooding the land and laying waste to woodlands. 29 Whirlpools whirled with harsh noise, turning about on every side with tremendous violence. Huge surges rose high to wash the face of heavy clouds in the sky. 30 Mountain caves were resounding to the loud roar of huge clouds on high and heavy showers of rain fell in torrents from the sky, flooding mountain tops far and near.

31 Gigantic whales rolled along with the whirling waves of the ocean. The bosom of the deep appeared like a deep forest with huge bodies of the whales floating on heaving waves. 32 Mountain caves were scattered with the bodies of marine animals killed there by hungry lions and tigers. The sky glittered with marine gems carried on high by the rising waters. 33 The dashing of rising sea waves against the falling showers of the sky and the dashing of the whales against the clouds on high raised a huge uproar. 34 Elephants floating on flood waters washed the faces of the stars with the waters spouted from their trunks. Their jostling against one another hurled hills to the ground. 35 The loud surges of the sea dashed against the rocks on the shore let out a noise like the loud roar of elephants resounding in mountain caves.

36 The nether sea invaded the upper sky. Its turbulent waves drove the celestials from their homes just like an earthly ruler attacks another and his triumphant host dispossesses the inhabitants with loud outcry. 37 Floodwaters covered the woods, both in the earth and air. Waves spread over the skies like the winged mountains of times past. 38 Loud winds broke the waves of the sea, driving them ashore like fragments of mountains. Splashing waters dashed against the rocks on the shore washing fossil shells on the coast.

39 Twisting whirlpools sucked huge whales inside and flowed over falling rocks in their fathomless depth. 40 Huge whales were carried with the torrents and drowned in the depths of caves on mountain tops, and these they attempted to break with their hideous teeth. 41 Tortoises and crocodiles hung from trees, their full length extended. The vehicles of Yama (buffalo) and Indra (elephant) stood terrified with erect ears. 42 They listened to the fragments of rocks falling with hideous noise on the seashore and saw fish with their broken fins tossed up and down by the falling stones.

43 The forests shook no more in their dancing mood, and the waters on earth were all still and cold. But the marine waters were flaming with an undersea fire emitting a dismal glare. 44 The whales, afraid of the marine fires, fell upon the waters on mountain tops and competed with the earthly and mountainous elephants. 45 Rocks carried away by the rapid current looked as if they were dancing on the tops of the waves. There was a loud concussion of swimming and drowned rocks as they dashed against the mountains on land. 46 Men and wild animals sought protection on large mountains and in woods. Herds of wild elephant roaring loudly at a distance like trumpets. 47 The infernal regions were disturbed by torrents of water, as by the infernal demons. The elephants of the eight quarters raised loud cries with their uplifted trunks. 48 The nether world emitted a growling noise from their mouths of infernal caves. The earth, fastened to its polar axis, turned like a wheel on its axle.

49 The overflowing waters of the ocean broke their bounds with as much ease as they tear marine plants apart. Breathless skies resounded to the roaring of the clouds all around. 50 The sky was split into pieces and fell down in fragments. The regents of the skies fled far away with loud cries. Comets and meteors were hurled from heaven in the forms of whirlpools. 51 Fires and firebrands were seen burning on all sides of the skies, earth and heaven, flaming and flashing like liquid gold and luminous gems, and like vermilion colored snakes.

52 Many flaming and flying comet portents with burning crests and tails were seen flashing all about in the heaven above and earth below, flung by the hands of Brahma. 53 All the great elementary bodies were disturbed and put out of order. The sun and moon and the gods of air (Pavana) and fire (Agni), together with the gods of heaven (Indra) and hell (Yama), were all in great confusion. 54 Even the gods seated in the abode of Brahma were afraid of their impending fall when they heard the huge trees of the forests falling headlong with a tremendous crash.

55 Mountains standing on the surface of the earth were shaking and tottering on all sides. A great earthquake shook the mountains of Kailash and Meru to the very bottom of their caves and forests. 56 Ominous tornadoes at the end of the kalpa period overthrew mountains cities and forests, and overwhelmed the earth and all in general ruin and confusion.