Chapter 75 — Vasishta Describes a Final Dissolution of the World (2)

Vasishta continued:—

Then, sitting in my meditation of Brahma, I cast my eyes around and saw a region before me. It being midday, I saw a secondary sun behind me, appearing like a fire over a mountain on the horizon. I saw the sun in the sky like a ball of fire and another in the water burning as an undersea fire. I saw a burning sun in the southeast corner and another in the southern quarter. Thus I saw four fiery suns on the four sides of heaven, and as many in the four corners of the sky also. I was astonished to find so many suns all at once in all the sides of heaven. Their fires seemed to burn down their presiding divinities, Agni, Vayu, Yama, Indra and others.

As I was astonished looking at these unnatural appearances in the heavens above, suddenly there appeared a terrestrial sun before me, bursting out of the undersea regions below. Eleven of these suns were like reflections of the one sun seen in a prismatic mirror. They rose out of the three suns of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in the emptiness of the different sides of heaven. The same form of Rudra with its three eyes shone forth in the forms of the twelve burning suns of heaven.

In this manner the sun burnt down the world like fire burns the dry wood of the forest. The world was dried up of its moisture, as in the parching days of summer. 10 The solar fire burnt away the woods without any literal fire or flame. The whole earth was dry as dust by this fireless heat. 11 My body became hot and my blood boiled from the heat of a wild fire, so I left that place of torrid heat and ascended to the remoter and higher regions of air.

12 I saw heavenly bodies hurling like tops flung from the string held by a mighty hand. From my aerial seat I saw the rising of blazing suns in heaven. 13 I saw the twelve suns burning the ten sides of heaven, and I also saw the extensive spheres of the stars whirling with incredible velocity. 14 The waters of the seven oceans were boiling with a gurgling noise, and burning meteors were falling over the cities in farthest worlds.

15 Flames with splitting noise flashed upon distant mountains, making them flare with red color. Continuous lightning flashed upon great buildings all around, putting the canopy of heaven in a flame. 16 Falling buildings emitted a cracking and crackling noise all around and the earth was covered with columns of dark smoke like thick clouds and mists. 17 Fumes rose like crystal columns appearing as small towers and spires upon the towers on earth. The loud noise of wailing beasts and men raised a gurgling sound all over the ground. 18 Cities falling upon men and beasts made a hideous noise and huge heaps of debris on earth. Falling stars from heaven scattered fragments of gems and jewels over the earth. 19 All human houses were in flames, bodies of men and beasts burning in their respective homes and houses. Noiseless outskirts of villages and towns were filled with the stink of dead and burning bodies.

20 Marine animals were burnt under the warm waters of the seas. The cries of people within cities were hushed by the howling of the surrounding flames. 21 The elephants of the four quarters of heaven fell down and rolled upon the burning ground, lifting hills with their tusks. 22 Burning hamlets and houses were crushed and smashed under falling stones and hills, which made the mountain elephants yell aloud with their dying groans and agonies. 23 Heated by the sun, all living beings rushed and splashed the hot waters of seas. Mountain vidyadharas fell down into the hollow bosom of mountains bursting from their volcanic heat.

24 In some places, some grew tired of crying. Others resorted to yoga meditation and remained quiet. Serpent races were left to roll on burning cinders below and upon the earth. 25 Voracious marine beasts like sharks and whales baked in drying channels and were driven to the whirlpools of the deep. Poor fishes attempting to evade the fire flew into the air by thousands and thousands. 26 Burning flames rising high in the air, as if clad in crimson apparel and dancing, caught the garments of apsara nymphs in heaven. 27 The devastating kalpa fire, wreathed with its flashing flames, began to dance all around with the loud sound of bursting bamboos and cracking trees, like the beating of drums and tambourines. 28 The playful fire danced like an actor on the ruined stage of the world. 29 The fire ravaged all lands and islands and desolated all forests and forts. It filled all caves and the hollow vault of sky until at last it reached the tops of the ten sides of heaven.

30 It blazed in caves and over cities and in all sides of valleys and lands. It blazed over hills and mountain tops, the seats of the spiritual masters, and on the seas and oceans. 31 Flames flashing from the eyes of Shiva and the Rudras boiled the waters of lakes and rivers, burned the bodies of gods and demons, and those of men and serpent races. A harsh whispering sound arose from everywhere. 32 With columns of flaming fire over their head, people began to play by throwing ashes upon one another, like playful demons flirting with dust and water.

33 Flames flashed forth from underground caves on earth and all things around them were reddened by their light. 34 All sides of heaven lost their blue color under the vermilion color of the clouds hanging over them. All things lost their respective colors and assumed the rosy tint of the red lotus. 35 The world appeared covered under a crimson canopy from the burning flames which spread all around, resembling the evening sky under the parting glories of the setting sun. 36 Covered with spreading, burning fires, the sky appeared like a hanging garden of blooming asoka flowers, or like a bed of the red kinsuka blossoms hanging in the sky. 37 The earth looked like it had been scattered with red lotuses and the seas seemed to be sprinkled with red dye. In this manner the fire blazed in many forms, with its tails and crests of smoke.

38 The conflagration raged with its youthful vigor in the forest where it glared in many colors, like a burning scenery shown in a painting. 39 The natural changes of sunrise and sunset disappeared from the Vindhyan Hills because of the constant burning of woods upon its summit. 40 Flying fumes emitting flashes of fire appeared like the luster of the gems in the blue Sahya Mountain in the south. 41 The blue vault of the sky looked like a greenish blue lake, decorated with lotus-like firebrands all over. Flames of fire flashed over the tops of the cloudy mountains in air. 42 Flames of fire, with smoky tails that resembled the tail of a comet, danced about on the stage of the world like dancing actresses with loosened and waving hair. 43 The burning fire burst the parched ground and flung its sparkling particles all around, like fried rice flying all about the frying pan in various colors. 44 Rocks and woods, burning with a bursting and splitting noise, exhibited a golden color on the surface of the earth.

45 All lands were crushed together with the cry of their inhabitants and all seas dashed against one another with foaming froths in their mouths. 46 Waves shone in their faces with the reflection of the shining sun upon them. They clashed against each other as if they were clapping their hands, and dashed with such force against the land that they broke down the rocks on the seashore. 47 The raging sea with his wavelike arms grasped earth and stone, as foolish men do in their anger, and devoured them in his hollow cell with a gurgling noise, as fools swallow their false hopes with vain weeping.

48 The all destroying, harsh sounding fire melted rivers with their banks and the rulers of the spheres fell before the jets of heated water. 49 The ten sides of the compass were out of order and confounded together. All mountains, together with their woods, houses and caves, were reduced to liquid fire. 50 By degrees enormous Mount Meru dissolved into snow by the heat of fire, and soon after the same fire melted down great Mount Himalaya like black lac-dye.

51 All things were cold and pinched in themselves, as good people are melted by the fear of the wicked, except Malaya Mountain which yielded its fragrance even in that state. 52 A noble minded man never forsakes his nobleness, though he is exposed to troubles, because the great never afflict another, though they are deprived of their own joy and happiness. 53 Burn sandalwood, yet it will diffuse its fragrance to all living beings. The intrinsic nature of a thing is never lost or changed into another state. 54 Gold is never consumed or disfigured, though it is burnt in fire. Thus there are two things, namely aura and emptiness, that cannot be consumed by all destroying fire. 55 Those bodies are above all praise which do not perish at the destruction of all others. Emptiness is indestructible on account of its omnipresence, and gold is not subject to any loss owing to its purity. 56 The property of goodness alone is true happiness, and not passion or inertia.

Then the fiery clouds moved aloft as a moving forest, sprinkling ash showers of vivid flame. 57 Mountainous clouds of fire accompanied with flames and fumes poured liquid fire around, burning away all bodies already dried up from heat and lack of water. 58 Dried leaves of trees floating high in the air were burnt away by flames instead of the rain of heavy clouds.

59 The encompassing and gorgeous flames passed by Kailash Mountain without touching it, knowing it to be the seat of the dreaded god Shiva, in the manner of wise men flying from the mud and mire of sin. 60 Then the god Rudra growing furious at the final destruction of the world, shot the dreadful flame of his fiery third eye and burnt down sturdy trees and robust rocks to ashes with stunning cracklings. 61 The foothills of mountains, crowned with flames of fire, moved forward as if to fight the fire with their stones and clubs made of tree clumps. 62 The sky became like a bed of full blown lotuses and creation became a mere name like that of Agastya who departed and disappeared from sight forever. 63 The suffering idiot, on remembering the great dissolution, took the world to be at an end, as the fire consumes all objects like the unreality of the world.

64 Falling thunderbolts pierced all bodies and glittering flames consumed all trees and plants. The winds blew with fiery heat burning everything, even scorching the bodies of the gods. 65 Wild fires raged loose among the trees in the forest. There were clouds of hot ash flying in the air. Smoky mists emitted red hot embers and fiery sparks. Darkness rose upward with fagots of fire falling from within. Gusts of wind blew with speed and force to help the destructive fire.