Chapter 80 — Vasishta Describes a Final Dissolution; Appearance of Adipurusha (Rudra, Shiva); Various Numbers of Voids

Vasishta continued:—

Afterwards the celestials who were present in the heaven of Brahma vanished and became invisible like a lamp with its burnt out wick. The twelve suns disappeared in the body of Brahma. Their burning beams burnt away the heaven of Brahma, just as they had burnt down the earth and other bodies. Having consumed the seat and home of Brahma, they fell into the meditation of the Supreme Brahman and became extinct in him like Brahma, like a lamp extinguished for lack of oil.

Then the waters of the universal ocean invaded the celestial city of Brahma, flooding its surface like the shade of night fills the face of the earth with darkness. Now the whole world was filled with water, from the highest seat of Brahma to the lowest pit of hell. All was as full of water as a ripe grape is swollen with its juice. Waving waters rising like mountain tops blended with the flying birds of air and washed the seats and feet of the gods hovering over them. They touched the antediluvian clouds, which deluged rain over them.

In the meantime, from my aerial seat, I saw a dreadful appearance in the skies which horrified me altogether. It was a deep and dark chaos that embraced the entire sky in its grasp and appeared like the gloom of night accumulated from the beginning to the end of creation. This dark form radiated bright beams of millions of morning suns, resplendent like three suns together, steady lighting flashing. 10 Its eyes were dazzling and its face flashed with the blaze of a burning furnace. It had five faces, three eyes, and ten hands, each holding a trident of immense size. 11 It appeared before me with its body outstretched in the air, standing transfixed in the sky like a huge black cloud extending all over the atmosphere. 12 It remained on the visible horizon, below and out of the universal ocean of waters, the position and features of hands and feet and the rest of its body indistinctly marked in the sky.

13 The breath of its nostrils agitated the waters of the universal ocean like Vishnu’s arms churning the Milky Ocean after the great flood. 14 Then from the antediluvian waters arose a male being who would later be called the First Male, Adipurusha. He was the personification of collective ego, the causeless cause of all. 15 He rose out of the ocean like a huge mountainous rock, then flew into the air with his big flapping wings extending over and enclosing the whole space of infinite emptiness. 16 From his triple eyes and trident, I knew him to be Lord Rudra himself. I bowed down to him as the great god of all.

17 Rama asked, “Sage, why did Lord Rudra have that form? Why was he so gigantic and dark? Why did he have ten arms and hands, and five faces and mouths? 18 Why did he have three eyes and such a fierce form? Was he absolute in himself or delegated by any other? What was his errand and what did he do? Was it a mere shadow of its substance?”

19 Vasishta replied:—

This being is named Rudra because he is the sum total of Egoism. He is full of self-pride and the form in which I saw him was clear emptiness. 20 This lord was of the form of vacuum and the color and brightness of emptiness. On account of being the essence of empty consciousness, he is represented as the blue sky.

21 Being the soul of all beings and being present in all places, he is represented in his gigantic form. His five faces represent his five internal organs of sense. 22 The external organs of sense and the five members of his body are represented by ten arms on both sides of his body. 23 This lord of creation and all living bodies and mankind is absorbed in the Supreme One at the final dissolution of the world. When he is let out to pass from the unity, he appears in this form.

24 He is only a part of the Eternal Soul. He has no visible body or form of his own. He is thought of in this form I have described by the false conception of men. 25 Having proceeded from the emptiness of Consciousness, Lord Rudra is set in the material vacuum. He also resides in the form of air in the bodies of living beings. 26 The aerial Rudra becomes exhausted in course of time, then by forsaking animated bodies, he returns to the reservoir of eternal rest and peace.

27 The three eyes of Rudra are the three qualities, the three times, the three intellectual faculties of the mind, understanding and egoism, the three Vedas, and the three letters of the sacred syllable of Aum. 28 The trident of Rudra is his scepter, held in his hand to imply his dominion over the three worlds. 29 He is represented as having a living body and soul to indicate his personality and personification of the egoism of all living beings, and that there is no living body apart from himself.

30 His nature and business is to provide for all living creatures according to their wants and deserts. Therefore he manifests in the form of Shiva, which is Divine Consciousness in the form of air. 31 This lord, having destroyed and devoured the whole creation at the end, rests in perfect peace and becomes of the form of pure air and the blue sky. 32 After affecting the destruction of the world, he drinks the universal ocean. Then being quite satisfied, he rests in perfect peace and inaction.

33 Afterwards as I saw him drawing the waters of the ocean into his nostrils by the force of his breath. 34 I saw a flame of fire flashing out from his mouth and thought it was the flash of the latent fire of the water drawn in him by the breath of his nostrils. 35 Rudra, the personified Ego, remains in the form of latent heat in undersea fire and continues to suck up the waters of the ocean until the end of a kalpa epoch.

36 The waters then enter the infernal regions like snakes entering holes beneath the ground, and the antediluvian winds entered his mouth in the form of the five vital airs, just as the winds of heaven have their recess in hollow sky. 37 Lord Rudra then goes on to swallow and suck up the marine waters, just as bright sunlight swallows the gloom of the dark night. 38 At last there appears a calm and quiet emptiness in the blue sky, resembling the wide ocean filled with flying dust and smoke, devoid of any being or created thing, and stretching from the world of Brahma to the lowest abyss of hell.

39 I described four different spheres of empty void, bearing no vestige of anything moving or stirring in them. Listen to me, O son of Raghu, and you will hear what they were.

40 One of these lay in the middle of the air and was sustained in it without any prop or support, like particles of fragrance floating in the air. This was Rudra in the form of the blue sky. 41 The second was lying far away and appeared like the curved, hollow vault of the sky over this earth. It was a part of the mundane system and below the seven spheres of the hell regions. 42 The third was a region above the mundane sphere. It was invisible to the naked eye owing to its great distance beyond the blue sky. 43 Then there was the surface of the earth with its lower hemisphere of the watery regions. It was traversed by the great Himalaya Mountain which was the seat of the gods and surrounded by islands, sands and shores surrounded by sea.

44 There is another sphere, lying at the furthest distance from the other circles of the world, which comprises the infinite space of emptiness. It extends unlimited like the unbounded and transparent spirit of God. 45 This was the remotest sphere of heavens that I could observe. There was nothing else observable on any side, beside and beyond the limits of these four spheres or circles.

46 Rama asked, “Tell me, O venerable sage, is there any sphere or space beyond what is contained in the mind of Brahma? Then tell me what and how many of them are there? What are their boundaries and how are they situated and to what end and purpose?”

47 Vasishta replied:—

Know Rama, that there are ten other spheres beyond this Brahmanda world. Of these, the first is the sphere of water lying beyond the two parts of the earth. It is ten times greater than the land which it covers, just as the shadow of evening spreads over the sky. 48 Beyond that is the sphere of heat, which is ten times greater in extent than that of water. Far from this is the region of the winds, whose circle is ten times larger than that of solar heat and light. 49 Next to these is the sphere of air, which is ten times as wide as the circuits of the winds. It is the highest sphere of transparent air and is said to comprise the infinite emptiness of the Divine Spirit. 50 Afar and aloft from these, there are some other spheres also, whose circles extend to the distance of ten times above one another in the vast infinity of space.

51 Rama said, “Tell me, O chief of sages, who holds up the water of the deep below and supports the air of the sky above the world? How they are held up?”

52 Vasishta replied:—

All earthly things are upheld by the earth, as water supports the leaves of lotuses upon it. Every part depends upon the whole, just as a child depends upon its mother. 53 Hence everything runs to and is attracted by whatever is larger than it, and situated nearer to it than others, just as the thirsty man runs to and is attracted by the nearby water. 54 So all metallic and other bodies depend upon the close union of their parts, which being joined together, are as inseparable from one another as arms and legs are attached to a person’s body.

55 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, how do the parts of the world exist together? How are they joined together? How are they separated from one another and destroyed in the end?”

56 Vasishta replied:—

Whether the world is supported by someone or not, and whether it remains fixed or falls off, in reality it is an insubstantial form, like a city in a dream. 57 What falls away or remains fixed on some support? It is seen in the same manner as our consciousness shows it to us. 58 The world is contained in and shown by the intellect in the same manner as wind is contained in and let out of air, and as the sky presents blueness and other airy appearances. 59 These habitable worlds forming the universe are only imaginary cities and creations of Consciousness. They are only airy representations of the airy mind, just as the formless sky is represented in empty emptiness, and appearing in various forms to us.

60 The nature of our intellect is to give many things to our consciousness and to make us unconscious of their disappearance by day and night. 61 An innumerable series of thoughts are constantly employing our minds when we are sitting and at rest, and so they are flying off and returning to us by day and night.

62 All things appear to approach their dissolution to one who knows their destructibility and their ultimate extinction at the end of a kalpa period. All things seem to be always growing in the emptiness of the mind of one who is familiar with only their growth. 63 All our thoughts appear in the vacuum of our minds like the vaporous chains of pearls seen in the autumn sky. They are both as false and fleeting as the other, and yet they press so very thick and quick on our sight and minds that there is no counting them.