Chapter 122 — King Vipaschit and His Companions Walk on the Ocean

Vasishta related:—

Rising in the morning, they regulated the affairs of the state according to the rules prescribed by law. They were eager to see the sea, as if impelled by some supernatural force which nothing less than the power of ministerial officers could restrain. So exasperated by their mad ambition, they forgot their affections for family to undertake their perilous sea voyage, leaving them all weeping. They said, “We will see what there is on the other side of the sea, then return instantly to this place.” Saying so they muttered the invocatory mantras of the fire god Agni, who inspired them with the power of walking with feet dry over the sea.

All the representatives of the king, followed by their companions on all sides, proceeded to the borders of the various seas, walking over the watery maze. They walked upon the waters as if they were walking upon the ground. All four bodies of the fourfold king met together in one place. Immediately afterwards they separated with all their forces. Marching on foot over the vast expanse, they surveyed all that was in and upon the sea, then disappeared from the sight of people on the shore, like a cloud vanishes in autumn. The forces traveled on foot over the watery path of the ocean with as much fortitude as the king’s elephants tread patiently on land when bound on a distant journey. They mounted high and went down along rising and lowering waves, like men climbing and descending steep mountains, or like one galloping on horseback, or like Vishnu floating upon ocean waves. They paced over whirlpools like straw floats on water. They walked about as gracefully among waves as the beautiful moon passes through clouds. 10 The brave soldiers, so well armed with weapons and so well protected by the power of their mantras and amulets, were discharged from the bowels of sharks as often as they came to be devoured by them. 11 Pushed onward by waves and driven forward by winds, their bodies were carried many leagues in a moment.

12 Huge wave surges lifted them to great heights, like the enormous elephants on which they used to mount and ride about in their native land. 13 The vast expanse of water is like the empty space of the sky. Its successions of heaving waves are like the folds of gathering clouds in heaven, emitting lightning as they dash against one another. 14 Loose, loud surges of the sea resembled elephants loose on the battlefield. Though they dashed against the shore with all their force, yet they were unable to break them down, like elephants baffled in their attempt to break down a stone rampart.

15 Surging waves reflect the rays of brilliant pearls and gems borne from shore to shore. They resemble eminent men who, though they pass alone from place to place, are accompanied by their train and glory everywhere. 16 The surf tramples over masses of hoary froth with contempt, like a snowy white swan treads upon the bed of white lotuses with contempt. 17 The loud ocean, even louder than roaring clouds and waves, has no terror to those who stand like rocks thereon. 18 The cloud-kissed waves of the ocean, rising above the mountains then falling low at their feet, were likely to touch the sun and then sink into the nether worlds.

19 The companions were not afraid of the rising waters. They passed over the sea like upon a sheet of cloth, shrouded by drizzling clouds that formed a canopy over them. 20 Thus the king’s companions crossed the ocean full of sharks, alligators and tremendous whirlpools. They were sprinkled with water like showers of flowers and adorned with marine gems and pearls. They crossed on foot, as others do in fleets of ships.