Chapter 129 — Identical Self Develops Different Desires from Different Circumstances; Ignorance Is Identical with Brahma; Vipaschit the Stag Is Brought to the Court

Rama asks, “You said two Vipaschits were liberated by the grace of Vishnu. What became of the other two brothers who have been wandering all about?”

Vasishta replied:—

Of these two, one learned by long habit to subdue his desires. He wandered in many islands and at last settled in one of them and obtained his rest in God. Having renounced the sight of the outer garments of the world, he saw millions of globes rolling in emptiness and is still enrapt with the view. The second one was released from his personal wanderings by remaining close to the moon. There his constant association with the deer-like mark on the face of that luminary changed his form to that of that animal, which he still retains in his situation upon a hill.

Rama asked, “How is it sage, that the four bodies of Vipaschit, having only one mind and the same desire and aim in view, could differ so much in their acts that brought upon them such different results of good and evil?”

Vasishta replied:—

The habitual desire of a person becomes varied in course of time according to the various states of his life and in different places. It becomes weaker and stronger in degree, though it is never changed in its nature. According to circumstances, the same desire of a person is modified in different forms. Whatever is greater in intensity takes precedence over others and comes to pass in a short time.

In this divided state of their desires, the four bodies of the king arrived at four different states in their modes in life. Hence two of them were immersed in their ignorance, the third became a deer, and the last gained his liberation at last. The two former have not yet arrived at the end of their ignorance. They have been groveling in darkness by their blindness to the light of truth which can hardly dispel the darkness that is continually spread by ignorance. 10 Only the light of knowledge is able to drive the gloom of ignorance. Then ignorance, however deep rooted, flies far away like the darkness of night is dispersed before the light of day.

11 Now listen to what this Vipaschit did in the other world, where he was cast across the far distant ocean of sweet waters onto a coast of gold which he mistook for this habitable earth. 12 Beyond this he saw a globe in the emptiness of Brahma, which was how he thought of the emptiness of the great Brahman. 13 Here he was led by his excellent virtues to the company of the learned. From them he learned to see this visible world in its true light and he was merged into the state of Brahman. 14 As soon as he arrived at that state, his ignorance and his body disappeared from him, like a sea in a mirage vanishes before closer view, and like falsehood flies before truth.

15 Thus I have described all about Vipaschit and how ignorance is as eternal as Brahman because it is contemporary with him. 16 Millions of years have passed in eternity, but the mind by its nature is quite unmindful of their course and number. 17 As the knowledge of horses is said to be false when known, so the knowledge of the world is a falsity. But being truly known, it is found to be Brahman himself. 18 There is no difference between ignorance and the essence of Brahman because one exists in the other. Brahman is the perfect Consciousness that shows the difference in the modes of reasoning intellect.

19 Another Vipaschit, who was wandering all around the universal sphere, could not come to the end of his ignorance in his course of several yuga ages.

20 Rama said, “How was it, sage, that he could not reach the utmost limit of the universe, nor could he pierce its vault to get out? Please explain this fully to me, which you have not yet done.”

21 Vasishta replied:—

When Brahma was first born in the cosmic egg, he used both hands to break the shell into upper and lower halves. 22 The upper hemisphere rose too far upwards from the lower half. So the lower hemisphere descended as far below the upper part. 23 Then there are the circles of earth, water and air which are supported upon these hemispheres, while these two serve as bases for the support of other spheres. 24 In between is the empty sky, infinite in its extent, which appears to us as the blue vault of heaven. 25 It is not bounded by the circles of earth and water, but is a pure void, the basis of all other spheres that rest upon it.

26 He passed by that way into the infinite void, just like the circles of the starry frame revolve in the same void. He went on in order to examine the extent of ignorance and to obtain his release from it, as he was taught to find. 27 But this ignorance exists and grows with Brahma, so it is as infinite as God himself. She (avidya, ignorance) is as unknowable as God and no one has been able to know her nature. 28 Vipaschit, continuing to rise far away and higher in the heavens, found the nature of ignorance to have the same boundary as the extent of the worlds, through which he traversed on high.

29 Now see how one of these persons was liberated and another grazed about as a deer. See the other two fast bound to their former impressions, forced to wander about the worlds which they took for realities in their ignorance.

30 Rama said, “Tell me kindly, O sage, where and how far and in what sorts of worlds have these Vipaschitas been still roaming, with getting their final release? 31 How far away are those worlds in which they are born over and over again? All this is very strange to me, as you have described it.”

32 Vasishta said:—

The worlds where the two Vipaschitas have been carried and where they have been wandering are quite invisible to me, in spite of all my efforts to look into them. 33 The place where the third Vipaschit is wandering as a deer is also a land known to no one on earth.

34 Rama said, “Sage, you said that the Vipaschit who is transformed into a deer has been wandering on a hill. Therefore tell me, O most intelligent seer, where is that hill and how far away is it?”

35 Vasishta answered:—

Hear me tell you how far away that world is from here, the world where Vipaschit entered after passing through the vast emptiness of the Supreme Spirit and where he has been wandering in his form of a deer. 36 It is somewhere between these three worlds. All these worlds are spread at great distances from one another in the vast emptiness of the Divine Spirit.

37 Rama asked, “How is it consistent, sage, to say with good reason that Vipaschit was born and died in this world, and is still wandering as a deer in it?”

38 Vasishta replied:—

As the whole must well know all the parts of which it is composed, so I know everything everywhere that is situated in the all comprehensive soul of God in which I have assimilated myself. 39 I know the absent and all that is destroyed, as well as all forms of things, whether small or great. They are all interwoven together and exhibited before me as if they were produced of this earth of ours. 40 Hence all that I have told you, O Rama, regarding the adventures of the king was the work of his imagination and took place in some part of this world where he lived and died.

41 The Vipaschitas all wandered about other worlds in empty air. All this was the work of their imagination, which is unrestricted in its flight through boundless space. 42 One of these has happened to be born here as a deer. It is in a mountain valley somewhere upon this earth. 43 The place where the king is reborn in the form of a deer, after all his wanderings in other spheres were over, is in this earth globe. There he is placed on a certain spot by an act of unaccountable chance.

44 Rama said, “If it is so, then tell me sage, in what region of this earth, on what hill and in what forest of it, is this deer placed at present? 45 What is he doing now, and how does he nibble the grass in the green plain? How long will it be before that experienced seer may come to remember his former state and past actions?”

46 Vasishta replied:—

It is the same deer which was presented to you by the ruler of the province of Trigarta. It is kept close in your pleasure garden for your amusement.

47 Valmiki said:—

Rama was quite surprised, as were all the people sitting at the court, to hear the sage say this. Rama ordered his attendants to bring the deer immediately. 48 The brute deer was brought and placed before the open court, when the court-people found it plump and fat, quite tame and gentle. 49 Its body was spotted all over as with the stars of heaven. Its eyes were as outstretched as the petals of lotus flowers and by far more handsome than the eyes of beautiful ladies. 50 It looked with timid glances at the blue sapphires which decorated the court. It ran to bite them with its open month, thinking them to be blades of grass. 51 Then, as it fearfully gazed at the assembly with its neck raised, ears alert and eyes staring, people raised their heads, lifted up ears, and looked upon the animal with open eyes for fear the deer would leap and jump upon them.

52 The king with his ministers and courtiers were all amazed at the sight of the animal and thought that what they saw before them was all magic. 53 The wondering eyes of the assembled people and the shining gems adorning the bodies of princes made the court hall appear as if it were studded with full blown lotuses all around.