Chapter 131 — Vishwamitra Lectures on Endless Phenomena; — Bhasa Describes His Lives Searching for the End of Ignorance

Dasharata said, “I understand that Vipaschit has acted unwisely taking so much pains in his wanderings for a knowledge of the spheres. It is all in vain to inquire into unrealities and useless matters, and it was his ignorance alone that led him to the search.”

Valmiki related:—

At this moment, the sage Vishwamitra, who was sitting beside the king, opened his mouth and said on the subject now under consideration.

Vishwamitra said:—

O king, there are many such men who, without a good understanding and for want of best knowledge, are apt to think it possible for them to know all things. Hence the sons of King Vatadhana have been wandering all over this earth for very many years in search of true knowledge without ever being able to arrive at it. They have ceaselessly struggled to explore the limits of this earth, like a river runs in its constant course forever.

This great world is situated like an globe in the air, like a child’s imaginary tree growing in the sky, or like a toy ball of playful Brahma rolling about in empty air. As ants crawl around a sugar ball without falling off, so do all living bodies move about on their support of this earth sustained in empty air. Those who are situated on the lower surface of this globe are moving about as erectly as those who are on its upper side. The sun, moon, and planets, together with the starry frame and the heavenly stream are attracted to turn round it constantly, without ever coming in contact with it. 10 The sky encircles and surrounds it on all sides, though the sky appears to be above our heads and the earth below our feet. 11 Living beings below the earth are moving downward or flying upward, just like the beasts and birds on the upper side. The region to which they fly is called the upper sky.

12 On some part of this earth there is a warrior race named Vatadhanas. In days of the past, three princes were born to this royal family. 13 Like Vipaschit, they were firmly intent to know the limits of the visible world. They set out in their journey to explore with a firm and unfailing resolution. 14 They passed from land to water, and from waters to other lands again. Thus they passed many lives and ages in their repeated inquiries with new bodies in repeated births. 15 Wandering forever all about the earth, like ants moving on a sweet cake, they found no end to it. They never reached any spot beyond the earth even in their thought of another one. 16 They are still turning around the world in the air, like busy ants on sugar. They are still in the same search without being tired of it. 17 Because whoever stands on any part of the globe thinks it to be the uppermost, and all other places to be lower. So people living below, on the opposite point on the globe, think they are uppermost. 18 Then the three princes said to themselves that if they could not find the end of the earth after all their struggle, they must give up the pursuit and go elsewhere.

19 So it is with this world, O king, which is no more than display of the thoughts of Brahma. It is a work of creation only in the mind, a delusion like that of an extended dream. 20 The mind is the Supreme Brahman and Brahma is same as his mind. They both are in the form of consciousness and there is no difference between them, as there is none between open air and the sky. 21 Consciousness operates in itself, like waters running in whirlpools. As the whirling currents and bubbles are nothing other than the water, so the operations of the mind are modifications of the mind itself.

22 The sky, which is only emptiness and was a void in the beginning, shows itself in the form of the world which is neither created nor ever destroyed. 23 Whatever the intellect suggests, the mind obeys and is inclined in the same way, and continues to view the outer world as it has always existed in thought. 24 The visible world has the same form and is equally imperishable as the intellectual. Eternal God manifests himself in this manner, which is otherwise nothing of itself.

25 There is an atom of Divine Consciousness, an infinity of minute atoms in the shape of ideas, just as there are innumerable stones in the body of a rock. They reside in the spirit of God and are as translucent as the Divine Spirit. 26 They abide in their own natures in the unexpanded spirit of God. But they do not live independently of themselves as there is nothing separate from the Supreme Spirit. 27 Therefore this world is said to be the manifestation of the Divine Mind. The learned arrive at this conclusion through logical consideration of the antecedent and subsequent arguments. 28 Therefore, it is strange that the human soul should sorrow for its degradation and think itself a different thing when it is inseparable from the one Universal Soul.

29 Now let the so called prince Bhasa, otherwise known by his former name as the mighty monarch Vipaschit, tell us what other strange things he remembers to have seen during his wanderings through worlds.

30 Bhasa replied:—

I have seen many sights, wandered without tiring through many regions, and remember having felt various changes in my life. 31 Hear O king, how much I have known and felt in my course through remote regions in the spacious sky on high. Know the joys and grief that I have enjoyed and suffered in my mind for such a long time during my reincarnations in different bodies and distant worlds. 32 By favor of the god of fire and by the good and bad turns of fate, I have seen a great many scenes in my various forms and lives, like the revolving waters in a whirlpool, with a calm and constant and resolute mind. 33 Moved by past memories and misled by a mistaken view of phenomena in the different forms and changes of my body, I was compelled by my firm zeal to inquire into all worldly things.

34 I was a tree for a thousand years, having my senses undeveloped and feeling the hardships of all climates and seasons within myself. I had no mind or mental action except those of drawing moisture from the earth through my roots and expanding myself into fruits and flowers. 35 I was a mountain deer for a hundred years, with skin of golden color and ears as flat as leaves of trees. I fed on blades of grass, was charmed by all kinds of music and, being the weakest of all animals of the forest, I could do no injury to anyone. 36 I lived for fifty years as a Sarabha animal with eight legs. I dwelt in the caves of Krancha Mountain and brought on my death by falling down from a crag while attempting to fight with rain clouds on high.

37 Once I was born as a vidyadhara and lived on the tableland of Malaya Mountains in the happy forests of mandara trees, smelling the sweet scent of sandalwood and kadamba flowers. There I breathed sweet air perfumed by kalaguru trees and enjoyed the company of celestial vidyadhari ladies. 38 I was born the son of the swan of Brahma and tasted the honey of golden lotuses for more than a hundred years, playing on the banks of the heavenly stream of Mandakini and on the celestial Mount of Meru. 39 For a hundred years I remained by the side of Milky Ocean, feeling the cooling breezes blowing the moisture of its waves and the fragrance of forests, listening to the songs of the songsters of spring which vanish the infirmities and sorrows of life.

40 Once I was born as a jackal in the woods of Kalenjara Mountains and wandered about blossoming gunja and karanja forests. There I was trodden upon by an elephant and was about to die when I saw a lion kill that elephant in his turn. 41 At one time I was transformed into the form of a celestial nymph and cursed by a spiritual master to live alone in some other world. There I lived for the period of half a yuga upon Sahya Mountain, smiling with the blooming blossoms of santanaka trees.

42 Next I lived as a valonika bird of raven color in a nest among Indian oleander plants growing in marshy ground at the foot of a mountain. There I passed my solitary life of a hundred years with a fearless heart and ceaseless scrambling on dreary rocks. 43 Afterwards I saw a level plain somewhere, with shady bowers of forest creepers under the shade of sandalwood trees. I saw some females playing and swinging like fruit on the branches of trees, then seized and away by passing spiritual adepts. 44 At another time, I passed my days as a hermit under the shade of kadamba trees at the foot of a mountain. There I lived meditating upon the single object of my devotion and thus foolishly met my end with the pain of not meeting my object.

45 I saw this universe full of beings everywhere, like fish in the ocean. The air, sky and light are all inhabited by beings, as well as this earth of ours. 45 There is another wonder which fills this universe, just as the shadow of the sky fills the ocean on all sides. It pervades the air, water, sky and light, as well in all forms of things on earth. 46 I also saw another wonder in a woman who contains the three worlds in her ample womb. She is pictured with the forms of hills and all things, resembling their reflections in a mirror. 47 I asked her, “O you big bodied and big bellied one! Tell me who you are.”

To which she replied, “Sage, know me to be the pure and clear Consciousness that contains all these worlds within herself.” 48 She added, “O sage, as you see me so wonderful in form, so must you know that all things in the world are of the same kind. But people who see things in their ordinary forms find them otherwise. When they look at things in their spiritual light, the gross forms vanish into nothing.”

49 Even without the directions of the Vedas and scriptures, innumerable beings on earth continually hear a warning voice arising from some part of their bodies bidding them what is right or wrong for them to do. 50 Nature reigns over all elements like the eternal cosmic vibration. The elements appear immovable at sight but, in fact, they possess inherent mobile forces. No one can assign any cause over them except delusion.

51 Once I went to a place where there were no females to be found, nor had those people any desire for them. Yet many among the living there were quickly passing away, and many others were newly coming to existence. 52 I have seen the wonder of some portentous clouds in the sky charging against each other with a jarring noise, pouring down their rain with fragments of things on all sides which were picked up by men and used as weapons. 53 I saw another wonder somewhere that these earthly cities and buildings were passing in their aerial course amidst a mist of thick darkness. Then I saw them vanish into the air, returning to be your homes here below. 54 Another wonder I saw was that all these men and gods and reptiles, having left the differences of their species, came to be of one kind with all other beings. Because all things first proceed from vacuum, and to this they return at last.

55 I also saw a place full of light that shone brightly without light from sun, moon or stars. I remember well that brilliant glory, before which there was neither darkness nor day and night and nothing else in existence. 56 I also saw a place never seen before which was devoid of gods or demons, men or animals of all kinds. It was without plant life with no home of any kind of being. It was a world where the present and future and all worlds blend into eternity.

57 In short, there is no place which I have not seen nor any side where I have not been. There is no act or event which I have not known. In a word, there is nothing unknown to me that is unknown to the knower of all. 58 I remember hearing the jingling sound of Indra’s armlets which resembled the noise of the rattling clouds on high, or like the jangling jar of the jewels that glisten on the peaks of Mandara Mountain in fear of churning the Milky Ocean.