Chapter 140 — The Unnamed Sage Describes His Life as a Brahmin in the Body of Viraj; — His Escape through the Mouth of Viraj; — Finding His Own Life; then Trying to Find Where He Had Been
1 The hunter said, “Tell me sage, how could a sage like you be deluded by a dream of a flood? Why did your meditation not deliver you from your mistake?”
2 The sage replied:—
At the end of the kalpa age, all kinds of beings meet with their destruction. Thus there is a termination of the false forms of the worlds and a cessation of the luminous bodies in the heaven. 3 Sometimes the dissolution at the end of a kalpa takes place gradually. At others, it comes suddenly with simultaneous turmoil and disorganization everywhere. 4 So when everything was flooded, the gods fled to Brahma, the first cause of all, for protection but they were all swept away by the overflowing tide.
5 Moreover, O forester, know that time is the most mighty destroyer of all things. Everything must occur in its time, as it is predestined at the beginning. 6 The time of one’s dissolution being near, there follows a destruction in the strength, intellect, and energy of everybody. Not even the great are left out.
7 I have also told you, O fortunate forester, that everything seen in a dream is mere dreaming. Nothing of it comes to take place in reality.
8 The forester responded, “Sage, if the dream is a mere falsity and error of imagination, then what was the good of you describing all this dream? You know well what is good and useful for mankind.”
9 The sage replied:—
There was much value for me to tell you all this, O intelligent hunter, to improve your understanding. As you come to know that what can be seen are all as false as sights in sleep, you shall know what is real and true.
10 Now as long as the flood waters lasted, I remained seated in the heart of the medium, the student as I had mentioned, and saw some other false sights in his dream. 11 I saw the flood waters recede to the unknown region from where they had come. The huge waves disappeared altogether, as when winged mountains flee from fear of Indra’s thunder.
12 By my good fate, I was carried to some distant shore where I was seated as firmly as upon the peak of a high and solid mountain. 13 From there I saw the waters settle down in their basins. The stars of heaven were shining upon them, like sparkling particles of splashing waves or their foaming and floating froth. 14 The reflections of stars in water seemed like jewels shining in the heart of the ocean. The stars that shone above in the sky appeared like nightly flaming bushes on the tops of mountains. 15 The sky studded with bright stars appeared like an island beaming with gold. The blue sky seemed wrapped with the blue garments of celestial ladies. 16 The blue flood clouds floating in the sky resembled a bed of sky blue lotuses in an ethereal lake. The lightning that flashed in the bosoms of the clouds resembled the yellow powder of flowers flying all about the sky. 17 Masses of mountain-like clouds, flushed with frost, poured down showers of rain on all sides. The floods rolled down with their reflections, bearing huge kalpa forests in their bosom.
18 Afterwards the basin of the universal ocean dried up and turned into an empty and dry hollow. The peaks of Mandara and Sahya hills had been drowned under the waters and were left melted down to mud or washed away by the receding flood. 19 Here the sun and moon were found sunk in the mud hole. There the gods Yama and Indra were hidden under soil. Somewhere the serpents and Takshaka naagas were rolling in the mire. Elsewhere kalpa trees lay buried with their tops and branches under the mud. 20 In some places, people’s heads and hands were scattered over the ground and looked like lotus buds and flowers torn from their stalks and scattered about the bare and barren land.
21 In one place there were vidyadhara women drowned up to their necks in slime, crying with their piteous shrieks. In another, there were the huge bodied buffaloes of Yama lying, resembling the huge bodies of dead elephants appearing in a dream. 22 In some place lay the bulky body of Garuda, bulging out like the huge mountain of the gods. In others, the embankments were swept away as if they were slashed by the mace of Yama falling upon the ground. 23 There were the remains of the dead swan of Brahma, stuck in the mire somewhere. The footprints of Indra’s elephant Iravata were stuck in the mud in another place.
24 In the meanwhile, I found some flat land in one place. There I rested from my weariness and was overtaken by sound sleep. That unconscious state quickly stole upon me. 25 Then waking from my sound sleep, I found myself seated in the heart of the hunter. Retaining possession of my awareness, I was led by my innate desire to see similar sights of desolation as before. 26 Upon my waking, I saw the flat land where I was situated was in the heart of the hunter. I was seized with great grief and sorrow at my sight of the spectacle.
27 I saw the rising of the bright and beautiful sun on the next day. That light revealed the worlds, the sky, this earth and its hills. 28 But I soon found that the earth, sky, air, hills and rivers were all only the reproductions of my mind, like leaves shooting forth from trees. 29 On seeing these things, I began to view them in a ordinary way as I had somewhat forgotten their right and proper use.
30 After my birth, I passed sixteen years at that place and had the knowledge of this man as my father and that woman as my mother and that place as my home. All this knowledge arose spontaneously from my self-reflection. 31 Then I saw a village with the home of a brahmin. There I saw a house and found a friend, and many more other places. 32 Thus I remained with friends in village huts. I passed many days and nights in repeated watchfulness and returning sleep. 33 Remaining in this company over the course of time, I came to lose the light of the understanding I had attained before. I forgot myself and became one of them through my habitual mode of thinking, as if a man had forgotten himself and become a fish.
34 In this manner, I remained a village brahmin for a long time, relying only upon my body as begotten by a brahmin and quite forgetful of other things. 35 I believed in my identity only as my material body and only my wife as my partner. I understood the essence of my soul to be only my desires and thought that riches only were the sole object to be gained in life. 36 My only treasure was an old cow and my only provisions were the greens of my garden. My only possessions were the sacred fire and sacrificial animals and my only utensil was a water pot. 37 My hopes were as frail as perennial plants. My conduct was the same as that of other men. The state of my living was as mean as the mud with which my hut was constructed.
38 I passed my days pruning and weeding the garden of my greens and performing my daily ablutions in the streams and rivulets reckoned as holy by men. 39 I was employed providing my food and drink and procuring fuel and cow dung for fire. I remained entangled in the snare of scrutinizing what was right or wrong for daily observance. 40 In this way a life of an entire hundred years passed away at that place.
Then it happened one time that a holy hermit from far away passed by and became my guest in my humble home. 41 Being welcomed and honored by me, he entered in my hut and took rest after washing and bathing himself. Then after his meal he sat on his bed and began to tell his story as night approached.
42 He spoke of many places and countries and of many lands and mountains. He talked about their different customs and manners, which were pleasant to hear and related to various subjects. 43 “All these,” he said, “are the display of the one Consciousness which is infinite and immutable in its nature. It manifests itself in the form of cosmos and is forever present with it as it is now seen to be.” 44 Being thus enlightened by him, I was filled with a flood of light. I listened attentively to whatever he said on this and other subjects.
45 I also heard about my own story from him. I learned that the person who contained me within its womb is no less than the body of Viraj himself. I was eager to come out of that body. 46 As long as I did not know that the mouth of Viraj is the only way out from that body, I kept moving through it, as if wandering in the vast extent of earth and oceans.
47 Then I left that place, surrounded as it was by my friends and relations. I entered into his vital part to make my exit with the vital breath. 48 I intended to see both the inside and outside of Viraj’s body in which I had been housed. I continued to mark the process of its outer movements and inner thoughts. 49 I fixed my attention upon my own consciousness and remained settled in one place without moving. Then I breathed out with his breath, like the fragrance of flowers accompanies the wind. 50 Then rising with his respiration, I reached the opening of his mouth. Then mounting on the vehicle of the wind, I went forward and saw all that lay before me.
51 In the distance I saw the hermitage of a sage situated in the grotto of a mountain. I found it full with hermits, myself sitting in lotus posture among them. 52 These hermits stood before me as my pupils. They were employed in their duty of taking care of my body in its state of samadhi. 53 After a while, I saw the student among them in whose heart I had been staying. He was resting, lying flat on his back after taking some food which he got in the nearby village. 54 Seeing this wonder, I remained quiet and did not speak anything about it to anybody waiting upon me. Then I reentered my body for my own amusement.
55 I got to the region of vitality situated within the heart. I had a my lasting desire to see the friends I had before, the ones I had left behind. 56 As I was looking around, I saw the end of the world approaching with its dreadful aspect, changing the course of nature together with the positions of the world. 57 Mountains appeared altered and changed to another state. The sky presented another face. The whole world seemed to be dislocated from its place. 58 I could find no trace of my former friends or hut. I could not find where that land had been. All seemed swept away by winds and I could not know where they had been taken.
59 Then I found the world appearing in another form, presenting a sight altogether different from what it had been before and quite fresh to view. 60 I saw the twelve suns of the twelve signs of the zodiac shining all at once and burning in all the quarters of heaven and melting down high mountains, heat melting snows and icebergs to water. 61 Volcanic fire spread from mountain to mountain and fire leapt from forests to forests. The earth was parched with all the gems in her bowels. No trace remained except in the memory of men. 62 The seas were dried up and the earth was full of burning embers everywhere. A strong gale rose which blew away all the ashes. 63 Underground, terrestrial and ethereal fires began to issue forth in flames and flash on all sides. The face of the whole universe flushed with a blaze glistening like the glowing clouds of the evening sky.
64 I entered into this burning sphere like a flying moth falls into a flame. I was confined within its cave, like a wandering bee is closed up in a shutting lotus, yet I was quite unscathed by the burning flames. 65 Then I then flew among the flames as freely as in air, flickering like a flash of lightning in a cloud. I sometimes hovered over the burning fire, as a light winged butterfly flies over a lotus.