Chapter 155 — Agni Describes the Hunter’s Astonishment; the Sage Predicts the Hunter’s Tapas, Boon to Become Huge, and His Huge Body Falling on the Earth

The fire god Agni said:—

Upon hearing all this, the hunter was lost in wonder and remained as dumbfounded as a figure in a painting of a forest. He could not pause to fix his mind on the Supreme Being and appeared to be out of his senses and mind, as if he was hurled into a sea. He seemed to be riding on the wheel of his reverie, pushing him onward with the speed of a bicycle, or appeared to be caught by an alligator carrying him speedily up and down in the currents of his meditation. He was drowned in doubt wondering whether this was the state of nirvana or delusion. He could not find rest, but was tossed headlong like a headstrong youth in his foolhardiness.

He thought the visible was the work of his ignorance, but then he had a second thought, that this delusion of the world was the production of Providence. “Let me see,” he thought, “the extent of the visible from the beginning. This I will do from a distance, by means of the spiritual body which I have gained by means of intense meditation. I will remove myself to a region that is beyond the limit of the existent and nonexistent worlds. I will rest quiet in a place above ethereal space.”

Having thus determined, he became as dull as a fool. He set his mind to the practice of yoga meditation, as it had been taught to him by the sage who had said that no act could be fruitful without constant practice. He left his habit of hunting and applied himself to austerities in company with sages and seers. 10 He remained long at the same spot in the society of sagely seers. He continued in the practice of his sacred austerities for very many years and seasons.

11 Remaining long in the discharge of his austere duties, the entire time suffering the severities of his difficult penance, he once asked his sagely guide when he would obtain peace and release from these struggles. The muni responded to him this way.

12 The muni said:—

The little knowledge that I have given you is a spark of fire able to consume a forest of withered wood, though it has not yet burnt down the impression of this rotten world from your mind. 13 Without the habit of practice you cannot have transcendental bliss in knowledge. With practice, it is possible to attain it in the course of a long time. 14 Such truly will be your case if you will rely upon my assurance of this and wear my words as a jewel about your ears, knowing them to be forecasting events in this world.

15 You praise the unknown spirit of God in your ignorance of his nature. Your mind is hanging in uncertainty between your knowledge and ignorance of divine nature. 16 You are led of your own accord to inquire into the nature and extent of the cosmos, which is only a phantom of delusion. 17 For ages you will be employed this way in your difficult understanding of making this research, until Brahma the creative power will appear before you. He will be pleased with your investigation into his works. 18 Then you will ask a favor of your blessing god, that he release you from your heavy doubt of the reality or delusiveness of the world.

You will ask, saying, 19 Lord! I see the cosmic panorama of the phenomenal world spread out everywhere like a delusion before our sight, but I want to see a place which exhibits the true mirror of the Divine Mind and which is free from the blemish of all that is visible. 20 The mirror of the empty mind, though as minute as an atom, yet represents the reflection of this vast universe in some part or other within it. 21 Therefore I want to know how far this boundless world extends for only our misfortune, and how far the sphere of ethereal space stretches beyond it. 22 It is for this that I ask your good grace, to make me acquainted with the infinite space of the universe. Accept my prayer, O you lord of the gods, and readily grant this my request.”

23 “Strengthen and immortalize my body and make it mount upon the regions of sky with the speed of the garuda bird of heaven. 24 Make my body increase to the length of a league each moment until it encircles the world like its surrounding sky. 25 Let this preeminent favor be granted to me, O great and glorious god, that I may reach beyond the bounds of the sky which surrounds the sphere of the visible world.”

26 Being thus supplicated by you, O righteous man, the lord will say to you, “Be it as you desire,” then he will disappear like a vision from your sight, vanishing into the air with his attendant gods along with him. 27 After the departure of Brahma with his accompanying deities to their divine abodes in heaven, your thin and lean body, emaciated by your austerities, will assume a brightness like that of the brilliant moon. 28 Then bowing down to me and getting my leave, your radiant body will mount to the sky instantly in order to see the object of your desire which is settled in your mind.

29 It will rise high into the air like a second moon, and higher still than the bright sun itself. It will blaze above as brightly as a burning fire defying the brightness of the luminaries. 30 Then it will fly upwards in the empty sky with the force of the strong winged garuda, running forward with the speed of a running current to reach the ends of the world. 31 Having gone beyond the limit of the world, your body will increase in its bulk and extent and become as swollen as the ocean at the time of dissolution when it covered the face of the entire universe.

32 There you will find your body growing bigger and bigger still, like a big cloud filling the empty space of air which is devoid of all created things. 33 This is the great emptiness of the Divine Spirit, filled with the chaotic confusion of elements flying about like whirlwinds. It is the unbounded ocean of the Infinite Mind swelling with the waves of its perpetual thoughts. 34 Within this deep and dark emptiness you will find numberless worlds and created bodies hurling headlong in endless succession, just as you perceive a continuous series of cities and other objects appearing in your dreams.

35 As the torn leaves of trees are seen tossed about in the air by a raging storm, so you will see multitudes of worlds hurled to and fro in the immensity of the Divine Mind. 36 As the passing world presents a faint and insubstantial appearance to one looking down at it from the top of a high citadel, so all these worlds appear as mere shadows when viewed from above in their spiritual light. 37 As the people of this world see black spots on the moon that are never observed by the moon’s inhabitants, so these worlds are supposed to exist in the Divine Spirit. But in reality they are nothing other than the fleeting ideas of the Infinite Mind.

38 Thus you will continue to worlds after worlds, moving in the midst of successive spheres and skies, passing a long time viewing creation stretching to no end. 39 After seeing multitudes of worlds crowding the heavens like the leaves of trees, you will be tired to see no end of them in the endless abyss of Infinity. 40 Then you will be annoyed at this result of your meditation and the expansion of your body that allowed you to observe the immensity of space.

41 “Of what good is this big body which I bear like a heavy burden upon me? It is so big that by comparison, millions of mountain ranges a great as Mount Meru shrink away like bits of straw. 42 My boundless body fills the whole space of the sky but answers no purpose whatever that I can possibly think of. 43 My heavy body measures the whole space of the visible world, yet remains in the darkness of ignorance without its spiritual knowledge, which is the true light of the soul.”

44 “Therefore I must cast off this huge body, which is of no use to me to acquire knowledge or to keep company with wise and holy men. 45 Of what good is this big and bulky body to scan the unknowable infinity of the endless and unsupported Brahman, whose essence contains and supports the whole of this universe?”

46 Thinking so in yourself, you will throw away your bloated body by exhaling your breath. Then you escape your frame like a bird casts off the skin of a fruit after sucking its juice. 47 After casting off the mortal lump and turmoil of your body, your soul will rest in empty air accompanied with its respiratory breath of life, which is more slender than the subtle ether. 48 Then your big body will fall down on earth, just like when the great Mount Meru fell on the ground when angry Indra cut off its wings. Your body will crush all earthly beings and smash mountains to dust underneath. 49 Then the dry and starved goddess Kali, with her hungry host of Matris and spirits, will devour your prostrate body and restore the earth to its purity by clearing it of its annoyance.

50 Now you have heard me fully describe your future fate. Therefore go to the tali forest that is some distance away and remain there practicing your austerities as well as you may like.

51 The hunter replied, “O sage, how great are the sorrows that are awaiting me, and which I am destined to undergo in my vain pursuit after knowledge. 52 Pray tell me sage. Do you have anything to say how I may avert the great disaster that you have predicted? Tell me also, is there any means to avoid the destined evil?”

53 The sage replied:—

There is no person and no power whatever that is ever able to prevent the eventualities of fate. All attempts to avert them are thrown on one’s back. 54 There is no human power to change the relative positions of the limbs of one’s body, so there is no possibility to alter the decree of fate. 55 The knowledge of the science of astrology serves only to acquaint us with the events of our fate. There is nothing in it that can help us to counteract the arrows of adverse fortune. 56 Therefore those men are blessed who, with their knowledge of sovereign predestination, are still employed in their present duties, and who after the death and burning of their bodies, rest in the eternal peace of Brahman in their consciousness.