by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of a siddha”, the 8th part of chapter 3 of Laghu-yoga-vasistha (English translation). This ancient Sanskrit book contains epic legendry (similair to puranas and itihasa) and deals with the Advaita-vedanta (non-dual) branch of Indian philosophy. It is authored by sage (rishi) Valmiki and condensed (laghu) from an even larger work, forming a discourse between Vasistha (Vasishtha) and Rama. This part is included in the chapter “utpatti-prakarana”.
Summary. Having shown that persons who have not cognized the seer believe the visual to be real, the author now proceeds with this story to exemplify the fact that time is but a mode of the mind; the visible though illusory being nothing but a manifestation of Chit.
Ajñānis (the ignorant) will fluctuate greatly in mind through their Saṃkalpa; but Jñānis will never do so. May you, after clearing, through your discrimination, your mind free of all illusions cognize the pure Truth. Do not be appalled at the idea that you are under trammels, while in fact you are not so. Is it possible for the immaculate and indestructible Brahmic Principle to be bound? While Brahman alone is that which is not subject to the limitations of Time, Space and Substance, is non-dual and is Absolute Consciousness devoid of all heterogeneity, what is there in this world to be bound or to gain liberation? All are nothing but the expansion of Saṃkalpas (and Vikalpas). The expansion of the mind’s thoughts (towards objects) is bondage; while the abandoning of the same is emancipation. Through the play of the mind in objects, proximity appears to be a great distance and vice-versa. Through the force of the mind, a Kalpa is reckoned by it as a moment and vice-versa. There is a story current which illustrates this idea well. Thereby it will be quite apparent to you that this legerdemain of the world is enacted by the mind and the mind alone.
Vasiṣṭha continued: “A king who traced his lineage to Hariscandra ruled over the country of Uttara Pandava. He commanded the eulogies of Lakṣmī (the goddess of wealth) and Sarasvatī (the goddess of knowledge). On his arms rested Vijaya-Lakṣmī (the goddess of victory). This personage, who bore the appellation of Lavaṇa, was once seated on his throne bedecked with the nine gems and encircled by his sagacious statesmen. Into that stately synod, stalked in majestically one who was well versed in the art of Indrajāla (psychological tricks). Having paid due respects to and eulogized the king, he entreated him to witness his feats. So saying, he waved his bunch of peacock’s feathers dotted with moon-like eyes. Like Māyā which, through the immaculate Parabrahm, deludes as real men with the variegated creations of the world, this Siddha played several feats before the king by waving the large circle of peacock’s feathers, which the king no sooner saw than lo ! before his mental vision he saw the following events enacted. A messenger dispatched by the king of Sindhu entered upon the scene with a high mettled charger like unto Indra’s, and said that that victorious one was intended by his master for the king Lavaṇa. Whereupon the Siddha asked the king to mount upon the same, since no other horse could vie with it. In obedience to the words of this great personage, the king stared like a statue intently in the direction of the horse and lay entranced for a Muhūrta, like yogis in Samādhi. Then those assembled before the king, became seized with doubt and surprise with their faces contracted like lotuses with closed petals. After the courtiers were thus in a state of mental perplexity and fear for about four Muhūrtas, the king’s body relaxed its rigidity and began to fall prostrate before the throne, when those hard by propped it up.
Then the king gradually recovered consciousness and the obedient ministers asked him as to how it was his pure mind had lost its equilibrium. After shaking off his stupor fully, the king replied thus: ‘When the Siddha revolved the circle of peacock’s feathers and uttered some words, I got giddy and noticed a horse which I ascended with full memory and journeyed on speedily a long distance on account of chase. Like Ajñānis who wallow amidst their painful wealth through a non-discriminative mind, I entered, on horseback, a desolate waste with a seething heat that scorched all things and even the senses. There I and my charger became quite jaded through our peregrinations in the forest with despondent heart and ceaseless pains, till the sun set in the west. Like a Jñāni who frees himself from the load of Saṃsāra and proceeds onward in his path, I, after crossing the waste reached a delicious forest teeming with many kinds of trees such as Jambū, Kadamba and lime and reverberating with the songs of feathered songsters. Whilst I was thus riding on the horse, a creeper high up in a tree twined round my neck and immediately the speedy horse bolted out of my sight, like sins from a bather in the Gaṅgā, leaving me rocking to and fro aloft in the air with the creeper encircling my neck. Thus dangling down, my body be came stiffened with the cool winds blowing on it and my mind became paralyzed. Without bath, worship, meditation or food during the day, saw night approach with her grim attendants of darkness, pains and extreme shivering which set my teeth against one another.
At dawn of day the glorious orb arose, dispelling that darkness like Jñānis driving away their mental gloom. Then I cast my eyes around and cut asunder the creeper that twined round my throat and then having descended from there, looked about for some living person, but in vain. After an hour and a half had elapsed, an outcaste girl, quite an alien to me, arrived on the scene, like darkness facing the moon. This girl, who had a dark skin and sable vesture, approached me with some nectary viands in her hand. Unable to control my hunger, I entreated of her thus: ‘Oh Swan-like one, please bestow on me that which thou hast in thy hand.’ But I paid the penalty of all those poverty stricken persons who go and beg of another in haste through their extreme hunger; for this girl did not vouchsafe to give it to me, as if I had not earned the right to get it through my Tapas, and took to her heels. Then ensued a chase in which I hunted her through out the forest and after getting at her, piteously complained to her of my extreme hunger. To which the dark skinned one replied thus: ‘I am an outcaste and it is not meet that thou shouldst taste the food I have. But if thou desirest to do so, thou shouldst first promise to wed me in my own place before my parents and live with me there. If so, I will give thee this very instant what I have in my hand. To which I nodded assent reluctantly; and instantly she handed to me with great avidity what she had. After having partaken of a moiety of this nectar and tasted the juice of Jambū fruits to quench my thirst, my sharp appetite was appeased. Then she took hold of my hand, saying I was a good fellow and led me on to her parents, like the subtle body of a person conducted to the terrific hell. There she asked leave of her father to bestow her hand upon this lover of hers. Finding no obstacles in the way on the part of the father, the pair left this forest laden with ghosts, and were taken over to the village by this dark Nīca (outcaste) of a father who was like Yama’s servant the village which was redolent of the stench of flesh. In order to celebrate their marriage, he killed for flesh the bodies of monkeys, horses, fowls, crows and pies and dried them like festoons in the strings of nerves. Birds were pouncing upon them as they were exposed. Swarms of flies were buzzing in the pieces of flesh held by boys in their hands as they trudged along in the streets. In this hamlet bespattered with blood and bones, a shed was erected with plantain trees as the four pillars.
Then with great hilarity, the marriage festivities began. The old hunch-backed grand-mother of the house surveyed, through her large fleshy eyes, me, her son-in-law and was greatly pleased with the choice. All the out-castes being assembled on the occasion, the drums were caused to be beaten. Toddy and flesh were distributed freely among the audience. Like sin which produces a Yāthanā-śarīra (body of suffering) for men in hell, the Nīca father gave me this girl in marriage. As usual with these low-caste people, the wedding lasted seven days. After it was over, I passed eight months in the company of this lady who was as if all sins had solidified themselves in her. Through my union with this lady of budding breast, a child was born like pains, the offspring of dire accidents. The complexion of this child was like that of a burnt brand and it grew up like the minds of the ignorant. Then in the course of three years she bore me a son, like birth generating ignorance. Then again another child was born of her through me, as if human miseries arising out of excessive desires incarnated in the form of that child. With these, spouse and children I lived for a long time. Then what with the cares of Sarṃṣāra and the pains I and my family had to undergo, my body became old and emaciated. And when I was thus enfeebled through dotage, the whole earth near the base of the Vindhya mountains, became parched up through drought and all lives about there palpitated through hunger. The verdant foliage of trees with long branches, creepers, grass and others were not to be met with there, The whole air was saturated with volumes of dust raised through heat. Then one by one began to perish my new relatives, and a few that were alive fled to foreign dominions.
In order to survive this shock, I and my wife abandoned my country under the scorching rays of the sun, myself bearing two of my children on my two shoulders and the third on my head. Having crossed my country I saw a big Palmyra tree under the shadows of which I dismounted my children and rested myself along with my wife for some time, like one who, having crossed the terrible hell of vicious deeds, enjoys the happiness resulting from his past good deeds. There my wife expired in the very embrace of her children, having been quite jaded through dotage and the efforts of a long travel under a tropical sun, though to all appearances she was like one fainted or asleep. At this, my heart gave away. One of my younger children mounted on my lap without a wink of sleep and weeping incessantly with his two eyes ever trickling down tears, demanded of me flesh and blood to eat, as he was unable to endure his hunger. Unable to find out any means to appease the hunger of him who was greatly distressed with it in my very presence, I was like a lifeless carcass ignorant what to do. Thus did the piteous and incessant weeping of my boy break my heart and the misgivings about his life rise to a certainty in me. Therefore I resolved to put an end to my life, by rearing a great forest fire and falling into it. Thus I approached the flames and rose up to fall into it, when I tumbled down from the throne here and woke up to see you, courtiers, uplifting me and pronouncing the words Jaya (victory to thee) and to hear the sound of musical instruments herein. Thus did I find myself here not as a Nīca, but as the king Lavaṇa. I lost my senses only through the fascinating power of this Siddha. Now did I learn that the ego of man has different states of experiences to undergo.’ Whilst he was saying thus, the ministers in Court enquired as to who this Siddha was, whereupon Śāmbarika, the Siddha disappeared from view then and there, in the twinkling of an eye.”
Vasiṣṭha continued: “This personage is no other than the Divine Māyā, sent here to illustrate clearly the fact that this universe is no other than the mind itself. Know also, Oh valiant Prince, the wise say that the self-light of Parabrahm alone is, appearing as mind or this universe.
Footnotes and references:
Among Brahmins it lasts generally four days.