by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of shukra or venus”, the 1st part of chapter 4 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 “sthiti-prakarana”.
Having in the previous Prakaraṇa given out the Ajñāna stages to show that the play of the mind, arising out of Caitanya, constitutes this universe, as also the seven Jñāna stages to relieve one from that universe, the author begins with this Prakaraṇa of five stories to show that this universe shines as Caitanya only, even after its rise and during preservation.
Without the aid of a painter or a canvas or any other materials of painting, the picture of the universe appears depicted on the stainless Cidākāśa. Having itself appeared, it is ever seeing itself (as there is none else for it to see). Therefore this universe is like a Svapna in Jāgrat and not the state of Suṣupti (sleep), when all conceptions of organs are lost. The reflections of all the universes in the non- differentiated Ātma-jñāna which is witness, all full, immaculate and all-pervading is like that of the image in a glass. They shine through Brahman without any relationship of cause and effect. Their true nature can be said to be the reflection itself. May you, Oh Rāma, through painful endeavors contemplate, as one, upon the eternal Brahman which is partless, the Ātma (Self) of all, the all-full Jñāna and the all-pervading Cidākāśa. Should you firmly master, such a certitude of mind, you will be rid of all fluctuations of mind and become of the nature of Ātma-jñāna itself. Just as one stone has in it carved many pictures, so in the one Brahman the worlds manifest themselves. Since there is no cause or effect associated with it (Brahman) which could constitute a second, there is really nothing to be called the universe. Ātma-jñāna alone is. All the universes are nothing but the reflections in the one certitude of Brahman.
Now to exemplify the truth of my remarks, thou shalt hearken to the story of Śukrācārya (Venus). In days of old, Muni Bhṛgu was engaged in the performance of an immutable Tapas on the slope of the lofty and ancient mountain called Mandaragiri. His son who rejoiced in the name of Śukra was a remarkably intelligent person and shone like the moon. He never used to part from the feet of his father. He was in that great Laya (neutral) state which is intermediate between the incomparable Chit and Achit states. ((The state of Brahman is said to be that neutral state which is between or above the (Chit) intelligence and (Achit) matter of the universe.)) Whilst he was thus in an intermediate state unaware of them both, like King Triśaṅku ((This king it was who applied to Vāsiṣṭha to be transported physically to the heavens, but he was refused; and hence he applied to Viśvāmitra who unable to take him up to Svarga, the heavens left him in the Antarikṣa, the intermediate space.)) who was left in the middle of the sky without being able to go higher up or come lower down to the earth, his father was in Nirvikalpa Samādhi. Then the son who never used to part from his father, remained separate and looked up through the pure Ākāśa where he saw a Deva (celestial) lady approaching him. Her graceful tresses were bedecked with Mandara flowers, the odor of which was gently wafted by the zephyrs as she trudged along with the gait of a she-elephant. Having eyed her fully before him, he became quite enamoured of her; and then closing his two eyelids, he revelled in the vast fields of his mental region, through the overpowering desire in him. Coming to the conclusion that she belonged to Devaloka, he resolved upon going to that Loka (world), when lo ! he saw that Loka before him and Indra, the lord of Devas shining in it like lightning-flashing clouds and seated on his beautiful throne, eulogized by the Devas therein. Thereupon formal courtesies were exchanged between Śukra and Indra. Whilst Śukra was living there amidst luxurious enjoyments, the self same Deva lady, whom he had before seen, emerged out of a group of damsels living therein and presented herself before him with budding breasts peeping out of her fine petticoat. Then the two eyes of Śukra gleamed with inexpressible delight at the sight of this fair creature who, in turn, returned the same glances. While thus their hearts and eyes were melting into one with love, Śukra who never failed to bring into existence whatever he willed through his Saṃkalpa willed that darkness should envelop the space. With intense gloom enveloping therein as at the end of a Kalpa, all who were there fled to other quarters panic-struck and thus cleared the field for the pair. Then the celestial maiden came under the embrace of Śukra, beneath the foliage of the beautiful Kalpa tree of Paradise. Thus passed the pair, eight Catur- Yugas ((Catur-Yugas are otherwise called Mahāyugas. Each Maha yuga is composed of the 4 Yugas: Kṛta, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali.)) in sensual enjoyments without any let or hindrance. Then fearing lest all his Dharmas should be wasted thus, he descended to Bhūloka (earth) from Devaloka. It was here (on earth) that he forgot all about his pristine reality. In his descent from Indra loka, Śukra’s Jīva commingled itself with the soft rays of the full moon and became the cool snow. This snow falling on paddy fields converted itself into paddy. The rice arising from the fertile stalks was cooked and eaten by a Brahman of Deśārṇa country and was converted into the seminal fluid in him. Śukra, who was thus in the form of sperm in the Brahmin, ultimately came out as his son ((This shows clearly that Śukra or Venus stands for the egos of human beings. This describes the general pilgrimage and incarnation of egos.)) out of the womb of his spouse. Associating himself with Tapasvins, he performed a rare Tapas for the period of a Manu, in a forest encircling the golden mountains of Mahāmeru. Then Śukra bore an offspring of a man through a hind. Through the Ajñāna (ignorance) with which he was enslaved to the material things of the world, through his fond love to his offspring, he fell off from his true state. Passing through a series of incarnations subject to births and deaths generated by his illusory Vāsanās, he at last incarnated in the body of a Tapasvin, as the son of a Muni on the banks of the holy Gaṅgā.
Let me turn to the former body of Śukra which was lying entranced by the side of his father and from which life had departed. The rays of the sun aided by the wind had reduced it to a mere skeleton. But it remained intact on earth without being assailed and destroyed by birds or beasts, as they were instinctively afraid of doing away with it through the glory of Bhṛgu sitting hard by. Having passed many divine years in Nirvikalpa Samādhi, Bhṛgu opened his eyes only to find the shrivelled carcass of his son with mere bones which looked at the very incarnation of poverty and misfortune. Then this Muni of rare Tapas and renunciation became quite disconsolate in mind at finding sparrows chirping in the nine avenues of his son’s body and frogs squatting and playing within his stomach. Without trying to dive into the cause of all these occurrences, he concluded that his beloved son was dead. With the flaming anger of Rudra riding on his bull, he began to vent his whole anger against Yama and began to curse him, in order to destroy him, on account of the premature death of his son caused by the latter. At which Yama quailed with fear and having assumed a body composed of the five elements, appeared before the disconsolate Bhṛgu with 6 faces, 6 hands, blade, noose, pendants and the diamond-hiked armor of protection and surrounded by his enormous hosts.
Then this All-devourer, in order to explain the real situation to the Muni, softly addressed him thus: “We who are only administering the laws of Īswara will not but extol you who have immeasurable and noble Tapas. Therefore it is not meet that you should spoil your all-full Tapas through your dire anger. Even the fire at the period of Pralaya, will not consume me, much less your words. Indeed many are the Rudras and the large lotus-eyed Viṣṇus that fell a prey to me, having been enmeshed in the snares of Saṃsāra. There is none in this world of pains who ever vanquished me. All came under my jaws. It is the unalterable and eternal decree of Parameśvara and not myself, that I should be the cause of the destruction of all created lives. This law ever endures. In the immaculate Jñāna introvision, all the differences of actor and enjoyer are lost, but in the Ajñāna vision of people, these exist in concrete shapes. All creatures arising through the force of their Karma are born through Saṃkalpa and perish at the end of a Kalpa. Then at the time of Pralaya, where shall we find the Jñāna vision developed through a recitation of the Vedas? Where will all your firmness of will then be? Where will your glory then be? Where will be then all your present despondency which trembles like a person full of mental darkness, ignorant of the path laid down by the Great? Are you justified in cursing me through your anger, without trying to understand the present situation of your son brought on by his own Saṃkalpa? (Mind you now what I say). It is the mind alone that (in esse) is Ātma and none else. The mind’s acts (and not the bodily ones) are alone the true acts. Through its life in this world, it is called Jīva. It is called Buddhi, through its certainty of knowledge. It is called the dire Ahaṃkāra when the conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ assert themselves with the signs of anger, etc. And it is this mind alone, that is the universe through the conception of excessive differentiations. Whilst you and your son were engaged in Nirvikalpa Samādhi, your son abandoned his fleshy tabernacle through excessive desires and mentally joined, in the Ākāśa, a Deva lady by the name of Viśvācī. Then he incarnated on earth in the country of Deśārṇa as the son of a Brahmin. He went the round of lives as a king in the country of Kosala, a hunter in an extensive forest, a swan on the banks of the Gaṅgā, a great king in the Solar family ruling over Pauṇḍra country and the Guru of the Solar race in Sālva country. For the long period of a Kalpa, he passed his life as the king of Vidhyādharas; he was the intelligent son of a Muni of great Tapas; a chieftain in Sauvīra country with large tanks with fishes playing in them; the Guru of Śaivites ((Followers of Īśvara or Śiva.)) in another country; a bamboo cluster in another country, full of fragrance; a stag in a decayed forest; a fierce-looking Boa constrictor in a spacious forest. Thus did he pass through various, wombs; going through births high or low, with a stainful mind and under the influence of Vāsanās and was at last born as the incomparable and true son of a Ṛṣi on the banks of the Gaṅgā. In this birth, he got the mastery over his weak foes of the illusory organs and wearing matted locks, etc., and going by the name of Vāsudeva, has been engaged in Tapas for the last 800 years. If you, through your love for your son, wish to behold the series of illusory births which flitted across your son’s mind like a whirling dream, you can do so now through your divine vision.” So said Yama when the Muni of great culture observed in a moment, through his introvision, all the events of his son’s lives reflected in the transparent mirror of the pure mind, which in its turn manifested itself out of the transcendent Jñāna-light. Then this Muni of non-desires returned from his trance (at the end of which he was) by the river Gaṅgā, to his normal state by entering and animating his bodily tenement lying in Mandaragiri. Greatly astonished, he asked of him many pardons (for his conduct) and addressed him thus: “Oh ommiscient Kāla (time), thou art the foremost dispenser of Law; thou art the only one thoroughly acquainted with the three periods of time. Persons like myself are mere tyros in Brahmā Jñāna.”
Then Yama took Bhṛgu’s hand and led him out of the caves of Mandaragiri to where the divine river Gaṅgā flowed. There the Ṛṣi saw, with intense delight, his son who there passed under the pseudonym of Vāsudeva. So willed Yama. Again when Yama willed that Vāsudeva should come back from his Samādhi state and see them, the latter accordingly did and seeing them before himself saluted them. Thereupon all the three noble souls seated themselves upon a stone with true love towards one another. Then the son eying these two, remarked thus: “Through your presence here, I have been cleansed of all the delusions arising from stainless Tapas, Yajñas and wealth. Even copious draughts of nectar will not yield such a bliss as your advent here.” Thereupon Bhṛgu saw him endearingly and blessed him thus: “May bliss ever increase in thee, mayest thou possess Jñāna fully, and may Ajñāna fly from thee.” Then closing his two mutilated  eyes, Śukra reviewed all his past lives through his Jñāna-Vision. Thus was he freed in a moment from future births.
After observing all through his divine vision, Śukra remarked in wonder thus: “Passing strange is it that the dire delusion called Prakṛti (matter), having transformed itself into this universe, flourished friendly in my mind. I have known all that should be known I have seen all that should be seen. I have been released from the pains incidental to the many rebirths. I have been whirling in them for a long time. I have attained Ātma-jñāna, the good effects of all. Therefore, sirs, let us here after betake ourselves to Mandara hills and see the body lying there. Do not think that I have either love or hatred towards objects, albeit my intention is to visit the skeleton of my body due to Karma and derive happiness therefrom.” After Vāsudeva spoke thus, all the three started for Mandara hills and reached it in a moment. When they, who had known the extent and true nature of the whole universe arrived at the spot, Vāsudeva surveyed, with unmingled pleasure, his former body as the son of Bhṛgu and then casting his glances at his father, asked him, whether it was that bony body which he had reared up as his son’s. Then continuing, he said: “Oh father, this body you brought up before with rare happiness, being without pains, desires, doubts, or sense of gain or loss was in a state of immutable bliss with mind destroyed. Is there any happiness to Jīvas (egos) other than in the state when the mind is destroyed? This solitary body had then attained the bliss of those who have got by the all-pervading Jñāna wherein one is drowned in the one ocean of the great bliss, or the extreme quiescence or that Ātmic certainty, wherein the Jñānis are free from all pains. It is only through dint of my rare Tapas, I have been able to witness the miracles I have seen here.”
So said Vāsudeva, when Kāla (Yama) interrupted him with these words: “Now sir, enter this body like kings, their cities. And there be administering the duties of a Guru ((If Asura means egos, Śukra (Venus) is their Guru.)) to the Asuras who need correction. Having given these orders to Śukra, he bid adieu to them both and instantly disappeared from the very spot where he was standing. At his departure, the father and son were greatly grieved. But Śukra of great prowess abandoned the conception of Vāsudeva and then entered his former body according to Yama’s injunction. Thereupon the matchless Bhṛgu bathed with the waters in his bowel purified through Vedic Mantras the body of Śukra into which the son had to enter through sheer fate. With this application, the Nāḍīs (nerves) in his body became pliant and allowed the Prāṇa to circulate freely over them throughout his body. Then Bhārgava (the son of Bhṛgu) rose up in that body and having paid due respects to his father, stood by him. Thus did the father and son utterly rout their enemy of the stainful mind and pass their days in the Jīvanmukti state like a waveless ocean. Thus said Vasiṣṭha of great Jñāna and erudition to Rāma of true grace like the clouds.
Footnotes and references:
The eyes of Śukra were mutilated at the time when Bali acceded to the request of Viṣṇu as Dwarf.