by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of dashura”, the 4th 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”.
Summary. Having explained that the renunciation of Ahaṃkara tends to the attainment of Ātma, the author again illustrates in this story the theory that Ātmic Saṃkalpa makes this universe to shine and constitutes it.
“The best means of disposing of this great danger of Māyā involving all in pains is the destruction of the mind. Oh Rāma, may you hear from me and not slip from your memory the true significance of the perfect Tattva-jñāna. The longing after the stainful material enjoyments is itself bondage; the renunciation of the same is Mokṣa of the nature of Brahman. Of what avail are other paths, such as the study of Śāstras and others? You should, without the least suffering of mind, walk in this path of renunciation of desires. Now. Oh Rāma, you should consider as fire or poison all objects which are said to be pleasant or otherwise. Repeatedly should you be enquiring into all the painful worldly enjoyments, differing in degrees; and without letting your mind crave for them, if you enjoy them lightly, you will never be affected thereby and will find them pleasant. The concretion of the powerful mind in objects is itself the destruction of Ātma; but with the destruction of the mind, Ātma begins to dawn. In the case of Brahmā Jñānis, their minds are extinct; but the stainful mind of Ajñānis proves their fetters. The higher minds of Jñānis are with neither bliss nor non-bliss, motion nor non-motion, Sat nor Asat; nor are they in states intermediate (between these pairs).”
Here Rāma asked Vasiṣṭha to be enlightened in extenso as to how this universe is in the one Tattva and the eternal Ātma-jñāna which is above all the universes. To which Vasiṣṭha replied thus: “Like the one Ākāśa which, though permeating all objects as inseparable from them, is yet through its subtle nature distinct from them, so the homogeneous one Jñāna Reality, though all-full in all objects, is yet distinct from them) and never affected by the changes which such objects undergo. Ātma-jñāna which is without the vain Saṃkalpas, name, destruction or heterogeneity is (to give a rough description of it) as subtle as one-hundredth part of the all- pervading Ākāśa. It is this which is dubbed with different beneficent appellations of Ātma and others and which is the Jñāna in Jñānis. It is this which though manifesting itself as Ajñāna producing Saṃsāra is yet non-dual in its nature and is the Jñāna which makes one to know his own Self. It is this which, though it is the one Jñāna having none else to compare with it, yet manifests itself as identical with this universe of the nature of Sattā (Be-ness) with all its ocean of waves encircling it. To the ignorant who have not known their Ātma, their ceaseless cycles of pains-producing rebirths reduce them to abject slavery and suffering; but in those who have known their true Self, the Jñāna light will dawn and all objects will be known as one. And through the enjoyment of their own Self the three, actor, action and instrument will shine (as one) in their Self. All that they contemplate upon then, will be of that (Jñāna) essence alone. Those who are in enjoyment of (this) immemorial wealth will ever be so.
Jñāna is that in which are not found such acts as dawning or setting, rising or standing or going to a state or returning from it and which may be said to both exist and non-exist here at the same time. It is in this that the stainless immaculate Ātma is. It is this Jñāna which through its inherent all-pervading potency shines as this heterogeneous universe in the above-mentioned manner. It is this Jñāna which through its power of becoming light and darkness, and one and many, abandons its real state of all-full Jñāna and gradually becomes of the nature of Jīva through the heterogeneous conceptions of ‘I’, ‘he,’ ‘thou,’ etc. Then through its conception of caught in the meshes of Saṃsāra, it is subject to the dualities of Saṃkalpas and Vikalpas, existence and non-existence, attractions and repulsions, etc. Being thus in a differentiated state, it, through its manifold Saṃkalpas creating this body composed of eight principles, is yet not its author. The very fluctuation (or motion) in this state produces ever the septenary graduated states of existence, locomotive and fixed. Though its incomparable Brahmic potency, it generates all and destroys them again. Therefore this universe appears to be everywhere through the Saṃkalpa of the mind like the mirage manifesting itself in the unreal Bhūta-Ākāśa (or elemental Ākāśa).
Just as one through his excessive giddiness, thinks himself to be another, the one impartite Jñāna appears to be unreal. Know, Oh Rāma, that to be the above Jñāna which enables one to perceive sound and other objects. Know also that this Jñāna is no other than the all-pervading Parabrahm which has manifested itself as all this universe. The pseudonym Brahman expresses very aptly this idea. Naught else is but this one. Can the waves, etc., of an ocean be said to be other than water as mere dust? Similarly, the incomparable Brahman alone does truly exist; but not Ākāśa and other things which exist but in name. Like heat inseparable from fire and identical with it, so the universe which is of the nature of Brahman is identical with it.
This identity should be taught only to those who have developed the four means of liberation and have perfected themselves in Cārya (acts of service to the Lord), Kriyā (acts of worship towards Him) and Yoga. After having first gauged the merits and deserts of the disciple, he should be initiated into the mysteries of the identity of one’s Self with Brahman. But if this be imparted to those wallowing in desires, it will but fling them into the tortures of Tophet (hell), never to return. It is only to illuminated minds like yourself untinged with the desires of the ever-agitating wealth, that this grand Truth will become self-evident. The disciple who, in order to free himself from existence, approaches, without the least doubt and under great self-sacrifice, a Guru of powerful knowledge should satisfy the above conditions. Just as in the presence of a lamp, sun or flower, there is produced light, day or odor respectively, so in the presence of Chit, there will arise this universe. Its mere appearance will be the form of the universe; but it really is not.” At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma remarked thus: “All the words of your holiness which are unfathomable through their loftiness (of conception), like the milky ocean cool and immaculate, have struck surprise in my heart. Through them, my mind has sometimes been cleared of, and sometimes enveloped with, doubts, like the autumnal clouds which produce alternately heat and cold in an instant. Oh Muni of great truth, how did these actions arise in Ātma-jñāna which is endless, one and manifold, of undying power, immeasurable and of noble characteristics?
To which, Vasiṣṭha replied thus: “Know that I can prove experimentally and without the least contradiction the esoteric truths of the holy sentences in the Vedas. I have to affirm that all I have said are nothing but the emphatic truth. If the true Jñāna-vision is developed by you and (your) higher intelligence expands, then will you be able to judge for yourself as to whether it is easy or difficult to realize, as in the palm of the hand, the truths of my statements.
The stainless Jñāna can be attained through the Supreme Avidyā only after expelling its darkness which annihilates one’s own self (or Reality). You should destroy Ajñāna through itself alone like likes by likes, such as arrows by arrows, poison by poison, enemy by enemy, or excessive dirt by itself alone. Through patient enquiry and reflections, you will find that it will fly away and with its disappearance, Brahmic bliss will be attained. If you have Jñāna and a cognition of its reality through the unification of Jīva and Īśvara, then will you be able to understand the true nature of Avidyā. Till the blissful Jñāna dawns in you, you should hold fast to the words of mine that the terrific Māyā really is not. Those who have cognized directly through themselves that all are but the immaculate Brahman, can be said to have attained Mokṣa.
The knowledge of diversity itself constitutes Māyā. At nil costs, should this Māyā be overcome. The other bank of the river against which lash the waves of Māyā, can never be perceived without gaining Ātma-jñāna. If that is clearly seen, then such a stainless state is itself the imperishable Nirvāṇa. Please do not rack your brains now as to the origin of this Māyā; but enquire into the means of its destruction. If it is destroyed, then will you be able to know how it arose. Then will you be able to know whence it arose, what is its nature and how it perished. Therefore, Oh Rāma, should the dose of medicine called Jñāna be administered to you, suffering from the malady of Ajñāna fruitful of all pains, then you will not be drowned in the ocean of the baneful rebirths. Like Vāyu which having its source in Ākāśa yet pervades it, the Chit-śakti arising out of Brahman, the Ātmic Be-ness, shines as this universe. It is only through a slight motion in the immaculate Jñāna-ocean, all the hosts of Jīvas and Īśvara shine. Having cognized without doubt through your divine vision that the one Brahman alone is partless, may you drown yourself in the Jñāna-ocean.
Through a slight motion in the one Jñāna, the Jñāna-śakti in it becomes transformed in a moment into various Śaktis of many powers when they are associated with the three potencies (Śaktis) of Space, Time and Karmas. Though resting in its eternal state of Brahmic Reality, this Jñāna-śakti will contemplate upon itself as conditioned. While contemplating upon itself thus, there will come upon it, in its train of ideas, the conception of the limitation of names and forms. Associated as it then is with excessive Vikalpas, it is bound by the conceptions of space, time and actions. It is at this stage that the Jñāna Reality passes under the appellation of Jīva. This Jīva generating manifold pains becomes tinged with Ahaṃkāra This never-bending Ahaṃkāra manifests itself as the stainful Buddhi leading to certain knowledge. Then this Buddhi suffused with illusions becomes the Manas of thought. This Manas of great fancies becomes gradually the Indriyas (or organs). It is these ten Indriyas of hand, etc , that are termed this body of flesh. Thus it is that the Jīva through its association (with the universe), gradually debases itself, being bound by the cord of Saṃkalpas and enmeshed in the snare of pains. Thus is the mind, which was originally the one reality itself, bound by desires through its Ahaṃkāra like worms caught in their own chrysalides. Through the Tanmātras (rudimentary properties) produced by itself, it is bound by the snare of its own internal (mental) actions and will ever be afflicted at heart like an undaunted male lion in a forest bound in fetters. Thus has the one principle been dubbed by the great ones with different appellations of Manas, Buddhi, Jñāna, Karmas, Ahaṃkāra, Yātanā (suffering) bodies, Prakṛti, Māyā, the base Mala (impurity), Karman, Bondage, Chitta, Avidyā, desires and others.
Hence all these diverse things of the world which have appeared as many in different places through the bondage of our desires, do not confer even the least iota of benefit to the (real) mind in the heart. All these things are like a huge banyan tree with its long branches, etc., latent in a banyan seed. The mind will ever be tossed in the ocean of desires, being scorched by the fire of pains and devoured by the Boa constrictor of anger. Losing all equilibrium through its intense sufferings, it becomes quite oblivious of its own reality. It is this mind you should try to lift out of Māyā, like an elephant sunk in mire. Oh Rāma, the very incarnation of Grace, those are Rākṣasas in the guise of men who do not relieve their minds reeling under the fiery poison of the terrible births and deaths as well as in the presence of their two enemies good and evil.
Thus have the Jīvas, which are nothing but a disport of Chit, arisen through Bhāvanās (thoughts) as separate entities out of the one Brahman, as countless as drops of water trickling down from the Meru heights. Some of them have subjected themselves to one, two or three births. Some of them have undergone more than a hundred births. Some have attained births beyond number of Kinnaras, Gandharvas, Vidyādharas or the hosts of Uragas. Some are born as the sun or the moon or Varuṇa: some as Brahmā, Viṣṇu or Īśvara; some as Brahmins or kings or Vyāsas or the serviceable Śūdras; some as beasts, birds or reptiles; some as tendrils, unripe fruits, fruits, roots or straw. Some monads are born as the mountains, Mahendra, Sahya, Meru or Mandara; some as the trees, Kadamba, Lime, Palmyra, etc.; some as the grand septenary seas of salt, curd, ghee, milk, sugar-cane-juice, honey or pure water; some as the different quarters or rivers and other objects, high or low. Like a ball tossed to and fro by the hand, these Monads are played about by time, enter various bodies and attain discrimination through repeated fluctuations; but the ignorant subject themselves to the ever-recurrent cycle of rebirths. It is only through the illusory Māyā which is in the one Reality of Brahman like the waves of an ocean that the whole universe expands itself, being created and preserved through this Ajñāna.”
After the all-illuminated Vasiṣṭha had concluded thus, Śrī Rāma questioned him as to how this Jīva though associated with Manas is yet able to secure the name of Brahman. To which Vasiṣṭha replied thus: “Having heard my reply to this question of yours, you will be able to also know the means by which all the worlds came into existence. May you be blessed with discrimination on hearing from me all these The imperishable Ātma through the force of quarters, time, etc., assumes to itself bodies made up of the above quarters, etc., through its Chichakti (Chit-Śakti) in order to disport itself therein. Then at once through dint of the Vāsanās synonymous with this Jīvātma, the stainful fluctuating mind is generated. Then this potency of mind which was in a neutral state with Karmas and non-Karmas commingled, now becomes active; and the moment it becomes at first imbued with the Bhāvanā of the Tanmātra of Ākāśa, that is the subtle sound, it immediately through such fluctuating power becomes dull by the nature of Ākāśa. Then imbued with the Bhāvanā of the Tanmātra of Vāyu, viz. the subtle touch, it through the fluctuating power of Vāyu becomes of the nature of Vāyu. Though commingled with Ākāśa and Vāyu, it pursues the same process lower down and imbued with the Bhāvanās of the Tanmātras, form, taste and smell, it becomes of the nature of Agni, (fire), Ap (water) and Prithivī (earth), respectively. Thus does this Ātma appear as of the nature of this all-pervading universe, being enveloped with the ideations of the five Elements and five Tanmātras. It alone manifests this body (of ours) in the Ākāśa like a flitting fire-spark. It shines in the heart lotus of all, manifesting itself as this eight-fold body composed of the five Tanmātras with Ahaṃkāra and Buddhi (and Manas making it eight). Through excessive Vāsanās is it, that this body is generated through thought. Chitta having become concrete, it engenders the gross body like a Bilva (Bel) fruit. Then with the radiance of spermatozoa darting into a womb, it shines with a form by its own power with a head above, feet below, hands at its sides and a belly in the middle.
Through the potency of the primeval time, an externally visible form arises gifted with intelligence, cleverness, power, nobleness, true Jñāna and wealth. Such a one of form is the illuminated Brahmā called Viśva. This Brahmā first beheld his own person which was very lovely and transcendent. Endowed, as he was, with the imperishable good guṇas and able to dive into the three periods of time, he looked into the Param-Ākāśa which is non-dual, illimitable and of the nature of Jñāna to see what existed before. Then he of stainless full Jñāna-Vision saw the rise (and fall) of myriads of previous evolutions, of which he himself was the author. Therefore knowing all (the previous) Varṇas (castes), race, Dharmas, etc., he again created them anew as if in sport. In the same manner, did he also bring into existence innumerable Veda Śāstras to enable all Jīvas to attain liberation. Jīvas who arose through Saṃkalpa like an ephemeral Gandharva city. Through this Brahmic mind, all the creations of the five subtle elements blossomed out into physical ones, like buds blooming in spring. All the heterogeneous Devas and men fell into cycle of births through their own Saṃkalpas. If persons in this world should know thus their origin and then annihilate their Saṃkalpa, then they will not be subject to the trammels of birth, like a lamp without the ghee (or oil). Ākāśa and other kindred ones arise in vain through Saṃkalpa merely. Therefore, Oh Rāma, you should, in your waking state, observe as in a dream this world. Strictly speaking, this world cannot be said to arise or perish at any time or place. From the standpoint of the one Real Jñāna, all else are but illusory.
Being firmly convinced that this load of Saṃsāra which is but the hole wherein crawl the great serpents of desires, is wholly unreal, may you, Oh Rāma, sever the bonds of Saṃsāra and live immutably in the immeasurable state of Brahman. What does it matter to you whether the Gandharva city (of this world) which seems beautiful to behold, does exist or is destroyed? Will it be for your good or evil? Of what import it isto you, whether (your) wife, children, etc., who but forge the bonds of Māyā, prosper or not in this world? The increase of longing for wife and wealth does but enchain you; but if it is curtailed, who else than such a one will be able to reap the harvest of such a subjugation? The very enjoyments which are the means of fanning the desires in an Ajñānin and making him reel under them, thereby suffering from dire pains, serve a powerful Jñānin to make his mind desireless and unobscured when he contemplates upon their sufferings. Through this beneficial course, when you are amidst the karmas of Saṃsāric bondage, you should perform them, enjoying things that you come by and not pining for things that do not fall to your lot, and thus reach the Jīvanmukti state. Not having an object at present, they will never think of enjoying it in the future; nor will they disregard as stainful an object at present obtained. Oh lotus-eyed one, this is the true nature of full Jñānins.
The bond of Māyā will never affect those omniscient adepts who have erased from their minds all Vāsanās, being convinced of the visible things as illusory. Having planted firmly your intelligence in the immaculate state of Brahman which is the neutral state between Sat and Asat, do not let it, Oh Rāma, be attracted or expelled by the universes, both external and internal to the body. Being without love or hatred in all actions, Ātma-Jñānins will never let their minds be affected by such actions, like water on a lotus leaf. If your mind, Oh Rāma, will but firmly abandon all the so-called pleasures arising from the sensual objects, you will then be a knower of Ātma-jñāna, cross the Saṃsāric oceans and liberate your self from rebirths.
If you long for the Supreme Brahmic state, you should through the true Ātma-jñāna destroy the mind of Vāsanās like a flower losing its Vāsanās (or odor). The enjoyment without fear of (Brahmic) bliss constitutes the vessel which enables safe landing to those who are drowned in the Saṃsāric ocean full of the waters fluctuating with the base Vāsanās. Those in whom Ātma-jñāna has dawned directly will follow the worldly avocations and yet not be tainted by them. They will not refrain from the worldly actions and will not long even for the flower garden in Svarga. They will not feel pain even in deserted or desolate places. Like the sun, they will ever tirelessly perform their appointed duties and will never derogate from the ordained Law. The supremely wise will never flinch doing all their duties. Therefore, Oh Rāma, you should conduct yourself thus.” Thus said Muni Vasiṣṭha.
Vālmīki said “Here me attentively, Oh Baradvāja. At this description of Brahmic state by Muni Vasiṣṭha, Śrī Rāma became stainless with his mind annihilated; his heart was rendered cool with the ambrosia of the incomparable Tattva-jñāna and was Plenum itself like the waxing full moon.” Then Vasiṣṭha again continued: “At one period, all the universes Īśvara creates; at another period, Brahmā; at another period, Viṣṇu; then Munis, and so on. Sometimes Brahmā is born in a lotus; sometimes in water; sometimes in the mundane egg; sometimes in Ākāśa. In one creation, the powerful trees will alone exist in this universe; in another, man alone; in another, the several mountains; in another, the earth alone; in another, stones alone; and in another, flesh alone, and in another creation, gold alone. Thus will it be in diverse ways. During the several creations, the foremost is sometimes the Ākāśa, sometimes Vāyu, sometimes Agni, sometimes Āp and sometimes Pṛthivī. Herein I have but briefly described to you the creation of one Brahmā. The order of evolution will not be the same in all yugas, but will vary with different yugas. Kṛta and other yugas will again and again recur. There is no object in this world which does not again and again cycle round many times. Therefore in order to understand truly the great Māyā of intense gloom in its glowing colors, you will have to hear, Oh Rāma, the story of Dāśūra well versed in the rare Vedas.
In the country of Magadha where the gentle zephyrs breathed their cool fragrance in the flower garden, the loveliest of all spots on earth, there lived a noble Muni by the name of Dāśūra on a pleasant mountain abounding with plantain trees emitting camphor odor, Kadamba and Areca trees. This Muni was the son of Śaraloma who was like the son of Brahmā, being in the possession of Tapas fitting one for Mokṣa. He was like Kacha, the son of the Lord Bṛhaspati (Jupiter) in Devaloka; among the mortals he was the supreme of men; and in Tapas was unrivalled. After Śaraloma had passed many yugas in the forest on these mountains along with his son, he extricated himself from his body, like a bird out of its cage and assumed Deva (celestial) form. Being left alone in the forest, Dāśūra, the son, wept bitterly over his dear father’s death, like a nightingale parted from its mate, and forgot to perform, with the purificatory water, all those obsequies that are ordained in the case of pure Brahmins.
Whilst he was thus of a dejected heart at the separation of his parent, the sylvan Devatā (goddess) commiserating greatly his pitiable condition and without making herself visible to him, addressed him (as a voice in the silence) thus: ‘Oh thou son of a great Muni, being thyself a Muni of an illuminated mind, do not despond through thy pains like the ignorant. How is it thou hast not, ere now, been impressed with the unreality of this ephemeral Saṃsāra? With birth, death is inevitable. Are there persons in this world who are so insane as to maintain that the sun which rises in the East does not set in the West? Do not play the woman and afflict thyself with grief.’ So said the sylvan goddess unobserved by him.
Having heard these words, the Muni shook off his sorrow and performed all ceremonies in water according to the Vedic injunctions and then longed for the Tapas leading to Mokṣa. Therefore he began to indulge in a love for the performance of religious ceremonies according to the mandates of the Veda to which he belonged. Being without full Jñāna, he was not satisfied with the purity of the many spots of the earth he came across and so contemplated in his mind upon performing Tapas, like birds upon the top of a tree, as if such Tapas alone could conduce to real purity.
For this purpose, he reared a large fire, invoked the Deva hosts and so performed a Yajña by cutting into parts his body and offering them to the fire. Thereupon the resplendent God, Agni finding that the flesh of the learned Brahmin, such as the throat, shoulders, etc. was being offered through itself to the Devas and wishing to know its reason, appeared before the Brahmin and questioned him thus ‘What is thy intention?’
To which the Muni with folded hands eulogized him and said thus: ‘As I am not able to find any pure place on this earth, please favor me with a state in a tendril on the top of a tree.’ The God Agni granted the boon and disappeared like the waves of an ocean. There was a Kadamba tree in the forest which reared its head high aloft in the Ākāśa, outstripping the sphere of clouds even. It was on a tendril on the top of this tree that Muni Dāśūra seated himself and performed a rare Tapas without any the least doubt of mind. Surveying first all the quarters in an instant, after seating himself in Padma posture, he controlled his mind. Not being able to attain Brahmā Jñāna directly, he performed (religious) Karmas alone; but then with a mind that did not long for the fruits of actions, he performed Yajña for 12 years and offered oblation to the Devas (celestials). As all the Yajñas were performed without any obstacles, strictly according to the Vedic injunctions, such as Gomedha, Aśvamedha and Naramedha, his mind became steady, clear and full and at once the priceless Jñāna took possession of it and pervaded it quite.
This great personage becoming freed from the obscurations of rebirth and having eradicated to the root all Vāsanās was thus spending his days in the tendrils of a branch, teeming with bee-hives, when one day before his pure eyes the sylvan goddess appeared visibly, clad in full-blown flowers whom he questioned as to who she was.
To which the Goddess replied thus ‘I have known that persons who are greatly devoted to the wise can without doubt encompass very easily things otherwise difficult of achievement. Oh Jñāna-conferring Muni, I have to inform you that I am the Goddess presiding over this forest. I always love to reside in the exquisite arbor of plants teeming with the blooming flowers. In the month of Caitra (April-May) when the moon shines with thirteen Kālās (on the 13th day), I was in the group of sylvan goddesses, who had assembled together on the occasion of the grand festival of Kāma (the god of Love). All my companions rejoiced in the possession of sons; being childless, my mind greatly gave way. While you, Lord, are here like a Kalpa tree yielding anything to those persons that long for it, why should I bewail over the want of a child, as if having no protector. Therefore please bless me with a son: else I will enter the flames through the grief of childlessness.’
At which the Muni laughed and handing over to her a flower, said thus: ‘Oh Swan-like one, thou wilt in the course of a month be able to easily get a son; but as thou implored for a son through the vow of entering the flames in case thy request were not granted, thy begotten son will attain Jñāna, undergoing dire probation.’
Thereupon the moonlike face of the Goddess began to shine, radiant with lustre, in the prospect of begetting a son and asked permission of the Muni to sit at his feet and abide by his orders. The Muni being unwilling to abide by her request, she returned to her abode and there gave birth to a son who shone with the splendor of a full-moon. After the child had passed 12 years, the mother with her offspring went to the Muni and addressed him thus: ‘Oh thou God who having perceived Truth confers it upon all, this my son whom I begot through thy grace, became through my instructions well versed in all departments of knowledge; and yet he has not attained Ātma-jñāna. He is tossed about in this ocean of rebirths. Please therefore bestow upon him that Jñāna by which he may know his own Self.’
To which the Muni said: ‘Leaving thy son under me as my disciple, return home.’
Accordingly the Goddess returned home leaving her son there. Thereupon the loving disciple prostrated before the two feet of the Guru and remained there steadfastly. Then this Muni initiated his disciple into the All-full Jñāna by giving out the clear spiritual stories, the several evidences, the rationale of the Purāṇas and the underlying meaning of the sacred sentences in Vedānta as well as the many paths that lead to Jñāna.
While I was journeying on in the Ākāśa incognito to bathe in the River Gaṅgā, I one day went from the region of Sapta Ṛṣis to the Kadamba tree where the Muni Dāśūra was initiating his disciple in the night and heard the following from the Muni’s mouth which I shall now communicate to you.
Hearken now to the present story in order that thou mayest rightly understand the true nature of the Brahmic Reality. There was once a great and noble Emperor named Svottha (or that which arises of itself) who rejoiced in the possession of immense courage and fame. Even the many protectors of the perishable universe would wear his commands over their heads, as if they (the commands) were so many rubies and would be weighed by him according to their true deserts. This Emperor was a lover of Truth and wrought many wonders. One may rather count the ocean waves than the myriads of countless actions which he performed productive of good or evil to persons (good or bad). Neither sharp instruments nor wind nor fire were able to affect him in the least. How can the two hands of a person seize and affect the Ākāśa which is all-pervading? Not even the eternal Trumurtis who are ceaselessly engaged in all actions as if in sport, can out-strip this Emperor (in his efforts).
Three persons there were, who formed the bodies of this great personage able to bear any burden. These persons transcended even the powerful universe. They went by the names, Uttama (high), Madhyama (middle), and Adhama (low). This king abode in the Jñāna-Ākāśa out of which he arose and was triple-bodied in person. In this city of Jñāna-Ākāśa, there were fourteen long streets. All things being triple in their nature, there were in that city heavenly pleasure gardens, groves, sporting resorts, tendril-like gardens, seven tanks and two lights which were both hot and cold (at the same moment). Tents were pitched, whirling in all the three worlds of the city filled with all things the three worlds, Svarga, Madhya and Pātāla. Three massive pillars upbore these three worlds. It was intertwined with the trees of bones. It was coated over with soft skins filled with blood and thickset hairs above.
This king created, with Māyā which never is, big halls; each of them had nine windows through which the zephyrs played. It shone with the beautiful lights of the five Indryas (organs). External to it, appeared the two arms. The ghosts of Ahaṃkāra, extremely nervous at the approach of Brahmic meditation, guarded and protected it. Having like a bird pent up in a cage, amused himself with the ghost of Ahaṃkāra in a number of halls and sported gleefully in diverse ways, the king migrates from one hall to another created by him and there dances ghost-like everywhere as he passes along. The moment he thinks of quitting one from another, he does so accordingly; the moment he contemplates upon death, he puts an end to his existence. With his mind ever whirling, he will ever subject himself to the cycle of births and deaths. But the state of all is Jñāna-Ākāśa alone. Though dead once, he will again recur like the waves of the ocean. This triple-bodied king will live pleasantly in his city shining like a Gandharva city and being ever oppressed by the ever-surging actions, will sometimes droop, sometimes rejoice; will sometimes be carried away by the love of Self and sometimes reel giddily or be clear in mind; will sometimes exclaim: ‘Oh, I am poor, I am low, I am high, I am base, I am noble and so on. Oh, how can I describe the state of the mind of that person which is tossed to and fro, like a light object in a stormy ocean.’
At these words of the Muni, the son asked his father as to what he meant to symbolize by the Emperor mentioned in the above story. To which Dāśūra replied thus: ‘Should you know truly the real nature of the King, then you will also be a knower of the unreality of birth and death. In the story related above, I but emphasised upon the illusory character of births and deaths in this mundane existence which has spread itself far and wide through the paltry Saṃkalpa. It is only Saṃkalpa that incarnated in the Param-Ākāśa in the form of the King Svottha. It will of itself evolve and disappear at stated times. With the growth of the paltry Saṃkalpa, there will arise the universe; with the extinction of the former, the latter also will disappear. Even the primeval Trumūrti and other Gods are but the inseparable parts of the bodies of this Saṃkalpa. This Saṃkalpa, viz., the meditation of Brahman which arises in Ātma through the budding up of intelligence in it, first creates in Jñāna-Ākāśa the town of three worlds: the deities presiding over the several quarters are the fourteen Manus: the fourteen streets in the town do stand for the fourteen worlds; the pleasure gardens, groves, etc., do symbolize the pure earth: the mountains of sport in that city do stand for Mahāmeru, Mandara, and other mountains; the two lights that will never be quenched by the wind are the sun and the moon; the pearl garlands stand for the many rivers full of water: the seven tanks in that city represent the seven oceans rendered into lotus-like forms through Vāḍava-Agni. In such a great city of the universe, the above mentioned King of Saṃkalpa assumes different bodies through his Karmas. And these bodies are symbolized in the story by the spacious Halls. The bodies of Devas are located in the higher regions; those of Nāgas in the nether regions; those of men in the middle ones. Such bodies made of fleshy earth move about through the terrific Prāṇa (life) currents. Migrating in the diverse halls of bodies, the King will consider as true the unreal ghosts of Ahaṃkāra which impede his progress in Ātma-jñāna. Then when he flirts with them, they will sometimes be and sometimes not. The bodies composed of flesh called here gṛhas (houses) will appear and disappear like the waves of the ocean. Moving in the different gṛhas, this King of Saṃkalpa will sometimes die, the moment he comes into possession of them through his Saṃkalpa. And so long as he is in the clutches of Saṃkalpa, he will be greatly afflicted. Without enjoying happiness in the least, he will greatly repine at his lot. With the contemplation of ‘I’, all the train of the ideas of the universe will set in; otherwise all the universe will vanish as instantaneously as darkness before the sun.
To this Saṃkalpa-Puruṣa who is sunk in the enjoyments he contemplates upon, there are three bodies, the high, the low and the intermediate. The three guṇas are his three bodies and form the substratum for the three worlds. Of these, Tāmasic-Saṃkalpa breeds pains through the actions of Prakṛti (matter) and is base like Pātāla worms. The pure Sāttvic Saṃkalpa leads to good Dharmas, Jñāna and liberation, shining like an emperor. The Rājasic Saṃkalpa leads persons naturally into the mundane existence. Having divested your self of these three Saṃkalpas, if you are Saṃkalpa-less, then you will reach the immaculate state very easily. Having freed yourself from all desires in the visible objects before you and having made your impure mind firm and steady through your pure mind, may you eradicate quite the Saṃkalpa arising both within your heart and without it. You may unflinchingly perform a stainless Tapas for many myriads of years; you may be able to travel at once through the three worlds, Svarga, Pātāla and Earth; but never will you be able to reach the stainless Mokṣa, except through the firm path of the annihilation of Saṃkalpa. Therefore Endeavour, as far as possible, to destroy this Saṃkalpa and thereby attain Brahmic bliss devoid of pains and heterogeneity. In the string of Saṃkalpa, all our countless thoughts are strung like so many beads. If the string be severed to pieces, then you may infer, Oh son, what will become of the illusory thoughts which are strung in it.
I trust that you will be performing those Karmas only that present themselves before you without the dire Saṃkalpas (which make you to choose between them.) Should Saṃkalpa leave you, then your Jñāna will not pinion itself to the visible things. Having reached the Brahmic state, may you enjoy the supreme bliss in that non-dual state, being free from the heterogeneities of the universe as well as misconceptions and that in the pleasurable Suṣupti state.’
At these words of Dāśūra, his disciple asked him thus: ‘What is Saṃkalpa? How came it into existence? And how does it flourish and go out of existence, decreasing gradually?’ To which the Muni replied thus: ‘The mere manifestation, as the visible things, of Ātma-jñāna the supreme, the true and the universal is Saṃkalpa. Rising from a small beginning, this Saṃkalpa is the primeval seed. Gradually and regularly increasing, it begins to obscure the one clear Paramātma, like the thick clouds, in order to generate firmly the conception of inertness. Oh my son, when the intelligence views the visible things outside, then it differentiates them from itself. Then Saṃkalpa reigns supreme. The seed of Jñāna is no other than the sprout of Saṃkalpa. This Saṃkalpa, having considered itself as different from others, will generate itself as well as increase prodigiously. Such a procedure is for its evil only and is in no way beneficial to it. Therefore do not dream of walking in the path of Saṃkalpa. Do not for a moment contemplate upon the things of the universe. Through such a contemplation, there will ensue to you supreme happiness. You need not exert yourself too much to rid yourself of this Saṃkalpa. With the checking of all thoughts, one’s mind will perish. To crumple a full-blown flower in one’s hand, taxes a little effort, but even that little effort is not needed to do away with Saṃkalpa. Saṃkalpa is destroyed with the control of thoughts. Having firmly annihilated the external Saṃkalpa through the internal one, and having destroyed the impure mind through the pure one, may you rest firmly in your Ātma-jñāna. If only this path is faithfully followed, then there is no doubt that the highest goal can be achieved through the extinction of Saṃkalpa in the short space of time required for a black gram to roll from the side of a pot. It is nothing impossible. Take my word for it, it will really happen. As Saṃkalpa arose through the misconception of Ajñāna only and is not ever existent, it resembles the universe and Ākāśa. Though the husk is natural to rice, and the rust to copper, yet the former disappear through efforts made. Similarly Ajñāna which clings to Ātma can be made to disappear through Ātmic enquiry. Having cleared yourself of all doubts, you should Endeavour to walk in the spiritual path through the aid of the spiritual illumination imparted by your Guru. All the visible things seen by us are in vain. Alone the relationship of a Guru and his disciple should be known and worshipped as the torch of light leading to Brahman.’
Having heard all these words of Dāśūra Muni, I went to the Muni there; and having paid him due respects with a good heart, I passed the night with him on the tendril of the tree he was in. As in the case of two libertines, the whole night was passed, as if in a second, in the recitation of many true stories. Then I took leave of Dāśūra and reached the banks of the Gaṅgā. Thus, my son, is this universe as in the story related before (by Dāśūra).”
Footnotes and references:
Brahman from Bṛh – to expand.
Uragas. Serpent elementals. Vidyādharas are elementals of another order.
This refers to the seven seas by which the seven Dvīpas are surrounded.
Kṛta and other yugas, the four yugas.
Gomedha. The sacrifice of cows, Aśvamedha that of horses, Naramedha that of men.
Sapta Ṛṣis. The seven Ṛṣis; corresponding in astronomy to Ursa Major.
The Hindu Trinity Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra.