Laghu-yoga-vasistha

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411

This page relates “the story of gadhi”, the 5th part of chapter 5 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 “upashanti-prakarana”.

Part 5 - The Story of Gādhi

Summary. In this story it is sought to show the nature of Māyā through the cognition and avoidance of which Ātma can be cognized.

“It is indeed impossible to describe the grandeur and in finite potency of Māyā which is but a synonym for birth and death. The mastery of the terrible Manas leads to its destruction but not otherwise. Now listen with an attentive mind to the story I am going to relate to you of the marvelous potency of this powerful Māyā of the universe.” So began Vasiṣṭha addressing himself to Rāma, the prince of the solar dynasty.

“An excellent Brahmin, by name Gādhi lived on earth in the country of Kosala. With some object in view, he abandoned his relatives for the forest. There whilst he was performing a goodly Tapas for about eight months by standing throat-deep in the midst of the waters of a tank, the gracious Viṣṇu deigned to pay a personal visit to the Brahmin and asked him to state the object of his Tapas.

Thereupon the latter quitted the waters and having reached the bank, fell prostrate at the feet of Viṣṇu and praised him thus: ‘Oh Parabrahm that is inseparable from the lotus heart of all souls, Oh Achyuta (the indestructible), Oh Ananta (the endless), I wish to merge in the immaculate Brahman. Therefore be pleased to enable me to visit (or know) directly the true nature of Māyā which thou hast created and which has wrought the miracle of these universes full of birth and death.’ To this request Viṣṇu acceded in the follow ing words: ‘Thou shalt be able to see Māyā. Thou shalt, after personally seeing it, be able to free thyself from its yoke.’ With these words, Viṣṇu disappeared at once like a Gandharva city. Thereupon the Brahmin was filled with a perennial bliss at having come in contact with the incarnation of the divine grace and spent some days in Tapas in that forest when there recurred to his memory the blessed sentences of Viṣṇu on his way to the lotus-filled tank to bathe. Dipping his head into the water, he forgot to perform the recitation of the Vedic Mantras and Dhyāna (meditation) which it was his habit to do while bathing. And lo ! He saw himself dead of a disease in his own house with his relatives gathered together, weeping by the side of his body, whilst his wife cried bitterly at his feet; and his mother prompted by sheer maternal love was embracing her son, as if she was again suckling him and writhing with pains, drooped senseless like one who had trodden the fire. In this state of affairs, the weeping relatives began and finished the subsequent post mortem rites and kindled the funeral pyre for cremation. The body was disposed of in the burning ground by being soon reduced to ashes. Thus did Gādhi, in the midst of the waters in the tank, see through his mind the illusory actions that were performed by himself through himself.

“Now Rāma, listen to what subsequently transpired.” Then Vasiṣṭha continued thus: “This life being over, Gādhi found himself reincarnating in the womb of a lady like a jet-black picture who belonged to the degraded caste of dog-eaters. With great travail, she brought him out into this world as a male child. After being fondled as a baby, he grew up to manhood with a body quite black like a cooled charcoal. With none to equal him in the degraded caste he was in, he married a girl of the same caste and with her lived in great union and joy. Whilst they were living harmoniously like life and mind, over hills, forests, and other fine places, their union blossomed forth in the birth of children. Some time elapsing, dotage and excessive grayness set in upon the husband who constructed a house of leaves at a distance from his place and there dwelt in it as a great Tapasvin. The children too advanced in life and became old. Whilst they were afflicted at dotage having laid its hands upon them all, Kāla (Death) stepped in to relieve all of them except the husband.

Being tired of incessant wailing and solitude, the survivor’s mind became dizzy; he became sick with desires and began to rove through different lands. At last he reached the country called Kīra where justice was administered duly and was passing through one of the golden streets of that city where its king had died. As he left no heir, the people in accordance with the immemorial custom of the choice of a king, bedecked the state elephant with gold and precious gems and let it loose to go its own way and select a king. The tusker in search of a person to rule the kingdom, found opposite to it this Nīha, its kindred in color and raised him upon its temples with its long proboscis like the Udayagiri (hills) at the dawn of the sun amidst the din of many musical instruments and the exclamations from all the eight quarters: ‘Victory be to thee, Victory be to thee.’ Thereupon all the fair ladies of the palace lavished all their skill in adorning their newly-made king. The old courtiers and the commander-in-chief began to obey his behests. Gavala was the name assumed by the king befitting his position as the wise and just protector of the earth. He reigned over his land, seated on the splendid bejewelled throne loved by all the court ladies shining with their scarlet lips.

After eight years elapsed, the king one day doffed all his ornaments from his person and alone was perambulating on foot the street beside his palace with all the appearance of a true Nīca, when he saw before him a group of outcastes of the caste of dog-eaters of dark complexion travelling along and playing upon their stringed Vīna (musical instrument). The oldest of the throng of blood-shot eyes and black colour, having observed the present king of Kīra and recognised him, approached him with true love and addressed him with the old familiar name thus Oh Katañja, where art thou, my old relative? In what place dost thou now dwell? It is only through good Karma that I have been able to see thee here. So saying, he clearly traced his whole genealogy, (many degrees back) and gave out other particulars. At this, the king slighted his words, since his low status was being brought to publicity and having loudly scorned him off his presence, he at once withdrew into his palace.

Meanwhile the ladies of the harem were observing from the balcony all that had passed between the king and the low caste men; quite surprised, they apprised the minister who was then staying in the palace, of the occurrences thus: ‘This lord of the earth, our king, belongs to the lowest class of Caṇḍālas. How shall we act now?’ Unable to find any way out of the scrape, they were stunned, perplexed, and morose. Where as the king, nothing daunted by all these, seated himself on the throne as before, as if nothing fresh had transpired. But the ladies, courtiers and others who had before approached him, stood immoveably at a distance from him like a carcass unfit to be touched by the hands. The sad present plight of the king who was alone, even in the presence of innumerable subjects, can only be likened to a forlorn traveller left in a foreign country without knowledge, wealth or any other means. Then all the subjects held a solemn conclave in which they came to the following conclusion: ‘We have contaminated ourselves with grave sins through association with this Nīca, our king. No amount of penances will expiate this stain of ours. Therefore we shall all purify ourselves by entering into fire.’ With this resolution, all the subjects from the eldest down to babies flocked together, and fell into a large fire-pit reared up for the occasion, like swarms of flies buzzing in a Champaka flower. Thereupon the king became afflicted in heart and with a collected mind soliloquized within himself thus:

Through contact with me an outcaste, all my countrymen became degraded and therefore perished in the flames. It is perfectly useless on my part to outlive them. I shall follow the same course. With this purpose of giving up his life, he allowed himself to be devoured by the flames.

While the body of Katañja was being burnt by fire, like tender leaf exposed to the flames, the body of Gādhi that had taken its plunge into the waters of the tank began to palpitate and quiver. In four Ghaṭikās, Gādhi’s mind became cleared up of all obscurations of Māyā and began to ruminate upon who he was, and what he saw and did in that state. Then came he from the waters to the bank of the tank; and then after having meditated upon the similar manner in which all Jīvas in this world run about greatly agitated in their mind, like an angry tiger ever chafing in a forest, was (temporarily) relieved at heart, (in spite of his lingering doubts).

With these thoughts in his mind, he passed some days in his hermitage, when there came upon the spot a guest who was heartily regaled with honey and fruit. At the time of Saṃdhyā when the sun set, they both performed their daily Karmas and returned to their respective seats of rest, where they were engaged in Ātma-jñāna stories. At this time, Muni Gādhi enquired of the stranger the cause of the extreme emaciation of his body.

To which the guest replied thus: ‘At the request of my be loved relatives, I spent a month in the famous and wealthy country of Kīra situated on the north of this earth. Whilst I was recouping my health there, I chanced to come in contact with a person therein who related the following anecdote: “A king ruled over that country without any split or dissension for about eight years after which the true status of the king as belonging to the lowest class of Nīcas, the dogeaters, was brought to light. With this discovery, all the Brahmins and others went into the fire; and the king followed suit. Hearing that horrid fate of the Brahmins, I quitted that country and took a pilgrimage to Prayāga (Allahabad) of waters with seething waves in order to wash off all my sins. There I, in accordance with Vedic rites, underwent penances and Candrayana[*] Vrata and got emaciated thereby.”

At these words of the guest, Muni Gādhi was surprised and internally convinced that it was his own history that was referred to by the stranger. Therefore to verify for himself the truth of the events of his previous Nīca life, he travelled to and entered the Huna-Maṇḍala[†] where he saw his birthplace and the other places he dwelt in. All being there as he saw (before, in his Samādhi), he shook his head in surprise and after surveying all the diverse creations of Brahmā, he proceeded still further to the Kīra country where he saw without any missing, his former palace and other familiar resorts of his, as well as heard the events of his life related by the people there. Is this the Māyā that Viṣṇu acquainted me with? Through the wonderful seed of my intelligence, have I been able to observe all these.’

With these thoughts in his mind, he at once reached the slopes of a great hill and became an incomparable Tapasvin. A rare Tapas was there performed by him to gladden Viṣṇu, with a handful of water as his food. After the lapse of a year spent in such a Tapas, Viṣṇu appeared personally before him in his hermitage in the form of a dark blue cloud[‡] and addressed him thus: ‘Thou hast seen the glory of Māyā in its true colors, What more dost thou want? Why dost thou perform this true Tapas on the hill side here?’

The Muni became frantic with joy like the bird Cātaka at sight of the dark clouds high up in the sky, and then poured forth praises, prostrations, and salutations to Viṣṇu. Then looking at Viṣṇu of graceful vision, he questioned Him thus: ‘I have known vividly the nature of Māyā, the result of Karma, as thou wert pleased to show me. But I am yet ignorant of Māyā in its latent innate state. How came this delusion to manifest itself as real?’

Viṣṇu replied thus: ‘Oh Brahmin, this earth and other things of the universe, have for their substratum the mind and do not exist at any period apart from the mind. Almost all persons in this world, walking in the path of this universe of dreams, delusion and egoism look upon it as real and enjoy it. It is only in Chitta (the flitting mind) that the universe rests. Why shouldst thou be surprised, if this mind of thine, which contains (potentially) in itself all the Universe, should bring into objectivity thy life of a Nīca (which is but an insignificant part of the whole). The excessive one-pointedness (or ideation) of thy mind reflected itself in the life of a Nīca which reflection was then known. This reflection was caught up by the guest who came in subse quently and saw as real all these delusions. Like the analogy of a crow and palmyra fruits[§], the ideation of the Nīca’s life reflected itself also in the minds of all who lived in Hūṇa-maṇḍala and Kīra-maṇḍala[**]. Thus did these two kinds of ideations lend increased Reality to the minds of all creatures. Truly marvelous are the effects or manifestations of the mind, like the analogy of a crow and the palmyra fruits. Thus do diverse persons view the one dream (of the universe) in various ways. With one sport, many boys divert themselves in different ways.’

In similar manner was the Nīca born in Huna-Maṇḍala in the habitation prepared for him by the mind. Likewise with the death of his relatives, he reached a foreign country. There he reigned over the country of Kīra with his white victorious parasol overshadowing his subjects and there allowed himself to be devoured by flames. It was only the ideation of your supreme mind thinking about the Nīca’s life that brought about the reflection which afterwards assumed a reality. The ignorant who are impressed with the idea of the differentiations of ‘he’, ‘thou’, ‘I’, ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘mine’, etc., will ever be sunk in the mire of pains; but those who have cognised earth and other things of the universe as no other than ‘I’ will never despond under grief. With a mind distinct from and having no longing towards all the things of this earth, their firm intelligence will never cling to desires. Knowers of Tattva-jñāna will never render themselves liable to the delusions of Ajñāna. As thou hast not cognized Jñāna fully, thou hast not rid thyself of all thy mental delusions and quitted them all as degrading. Therefore it is thou hast completely forgotten thyself in a moment through thy delusions. To this wheel of the grand Moha (delusions), Manas is the axle. If by dint of discrimination, thy mind be destroyed, then Māyā will not afflict thee. Now rise up from here and retire into the caves of this hill and perform Tapas there for ten years. Then will the eternal and true Jñāna dawn in thee fully.’

With these words, (the abovementioned) manifested form of Viṣṇu disappeared at the very spot where it appeared. Thereupon the stainless Muni Gādhi, freed of all dire delusions, was devoid of attachments and underwent a rare Tapas. After a course of ten years, he lived replete with true Jñāna. Then having attained the incomparable state of Sat, devoid of fear, pains, and longing for objects and shone in his real quiescent state as a Jīvanmukta ever of the nature of bliss and with a mind as full as the full moon.


[*] Cāndrāyaṇa Vrata. This is an observance in which beginning with 15 morsels of food on a full moon day, a person lessons them one by one till he reaches the new moon day when he increases it one by one daily.

[†] Lit. the country of Hūṇas or the lower caste men.

[‡] A dark blue cloud was the form in which Viṣṇu appeared before Muni Gādhi

[§] Just as the cause of the fall of ripe Palmyra fruits is wrongly attributed to a crow which perches upon the tree at the time of their fall, so the universe is thought to be real though it is merely the creation of the mind.

[**] Lit. the country of Kīra, Kashmir.

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