by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of shikhidhvaja”, the 9th part of chapter 6 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 “nirvana-prakarana”.
Summary. In this story, it is sought to show that the path to the higher goal will be rendered smooth by an Ācārya who is able to make his disciple progress through various means as well as by true renunciation, though many obstacles may intervene.
“Oh mayest thou merge thyself in thy all-peaceful Ātma, like the king Śikhidhvaja who annihilated that Great Bird called mind”, said Vasiṣṭha to Rāma, whereupon the latter asked him: “Tell me, O Guru, who was this king Śikhidhvaja, who was absorbed in the ecstatic enjoyment of all-embracing bliss? Be pleased to bestow on me thy blessing, so that Jñāna, which is the basis of everything, may arise in me and wax to its fullest strength.” Thereupon the Muni thus replied: “This king who bore the name Śikhidhvaja was born in the Dvāpara Yuga after the seven Manus who presided over the country like the sun had passed away. His justice knew no bounds, and he was moreover devoid of the bad qualities arising from desire. For he was replete with the goodness of charity and other virtues, and preserved that silence which avoids the discord born of words. He had cultivated mental and also bodily restraint and other powers of will, and especially delighted in doing good to others. The partner of his marriage was Cūḍālā born through Tapas in the womb of the Queen of the Saurāṣṭra country, who resembled the peacock in beauty, and could not in the space of the whole world find one to compare with her in her imperishable virtue. And these two lived together in perfect happiness with their two minds interblended performing all actions without the least difference of opinion, having mastered all the departments of knowledge. Delightfully indeed they passed their youth, as if but one breath of life pervaded in common their bodies. As the years glided sweetly by, their ephemeral youth passed away like water from a broken pot, and middle age fell upon them, like flakes of snow on lotuses in the waters of a rivulet. Like water trickling from the palm of the hand, so their lives sped away, day by day. Then the desires, which had in youth expanded themselves more and more like a gourd plant that grows in the rainy season, ever winding itself round and round, began to lessen like waters in the time of autumn. All the pleasures that once arose in the body now departed from it like arrows from a bow. Just as a plantain tree grows useless after it has put forth its fruit-bunches, so they became indifferent to worldly actions after tasting of their fruit. In unison of heart they thus both began to contemplate: Of a surety that is the most beneficial state from which the mind, when it once reaches it, never returns to another. But such a discriminative state is impossible in the case of those plunged in mundane existence. Therefore the most exalted AdhyĀtma-jñāna knowledge alone is the sure panacea to cure of the disease of rebirth.
Coming thus to the conclusion that rebirth cannot be avoided except through Ātma-jñāna alone, both betook themselves to such a life, with their minds absorbed in it and with true meditation. And for the attainment of their wish they ever associated with the wise and learned. Thus they lived long together, exulting over their store of accumulated knowledge and leading a practical life of spirituality in accordance with that knowledge. Then the Lady Cūḍālā, of true discrimination, having heard and clearly understood the real signification of the Śāstras, taught by the wise for the attainment of the different stages leading to the realms of the higher spirituality, thus began to commune with herself:
‘While there exists Ātma (as I clearly perceive it), to what do we apply the term ‘I’? Whence is this delusion in the mind? To whom is it due? How and whence did it arise? How can we apply the term ‘I’ to the body visible to us? As the body is inert and ignorant, therefore the term ‘I’ cannot be applied to it. Again, can the term ‘I’ be applied to the ten organs which vitalize the body? No, since like a tile which is moved by a rod, the ten inert and separate sense-organs (Indriyas) are moved by the flitting mind. Can the term ‘I’ be applied to the Manas which agitates, its power of Saṃkalpa, the organs? No, since even the Manas is inert, being goaded on to action by the certainty of Buddhi, like a stone flung from a sling. Nor is ‘I’ Buddhi, as it is in turn galvanized by Ahaṃkāra. Nor is it the baneful Ahaṃkāra which galvanizes Buddhi, as it (Ahaṃkāra) is the inert state of Jīva (the higher ego). Once more, can ‘I’ be applied to Jīva which moves Ahaṃkāra? Being of the nature of actions and Prāṇa it rests in the heart and there enjoys the bliss of Pratyagātma. Hence Jīva is not ‘I’; thus I have now learnt through this enquiry that what renders Jīva blissful is Ātma, the true Jñāna. Such a Jñāna will never be bedimmed by objects, but will ever become clearer and clearer. My own Jīva exists only through Ātmic reality, the eternal Jñāna. Verily the state of Jīva, which gets ensnared by objects through Jñāna, may well be likened to that of water standing in a deep pool, or an odor wafted by the breeze. This Jñāna power, ensnared by the perception of objects which are illusory and composed of Tamas, becomes besmeared and consequently inactive: hence is the present Jīva oblivious of its true state, like heat in a copious supply of water. Thus does the true Chit-Śakti, become the Jīva, and, having become unreal and Tamasic through longing after objects, cognizes again its true state through Ātma-jñāna (by re-becoming that Jñāna).
This Ātma-jñāna is known only through one’s self and not through another. I have now known Ātma-jñāna, which can be done only after endless eons of time. Through the non-cognition of the all-pervading nature of the Supreme Consciousness, there arose in us the six organs, but if that true Chit is thoroughly known, then Manas and the others are found to be quite illusory. The immeasurable Plenum of Jñāna alone truly is. This Jñāna is also called Mahācit or Mahāsattā. This self-light that is stainless, without suffering, inequality or egoism, goes also by the appellations of Parabrahm or Paramātman, and shines everywhere at the same time, being eternal, all- pure and all-potent.’
And thus it happened that through her divine introvision, the queen enjoyed daily the consciousness of the reality of Ātman, and remained steadfast in that condition. Also through the strict performance of her daily actions, without the least longing after their fruits, all her desires and the tendency of her mind towards objects entirely ceased nor was she troubled by the pairs of opposites, or desires, or hatred. Thus in the performance of actions without attachment to results, her mind ripened and became the receptacle of bliss. Then through the unceasing practices, Ātmic reality – that true realization of certainty which is beyond all compare and cannot be estimated by any except one’s self became to her direct cognition, and she shone with a radiant spiritual light and became like a soft tendril bearing flowers.
Now it came to pass that king Śikhidhvaja, noticing with pleasure the glorious effulgence that shone more and more round the form of his wife, and marveling to see a glory which surpassed any he had seen before, gave utterance to the following words:
‘How is it, O beloved one, that you now appear radiant with so much beauty, as if your youth had returned to you, as if you had become as it were the prototype of beauty, had quaffed divine nectar and attained the Brahmic state of eternal, heavenly bliss? How is it that your mind is now blessed with tranquility, devoid of the desire of enjoyment and free from instability? By what chance do you possess this perfect beauty of both mind and body? By your purity, I desire you to answer me.’
To this Cūḍālā vouchsafed the following reply: ‘Having abandoned this universe, which is both rūpa and arūpa, I attained that mighty and incomparable One which survives the destruction of all things in the universe; hence the radiant Tejas [fire] in my body. I have cognized that which is the substratum of all, being the atom of atoms and the homogeneous whole without creation or destruction; thus arises this radiant Tejas in my form. Though I do not enjoy objects of the senses, yet do I derive happiness therefrom without the pains attendant upon such enjoyment, and therefore love and hatred have taken farewell of me. I exult through the divine vision (taught of in books) in the company of Jñāna, the mistress of the household, who has love and hatred as hand-maidens performing mental duties. Hence do I glory in the possession of contentment and bodily beauty. In no way affected by the objects which I perceive by my eyes and through my mind, I realise within myself that Consciousness (Caitanya) which has not the characteristics of the universe but is uncreate. Thus arises my beauty.’
At these words of Cūḍālā, her husband the king, without even trying to probe deeper into her heart, simply smiled at her with a look of derision and addressed her thus: ‘O damsel with a waist like a slender plant, thou hast uttered words which but ill suit thee. Thou speakest as one who has lost her mental balance. How is it possible for thee, who revellest in the luxuries of regal wealth, to cognise Ātma? Even the greatest of men, who, after giving up this paltry universe, have attained that exalted all-pervading principle, have done so only after disconnecting themselves from this visible universe. How is it, Lady, that thou canst aspire after that which can be directly cognised by the wise only? Thou canst be said to enjoy it only as those unfortunate persons do, who not being able to attain that state, profess to have sensed it intuitionally within, and then turn away in sheer disgust. Therefore tell me what thou meanest? How can persons like thee of the above class be able to realise the fact that they see Ātma within. Thou art but a fragile creature, without intelligence, unstable, liable to be tossed to and fro by emotion. So saying, he laughed aloud and departed.’ At this Cūḍālā only pitied the ignorance of the king, and remained calm with the consciousness of the Ātma-jñāna within, thinking that the king had not appreciated her words through his conception of the duality of the visible universe and his lack of enjoyment of true bliss.
Yet this couple continued to live together harmoniously and happily as before. Preserving as she did a perfect equilibrium of mind, the wife had complete mastery over her desires. But there arose in her, through her own volition, a desire to be a ‘walker of the skies’ (in order to convince her husband of her real powers and so lead him into the spiritual path). For this purpose she seated herself in a solitary spot, in a pleasant posture, in order to obtain enlightenment.
At this point Rāma asked Vasiṣṭha to enlighten him as to the path by which such psychic powers as walking in the Ākāśa, etc., might be developed after a long and difficult course of practice. Vasiṣṭha replied thus: “Albeit thou hast in the midst of the story of Śikhidvvaja asked for some light to be thrown on the practice of Yoga, yet I shall vouchsafe a reply to thee. O king, listen to the means which having enabled one to control Prāṇa, will yield him a rich return. The first and fundamental essential is that one should divest oneself of all affinities for objects, except those which adhere to the mind in the furtherance of those actions upon which it is bent. Next follow proper diet, easy posture, purity of mind and body, knowledge of the true meaning of the many treatises on Yoga and unintermittent practice accordingly, with the help of a wise Guru. He should completely divest himself of all anger and greed as well of attachment to enjoyments and should be free from all love or hatred for others. If he should only study practically the nature of the Prāṇas and then master them, their nature will, like subjects, enable him to rule the universe, to attain Mokṣa and develope Siddhis. There is among the one hundred Nāḍīs one incomparable, called Āntraveṣṭinikā. It is spherical, like a vortex, or the circular sounding-board of the vīna. This will be found to pervade all places and all bodies from those of Brahmā down to Jīva (the Ego). Like the coiling body of a serpent when it sleeps, shivering with cold, this ever-immoveable Nāḍī coils itself up and rests firmly through Prāṇa-vāyu. Like a plantain flower it is exceedingly delicate within. In this Nāḍī, it is said, there is a pure and resplendant Śakti (power) called Kuṇḍalinī which will enable men to have mastery over the tremendous powers of nature. This Śakti will ever be hissing like an angry female serpent. It will ever rear its head aloft. It is the cause of the fluctuation which takes place in the mind. All the other Nāḍīs are connected with this Kuṇḍalinī Śakti. This Śakti becomes purified only by the immaculate rays of Jñāna. It is transformed into the Jñāna rays through meditation; becomes Jñāna through Jñāna; a Jīva through the tendencies of a Jīva; Manas through Manasa (contemplation); the manifold Saṃkalpa through Saṃkalpa; Buddhi through certain knowledge and Ahaṃkāra through egoism. Thus this Śakti rejoices in the name of Puryaṣṭaka. Kuṇḍalinī Śakti passing as Jīva associates itself with the body which derives great benefit therefrom. Being of the nature of Prāṇa and Apāna, it goes up and down. As it is without fixity it becomes of the nature of all and may take an upward course or a downward one. And it is this Śakti which, though it becomes without any hindrance the Jīva, produces death in the body through the Prāṇa-vāyus. Should the upward and downward actions of this Kuṇḍalinī Śakti be arrested through the control of Prāṇa and this Prāṇa be made to rest in the heart, then diseases will not affect permanently those having such control.”
At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma interposed and said: “Please enlighten me as to the origin and destruction of mental disease as well as those arising therefrom [i.e. bodily diseses].” In answer to this Vasiṣṭḥa continued: “The pains that afflict the body are called the secondary diseases, whilst the Vāsanās that affect the mind are termed mental (or primary) diseases. We have reached our present state through the absence of the transcendental Jñāna, the want of mastery over our organs and the perpetual growth of desires and egoism in the mind. And our delusion becomes intensified in us by forgetfulness of the degradation of our state through such causes. With the concretion of such delusion, the mental disease also setting in congeals in us like the plenteous snows of winter. Then when the intense desires of a person begin to manifest themselves externally and the Ajñāna in him preponderates, he performs fearful karmas and these in their turn breed bodily diseases. Again, the body is further subject to diseases through such actions as the eating of unwholesome food, living in unhealthy countries, and doing things at unseasonable hours, injuries inflicted, association with the wicked, longing after improper things, evil desires, bad thoughts, the distention and contraction of the orifices of the Nāḍīs in the joints, etc., and the interrupted flow of the beneficial Prāṇas throughout the body – these cause the body to wither. Then these blossom in the form of diseases in the body, waxing and waning like the floods in a river during the long seasons of autumn and winter. The body attracts to itself effects according to the nature of its countless affinities good or bad, whether in previous births or in the present one. Thus do we see that diseases, primary and secondary arise through the five-fold Bhūtas (elements).
Now listen, O Rāma, as to the manner in which the two forms of disease, primary and secondary, perish in two ways. The wise say that primary disease has two sub-divisions: samānya (ordinary) and sāra (essential). The former includes the diseases incidental to the body, while the latter the rebirths to which men are subject. If the diseases which afflict this body return to their primal source, then they are destroyed. Their primary causes being (bad) thoughts, if these thoughts are destroyed, all bodily diseases will vanish. But the disease of rebirth, coming under the head of sāra, will never perish except through Ātma-jñāna. Is it possible to suppose that the misconception of a serpent in a rope will be removed except through the discovery of the real rope? But those grievous diseases of the body, which do not arise through the original cause, can be extirpated by mantras, medicine and the many means proposed by men well-versed in medical lore I need not expatiate upon this subject any further here.”
Here Rāma asked Vasiṣṭha how mental diseases arise and how they are destroyed. Vasiṣṭha thus proceeded: “When the fixed Manas is agitated, then this body also follows in its wake. And when the body is agitated, then there is no proper perception on things that are in one’s way and Prāṇa flies from its even path into a bad road: then it will stagger from its proper road like an animal hit by, and reeling under the wound of an arrow. Through such an agitation Prāṇa instead of pervading the whole body, steadily and equally, will vibrate everywhere at an unequal rate. Thereby the Nāḍīs will not maintain a steady position (like elec tric wires, but will quiver). Then to the body which is the receptacle of food digested partially or completely, the Nāḍīs are simply death, through the fluctuation of the Prāṇas. The food which settles itself down in this body amidst such a commotion is transformed into incurable diseases. Thus through the primary cause (of the mind) is the disease of the body generated. If this primary cause be annihilated at its root then all diseases will be destroyed. Now hear the path by which diseases may be removed by the uttering of mantras. Like base gold, which when placed in the crucible is trans muted through alchemical processes into pure gold, the mind is unfailingly rendered pure through true, virtuous and pure actions and through dependence upon the wise. In the mind purified thus there will thrill unalloyed bliss. Is not the whole world exhilarated with joy when the soft and delicious moon begins to shed its silvery light on it? If the mind becomes purified with true Sattvaguṇa, then Prāṇa-vāyu will begin to circulate freely throughout the body, the food taken in will be digested properly and hence no diseases will arise. I have thus described to you the path through which can be destroyed the two kinds of diseases.
Now listen to what is taught regarding the path of Yoga, which enables one to master Kuṇḍalinī-śakti. To the Jīva rejoicing in the name of Puryaṣṭaka, Kuṇḍalinī is like a flower, the state of the Vāsanās. If, through the practice of Pūraka (inspiration), the aforesaid Kuṇḍalinī-śakti is replenished and caused to shine with a resplendent light, then the body acquires the stability of Mahāmeru, and becomes strong. Then, if the intelligence pervading this body which is filled with Prāṇa through inspiration takes an upward course, it will make that body become a walker of the skies. With the agility of a serpent, Kuṇḍalinī-śakti will rise up erect like a plantain-stalk. Having drawn into itself (from on high) all the Nāḍīs that bind up the body like strings, it will cause them to inflate from below, as does a bladder although immersed in water. Thus, through intense practice of Yoga, the Yogis rise up into the air, and roam therein, though connected with the body, as a fish that pecks at, and is caught by the bait upon the rod of an angler.
If this Kuṇḍalinī-śakti gets into Suṣumnā, going up the Brahmarandhra, and having reached a distance of twelve digits (from the nose), stays there for two Muhūrtas (48 minutes) after performing Rechaka (expiration), by which the actions of all Nāḍīs are arrested; then the person is able to see all walkers of the skies. Then, through the Divine Vision, hosts of Siddhas, able to confer such powers as Aṇiman, etc., will truly appear before him, as things do in the dream state. If the immoveable Prāṇa is rendered steady for a long time, flowing to a distance of 12 digits from the face through the practice of Rechaka, then entry into other bodies can be effected.”
Here Rāma asked Vasiṣṭha as to how such persons are able to make themselves atomic or all-pervading in the Ākāśa or to render their bodies light or heavy. And when thus asked by Rāma, the Muni continued: “There is that One Principle which is non-dual, Absolute Consciousness, perfect equality, purity, quiescence, that has no sort of relationship to the things of the universe, the most subtile of all subtile things, which neither is this universe, nor is associated with it. Through its own Saṃkalpa, it differentiates (into many units). Then it goes by the name of Jīva, on account of the many surrounding things which agitate it. This fluctuating Jīva, subject to the delusions of Saṃkalpa, regards this illusory body as real, as ghosts are regarded by ignorant lads. The world will judge of this Jīva by the opinions of the majority of enlightened men in every age who discern with trained minds. It is only by the exercise of a determined will that persons, although ignorant, can transform poison into nectar, and the reverse, thus entirely changing the nature of things. By contemplating the body, it becomes gross; and thus also the visible body, through the conception of its unreal nature, again becomes a subtile one. All psychic powers, such as Aṇiman and others acquired through meditation, are awakened by this course (of Will-Thought) alone. This will be self-evident only to those who have mastered the Siddhis of Yoga through self-illumination. Having by these means developed the powers of Aṇiman, etc., Cūḍāḷā instantaneously moved and disported herself in all the universe, encircled by the ocean full of jewels, simply for the purpose of bringing home conviction to her husband’s mind. This lady who was not, at any time, a celibate, tried by all available arts to give her husband some idea of the bliss-giving Jñāna; but he was unable to benefit himself thereby, nor even for a moment to gain repose in that pure Jñāna. Like a child entirely ignorant of what education means, he was quite oblivious to all the noble qualities of that grand Yoginī Cūḍālā. As he did not rest peacefully in the Ātma-jñāna within himself, she never initiated him into the real secrets of Jñāna. Would any one be so foolish as to communicate to Śūdras (who have no longing for knowledge) the real secrets of Yajña (sacrifice)?”
At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma questioned him thus: “How can others obtain Jñāna, O Ācārya, when even king Śikhidvaja failed to do so, notwithstanding the repeated inculcations of it by Cūḍālā of great Siddhis? What is therefore the right way of obtaining the true end?” To which Vasiṣṭha thus replied: “It is faith in the words of the Guru that paves the way for Brahma-upadeśa (initiation into Brahman). The pure and unalloyed intelligence of the disciple is alone the means of attaining to the rare Ātma-jñāna.” Here again Rāma asked the Muni why an Ācārya’s words should be necessary for the development of Ātma-jñāna, if the disciple’s pure intelligence is alone the means of it? At which Vasiṣṭha continued thus: “In a certain forest in the Vindhya Mountains lived a hunter who was a man of great pedigree. One day, having lost a cowrie-shell while travelling along a grassy road in the forest, he went in quest of it, filled with grief. Having vainly searched for it three days, he came at last in contact with a gem radiant with the lustre of the full-moon. But the hunter passed, in his anxiety to find the lost cowrie, by the gem that was so valuable that one could purchase even the seven worlds. Similarly, Jñāna will come to a man in due season through the initiation of a Guru. When the mind is concentrated on one thing, there will arise in it, through the action of the Guru, another kind of knowledge, not anticipated. Though the initiation by an Ācārya will not of itself enable a person to obtain Jñāna, it can by means of developing Jñāna in him, as the lost cowrie was the cause of the hunter finding the gem.”
With this, Vasiṣṭha returned to the story of Śikhidhvaja. “Being without Ātma-jñāna, the king began to reel under illusion and gave way to grief, regarding the enormous wealth he had so easily acquired, as destructive as a great forest-fire. He therefore gave various rare gifts, underwent many religious observances, and bathed in the holy water; but yet was not free from the load of grief in his mind. Sorely afflicted at heart, he drew to him his wife Cūḍālā, and poured forth his heart to her thus: ‘I have now abandoned all love of sovereignty and wealth, and I desire to enter the forest life. Neither pleasure nor pain, danger nor wealth, will there haunt those who live noble lives. Let me no longer associate with the delusions of this earth. A forest life is, in all respects, preferable to the regal one, wherein the longing after life and property do not die. Even the cool moon or the God Brahmā, or Indra, the Lord of the Devas rolling in great wealth, cannot enjoy that bliss which comes only to a self- integrated mind free from desires. Therefore, do not blame me for leaving you thus, and going to the forest. Married women, O well-beloved, will not oppose the desires of their husbands.’ To this Cūḍālā replied: ‘Flowers begin to blossom in the spring season, while autumn sees them yielding fruit. Thus do our Karmas begin to fructify in their due time. If the body should begin to droop with old age, when bodily desires subside, then is the forest a fitting abode. But, at this period of your life, it is not meet that you should retire; wherefore it behoves you not to go now.’ To this the king made answer: ‘Do not impede me in my plans. I will go to the forest for solitude; but as thou art young, it is not proper that you should accompany me. Thou shalt reign over the earth unfailingly in my stead. When a husband goes from home, it is the wife’s duty to protect those around him, and not to languish at his absence. Thus saying he retired to his bath. The day being over, he performed his sandhyāvandhana rites, and, having quietly slept by his wife upon the floor, he stole out in the dead of night, unperceived by her. Having given out to the people outside that he was going on a city patrol, he desired them to stay where they were, and departed from the town. Then, bidding adieu to his great, but enslaving possessions, he entered into the forest, crossing, in the course of twelve days, many rivers and hills. At last he reached the inaccessible forest on the slopes of the Mandara Hills, and took up his abode there, in a spot surrounded by tanks replete with lotuses, and by delicious flowers. There he erected a parṇaśālā (raised shed), and furnished himself with a bamboo rod, a rosary for recitation of Mantras, a cloth, vessels to hold fruits, etc , and deer skins. Then, in order to perform Tapas, in the first yāma (three hours), he performed the sandhyāvandhana rites; in the second, he gathered flowers; in the third he performed worship to Devas; and in the fourth he fed upon fruits fit for food. All night through he was engaged in the chanting of Mantras. Thus did the king per form Tapas.
Chūḍālā, who was sleeping in the palace, awoke; and not finding her lord who had lain by her, was greatly afflicted; and then she melted with compassion at the condition of the king, who she inferred must have abandoned all his wealth and gone to the forest. Then she resolved to find out the where abouts of her husband, for the husband is a wife’s only goal. She sprang forth (in her double), and passing through the window, went up into the sky, journeying through the air with so bright a face that the Siddhas in the skies exclaimed: ‘Lo! another moon has arisen here!’ Then seeing her husband travelling in the forest with a bright sword in his hand, she meditated as to what course she should pursue in regard to him. Having done so, this sweet-tongued one came to the following conclusion: ‘It is right that I should see him only after his desires and hatred have ceased.’ With that she returned to her palace.
This divine lady gave out to her subjects that her husband had gone to a certain place on matters of a private nature. So she wielded the sceptre alone for eighteen years with true regal justice and an equal eye to all, thus passing her time in her palatial mansion; while at the same time the king eked out his life of suffering in the forest.
Finding that the time was ripe for her to see her husband, she went forth one night and walked the skies. Having mounted on the shoulders of Vāyu (air), invisible to all, she alighted on the Mandara Hills, and saw there a decrepit and melancholic body, which, at first, she did not recognized as her husband; but having, by her powers of great Yoga, discovered it to be none other than he, she yielded to her grief and gave vent to these words: ‘Lo! dire is Ajñāna! Because of it the king is groaning in pain. I have undoubtedly the power to confer Ātma-jñāna on him at this instant; yet, lest he should spurn me if I, his young wife, should appear in my present form, I will assume another form suitable to accomplish my end. Moreover, the king is in a state of mind which permits of his Ajñāna (ignorance) being dissipated. At a single word from me, Jñāna will reflect itself in his now ripened mind.
Therefore, availing herself of this most opportune hour, she changed her bodily form by her incomparable Dhyāna, and descended from the Ākāśa before her husband under the form of the son of a great Brahmin. The king at once arose, and paid him all due respect. This young Brahmin had a beauteous form, and, upon his breast, was a garland of pearls; he wore a white cloth and a sacred thread; and stood in the air at some distance from the ground. The king showed the newly arrived guest to a seat beside him. The young Brahmin returned the salutations of this royal Ṛṣi of true Tapas, and took a state by his side; when the king, with a full heart, thus spoke: ‘It is only now with your advent, son of a Deva, that I have reaped the fruits of Ātma.’ So saying, he showered on the young Brahmin more devotions, regarding him as his holy tutelary god. The Brahmin, advocating the king, said: ‘Who in the world has the graceful qualities and modesty which you evince? May you live long ! Did you, with a steadfast mind and with all worldly delusions extinct in you, perform Tapas only for the sake of obtaining liberation? Your abode in this forest, after abandoning the state of a king like unto Indra, may well be likened to Tapas performed on the point of a sword!’ At these words of the Brahmin, the king said: ‘Being a god, thou hast well understood my condition. This thy knowledge surprises me; whose son art thou, and what is thy name? What occasion has brought thee here? Be pleased to tell me all this. To this the Brahmin, consenting to answer him fully, thus began: ‘There was a Brahmin of the name of Nārada, like unto the true Jñāna-light, and he sat in a delightful spot on the banks of the Gaṅgā of holy waters, absorbed in Niṣṭhā (meditation). In the transition stage from that highest Samādhi down to the normal state, a sportive sound fell upon his ears, and he directed his gaze in the direction from where it came. There he saw some Deva-girls, like unto Rambhā and Tilottamā, of matchless beauty. Seeing them thus alone, and not ashamed of their nudity, his Prāṇa began to fluctuate, and he experienced the effects of sensual desire in himself. When the Brahmin had said this, the king remarked: ‘I have attained perfect equilibrium of mind through the sweet nectar of your words. It is difficult for me to follow their meaning as they are mystical like those pertaining to Paramārtha (the reality of the Higher Self). Therefore please inform me plainly of your origin. To which Cūḍālā, the Brahmin’s son, continued to reply: ‘Then, having fastened the elephant of the ever-fluctuating mind to the great pillar of true discrimination with the strong rope of love by the aid of the goad of true intelligence, the Muni Nārada released in the crystal pot near him that which produced the embryo. Then the embryo began to grow like the luxuriant moon in the Milky Ocean. Having been endowed by Nārada with a never-failing wealth of knowledge and other gifts, I, who issued out of the Pot, as the son of Nārada, was taken over to the presence of Brahmā, who, as in duty bound to me, his own grandson, paved my way to the attainment of the goal of Brahma-jñāna. Immediately my grandfather called me by the title of Kumbha-Muni, as I was born in a Kumbha (pot). The noble Sarasvatī is my mother; my junior mother. I was always engaged in sporting with my friends, the four stainless Vedas.’ At these words of Kumbha-Muni, the king said that he had reaped great benefit from the Muni’s present visit to him, and felt assured that all he said was true. Kumbha-Muni said that he had truly related his own life, and desired the king to inform him of his identity and origin. The king replied: ‘Being afraid of the worries of existence, I sought freedom from actions in this forest. I go by the name of Śikhidvaja, and I am here, after having relinquished my regal duties. My mind stands aghast at this ever-recurring cycle of rebirths. Though I made Tapas here after obtaining all things necessary for that pur pose, I have but enhanced beyond description my pains in the endeavour to do away with them. Oh incomparable Muni, milk has indeed been converted into poison !’
Then Kumbha-Muni, addressing the king, replied: ‘There will be true bliss only when the Jñāna instilled into a disciple by the Ācārya (Guru) truly fructifies in him. Are not all acts of Tapas simply diversions to while away the time? Oh king, to those without Jñāna, Karma is alone their security. Virtuous actions serve but to remove the impure Vāsanās. Therefore, Karmas are useful only in so far as they confer upon us heavenly and other pleasures. If the impure Vāsanās are destroyed, then the effects of all Karmas cease alike, as the effects of one season cease when another sets in. Like reeds which never produce fruit, Karmas freed from the varying Vāsanās never fructify. If, through the sure conviction that all is Brahmā, Ajñāna is destroyed, impure Vāsanās will never arise. Who is so foolish as to suppose there is water in a mirage? If the Vāsanās alone are destroyed, then birth, old age or death, will not affect one, and he will reach the immaculate Brahmic state. All minds associated with Vāsanās are but differentiated Ajñāna itself; but a mind without them is the unborn Ātma-jñāna itself. If through the immaculate Jñāna, the Jīva (ego) cognizes Brahman, then all births cease. Since even Brahmā and the other Great Ones have said that Jñāna alone is the most excellent of all things, how is it that you do not long after it? How is it that you do not question yourself as to who you are, whence came the Universe, and into what it will be absorbed? Why do you repine at your lot like the ignorant? Why is it, that after having prostrated yourself at the feet of a great Guru, you do not try to understand from him the nature of bondage and Mokṣa? If, approaching those persons who look equally upon all things through their abundant Jñāna you are ceaselessly engaged in the noble pursuits of enquiry, then you will surely gain that subtle Jñāna which leads to emancipation.
At these words of Kumbha-Muni, the king shed tears of joy and said: ‘Oh Ācārya, I, poor soul, have learnt all this (the attainment of bliss through Ātma-jñāna) by thy grace. I am here in this solitary forest, having left the company of great men through Ajñāna. I have this moment been released from the pains of existence. Since thou deigned to be present with me in this forest, and hast deemed it thy duty to point out the path to me, thou alone art my Ācārya, my parent and my friend. Therefore, do I prostrate myself before thee as thy steadfast disciple. Be thou graciously pleased to accept me as thy Chela. Be pleased, O thou equal unto Brahmā, to enlighten me upon that One Principle which thou hast cognized as the most bounteous, the One which, if known by a person, relieves him from all pains, and confers the blissful Sat.’
To which Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘I can enlighten you only if you will concentrate your mind, which now runs quickly from one object to another, with singleness of purpose. Otherwise the Guru’s words, taken lightly and not conceived and meditated upon, would be of no avail even though heard. How can the eyes perceive objects in the darkness? Here the king affirmed that he would receive the words with implicit faith, as the teachings of the Vedas, and would meditate upon them truly through the Muni’s grace. On hearing these words, the lovely Muni continued: ‘I have to demand as a first condition that you, O valiant king, will hear my words without interruption, and, in the full belief that they will conduce to your welfare, as in the attitude of an ignorant child that hears the words of its father who is solicitous of its well-being.’ Therefore, in order to instruct the king, the Muni thus continued: ‘O king, please listen to a story I shall relate to you, and I will afterwards reveal to you its hidden meaning.
In ancient times, there lived a great man, well-versed in all departments of knowledge, and possessed of great wealth; but, alas! without Ātma-jñānam. This person pursued the search for Cintāmaṇi, (a gem supposed to yield anything thought of), with much effort. Through the performance of rare Tapas, he came into possession of it after a good deal of trouble; for what cannot a man attain to if he takes the necessary trouble? Now, when the gem appeared to him, shining with the lustre of the moon, he, without bringing it under his grasp, thus soliloquized: ‘I fear this is not Cintāmaṇi, but only some paltry stone. Can it be otherwise attained than by long and tedious search and when a man’s life is nearly spent and his body debilitated by the search? Sinful persons like myself will never attain it, though they subject themselves to all kinds of hardship. The virtuous – and some of them only – will come by it. Shall individuals acquire things readily by mere repining, and without regard to their respective Karmas? I am but a man; my Tapas is very significant, and my powers small. In short, I am poor in all respects. Therefore can it be possible for poor me to behold the rare Cintāmaṇi before me? I will proceed to make further search for it. And thus saying, he let slip the golden opportunity, and the real Cintāmaṇi vanished from his sight. Shall good ever accrue to the ignorant? Thus did he again go in search of the gem, with great pains. After thus wandering in a perturbed state for some days, some Siddhas (persons possessed of psychic powers), intending to befool him, screened themselves from his view, and let drop in his path a broken piece of earthen bracelet, which he no sooner saw than he picked it up. Then this deluded man, mistaking it for the true Cintāmaṇi, began to exult in its discovery and to marvel over it. Being in possession of this burnt gem, he renounced all his wealth, fully believing that the gem would fetch him anything he wanted, and that his present possessions were superfluous. Therefore, he gave up his country and retired to the forest, believing that happiness could only be obtained there, away from the men of depraved tendencies in his own land. Thus did this man, who had anticipated the enjoyment of real bliss through this stone, subject himself to all kinds of hardships, and degraded himself to the lowest level.
Hear from me another story which will be of great help to you in the improvement of your knowledge. In the heart of this ancient forest, there lived an elephant, the biggest and loftiest of his kind. Certain Mahouts of the forest associated with, and entrapped, this elephant whose tusks were exceedingly long, sharp and strong, and fettered it with strong iron chains. Becoming infuriated with its painful fetters, it shook itself free by the aid of powerful tusks in two Muhūrtas (48 minutes). The Mahout in the howdah on top, seeing this, became giddy, and fell to the ground. The tusker, finding him upon the ground, passed by without hurting him. But the driver, picking himself up with unappeased passion, went again in quest of the elephant, which he found in the midst of the forest. There he dug a trench, covering it up with dry leaves and grass. The elephant, after roaming through the forest, came at length to the place where the trench was, and fell into it. Instantly the Mahout bound it. Thus again was the elephant subjected to torture. Had this creature, which was like unto the great (king) Bali when guarding his own mansion, dashed out the brains of its enemy at the time when the Mahout lay prostrate before it, it would not again have fallen into the trap, nor have been thus again agitated. Likewise, those who make no enquiry concerning the good and evil of the future, will come to grief.’
When Kumbha-Muni had related this story, Śikhidhvaja asked him to give the reason why he had narrated the incidents concerning Cintāmaṇi and the elephant; to which Kumbha-Muni, of steady mind, thus replied: ‘By that person, who, though acquainted with all the Śāstras, yet without the beneficent Tattvajñāna went in search of Cintāmaṇi, I meant only yourself. For, although well-versed in all book- learning, you have not yet developed an undisturbed equilibrium of mind. What I intended by the story of Cintāmaṇi is this: In order to attain true renunciation devoid of all pain and hypocrisy, you have forsaken your regal office, your wife, and other relatives, wherein there was the true Cintāmaṇi, and have betaken yourself to this forest. While the true renunciation was developing itself little by little in you although in the world, your mind was led astray by undue zeal to a wrong conception of renunciation, and was enveloped by that delusion as by a dark cloud which obscures the sky.
This renunciation of yours is not the true one, generating real happiness, which you lost track of, because you thought that this renunciation of yours, if persisted in sufficiently long, would, at length, give rise to the true one, Having lost the gem of true renunciation, which is in the proper path of life, you have been misled by the false idea of the burnt stone of Tapas through your faulty vision, and have, therefore, been greatly afflicted. The wise say that those who reject the happiness accessible to them in their daily lives, and allow their minds to search after imaginary and strange things without limit, are only self-destructive and of corrupt thought. Through the idea of Tapas as the means of bliss, your mind in no wise acquired that peace it desired, even when the graced and priceless Cintāmaṇi was before you; nor was there any advantage in the discovery of the bit of earthen bracelet.
Now hear about the elephant. The epithet ‘elephant,’ I applied to yourself. The two long tusks are Vairāgya (indifference to pleasure and pain), and Viveka (discrimination). Your Ajñāna is the driver who sits aloft upon the elephant and goads it on. Your Ajñāna afflicts you in many ways. You are now palpitating with the pains inflicted by Ajñāna, like the elephant bound by the Mahout and led by him. The iron chains and fetters are the bonds forged by desires, and you have been bound by them. Know that these desires are stronger and more durable than iron itself. Iron chains wear out in a length of time, but the desires which prevail grow more and more. The breaking loose of the elephant from its strong bonds stands for your late relinquishment of all desires and going into the forest. The fall of the driver from the howdah represents the destruction of your Ajñāna through your Vairāgya. If once we free ourselves from desires, shall Ajñāna and the necessity for rebirths exist?
Should the delusion of wealth be abandoned through sheer asceticism, Ajñāna will only be hovering about like a ghost in a tree when it is being felled. But if the delusion of wealth be destroyed through the action of Viveka, then Ajñāna will take its flight like a ghost from a tree already felled. With the relinquishment of Ajñāna, all its retinue will bid adieu. As soon as you reached this forest, all your Ajñāna was levelled to the ground like nests of birds in a felled tree. But you did not chop off the Ajñāna with the sharp sword by uninterrupted renunciation of all. Inasmuch as you did not do so, you again began to groan under the pains arising therefrom. Now the excavation of the trench by the elephant driver refers to the generation of pains in you through the growth of Ajñāna. Again, the leaves and dry grass spread upon the pitfall, refer to your actions during your very painful Tapas. Thus are you suffering from the restraint of your Tapas like the powerful Bali with a fateful sword, but imprisoned in the lower regions of Pātāla. Why do you grieve and not listen to the words of the delicate Cūḍālā of infallible utterances? Why have you rejected the true renunciation of all?’
To this the king replied as follows: ‘I have given up my kingdom, my palace, my wealth, and even my dear wife, do not all these actions constitute a perfect renunciation? What more would you have me renounce?’
Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘Though you have given up your kingdom and the rest, that will not constitute the true renunciation. You have yet desires in all objects. It is only by entire rejection of them that you can hope to attain the Brahmic bliss of the wise.’ Then the king said: ‘If you are pleased to say that the giving up of the many worldly things does not amount to renunciation, and that I have yet desires in me, then what I have left is this forest alone. Therefore do I now renounce my longing for the forest full of hills and trees. Hence I suppose I have made the true renunciation.’ Kumbha-Muni then said: ‘Even the abandoning of this hilly and luxuriant forest does not effect the true renunciation. You have yet the painful desires in themselves. Only when they depart from you, can you obtain and enjoy the Supreme happiness. To which the king replied that, if this was not enough, he would lay aside his cloth, Rudrākṣa (garland), deer-skin, earthen vessels, and wooden-bowl.’ So saying, he consigned them all to the fire, and rejoiced in his entirely new appearance. Then turning to Kumbha-Muni of eternal Jñāna with the comment that he had now stripped himself of all desires, the king said: ‘It is through your divine self alone that I have acquired right understanding, liberated myself from all pains, and freed myself from contamination. Through my Saṃkalpa I have given up all these things entirely. The innumerable things of this world lead only to bondage which conduces to rebirth. The enlightened mind receives a degree of bliss commensurate with the loss of desire for objects. I have obtained bliss only through successive victories over my desires. I am free from the bondage of delusion. I have now attained through your grace the perfect renunciation, and am divested of everything. What else remains to be done, O Muni?’
Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘Alas! you have not renounced anything. All your delusive renunciations are in vain. On this the king reflected and said: ‘There is left with me only this body composed of white bones and flesh, in which the serpents of the five sense-organs hiss. I shall instantly dispose of it without care. You shall soon see. So saying, he ascended to the summit of a high cliff, and was about to cast himself down, when the supreme Kumbha-Muni arrested him with these words: ‘What is this folly that you are about to do? How, O ignorant man, did this body of yours hinder your progress? How will death in any way help you? Though you should fall down and destroy this body, like a bull that is angry with a tender calf, yet you will not complete the true abnegation. But if you, O king, will but give up that which is the cause of agitation in this body, and which yields the seed of all births and Karmas, then true renunciation will be made. This is the unqualified truth.’
Then the king asked the Muni to give out the means by which that which is the cause of the agitation of the body might be avoided. Thereupon the Muni of transcendent qualities replied thus: ‘The wise say that the mind (manas) which, through its Saṃkalpa passes under the different appellations of Jīva and Prāṇa, is the cause of attachment to delusive objects, and is distinct from the beneficent Non-Jaḍa and Jaḍa (the inert). At the same time it is said that this Chitta (the flitting mind), forms the universe as well as the bondage. It is this mind which is the germ of all Karmas of existence and daily agitates this body of ours like a tree when swayed by the wind. Therefore true renunciation, O king, lies in the abnegation of the mind. It is this which leads to Brahmic bliss. All other renunciations cause us sufferings. If, after true renunciation you are illumined in mind, with perfect quiescence, and without hatred, then will the identification of yourself with the Self which is Brahman take place, and you will shine with resplendent glory.’ Then the king asked the Muni: ‘What is the cause of the mind? What is its true nature? How can I destroy it?’ To this the Muni replied: ‘The true nature of the mind consists in the Vāsanās. The two are synonymous. Know, O, king, that the idea of ‘I’, which is the nest containing all frailties, is the seed of the tree of mind. The sprout which at first germinates from this seed of Ahaṃkāra (I-am-ness), originates without form and is ascertainable only by internal experience. This sprout is termed Buddhi. From this sprout the ramifying branches called Saṃkalpa take their origin. Through such a differentiation, the great Manas (of Saṃkalpa) as also Chitta and Buddhi are but the different names or qualities of the one Ahaṃkara. Therefore, daily should you lop off the branches of this dire tree of Manas, and eventually destroy the tree at its root completely. The branches of Vāsanās will naturally produce innumerable crops of Karmas; but if, with the sword of Jñāna, you sever them from the heart’s core, they will be destroyed. They are the true vanquishers of the mind in the heart, who perform without a murmur the Karmas which fall to them; controlling all thoughts and desires in regard to such. The lopping of the branches is considered only as a secondary thing, the first being the eradication of the tree at its root. Therefore, if through virtuous actions you destroy the idea of “I” at the root of the tree (mind), then it will not again spring up.’ At these words of the Muni, the king asked him as to where the fire which destroys the conception of Ahaṃkāra, the seed of the tree, was to be found. To which Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘It is Ātma-jñāna which enquires concerning the true nature of “I”; that is the fire which destroys the mind.
The king then said: ‘Through my intelligence I enquired into the origin of “I” in divers ways. As this world is non-intelligent, it is not “I”, neither is this body, nor the organs, nor the contemplating Manas, nor Buddhi, nor the injurious Ahaṃkāra creating egoism.’ Here Kumbha-Muni interposed and asked him, if the ‘I’ were not all these, what else was it?
To which the king thus replied: ‘I am of the nature of that stainless Absolute Consciousness which, having evolved everything, preserves and destroys it. I cannot find out the cause of this “I”, which is of the nature of Jñāna. I have not been able to divine the means which removes Ahaṃkāra the seed of the pains-giving mind. My mind misgives me when I find that Ahaṃkāra clings to me, howsoever much I thrust it aside.’
Kumbha-Muni said: ‘Oh king, no effects can ensue without a cause. Search within to find out the cause of Ahaṃkāra ever present before you, and tell me what occurs in your mind.’
The king replied: ‘The cause of the stainful Ahaṃkāra is Bodha (knowledge). How does Bodha get absorbed here within me? I droop only when Bodha arises in visible objects. How then am I to avoid these visible things?’
Kumbha-Muni said: ‘If you tell me the cause of knowledge, I shall then throw light upon it.’
The king said: ‘Through the existence of such illusory objects as the body, etc., knowledge is induced; but if they cease to exist, then no knowledge can arise. Then the seed of Manas, viz., Ahaṃkārric ideation, will consequently be absorbed.’
Kumbha-Muni questioned him thus: ‘If the body, and other objects of sense, do really exist, then knowledge exists; but as the bodies, etc., do not really exist, what then is the basis of knowledge?’
The king, in reply, said: ‘But tell me first, Ācārya, how this visible body, which palpably enjoys the effects of all Karmas performed by the hands and other organs, can be non-existent?’
Kumbha-Muni answered: ‘As this body, arising through Karmas, is not itself the Cause, therefore the effect of intelligence is itself non-existent. That intelligence is itself illusory. Hence Ahaṃkāra and other effects which arise through the excessive delusion (of knowledge), are also non-existent. Hence also all objects which are not of the nature of the cause are illusory, like the conception of a serpent in a rope.’
Then the king asked: ‘There were the many creations of Brahman, who is the primeval one in the universe. How then can you say that Brahman is not the cause of the Universe?’
Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘Prior to (every fresh) creation Parabrahm alone shines as Sat, which is the non-dual and the quiescent. As That alone is without a second, the Supreme Brahman cannot be the Cause.’
The king asked: ‘Then is not Parabrahm the cause of Brahmā?’
And Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘Parabrahm is that which is emancipation itself, the imperishable, the immeasurable, the immaculate, the birthless and deathless, without pain, without distinctions, having no period, the beginningless and endless, without existence, the non-dual and the ineffable One beyond the reach of thought. How can Parabrahm which is unthinkable be the Cause? How can it be the actor or enjoyer? Therefore this universe is not in the least created by any one, nor is it self-created. The Supreme Saṃkalpa of that Absolute Consciousness is Brahmā. Nought else is but the one true Jñāna. All objects created out of that Jñāna are said to be no other than the form of that Jñāna. All here are Brahman itself devoid of rebirths. Therefore, it is neither an actor nor enjoyer. Having thus convinced yourself of the one Reality, if you destroy the Ajñāna (ignorance) within your heart, then it will cease to have any resurrection. Through no other path than the destruction of these excessive Karmas can the delusion, which has become in us a certainty, vanish. If the Ajñāna in us fades away gradually, then the conception of the certainty attributed to the universe will diminish and the Brahmic state will be attained. Such a mind through the all-pervading Jñāna, viz., the primeval god, Paramātma, into which it is absorbed, will ever be evolving fresh creations (through its Saṃkalpa). That which is named Brahman through Ātmatattva is none other than the quiescent (or passive) aspect of this universe.’
Here the king said: ‘All that you have taught me is quite reasonable. As prior to creation there is no creator, there is really no Universe. Hence there really does not exist the (objective) vision of all things. Through your clear elucidation I have well understood and have become of the nature of my auspicious Self. Hence, I do not cognize all external objects as really existent. I have worshipped my (real) Self. Through the knowledge derived from the perception of many substances, I have come to perceive them to be unreal. Through this Jñāna, I have become the quiescent without thought and the Plenum like the Ākāśa.’ Then Kumbha-Muni, able to confer Ātma (Self) upon the king said: ‘The true discrimination of space, time, the spacious quarters, mental actions and the rest, is only to understand the universe in its differentiated aspects. Though these distinctions have been existing in you from a remote past, yet they will perish [in you] in a short time. The quiescent and indestructible Brahman will alone be, as you will presently cognize.’
Instantaneously, the king attained Jñāna, and shone with it. Thus was he released from the fold of dire Māyā. Then through the grace of the Muni, who was pleased to dispel the delusion from his mind, he was absorbed into the Brahmic state. Being freed from the actions of his mind, sight and speech, he, in one moment, became the Plenum in Brahmic state. After he had been for two ghaṭikās [48 minutes] in that state of Nididhyāsana [meditation], he awakened, and the Supreme Muni said: ‘Have you enjoyed to the full, free from all pains, the heavenly bliss of Brahmic state, which is ever the beneficent, the stainless, the pure, the soft, the state of all Nirvikalpas [non-fancies] and the fulness of all wealth. Have you been illumined with Ātma-jñāna? Have you been freed from all delusions? Have you known that fit to be known? Have you seen that fit to be seen?’
To these questions the king made reply: ‘Oh Lord, through your grace I have been able to cognize that state of Brahman which remains after all else is over, which confers the divine wealth of bliss, and which is the grandest and the most transcendental of all. Oh, I have been able to acquire the otherwise unattainable heavenly nectar of great bliss, and move in the company of those great souls of power ful Brahmajñāna through the blessing of association with your grace. How was it not possible for me, your humble servant, to attain this immeasurable supreme nectar before?’
Kumbha-Muni said: ‘It is only when there is quiescence in the mind and an indifference in it towards all enjoyments, and when the powerful Indriyas (organs) are turned inwards and the Ajñāna of the mind is destroyed, that all the noble words of the wise guru will infiltrate and spread in the mind of the disciple like the scarlet water of the forest impinging on a perfectly white cloth. Otherwise such words will drop down like the impurities of the body or the fruits of a tree. The mere doubt arising in one’s mind of the existence of duality or non-duality in this world betrays Ajñāna; the removal constitutes Jñāna. It (Jñāna) alone is our highest goal. Through illumination you have attained Mokṣa (emancipation). You have levelled down your mind. May you be alone as the great Maunin after having acquired Divine wealth and given up all the stains of the world. To which the king questioned: Are not the actions of Jīvan- muktas performed through the mind? How can things go on without the actions of the mind? Please inform me on these points.
Kumbha-Muni replied: ‘The mind is no other than the Vāsanās generating many rebirths. If one knows his own self, then there is no such fears of rebirths. In those that have cognized their Self without any obstacles, the pure Vāsanās with which they perform Karmas will not entail upon them rebirths. Such a mind is called Sāttvic; but a mind without Jñāna is generally termed the Manas. A mind of Jñāna is Sattva itself, while persons without Jñāna will act in the path dictated by their minds. The stainless and wise will always follow the Sāttvic path. Having given up all that tends to the attainment of Svarga (Devacanic or Svargic bliss), may you become that self-light which shines equally in all. This is your real nature. Without hankering after paltry terrestrial things, and causing your mind to fluctuate thereby, may you be immovable as a rock. Those who have no (lower) mind drive away rebirths to a great distance. In this spacious earth, no pains will affect them. A mind becomes a prey to fear through its fluctuation. Having commingled motion and non-motion into one, and destroyed fluctuation (of mind), may you be one with Jñāna.’
The king then said: ‘How is this identification to brought about? How are Motion and non-motion to be commingled into one? And how am I to reach that state? Kumbha-Muni continued: ‘Like the waters of an ocean, all the Universes are nothing but the non-dual Cinmātra (Absolute Consciousness). When this Cinmātra draws unto itself intelligence, then there is a fluctuation caused, like the wide waters moved by great waves. But the ignorant without true Niṣṭhā (Meditation) regard the Supreme Principle going by the several names of Īśvara (the auspicious one), Cinmātra, Satya (Truth) and Brahman, as the universe itself. A slight motion in this Chitta (Consciousness) generates this universe. If this visible universe of objects is truly cognized as the Jñāna bliss, then it will die. But when its real nature is not powerfully grasped, then the visible things are seen as real, as the (misconception of a) snake in a rope. Should the pure mind concentrate itself for some time (steady and pure as the moon) through (a study of) the visible Jñāna Śāstras, the association with the wise and an uninterrupted practice (of Meditation), then in such persons developing Jñāna, a divine vision will arise, in which there will be a direct cognition (of the One Reality). Thus have I described to you the truths relating to the origin and destruction of the Universe. Having with true bliss brought these into practice and meditated upon them, may you, with out fail, and according to your free will, attune all your ac tions of daily life to the attainment of the Brahmic state. I shall now go to Svarga-loka the gem of all Lokas (worlds). This is the most opportune time for it. If I do not appear before my father Nārada upon his descent from Satyaloka into Deva- (or Svar-)loka, he will be mightily displeased with me. A loving disciple should never incur the displeasure of his Supreme Ācārya. Oh king, having done away with all differentiation arising through delusion, may you be in the divine vision (of Nirvikalpa Samādhi).’ And with the words ‘I go away,’ the Muni disappeared that very instant. Thereafter, the king thus thought within himself: ‘Marvellously strange is it that this incomparable state was in myself unobserved by me a state like unto the crystal waters of a fountain, cool, pure and quiescent. It has enabled me to attain quiescence in the Absolute Sat.’ Then the king entered the Samādhi state without any pains or fluctuation, without any mobility, with true mauna (silence) and Nirvikalpa immovable as a stone, tree or forest, without any desires.
Meanwhile Kumbha-Muni resumed his soft tendril-like form of Cūḍālā and journeying through Ākāśa, reached her chamber in the palace. There she began to rule over her subjects, and protect them as she was wont to do. Thus she passed three years. After which, she went again in the guise of Kumbha-Muni to the forest where her husband was, and beheld him as immovable as a pillar in Nirvikalpa Samādhi. Then, in order to acquaint him with his arrival, she made a leonine roar, but even this did not wake him up from his trance. Though she tossed him up and down, no impression was made on him in the least, in spite of his body falling down. Then she thought: ‘It is certain the supreme king of the form of Kumbha has merged into the state of Brahman. Oh this is really wondrous. If, after concentrating my mind on his (subtle) body, I should find any residue of Sattva typifying the seed of intelligence in his heart, I shall join my husband and live with him happily. Otherwise, I shall have to renounce this my present female form, (and myself also) attain the Supreme state of Brahman, so that I may not render myself again liable to rebirths. Having come to this sure determination, she concentrated her mind and cognized through her (spiritual) touch and eyes a residue of unsoiled Sattva in the king’s heart, denoting the intelligence yet animating that body.
At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma questioned him thus: “How can there remain a residue of Sattva in those whose minds have been destroyed, and who have merged themselves in their divine inner vision?” To which Vasiṣṭha Muni, of high intelligence, thus replied: “Like flowers and fruits latent in a seed, a residue of Sattva, the cause of intelligence, rests always in the heart. Even in the case of a Jīvanmukta, whose mind is destroyed, the strong body does not perish; but without being affected by the pleasures or pains of enjoyments, though moving in them, his mind will become inured to them. Therefore, O Rāma, this most Divine lady Cūḍālā gave up the Kumbha-Muni form and entering (in a subtle form) into the stainless consciousness (or mind) of the king, devoid of beginning, middle or end, caused that part of it to vibrate which she found had the residue of pure Sattva in it. Then she returned to her stainless body, like a bird returning to its prison of a cage. Afterwards, as Kumbha-Muni, sitting in a certain posture on the earth, she chanted the Sāma-veda songs, as if playing on the Vina. Thereupon the Sāttvic intelligence, which now began to manifest itself in the log-like body of the king, heard the Sāma- Veda songs and blossomed little by little, like a lotus flower blooming at the sight of the rays of the sun. Then the king’s mind became steady (as regards external objects) and he saw Kumbha-Muni before him. With an enraptured heart, and with the idea that his Lord Guru, who had previously come to him in order to bless him with happiness, had come again of his own accord, he showered on him the choicest flowers, and eulogised him. Whereupon Kumbha-Muni regarded the Lord of the earth and said: ‘From the day I parted from you up to this very date, my mind has been inseparably blended with yours. Even Devaloka is not so pleasant to me as my association with you. Here the king burst out, saying: ‘Oh transcendental and holy god, I have attained bliss through thy favor, I have liberated myself from all pains through the Samādhi of true bliss. Even in Svarga (Devacan) replete with virtuous actions, the bliss of Nirvikalpa Samdhi does not exist. Having attained that incomparable bliss, I shall roam freely in Devaloka and Bhurloka (earth).’ Kumbha-Muni then asked: ‘Have you been en joying the rare Brahmic bliss devoid of all pains? Have you annihilated all the pains which are of the nature (or spring from the idea) of heterogeneity? Are you able to maintain an equal vision over all, after destroying entirely all the pleasures flowing from Saṃkalpa? Have you been able to transact all the present duties of life, without in the least being ruffled by objects, being liberated from love or hatred towards them?.
At these questions of the Muni, the king made the following answers: ‘I have powerfully mastered all the (spiritual) benefits that can possibly be derived (by me). There is nothing more for me to long to see or to hear. In this wise spoke the king Śikhidvaja, whose mind had over come all delusions.’
Thus did these, whose love for one another knew no bounds, cognize their Higher Self through the beautiful enquiry of Ātmatattva and through most instructive discourses thereupon; remaining happy in one another’s company, without the least difference of mind, and roaming in the forests, and over the hills, they were matchless in real Jñāna and in true loving actions. Having destroyed completely the delusion of love and hatred, they were immovable, like the great Meru, which cannot in the least be shaken by the playing of the zephyr. Sometimes they would apply to their bodies Vibhūti (sacred ashes); at other times they would apply to them the fragrant sandal. While they were thus associating themselves together, the sweet-tongued Cūḍālā concentrated her mind on that of the king and found it to be now free from all stains and to be stable by reason of his present experiences. Also she thought within herself that the palace, with its enormous wealth and luxury, would languish for want of persons to enjoy them. If persons filled with Jñāna should give up things that had come to them without their seeking, how then can they be said to have known Tattva (Truth)? Then thinking of creating (in herself), through her imperishable will, the body of a lady fit to live in wedlock with the virtuous king, Kumbha-Muni, alias Cūḍālā, addressed him thus: ‘To-day there will occur a festival remarkable in the annals of Devaloka. I should, without fail, be there in the company of Nārada. Who is ever able to overstep the powers of the Supreme Law? Immediately at sunset, when the sun goes down over the evening hills, I shall be back with you.’ So saying, he parted from the king, after presenting him with a fragrant bunch of flowers. Having gone from the king’s sight, Kumbha-Muni relinquished the burden of the Muni’s body and assumed that of Lady (Chūḍālā, after which she entered unperceived (the chambers) in her palace, which shone like a Devaloka presided over by Indra, and then performed in regular order her allotted regal duties during the day.
Then Cūḍālā reassumed the form of Kumbha-Muni, and descending in that form before her husband, appeared with a dejected countenance. As soon as this Muni, whose mind was (really) free from all pains, appeared before the king with a downcast mien like a lotus enveloped with snow, the latter was startled to see the Muni, and rising up at said: ‘Oh my father, you seem to be afflicted with pain. What is the cause of that? May you destroy them! Never will persons of true Jñāna succumb to despondency or joy. Will water floating on a lotus leaf ever affect it? At these words of the king, Kumbha-Muni related the following amusing anecdote of himself in tones as musical as the Vīna.
‘Persons of firm and equal vision as regards all things will never constitute Jñānis (the wise), unless they commingle with the actions of the Indriyas (organs), so long as they possess a body. Otherwise, such persons are only impostors. Those who are so ignorant as not to perform the existing Karmas and think of mastering them through their avoidance, will only generate fresh ones and suffer therefrom; i. e., like the oil which is inseparable from the sesame seed, the different Avasthās (states) of pain will exist so long as there is the body. Those who try to sever themselves from these states, in order to do away with affection, etc., are, O king, like one endeavouring to rend asunder the immeasurable Ākāśa with a sword. If the inevitable pains of this impure body be sought to be averted by the control of the organs of action (Karmendriyas), will the bliss arising therefrom compare in any way with that generated by the renunciation of bodily pains through the path of Jñāna? Even in the case of Brahmā and others, who have Karmendriyas (organs of action) on one side and Jñānendriyas (organs of sense) on the other side of the body, the certain dictates of the imperishable Law demand that they cannot rise above the Avasthās incidental to their body, even though they are illumined in mind. As both Ajñānis and Jñānis are exposed to the visible objects of the world, they both move only in consonance with the universal Law, like the waters in an ocean. Daily do Jñānis, through the certainty of their intelligence, looking equally upon all, perform unruffled their duties so long as they are not relieved from their bodies. But Ajñānis are ever agitated by and drowned in pains and pleasures. They are born different bodies and follow the laws regulating them. This have I described to you in extenso.
Now I shall describe to you the pains I underwent in my path. Is not pain which are like the cutting of saw, relieved when revealed to those we love? After I gave the bunch of flowers to you, and rose up in the Ākāśa, I went to my all-truthful father in Devaloka, and attended the court of Indra, the Lord of Devas. Then, having in mind to return to this place from there, I descended through the Ākāśa and was in the act of coming over to this earth, through the spatial Vāyu path (viz., from the north-west of Sūrya-Maṇḍala, ie., the Sun’s sphere), when I saw before me the Ṛṣi Durvāsas journeying on in the region of clouds. Having prostrated my self before his venerable feet, I addressed him thus: “Thou art clad in dark clothes and art beginning to act like an ill-famed woman longing for her paramour.” Whereupon the omniscient Ṛṣi became incensed at me, and with fury cursed me for my impertinent words to be transformed every night into a female wearing beautiful ornaments. Hearing these words, I cried aloud and having contemplated the lotus feet of the Ṛṣi, was going to beg pardon of him, when all at once he disappeared. With this thought afflicting me very much, I have now come here to you. I shall hereafter every night have to submit myself to this process of transformation into a female. How can I, without being ashamed, be a female every night, moving as I do in the company of my Gurus, Devas, Munis and hosts of others?’ But the king solaced him thus: ‘Please, Oh god, do not be afraid. What is the use of giving way to grief? Let come what may through the dire force of the irresistible Law. This womanhood of thine will, I think, not attach itself to the ego within, but only to the body without. It behoves thee not thus to give way to grief, thou who art replete with Jñāna. It is only the ignorant that are afflicted in mind.’ Then the sun began to set as if to hasten on the wise Kumbha-Muni to assume a female form. With the coming of twilight they performed all their daily religious Karmas. Then the Muni looked into the face of the king, who was sitting before him, and remarked thus in a plaintive tone: ‘To my great shame, be it spoken, king, a female form is enveloping me and my present form is disintegrating itself. The significant marks of a female are developing themselves in me. Behold my waist forming itself, the female dress gradually covering my body, and the remainder of the female form appearing in all its entirety.’ Thus did the quiescent Kumbha-Muni deliver himself, as if in terms of grief. The king beholding his despondent Guru, thus said: ‘As a Jñāni you have known well the true path of Law. While so, do not be afflicted through events which will inevitably come to pass.’ To which Kumbha- Muni said thus: ‘There is nothing to be done now. Who can thwart the insurmountable Law? Every night will but entail on me a female form.’
So saying, both quietly slept. With early dawn she resumed her Kumbha-Muni form. Thus did Cūḍālā pass some time, the days in the form of Kumbha-Muni and the nights in the form of a female; and yet she preserved her virginity. One noon Cūḍālā in the guise of Kumbha-Muni addressed the king thus: ‘Oh king, how long am I to remain in a state of virginity without tasting the pleasures incidental to the female sex? Therefore I wish to get at a lord for myself. In all the three worlds, I cannot pitch upon a more affectionate husband than thyself. Thou shalt accept me as thy spouse overnights. If so, thou shalt have the fear of neither heaven nor hell.’ To which the king nodded assent.
Whereupon the Muni remarked: ‘To-day is a very propitious day for marriage, it being the month of Siṃha (August September). At moon-rise we shall perform the marriage rites.’ Then the beautiful-eyed king fetched from Mahāmeru rare gems and sandals, bathed in the holy waters and made prostrations to Devas, Munis and Pitṛs according to Vedic injunctions. Then both these individuals clad themselves in white silken robes yielded by the Kalpa tree. The sun having set, the resplendent moon began to shed its silvery rays when the king, after performing the Saṃdhyā rites, celebrated the marriage on Manara hills. Then they roved over hills and dales enjoying themselves but yet without the least clinging towards such an enjoyment,
Every three days, while the king was asleep, Cūḍālā would regularly go to her husband’s realm and administer justice there and then would return to her husband’s side, as if she had not parted from him. Then this lady Cūḍālā, who now passed under her new marriage pseudonym, Madanikā, lived with her husband for some time and reflected thus within herself: ‘The king will never hereafter centre his desires on worldly enjoyments. Therefore I shall test his mind in the enjoyments of Devaloka. I shall, by the force of my yoga practice, through which I have developed Aṇiman and other psychic powers, create a Māyāvic (illusory) panorama in this forest, wherein Devas will appear with their Lord Devendra at their head.’ Accordingly, when Indra appeared before the king, the latter saluted the former, and having paid him all the necessary respects, said: ‘O Chief of Devas, I do not know what good Karmas I have performed to merit this visit of yours to me.’ To which Indra replied in terms of affection thus: ‘Attracted by the force of your good qualities, I have come here along with my retinues of Devas. The Devaloka is a fit abode for you alone. The Deva maidens are awaiting your arrival there. May you be pleased to appear there like the Sun, to cause to bloom the lotus-like face of Rambha and other Deva maidens. O king and Jīvanmukta, you may stay there for the period of a Kalpa, and plunge yourself in diverse ways in Devalokic enjoyment. Therefore do not tarry here any longer, but come at once there. It is for this purpose I came here to take you.
Hearing these strange words of Indra, the noble king said thus: ‘O my parent Deva, I have known all the pleasures of Svarga-loka. I have not even the conception of differences of locality, such as this or that place. Wherever I am, there is Svarga (heaven) for me, and there it is I enjoy bliss. Therefore I do not long after Svarga pleasures. Be pleased to return to your state, I have not the least desire for it. When the king had given vent to these words, the whole troop of Devas returned to their abode. Thus did Cūḍālā observe that the king’s (lower) mind had been destroyed, not withstanding the different trials to which she had subjected him through her powers of Māyā. Still she wanted to try him further, and so hit upon another expedient. One day, while the pure king was performing Japa on the banks of the Gaṅgā, just at moon-rise, Cūḍālā entered a thick arbor nearby and having created within it, through her Māyāvic power, a lover seated on a pleasant state of Nīrandra flowers, she made a show of embracing him. After having performed the daily rites and sought in vain for his wife (Madanikā) over all the hills and dales, the king saw on his return his wife and a male figure in a mutual embrace, but was not in the least disconcerted. Nearly forty-eight minutes after the king left her unruffled without the least anger, Madanikā, in order yet to observe his demeanor appeared before this Rājayogi with signs of her late love meeting still visible in her, such as disheveled hair, etc., and stood as if penitent in a submissive attitude of great shame.
While Cūḍālā, otherwise named Madanikā, was thus standing as if greatly stricken by grief and remorse, the king returned from Samādhi, and saw her before him. Then, without showing the least symptoms of anger, he said softly the following words with calm deliberation: ‘How is it you have hurried so and come away so soon as this? You may, O girl, if you like, still gratify your passion by returning to your lover.’ At these words of the king, Madanikā said thus: ‘It is the supreme duty of the unblemished to put up with and overlook the faults of the ignorant. The qualities of females are unsteady in diverse ways. Therefore, be pleased to excuse me for my heinous crime.’
Thereupon Śikhidhvaja of mighty Jñāna said the following words to his wife Madanikā: ‘A tree may grow in the sky, but never will anger rise in me, O lady.’ Thus was he in full possession of equal vision over all. Then Cūḍālā soliloquized to herself thus: ‘The king has destroyed passion and anger to the root. He will not subject himself to the many enjoyments and the love of transcendental Siddhis, This king of puissant arms has at last attained the end of Jñāna. Let me no longer pass under false colors. Let me cast aside the body of Madanikā, and assuming that of Cūḍālā, appear before him.’ With this thought in her mind she transformed herself into Cūḍālā and presented herself in that true character before him, when the quiescent king eyed her and remarked in wonder thus: ‘Is it true that I see before me Cūḍālā with her entire form, speech, modesty of mien and her other inestimable good qualities? O lady who are you?’ To which she replied that she was his lawfully wedded wife and continued: ‘O dearest one, it was I that initiated you into the mysteries of Ātma-jñāna, assuming the bodies of Kumbha-Muni and then Madanikā. Through such a course, I sounded the depth of your Jñāna by the power of Māyā. Now go into Nirvikalpa Samādhi, and you will understand all things truly.’
Accordingly the king made his mind merge into the Universal Consciousness, and in that Samādhi surveyed all the events that had happened, from the date of his quitting his magnificent country down to the present period of the appearance of Cūḍālā (in her real form). After Samādhi, the just king became quite enraptured with joy and having embraced Cūḍālā, who stood shining before him as the personification of true love and grace, was struck dumb for a long time, and completely submerged in bliss for a moment. Then having recovered himself, he seated her on his lap and said to her thus: ‘Thou hast, through thy vast intelligence, lifted me out of the unfathomable cave of thick darkness that I was entangled in. Who is there to compare to thee in all this wide world? How can I, Oh tendril-like lady, requite thee for all thy kindness? thou who hast reached the other side of the ocean of Saṃsāra (mundane existence), O thou the personification of justice without any desires, how can I aid thee in any way?’
To which the lady replied: ‘Observing you drooping under the many actions of Tapas (penances) in the forest, I came with great effort in quest of you to elevate you above Saṃsāra. Hence there is no necessity for you to eulogize me thus, as I but did my duty. Have you not, O my husband, freed yourself from all petty worldly actions, Saṃkalpas (thoughts) and Vikalpas (fancies)? ‘
Then the king said: ‘All doubts have now vanished from my mind. I am devoid of desires and the idea of heterogeneity. I have become as immaculate as Ākāśa. I shall never hereafter fall, through becoming of the form of (or, thinking about) objects. I have attained the incomparable Samādhi, the highest thing worthy of being attained. I am free from mental joy or dire pains. I shall never here after shine as this or that (object). I am like the pure light of the resplendent sun’s sphere, which does not come into contact with any medium such as a wall, etc., and is therefore subject to no increase or diminution. I am like the Ākāśa which permeates all objects, and is yet undefiled. I am of the nature of Absolute Consciousness. I can now cognize my Reality to be no other than That. Therefore thou art my well-favored Guru. I worship thy lotus feet.’
At which Cūḍālā asked him as to his future course of action. To which the king said: ‘I am free from all love and hatred. From this day forward, I shall daily perform my duties strictly according to your dictates, like a crystal tinged with the five colors.’
Then Cūḍālā said thus: ‘If thou art willing to act up to what I say, it behoves thee then to now give up all thy ignorance and resume the regal duties once relinquished by thee. Let us both wield the scepter of our kingdom for some time as Jīvanmuktas and then attain Videhamukti, after the body is thrown aside.’ To this the king acquiesced. Then Cūḍālā rose up and, through dint of her concentrated Saṃkalpa, she acted as follows: She then and there first anointed him by bathing him in jeweled vessels full of the waters of the seven oceans, and then, having installed him on an effulgent throne bedecked with rubies, etc., blessed him with a long life. Then the king and his wife Cūḍālā, who were both of one mind, mounted upon a decorated elephant and went back to their town with their four-fold army amidst great rejoicings. As soon as they reached the outskirts of their town, the four-fold army in their town came in advance to meet them. Thus both the armies joined together and went gaily along. There the king reigned with true love along with his wife for 10,000 years, and then attained a disembodied emancipation.
“Thus, Oh Rāma, if by associating yourself with the Karmas of the world, your quiescent Jñāna is ever developed without the longing after objects, you will be able to enjoy real bliss and emancipation.” So said Muni Vasiṣṭha of illumined mind and great Tapas to Śrī Rāma.
Footnotes and references:
The seventh Manu is Vaivasvata who is our present Manu.
The present story, though intended to illustrate the idea of Ācārya’s grace and true renunciation, has itself an esoteric meaning underlying it. For instance, the word cūḍālā is composed of two parts which mean ‘resting on the head’ Hence that which rests on the head, or the Pineal Gland, is Buddhi – the Ātmic Ray. It is Cūḍālā who though the wife of Śikhidhvaja initiates him into Jñāna. Śikhidhvaja means ‘one having the peacock flag’. Careful students will understand from the color of the peacock that he typifies the higher Manas.
In the Hindu Vedāntic works, Buddhi, Manas, Ahaṃkāra and Chitta are the four aspects of the lower mind. Buddhi should not be taken as the Ātmic vehicle, as in Theosophical literature.
This corroborates the fact that when one becomes a Brahma-jñānin, a Tejas or spiritual glory arises in him.
The daily prayers wherein the Gāyatrī and other Mantras are recited every morning, noon and evening.
These are the female powers in Svarloka.
This probably refers to the advent of all egos which are so only through their limitation, just as things are deposited in a limited receptacle as that of a pot. Hence, Cūḍāḷā does not make a false report of herself, as in describing the origin of all egoes she describes that of herself also. Kumbha-Muni is the name of Agastya Ṛṣi.
Gāyatrī Gayātrī, Sāvitrī, and Sarasvatī, are said to be the wives of Rudra, Viṣṇu and Brahmā; hence the negative aspects of the trinity of nature.
Maunin. Lit: one who is silent. Construing this literally, some Yogis in India preserve taciturnity of speech. The author explains this word in another part of this book to mean one who is free from the longings of the world though moving in them; hence silent to the desires of the world, and not in speech. The great Maunin is said to be Īśvara.
Durvāsas means literally: ill-clad.
This is to try the king, being the first trial.