Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter LXVIII - Description of a rakshasi (or female fiend)


Note. The whole story of the fiendish Suchi is an allegory of the human mind, and its rapacity. The transformation of the huge to the thin pinnate body, and again its assumption of the big form, are allegorical of the change of the corporeal and spiritual bodies—the Sthula and Sukshma sariras, in the course of the repeated transmigrations of the soul from its gross to subtle forms by the desire of the mind. Tired of the world the mind forsakes the gross body upon death, and assumes the finer spiritual form, but being soon dissatisfied with it reverts to its former gross form again. It is also explained to be the two states of anima and garima, the minuteness and bulkiness, which the Yogi attains by his yoga.

Argument. Story of Karkati the female fiend, and her austerities for extirpation of Human Kind.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Hear me relate to you, Rama! an old anecdote bearing upon this subject, and relating to a difficult proposition adduced by the Rakshasi for solution.

2. There lived on the north of Himalaya a heinous Rakshasi, by name of Karkati—a crooked crab; who was as dark as ink and stalwart as a rock, with limbs as strong as could split the sturdy oak.

3. She was also known by the title of Visuchi or choleric pain, by which she was ever afflicted, and which had reduced her frame like that of the Vindhya hill, which was cowered down (by the curse of Agastya).

4. Her eye-balls were as blazing as fires; and her stature reaching half way to the sky, was girt by a blue garment, like the shade of night wrapping the atmosphere.

5. A white mantle formed the covering of her head, like the fragment of a cloud; and the long erect hairs of her head, stood like a sable cloud on her crest.

6. Her eyes flashed as lightnings, and her sharp hooked nails glistened as sapphires; her legs were as long as tamala trees, and her loud laughter was as a burst of frost.

7. A string of dried bones decorated her body, like a wreath of flowers; and the relics of dead bodies, adorned every part of her body.

8. She frolicked in the company of Vetalas, with human skulls hanging down her ears as ear-rings; and stretched out her arms aloft, as if she was going to pluck the sun from his sphere.

9. Her huge body being in want of its necessary aliment, caused her culinary fire to blaze like the submarine flame, which the waters of the deep are unable to quench. (The latent heat in water).

10. Nothing could ever satiate the insatiable hunger, of this big bellied monster; nor satisfy her lickerish tongue, which was always stretched out like a flame of fire.

She thought in herself saying said:—

11. Oh! if I could but once go to the Jambu-dwipa—the land of Asia, I would devour all its men in one swoop, and feast on them continually, like the submarine fire upon the waters.

12. As the clouds cool the burning sands by their rain, so will I allay the burning fire of my hunger there. It is settled as the best plan to support my life, at this critical moment.

13. All men are well guarded by means of their mantras, medicines, austerities, devotions and charities, from all evils of the world;whence it is impossible for any body to destroy the indestructible devotee. (My all destructive devotion will destroy all; but render me indestructible).

14. I will perform the most rigorous austerities, with an unflinching heart and mind; because it is by intensity of painstaking, that we may gain what is otherwise hard to be had. (Industria vincit omnia.—Labour conquers all).

15. Having thought so, she repaired to an inaccessible mountain, for the purpose of destroying all animal beings. (The Rakshasa cannibals are devourers of all flesh; and are of the omnivorous kind).

16. She climbed to the top of the mountain, by scrambling over it with her hands and feet; and stood on it with her body resembling a cloud, and her eye-balls flashing as lightnings (i. e. Her body and eyesight, were similar to the cloud and lightning on the mountain top).

17. Having got to the summit, she made her ablution and then sat at her devotion; with her steadfast eyeballs resembling the two orbs of the sun and moon, and fixed on one object.

18. She passed there many a day and month, and saw the course of many a season and year. She exposed her huge body to the rigor of heat and cold, like the hill itself (on which she sat).

19. She with her huge black body, remained unmoved as a thick sable cloud, on the mountain top; and her jet black hairs stood up as if to touch the sky.

20. Seeing her body beaten by the blasts, and covered with nothing but her ragged skin; and her hairs standing up to their end, to be tossed to and fro by the raging winds; while the twinklings of her eyelids, shed a whitish glare on her sable frame, the god Brahma made his appearance before her.

Footnotes and references:


The black Rākshasas were believed to have been a colony of African Negroes in southern India and Ceylon. The Rakhs is Rax, as Sycorax of Shakespeare.