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 CVI - The talisman of the king’s marriage with a chandala maiden

An Allegory of Human Depravity

Argument. The king borne on horse-back to the habitation of a huntsman, and was there married to his maiden daughter. (This adventure resembles that of Tajul Maluk in Gule Bakavli.)

The king related:—

1. This land of mine abounding in forests and rivulets, and appearing as the miniature of this orb of the earth. Literally:—as the younger twin sister of the earth:—

2. This land appearing as the paradise of Indra, of which I am the king, and where I am now sitting in my court-hall, amidst my courtiers and all these citizens.

3. There appeared here yonder sorcerer from a distant country, like a demon rising from the infernal region on the surface of the ground.

4. He turned round his magic-wand emitting its radiance around, as the tempest rends and scatters the rainbow of Indra in fragments in the air.

5. I was looking intently at the whirling wand, and the horse standing before me, and then mounted on the back of the steed in the dizziness of my mind.

6. I sat on the back of this unmoving horse and seemed to ride on a fleet steed, with the swiftness of the Pushkara and Avartaka clouds, riding over the tops of immovable rocks.

7. I then went to a chase in full speed, a pass over an ownerless desert, howling as the surges of the boundless ocean.

8. I was borne afterwards with the horse in the air, as if we were wafted by the winds; and dashed onward like common people, who are carried afar by the current of the insatiable desires of their minds.

9. Being then fatigued with my journey, and moving slowly with my wearied horse, I reached to the skirt of the desert which was as vacant as the mind of a pauper, and as empty as the heart of a woman. (Cares hover over roofs of wealth, and secrets from female hearts fly by stealth. Curae laqueata circum Tecta volantes. Hor. Cares that flutter bat-like round fretted roofs. A woman is never so weak as in keeping her secrets).

10. It was as the wilderness of the world burnt down by a conflagration, and without even a bird flying over it. It was as a waste of sandy frost, and without a tree or any water in it. (A vast desert displayed its barren waste).

11. It appeared as another sky in its extent, and as the eighth ocean of the world. It was as a sea on earth with its bed entirely dried up. (There are in all only seven oceans in Indian Geography, the eighth is a myth).

12. It was as expanded as the mind of a wise man, and as furious as the rage of the ignorant. There was no trace of human feet, nor track with any grass or herb in it. (Immeasurable and fathomless as the sapient mind.)

13. My mind was bewildered in this boundless desert, like that of a woman fallen into adversity, and having no friend or food or fruit for her supportance. (Adversity is the canker of the woman's breast:asaubhagyan jvarastrinam).

14. The face of the sky was washed by the waters, appearing in the mirage of the sandy desert; and I passed panting in that dreary spot until it was sunset.

15. It was with great pain and sorrow, that I passed across that vast desert; like the wise man who goes across this world, which is all hollow and void within.

16. After passing this desert, I met a thick forest beyond it, when the sun was setting in his setting mountain with his horse, and tired with traversing through the hollow sphere of heaven.

17. Here the birds were warbling amidst the jamb and kadamba trees, and were the only friends that the weary travellers could meet with, in their weary and lonesome journey.

18. Here detached plots of long grass, were seen waving their tops; like covetous men nodding their heads, on finding some riches to their heart's content. (The poor are pleased with a little, and bow down their heads at petty pittances).

19. This shady forest afforded me a little joy, after my pains in the dry and dreary desert; as a lingering disease seems more desirable to men, than the pains attending on death.

20. I then got under the shade of Jambira tree, and felt myself as pleased, as when the sage Markandeya got upon the top of the mountain at the great deluge. (The Ararat of Noah?).

21. Then I took shelter under the creepers, descending from its branches, as the scorching top of a mount, finds a temporary shadow under the umbrage of a dark cloud.

22. As I was hanging down with holding the pendant roots in my hand, the horse slided away from underneath me, as the sins of a man glide under him, that puts his trust in the sacred Ganges streams. (The purificatory power of Ganges water, resides even in the belief of its holiness, and does not consist only in bathing in it).

23. Fatigued with my travel of the live-long day in the dreary waste, I took my refuge under this tree; as a traveller rests under the shelter of a kalpa tree at the setting of the sun.

24. All this business of the world was stopped, as the sun went down to rest in the western hills (The Hindu ritual prescribing no duty for the night consisting of three watches—triyama rajani).

25. As the shade of night overspread the bosom of the universe, the whole forest below betook itself to its nightly rest and silence. (The vegetable creation was known to sleep at night by the Hindu sages).

26. I reposed myself in the grassy hollow of a branch of that tree, and rested my head on the mossy bed like a bird in its nest. (Primeval men slept in the hollow of trees like birds, for fear of rapacious animals in the caves of the earth below, as also in the caverns of upland hills and mountains).

27. I remained there as insensible as one bitten by a snake, and as a dead body that has lost its past remembrance. (Sleep and death are akin to each other—hypnos kai thanatos didumo adelpho). I was as impotent as a sold slave; and as helpless as one fallen in a dark ditch or blind pit. Bought slaves krita-dasas and their loss of liberty, were in vogue from the earliest times in India. ([Sanskrit: andha ku [...]] = a blind pit).

28. I passed that one night as a long Kalpa in my senselessness; and I thought I was buffeting in the waves like the seer—Markandeya at the great deluge (i. e. the body was insensible in the state of sleep; but the mind was active as in a dream, which makes an age of a moment).

29. I passed the night under a train of dangers and difficulties, that invaded me as in the state of dreaming; and I had no thought about my bathing or eating or worshipping my Maker (the mind being wholly occupied by the objects of the dream).

30. I passed the night in restlessness and disquiet, shaking like the branch of a tree; and this single night of trouble was as long as it was tedious to me (like the time of a lingering disease).

31. A melancholy overspread my countenance, as darkness had veiled the face of the night, and my waking eyes kept watching for the day, like blue-lotuses expecting with their watchful eyes the rising moon.

32. The demoniac noise of wild beasts being hushed in the forest at the end of the night, there fell a shivering fit on me with the clattering of my teeth through excessive cold.

33. I then beheld the east, red with the flush of intoxication; as if it was laughing at seeing me drowned in my difficulties.

34. I saw the sun advancing afterwards towards the earth, and to mount on his Airavata the regent elephant of that quarter. He seemed to be so full of glee, as the ignorant man has in his folly, and the poor man in obtaining a treasure.

35. Having got up from my mossy bed, I shook off my bed cloth, like the god Siva tossing about his elephantine hide at his giddy dance in the evening. (See Magh. Book I).

36. I then began to wander in the wide forestland, as the god Rudra roves about the wide world, after its desolation by his demons at the end of kalpas.

37. There was no animal of any kind to be seen in the desolate desert, as the good qualities of good breeding, are never to be found in the persons of the illiterate.

38. I saw only the lively birds, perching and chirping all about the woods without intermission.

39. It was then at midday, when the sun had run his eighth hour, and the plants had dried up the dews of their morning baths.

40. That I beheld a damsel carrying some food and a goblet of water, on the way as Hari bore the poisonous liquor to the demons in his disguise in the shape of Madhavi.

41. She was of a swarthy complexion, and dressed in sable black attire; and looked askance at me; when I advanced towards her as the bright moon appears towards the dark and sable night.

42. I asked her to give me some of her food in my great distress, because, I told her, one is enriched by relieving the distress of the needy.

43. O good maid; said I, increasing hunger is consuming my bowels and I would take any food, even as the female serpent devours her own brood and young, in the excess of her hunger. (Hunger beats down the stony wall, and impure food is pure to the hungry).

44. I begged of thee and yet thou gavest me nothing, but dost remain as inexorable as the goddess of fortune, who declines to favour the wretched, however they implore her aid. (Fortune turns a deaf ear to the supplications of the poor).

45. Then I kept a long time, following her closely from one wood to another, and clinging to her as her shadow, moving behind her in the afternoon.

She then turned to me and said:—

46. Know me, to be a Chandala girl and bearing the name of Harakeyuri; we are as cruel as Rakshasas, and feeders on human flesh as on those of horses and elephants.

47. You cannot, O King! get your food by merely your craving it of me;as it is hard to have the favour of men, without first meeting with their desires.

48. Saying so, she went on trippingly at every step, and then entered into an arbour on the wayside and spoke merrily unto me saying:—

49. Well, I will give you of this food, if you will consent to be my husband; for it is not the business of base and common people to do good to others, before securing their own good.

50. My Chandala father is here ploughing in the field, with his sturdy yoke of bulls, and has the figure of a demon, standing in the cemetery with his haggardly hungry and dusky stature.

51. This food is for him, and may be given to you, if you will agree to espouse me; because the husband deserves to be served even at the peril of one's life.

52. To this I replied, I agree to take thee to my wife, for what fool is there that will abide by the usage of his family, when his life is in danger?

53. She then gave me half of the food she had with her, as Madhavi parted with half of her ambrosia to the hungry Indra of old.

54. I ate the Chandal's food, and drank the beverage of Jambu fruits which she gave me; and then rested at that place, and fell to a sleep caused by my fatigue and long walking.

55. Then she approached to me, as a black cloud advances before the sun;she held me in her arms, and led me onward with her guiding hand, and as fondly as her second self.

56. She took me to her father, a fat and ugly fellow of a repulsive appearance; as the tormenting agony of death, leads a person to the hideous cell of the devil.

57. My companion whispered to his ears the tidings of our case, as the black bee hums her tale softly to the ear of an elephant (in order to sip his frontal juice or ichor of mada-bari).

58. This man, said she, is to be my husband, if you, my father, will give your consent. To this he expressed his approval by saying—"Vadham be it so"by the end of this day (when marriage rites usually take place and is called godhuli, or the dusty dusk of returning herds from their pasture grounds).

59. He loosened the bulls from their yoke, as the regent of death releases his hell hounds. And it was in the dusk of the day, when the sky was obscured by the evening mist, and rising dust of godhuli, that we were dismissed from the demons' presence, to take our own way.

60. We passed the great jungle in a short time, and reached the Chandala's abode in the evening; as the demons pass amidst the funeral ground, to rest in their charnel vaults at night.

61. The dwelling had on one side, the slaughtered monkeys, cocks and crows; and swarms of flies flying over them, and sucking the blood sprinkled over the ground.

62. The moist entrails and arteries of the slaughtered beasts, that were hung up to be dried in the sun; were chased by the ravenous birds of the air, that kept hovering over them; while flocks of birds fluttered over the Jambira trees (to pick up the fruits for their food).

63. There were heaps of fat laid up to be dried in the portico, and ravenous birds flying over them; and the skins of the slain animals, which were besmeared with blood, lay in piles before their sight.

64. Little children had bits of flesh in their hands, beset by buzzing flies; and there were the veteran Chandalas, sitting by and rebuking the boys.

65. We then entered the house scattered with disgusting entrails and intestines about, and I thought myself as the ghost of a dead man standing beside the regent of death.

66. I had then a seat of a big plantain leaf, given to me with due respect, in order to be seated as a welcome guest, in the abominable abode of my new-earned father-in-law.

67. My squint eyed mother-in-law then eyed at me, with her blood-red eyeballs; and muttered with gladness in her look, "is this our would be son-in-law?"

68. Afterwards we sat on some seats of skin, and I partook of the repast which was served before me, as the reward of my sins (i. e. this fare was as unpalatable, as the requital of one's crimes).

69. I heard there many of those endearing words, which were the seeds of endless misery; as also many such speeches that were unpleasant to my mind, for their being of no benefit to me.

70. Afterwards, it came to pass on one day, when the sky was cloudless and the stars were shining; that they presented a dowry of cloths and other articles before me (as danadravya).

71. With these they made over that frightful maiden to me, and we were joined together as black and white, and as sin and its torment together (i. e. she was given to torment me for my past sins).

72. The flesh-eating Chandalas, festivated the marriage ceremony with profusion of wine and loud shouts of joy; they beat their sounding tomtoms with merriment, as wicked men delight in carrying on the acts of their vileness. (The giddy mirth of the rabble, is compared with the revelry of the riotous).