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Summary. In this chapter, Viśvāmitra relates this story to Rāma to impress upon him (who was convinced of the unreality of the universe and the ego, as is evident from the foregoing chapter) the truth that he alone is the One Consciousness (Reality).


Hearing these wondrous words of Rāma, the heir apparent, which will relieve one from the great Saṁsāra, all those assembled in the Council Hall of Daśaratha were exhilarated with joy with their hairs standing on end, as if they came there to expressly hear Rāma’s words. Even the effulgent hosts of Siddhas exulted in the Ākāśa above. After expressions of approbation of Rāma’s words, and copious showers of flowers (viz., contentment) had filled the hall for about 12 minutes, the Siddhas, who had been roving in the Ākāśa for about a Kalpa with extreme pains, said thus to themselves: “We who were laboring under delusion till now, are fortunate enough in having today drunk the sweet nectar of Rāma’s words and thereby purified our mind of all stains. We shall benefit ourselves with what the Munis say and attain the Supreme Principle given out by them.” So saying they descended from the Ākāśa down to Daśaratha’s assembly on earth, when all in the hall rose up and advanced to meet them. First and foremost did Vāsiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra pay respects to them who returned the same to both. Then king Daśaratha came in for his share of respect from the Siddhas through their kind expressions on his saluting them. Then showering flowers and kind words on Rāma who was before them, they exclaimed “Oh Munis, the recent abnegatory utterances of Rāma possessed of the practice of benevolence and other qualities are passing strange and noble in their nature. It is indeed difficult to derive happiness in this most injurious Saṁsāra which, though created by Devas full of pleasures, is fraught with pains? True, if Rāma of supreme indifference towards objects had longed after Saṁsāra, we may be justified in doing so; but in as much as we long after things hated by Rāma, we Siddhas as well as Devaṛṣis and others should be classed under the ignorant.”


Viśvāmitra eying Rāma with great love said “Thou hast cognized all through thyself, through thy stainless intelligence. There is nothing more for thee to understand clearly. Thou and Muni Śuka replete with spiritual wisdom are on a par with one another. Even those who have acquired the matchless spiritual wisdom endeavour to attain the quiescent state. At which Rāma questioned him thus: “Please, Oh father, enlighten me as to how Śuka-Muni though possessing intelligence devoid of Ahaṁkāra had no quiescence of mind at first and how he came into possession of that bliss afterwards.”


To which the Muni replied thus “Brahmarṣi 1 Śuka who was replete with Jñāna (spiritual wisdom) which, if developed, puts an end to a series of seven rebirths at once, enquired, like thee, into the origin of things. In doing so, he became seized with doubts as to the certainty of his convictions and his equilibrium of mind was disturbed. But with a non-fluctuating mind freed from the thralldom of sensual objects, he approached his father Vyāsa living on the mountains of Mahāmeru and asked him for a solution of the following questions “Whence this Māyā generating great pains? How does it perish? Whom had it as its originator? What part of it, if any, does endure? When did all the things of the universe originate?”


After Vyāsa had, given suitable replies to the many questions proposed by Śuka, the latter simply remarked that his (father’s) explanation had not dispelled his doubts, he having been aware of the same before. Finding it was not possible for him to convince Śuka (his son), Vyāsa asked him to apply for solution to King Janaka of stainless and supreme spiritual wisdom. Whereupon he descended from Mahāmeru down to earth and reached the gates of the golden palace of Janaka. Though apprised of the arrival of Śuka, the Brahma-Ṛṣi, the king did not go in advance to meet him as he wished to test the new-comer’s equilibrium of mind. Yet Śuka was not in the least disconcerted and waited at the gates of the king for seven days. Then after being detained and tested in another place for seven days, he was conducted to the harem in the palace and was there sumptuously fed upon the choicest viands of six tastes and treated with flowers, sandal and other objects of enjoyment by handsome ladies of slender waist. And yet Śuka who was like a cool full-moon was indifferent to the dark or bright aspect of these enjoyments. So that neither the happiness arising from the enjoyments to which Śuka was exposed by the king nor the pains flowing out of the disgrace to which he was subjected did affect, in the least, the mind of this great Muni. Will ever the soft, noble zephyr be able to agitate Meru, the grandest of mountains? Observing the internal exultation of the Muni’s heart (unruffled by the externals), the king saluted and eulogized the Muni and then addressed him thus: “Oh Brahma-Ṛṣi, who has attained the highest fruit, having given up all worldly concerns, please tell me what business has wafted thee here.”


At which Śuka questioned him thus “How did Māyā arise? How does it grow? And how is it destroyed? Please, Oh guru, explain them to me truly.”


At these words of Śuka, Janaka explained in the same manner as Vyāsa did, which the Brahma-Ṛṣi no sooner heard than he said: “Thus had I known previously and thou gavest the same explanation, my father gave me. The signification of the holy sentences given out in the sacred books point but to the one non-dual One. If Māyā which originates as differentiated out of the one Ātma in the nature of breath or vibrations is again merged into it, there seems not to be even an iota of benefit derivable from this perishable Māyā. Oh Guru, who is able to remove the delusion off the minds of men, please throw light upon the nature of this incomparable real Ātma?” To which the king thus replied: “Though thou hast known everything definitely, still thou hast asked me in spite of thy father’s words. The state given out (by us) is the real one. Ātma alone is, which pervades as the all-full Chidākāśa everywhere. Naught else is but That. That Jñāna is bound by its own Saṁkalpa2. With the liberation from that Saṁkalpa, there is freedom from the trammels of bondage. As thou hast now clearly cognized that Ātma Jñāna, thou hast abandoned all longing for enjoyments and the sight of the visible things. Thou hast, through thy all-full mind and with out pains, attained all that could be got at, viz., Brahman itself. Thou hast commingled with that secondless Principle which is above the reach of all vision. Thou hast become a Jīvan-mukta3. But there is one thing which thou hast yet to do, namely the giving up of the delusion of Māyā which has arisen in thy mind (the giving up of which, will entirely free thee and not bar thy further progress).


When the king of kings named Janaka thus initiated Śuka into the Ātmic mysteries ((He who attains unto Ātma, having overcome Māyā, the illusion, will alone know what Māyā is and how it arises and is destroyed. And this knowledge of Ātma is an occult mystery which is the subject of initiation by a Guru. Hence it is we find that no words can describe the origin of Māyā, etc. As Śuka was a fit disciple, he was made to have an Aparākṣa or direct perception of the same by Janaka.)) (through his direct presence), the stainless Ṛṣi attained quiescence in his Ātma or Higher Self, being freed from the pangs of birth and the agonies of death; then all his enquiring spirit, perplexities of mind and doubts vanished through (direct) self-cognition. Then having reached the highest pinnacle of Mahāmeru, he went into the non-fluctuating Nirvikalpa Samādhi and after a period of 1000 Solar years merged into the Jñāna-ākāśa4, like a light which, when divested of its wick and ghee, returns back to its fount of Ākāsic Agni (fire). Like water-drops becoming one with the ocean of waves, he, being cleansed of the stains of contemplation (or thinking), merged into the secondless Brahman, the vibration that started in himself (as the ‘I’) having melted away. Thus did he attain quiescence (of mind) free from the delusion of Māyā.


This is exactly the path thou shouldst follow, oh, Rāma. The right characteristic of a mind that has known all that should be known is the non-identification of itself with the ever pleasurable worldly enjoyments. With the proclivities of the mind towards material objects, bondage in objects becomes strengthened; otherwise, the bondage becomes slackened and in course of time perishes. Oh Rāma, the extinction of Vāsanās alone, is Mokṣa (liberation); but the concretion of the mind in material objects through Vāsanās is bondage. Those persons are Jīvanmuktas who have quite disabled the Vāsanās and are indifferent to the many worldly enjoyments without the aids of Tapas (religious austerities), Vratas (religious observances) and others. That one Principle which Rāma’s mind has cognized through the utterances of the Great Ones is the one Reality and none else. Now the only person who is able to relieve this Great Soul of Rāma from all his doubts and render his mind quiescent is the omniscient Vāsiṣṭha who knows clearly the three periods of time, is the Guru of men in this world and is a witness to all things having name, form, etc.” So said Viśvāmitra in the king’s assembly.


Having given vent to these words, Viśvāmitra looked at Vāsiṣṭha’s face and reminded him by saying that Rāma should be taught those Jñāna stories which Brahmā residing in the lotus had been pleased to favor them with, in order to put an end to the dissensions5 between them and liberate all the virtuous from their Saṅchita Karma6 and attain Mokṣa. Initiation into the Mysteries of Brahman will fructify only in that disciple’s mind which is desireless and will produce Jñāna (spiritual wisdom) in it. This is what the Śāstras (books) say. And herein lies the glory (of the higher spirituality). But the initiation imparted to a vicious disciple, full of desires, will become defiled like the pure milk deposited in a sable dog’s skin.


Thus did Viśvāmitra expatiate in various ways when the unsullied Nārada, Veda Vyāsa and other Munis assembled there, heard all of Viśvāmitra’s words and eulogized him unanimously for his noble utterances. Thereupon Muni Vāsiṣṭha, son of Brahmā and equal unto him, addressed Viśvāmitra thus “Oh Muni, well versed in all departments of knowledge, I will do according to thy bidding. Who ever will go against the words of the Great Ones that have known really who ‘the knower’ is? I will now recite the pure Jñāna stories meant for the non-fluctuating and the pure minded and given out by the lotus-residing Brahmā on the Niṣadha hills in order to liberate them from the cycles of rebirth.”


Therefore Vāsiṣṭha with a concentrated and pure mind related the following to make Ajñāna (ignorance) perish, and the Supreme state of All full Jñāna dawn, in men’s minds.


  1. There were three classes of Ṛṣis, in India who were the earliest adepts known; the Royal or Rājaṛṣis, kings and princes (like Viśvāmitra and others) who adopted the ascetic life; the Divine or Devaṛṣis, the sons of Dharma or Yoga (as Nārada and others); and the Brahmarṣis, the descendants of those Ṛṣis who were the founders of Gotras of Brahmins or of caste races, (as Baradvāja, Vāsiṣṭha and others). []
  2. It is will in its highest sense and thought in its lowest sense. []
  3. A Jīvanmukta is one who is emancipated while in body while a Videhamukta is one who is emancipated after throwing off the body, even when alive. []
  4. Jñāna stands here for Brahman or Ātma. It is stated to be Jñāna Ākāśa as Ākāśa is all-pervading. []
  5. The dissensions between Vāsiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra are related at great length in Mahābhārata. []
  6. The accumulated Karmas which are yet in store, to be enjoyed in future births. []