Chapter 14: The Highest Truth


1-6. Having heard the sage's son, Mahasena began to think clearly and seriously; he concluded the world to be dream-like and overcame his grief. Growing strong in mind, he was not perturbed. Then he asked his companion: "Great and wise saint! You know this world and beyond. I do not believe that there is anything that you do not know. Please answer me now: How can you say that the whole is pure imagination? However much I may imagine, my imagination does not materialise. But you have created a universe by the force of your will. And yet, how do time and space differ in these creations? Please tell me." On being thus asked, the sage's son replied:

7. "The will conceives either effectively or ineffectively according as it is uniform or broken up by indecision.

8. "Do you not know this world to be the result of Brahma's desire? This looks real and permanent because the original desire is so powerful.

9. "Whereas the world of your creation no one takes seriously, and your own mistrust makes it useless.

10-15. "Conceptions materialise for various reasons as follows: by virtue of the natural function as with Brahma, the Creator; by the possession of live-gems as with Yakshas and Rakshasas (classes of celestial beings); by the use of herbs as with Gods (nectar is reputed to contain the extracts of superb herbs); by the practice of yoga as with yogis; by the miraculous power of incantations as with a few siddhas; by the force of penance as with some sages; and by virtue of boons as with the Architect of the universe (Viswakarma).

"One should forget the old associations in order to make one's new conception effective and this endures only so long as it is not obstructed by the old one. A conception is forceful unless obstructed by an antecedent one and thus destroyed. It is effective only when forceful; in that way even great things may be achieved.

16. "Your conceptions do not materialise for the aforesaid reason. Therefore you must practise focussing of thought if you desire your own creations to endure.

17-23. "I shall tell you now about the difference in time and space. You are not proficient in the affairs of the world, and therefore you are mystified. I shall now make it clear how these differences appear. The Sun helps all to see but blinds the owls; water is the abode of fishes but drowns man; fire burns a man but is food to tittiri (a species of bird); fire is ordinarily put out by water but it flourishes in the middle of ocean at the time of dissolution. Similar discrepancies are evident elsewhere. Men and animals engage in activities with their limbs and senses, whereas spirits do so with bodies of others. Instances like these are innumerable. Their explanation is as follows:

24-25. "Sight is of the eye and cannot be without it. A jaundiced eye sees everything yellow and myopia produces the double image of a single object.

26-32. "Abnormal visions are thus the direct result of abnormal eyes. The Karandakas, in an Eastern island, are said to see everything red; so also the inhabitants of Ramanaka isle see everything upside down. One hears many more strange stories of the kind, all of which are based on abnormalities of vision. They can all be remedied by proper treatment. The same applies to other senses including the mind. The relation between space and objects and between time and events is according to your estimate of them; there is no intrinsic relationship between them.

33. "(Having so far proved the objects and events to be only within, he proceeds to establish that there is no 'exterior' to the self). 'What is designated as exterior' by people, is simply the origin and prop of the universe like the screen with relation to the picture on it.

34-40. "There could be nothing external to that 'exterior' except it be one's own body. How can that be externalised from the 'exterior'? For example, when you say 'outside the hill' the hill is withdrawn from the space beyond; it is not included in it. But the body is seen in space just as a pot is seen.

"The body must therefore be external to the seer. What is visible lies within the range of illumination: if without, it cannot be seen. Therefore the illumined objects must be within the vision of the illuminant. The body, etc., are the illumined, because they are themselves objectified. The illumined and the illuminant cannot be identical.

"Again the illuminant cannot be objectified; for who is the seer apart from it? and how can the illumination by which he sees be apart from him? That the illuminant affords the light and serves as an object standing apart from the seer, is impossible to maintain. Therefore the illuminant cannot admit of any foreign admixture in it, and he is the illumination in perfection - only one, and the being of all.

41. "He extends as time and space; they are infinite and perfect, being involved as the illuminant, illumination and the illumined.

42. "As regards within or without, everything is included in illumination. How can then anything be 'outer' unless it is like a peak on a mountain?

43. "The whole universe is thus in the illumination which shines self-sufficient, by itself, everywhere, and at all times.

44-45. "Such illumination is Her Transcendental Majesty Tripura, the Supreme. She is called Brahma in the Vedas, Vishnu by the Vaishnavites, Siva by the Saivites, and Sakti by the Saktas. There is indeed nothing but She.

46. "She holds everything by Her prowess as a mirror does its images. She is the illuminant in relation to the illumined.

47-49. "The object is sunk in illumination like the image of a city in a mirror. Just as the city is not apart from the mirror, so also the universe is not apart from consciousness. Just as the image is part and parcel of the clear, smooth, compact and one mirror, so also the universe as part and parcel of the perfect, solid and unitary consciousness, namely the Self.

50. "The world cannot be demonstrably ascertained. Space is simply void serving for the location of materials.

51. "The universe is, always and all-through, a phenomenon in the Self. The question then arises how consciousness, being void, is dense at the same time.

52. "Just as a mirror, though, dense and impenetrable, contains the image, so also pure consciousness is dense and impenetrable and yet displays the universe by virtue of its self-sufficiency.

53. "Though consciousness is all-pervading, dense and single, it still holds the mobile and immobile creation within it, wonderful in its variety, with no immediate or ultimate cause for it.

54-55. "Just as the mirror remains unaffected by the passage of different images and yet continues to reflect as clearly as before, so also the one consciousness illumines the waking and dream states which can be verified by proper meditation.

56. "O King! Examine again your day-dreams and mental imagery. Though they are perfect in detail, yet they are no less mental.

57. "Consciousness permeating them obviously remains unblemished before creation or after dissolution of the world; even during the existence of the world, it remains unaffected as the mirror by the images.

58. "Though unperturbed, unblemished, thick, dense and single the absolute consciousness being self-sufficient manifests within itself what looks 'exterior', just like a mirror reflecting space as external to itself.

59-60. "This is the first step in creation; it is called ignorance or darkness; starting as an infinitesimal fraction of the whole, it manifests as though external to its origin, and is a property of the ego-sense. The alienation is on account of the latent tendencies to be manifested later. Because of its non-identity with the original consciousness, it is now simple, insentient energy."

Note. - The commentary has it: What is absolute consciousness goes under the name of Maya just before creation, and is later called Avidya (or ignorance) with the manifestation of the ego. The agitation in the quietness is due to subtle time fructifying the latent tendencies of the ego which had not merged in the primordial state at the time of the dissolution of the Universe.

61. "That consciousness which illumines the 'exterior' is called Sivatattva, whereas the individual feeling as 'I' is Saktitattva.

Note. - Siva is awareness of the 'exterior'; Sakti is the dynamic force operating the potential tendencies in the individual self.

62. "When the awareness of the 'exterior', combined with the 'I', encompasses the entire imagined space as 'I' it is called Sada-Siva-tattva.

63. "When, later, discarding the abstraction of the Self and the exterior, clear identification with the insentient space takes place, it is called Isvara-tattva. The investigation of the last two steps is pure vidya (knowledge).

64. "All these five tattvas are pure because they relate to an as-yet-undifferentiated condition like potentialities in a seed.

65. "After the differentiation is made manifest by will-force the insentient part predominates over the other, as opposed to the contrary condition before.

66. "That insentient predominance is called Maya Sakti after differentiation is clearly established, like the sprout from a seed.

67-69. "The sentient phase now contacts being relegated to a minor position, and takes on the name of Purusha being covered by five sheaths, namely kala (something of doership), vidya (some knowledge), raga (desire) kala (time - allotted life) and niyati (fixed order of things).

70. "Anamnesis of individuals made up of the proclivities acquired as a result of engaging in diverse actions in previous births, is now supported by intelligence and remains as prakriti (nature).

71. "This prakriti is tripartite because the fruits of actions are of three kinds; She manifests as the three states of life wakefulness, dream and deep sleep, She then assumes the name, chitta (mind).

72. "The anamnesis goes by the name of Prakriti in dreamless slumber, and Chitta in the other states. It is always comprised of the insentient phase of the proclivities of the mind and the sentient phase of intelligence.

73. "When the proclivities still remain in abeyance without being used up, its totality is called avyakta (unmanifested); differences arise only in chitta, there is no difference among individuals in sleep and so it is prakriti, the same assuming the name of chitta when differences manifest.

Note. - Sleep is characterised by undifferentiation and so it is the same for all, irrespective of propensities of the mind. Simultaneous with the awareness of the body the other states manifest. Individual enjoyments - pleasure and pain - lie only in the wakeful and dream states, according as the innate tendencies of the mind mature and yield fruits. When one crop is over sleep supervenes, then there is no enjoyment and no distinction according to crops. As the anamnesis is ready with the next crop, sleep is shaken off and differences arise. So it is clear how the one undifferentiated condition manifests as the universe in all its diversity and resolves into itself periodically.

75. "Therefore the mind (chitta) is purusha (the individual) when the sentient phase is assertive, and the same is ayakta (unmanifest) when prakriti (nature), the insentient phase, is assertive.

76. "That chitta is tripartite according to its functions, namely, ego, intellect and mind.

77. "When influenced by the three qualities, it manifests in greater details as follows: by satva (brightness), it becomes the five senses, hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell; by rajas (activity) speech, hands, feet, organs of excretion and of procreation; by tamas (darkness) earth, air, fire, water and ether.

78. "The supreme intelligence coquets with the universe in this manner, remaining all the time unaffected, a witness of its own creation.

79. "The present creation is the mental product of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha, appointed creator by the will-force of the Primal Being, Sri Tripura.

80. "The cognition 'you' and 'I' is the essence of any kind of creation; such cognition is the manifestation of transcendental consciousness; there cannot be any difference (just as there is no difference in space, bounded by a pot or not bounded by it).

81. "The diversities in creation are solely due to qualifications limiting the consciousness; these qualifications (i.e., body, limiting of age) are the mental imagery of the creator (consistent with the individual's past merits); when the creative will-force wears away there is dissolution and complete undifferentiation results.

82. "As for your will-power, it is overpowered by the creator when that impediment is surmounted by the methods already mentioned, your will-power will also become effective.

83. "Time, space, gross creations, etc., appear in it according to the imagery of the agent.

84-86. "A certain period is only one day according to my calculation whereas it is twelve thousand years according to Brahma: the space covered by about two miles and a half of Brahma is infinite according to me and covers a whole universe. In this way, both are true and untrue at the same time.

87-88. "Similarly also, imagine a hill within you, and also time in a subtle sense. Then contemplate a whole creation in them; they will endure as long as your concentration endures - even to eternity for all practical purposes, if your will-power be strong enough.

"Therefore I say that this world is a mere figment of imagination.

89. "O King! it shines in the manifest conscious Self within. Therefore what looks like the external world is really an image on the screen of the mind.

90. "Consciousness is thus the screen and the image, and so yogis are enabled to see long distances of space and realise long intervals of time.

91. "They can traverse all distance in a moment and can perceive everything as readily as a gooseberry in the hollow of one's palm.

92. "Therefore recognise the fact that the world is simply an image on the mirror of consciousness and cultivate the contemplation of 'I am', abide as pure being and thus give up this delusion of the reality of the world.

93-97. "Then you will become like myself one in being self-sufficient."

Dattatreya continued:

"On hearing this discourse of the sage's son, the king overcame his delusion; his intellect became purified and he understood the ultimate goal. Then he practised samadhi, and became self-contained, without depending on any external agency, and led a long and happy life. He ceased to identify himself with the body, and became absolute as transcendental space until he was finally liberated. So you see, Bhargava, that the universe is only mental image, just as firm as one's will-power, and no more. It is not independent of the Self. Investigate the matter yourself, and your delusion will gradually lose hold of you and pass off."

Thus ends the Chapter XIV on the story of the Hill City in Tripura Rahasya.