Chapter 2: Self-Inquiry and Reflection


1. "Ordered thus, Parasurama again saluting the son of Saint Atri with humility began to ask:

2. "Bhagavan, dear and esteemed Master! Oh, Omniscient one! Ocean of Mercy! Once before for good reason I was furious with the kingly class.

3. "Twenty-one times I strode the land exterminating them all, including sucking babes and those in the womb collecting their blood in a pool.

4. "My forefathers were pleased with my devotion to them; however, they ordered me to desist from such carnage. My wrath was at last appeased.

5. "On hearing of the renowned Rama the very incarnation of Hari in Ayodhya, my wrath was rekindled. Blinded by fury and proud of my prowess, I challenged him.

6. "I was defeated by that great Lord and my pride was humbled. However, out of his innate kindness he let me go with my life because I was a Brahmin.

7. "As I was returning mortified by defeat, I realised the vanity of the ways of the world.

8. "Unexpectedly I met Samvarta, the Lord of the Avadhutas, and instinctively recognised him to be like fire in embers.

Note: - Samvarta, the brother of Brihaspati, looked like a maniac wandering in the forests. Narada once directed the emperor Nivritta to him and instructed him how Samvarta could be recognised. The King accordingly met the Sage and prayed for his help in the performance of a sacrifice, in which Brihaspati prompted by Indra had refused to officiate. Samvarta agreed, though hesitatingly, and later completed it in spite of the wrath of Indra. Indra attempted to break up the function but was rendered impotent by the Sage (vide Asvamedha Parva in the Mahabharata).

9. "His greatness was like red hot coal hidden in embers. Every inch of his body filled one with exhilaration so that I had a refreshing feeling in his mere proximity.

Note: - Sensation of Peace or of ananda is the symptom of Satsanga.

10. "I asked him to tell me about his state. His answer was clear cut and expressive of the essence of the sweet nectar of Eternal life.

11. "I could not pursue the conversation then and felt like a beggar maid before a queen. However I prayed to him and he directed me to Thee.

12. "Accordingly I have sought shelter at Thy holy feet, just as a blind man who is entirely dependent on his friends.

13. "What Samvarta said is not at all clear to me. I have learnt the Gospel of Tripura well. It is undoubtedly an incentive to devotion to Her.

14. "She is incarnate as Thou, and always abides in my heart. But what have I gained after all?

Note: - Prayers to God are only selfish in the beginning, yet they not only fulfil one's desires but also purify the mind so that devotion to God grows in intensity and the devotee desires nothing more than God. Then God shows His Grace by manifesting as his Guru.

15. "Lord, kindly explain what Samvarta told me before. It is certain that I cannot realise the goal until it is made known to me.

16. "Whatever I do in ignorance thereof looks like mere child's play.

17. "Formerly I pleased the Gods, including Indra, with various ceremonies, observances, gifts and presents of food.

18. "Later I heard Samvarta say that the fruits of all these acts are only trivial. I consider those acts of no account which yield only trifling results.

19. "Misery is not absence of happiness, but limited happiness. For as happiness recedes misery pours in.

20. "This is not the only miserable result of action, but there remains a still worse one, the fear of death, which cannot be mitigated by any amount of activity.

21. "My devotional practices before Tripura are similar. All these mental conceptions are nothing but child's play.

22. "The practices may be according to Thy instructions, or different. Again they may be with discipline or without discipline, since the Sastras differ about this.

23. "Meditations may also differ according to individual tastes and temperaments. How can that be? Devotion is just as imperfect as Karma.

24. "How can transient mental concepts of devotion produce intransient results of high Truth? Moreover, the practices are continuous and there seems to be no end to these obligatory duties.

25. "I have noticed that Samvarta, the Lord, is quite happy, being completely free from any sense of obligation to act and its disastrous results.

26. "He seems to laugh at the ways of the world, to stride unconcerned up the road of fearlessness, like a majestic elephant refreshing itself in a take of melted snow when the surrounding forest is on fire.

27. "I found him absolutely free from any sense of obligation and at the same time perfectly happy in his realisation of Eternal Being. How did he gain that state? And what did he tell me?

28. "Kindly explain these points, and so rescue me from the jaws of the monster of Karma."

29. Praying so, he fell prostrate and took the Master's feet in his hands. Seeing Parasurama doing so and feeling that he was now ready for Realisation.

30. Sri Datta, whose very being was love, said gently: "Oh child Bhargava! Lucky are you - your mind being thus disposed.

31-33. "Just as a man sinking in the ocean suddenly finds a boat to rescue him, so also your virtuous actions of the past have now placed you on the most sacred heights of Self-Realisation. That Devi Tripura, who is the conscious core of the heart and therefore knows each one intimately, swiftly rescues Her unswerving devotees from the jaws of death, after manifesting Herself in their hearts.

34. "As long as a man is afraid of the nightmare, obligation, so long must he placate it, or else he will not find peace.

35. "How can a man stung by that Viper, obligation, ever be happy? Some men have gone mad as if some poison had already entered their blood and were torturing their whole being.

36. "While others are stupefied by the poison of obligation and unable to discriminate good from bad.

37. "Wrongly do they ever engage in work, being deluded; such is the plight of humanity stupefied by the poison of the sense of obligation.

38. "Men are from time immemorial being swallowed up by the terrific ocean of poison, like some travellers once on the Vindhya range.

39. "Oppressed by hunger in the forest, they mistook the deceptive Nux Vomica fruits for some delicious oranges.

40. "And in their voracious hunger they ate them up without even detecting the bitter taste. They then suffered torment from the effects of the poison.

41. "Having originally mistaken the poisonous fruit for an edible fruit, their reason being now blinded by poison, they eagerly sought relief from pain.

42. "And in their agony they took hold of and ate thorn-apples, thinking them to be rose-apples.

Note: - Thorn-apples are used for extracting a poisonous alkaloid. The fruit is fatal or produces insanity.

43. They became mad and lost their way. Some becoming blind fell into pits or gorges:

44. "Some of them had their limbs and bodies cut by thorns; some were disabled in their hands, feet or other parts of the body; others began to quarrel, fight and shout among themselves.

45. "They assaulted one another with their fists, stones, missiles, sticks, etc., till at length thoroughly exhausted, they reached a certain town.

46. "They happened to come to the outskirts of the town at nightfall, and were prevented by the guards from entering.

47-49. "Unaware of the time and place and unable to gauge the circumstances, they assaulted the guards and were soundly thrashed and chased away; some fell into ditches; some were caught by crocodiles in deep waters; some fell headlong into wells and were drowned; a few more dead than alive, were caught and thrown into prison.

50. "Similar is the fate of the people who, deluded with the quest of happiness, have fallen into the snares of the task-master of action. They are bewildered in their frenzy and destruction awaits them.

51-52. "You are fortunate, Bhargava, in having transcended that distracted state. Investigation is the root-cause of all, and it is the first step to the supreme reward of indescribable bliss. How can any one gain security without proper investigation?

53. "Want of judgment is certain death, yet many are in its clutches. Success attends proper deliberation till eventually the end is without doubt accomplished.

54. "Indeliberation is the ever-present weakness of the Daityas and Yatudhanas (Asuras and Rakshasas); deliberation is the characteristic of the Devas (Gods), and therefore they are always happy.

55. "Owing to their discrimination they depend on Vishnu and inevitably conquer their enemies. Investigation is the seed capable of sprouting and nourishing into the gigantic tree of happiness.

56. "A deliberating man always shines over others. Brahma is great because of deliberation; Vishnu is worshipped because of it.

57-58. "The Great Lord Siva is omniscient for the same reason. Rama, though the most intelligent of men, came to disaster for want of judgment before attempting to capture the golden deer; later with due deliberation, he spanned the ocean, crossed over to Lanka, the island of the Rakshasa brood, and conquered it.

Note: - The reference is to the Ramayana. Ravana, the arch enemy of Rama, induced one of his lieutenants to assume the shape of a golden deer and entice Rama away from his hermitage so that Ravana could forcibly carry away Sita, who would thus be left unprotected. The ruse succeeded; and later ensued the great battle in which Ravana and others were killed and Sita was recovered. Thus did Rama vindicate himself.

59. "You must have heard how Brahma also becoming on an occasion infatuated, acted rashly like a fool and consequently paid the penalty with one of his five heads.

Note: - Brahma had originally five heads. He and Vishnu were once contesting each other's superiority. Just then a huge column of light appeared in front of them and they wondered what it was. They agreed that he who found either end of the column earlier, should get the palm. Vishnu became a boar and sought the bottom; Brahma became a swan and flew up towards the top. Vishnu returned disappointed. Brahma at the point of despair came across a swrewpine flower. He stopped its descent and asked wherefrom it was coming. All that it knew was that it was falling from space and nothing more. Brahma persuaded it to bear false witness and claimed superiority over his rival. Siva was enraged, snipped off that head which spoke the lie, and declared himself as the column of light.

60. "Unthinkingly, Mahadeva conferred a boon on the Asura and was immediately obliged to flee in terror for fear of being reduced to ashes.

Note: - There was once an Asura by name Bhasma. He did penance and pleased Siva who appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Bhasma desired that his mere touch should reduce any object to ashes. Siva conferred the boon; Bhasma wanted to test it on him: Siva took to flight. In order to save him from that predicament, Vishnu appeared as a voluptuous damsel before the pursuing Asura and enticed him. He became amorous and made advances to her. She asked him to go to a spring in front of them and rub himself with water, before embracing her. He was taken in. On his hand touching his body, he fell down, a heap of ashes.

61. "On one occasion, Hari having killed the wife of Bhrigu became the victim of a terrible curse and suffered untold miseries.

62. "Similarly have other Devas, Asuras, Rakshasas, men and animals become miserable by want of judgment.

63. "On the other hand, great and valiant are the heroes, O Bhargava, whom judgment ever befriends. Eternal homage to them.

64. "Common people, becoming foolishly involved in regard to their sense of action, are perplexed at every turn; if on the other hand, they think and act, they will be free from all misery.

65. "The world has been in the coils of ignorance from time immemorial; how can there be discernment so long as ignorance lasts?

66-68. "Can the sweet waters of dew collect in tropical sandy deserts which are already scorched by heat? Similarly, can the refreshing touch of discernment be sought in the red-hot flue over the furnace of long burning ignorance? Discernment is, however, gained by proper methods, the most effective of which is also the best of all, and that is the supreme grace of the Goddess who inheres as the Heart Lotus in every one. Who has ever accomplished any good purpose, without that Grace?

69. "Investigation is the Sun for chasing away the dense darkness of indolence. It is generated by the worship of God with devotion.

70. "When the Supreme Devi is well pleased with the worship of the devotee, She turns into vichara in him and shines as the blazing Sun in the expanse of his Heart.


Note: - Devi: Goddess. Vichara: Discrimination, investigation, deliberation, judgment. Devi is there in ignorance, in worship, in vichara and later, like fat in the milk, the curds and the churned butter successively.

71-72. "Therefore that Tripura, the Supreme Force, the Being of all beings, the blessed, the highest, the one consciousness of Siva, who abides as the Self of self, should be worshipped sincerely, exactly as taught by the Guru. The fore-runner of such worship is devotion and praiseworthy earnestness.

73-76. "The antecedent cause of these is again said to be the learning of the mahatmya (Gospel). Therefore, O Rama, the mahatmaya was first revealed to you; having heard it, you have now progressed well. Vichara is the only way to attain the highest Good. I was indeed anxious about you; and there is very good reason for such anxiety until the mind turns towards vichara from the overpowering disease of ignorance, just as one is anxious for a patient who is delirious, until one sees that the system shows signs of a favourable turn.

77. "If once vichara takes root, the highest good has for all practical purposes, been reached in this life. As long as vichara is absent from a human being, the most desirable form of birth, so long is the tree of life barren and therefore useless. The only useful fruit of life is vichara.

79-81. "The man without discrimination is like a frog in the well; just as the frog in the well does not know anything either of good or of bad and so dies in his ignorance in the well-itself, in the same way men, vainly born in Brahmanda, (Egg of Brahma (i.e., the Universe)) do not know either good or bad regarding themselves and are born only to die in ignorance.

82. "Confounding dispassion (vairagya) with misery, and pleasures of the world with happiness (sukha), a man suffers in the cycle of births and deaths, powerful ignorance prevailing.

83-84. "Even though afflicted by misery, he does not cease further indulgence in those causes antecedent to it (namely, wealth, etc.); just as a jack-ass pursues a she-ass even if kicked a hundred times by her, so also is it with the man and the world. But you, O Rama, becoming discriminating have transcended misery."

Thus ends the Second Chapter in Tripura Rahasya.