Chapter 5: Bondage and Liberation


1. Parasurama, on hearing the master's discourse on the greatness of satsanga, was highly pleased and continued to ask.

2. "You have truly said, O Lord, that satsanga is the harbinger of all that is worthy, and illustrated the fact with a story.

3. "One's enjoyments are determined by the quality of one's company. The highest good was accomplished by all owing to their association direct or indirect, with Hemalekha, though she was only a woman.

4. "I am anxious to hear how Hemachuda was further guided by her. Please tell me, Thou Lord of Mercy!"

5. Thus requested, Dattatreya said to Parasurama: "Listen, O Bhargava, I shall now continue the holy narrative.

6. "Having heard what she had to say, the enjoyments ceased to interest him, he developed a disgust for them, and became pensive.

7. "But the force of habit still remained with him. He was therefore unable either to enjoy himself or to desist all of a sudden.

8. "He was however too proud to confess his weakness to his beloved. Some time passed in this way.

9. "When his habits forced him into the old ways he was still mindful of his wife's words, so that he engaged himself in them with reluctance and shame.

10-11. "He repeatedly fell into his old ways by force of habit; and very often he became repentant, realising the evil of those ways and remembering his wife's wise words. His mind was thus moving to and fro, like a swing.

12. "Neither delicious foods, nor fine clothes, nor rich jewels, nor charming damsels nor caparisoned horses, nor even his dear friends continued to interest him.

13-14. "He became sad as if he had lost his all. He was unable to resist his habits at once nor was he willing to follow them knowingly. He grew pale and melancholy.

15. "Hemalekha, always aware of the change in him, went to him in his private chamber and said, "How is it, my Lord, that you are not as cheerful as before?

16. "You look sad. Why so? I do not see symptoms of any particular ailment in you.

17. "Doctors may hold out the fear of disease amidst the pleasure of life; diseases are due to loss of harmony in the three tempers of the body.

18. "Diseases remain latent in all bodies because disharmony of tempers cannot always be prevented.

19. "Tempers get displaced by food consumed, clothes worn, words uttered or heard, sights seen, objects contacted, changes of seasons and travel in different countries.

20. "Being inescapable, the dislocation of tempers need not claim one's constant attention. There are remedies prescribed for diseases arising from it.

21. ... diseases. Now tell me, dear, why you are so sad."

22. "When Hemalekha had finished, the prince replied, 'I will tell you the cause of my misery. Listen to we, dear.'

23. "'What you said on the last occasion has barred all means of pleasure for me, so that I can now find nothing to make me happy.

24. "'Just as a man under orders to be executed cannot relish the luxuries provided for him by the State, so also I do not relish anything.

25. "'Just as a man is forced by royal command to do something in spite of himself, so also must I engage in old ways by force of habit. Now I ask you, dear, tell me how I can gain happiness.'

26. "Being thus approached, Hemalekha thought: 'This dispassion is certainly due to my words.

27. "'There is the seed of the highest good in that field where such symptoms appear. Had my well-calculated words not produced even the slightest turn in this direction, there would be no hope of emancipating him. This state of dispassion only arises in one with whose continued devotion Tripura inherent in the Heart as the Self, is well pleased."

Thinking thus, that wise lady was eager to reveal wisdom to her husband.

30. "Keeping her own wisdom secret at the same time, she spoke with measured words: 'Listen, Prince, to the story of my own past.

31. "My mother formerly gave me a lady-in-waiting who was good by nature, but later associated with an undesirable friend.

32. "This friend was clever in creating new and wonderful things. I also without my mother's knowledge associated with her.

33. "That lady-in-waiting became very friendly with that undesirable companion, and I was obliged to do the same because I loved my friend more than life.

34. "For, I could not remain without her even for a second; so much did she enthral me by her undoubted purity.

35. "Always loving my friend, I quickly became part of herself. She for her part was all the time close to her friend, a wicked strumpet, who was ever generating new and fascinating things.

36-38. "In secret that woman introduced her son to my friend. That son was an ignorant fool with eyes blood-shot with drink. And my friend went on enjoying him in my very presence. But she, though completely overpowered by him and being enjoyed by him day after day, never left me, and I, too, did not abandon her. And out of that union was born a fool of the same type as his father.

39-41. "He grew up to be a very restless young fellow, fully inheriting his father's dullness and his grandmother's wickedness and creativeness. This boy, Mr. Inconstant by name, was brought up and trained by his father, Mr. Fool and his grandmother Madame Ignorance, and he became skilled in their ways. He could negotiate the most difficult places with perfect ease and surmount obstacles in a trice.

42. "In this manner, my friend, though very good by nature, became afflicted and silly because of her association with wicked people.

43-44. "What with love for her friend, devotion for her lover, and affection for her son, she began gradually to forsake me. But I could not break with her so easily.

45-46. "Not being self-reliant, I was dependent on her so remained with her. Her husband, Mr. Fool, though always in enjoyment of her, mistook me for one of the same sort and tried to ravish me. But I was not what he took me to be. I am pure by nature and only led by her, for the time being.

47. "Even so, there was wide-spread scandal about me in the world, that I was always in Mr. Fool's hold.

48. "My friend, entrusting her son Mr. Inconstant to me, was always in the company of her lover.

49. "Mr. Inconstant grew up in my care and in due course married a wife with his mother's approval.

50. "Unsteady by name, she was ever restless and changeful and could put on different forms to please her husband's whim.

51. "By her wonderful capacity to change and by her exceeding skill and cleverness, she brought her husband completely under her control.

52. "Mr. Inconstant, too, used to fly hundreds of miles in a twinkling and return, go here, there and everywhere, but yet could find no rest.

53-54. "Whenever Mr. Inconstant wished to go anywhere and whatever he wanted to have in any measure, Madame Unsteady was ready to meet his desires changing herself accordingly and creating new environments to please her husband. She thus won his affection entirely.

55. "She bore him five sons who were devoted to their parents. Each one was skilled in his own way. They were also entrusted to my care by my friend.

56-61. "Out of love for my friend, I brought them up with care, and made them strong. Then those five sons of Madame Unsteady individually erected splendid palaces, invited their father to their homes and entertained him continually in turns. The eldest of them entertained him in his mansion with different kinds of sweet music, with incantations of the Vedas, the reading of scriptures, the humming sounds of bees, the twittering of birds and other sounds sweet to hear.

62-64. "The father was pleased with the son, who arranged for still further sounds for him which were harsh, fearful and tumultuous like the roar of the lion, the peal of thunder, the raging of the sea, the rumblings of earthquakes, the cries from lying-in-chambers, and the quarrels, moans and lamentations of many people.

65-67. "Invited by his second son, the father went to stay in his mansion. There he found soft seats, downy beds, fine clothes and some hard things, others hot or warm or cold, or refreshing things with various designs, and so on. He was pleased with the agreeable things and felt aversion to the disagreeable ones.

68. "Then going to the third son, he saw charming and variegated scenes, things red, white, brown, blue, yellow, pink, smoky grey, tawny, red-brown, black and spotted, others fat or lean, short or long, broad or round, bent or wavy, pleasing or horrible, nauseous, brilliant or savage, unsightly or captivating, some pleasing and others otherwise.

72. "The father was taken to the fourth son's mansion and there he had fruits and flowers to order. He had drinks, things to be licked, to be sucked, and to be masticated, juicy things, some refreshing like nectar, others sweet, sour, pungent or astringent, some decoctions of similar flavours, and so on. He tasted them all.

76-79. "The last son took the father to his home and treated him with fruits and flowers, with various scented grasses, herbs and things of different odours, sweet or putrescent, mild or acrid, others stimulating or soporific and so on.

"In this manner, he enjoyed himself uninterruptedly, one way or another, in one mansion or another, being pleased with some and repulsed by others.

80. "The sons too were so devoted to their father that they would not touch anything themselves in his absence.

81. "But Mr. Inconstant not only enjoyed himself thoroughly in his sons' mansions, but also stole away things from them and shared them in secret with his dear wife, Madam Unsteady, in his own home, unknown to his sons.

83. "Later, one Vorax fell in love with Mr. Inconstant and he wedded her; they became very devoted to each other, Mr. Inconstant loved Madam Vorax heart and soul.

84-87. "He used to fetch enormous provisions for her, she consumed them all in a moment and was still hungry for more; therefore she kept her husband always on his legs, to collect her food; and, too, he was incessantly in quest of provision for her. She was not satisfied with the service of the father and his five sons put together, but wanted still more. Such was her insatiable hunger. She used to order all of them about for her needs. In a short time she gave birth to two sons.

88. "They were Master Flaming-mouth the elder and Master Mean the younger - both of course very dear to their mother.

89-91. "Whenever Mr. Inconstant sought Madam Vorax in privacy, his body was burnt by the wrathsome flames of Master Flaming-mouth; being thus afflicted, he fell down unconscious.

"Again, whenever he fondled the younger son out of his love, he was hated by all the world and he himself became as if dead. Mr. Inconstant thus experienced untold misery.

92. "Then my companion, good by nature, was herself afflicted because of her son Mr. Inconstant's grief.

93-95. "Being also associated with her two grandsons, Mr. Flaming-mouth and Mr. Mean, she became quite miserable and gave way under the public odium. I too, dear, collapsed in sympathy with her. Thus passed several years until Mr. Inconstant dominated by Madam Vorax lost all initiative and was entirely in her hands.

96-107. "He was foredoomed and betook himself to the city of ten gates. There he lived with Madam Vorax his sons and his mother, always seeking pleasure but only sharing misery day and night. Burnt by the wrath of Flaming-mouth and treated with contempt by Mr. Mean, he swung hither and thither greatly agitated. He went into the homes of his other five sons but was only perplexed, without being happy. My companion too was so affected by her son's plight that she again collapsed, and yet she continued to live in the same city. Madam Vorax with her two boys Mr. Flaming-mouth and Mr. Mean was being fed by Madam Ignorance - her husband's grandmother, and by Mr. Fool, her father-in-law. She got on well with her co-wife Madam Unsteady and was even intimate with her. (Ingratiating herself with all of them), she completely dominated her husband Mr. Inconstant.

* * * *

"I too continued to live there because of my love for my friend. Otherwise, none of them could remain in the town without me who was their protectress, though I was moribund owing to my friend's moribundity.

"I was sometimes suppressed by Madam Ignorance, was made a fool of by Mr. Fool, became inconstant on account of Mr. Inconstant, grew unsteady with Madam Unsteady, contacted wrath with Flaming-mouth and looked contemptible with Mr. Mean. I reflected within myself all the moods of my friend, for she would have died if I had left her even a minute. Because of my company, the common people always misjudged me for a strumpet, whereas discriminating men could see that I have always remained pure.

108-111. "For that Supreme Good One, my mother, is ever pure and clear, more extensive than space and subtler than the subtlest; she is omniscient, yet of limited knowledge; she works all, yet remains inactive; she holds all, herself being unsupported; all depend on her, and she is independent; all forms are hers, but she is formless; all belong to her, but she is unattached; though illumining all, she is not known to any one under any circumstances; she is Bliss, yet not blissful; she has no father nor mother; innumerable are her daughters, like me.

112-113. "My sisters are as many as the waves on the sea. All of them, O Prince, are just like me involved in their companions' affairs. Though sharing the lives of my friends, I am in possession of the most potent spell, by virtue of which I am also exactly like my mother in nature.

114. (The tale is resumed.)

115. "When my friend's son retired to rest, he always slept soundly on the lap of his mother; as Mr. Inconstant was asleep, all others, including his sons, were also asleep, for no one could remain awake.

116. "On such occasions, the city was guarded by Mr. Motion, the intimate friend of Mr. Inconstant, who was always moving to and fro by two upper gateways.

117. "My friend, the mother of Mr. Inconstant, along with him and her wicked friend - the same was her mother-in-law - watched the whole sleeping family.

118. "I used to seek my mother in that interval and remain blissful in her fond embrace. But I was obliged to return to the city simultaneously with the waking of the sleepers.

119. "This Mr. Motion, the friend of Mr. Inconstant, is most powerful and keeps them all alive.

120-121. "Though single, he multiplies himself, manifests as the city and citizens, pervades them all, protects and holds them.

122. "Without him, they would all be scattered and lost like pearls without the string of the necklace.

123. "He is the bond between the inmates and myself; empowered by me, he serves in the city as the string in a necklace.

124. "If that city decays, he collects the inmates together, leads them to another and remains their master.

125-131. "In this way Mr. Inconstant rules over cities always, he himself remaining under the sway of his friend. Though supported by such a powerful friend, though born of such a virtuous mother and brought up by me, he is never otherwise than miserable, because he is tossed about by his two wives and several sons. He is torn asunder by his sons and finds not the least pleasure but only intense misery. Tempted by Madame Unsteady, he grieves; ordered about by Madam Vorax, he runs about in search of food for her; stricken by Flaming-mouth he burns with rage, loses his sense and is baffled; approaching Mr. Mean, he is openly despised and reviled by others and becomes as one dead under shame of odium.

132-134. "Already of disreputable heredity, and now infatuated by love for, and tossed about by his wicked wives and sons, he has been living with them in all kinds of places, good or bad, in forests with woods or thorny bushes and infested with wild beasts, in deserts burning hot, in icy tracts pierced by cold, in putrid ditches or in dark holes and so on.

135. "Again and again my friend was stricken with grief on account of her son's calamities and nearly died with sorrow.

136. "I too, though sane and clear by nature, dear, got involved in the affairs of her family and became sad also.

137. "Who can hope for even the least happiness in bad company? One may as well seek to quench one's thirst by drinking water from a mirage.

138. "Engulfed in sorrow, my friend once sought me in private.

139. "Advised by me, she soon gained a good husband, killed her own son and imprisoned his sons.

140. "Then accompanied by me, she quickly gained my mother's presence, and being pure, she often embraced my mother.

141. "She at once dived in the sea of Bliss and became Bliss itself. In the same manner, you too can conquer your wrong ways which are only accretions.

142. "Then, my Lord, attain the mother and gain eternal happiness. I have now related to you, my Lord, my own experience the pedestal of Bliss'."

Thus ends the Chapter on Bondage in the Section of Hemachuda in Tripura Rahasya.