Download: Chapter III / The Story of Karkati

Yoga Vasistha in Poem

Chapter III: Dealing with Creation

9. The Story of Karkati

The First Austerity

There once lived in the Himalayas
A huge demoness called Karkati
She was unable to get enough to eat
Due to her size and immense appetite
She thought about her situation
Feeling if only she could consume
All people in the country at once
Her appetite may be appeased
She felt need for rigorous penance
Most arduous and unimaginable
As most difficult was the attainment
Equally hard must be the effort made
High on the snow peaks she commenced
Penance in which time too stood still
Thousand years passed unknowingly
Till Brahma the creator appeared to her
The creator offered her any boon
Karkati expressed her wish respectfully
She was granted a small subtle status
To inflict those who lived wrongly
From her huge size and stature
She shrunk to the size of a pin
So small, she could hardly be seen
Her mentality had not changed at all
She continued her work, inflicting those
Who lived wrongly and unjustly
Thus dependent on the lives of others
She pondered all this within herself
"A huge demoness I once was
Never dependent on anyone
Now I roam in dirt and filth
Eating a diet most unhealthy"
Deluded ones have no foresight
Selfish efforts lead to poor results
Trying to put oneself ahead of all
Results in being last every time
Disillusioned with her condition
And her self-inflicted misfortune
She realized it was her delusion
That reduced her to this sad state
The mind that is headed to calamity
First creates delusion and wickedness
These states themselves expand into
Conditions and resulting experiences

The Second Austerity

At once Karkati firmly resolved
To correct her ways and her self
Abandoning her physical appetite
Returned to the Himalayas for penance
Mistakes are the best teachers
But learning must be self-correction
It must result in action and change
Treading immediately the new course
Karkati resolved to rid delusion
And not stop till completely purified
And attain the highest wisdom
Beyond the reach of all suffering
The energy of her hard penance
Set the Himalayan peaks on fire
Gods too trembled with great fear
At her unprecedented austerity
The wind-god was commissioned
To end her austerity somehow
Trying to enter her mouth as breath
He was thrown out again and again
Karkati had withdrawn her life-force
To the crown of her head in perfection
Becoming totally pure by her penance
Gaining direct knowledge of Reality
Direct inquiry into all movements
Of thought in one's own consciousness
Is the very best guru or preceptor
No one else can quite compare
Brahma the creator appeared again
Granting Karkati boons of choice
She pondered on the use of boons
As she already had attained perfection
Brahma the creator explained to her
"The world-order cannot be set aside
Regain your previous huge body
And appease hunger with wicked ones
This has already been decreed
There is no harm or loss at all
Do what needs to be done as duty
And lead thou an enlightened life"
Karkati regained her previous form
Taking up residence in a dense forest
One day she saw two men appear
And felt to know if they be wise or fools
She appeared to them in her huge form
Posing to each some questions
If answered, they’d be considered wise
If not, they’d be food for her appetite
Both disclosed their identity
As minister and king of the region
Patrolling to insure local security
As dacoits often terrorized the people

Karkati's Questions

"What is that one, yet is many
In which millions of universes merge
Is pure space but appearing not
Which is in me, in you and everyone
What appears to move but never moves
Appears a rock though is fully conscious
What plays amazing tricks in empty space
Shining eternally but is not sun or moon
What seems to be far but is very near
Nature of consciousness but unknowable
What is the all but none of these
Self of all but veiled by ignorance
What is regained by many lifetimes
Of intense and persistent effort
Atomic in nature though immense
The atom in which the universe rests
Due to what does the universe function
Though it does nothing at all
Of what are seer, sight and seen made
Veiling and revealing threefold divisions
What is it that comes into being
Into what does all finally vanish
Answer each of you these questions
So I may know if you are wise or fools

The Minister Replies

The Self it is that is subtler than space
Pure consciousness, all dwells in it
Existence is the experience of all
Being the self of all—It alone exists
Appearing empty, not nothingness
The Self of all, beyond mind and senses
The Self it is reflecting as many
As appearances though the sole reality
Self is not void or nothing at all
Self is the self of everything
Even of those who disbelieve
Self is their very self as well
It cannot be experienced indirectly
It alone is the consciousness of all
The substance of this world-appearance
It has to be known by each directly
Due to indivisibility of consciousness
I am you and you are me as well
Indivisible consciousness stays unchanged
Becoming neither—it alone is everything
Self is infinite though not moving
It is everywhere without movement
Indivisible, all forms appear in it
Doing nothing to bring this about
Reality in fire, it does not burn
Nor can it be burnt at all
The eternal light, it shines in all
Everything shines by its light alone
Nothing exists independent of Self
Time and space are reflections in it
Appearing as moments and eternity
There is nothing apart from the Self
As long as the appearance is felt real
The reality is never ever seen
When this assumption is discarded
Pure consciousness is experienced
Self is all of what appears to be
Its power creates terrific illusions
Of subject and object as different
All within indivisible consciousness
This diversity from creator to insect
Is a long-standing illusion like a dream
As a single seed contains the huge tree
Self contains diversity in indivisibility

The King Replies

Your questions pertain to Brahman
Eternal, pure existence-absolute
Known directly when the mind-stuff
Is rid of all movement of thought
It is expressed in silence
When the known comes to an end
For unknowable and inexpressible
Is Brahman the absolute
It is the extremely subtle
In the middle of two extremes
That middle too has two sides
As diversity also seems divided
When this Brahman wishes
Elements and nature appear
It is all and it is nothing
All appears by its omnipotence
Many are ways to attain the Self
Still nothing is really attained
Upon the supreme attainment
As it is the self of one and all
One roams in the forest of samsara
Till wisdom dawns within one's self
Which is able to dispel root-ignorance
About the reality of world-appearance
This infinite pure consciousness
Perceives the universe within itself
Extremely subtle, pure consciousness
It pervades the entire universe
This omnipresent existence inspires
The world-appearance to dance
To its tune, music and wish
All due to its omnipresence
The sole illuminator of all
All shines by its light alone
Its illumines the effects of ignorance
Without removing darkness from ignorance
Just as a drop of honey contains
The essence of all flowers
So too in it are ever present
All possible experiences
Experiences rise and fall in it
It is the sole experiencer
It alone is all of this you see
Though extremely subtle it is
Ages pass within itself
In the twinkling of an eye
Objects appear and disappear
All within pure consciousness
Doer and experiencer of all
There is nothing apart from it
As doership and the experiencer
Are inherent in infinite consciousness
Words like inner and outer
Are used for instruction only
The seer remaining unseen
Sees himself—pure sight only
The seer is the sight only
Realized when impressions end
Pure being is again realized
When external objects cease
The subject becomes the object
Objects must have a subject
What we call subject then
Is a word used in relationship
Subject is pure consciousness
This seer alone is the reality
Objects are hallucinations
Notions that create division
Because of consciousness
In a bracelet made of gold
Gold realizes its goldness
Object realizes subjectivity
The subject and object
Reflections of the other
Real duality does not exist
Realize this by direct inquiry
Division does not contradict
The existing unity at all
Both words used for instruction
The supreme self alone exists

Vasistha Concludes

Hearing the minister and king
Karkati became tranquil
Her demoniacal nature left her
She praised both for their wisdom
One who is blessed to experience
The company of enlightened ones
Does not suffer in this world at all
As one holding a candle in the dark
I have told you this story of Karkati
Because I remembered her questions
And the wise answers of both
The minister and the noble king
Just as a leaf, flower and fruit
All extend from one seed
In which there cannot be diversity
Universe extends from consciousness
By listening to my words O Rama
You will attain enlightenment
The universe has arisen from Brahman
The universe is Brahman alone
Words have their limitations
They are used in instruction
They are not what they indicate
As all division is illusionary
I once asked Brahma to teach me
How this universe was created
His reply I will narrate to you
Listen attentively to this story



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