Rama: Maharishi Vasishta! Revered Teacher! Kundadanta whom I met on that day is here in this assembly. He has been listening to your instructions for all these days. That is why I have asked you if he has attained Self-Knowledge and if all his doubts have been clarified.
Sage Vasishta: Where is the need for me to say anything? Let us ask him directly.
(Addressing now Kundadanta): What do you say, Kundadanta? Could you understand the essence of Truth? Have you gained Self-Knowledge? Have your doubts been cleared?
Kundadanta: Oh, Greatest of the Sages! Maharishi! My Salutations. Yes, now I am totally free of doubt. I have learnt what all has to be learnt. I understood fully the nature of Consciousness. I realize that even a tiny mustard seed can contain infinite universes within it. I could also understand experientially that there are no worlds at all from an Absolute point of view. I can see clearly that a question on how a large earth can fit into a small room has no locus.
What every creature experiences in the world is only The Supreme Brahman. The ignorance they experience is also Brahman. There is nothing whatsoever anywhere anytime beyond Supreme Brahman. That is the last word!
Vasishta: He is a Great Man Indeed! Congratulations to you, Kundadanta!
Kundadanta is in perfect peace having attained Self-Knowledge. He perceives ignorance and the world thereof as none other than Brahman. The Creation (Brahma or Brahman admixed with illusion) is not a contradiction to Pure Brahman. It is so because even nescience is Brahman. Brahman appears as the world owing to the past impressions of the individual (jIva). Just because of this false appearance, duality cannot be the Truth. The Supreme Brahman stays unaffected and immutable under all conditions. It is thus obvious why the world has no beginning or end.
Rama: We see that the dream world begins after the deep sleep and ends with wakeful state. Logically therefore, the wakeful world too must have a beginning and an end. Why do you deny this?
Vasishta: Who is it that establishes the beginning and an end to the dream world? It is clearly the person who is in the wakeful state. But the wakeful state is a part of the sleep state called ignorance. We are now discussing the condition of the individual who has crossed ignorance. There is no reality for deep sleep and wakefulness from his stance. Hence they cannot be the limiting end points for the dream world. In the same way from his position no beginning or end point can exist for the wakeful world.
As already enunciated by Kundadanta, there is, in fact, no difference between Brahman and ignorance. Ignorance is similar to your sleep for the Supreme Brahman. Sleep is not different from you. So also ignorance is not different from Brahman.
Ignorance has the power of veiling and projecting from the stand point of an ignorant person. Projecting power produces the mind. The mind then becomes the limiting adjunct to the Supreme Brahman.
Examine closely your dream state. There is an entity claiming to be the “I”. He is one of the creatures in the dream. He has a mind of his own. He has a body. But what or who constitutes all these? It is none other than “you”. But you call him to be an individual (jIva) based on the consciousness part of him. You call his subtle limiting adjunct as mind and the gross liming adjunct as the body. Depending on his other attributes, you christen him in the dream as God, demon, man etc. But in truth, all those forms are you, yourself! It is your mind that engenders so many forms. It is your mind again that wakes you up and frees you from these forms!
Similarly, the wakeful state mind produced by ignorance shows the wakeful state world and the multitude of beings in it. Once again it will be the mind only that receives the Knowledge of Truth, purges itself of the sleep called ignorance, eliminates the dreamlike wakeful world and grants you Nirvana. No, ‘grant’ is an incorrect word. That itself is Nirvana.
Rama: Revered Teacher! What are the dimensions of the mind when it appears? How long does the world survive in it?
Vasishta: It is not possible to define the dimensions of the mind. It can assume any size from that of an atom to that of wide outer space. Therefore, the Vedas declare:
बालाग्रशतभागस्य शतधा कल्पितस्य च ।
भागो जीवः स विज्ञेयः स चानन्त्याय कल्पते ॥ — swetA. upa. V-9
vAlAgra shata bhAgasya shatadhA kalpitasya ca
bhAgo jIvaH sa vijneyaH sa cAnantyAya kalpate.
(Meaning: If you make hundred parts of the tip of a thin strand of hair, and make a hundred parts of that one part again, that will be the size of a jIva. But he can be of infinite size too).
The world will appear in the mind as long as ignorance persists. Anything perceived in the world, whether it is a dream, a boon, or a curse is a form of the Supreme Brahman because what the mind shows is only an illusory appearance. There is, in fact, no difference between those multiple objects and Brahman. The difference is as much as that which exists between a water drop and a puddle, a pond, a river or an ocean.
Rama: Sir, I have a small doubt here. Sometimes we see suddenly an effect arising out of the boons or curses. For example King Nahusha was turned into a serpent by the curse of the Seven Sages. How did the serpent generate? We do not see any material cause like an egg behind it. How does such an effect take place?
Vasishta: Rama! We established that the world was nothing but the brilliance of the Pure Consciousness-Space. The Vedas discussed the sudden appearance of the world in Consciousness-Space and described it in statements like “Sah akaamayata”, “tadaikshata” etc. They called it as the desire of Hiranyagarbha, will, good thoughts, observation etc. Whatever is conceived in those thoughts takes place. Is there any material cause there? Embedded within those concepts is an idea that the boons, curses etc. of some of the people should get fulfilled. The boons and curses given by the Self-Knowing people, accomplished meditators and such others fructify accordingly. Hence they do not need any specific material cause.
That is the reason why I said that the boons, curses etc. are also a form of Pure Consciousness. If you follow this logic, it is a waste of time to categorize things as inert and conscious or to talk of creation and dissolution. No such differences will be visible if one understands the Truth wholly and completely.
[Note: Here ends the Sarga 186.
Sage Vasishta begins to wind up his sermon after The Story of Kundadanta. So he devotes four Sargas (186 to 189, both included) for a brief review of his theory. He talks about the inexorable Law of nature (niyati) in this sum up and declares the law to be another form of the Supreme Brahman. He holds that the Supreme Brahman forgets Its true form and assumes the form of a world. He adds that the world lacks true beingness for this reason. The origination and dissolution of the world are mere imagination, he avers. When the subtle illusion becomes dense, it will take the appearance of the world. He declares at the end:
ब्रह्मैवाभातमेव वा …। — Uttara sarga 189, shloka 20
brhmaivAbhAtameva vA …
(Meaning: The entire world is a phantasm. Or the Supreme Brahman radiates as the world and its creatures).
The Sage established unequivocally that mentation is bondage and realization of the True Original form is liberation. He emphasizes the point in the first sloka of the 190th Sarga with the following words:
ज्ञानस्य ज्ञेयतापत्तिः बन्ध इत्यभिधीयते
तस्यैव ज्ञेयता शान्तिः मोक्ष इत्यभिधीयते — uttara sarga 190, shloka 1.
jnAnasya jneyatApattiH bandha ityabhidhIyate
tasyaiva jneyatA shAntiH moksha ityabhidhIyate.
(Meaning: It is bondage if Knowledge becomes the knowable. Liberation is attenuation of knowability.)….]
[ Adopted from Yogavaasishta, Part VI: Nirvana Book II, by Kuppa V. Krishna Murthy, (English Rendering: Dr. Vemuri Ramesam), Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore 570025, India, 2013, pp: 356 ]