The Story of Karkati

This is a story that I pulled directly out of the book, “Vasistha’s Yoga” which is one of the books that I read from time to time when the body calls for it to be read. It goes along the lines of the question that everyone dispelling ignorance asks, which is “Who Am I?” or “What am I?” I figured since I’ve already talked on the question of Who Am I, I would try and give others a better indication where the thought comes from or maybe give them a better indication. Set the concept of Judgement aside and enjoy the story, this may help you on your journey.

Again, I take no credit for this story, it is not my own work and all credit goes to the translation, publishers, and writer of the book. The Author or translator is said to be Swami Venkatesananda.

 

The Story of Karkati:

VASISTHA continued:

In connection with this, O Rama, there is an ancient legend which i shall now narate to you.

There once lived to the north of the Himalaya mountain a terrible demoness known as Karkati. She was huge, black and dreadful to look at. This demoness could not get enough to eat, and she was ever hungry.

   She thought, “If only I can eat all the people living in Jambudvipa-continent in one meal, then my hunger will disappear even as a mirage disappears after a heavy rain. Such a course of action is not innapropriate, since it is appropriate to preserve one’s life. However, since the people of Jambudvipa are pious, charitable, devoted to god, and endowed with a knowledge of herbs, it is inappropriate to harass these peace-loving people. Let me engage myself in penance, for through penance is attained that which would otherwise be extremely difficult to attain.”

  Karkati then went up one of the snow-peaks and commenced her penance, standing on one leg. She was as firm as a marble statue and did not even notice days and months pass by. In course of time, she had grown so thin that it looked as if she was a skeleton clad in transparent skin. Thus she remained for one thousand years.

   After a thousand years had passed, the creator Brahma appeared before her, pleased with her penance: by intense penance one can attain anything-even poisonous fumes are extinguished. She bowed to him mentally, and began to wonder what boon she should ask of him. “Ah, yes,” she thought, “I shall request that I should become a living steel pin (Sucika), an embodiment of disease. With this boon i shall simultaneously enter the hearts of  all beings and fulfil my desire and appease my hunger.” When Brahma said to her,  “I am pleased with your penance; ask a boon of your choice,” she expressed her wish.

 

BRAHMA said:

So be it; you shall also be Visucika. Remaining a subtle thing, you will inflict pain on those who eat the wrong food and indulge in wrong living, by entering their heart. However, one can attain relief by the ude of the following mantra:

                     himadrer uttare parsve karkati nama raksasi

                     visucikabhidhana sanamna ‘py anyayabadhika

                     om hram hrim srim ram visnusakttaye namo bhagavati

                     visnusaktti ehi enam hara hara daha daha hana hana paca paca

                     matha matha utsadaya utsadaya dure kuru kuru svaha visucike

                     tvam himavantam gaccha jivasara candramandalam gato

                       ‘si svaha

  One who is proficient in this mantra should wear it on his left arm and, thinking of the moon, pass that hand over the patient who will be cured at once.

VASISTHA continued:

   Immediatley, O Rama, the demoness with the mountainous body began to shrink gradually to the size of a pin. She became so subtle that her existence could only be imagined. She was like the extremely subtle susumna nadi that links the base of the spine with the cornw of the head. She was like the alaya-consciousness described by the Buddhists. She was constantly followed by her other form known as Visucika (cholera).

   Though she was extremely subtle and unseen, her demonical mentality underwent no change at all. She had gained the boon of her choice; but she could not fulfil her desire to devour all beings! That is because she was of the size of a needle!! How strange: the deluded ones do not have foresight. The selfish person’s violent efforts to gain his selfish ends often lead to other results, even as a person is unable to see his when he runs to the mirror puffing and panting- his own breath mists the mirror.

   Significantly, again, the demoness who had a huge form gave up that body, died to it, in order to fulfil her ambition to become a needle: even death becomes desirable when one is keen on some selfish gain and when one is possessed by excessive craving.

    Visucika was radiant and was as subtle as the aroma of flowers. Dependent upon the life-force of others, she was devoted to her own work.

   With her twofold form of Sucika and Visucika, the demoness roamed the world afflicting all the people. By her own wish she had become small: indeed, people become what they intensley wish to be. Mean-minded people even pray for trivia; just as the demoness prayed to be transformed into a cruel needle. One’s inborn nature is not easily counteracted even by penance.

   Sucika entered into the physical bodies of people who, on account of previous illness had been greatly debilitated or had become obese, and transofrmed herself into Visucika (cholera). Sucika entered into the heart of even a healthy and intelligent person, and perverted his intellect. In some cases, however, she left that person when the latter underwent a healing treatment either with the aid of the mantra or with drugs.

   Thus, the demoness roamed the earth for many many years.

 

VASISTHA continued:

   Sucika had her numberous hiding places. Among them were: dust and dirt on the ground, (unclean) fingers, threads of cloth, within one’s body in the muscles, dirty skin covered with dust, unclean furrows on the palms and on other parts of the body (due to senility), places where flies abound, in the lusterless body, in places full of devays leaves, in places devoid of healthy trees, in people of filthy dress, people of unhealthy habits, in tree-stumps caused by deforestation in which flies breed, in puddles of stagnant water, in polluted water, in open sewers running in the middle of roads, in rest houses used by travellers, and in those cities where there are many animals like elephants, horses, etc.

   Being Sucika (a sewing needle), she wore dirty pieces of cloth thrown on the roads, sewn together; and she roamed freely in the bodies of sick people. Even as a sewing needle which has been well used by a tailor feels fatigued and falls to the ground to take some rest, as it were, Sucika also got tired of her destructive activity. Just as sewing (piercing) is the natural function of a needle, cruelty was the nature of Sucika. Just as the needle keeps on swallowing the thread that passes through it, Sucika continued to claim her victims.

   It is seen in the world that even wicked and cruel people are sometimes moved to pity when they see others who have been poverty stricken and miserable for a long time. Even so, Sucika saw the endless thread that had passed through her in the cloth (her own karma) in front of her. This worried her. She fancied that this dark cloth, which has been woven by her (as Sucika or sewing needle) was covering her face and that she was blindfolded. She wondered, “How shall i tear this veil?” She (the needle) passed through soft cloth (good people) as also hard cloth (the wicked ones), for what fool or wicked person discriminates between what is good and what is not?

   Unharmed and unprovoked by others, Sucika works for the destruction and death of others: bound by this thread, she is dangling perilously. Known also as Jiva-Sucika, she moves in all beings as the life-force with the help of prana and apana, subjecting the jiva to sorrow, by causing terribly sharp pain (of gout, rheumatism) which makes one lose his mind. She enters into the feet (like a needle) and drinks blood. Like all wicked people, she rejoices in others’ sorrow.

   (As Vasistha was saying this, the sun set and another day came to an end. The assembly adjourned for prayers.)

 

VASISTHA continued:

   After living in this manner for a long long time, the demoness Karkati was throoughly disillusioned and repented her foolish desire to devour people, which entailed severe penance for a thousand years and the degraded existence as a needle (and cholera virus). She thus bewailed her own self inflicted misfortune: “Alas, where is mountainous body and where is the form of a needle? Somtimes I fall into mud and filth, I am trampled upon by people. Alas, I am lost. I have no friends, no one takes pity upon me. I have no fixed abode, nor have I a body worth the name. I have surely lost my mind and my senses! The mind that is heading towards calamity first creates delusion and wickedness: and these themselves later expand into misfortune and sorrow. I am never free, ever at the mercy of others. I am in the hands of others and do what they make me do. I desired to appease the goblin of a desire to devour all; but that has led to a remedy worse than the disease, and a greater goblin has arisen. Surely, I am a brainless fool; hence, I threw away such a great and gigantic body and deliberately chose this despicable body of a virus (or a needle). Who is now going to liberate me from this miserable existance as being smaller than a worm? The very thought of such a vicious creature as I am may not even arise in the heart of sages. Ah, when will I again be as large as a mountain and drink the blood of large beings?… Let me become an ascetic again and perform penance as I did before.”

   At once Karkati abandoned all wish to devour living beings, and went to the Himalayas for doing intense penance again. Standing as if on one foot, she began her penance. The fire of penance generated smoke from the crown of her head, and that too became another Sucika, a helpmate. Her shadow became yet another Sucika, yet another friend.

   Even the trees and creepers of the forest admired Sucika’s penance and radiated their pollens for her to eat. But she would not consume anything at all. She stood firmly on her resolve. The god of heaven also sent small particles of meat to where she stood; but she would not even let them touch her. Thus she stood for seven thousand years, utterly motionless, unmoved by wind, rain, or forest-fire.

   Karkatis whole being became completely purified by this penance. All her sinful tendencies had been washed away by the penance and she gained the highest wisdom. The energy of her penance set the Himalayas on fire, as it were. Indra the king of heaven learnt from the sage Narada of Karkatis unprecedented undertaking.

   In answer to Indra’s request, SAGE NARADA narrated the story of Karkati:

   This despicable goblin Karkati became a living needle embodied in a metal needle. As such she entered into the bodies of sinful people and afflicted their muscles, their joints and their blood. She entered these bodies like wind, and caused stabbing and prickling pains. She inflicted such pain on those bodies which had been nourished on impure food like meat, etc.

   She also entered into the bodies of all beings like vultures, etc., and devoured the bodies of others. On account of the power of her heart of all, and participating in all that the ‘host’ did. What is impossible to one who is invisible and subtle like the wind?

   However, since she somtimes liked some beings more than others and some pleasures more than others (on account of her impure tendencies), she became bound to them and hovered over them. She roamed freely, but when there was trouble she returned to needle-body, as ignorant people do in times of trouble.

   Yet, she was not satisfied physically. Only an existential factore can undergo appropriate experiences; how can a non-existent body experience satisfaction? Thus dissatisfied, Sucika was miserable. In order to regain her previous body as a gigantic goblin,  she began to perform penance again. She entered the body of a vulture which flew to the peak of the Himalays where the vulture deposited the needle and flew off.

   Using the solid needle as her support, Sucika began her penance which continues till now. O Indra, if you do not interrupt her penance, she might seek to destroy the world by the power of that penance.

 

VASISTHA continued:

   Hearing this, Indra commissioned Vayu the wind-god to find out the exact spot where Sucika dwelt. Vayu wafted through all the different planetary systems in the universe and finally entered the earth-plane and descrended upon the Himalayas where, on account of its proximity to the sun, there was no vegetation and the whole area looked like an arid desert.

 

VASISTHA continued:

   In the Himalayas, Vayu saw the ascetic Sucika standing like another peak of the mountain. As she was not eating anything at all she had become almost completely dried up. When Vayu (wind) entered her mouth, she threw it out again and again. She had withdrawn her life-force to the crown of her head and stood as a perfect yogini. Seeing her, Vayu was amazed and lost in wonderment. He could not even talk to her. Convinced that she was engaged in supreme penance he forthwith returned to heaven where he reported to Indra:

   “Lord, in the Jambudvipa-continent Sucika is performing unprecedented penance. She does not even let wind enter her mouth! And to overcome hunger, she has turned her stomach into solid metal. Pray, get up at once and approach the creator Brahma to appease her by granting her the desired boon. Or else, the power of her penance might burn us all up.” whether one is able to chieve one’s ambition or not, one should remain peaceful. Ask of us what you will have; for we have never turned a beggar away empty-handed.”

   Thereupon, Indra went to Brahma and in answer to his prayer, Brahma went to where Sucikawas engaged in penance.

   Only her own two other forms-her shadow, and the fire of her austerities-were witness to her penance. By coming into contact with her, even the air around her and the particles of dust near her had attained final liberation! At this time, she had gained directknowledge of the supreme causeless cause of all by her own examination of the intelligence within her. Surely, direct enquiry into the movements of thought in one’s own consciousness is the supreme guru or preceptor, O Rama, and no one else.

   Brahma said to her, “Ask a boon” (though since she had no sense organs, she experienced this within herself). She reflected within herself in response to this:  “I have reached the realisation of the absolute; and there are no doubts or wants in me. What shall I do with boons? When I was an ignorant girl, I was haunted by the goblin of my desires; now, through self knowledge, that ghost has been laid.”

   Brahma said: “The eternal world-order cannot be set aside, O ascetic. And it decrees that you should regain your previous body, live happily for a long time and then attain liberation. You will live an enlightened life, afflicting only the wicked and the sinful, and causing the least harm- and that too only to appease your natural hunger.” Sucika accept what Brahma had said and soon her needle-body grew into a mountainous body.

 

VASISHTA continued:

   Though she had regained her former demonical form, Karkati remained in the superconscious state for a considerable time, devoid of all demoniacal tendencies. She remained in the same place, seated in the lotus posture of meditation. After a period of six months she became fully aware of the outside world and her body. Immediately, she experienced hunger; for as long as the body lasts it is subject to its own physical laws, including hunger and thirst.

   Karkati reflected:  “What shall I eat? Whom shall I devour? Destruction to other living beings for the sake of prolonging one’s life is condemned by wise sages. Hence, if while not consuming such forbidden food, I have to give up this body, I see no harm in it. Unwholesome food is poison. Moreover, to an enlightened person like me, there is no distinction between physical life and death.”

   As she was reflecting thus, she heard an aerial voice say: “O Karkati, approach ignorant and deluded people and awaken wisdom in them. This indeed is the only mission of enlightened beings. One whom you thus endeavour to enlighten but who fails to awake to truth is fit for your consumption. You shall incur no sin by devouring such an ignorant person.”

   Hearing this, Karkati got up and descended from the mountain. She entered a dense forest where hill-tribes and hunters dwelt. Night fell over the earth.

   In that region, there was a king of the hunters known as Vikram. As was his custom, this king, along with his minister, went out into the dense darkness of the night to protect his subjects by subduing robbers and decoits. Karkati saw these two brave and adventurous men who were just then offering their prayers to the tribal demi-gods of the forest. 

   Seeing them, Karkati reflected: “Surely, these two men have come here to appease my hunger. They are ignorant and therefore a burden on earth. Such ignorant people suffer here and hereafter; suffering is the only mission in their life! Death, unto them, is a welcome release from such suffering and it is possible that after death they will awake and seek their salvation. Ah, but, it may be that they are both wise men, and I do not like to kill wise men. For, whoever wishes to enjoy unalloyed happiness, fame and long life, should by all means honour and worship good men, by giving them all that they might wish to have. Let me therefore test their wisdom. If they are wise I shall ot harm them. Wise men, good men, are indeed great benefactors of humanity.”

 

VASISTHA continued:

   Having decided to test the king and his minister, the demoness Karkati let out a piercing cry and roared. Then she shouted: “Hey you two little worms roaming this dense forest! Who are you? Tell me quick or else I shall devour you.”

   The king replied: “O ghost, who are you and where are you? I only hear you; let me see who you are.”

   Hearing this calm and cool reply of the king, the demoness felt that his answer was appropriate and made herself visible to him. The king and the minister then beheld her dreadful form, and without being perturbed in the very least, the minister said to her: “O demoness, why are you so angry? To seek food is natural to all living beings; and in performing one’s natural functions one need not be bad-tempered. Even selfish ends are gained by the wise by appropriate means and proper behaviour or action, after they give up anger and mental agitation, and resort to equanimity and clear mind. We have seen thousands of insects like you and have dealt justly with them, for it is the duty of a king to punish the wicked and protect the good. Give up your anger, and achieve your end by resorting to tranquility. Such indeed is appropriate conduct-whether one is able to achieve one’s ambition or not, one should remain peaceful. Ask of us what you will have; for we have never turned a beggar away empty-handed.” 

   Karkati greatly admired the courage and the wisdom of the two men. She thought that they were not ordinary human beings but enlightened men, for the very sight of their faces filled her heart with peace. When two enlightened men meet, their hearts mingle in peace and bliss, even as the waters of two mountain streams mix at their confluence. Moreover, who but a wise man can maintain his calm while faced with almost certain death? Hence, she thought “Let me utilise this opportunity to clear the doubts that are in my mind; for he is surely a fool who, having the company of a wise man, neglects to clear his doubts.”

   At her request, the minister informed her of the king’s identity. Karkati retorted: “O king, you do not seem to have a wise minister! A good minister makes the king wise; and as is the king so are his subjects. Lordship and equal vision accrue from the kingly science (of self knowledge); he who does not possess this is neither a good minister nor a wise king. If you two are men not possessed of self-knowledge, then in accordance with my inherent nature, I shall devour you both. In order to determin this, I shall ask you some questions. Give me the right answers: this is only thing I ask of you.”

 

THE DEMONESS asked:

   O king, what is it that is one and yet is many, and in which millions of universe merge even as ripples in an ocean? What is it that is pure space, though appears to be not so? What is it that is me in you and that is you in me; what is it that moves yet does not move, that remains stationary though it is not so; what is it that is a rock though conscious and what plays wonderful tricks in empty space; what is it that is not the sun adn the moon and fire and yet eternally shines; what is that atom that seems to be far and yet so near; what is it that is of nature of consciousness and yet is not knowable; it is the very self of all, is veiled by ignorance and is regained after many life-times of intense and persistent effort; what is it that is the three worlds into a blade of grass; what is it that is atomic and yet is immeasurable; what is it that without ever renouncing its atomic nature appears to be bigger than the biggest mountain; what is that atom in which the entire universe rests like a seed during the cosmic dissolution?

   What is it that is responsible for the function of all the elements in the universe, though it does nothing at all; even as ornaments like bracelets are mode of gold, of what are the seer, the sight and the seen made; what is it that veils and reveals the threefold manifestation (viz., the seer, the sight and the seen); in what is the apparent three-fold division of time (the past, present, and future) established, even as the tree is in the seed; what is it that comes into manifestation and vanishes alternately, even as teh tree comes out of the seed and the seed comes out of the tree alternatively?

   O king, what is that creator of this universe and by whose power do you exist and function as a king, protecting your subjects and punished the wicked; what is it, seeing which your own vision is purified and you exist as that along without a division?

   O king, to save yourself from certain death, answer these questions. By the light of your wisdom dispel this darkness of doubt in me. He is not a wise man who is unable, when questioned, to cut at the very root of ignorance and doubt. 

   If, however, you are unable to uproot this ignorance in me and to answer these questions, you will appease my hunger today.

 

THE MINISTER replied:

   I shall surely answer your questions, O lady! For that which all your questions refer to the supreme self.

   That self is subtler than even space since it has no name and cannot be described; and neither the mind nor the senses can reach it or comprehend it. It is pure consciousness. The entire universe exists in the consciousness that is atomic, even as a tree exists with the seed: but, then the universe exists as consciousness and does not exist in the universe. That consciousness existis however, because such is the experience of all, and since it alone is the self of all. Since it is, all else is.

   That self is empty like space; but it not nothingness, since it is consciousness. It is.: yet because it cannot be experienced by the mind and senses, it is not. IT being the self of all, it is not experienced (as the object of experience) by anyone. Though one, it is reflected in the infinite atoms of existence and hence appears to be many. This appearance is however unreal even as ‘bracelet’ is an imaginary appearance of gold which alone is real. But, the self is not unreal. It is not a void of nithingness: for it is the self of all, and it is the very self of onewho says it is and of one who says (or thinks) it is not! Moreover, its existence can be experienced by its fragrance. It alone is the self of all as consciousness; and it alone is the substance that makes the world-appearance possible.

   In that infinite ocean of consciousness, whirlpools known as the three worlds arise spontaneously and naturally, even as whirlpools are caused by the very nature of the running water. Because this consciousness is beyond the reach of the mind and senses, it seems to be a void; but since it can be known by self-knowledge, it is not a void. On account of the individibility of consciousness, I am you and you are me; but the indivisible consciousness itself has become neither I nor you! When the wrong notions of ‘you’ and ‘I’ are given up, there arises the awareness that there is neither you, nor I, nor everything; perhaps it alone is everything.

   The self being infinite moves not though moving, and yet it is for ever established in every atom of existence. The self does not go nor does it ever come: for space and time derive their meaning from consciousness alone. Where can the self go when all that is is within it? If a pot is taken from one place to another, the space within does not move from one place to another, for everything is for ever in space.

 

THE MINISTER continued:

   The self which is of the nature of pure consciousness seems to be inert and insentient when it is apparently associated with inertia. In infinite space, this infinite consciousness had made infinite objects appear; though all this seems to have been done, such effect being a mere fancy, nothing has been done. Hence, it is both consciousness and inertia, the doer and the non-doer.

   The reality in fire is this self of consciousness: yet, the self does not burn nor is it burnt, since it is the reality in all. and infinite. It is the eternal light which shines in the sun, the moon, and the fire, but independent of them. It shines even when these have set: it illumines all from within all. It alone is the intelligence that indwells even trees, plants and creepers, and preserves them. That self or infinite consciousness is, from the ordinary point of view, the creator, the protector and the overlord of all; and yet from the absolute point of view, in reality, being the self of all, it has no such limited roles.

   There is no world independent of this consciousness: hence, even the mountains are in the atomic self. In it arise the phantasies of a moment and of an epoch: and these appear to be real time-scales, the twinkling of an eye there exists an epoch, even as a whole city is reflected in a small mirror. Such being the case, how can one assert the reality of either duality or non-duality? This atomic self or infinite consciousness alone appears to be a moment or an epoch, near and far, and there is nothing apart from it; and these are not mutually contradictory in themselves.

   As long as one sees the bracelet as a bracelet, it is not seen as gold; but when it is seen that ‘bracelet’ is just a word and not the reality, then gold is seen. Even so, when the world is assumed to be real, the self is not seen: but when this assumption is discarded, consciousness is realised. It is the all; hence real. It is not experienced; hence unreal.

   What appears to be is but the jugglery of Maya which creates a dream-city. It is neither real nor unreal, but a long-standing illusion. It is the assumption of division that creates diversity, right from the creator Brahma down to the little insect. Just as in a single seed the diverse characteristics of the tree remain at all times, even so this apparent diversity exists in the self at all times, but as consciousness.

KARKATI said:

   I am delighted with your minister’s answers, O King. Now I would like to hear your answers.

 

THE KING said:

Your questions, O noble lady, relate to the eternal Brahman which is pure existence. It is known when the threefold modification known as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep cease and when the mind-stuff is rid of all movements of thought. The extension and withdrawal of its manifestation are popularly regarded as the creation and the dissolution of the universe. It is expressed in silence when the known comes to an end, for it is beyond all expression. It is the extremely subtle middle, between the two extremes; and that middle itself has two sides. All these universes are but its playful but conscious projection. As the diversity of this universe, it seems to be divided in itself; but truly, it is undivided.

   When this Brahman wishes, wind comes into being though that wind is nothing but pure consciousness. Similarly, when sound is thought of, there is a fanciful projection of what sounds like sound: but beying pure consciousness, the reality is far from what is thought of as sound and as its meaning or substance. That supreme subtle atomic being is all and is nothing; I am that yet I am not. That alone is. By its omnipotence all this appears to be.

   This self can be attained by the hundred ways and means; yet, when it is attained, nothing has been attained! It is the supreme self; yet it is nothing. One roams in this forest of samsara, or repetitive history till there is the dawn of that wisdom which is able to dispel the root-ignorance in which the world appears to be real. Just as the ignorant man is attracted by the perception of water in the mirage, this world-appearance attracts the ignorant man. But the truth is that it is the infinite consciousness that perceives the universe within itself, through its own power known as Maya. That which is seen within appears also outside, like the hallucination of one who is mad with lust.

   Though the self is extremely subtle and atomic and of the essential nature of pure consciousness, by it the entire universe is wholly pervaded. This omnipresent being by its very existence inspires the world-appearance to ‘dance to its tunes’. That which is thus subtler than a hundredth part of the tip of a hair is yet greater than the greatest, because of its omnipresence.

 

THE KING continued:

The light of self-knowledge alone illumines all experience. It shines by its own light. What is the light by which one ‘sees’ (knows), if all the lights int he world from the sun onwards become inert? Only the inner light. This inner light appears to be outside and to illumine external objects. The other sources of light are indeed non-different from the darkness of ignorance and only appear to shine: though there is no essential difference between fog and cloud (both of which veil objects), it is often seen that fog seems to radiate light, while cloud seems to obscure it. The inner light of consciousness shines for ever within and without, day and night; mysteriously, it illumines the effects of ignorance without removing the darkness of ignorance. Just as the very-luminous sun reveals its real nature with help of night and day, even so the light of the self reveals its real nature by revealing both consciousness and ignorance.

   Within the atomic space of consciousness, there exist all the experiences, even as within a drop of honey there are the subtle essences of flowers, leaves and fruits. From that consciousness all experiences expand, for the experiencing is the sole experiencer (which is consciousness). Whatever may be the particular description of the experiences, they are all encompassed in the one experiencing of consciousness. Indeed, this infinite consciousness alone is all this:  and all the hands and eyes are its own, though being extremely subtle, it has no limbs. In the twinkling of an eye this infinite consciousness experiences an epoch within itself, even as in the course of a brief dream one experiences youth and old age and even death.  All these objects which appear in consciousness are indeed non-different from consciousness, even as a sculpture carved of stone is nothing but stone. Just as the whole tree with all its future ramifications is in the seed, the entire universe of the past, the present and future is contained in the atom of infinite consciousness. Therefore, though the self is neither the doer or actions and the experiencer of all experiences: there is nothing apart from it. Within the atom of the infinite consciousness and doership and the experiencer are inherent.

   The world, however, has never really been created, nor does it disappear: it is regarded as unreal only from the relative point of view; from the aboslute point of view it is non-different from the infinite consciousness.

 

THE KING continued:

   Sages only speak of the inner and the outer, which are but words with no corresponding substance: it is meant to instruct the ignorant. The seer, himself remaining unseen, sees himself; and the seer does not ever become an object of consciousness. The seer is the sight only, and when the latent psychic impressions have ceased, the seer regains its pure being; when the external object is imagined, a seer has been created. If there is no subject, there is no object either: it is the son that makes a man ‘father’. Again, it is the subject that becomes the object; there is no object (sight) without a subject (seer), even as without a father there is no son. Because the subject (seer) is pure consciousness, he is able to conjure up the object. This cannot be the other way round: the object does not give birth to the subject. Therefore the seer alone is real, the object being hallucination: gold alone is real, the bracelet is a name and a form. As long as the notion of bracelet lasts, the pure gold is not apprehended; as long as the object persists, the division between the seer and the seen also persists. But, just as because of the consciousness in the bracelet, gold realises its goldness, the subject (seer) manifesting as the object (the seen) realises subjectivity (consciousness). One is the reflection of the other: there is no real duality. The seerdoes not see himself as he sees the object: the seer sees himself as the object, and therefore does not see – though he is the reality, yet he appears to be unreal. However, when self-knowledge arises and the object ceases to be, the seer (subject) is realised as the sole reality.

   The subject exists because of the object, and the object is but a reflection of the subject: duality cannot be if there is not one, and where is the need for the notion of ‘unity’ if one alone exists? When thus real knowledge is gained by means of right enquiry and understanding, only that remains which is not expressible in words. Of that is cannot be said that it is one or that it is many. It is neither seer nor seen, neither subject nor object, neither this nor that. Neither unity nor diversity can be truly established as the truth: for every thesis gives rise to antithesis. Yet, one is not different from ‘the other’: just as the wave is not other than water, bracelet is not different from gold. Even so, division is not a contradiction of unity! All this speculation concerning unity and diversity is only to overcome sorrow: that which is beyond all this is the truth, the supreme self.

 

VASISTHA continued:

After listening to these wise words of the king, Karkati became tranquil, and her demonical nature left her. She said to them: “O wise men, you are both fit to be worshipped by all and to be served by all. And, I have been thoroughly awakened by your holy company. One who enjoys the company of enlightened men does not suffer in this world, even as one who holds a candle in his hand does not see darkness anywhere. Pray, tell me what i can do for you.”

THE KING said:

    “O lady, in my cite many people suffer from rheumatic heart troubles. In the country there is also an epidemic of cholera. It is in order to investigate these and find a remedy for them that my minister and I came out of the palace tonight. My humble submission to you is this: do not take the life of any of my people. (Karkati at once acceded to the king’s request.) Now, please tell me, how shall i recompense you for your kindness and appease your hunger?”

KARKATI replied:

“Once I had the intention of engaging myself in penance in the Himalayas and giving up the body. But now I have given up that idea. I shall give you my biography. Once upon a time I was a demoness of gigantic proportions. I wished to devour people and with this intention performed penance. From the creator Brahma I obtained a boon, as a result of which I became a needle (and also the cholera virus); as such i brought untold misery to people. Brahma, however also evolved a mantra by which alone I am brought under control. Learn this mantra, and with its help you can enable people to get rid of the rheumatic heart troubles, also leukemia and other blood illnesses. I used to spread leukemia in such a way that it passed on by the parent to his children!”

   All the three of them then went to the bank of the river where the king received the mantra from Karkati; this mantra becomes effective by its repetition (japa)

The grateful KING said to Karkati: “O kind lady, now you have become my guru and friend. Friendship is valued by good people. Pray, assume a gentle and smaller form, and come to my palace and live as my guest. You need not afflict good people at all. But I shall feed you with sinners and thieves.”

   Karkati agreed. She became a charming young woman and accompanied the king to live as his guest. He entrusted theives and other criminals and sinners to her. At night every day she resumed her demonical form and consumed them. During the day-time she continued to be a charming woman- the friend and guest of the king. After her meal she would often go into samadi for a few years at a time, before returning to normal consciousness and normal life.

 

VASISTHA continued:

   Thus, Karkati lives even now protecting the king’s descendants. She was the daughter of a demon who resembled a crab (?). Demons are of many kinds and colours (white, black, green and red); and she was of the black kind. I told you the story, however, because I remembered her questions, and the king’s answers. In essence, even as the ramifications of the tree (with its leaves, flowers, fruits, etc.) extend from the seed in which there is no such diversification, the universe of diversity extends from the infinite consciousness.

   O Rama, by merely listening to my words you will be enlightened, there is no doubt in this. Know that the universe has arisen from Brahman and it is Brahman alone.

 

RAMA asked: If oneness alone is the truth, why then do we say, “By this, that is attained”?

 

VASISTHA replied:

   Rama, in the scriptures words have been used in order to facilitate the imparting of instruction. Cause and effect, the self and the Lord, difference and non-difference, knowledge and ignorance, pain and pleasure – all these pairs have been invented for the instruction of the ignorant. They are not real in themselves. All this discussion and argumentation take place only in and because of ignorance; when there is knowledge there is no duality. When the truth is known, all descriptions cease, and silence alone remains.

   Then you will realise that there is only one, without beginning and without end. But as long as words are used to denote a truth, duality is inevitable; however, such duality is not the truth. All divisions are illusory.

   I shall give you another illustration. Listen very carefully. By means of the potent medicine of my explanations, you will surely overcome the illness that afflicts your mind. This samsara (world appearance) is nothing but the mind filled with likes and dislikes; when it is free of them, the world-appearance too comes to an end. The consciousness in the mind is the seed of all subtances; and the inert aspect of the mind is the cause of the illusory appearance of the world. Because of the omnipresence of consciousness, the mind takes the form of the knowable and thus becomes the seed of the universe; the mind, like a child, imagines the existence of the world. When the mind is illumined it experiences the infinite consciousness within itself. I shall presently explain to you how this subject-object division arises.

 

VASISTHA continued:

    Once I asked the creator Brahma to tell me how this universe was first created. And he gave me the following reply.

 

BRAHMA said:

    My child, it is only mind that appears as all this. I shall tell you what happened to me at the beginning of this epoch. At the end of the previous epoch there was the cosmic night, and as soon as I woke at the end of that night I offered my mornings prayers and looked around, wishing to create the universe. I beheld the infinite void which was neither illumined nor dark.

    In my mind there was the intention to create; and in my heart I began to see subtle visions. There in my mind and with my mind I saw several seemingly independent universe. In them all I also saw my own counterparts-creators. In those universe I sw all kinds of beings, as also mountains and rivers, oceans and wind, sun and heavenly beings and the netherworld and the demons.

   In all these universes I also saw scriptures and moral codes which determine good and evil and heaven and hell; as also the scriptures that lay down the path to pleasure and the path to liberation. And I saw people pursuing all these different goals. 

    I saw seven worlds, seven continents and also oceans and mountains, all of them inexorably heading for destruction. I saw time and its divisions, right down to days and nights. I saw the holy river Ganga as it knit together the three worlds- the celestial region, the atmosphere, and the earth.

   Like a castle in the air, this creation shone extensively with its sky, earth and oceans. Looking at all this I was wonderstruck and puzzled: “How is it that I am seeing all these with my mind in the great void, even though I have not seen them with physical eyes?” I contemplated this problem for a considerable time and eventually I thought of one of the suns in one of the solar systems and requested him to come to me. I asked him the quest that was engaging my attention.

 

THE SUN replied:

O great one, beng the omnipotent creator of all this you are indeed the Lord. It is the mind alone that appears as all this ceaseless and endless creative activity, which, on account of nescience, deludes one into thinking that it is real or that it is unreal. Surely you know the truth, Lord: yet since you commanded me to answer your query, I say this.

 


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Nick Myers, a 28 year old serial blogger. Also minimalist, zen participant, philosopher, author of Emotional Alchemist, and tea disciple. I am one who sees a potential lesson in every experience in life. Life is who we are and life is our ultimate guru. I seek to bring us together through our own shared experiences. And hope to not only learn deeply who I am but to learn deeply who others are by dropping my ideas from moment to moment about you.

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Posted in Story
3 comments on “The Story of Karkati
  1. Leaves says:

    They will assess everything they have heard and seen and go with the story that feels right in their gut. Leaves

  2. Hannah says:

    Great blog and hope to have time soon to come back and read some more! xx

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