The Epic of Consciousness
by Swami Krishnananda

Part III

The worlds which are the planes above, beyond,
Have laws descending, slow to earthly mass.
In Brahmaloka, land of Virat, All,
Light enters light and all is everywhere,
Reacting one with other in the sea
Of God’s majesty in creation’s core.
No man, no thing, and none exists but All,
Where one is many and many is one.
The one is here and other, too, is here
Yet none is there, as here and there are one.
The one Majesty swells resistlessly
Beholding Itself as this wondrous vast,
Spirit ingressing into great Spirit.
In next descent which’s Tapoloka called,
Consciousness is of outward universe
Which’s “I am I”, yet Self beholding void,
Where fine potentials world’s are not designed
As Tanmatras the latent patterns hid
Of future forms as gross elementals
The third descent called Janaloka pure
Is dwelt by austere masters and sages
In world of forces, subtle Tanmatras,
Who in them live and in themselves do see
The whole creation in microcosmos.
These are the three where centres multifold
Are each in all, and all converge in each.
From Mahah down the tale of mind begins;
In Mahah knower stands to known opposed
As ‘I am I’ and ‘thou art thou,’ but, heark,
With transparence of self to other selfs,
And one is what the other is in full,
No gulf of sex as male and female forms,
Each is complete and none the other needs.
In Svah, Svarga, mind reacts on mind,
The mental forms of subtle sexes rise,
By mind contacting free from channelled sense.

As senses here in mind are wholly fixed
And shining forms on forms resplendent gaze.
It’s here at first that one the other owns
But, strangely, not as men belongings own.
The strangeness is that each can own the all;
While none is other’s, each is other’s yet.
The social chain by marriage which restrains,
Or ownership of tied-up property,
Is absent here where perfect system reigns
Community’s, and free are all with all.
The forms of men and women virgins stand
In midst of contacts though unending they,
Since wear and tear touch not this fiery realm
Of minds alone from body’s limits free.
The Loka down, Bhuvah, the astral field
Is grosser still, of rarefied mortals,
The moulds of dwellers who earth populate
As fine ingredients, men’s anterior frames.
Here removed are values community’s
And hard distinctions cleave persons and things,
Where each is itself and knows it as such.
The worst is yet; it’s Bhuh, the plane of earth,
In which the objects are elements gross,--
Ether, air, fire, water, earth they call,--
Which senses five collisioned seem to know.
On earth the senses strike on outward things,
But strike is scarce communion or knowledge.
The content ‘out’ does not unite as one
With knower’s being; so the world is out
As neither known nor possessed really.
The earth-life, thus, is all mortality,
It’s death that stalks the earth as human life.
Contraptions made as laws of governments,
Possession, wealth and ev’n marital bonds,
All man-made norms, hence doomed by basic flaw
Perish and vanish, as they exist not.
The life physical, brittle contrivance,
Is not in fact, save vortex destruction’s.
The whirligig of waking, dream and sleep
In brain-washed grasp the mortal does harass.
Exhaustion, decay, decomposition
Of concrete bricks which form the body’s clay,
Pollution, dirt, dependence head to foot,
Endless restraints for every hair and nail,
By toil varnished the joys of sensations,
Characterise this lowest Loka, earth.

When soul to extreme’s breaking point hazards.
And wholly clings to isolated forms,
Turning away attention from the Truth
Which holds together all as Single Life,
Powers above as gushing winds descend
To vacuous fields from concentrated points
The balance Dharma’s quickly to restore,
So that distractions, gross earth’s heritage,
Go not too far from laws of higher realms.
As Rama human comes normative might,
As Krishna bloom and glory truths divine.
As atoms fine and forces constitute
All things and objects as their core and self,
So realms higher indwell and constitute
The lower realms as substance and their self.
Highest is, thus, immanent as the Self
Of every region ranging down below.
As objects’core is not spatially high
So highest realm is all the realms at once.
This is to learn that God is high and low,
And also everywhere, distanceless whole.

To rise to heights is Yoga’s avowed aim,
To know that works are deeds of Highest Self
Which moves the gods of senses and of mind
By themselves naught, sans ego and its pride,
As ancient tale of war which gods did win
By which the Kena-named Upanishad
Highlights the greatness highest Truth’s in plain,
That gods are lifeless sans the Absolute,
And nothing is but That-Which-Is, the All.
‘Go, burn a blade of grass,’ so spoke the Great
To Agni who could turn the world to ash.
‘Blow up this blade,’ It Vayu bade with smile,
The god of Wind who mountains could uproot.
Who knows that leaves that drop from trees in breeze
Move not unless the High of highs ordains.
Ev’n hairs are counted, breaths are numbered well,
Tiniest movements are seen by winkless eyes
Which scan the earth and all creation’s plans.
When two in secret whisper unheard sounds,
The Great One seated in between unseen
Listens as thunder even minute moves.
Public is God and private thought futile,
That One is All; That One alone remains.

As Satyakama, son of Jabala
Learnt secret from Haridrumata sage,
In honest pursuit lofty aim to reach,
May seekers all from simple innocence
To state of Godward aspiration rise.
“Whose born am I, which lineage I come,
Mother dear, whose son, what blood am I,
For learning’s sake as student I do wish
To serve a master, deign to tell my name.”
When lad in earnest questioned parentage,
Jabala spoke, “As servant did I work
Much occupied, moving in early days;
Hence parentage I know not, what you are,
Go and declare, to Jabala thou born.”
The purest mind to sage betook in haste,
Presented himself student Vedic lore’s
And fell prostrate at master’s holy feet.
“Of what hierarchy parents’, lad, thou art,”
So sage queried the supplicating youth.

“I know not, sage. my lineage or blood,
My mother bore while serving much as maid,
Jabala’s son am Satyakama known,
With grace do teach, O puissant master sage.”

“No, none but purest brahmana thou sure,
This truth no other man would dare to speak.
Come, fetch the fuel, now I do accept
As holy learner secretest wisdom’s.
Four hundred cows here lean and unfed lie,
Take them to graze, and come not till they reach
A thousand robust milch-cows’ healthy state.”

To greens and thicks and wild attractions far
Did Satyakama drive the four hundred,
Who food and water restfulness required
In place secure from threat and toil for long.
Friendless, assistanceless and loveless lived,
In arid continence by force employed,
The boy deprived of sweet affection’s dose,
Save love-regard for teacher’s strict mandate
And hope for rain of light from high heaven.
To live in freedom from creditor’s eye
In early days of borrowed existence
Delicious looks, until the longish days
Release the gates for news credit’s to come,
And bitter potion with rejoicing mix,
When life is kind and life is also harsh,
The kindly friend is also raised up brow.
Demands of Nature like creditor’s bonds
Fear-fed freedom when resorted grant,
The body’s substance and its ploddings slow
Like waters rising seek the bunds to break.

The student, seeker, great disciple trod
The path of hopeful check creative call’s.
Did One become the two and then many,
And driving urge to multiply begin
Its dauntless march to find the self in forms?
The light of Sattva, Rajas-driven, goes
To plank itself in Tamas-bodies seen
And gobbles up the bodies as its food
Through eyes, ears, tongue, nose and tactile grasp
To digest body out contending real,
So that the One, the Self, alone is real.
The twigs and shrubs and barks to restrained taste 
As manna’s flood to Satyakama flowed,
The slightest shade was comfort’s canopy,
And self-respect was respect from the world,
The youth derived, or was in compulsion,
And time it takes to know where oneself stands.

Though mind is high the body pulls it down,
For body is the house that mind has built.
As grossness subtle’s body is of mind
When thoughts do rule rejecting body’s form
As abstractions and airy theories fare.
The inside cut from outside’s valid claims
Remains as dream bereft of real’s content.
As also is the outside’s excess call
Severed from inside’s requisitions
Is corpse bereft of life’s meaningful balm.
The seeker’s sorrow is self sundered twain,
As warring camps of mind’s and body’s needs.
The hungered person caught the ideal’s life
To snatch it off when limit’s norm it crossed.
To feed the body, feed the craze for fame
And feed learning’s fine appetite, the three
Are equal urges, streams of craving soul’s.

So years rolled in Satyakama’s quest
By ardent Tapas, but the cosmic forms
Which with the person were not reconciled
Poured down as showers from the formal realms
And down descended fairest fairies’ charms,
With dance and music and delightful shapes,
Intoxicants of mind and sense refined.
The more they move as student’s proximate
The more he loses consciousness of self
And enters whole the fabric forms present.
As raving bull inebriated gores,
The touch of these emboldened forms of light
Injects the bolt of maddened grip of joy,
And none who’s born would once resist such feasts.

But Satyakama, with the strength of self,
Outgrew this dish of nectar served by gods,
And hill-like stood in thunder, storm and rain.
Great glory this, to withstand cosmic tastes,
For who that’s man can Indra’s magic face.
The tempter’s wealth is yet in plenty store’s,
The wisest men have yet to pass a test.
“The world is vast, in ignorance and pain,
Thy duty is to pains ameliorate.
Renounce thy cares and care for others’ weal.
Thou bold and able well-equipped to serve
Redeem the world of mortals sunk in grief.
Why ask for freedom high heaven’s thyself
And selfish seek immortal’s seat for thee.
Go forth and serve, for thou hast high attained
The peak of glory Yoga’s way bestowed.
Be wise to work in thousand cycled births
Until the last of remnant reaches God.”
So struck the master juggler his trump-card
Inflaming ego’s name-demanding joys.
Who would resist enthroning oneself king,
Applauded, worshipped deified saviour,
To raise the trodden come as Godsend boon.

Here, Satyakama’s prudence weighed heavy
And pointed flaw in glory? name and fame,
For who on earth is sure as friend till doom,
In utter distress who is bosom friend
In world of people who remember wrongs
As truths immortal and the good ignore.
Conditioned friendship rules the human groups,
And unconditioned who on earth has heard.
Brittle as glass is human affection
Bereavement follows unions even strong.
As logs of wood on ocean’s surface meet
Do people meet as friends, relations, loves.
As logs depart when winds them cut apart
So loves perish and-dear, near fly.
What greatness, then, is sceptre emperor wields,
To dust he goes, from dust his body formed.
He spurned as worthless mortal power and love,
And sought to seek what further lay beyond.

When seekers cross this hurdle hard to scale,
Fears and cudgels upraised threats discharge,
Dread death that harbours elbow slowly crawls
With widened jaws to strike once and for all.
All austerity and all effort fades,
As dried up leaves they seem to drop on ground.
Disease and weakness thrall the person’s frame
Languishing body sinks to nether’s depths.
“Is this the all for which I strove so hard,
Tended the cows, obeyed master’s behests
And wrung out life of joy of basic needs?
Accursed is life that neither is nor not;
To live or die the same to man becomes.”
So quaking spoke the downcast searching soul.
But. lo, the wonder, night’s darkest ere morn.

The windows Nature abrupt opened lear,
Faces and tongues ejected from the trees,
Sermons from wind and fire solacing came,
Stones in the forest melted love’s caress,
The voice of gods and angels spoke beside,
The frame of earth and vault of sky lifted
Their cloaks of hardness and void’s emptiness,
Light flashed forth bright from every atom’s pore,
Service and kindness oozed from horizons.
Distances flew and things stood not apart,
Time rose to surge of timeless endurance.
The far off stars roll under one’s own feet,
One gets included in things spread out vast,
Is swept from ground to time’s eternity,
The person’s core disintegrates and flows
With all atmosphere radiant as the sun.
Interconnected web of cosmos breathes,
Interpenetrate planes with denizens,
One sees one’s own self simultaneously
In every place and all periods of time,
And sea-like swells the joy of creation,
Riches endless are spread in points of space,
Lo, his is universe, he himself is it.

The student now become a seer sage,
Returned to cottage where the Master dwelt,
In full fulfilment of stipulation
To bring a thousand cows now multiplied.
The Master, looking brightened face before,
Asked, “how thou blazest as if truth knowest.”
To which he answered “Master, none human
Ev’r instructed, this is the fact, sire.”
“Nothing remains, thou knowest secret’s core,
For angels taught thee as the forms they came,
All, then, is well; so be thou happy, free.”

“Master, I’m blest, thy grace on me do grant,
In forest life I lived a year hard,
With prayer and sincere obedience,
In concentration’s honest peak I reached,
But beauties first and threats I did confront;
Deign, Master, speak, what these visions could be.”

The Teacher went in detailed dilation
And pointed out how these phenomena
Present themselves to seeker’s seeking heart.
“Creation meant a split in universe
As if a half was torn away from half,
And here begins the mystery of love,
Which loves and hates at once a single form.
For halves are filled with longing for the whole
Which transcends both, but blinded by senses
See not the whole and see the half alone
As object cleaved by space and time between,
Thus love missing the very thing it loves,
With wrongful craving for the other half
Distraught with dislike since the ‘other’ stands
As cut from ‘me’ which wrongly fondness shows.
These urges sprung for union with the seen
Which is the half, the ‘other’ outside there,
Project the feature which is beauty called,
Attracting half to other half through eyes.
The threat thou speakest is the rage of wish
Which stands frustrated when the beauty buds
Receive not response from austerity.
None can resist these beauty’s temptations,
Since total whole is cause of halved psyches.
The threats do rise when shunning beauteous forms
Is engendered by force of will applied
Bereft of thought and understanding’s light.”

“Who are the angels who so tempting come
Or discharge visions fearsome from above?”
So Satyakama ‘gain queried the sage,
Who thus explained denizens of heaven.

“Above the earth and internal do live  
The joyous spirits in the astral wide.
But further still are gods and angels bright
Who matchless glory and puissance wield,
And shine as stars whose visage thou hast seen,
The worlds above, seven in ranging lights
Are dwelt by wondrous beauties and powers.”

The student asked, “Master, do souls that quit
This earth then pass to these heavenly worlds
And live rejoicing endless time in peace?”
“Yes; but not all ascend to these great heights,
Some do by stages, some suddenly rise,
But most return by pull of loves and hates
That beset mortals chained to earthly life.
Those that by gradual steps of ascent rise
Are first ignited by the light of Fire,
Then reach celestial and divine o’erlords
Of Day, Bright Half of month and Solar Half
Of sojourn northwards, then of whole year,
The Sun, the Moonlike Field of Stellar Mass,
Then Lightning which the gods rejoicing flash,
Where resplendent Divinity does face
The soul and leads it further by the hand
To Glory that Creator Lord bestows
For Freedom, Bliss and Living Ultimate.

“Thus stagewise move to soul’s liberation;
In Sadyo-mukti, abrupt waking frees
The self from bondage instantaneously.
Not one can reach with wanton senses this,
The goal supreme with restrained mind attained,
With sole awareness total being’s tuned
To All-awareness of creation’s core.

The rugged way though straight does winding move,
For involvement is one, yet multifold,
The law that is the truth of existence
Which strange eludes the grasp of mind and sense
Wriggles as though from its mighty content
And itself looks at itself as this world.
But all this wonder more than wonder reigns
Beyond the earth and reach of heaven high,
For who can gauge what event took place then,
Since none was there, not even space and time.
Being was not, non-being also not;
Darkness, they say, was all-engulfing then.
Liquid-like stood all universe and life;
A sea of seamless, shoreless abyss yawned
With countless points potential thence to sprout
As myriad stars self-shining in their core,
But encrusted with finitising trends
Which wildly cry for self-limitation
In forms which drive to more and more bondage
Of self-centeredness in gross hardened shapes.

“As ‘I-am-I’ if all creation feels,
That state can well be first-born God’s begot.
But who on earth can enfold such delight
Of all-ness which covers the distant stars
With lowest debris in one fast embrace;
But that was glory which possessed the all
When itself it possessed as loneliness.
The heaven’s ranges down they came thereat
As vibration, then space-time impulsion,
And then the sky, the air, the fire’s heat,
The water’s range, the hard substance,--the earth.
In seven stokes of grand descending steps
The Sovereign came from throne of King of Kings.
The play, the personnel and director
And audience at once That all became
In will’s fiat of grandeur’s grand command.

“The stars that shot from that ablazing light
The angels, gods of heaven did become,
But stood apart to sea of light behold
By themselves out from that brilliance placed.
This is the stage, the third, in descent’s role,
When gods and angels peopled all the skies
And heaven was, but earth was not yet born.
The gods sleep not, nor sweat, nor toil, nor eat,
They age not, but retain the grace of youth,
Fragrance exudes and thrill and throb from frames
Of force and light which gods ensoul above.
They marry not, and possess not, nor own
One another as family or clan,
But all in each as fluids commingle.
Immortal gods, immortal till the end,
When worlds are wound up at the end of time.
The range of gods in power rises slow
As realms ascend in stages sevenfold
Until the reach of power all supreme
Which Creator, the All-in-All, does wield.

“As mind awake suddenly drops to dream
And sees upside down facts of waking life
With seer turned to seen as objects press
And seen get turned to seer’s position,
So mortal bodies creatures enter frail
From atom down to plants and animals
And human forms and all who see beside.
The elements, the five, which God adorns
Become the chains, the hard and solid stuff
Which weigh down mind and soul and consciousness,
Till crushed they fall and bend below their knee,
To serve material matter’s forces cruel
And cringe before them as their bonded slave
When this befalls, the gods are beyond reach
High up somewhere in regions beyond ken;
And earth is ‘there’ and worlds are outside reach;
The systems stellar frightful soar in sky;
The winds blow hard, the sun does scorch and clouds
Erratic come and go as they do please
To pour or strike with unkind Nature’s wrath.
But, lo, much worse is there awaiting all
The icy hand of death which spares not one
To stifle life as its own hour and will.
These tragic scenes get unfolded at once
When self, the soul, stands outside creation
And looks at it as if it is outside.

“The earth revolves and round rotates with life,
The heavenly orbs do circumambulance
On fixed routes in fixed distances,
The solar centre rules with immense might
The fate of earth and all its satellites,
To give them form and functions determined,
In which regime, which sweeps the skies and earth,
All life we call the breath that creatures breathe,
And all the deeds and men’s performances
Stand stupefied in grips of transcendence,
Where hard it is to say if one exists
Or what exists at all in such a rule,
The hairs, the nails, the body cells and limbs,
The form, the movements, even thoughts and trends
Do get impelled from that Centre within,
The Centre of myriad centres high.
Thus One does think, and One does act and rule,
And One is all, which lives and moves as things.
In contemplation earth, then, is busy,
In contemplation sun and stars remain.
The whole is, then, a field of rigid pose,
Which is aware that it alone is all.

“Yet lowly groans the hapless soul in pain,
Which joy it thinks in worlds of icy death
That stalks all realms in giant’s striding thuds
Which shake the hearts as volcanoes the peaks.
Mortal thou art! lo, chained thou breathest sighs
In cold welcomes which thou receivest here.
Hunger and thirst, with fangs that strike as pangs
Of cruel Death’s messengers sans mercy,
And freezing grips of sunless air with nights
Which hid remain as facts of Nature’s core,
Since sun was not when dark, deep origins
Embalmed as mummies all creation’s seeds
In that distance when life was fast asleep,
Do story tell of dungeon’s agony.

“Can one a drop of honey suck and live
When yawning jaws of life’s impending end
Project their teeth in eager appetite?
The sorrow’s cause no one has yet unearthed,
As cause of all the causes houses him
Who vain attempts to know the cause of things.
God Almighty, the Truth behind all truths,
In all His glory reigned eternity.
He was, He is and He shall ever be.
The One that passeth all understanding,
The sombre magnificence slowly willed
And this became the plan of theatre
On which the parts to play are well outlined,
Until the wondrous colour, sound and sense
Emerged as cosmos ensouled by the One,
The First Vibration, which was Thought of God,
Condensed as forms in taste and touch and smell.
He sat alone and brooded vast as space,
Time flashed rapids as fierce tides of brine,
Galaxies jumped as babes roll down from wombs,
Solar and stellar blazes filled all sky,
The realms from earth above and below peeped
As fourteen-spiralled cosmic empire;--
On one side solid substance-sensations,
On other sense and mind-born sapience.
Betwixt these two He ranges judge-like force
Linking the two as sea connects the waves.
Then each of centres that beheld the forms
Rejoiced in touch and loss of self in greed
For things which outward organs could contact.”
With story of creation sage of old
Did thus regale the heart of seeking soul.