Yogi Stories 9
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Once on a time there was nothing but a solitary sea. In that undisturbed desolation slept the God Narayana (Visnu), supreme person, lying on the bed that was the serpent Sesa. Visnu had 1,000 heads, 1,000 feet and 1,000 arms. Wearing a yellow robe, he was large-eyed, as he lay asleep.
Once during his sleep there arose in play from his navel a pure lotus, wondrous and core of the three worlds. Spreading out, bright as the morning sun, it had a heavenly fragrance.
The lord Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) approached that place where the Archer (Visnu) had been lying for a long time. Brahma said, "Tell me who you are, lying hidden here in darkness in this dreadful, desolate, solitary sea."
Visnu spoke with a voice that was deep as the rumbling of a cloud. "I am origin and dissolution of the worlds, the supreme person. See inside me the whole world, the seven seas, and also yourself!"
Visnu went further, saying, "And who are you?" even though he knew it full well.
Brahma answered, "I am creator and ordainer, the self-existent great-grandfather. In me is everything established, I am Brahma who faces in all directions."
Visnu, whose power is his truth, entered into the body of the four-faced Brahma by yoga. Seeing all three worlds with gods, demons, and men in the belly of the god, he was astonished. Then Visnu emerged from Brahma's mouth and said, "Now do the same trick to me."
Brahma did it, and roamed around inside Vishnu. He saw no end or limit. After some time Brahma found passage through the navel. Then Brahma, the one born from a golden egg, displayed himself on the lotus and shone there, resting. [Clh 30-31, abr.]
Long ago, when everything was lost in that one awful sea, Siva himself appeared in order to awaken Brahma and myself. Where was only this dreadful undifferentiated sea made up of darkness in the middle of which I myself, with one thousand heads, lay sleeping. Meanwhile I saw at a distance a god of boundless light, and shining like ten million suns, circled by lustre, the four-faced One whose yoga is great.
In the twinkling of an eye, glorious Brahma himself came to me and smiled as he spoke, "Who are you? Why are you here? Why are you staying here? Tell me, for I am the creator of the worlds, the self-existent great-grandfather."
I answered, "It is I who am creator and destroyer of these worlds time and time again."
While the argument was going on like this, a matchless linga by the illusion of the supreme god. The self of that linga was Siva displayed for awakening. It was wreathed with garlands, without beginning, middle or end.
Then the unborn Brahma said to me: "Go quickly downward; I will go upwards. Let us discover the limits of this.
Having made this agreement, the two of us went quickly upwards and downwards, but for a hundred years could find no end to it. Amazed and frightened, confused by the illusion of the lord who carries a trident, we called to mind the great sound OM (Aum) that is the transcendent syllable, and praised the matchless One.
And then the Supreme became manifest. He shone forth, brilliant as ten million suns. Sun, moon, and fire were his eyes (etc.). He stood there, making a sound like kettledrum of clouds and said:
"I am pleased. See that I am the greatest god. You two were produced from my limbs ages ago."
Then the great one embraced Brahma and me and we felt very pleased of heart. [Clh 205-6]
[The end of that abbreviated story]
Vivekananda thinks that those ancient tales speak of yoga experiences, that is, experiences to be encountered in (some forms of) yoga. As you may notice, different myths put different gods in the high seat: it is called henotheism (Max Mü:ller) and monolatry (to be preferred) [Ebu "henotheism"].
Clh: Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978.
Ebu: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009.
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