Articles


Chudala

by
Swami Veda Bharati

METAPHYSICAL STORIES FROM THE YOGAVASISHTHA
THE NARRATIVE OF CHUDALA

Yogavasishtha is a Sanskrit work, over sixteen centuries old, consisting of approximately 26,000 verses, narrating highly metaphysical stories in beautifully poetic language. In fact, its 55 stories serve only as a skeleton for a profound philosophy of consciousness. All the stories explain the theme of many levels of reality, so that the characters in the stories act on many levels of space, time and cosmic volition. The story below is a summary of 3,288 verses of philosophy, propounded in 24 chapters titled the Narrative of Chudala.

Once upon a time there was a king named Shikhidvaja. (From here on we shall call him the king.) He married a beautiful woman named Chudala who was more accomplished in wisdom than him. After they had enjoyed their youthful passions and desires with each other for a long time, they realized that:

Youth passes like water dripping little by little

from a pot that has a tiny hole.

It disappears like waves that rise mighty and then vanish.

Death comes as certain as the fall of a ripe fruit.

Only the craving grows like a vine after the rainy season,

while the youth is on just for a while

like a mountain river that comes into flow

only during the monsoons.

Life is unreal like a magic show.

Let us look for something lasting, permanent, real.

Let us go after knowledge of the true Self.

Thereafter they paid their attention entirely to the medicine of the disease called the worldly cycles. Knowing that this plague that catches all has only one remedy – self-knowledge – they talked only of this matter between themselves.

The verses thus continue, but we shall try to make the long story short. The King was anguished and felt that she had gone somewhat insane and all the Queen’s efforts to bring realization to him failed. While she experienced the natural awakening of the Kundalini, the King went on as it were, measuring empty space by fistfuls. While she gave up all claims, out of naturally awakened wisdom, to being or non-being, to this or that, her husband made much endeavor to find the Truth, but failed. With her Realization, her powers grew. While in her husband’s arms, she would also wander suddenly to hills and mountains and return like lightning even before he could realize that she was gone, but the King always thought of her as "My little woman, my ignorant housewife, oh so lovable." She, too, refrained from exhibiting her powers to her husband who was yet unqualified, for he could not dream of receiving knowledge from his own "little wife."

The King undertook many acts of asceticism and austerity, practiced meditation in lonely places, gave much charity, tried many fasts, looking for a remedy for this disease called the worldly cycle. Finally he declared his intentions to his wife to abandon his royal duties to go into a forest and live as a hermit. He said he now loved the forest environment as much as he had once loved her; for the way the mind can be turned off in the solitude of the forest is like no other place.

The Queen tried to argue with him and said it was not yet time to leave his administrative duties; that he should not become responsible for creating anarchy in his kingdom by leaving the nation uncared for.

Especially Chudala’s discrimination grew, day by day, and she found that neither the body nor the senses nor the mind nor ego could be the True Self, but that the True Self is the Pure Consciousness Principle. Then suddenly enlightenment came to her and she declared:

All these; the Mind, Intellect and Senses,

All the plays of Consciousness

Unreal by themselves, as if a second moon,

a mere reflection

Only the great Consciousness is the great Existence

Oh how long it has been since I knew this

and have discovered this again!

There is neither this nor I, nor anything else, separate;

All is tranquil, one and Supreme.

And so she lived in peace in the state of indescribable joy, but the King, who was yet far from the goal they had chosen together, could not understand what she was so happy about. While her beauty grew, his anxiety knew no end, and he questioned her:

As if regaining your youth again in this old age,

As if you have drunk the essence of the drink of immortality,

Growing more and more beautiful and glorious daily,

My dear one, what is it you have found?

Your mind has become so even, yet vigorous,

Tranquil and without craving,

Counting the three worlds like a blade of straw;

As is an impenetrable ocean of milk,

Your mind is filled with some strange bliss.

Though your limbs are exactly the same, tender and small,

Yet somehow you have grown.

Have you truly found Amrita or something else

That is even greater than the three worlds?

And she replied:

Neither something nor nothing have I abandoned

As I stand here before you. And thus have I gained this glory. By giving up all, I have found it All, Thus do I stand in glory. Now I know the truth of that something which is nothing Thus do I stand in glory. Contented with enjoyments unenjoyed, Neither pleased nor anguished, Thus do I stand in glory. Alone in the inner space, in the absolute heart I rejoice; I no longer delight in royal games, Thus do I stand in glory, I am this, I am not all this; I am real and I really am not. I am All and I am nothing.

Thus do I stand in glory . . . .

"When the time is ripe, we will go together," she said. But he said, "Oh, no, we could not go together. Those forests and hermitages are not for women. Now, you listen to me and obey me," he said. "Just stay here and take care of the kingdom after I am gone."

She could not agree, so in the middle of the night, he told her he was leaving for Virayatra. It was a custom that the King would often wander incognito in his Kingdom to inspect the efficiency of the administration in providing law and order and to render any help, unrecognized, to any citizen in need. But he actually went to live as a hermit. He went on making pilgrimages and again practicing many austerities, but to no avail.

Meanwhile the Queen had announced to the Ministers that the King had left on a secret journey,, leaving her in authority. From then on she carried on the work of the kingdom, and through her yogic power she also discovered the royal hermit’s hideout. Using only her subtle body, she traveled to the King’s abode, and remaining unseen, saw that there was still no peace in the King’s mind. Self-realization was still far away for him, and so out of compassion, she decided to help him to attain the Highest Enlightenment.

Now, one of the first rules for a guru is to avoid whatever a would-be disciple would resist. Queen Chudala knew that he would not receive knowledge from her, a "mere wife," so she took the form of a youthful sage, the son of a rishi. For a great yogi there is no problem changing into such forms. The King saw this young man coming to his cottage and welcomed him. The acquaintance became a friendship, and the two became regular companions. The youth was named Kumbhaja.

The Queen was at the same time running the Kingdom in her Chudala form, and was also visiting the King for metaphysical discussions in the form of this youth. The discussions gradually began to open the King’s mental eye and he asked to be taken into the youthful sage’s discipleship.

Chudala, in her alter ego, continued to instruct him until the King finally realized that though he had given up his Kingdom, his country and his wife, yet he had abandoned nothing, because there was now in his mind the thought of my forest, my hermitage, my renunciation. He burned his hermitage to the ground and yet Kumbhaja was not satisfied. Kumbhaja said that burning the hermitage, too, was an act of attachment. Gradually, the King was free of this attachment and false renunciation. He learned that just cutting the branches and twigs of the mind would not suffice. He learned to cut the very root of the mind through the meditation process and learned that the entire universe was his own meditation. He declared:

Oh, the view of the divisions of the worldly objects

The multitude of acts, incalculable of space, time, and sequence.

It has taken me so long to pacify it all.

But now I remain in the tranquil Brahman, the Immutable Self.

I go to peace. I blow out. I become still.

I go nowhere. I neither rise nor sit. I stand still,

The Self resting in the Self, benevolent, beautiful.

I am a purifying Silence.

Now it was time for him to be tested: The young handsome sage Kumbhaja, who was Chudala herself, came to the King one day with a troubled expression. The King asked, "Why are you, a Self-Realized being, in a state of suffering?" Kumbhaja said that he was almost ashamed to tell him, but had no alternative.

"As I was coming from the celestial world to see you, I saw the celestial sage, Durvasas, who is known for his quick and sharp anger. Durvasas was dressed in some very strange clothing and seeing him I couldn’t help but laugh, and I said, "Durvasas, excuse me but you are dressed like a woman." Durvasas got very angry and immediately placed a curse on me, and said, "I, a woman! Well, from now on it will be you who will become a woman every night, while remaining a man in the day." I don’t even want to go back to my celestial home, so embarrassed am I."

The King said, "So what? The man and the woman are not of the true Self, the true Self is neither masculine nor feminine. What happens to the male and female bodies is of no concern to the inner life force. If you do not wish to go back to your heavenly world until this curse has passed, you may stay with me."

From then on Kumbhaja lived with the King, remaining a man in the day, and at the same time, serving as the Queen in the Kingdom, and sleeping in the same bed with the King in a female form, named Madanika, at night. The King, who was above maleness and femaleness, was not concerned with the fact that he was sharing his bed with a woman.

It was time for further testing: Kumbhaja in his lady form, Madanika, one night approached the King and said: "I am a healthy woman, I have been living here with you for so long, and I have such strong passionate urges that a woman has for a man. We have been companions and friends and there is no greater joy in the world than to have a male-female companionship between two persons of like mind. I will not rest in peace unless you and I have a happy wedlock."

The King replied, "So far as I am concerned, it makes not the slightest difference to me, for I am the Pure Self. If I live with a woman or marry her and satisfy her desires, it would be only for her satisfaction, while my Pure Self is completely untouched. For your happiness I shall marry you. And so one full moonlit night they married, and in the day the royal hermit had the company of a handsome young man and at night he had a wife, and yet, while doing everything possible to keep Madanika happy, he remained completely untouched in his spiritual being.

While his body and senses did their natural duties, the Pure Self remained tranquil.

Now Chudala created from her yogic powers the figure of Indra, King of paradise, and Indra and the other celestial deities appeared before the King, praising his knowledge and spirituality. He said that the King should now leave this world of ordinary mortals and come enjoy the pleasures of paradise, but the King said, "What other paradise is there than what is in the Self? The contentment of the Spirit is a greater paradise than any and I have no desire for any other celestial pleasure."

Indra went his way, and the hermit’s life continued until something further developed. One evening while the King was gone for meditation on the banks of the river, Chudala created a very handsome youth. The King returned after dark and saw her in the arms of this handsome youth, lost to the world! The King quietly turned away so as not to disturb their happiness. For him it was a matter of no concern whatsoever. But as Madanika realized that the King was there, she freed herself and fell at her husband’s feet and apologized profusely. But the King told her that it is natural for human beings to develop affection.

So whatever she had down could not surprise him. He could no longer be her husband, but she was welcome to share his cottage with her new-found husband. He thereafter treated Kumbhaja-Mandanika with the same friendship as before and promised a home to Madanika’s new husband as well. It was then that Mandanika suddenly appeared in her natural form as Chundala. The King’s enlightenment was now complete. Thereafter they rulled the Kingdom together, following the dharma of the Kshetriya caste.

Chundala declared:

I have no desire for enjoyment, nor for powers,

I live in Self-nature, accepting whatever comes.

Neither actions, nor this kingdom, nor even paradise

Lead me to any pleasure.

I remain without any agitation, whatever may happen.

This is pleasant, this unpleasant –

Such dichotomy has now vanished.

All is even to me as I dwell in tranquility.

The King agreed:

Rightly have you stated this, Chudala.

Keeping or renouncing a kingdom are just the same to me.

So free of thoughts of pleasant or unpleasant,

We shall dwell together in Self-nature,

doing what is now at hand.

11 Comments

  1. ARTHUR SOHAN. K

    Lovely message of self realization and approach to life with goal of divine love.

  2. Ajay kumar

    Thank you Swami Ji

  3. Vijay Nair

    My eyes scanned the horizon
    They just had to be closed
    Ears strained to catch
    Notes of a temple afar
    I touched the Lord and revelled
    A perfect end to my prayer
    But i sorely miss the fragrance
    Of the thousand pettaled bloom–

  4. Swati Iyer

    Thank you Swamiji for such a profound yet simplified translation of spiritually pregnant YV works. We are nowhere yet like the King & the Queen but through this story we can overcome little little trials and tests that God puts us only for our betterment. The constant meditating thought I AM the SELF then nothing can bother us & affect us just like the King later when he was to put to test offering paradise, bodily desires, hurt from his (second) wife…nothing could affect him and he still was in tranquility; that purity & peace should be achieved & gained by us. Difficult but not impossible!!!

  5. Manoj Kumar

    Thanks Pujay Swamiji how the nice poetry way you explained.wonderful!!! great!!!

  6. Bharti Pant

    This is real knowledge. Thank you Swamiji for explaining this story.

  7. Subhanwita Bhowal

    A very interesting and useful story for all the seekers to understand how the nature of tranquility is..

  8. Rahul Mishra

    Thank you Swamiji for sharing this very interesting read. My own state of mind is similar to the King’s. I feel as though I am at the shore of this endless ocean that I need to cross – but I know that with your guidance and blessings I will do it.

  9. Digambar Suresh Bharati

    Very beautiful site, pujya Swamiji. Chetanji sent me this page. Thanks Chetan ji.

  10. Richard Parenti

    Quote: “He learned to cut the very root of the mind through the meditation process and learned that the entire universe was his own meditation.”

    What type of meditation did he udo to cut out ther root? Or how did he do this?

  11. Rashmi

    What a creative intricately woven yet revealing mythology. The rich heritage of our past is unfathomable. Surely lures you to search for the hidden.

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