Maharaja Yadu once observed a certain brahmana avadhuta, who appeared to be quite young and learned, wandering about fearlessly. Being himself most learned in spiritual science, the King took the opportunity and inquired from him as follows.
Sri Yadu said: O brahmana, I see that you are not engaged in any practical religious activity, and yet you have acquired a most expert understanding of all things and all people within this world. Kindly tell me, sir, how did you acquire this extraordinary intelligence, and why are you traveling freely throughout the world behaving as if you were a child? Generally human beings work hard to cultivate dharma, artha, kama and moksha, and their usual motive is to increase the duration of their lives, acquire fame and enjoy material opulence.
You, however, although capable, learned, expert, handsome and most eloquent, are not engaged in doing anything, nor do you desire anything; rather, you appear stupefied and maddened as if you were a ghostly creature. we see that you are devoid of any contact with material enjoyment and that you are traveling alone, without any companions or family members. Therefore, because we are sincerely inquiring from you, please tell us the cause of the great ecstasy that you are feeling within yourself.
The Avadhuta said: My dear King, with my intelligence I have taken shelter of many masters. Having gained wisdom from them, I now wander about the earth in a liberated condition. Please listen as I describe them to you.
I have taken shelter with twenty-four gurus, who are the following: the earth, air, sky, water, fire, moon, sun, pigeon, python; the ocean, moth, honeybee, elephant, the deer, the fish, the prostitute Pingala, the kurara bird (Hawk), the child; the young girl, arrow maker, serpent, spider and the wasp. My dear King, by studying their activities I have learned the science of the self.
People when they are harassed should understand that things are happening helplessly under the control of providence, and thus he should never be distracted from progress on his dharma. This rule I have learned from the earth.
A wise man should learn from the mountain to devote all his efforts to the service of others and to make the welfare of others the sole reason for his existence. Similarly, as the disciple of the tree, he should learn to dedicate himself to others.
Every person is surrounded by innumerable material objects, which possess good and bad qualities. However, one who has transcended material good and evil should not become entangled even when in contact with the material objects; rather, he should act like the wind. Though the wind may carry various sweet and bad scents, it is never contaminated by it and the scent neither belongs to the breeze.
A thoughtful sage, even while living within a material body, should understand himself to be pure spirit soul. Similarly, one should see that the spirit soul enters within all forms of life, both moving and nonmoving, and that the individual souls are thus all-pervading. The sage should further observe that the Supreme Person as the Supersoul, is simultaneously present within all things. Both the individual soul and the Supersoul can be understood by comparing them to the nature of the sky: although the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within the sky, the sky does not mix with anything, nor can it be divided by anything.
Although the mighty wind blows clouds and storms across the sky, the sky is never implicated or affected by these activities. Similarly, the spirit soul is not actually changed or affected by contact with the material nature. Although the living entity enters within a body made of earth, water and fire, and although he is impelled by the three modes of nature created by eternal time, his eternal nature is never actually affected.
O King, a wise man is just like water because he is free from all contamination, gentle by nature, and by speaking creates a beautiful vibration like that of flowing water. Just by seeing, touching or hearing such a saintly person, the living entity is purified, just as one is cleansed by contact with pure water. Thus a saintly person, just like a holy place, purifies all those who contact him because he always chants the glories of the Lord.
Saintly persons become powerful by execution of austerities. Their firmness is unshakable because they do not have anything to do with the material world. Such naturally liberated sages accept foodstuffs that are offered to them by destiny, and if by chance they happen to eat contaminated food, they are not affected, just like fire, which burns up contaminated substances that are offered to it.
A wise man sometimes appears in a concealed form and at other times reveals himself like fire hidden in the woods. For the welfare of the jivatma who desire real happiness, a wise man may accept the worshipable position of guru, and thus like fire he burns to ashes all the past and future sinful reactions of his worshipers by mercifully accepting their offerings.
The various phases of one’s material life, beginning with birth and culminating in death, are all properties of the body and do not affect the soul, just as the apparent waxing and waning of the moon does not affect the moon itself. Such changes are enforced by the imperceptible movements of time.
Just as the sun evaporates large quantities of water by its potent rays and later returns the water to the earth in the form of rain, similarly, a wise man accepts all types of material objects with his material senses, and at the appropriate time, would return such material objects. Thus, both in accepting and giving up the objects of the senses, he is not entangled.
Even when reflected in various objects, the sun is never divided, nor does it merge into its reflection. Only those with dull brains would consider the sun in this way. Similarly, although the soul is reflected through different bodies, the soul remains undivided and nonmaterial.
One should never indulge in excessive affection or concern for anyone or anything; otherwise one will have to experience great suffering, just like the foolish pigeon.
There once was a pigeon who lived in the forest along with his wife. He had built a nest within a tree and lived there for several years in her company. The two pigeons were very much devoted to their household duties. Their hearts being tied together by sentimental affection, they were each attracted by the other’s glances, bodily features and states of mind. Thus, they completely bound each other in affection. Naively trusting in the future, they carried out their acts of resting, sitting, walking, standing, conversing, playing, eating and so forth as a loving couple among the trees of the forest. Whenever she desired anything, O King, the she-pigeon would flatteringly cajole her husband, and he in turn would gratify her by faithfully doing whatever she wanted, even with great personal difficulty. Thus, he could not control his senses in her association. Then the female pigeon experienced her first pregnancy. When the time arrived, she delivered a number of eggs within the nest in the presence of her husband. When the time was ripe, baby pigeons, with tender limbs and feathers created by the maya of the Lord were born from those eggs. The two pigeons became most affectionate to their children and took great pleasure in listening to their awkward chirping, which sounded very sweet to the parents. Thus with love they began to raise the little birds who were born of them. The parent birds became very joyful by observing the soft wings of their children, their chirping, their lovely innocent movements around the nest and their attempts to jump up and fly. Seeing their children happy, the parents were also happy. Their hearts bound to each other by affection, the foolish birds, completely bewildered by the maya of Lord Visnu continued to take care of the young offspring who had been born to them.
One day the two heads of the family went out to find food for the children. Being very anxious to feed their offspring properly, they wandered all over the forest for a long time. At that time a certain hunter who happened to be wandering through the forest saw the young pigeons moving about near their nest. Spreading out his net he captured them all. When the lady pigeon caught sight of her own children trapped within the hunter’s net, she was overwhelmed with anguish, and crying out, she rushed toward them as they cried out to her in return. The lady pigeon had always allowed herself to be bound by the ropes of intense affection, and thus her mind was overwhelmed by anguish. Being in the grip of the maya of the Lord, she completely forgot herself, and rushing forward to her helpless children, she was immediately bound in the hunter’s net. Seeing his own children, who were more dear to him than life itself, fatally bound in the hunter’s net along with his dearmost wife, whom he considered equal in every way to himself, the poor male pigeon began to lament wretchedly.
The male pigeon said: Alas, just see how I am now destroyed! I am obviously a great fool, for I did not properly execute pious activities. I could not satisfy myself, nor could I fulfill the purpose of life. My dear family which was the basis of my dharma, artha and kama is now hopelessly ruined. My wife and I were an ideal match. She always faithfully obeyed me and in fact accepted me as her worshippable Deity. But now, seeing her children lost and her home empty, she has left me behind and gone to heaven with our children. Now I am a wretched person living in an empty home. My wife is dead; my children are dead. Why should I possibly want to live? My heart is so pained by separation from my family that life itself has become simply suffering.
As the father pigeon wretchedly stared at his poor children trapped in the net and on the verge of death, pathetically struggling to free themselves, his mind went blank, and thus he himself fell into the hunter’s net. The cruel hunter, having fulfilled his desire by capturing the head pigeon, his wife and all of their children, set off for his own home.
In this way, one who is too attached to family life becomes disturbed at heart. Like the pigeon, he tries to find pleasure in mundane sexual attraction. Busily engaged in maintaining his own family, the miserly person is fated to suffer greatly, along with all his family members. . The doors of liberation are opened wide to one who has achieved human life. But if a human being simply devotes himself to family life like the foolish bird in this story, then he is to be considered as one who has climbed to a high place only to trip and fall down.
The Avadhuta said: O King, A living entity automatically experiences sorrow in heaven or hell. Similarly, happiness will also be experienced, even without one’s seeking it. Therefore a person of intelligent discrimination does not make any endeavor to obtain such material happiness.
The python never attempts to go in search of food. It accepts what happens to come of its own accord, whether such food be delicious or tasteless, ample or meager.
A wise man should remain peaceful and materially inactive, maintaining his body without much endeavor. Even though possessed of full sensual, mental and physical strength, the wise should not become active for material gain but rather should always remain alert to his actual self-interest.
A sage is happy and pleasing in his external behavior, whereas internally he is most grave and thoughtful. Because his knowledge is immeasurable and unlimited he is never disturbed, and thus in all respects he is like the tranquil waters of the unfathomable and unsurpassable ocean.
During the rainy season the swollen rivers rush into the ocean, and during the dry summer the rivers, now shallow, severely reduce their supply of water; yet the ocean does not swell up during the rainy season, nor does it dry up in the hot summer. In the same way, people sometimes will receive by providence great material opulence, and sometimes will find materially destitute. However, like the ocean never rejoice in a flourishing condition, nor feel morose when poverty-stricken.
One who has failed to control his senses immediately feels attraction upon seeing a woman’s form, which is created by the maya of the Supreme Lord. Indeed, when the woman speaks with enticing words, smiles and moves her body sensuously, his mind is immediately captured, and thus he falls blindly into the darkness of material existence and destroys himself just as a moth maddened by the fire rushes blindly into its flames.
Just as the honeybee takes nectar from all flowers, big and small, an intelligent human being should take the essence from everything.
The honey bee collects honey and stores it in excess out of greed. It never gets to use it, whereas the bee's are forcibly thrown out and the honey is enjoyed by others. Similarly the wise should not store more than what is required of him, which would only result in anxiety in protecting it and sorrow. A greedy person accumulates a large quantity of money with great struggle and pain, but the person who has struggled so much to acquire this wealth is not always allowed to enjoy it himself.
A sage should never touch a young girl. In fact, he should not even let his foot touch a wooden doll in the shape of a woman. By bodily contact with a woman he will surely be captured by illusion, just as the elephant is captured in a ditch by the attraction towards a she-elephant due to his desire to touch her body.
People given to self control should never go in search of sensual pleasures like listening to songs motivated by wordly desire music promoting material enjoyment. Rather, a saintly person should carefully study the example of the deer, who is bewildered by the sweet music of the hunter’s horn and is thus captured and killed. Attracted by worldly singing, dancing and musical entertainment of beautiful women, even the great sage Rsyasrnga, the son of Mrgi, fell totally under their control, just like a pet animal.
Just as a fish, incited by the desire to enjoy the taste of the bait is fatally trapped on the fisherman’s hook a foolish person is bewildered by the extremely disturbing urges of the senses and thus is ruined.
O son of kings, previously in the city of Videha there dwelled a prostitute named Pingala. Now please hear what I have learned from that lady. Once that prostitute, desiring to bring a lover into her house, stood outside the doorway at night showing her beautiful form. O best among men, this prostitute was very anxious to get money, and as she stood on the street at night she studied all the men who were passing by, thinking, “Oh, this one surely has money. I know he can pay the price, and I am sure he would enjoy my company very much.” Thus she thought about all the men on the street. As the prostitute Pingala stood in the doorway, many men came and went, walking by her house. Her only means of sustenance was prostitution, and therefore she anxiously thought, “Maybe this one who is coming now is very rich...Oh, he is not stopping, but I am sure someone else will come. Surely this man who is coming now will want to pay me for my love, and he will probably give lots of money.” Thus, with vain hope, she remained leaning against the doorway, unable to finish her business and go to sleep. Out of anxiety she would sometimes walk out toward the street, and sometimes she went back into her house. In this way, the midnight hour gradually arrived. As the night wore on, the prostitute, who intensely desired money, gradually became morose, and her face dried up. Thus being filled with anxiety for money and most disappointed, she began to feel a great detachment from her situation, and happiness arose in her mind.
The prostitute felt disgusted with her material situation and thus became indifferent to it. Indeed, detachment acts like a sword, cutting to pieces the binding network of material hopes and desires.
The Prostitute sang: Just see how greatly illusioned I am Because I cannot control my mind, just like a fool I desired lusty pleasures from an insignificant man. I am such a fool that I have given up the service of that person who, being eternally situated within my heart, is actually most dear to me. That most dear one is the Lord of the universe, who is the bestower of real love and happiness and the source of all prosperity. Although He is in my own heart, I have completely neglected Him. Instead I have ignorantly served insignificant men who can never satisfy my real desires and who have simply brought me unhappiness, fear, anxiety, lamentation and illusion. Oh, how I have uselessly tortured my own soul! I have sold my body to lusty, greedy men who are themselves objects of pity. Thus practicing the most abominable profession of a prostitute, I hoped to get money and sexual pleasures. This material body is like a house in which I, the soul, am living. The bones forming my spine, ribs, arms and legs are like the beams, crossbeams and pillars of the house, and the whole structure, which is full of stool and urine, is covered by skin, hair and nails. The nine doors leading into this body are constantly excreting foul substances. Besides me, what woman could be so foolish as to devote herself to this material body, thinking that she might find pleasure and love in this contraption? Certainly in this city of Videha I alone am completely foolish. I neglected the Supreme Person, who awards us everything, even liberation, and instead I desired to enjoy sense gratification with many men. The Supreme Person is absolutely the most dear one for all living beings because He is everyone’s well-wisher and Lord. He is the Supreme Soul situated in everyone’s heart. Therefore I will now pay the price of complete surrender, and thus purchasing the Lord I will enjoy with Him just like Laksmidevi. Men provide sense gratification for women, but all these men, and even the gods in heaven, have a beginning and an end. They are all temporary creations who will be dragged away by time. Therefore how much actual pleasure or happiness could any of them ever give to their wives? Although I most stubbornly hoped to enjoy the material world, somehow or other detachment has arisen in my heart, and it is making me very happy. Therefore the Supreme Person, Visnu, must be pleased with me. Without even knowing it, I must have performed some activity satisfying to Him. A person who has developed detachment can give up the bondage of material society, friendship and love, and a person who undergoes great suffering gradually becomes, out of hopelessness, detached and indifferent to the material world. Thus, due to my great suffering, such detachment awoke in my heart; yet how could I have undergone such merciful suffering if I were actually unfortunate? Therefore, I am in fact fortunate and have received the mercy of the Lord. He must somehow or other be pleased with me. With devotion I accept the great benefit that the Lord has bestowed upon me. Having given up my sinful desires for ordinary sense gratification, I now take shelter of Him, the glorious Narayana.
I am now completely satisfied, and I have full faith in the Lord’s mercy. Therefore I will maintain myself with whatever comes of its own accord. I shall enjoy life with only the Lord, because He is the real source of love and happiness. The intelligence of the living entity is stolen away by activities of sense gratification, and thus he falls into the dark well of material existence. Within that well he is then seized by the deadly serpent of time. Who else but the Supreme Person could save the poor living entity from such a hopeless condition? When the living entity sees that the entire universe has been seized by the serpent of time, he becomes sober and sane and at that time detaches himself from all material sense gratification. In that condition the living entity is qualified to be his own protector.
The avadhuta said: Thus, her mind completely made up, Pingala cut off all her sinful desires to enjoy sex pleasure with lovers, and she became situated in perfect peace. Then she sat down on her bed. Material desire is undoubtedly the cause of the greatest unhappiness, and freedom from such desire is the cause of the greatest happiness.
The avadhuta said: Everyone considers certain things within the material world to be most dear to him, and because of attachment to such things one eventually becomes miserable. One who understands this gives up material possessiveness and attachment and thus achieves unlimited happiness. Once a group of large hawks who were unable to find any prey attacked another hawk who was holding some meat. At that time the hawk gave up attachment to the piece of meat and experienced actual happiness.
In family life the elder people are always in anxiety about their home, children and reputation. But I have nothing to do with these things. I do not worry at all about any family, and I do not care about honor and dishonor. I enjoy only the life of the soul, and I find love on the spiritual platform. Thus I wander the earth like a child.
The Young girl
Once I noticed a young girl husking the grains, The bangles on her hands were continouosly making noise as she worked. So she broke all the bangles until only 2 bangles were left. Even this didn't stop from making noise, so she broke one of the bangle and continued working with a single bangle on her hand. From this I've learnt that if more people live together, there would be lot of disagreements which would create a lot of noise in our lifes, there would be noises even if its reduced to people. Therefore, to avoid conflict, one should live alone, as we learn from the example of the bracelet of the young girl.
The Arrow Maker
When one is concentrated on a particular task completely, other activities do not disturb him. The best activity in this world is to contemplate on the supreme, When we are established in the supreme bliss the three gunas do not disturb you. This I've realised noticing a arrow maker who was so immersed in making the arrow, that he did not even notice the king pass by.
People living in a temporary material body try to construct a happy home, the result is fruitless and miserable. The snake, however, enters a home that has been built by others and prospers happily.
The Lord of the universe, Narayana, is the worshipable God of all living entities. Without extraneous assistance, the Lord creates this universe by His own potency, and at the time of annihilation the Lord destroys the universe through His personal expansion of time and withdraws all of the cosmos, including all the living entities, within Himself like a spider builds a web and draws it within itself finally.
If out of love, hate or fear an embodied soul fixes his mind with intelligence and complete concentration upon a particular bodily form, he will certainly attain the form that he is meditating upon. O King, once a wasp forced a weaker insect to enter his hive and kept him trapped there. In great fear the weak insect constantly meditated upon his captor, and without giving up his body, he gradually achieved the same state of existence as the wasp. Thus one achieves a state of existence according to one’s constant concentration.
O King, from all these spiritual masters I have acquired great wisdom. Now please listen as I explain what I learned from my own body. The material body is also my spiritual master because it teaches me detachment. Being subject to creation and destruction, it always comes to a painful end. Thus, although using my body to acquire knowledge, I always remember that it will ultimately be consumed by others, and remaining detached, I move about this world.