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Story Time :

==== A STORY FROM YOGA VASISHTHA THAT ILLUSTRATES THE RELATIVITY OF SPACE - TIME
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Introduction :
The Yogavasishtha, abounds in an extensive treatment of the nature of the world
in terms of space and time and propounds the amazing doctrine that space and tim
e are not realities in themselves but appearances relative to experience. It tea
ches that space and time are ultimately constructions of thought and are depende
nt on thought. One cannot conceive of space and time when the functions of the m
ind are inhibited, or where no consciousness seems to operate. It is possible fo
r different persons existing in different orders of reality to experience the sa
me world as being possessed of different space-time significance.
The reality of space and time, and the stability, order and meaning of the thing
s of the world change, according to the Yogavasishtha, in different space-time r
ealms. There can be no experience of space without the individualisation of cons
ciousness. Space is a mode of perception by the individualised observer. Where i
ndividuality is not, space also is not. The perception of space is relative to t
he activity of the mind. Under different conditions, different orders of space c
an be perceived by the same mind. Even a small area of space can appear to the m
ind, under certain circumstances, as a vast extension, or a kingdom itself. The
mind in the state of dream, for example, experiences a universe with its own spa
ce and time. The dream world has all the characters and structural qualities of
the waking world, and yet the two realms are different from each other. We also
know that, even in this world, the mind can perceive a thing as what it is not.
Two-dimensional pictures can be made to rouse the idea of a three-dimensional re
gion of great immensity. The mind can project forth space in accordance with the
condition in which it is. The idea of time, again, is dependent on the idea of
space. In fact, the concepts of space and time rise simultaneously, and as spati
al characters are relative to states of mind, so are time characters. A moment o
f time can appear to the mind as a long universal cycle, and the latter, again,
can appear to it as a moment under certain given conditions. Whatever is the nat
ure of the objective condition to which consciousness is related, that alone app
ears to it as reality. When consciousness is switched on to the idea of a moment
, even an age can be passed as a moment, while, when it is identified with the i
dea of a long period of time, even a moment can be experienced as such. The natu
re of the experience of space and time depends upon the manner in which the cons
ciousness happens to be objectively modalised. Persons who are in a depressed st
ate of mind or who are in deep sorrow are apt to feel that a moment of time is l
ike a year, while those who revel in happiness would feel the contrary. Space an
d time are ultimately conditions of consciousness and are not independent of it.
In the dreaming state experiences ranging over thousands of years can be underg
one in a moments time, while, at the same time, the mind in this state can also p
roject a moments experience into a history of several years. In the state of inte
nse spiritual contemplation and Samadhi, space and time are transcended, and onl
y pure consciousness reveals itself. In this consciousness the entire universal
cycle is said to appear and disappear within the millionth part of a moment. Spa
ce is the way in which the mind knows things as having extension, and time is th
e feeling of the succession of internal states reacting to those of events outsi
de.
The Story :-
The relativity of space and time, the ultimate ideal character of the world and
the presence of worlds within worlds are picturesquely illustrated in the follow
ing remarkable story narrated in the Yogavasishtha:
There was a king called Padma who ruled over this earth. He had a queen, by name
Lila. Due to her intense devotion to her lord, Lila wished that her husband sho
uld be exempted from death. With this in view she once invited the wise men of t
he city and questioned them as regards the possibility of freeing her husband fr
om mortality. The wise mens reply was that no one in the world can ever be free f
rom the clutches of death, for all that is born is bound to die. Disappointed at
this, Lila began to propitiate the goddess Sarasvati. The goddess, being please
d, asked Lila what she wanted from her as a boon. Lila said in reply that, if he
r husband was to quit his body before her own demise, his soul might remain with
in her own room even after its departure, and not go outside anywhere. The godde
ss granted the boon and, adding that she would be present before Lila any time s
he thought of her, disappeared from sight. In course of time, the death of Padma
occurred, and Lila was sunk in sorrow. A voice from an invisible source proclai
med to Lila that there was no need to grieve over her husbands death, that his so
ul was inside her own room, and that his body should be preserved well until the
time when his soul would vivify it again. Lila felt happy, meditated on the god
dess Sarasvati, and instantly Sarasvati appeared before her. Lila questioned the
goddess as to where her husband was living at that time. The goddess answered t
hat the soul of Padma was within the room, but in a different world of space and
time, which was subtler than this present world in which Lila was living. The g
oddess explained to Lila the way in which worlds exist within worlds, interpenet
rating but without affecting one another. The one is absent to the other, though
the one may exist within the other. But one who wishes to have a knowledge of t
he other worlds may, by extraordinary powers, obtain it. Hearing this, Lila cher
ished a desire to see personally the world in which her husband was living after
his death. The goddess provided Lila with the necessary psychic equipment with
which to enter the subtler realm and perceive the objects and events there as it
s denizen.
The goddess Sarasvati and Lila, by supernatural powers, entered the world of Pad
ma, which he had gained as a result of his previous Karmas. Sarasvati and Lila,
when they entered the new world, found that the king was sixteen years old and w
as ruling over a vast kingdom of his own, though Padma had died only a few hours
before their arrival in this new kingdom. Lila was wonderstruck to have this ma
rvellous experience, for she could not understand how one could be sixteen years
old within the period of a few hours and how a vast kingdom could exist within
the limited space in a room. Sarasvati tried to dispel the doubts of Lila by exp
laining to her that worlds can exist even in an atom, that space and time are no
t limited to any single order of perception, that there are different spaces and
times and that there are different worlds of different kinds, each governed by
the special laws of its own space and time. The events that take place in a mome
nt in a particular world may occur in a long universal cycle in some other world
. In dream, one may experience the vicissitudes of a whole life in a moment. The
same rule applies to other worlds also. Lila was in a state of consternation wh
en she heard such startling things, but Sarasvati increased her dismay by tellin
g her that she and her husband Padma were actually a Brahmin couple reborn after
the latters death which occurred only eight days before at some other place. And
during this week Padma had ruled over his kingdom for fifty years and died. Sar
asvati added that there was a Brahmin called Vasishtha living with his wife Arun
dhati. One day, the Brahmin happened to witness the procession of a king and dev
eloped a desire in his mind to enjoy the pleasures of a king. It so happened tha
t the Brahmin died the same day, leaving the desire unfulfilled. The Brahmins wif
e had received a boon that the soul of her husband, in case he died before her,
should not go outside her house, and that she should live with her husband forev
er. Stricken with grief, Arundhati entered the funeral pyre of her husband and b
urnt herself. Sarasvati said that all this happened only eight days ago, and tha
t Vasishtha and Arundhati were reborn as Padma and Lila. The kingdom of Padma an
d Lila was then declared to be within the house of Vasishtha and Arundhati, and
the new kingdom of Padma after his death to be within the room of Lila. What cou
ld be more terrifying to Lila than this? Sarasvati, in order to verify the facts
in the presence of Lila, took her to the realm in which Vasishtha and Arundhati
lived, where they saw the sons of the Brahmin couple wailing over the deaths of
their parents. Lila actually saw the house of the Brahmin family and was inform
ed by those then present that the death of the pious couple took place only a we
ek ago. Lila developed immediately a desire to know all her previous births, and
by the grace of Sarasvati she obtained this knowledge of her entire past histor
y beginning from creation itself.
Sarasvati and Lila then returned to the kingdom of Viduratha, which was the name
of Padma as king after his rebirth. To the surprise of Lila, Viduratha was foun
d to be seventy years old then. He had married a queen, by name Lila. Due to his
intense desire to live with his consort, Padma, in his present birth, too, obta
ined a queen of the same name, with the same qualities. Sarasvati and Lila calle
d Viduratha in private and reminded him of his previous life as Padma. The king,
due to his knowledge of his past birth, wished to become Padma again, and his p
resent queen, who may be called Lila II, also wished to follow Viduratha in his
future life as well, and asked for a boon to that effect from Sarasvati. After a
time, the kingdom of Viduratha was invaded by enemies and there was a fierce ba
ttle fought between the contending armies. In the battle, Viduratha was killed,
and his soul which had not gone out of the room of Lila I, entered the corpse of
Padma, and there Padma rose up again as the ruler of his previous kingdom. He b
egan to have the consciousness of the new realm and found also the two Lilas sta
nding before him as his queens, whom he had obtained as a result of the intensit
y of his desires. Padma then lived happily as a king with the two Lilas as his q
ueens. The life of Viduratha, extending over seventy years, was lived in a singl
e day after the death of Padma.
This story is intended to illustrate the fact that spaces and times are many and
are related to their experiencer. All our experiences are the results of our pr
evious desire-impressions. Ones birth, death and the environment in which one liv
es are all the direct consequences of the patterns of ones desires. There is no s
uch thing as a static and unconditioned world which can be valid for all people
and for all times. The reactions to ones previous actionsmental, verbal or physica
lmaterialise themselves as conditions of objective experience for the agent of th
ose actions. Each ones world is made up of his own desires, though the material o
f that world may be drawn from any objective realm which may be equally real to
many others who, too, happen to be born in that world due to the similarity of c
onditions which they are expected to experience.
" Om Shanti Shanti Shanti"