The Play of Death
Time stands the foremost of all deceitful players in this world. He acts the double parts of creation and destruction, and of action and fate. The existence of time is known to us only through action and motion, which bind all beings (in the succession of thoughts and acts).
Fate is that which frustrates the acts of all created beings, like the heat of the sun serves to dissolve a snow pack. This wide world is the stage on which the giddy mob dances about (in their appointed times). Time has a third name of a terrifying nature known as Kritantah (Fate), who in the form of Kapalika (one holding human skulls in his hand) dances about in the world. This dancing and loving Kritantah (Fate) is accompanied by his consort called Destiny to whom he is greatly attached.
The sun and the moon are the golden armlets of time, who holds the mundane world in his palm like the paltry plaything of a flower bouquet. Before him his beloved Destiny with all her arts forever dances to beguile the living who are fond of worldly enjoyments. People hurry up and down to witness the dance of Destiny, whose unrestrained motion keeps them at work, and causes their repeated births and deaths.
Time repeatedly creates the worlds and their woods, with the different abodes and localities teeming with population. He forms the moveable and immovable substances, establishes customs and again dissolves them, as children make their dolls of clay and break them soon afterwards.
The Acts of Destiny
Such being the all destructive conduct of time and others, what confidence, O great sage, can men like me have in them? We all remain here, as slaves sold to Fate and Destiny, and we are deceived by their allurements as beasts of the forest.
This Fate whose conduct is so very inhuman is ever eager to devour all beings. He is constantly throwing men into the sea of troubles. He is moved by his malicious attempts to inflame minds with excessive desires, as the fire raises its flames to burn down a house.
Destiny, the faithful and obedient wife of Fate, is naturally fickle on account of her being a female. She is always bent on mischief and disturbing patience.
Our very senses are our enemies, before which even truth appears as falsehood. The mind is the enemy of the mind and self is the enemy of self. Self-esteem is stained, intelligence is blamed for its deception, our actions are attended with bad results, and our pleasures tend only to effeminacy. All our desires are directed to enjoyments. Our love of truth is lost, our women are the symbols of vice, and all that was once so sweet has become tasteless and vapid. Things that are not real are believed as real. They have become the cause of our pride by hardening us in untruth and keeping us from the light of truth.
What reliance can there be on men like us when even the demigods are liable to destruction, when the polar star is known to change its place, and when the immortal gods are doomed to mortality? What reliance can there be on men like us when the duration of time comes to be counted, when Destiny is destined to her final destiny, and when all emptiness loses itself in infinity?
The mind is stupefied within itself, and its contentment has fled. There is no rise of enlightened sentiments in it, and meanness makes the mind’s advance to enlightened sentiments only more distant.
That which is inaudible, unspeakable, invisible, and unknowable in his real form, displays to us these wonderful worlds by some fallacy. No one conscious of himself can disown his subjection to that Being that dwells in the hearts of every one. This sun, the lord of worlds, is compelled to run over hills, rocks and fields, like an inert piece of stone, hurled down from a mountain and carried away by a current stream. This globe of earth, the seat of all the suras and asuras and surrounded by a luminous sphere like a walnut is covered by its hard shell, exists under the His command. The gods in the heavens, the men on earth, and the serpents in the nether world are brought into existence and led to decay by His will only. Kama Deva, who is arbitrarily powerful and has forcibly overpowered the entire living world, derives his unconquerable might from the Lord of worlds.
Yet I know not why men of reason would not understand this truth. “This is a day of festivity, a season of joy and a time of procession. Here are our friends. Here are the pleasures and here are a variety of our entertainments.” Thus do men of vacant minds muse themselves with weaving the web of their desires, until they become extinct.
Excerpts from “Yoga Vasishta” by Sage Valmiki, translated by Vihari Lala Mitra