Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 2 - Chapter 16

Chapter XVI

Ribhu returns to his disciple, and perfects him in divine knowledge. The same recommended to the Rājā by Bharata, who thereupon obtains final liberation. Consequences of hearing this legend.

"AFTER the expiration of another thousand years, Ribhu again visited the city where Nidāgha dwelt, to instruct him farther in true wisdom.

When he arrived near the town, he beheld a prince entering into it, with a splendid retinue; and his pupil Nidāgha standing afar off, avoiding the crowd; his throat shrivelled with drought, and bearing firewood and holy grass from the grove.

Ribhu approached him, and saluting him reverentially (as if he was a stranger) demanded why he was standing in such a retired spot.

Nidāgha replied: 'There is a great crowd of people attending the entrance of the king into the town, and I am staying here to avoid it.'

'Tell me, excellent Brahman,' said Ribhu, 'for I believe that thou art wise, which is here the king, and which any other man is.'

‘The king,' answered Nidāgha, is he who is seated on the fierce and stately elephant, vast as a mountain peak; the others are his attendants.'

‘You have shown me,' observed Ribhu, 'at one moment the elephant and the king, without noticing any peculiar characteristic by which they may be distinguished.

Tell me, venerable sir, is there any difference between them? For I am desirous to know -which is the elephant here and which is the king.'

'The elephant,' answered Nidāgha, 'is underneath; the king is above him. Who is not aware, Brahman, of the relation between that which bears and that which is borne?'

To this Ribhu re-joined:

'Still explain to me, according to what I know of it, this matter: what is it that is meant by the word underneath, and what is it that is termed above?'

As soon as he had uttered this, Nidāgha jumped upon Ribhu, and said:

'Here is my answer to the question you have asked: I am above, like the Rājā; you are underneath, like the elephant. This example, Brahman, is intended for your information.'

“Very well,' said Ribhu, you, it seems, are as it were the Rājā, and I am like the elephant; but come now do you tell me which of us two is you; which is I.'

"When Nidāgha heard these words, he immediately fell at the feet of the stranger, and said:

Surely thou art my saintly preceptor Ribhu, the mind of no other person is so fully imbued with the doctrines of unity as that of my teacher, and hence I know that thou art he.'

To this Ribhu replied:

'I am your preceptor, by name Ribhu, who, pleased with the dutiful attention he has received, has come to Nidāgha to give him instruction: for this purpose have I briefly intimated to you divine truth, the essence of which is the non-duality of all.'

Having thus spoken to Nidāgha, the Brahman Ribhu went away, leaving his disciple profoundly impressed, by his instructions, with belief in unity.

He beheld all beings thenceforth as the same with himself, and, perfect in holy knowledge, obtained final liberation.

"In like manner do thou, oh king, who knowest what duty is, regarding equally friend or foe, consider yourself as one with all that exists in the world.

Even as the same sky is apparently diversified as white or blue, so Soul, which is in truth but one, appears to erroneous vision distinct in different persons.

That One, which here is all things, is Achyuta (Viṣṇu); and there is none other than him. He is I; he is thou; he is all: this universe is his form. Abandon the error of distinction."

PARĀŚARA resumed:

The king, being thus instructed, opened his eyes to truth, and abandoned the notion of distinct existence: whilst the Brahman, who, through the recollection of his former lives, had acquired perfect knowledge, obtained now exemption from future birth.

Whoever narrates or listens to the lessons inculcated in the dialogue between Bhārata and the king, has his mind enlightened, mistakes not the nature of individuality, and in the course of his migrations becomes fit for ultimate emancipation.