“My son, when, while repeating this mantra, you see the illusion, I will recall you to consciousness by the power of my mind. You must enter the sacred fire that you see in your illusion. I will wait here for you, until you return.”
Candrasvāmin prostrated before the sanyasi, and rinsed his mouth with water three times before receiving the mantras.
He then boldly plunged into the river, while the sanyasi remained on the river bank…
तस्याम् अन्तर्जले विद्यां तां जपन् सहसैव सः ।
तन्मायामोहितो मिथ्या सर्वं विस्मृत्य जन्म तत् ॥ १२,२५.६४ ॥
वीक्षते यावद् अन्यस्याम् उत्पन्नः स्वात्मना पुरि ।
पुत्रो विप्रस्य कस्यापि बुद्धिं स शनकैर् गतः ॥ १२,२५.६५ ॥
कृतोपनयनो ऽधीतविद्यो दारान् अवाप्य च ।
तद्दुःखसुखसंमूढः संपूर्णो ऽपत्यवान् क्रमात् ॥ १२,२५.६६ ॥
ततश् चात्र सुतस्नेहस्वीकृतस् तत् तद् आचरत् ।
स्थितो बद्धरतिः सार्धं पितृभ्यां बन्धुभिस् तथा ॥ १२,२५.६७ ॥
एवं जन्मान्तरं मिथ्या तस्यानुभवतो ऽत्र सः ।
काले प्रबोधिनीं विद्यां गुरुः प्रायुङ्क्त तापसः ॥ १२,२५.६८ ॥
स तद्विद्याप्रयोगेण सद्यस् तेन प्रबोधितः ।
स्मृत्वात्मानं गुरुं तं च मायाजालम् अवेत्य तत् ॥ १२,२५.६९ ॥
उद्यतो ऽग्निप्रवेशाय दिव्यासाध्यफलाप्तये ।
पर्यवारि निषेधद्भिर् वृद्धाप्तगुरुबन्धुभिः ॥ १२,२५.७० ॥
बहुधा बोध्यमानो ऽपि तैर् दिव्यसुखलोलुपः ।
स सज्जितचितं प्रायान् नदीतीरं सबान्धवः ॥ १२,२५.७१ ॥
दृष्ट्वात्र वृद्धौ पितरौ भार्यां च मरणोद्यताम् ।
क्रन्दन्ति बालापत्यानि सो ऽथ मोहाद् अचिन्तयत् ॥ १२,२५.७२ ॥
And as Candrasvāmin sat inside the river and started the mantra japa, he forgot that he was Candrasvāmin, and what he was there for. Instead, he imagined himself born in another city, as the son of a certain Brāhman. As he started to grow up, he saw himself going through the Upanayana ceremony, studying in a gurukula, and then getting married as well.
In the course of time, he sat that a son was born to him, and then another. He saw himself remaining in that city and undergoing pursuits to feed his family…he shared their joys and sorrows, their pleasure and pain, and lived there in a bundle of attachments towards his parents, his wife and his sons.
As he was going through these illusions, the sanyasi uttered the mantra that would make Candrasvāmin attentive and recall his present life.
Candrasvāmin was suddenly awakened to reality, and became aware that he was apparently going through illusions. And so he became eager to enter the sacred fire and complete the process, so that he could obtain the fruits of his tapasya.
While one side of him was eager to do this, the other was still stuck in the illusion. His illusionary family and friends tried to dissuade him from going, and with great difficulty, Candrasvāmin managed to pry himself free of them and reached the banks of the river (in his illusion), where the funeral pyre was being prepared.
There, he saw his aged parents, his wife and his young children crying profusely, each wanting to enter the fire with him, since they could not live without him.
Bewildered and confused, Candrasvāmin thought to himself…
कष्टं म्रियन्ते स्वजनाः सर्वे मे विशतो ऽनलम् ।
न च जानामि किं सत्यं गुरोस् तद् वचनं न वा ॥ १२,२५.७३ ॥
तत् किं नु प्रविशाम्य् अग्निम् उत न प्रविशामि किम् ।
अथवा तत् कथं मिथ्या स्यात् संवादि गुरोर् वचः ॥ १२,२५.७४ ॥
तद् विशाम्य् अनलं कामम् इत्य् अन्तः प्रविमृश्य सः ।
अग्निप्रवेशं विदधे चन्द्रस्वामी किल द्विजः ॥ १२,२५.७५ ॥
अनुभूतहिमस्पर्शो वह्नेश् च स सविस्मयः ।
शान्तमायो नदीतीराद् उत्थायोपययौ तटम् ॥ १२,२५.७६ ॥
तत्र स्थितं च दृष्ट्वा तं गुरुं नत्वा च पादयोः ।
पृच्छन्तं चाग्निशैत्यान्तं स्वम् उदन्तम् अबोधयत् ॥ १२,२५.७७ ॥
ततस् तं स गुरुः प्राह वत्स शङ्के कृतस् त्वया ।
अपचारो ऽत्र शीतस् ते कथं जातो ऽग्निर् अन्यथा ॥ १२,२५.७८ ॥
अदृष्टम् एतद् एतस्या विद्यायाः साधने यतः ।
एतद् गुरोर् वचः श्रुत्वा चन्द्रस्वामी जगाद सः ॥ १२,२५.७९ ॥
नापचारो मया कश्चिद् विहितो भगवन्न् इति ।
ततः स तद्गुरुर् विद्यां जिज्ञासुस् तां समस्मरत् ॥ १२,२५.८० ॥
न च साविरभूत् तस्य न तच्छिष्यस्य तस्य वा ।
नष्टविद्याव् अथोभौ तौ विषण्णौ जग्मतुस् ततः ॥ १२,२५.८१ ॥
“Oh no! All my loved ones will die if I sacrifice myself here. I don’t even know if what that sanyasi said is true or not. What if that was the illusion, and this is true?”
“Should I enter the fire? Or should I not?”
“But the sanyasi also spoke about these illusions, so what he said must be true. I am very close to completing my tapasya, so I might as well enter the fire.”
And so, finally, Candrasvāmin stepped into the fire.
To his surprise, the fire felt as cool as snow. He then rose from the waters of the river, the illusion having ended, and went to the river bank.
He saw the sanyasi there, and prostrated himself at his feet. He then spoke at length about all his experiences, ending with the cool feel of the fire he had entered.
On hearing this, the sanyasi said…
“Son, you have surely made some mistake in the process. How could the fire turn cold? This has never happened before!”
Candrasvāmin insisted and said “No, I am sure that I made no mistake…”
Puzzled, the sanyasi then tried to invoke the Devi through his mantras, but to his dismay, she did not appear before him. The sanyasi and Candrasvāmin then left that place, miserable since they had lost that power forever.
इत्य् आख्याय कथाम् अथ वेतालः पृष्टवान् स तं भूयः ।
पृथ्वीपतिं त्रिविक्रमसेनं समयं निगद्य पूर्वोक्तम् ॥ १२,२५.८२ ॥
राजन् संशयम् एतं छिन्द्धि मम ब्रूहि हेतुना केन ।
विहिते ऽपि यथोद्दिष्टे कर्मणि विद्योभयोस् तयोर् नष्टा ॥ १२,२५.८३ ॥
The Vetāla finished his story, and then addressed King Vikram and said…
“So tell me, o King, why was the power of that illusion lost to both the sanyasi and Candrasvāmin, even though Candrasvāmin did exactly everything that he was told to do?“
“Remember, if you know the answer, and don’t tell me the truth, your head will burst into a hundred pieces!“
King Vikram replied…
to be continued…