I was neither asleep nor fully awake ; nor was it a dream. This is precisely what happened. In a green valley there was a vast field. It had rained, but was it rain ? It was something that fell from a large planet, invisible matter which was neither solid nor liquid nor gaseous. It covered the surface of the field and there grew in the field small men and women and tiny children, all naked but each perfect in harmony and in symmetry. I found myself also in a group, each one doing two things—eating some herbs out of the field and looking for something without knowing what it was. They bent, turned stones upside down, dug the soil, looked into the thin air ; none of them knew what they wanted and still they went on searching and sea for something.

The juice of the herbs they ate kept them fit and steady. Lack of sleep had no effect on them, they did not look tired. Through sunshine and shadow they searched and searched and searched.

After some time I saw that a tall venerable-looking figure arose out of the soil. It had a long sweeping beard, Buddha-like large ears, prominent eyes and a smooth forehead. As he stood among them every one of the men and women and children became articulate. (One of the great biological puzzles is how man became an articulate animal.)

All said in a chorus of sweet voices : “Where is it? Where is it ? Will you help us, O Sage, in finding that, that, that?”

The women stark naked, their beautiful bodies details of the grand Nature, rushed forward and surrounded the sage-like figure crying :

“ Pray tell us, how, how, how to find it ? ”

The children babbled in their own language and showed by the movements of their hands that they were after something vague and undefined.

Sweetly they spoke in a chorus : “ Where ? Where ? Where is it ? ”

The sage was silent. He stood erect like the letter Aliph of the Arabic alphabet.
The sun shone on his forehead adding to the serenity and dignity of the man.

He was sitting quietly with the crowd shouting around him.
“ We are getting tired. Where is it ? What is it ? ”
Some of them helped themselves further to the herb which revived their spirit.

Slowly the figure lifted his hand and pointed his finger to the sky. The crowd understood what he meant.

They shouted “ We have looked into the air already. The light of the sun is no mystery to us. By the chemical changes it produces in our blood and on the surface of our skin we know its secret. What remains ? It is not there, it is not there ”.

Now it was dark, night had fallen. Dew was covering the valley. A cool breeze brought a sweet fragrance from nobody knows where.
As they inhaled it they were intoxicated. They danced ; some of them ran to and fro.
Children climbed over the shoulders of the men and the men came nearer to the women.
It was a scene of great confusion.
The sage stood calm among them, serene, unmoved, like a marble statue of ancient Greece.

The wind changed. The stars shone. A big comet appeared in the firmament ; its attenuated tail spread wonderfully. They all looked at it.

Some of them shouted “ We have found it. It is this, it is this ”.
Others shouted :“ No, no, it cannot be because it moves. That which moves is finite and what we are looking for is beyond the realm of finitude ”.
Suddenly again there was confusion. They looked exhausted. The herb did not seem to revive their drooping spirit.

Will they disappear in the same earth from which they had risen ? Is this the completion of the circle of life ?

But the circle goes on and on ; newer and newer circles are formed. As one great circle covers a lake and seems to disappear, each disappearance is a new re-appearance.
This is called becoming.
But where is the being ?
Can there be a becoming without a being ?
Some debated among themselves ; some of the younger men said to the women :

“ Come, let us go into the arms of sleep ”,
“ This puzzle has no solution. We will sleep and forget ”.
The women said : “ How long can this forgetfulness be endured ?
Have we not already come out of forgetfulness ? ”
They said : “ O riddle, where is thy solution ? O Lord, can we untie it ? ”

As they relaxed, their limbs began to grow numb, the circulation of their blood also slowed down.
It was a terrible state. The search must be continued. It is a part of life.
They knew that they were made to search, to enquire, to struggle, from the unknown towards the known.

Now the sage who had been watching them calmly spoke. The sky was lit with stars ; cool breezes covered the plain.
Men and women were growing self-conscious, and all the evils that attend self-consciousness were creeping towards them like the snakes in the great yajna of King Janamejaya.
With it the search slackened, that is to say it became more superficial like the hot wind in the month of July, mitigated only by the cooling breeze, the spirit of search.
Many of them began to say : “ O this cursed self-consciousness.
What has it brought us ?

In what way is the self-conscious man better than the unconscious tree or the just-conscious swan or the semi-conscious lotus which responds to the kisses of the rays of the sun at its golden touch ? ”

The sage went up on to a still higher hill. He clapped his hands and light came out of them.
He opened his eyes and beams began to shoot out of them.
Again silence fell over the crowd ; the self-consciousness disappeared, at least temporarily.
Man acts in a hundred ways to drown his self-consciousness in wine, in lust, in the excitement of gambling, in being a spectator of speed and of wonderful acting.
As they returned to the state of pure consciousness the sage said to each and everyone :
“ Now stop your search ; be concentrated on your mind, lift your mind to the buddhi (higher mind) and unite the buddhi with the cosmic intelligence in the outer life.
Love the eternal in each and everyone of you.
Cease to make distinctions ; And this is it, and this is it. It is you, you, you ”.

At this point of the vision I fell dead to all intents and purposes. Neither was I conscious nor unconscious. Even the consciousness of being was blotted out.

This is the ideal and this allegory teaches us how to attain it.
Let the mystery underlying it be carefully meditated upon.
No sentence is without a deep meaning and a serious significance.


King Janamejaya is said to have performed a sacrifice (yajna) of snakes after his father had died as a result of snake-bite.

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