The following is an interesting story, told by Rishi Vasistha to Lord Rama, in the great scripture Yoga Vasistha.
Rishi Vasistha said, “Once upon a time, I was in the august synod of Devendra along with Deva Rishis and others. There I heard, from the lips of Narada and other Munis, the stories of Chiranjivis (the long-lived ones). Please lend your ears to one of them.
When all in the celestial assembly had heard this story of Bhusunda, as related by Satatapa Muni, I was filled with an intense desire to go and witness him in person. Accordingly, I went and observed, like a Kalpa tree, Bhusunda in a fragrant Kalpa tree on the tops of Meru. In its slopes and caves and on plants filled with flowers as well as on the branches of trees were seated large birds. The young ones of the moon- coloured swans, the vehicle of Brahma chanted Smaveda and other Mantras with the sound Swaha. I saw there Kokilas, parrots and other birds as well as many peacocks which develop Siva Jnana taught by Subbrahmanya. Then the moment I appeared before Bhusunda, amidst a crowd of crows who was Atlantean in form, of tall stature, of full mind, observing silence, without the fluctuation of Prana and enjoying bliss in his own self, he came to meet me half way and being frantic with joy at recognizing me to be Vasishta, poured forth kind words. Then welcoming me with the flowers in swagat; his large hands generated through his Sankalpa, he pointed me to a seat near by. After I was seated, he kindly treated me with Arghya, etc., and gave vent to the following dulcet words, “Me and my suite are exhilarated in heart at the nectar-like shower of thy visit. Thou hast afflicted thy body with thy long travel. Through the visit of thy reverend feet, I have known all. All the great ones thought of the longest lived and hence of me too. Thou hast come here on that errand only. I wish to drink the nectar of thy words.”
Thereupon I addressed him thus “King of birds, true it is as thou hast stated. I came here to visit thy gracious self who has been deathless here from a very long time. To what race dost thou trace thy lineage? How didst thou attain Tatwa Jnana? What is the duration of thy present life? What hast thou learned of nature’s laws? Through whose unlimited wisdom hast thou been here? Please answer them all in such a manner, so that I may understand them little by little”.
The virtuous Bhusunda said “In the beautiful presence of the supreme Siva, are myriads of Ganas (hosts) who are elephant-faced, sheep-faced, camel-faced, bear-faced, etc. Some of them have hoofs in their heads or hands; some of them have their faces in their abdomen. Similarly many are the vagaries of nature that could be witnessed therein. These Bhuta-Ganas (or elementals) will encircle Siva in Kailasa hills while the Saktis will dance before him, having their abode on the tops of mountains, Akasa, earth, forests, crematoriums and bodies. These Saktis are, according to their different degrees, named Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanti, Aparajita, Siddha, Rakta, Alambusha and Utpala.
The swans were far advanced in months, when they, at the allotted time, laid eggs on the shores of the Manasa tank. These eggs being hatched, there issued out 21 young ones, the progeny of Chanda. I and twenty others along with our parents were engaged for a long time in the worship of Brahma-Sakti (viz., Alambusha). She arose from her Samadhi and graced us, through her love, with Moksha. Extreme quiescence reigned in our heart thereafter. In order to pitch upon a place where we can live alone and without association, we reached our parents by the side of Alambusha and having saluted them both, we reached Moksha through the grace of that Sakti. On enquiring for a seat where Nirvanic bliss can be enjoyed, we were pointed out to this Kalpa tree. Having poured forth thanks, we came to abide here without any pains. All the Karmas I have been performing from that date have now concreted themselves in thy shape and have fructified to-day. Whoever will not be blessed with the nectar of Brahmic bliss through the moonlight of the association of the Jnanis? Will the certitude of the bene ficial nature of a thing arise otherwise than through the grace of the wise? Even though I am a knower of Brahman, still as I have rid myself soon of all existences through thy visit, this birth of mine is fraught with the most wonderful of results. Therefore thou art Eswara himself.” So saying he increased his respects towards me.
Then I enquired of him as to how he separated himself from his brothers. To which Bhusunda replied “ In this spot, we lived for many Yugas, nay for many Kalpas. At last my brothers disregarding this body as a mere trifle, gave it up for Moksha. Though blessed with longevity, glory and power, they perished (or disappeared) through their own Sankalpa.”
I asked him thus “How came you to survive the terrible Pralaya when fierce gales play their havoc and the twelve Adityas (suns) burn up the whole universe?”
Bhusunda answered. “Do you think natures action will ever cease to be? At the time of Pralaya, I will quit this nest of mine. When the 12 Adityas scorch the world with their burning rays, I shall, through the Ap (water) Dharana, reach up the Akasa. When the fierce gales arise splintering up rocks to pieces, I shall be in the Akasa through the Dharana of Agni. When the world together with its Mahameru is under waters, I shall float on them without any fluctuation through Vayu-Dharana. When the time of universal destruction arrives, I shall be, as in Sushupti, in the Brahmic seat, the end of all the mundane eggs, till the beginning of another creation of Brahma. After his creation, I shall again, resort to this nest for my abode. Through my Sankalpa, the Kalpa tree at the summit of this mountain will arise every Kalpa in a manner similar to this”.
Here I in terrupted him thus, “Thou wert able to preserve a long life through the performance of Dharana But why did all the other Yogis die (or disappear).”
Bhusunda replied, “Who will be able to overstep the strict ordinances of Parameswara ? His will is that I should thus act and the other Yogis should act in the way they did. As every pre-ordained event should act out its results, they will inevitably come to pass. Such is the unerring nature of this Law.”
I questioned him thus “As thou who art well versed in the Jnana of Brahman and Sastras art also acquainted with all the marvels of the three worlds through thy Yoga power, please inform me without fail of all that fell under thy vision.”
The Yogi replied “There was a time where for thousands of years, this earth was one (nebulous) mass of dust filled with stones but without mountains, trees or grass even appearing in it for a long time. In one Chatur Yuga (four yugas), this earth was one vast forest. In another Chatur Yuga, it was one chain of mountains without any earth to separate it. In another Chatur Yuga, the whole earth was overspread with Vindhya hills without Rishi Agastya In one creation, Brahmins became crafty and replete with desires, while Sudras slighted them. Women who were chaste acted as they liked.
Oh Muni Vasishta, I saw these and some other things too which I shall presently relate. I have observed, with my own eyes, the origin of the sun, etc., the state of Indra and Upendra, the Varaha (boar) Avatar of Vishnu who recovered back the earth which Hiranyaksha stole, the consolidation into one of the Vedas which were scattered in pieces in different directions and the churning of nectar in the milky ocean with the rod of Mandara hills. Even these, some of my juniors may be able to relate to thee. But thou shouldst know that endless have been the Avatars, Naradas, Baradwajas, Marichis, Pulastyas, the elephant headed Vinayakas, Subbrahmanyas, Bhringis and others. Therefore it is impossible to give out the number of those who came into existence in creation up to now. Oh Vasishta of great veracity, this is the eighth of thy births (as Vasishta). This is the eighth time we have met together thus. Thou wert born once in the Akasa ; another time in water ; another time in a mountain sorrounded by groves ; another time out of the red flames. In five creations has the earth disappeared and been got back by Vishnu in his Kurma (tortoise) Avatar. Twelve times has the Ocean of milk been churned. All these I was a direct witness of. Thrice has Hiranyaksha taken away the earth to Patla. Six times has Vishnu incarnated as Parasurama, the son of Renuka. Buddha has incarnated again and again in 100 Kaliyugas. The Tripura and its denizens have been thirty times consumed by the flames. Daksha, the Prajapati lost his Yajna (sacrifice) twice. Ten times has been the defeat of Sakra (Indra) by the wearer of moon on his head (vis., Siva). Eight times have I seen the dire conflicts that raged between Eswara (Siva) and Arjuna on account of a hog. The eternal Vedas will arise suited to the intelligence of every age. They will be understood more and more with the increase of intelligence. So also are worldly actions marvellous. Though the several Puranas are read in different ways, yet they convey one significance only. Every Yuga, Jnana-Sastras will be embodied in the shape of the stainless Ramayana. Like Rishi Valmiki who recited the Ramayana now, there have been 12 Yalmikis who brought out the same before. Bharata, the second of the Itihasas, though composed by the noble Vyasa, is considered by some as a Khila (supplement to the Vedas). In this creation, Sri Rama incarnated for the eleventh time on this earth. He will incarnate again in the wealthy house of Vasudeva. All these illusions of the world will at one time manifest them selves and at another time not. All these illusory visibles will be latent in the one Jnana-Atma, like foams in an ocean and will again revive and again perish. All the eight quarters, mountains, the sun, the moon, the stars, the seat of Meru and others differ with every fresh creation. All these have fallen under my direct ken. Each of these four yugas have got their respective peculiarities of Dharmas (duties), etc.”.