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The Yog Vasishtha narrates the fascinating story of an immortal crow named Bhushunda who is met by Brahmarishi Vasisth. In the course of their conversation the rishi asks him how he has managed to stay unaffected by the various pralays and stuff:

Chapter 21 Verse 14 Vasishta replied, “But tell me, O sagely bird who has borne the blasts of dissolution, how could you remain unhurt and unimpaired when many suns, moons and stars have fallen and faded away?”

15 Bhushunda said:— The order of the world and the laws of nature are broken and dissolved at the end of a kalpa period. Then I am compelled to forsake our nest as an ungrateful man alienates his best friend.

16 Then I remain in the air freed from my fancies, the members of the body become defunct of their natural functions, and the mind is released from its acts of willing.

17 When the zodiacal suns shine in their full vigor and melt down the mountains by their intense heat, I remain with my understanding under the influence of the power of the Varuna mantra.

18 When the doomsday flood winds blow with full force, shattering and scattering huge mountains everywhere, then by remembering the Parvati mantra I remain as fixed as a rock.

19 When the earth with its mountains is dissolved in water and presents the face of a universal ocean over its surface, then by virtue of the flying power of the Vayu mantra I keep myself aloft in the air.

20 Then I convey myself across this visible world and rest in the holy state of the spotless spirit. I remain in a state of profound sleep without any agitation of body or mind.

21 I remain in this mentally tranquil state until the lotus-born Brahma is again employed in his work of creation. Then I reenter into the limits of the re-created world, where I again settle on this tree of desire.

I want to know which are these mantras mentioned by the immortal bird?

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  • Oh i didnt know that thanks wil update the same :) Feb 1, 2018 at 12:00
  • Is Kaak Bhushundi mentioned in the Vedas or Shiv Purana? Feb 1, 2018 at 12:31
  • 1
    @Elfinforest No, he's not. He's not mentioned in any scriptures other than the Yoga Vasishtha. Feb 2, 2018 at 5:48
  • 2
    Also the Ramcharitmanas Feb 2, 2018 at 6:19
  • Yes I had read somewhere that he had met Lord Rama. Feb 2, 2018 at 10:33

2 Answers 2

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Actually, there's NO mention of any such mantras. It's a translation oversight.

  • In fact, the "immortal crow", sage Kāka-Bhuśuṇḍi survives the Kalpānta-pralaya using the Aṣṭāṅga Yoga, specifically the 6th limb of the Yoga - Dhāraṇa (steady concentrated-abstraction of mind).

This question is a part of the 'Mistranslated Verses Series', the other two cases of which I discuss in my answer here and here, underlying the importance of referring to multiple translations in case of ambiguous verses.



Let's see the original Sanskrit verses of the cited English translation

Nirvāṇa Prakaraṇa - Pūrvārddha: Chapter 21

Verse 6.1.21.17

प्रतपन्ति यदादित्याः शकलीकृतभूधराः ।
वारुणीं धारणां बद्ध्वा तदा तिष्ठामि धीरधीः ॥ १७ ॥

pratapanti yadādityāḥ śakalīkṛtabhūdharāḥ |
vāruṇīṃ dhāraṇāṃ baddhvā tadā tiṣṭhāmi dhīradhīḥ |17|

Verse 6.1.21.18

यदा शकलिताद्रीन्द्रा वान्ति प्रलयवायवः ।
पार्वतीं धारणां बद्ध्वा खे तिष्ठाम्यचलं तदा ॥ १८ ॥

yadā śakalitādrīndrā vānti pralayavāyavaḥ |
pārvatīṃ dhāraṇāṃ baddhvā khe tiṣṭhāmyacalaṃ tadā |18 |

Verse 6.1.21.19

जगद्गलितमेर्वादि यात्येकार्णवतां यदा ।
वायवीं धारणां बद्ध्वा संप्लवेऽचलधीस्तदा ॥ १९ ॥

jagadgalitamervādi yātyekārṇavatāṃ yadā |
vāyavīṃ dhāraṇāṃ baddhvā saṃplave'caladhīstadā |19|

Therefore, we can easily see and guess from the Sanskrit verses, even without the translation, that in the three verses, Bhuśuṇḍi talks about the three Dhāraṇas (and not any mantras) viz.

  • The 'vāruṇī dhāraṇā' - concentration on the Water elements.
  • The 'pārvatī dhāraṇā' - concentration on the (rock-hard mountains) Earth elements.
  • The 'vāyavī dhāraṇā' - concentration on the Air Elements.


Corrected English Translations of the mistranslated verses.


Still in doubt?

Let me reproduce here the Hindi Translation of the above three verses by Dr. Mahāprabhulāla Gosvāmī, to attest the above claim:

Verse 6.1.21.17


प्रतपन्ति यदादित्याः शकलीकृतभूधराः । वारुणीं धारणां बद्ध्वा तदा तिष्ठामि धीरधीः ॥ १७ ॥

प्रलय के समय में जब पर्वतों को खण्डशः कर देने वाले बारह आदित्य तपते हैं, तब मैं वरुण सम्बन्धी धारणा बाँध कर निश्चित बुद्धि होकर स्थित रहता हूँ । जिस प्रकार जल के बीच रहने वाले वरुण बाहर के आतप से जनित संताप का अनुभव नहीं करते, उसी प्रकार भुशुण्ड भी 'अत्यन्त शीतल समस्त दिग्-मण्डल में व्यापी अपरिच्छिन्न जल स्परूप वरुण ही मैं हूँ' इस प्रकार चित्त में निरन्तर वरुण-भावना के द्वारा वरुण रूप होकर बाहर के सूर्यादि-आतपजनित संताप का अनुभव नहीं करते थे ॥१७॥

  1. During the time of Pralaya, when the twelve sweltering Ādityas, which are capable of fragmenting even the mountains, starts glowing, thereupon I resort to the Dhāraṇā related to Vāruṇa with my Mind completely fixed upon the water elements.

    • The Translator notes:- Just like how the water-dweller Vāruṇa-deva doesn't experience the effects of the sweltering heat from the Sun, similarly, the Kāka resorting to the 'vāruṇī dhāraṇā', concentrates his complete Self on the Water-elements of the god (identifying oneself as non-different from the Extremely cool, the all-pervading and indeterminate Water principle), and thus stays untouched from the excruciating heat issuing from the Kalpānta-pralaya Suns.

Verse 6.1.21.18


यदा शकलिताद्रीन्द्रा वान्ति प्रलयवायवः । पार्वतीं धारणां बद्ध्वा खे तिष्ठाम्यचलं तदा ॥ १८ ॥

जब प्रलय काल में बड़े-बड़े पर्वतराजों को मर्दित कर देने वाले प्रलयकालीन वायु बहते हैं, तब मैं पर्वत सम्बन्धिनी धारणा बाँध कर आकाश-मण्डल में अचल होकर स्थित रहता हूँ । प्रलय काल में पृथ्वी पर स्थित पर्वतों के विनाश होने के कारण उन्हीं पर प्रलयकालीन वायुओं का आघात होता है, इसलिए प्रलयकालीन वायुओं से होने वाले आघात के अविषय ब्रह्माण्ड के बहिर्भूत आकाश में साधारण वायु से भी क्षोभ न होने के लिए पर्वत सम्बन्धिनी धारणा बाँधकर मैं स्थित रहता हूँ ॥१८॥

  1. At the time of dissolution, when powerful winds capable of destroying even the biggest of the mountains, start flowing, then I resort to the Dhāraṇā related to the mountains, concentrating my mind completely, I firmly establish me in the Space, becoming immovable.

    • The Translator notes:- During the Dissolution period, as the great mountains get desecrated from the gargantuan winds, Bhuśuṇḍi situates himself beyond the imperceptible Open space, holding himself in the "immovable-mountain concentration (Dhāraṇā)" to avoid getting affected by the destructive winds.

Verse 6.1.21.19


जगद्गलितमेर्वादि यात्येकार्णवतां यदा । वायवीं धारणां बद्ध्वा संप्लवेऽचलधीस्तदा ॥ १९ ॥

जब प्रलय काल में मेरु आदि पर्वत के गल जाने से जगत् एक समुद्र स्वरूप हो जाता है, तब वायु सम्बन्धिनी धारणा बाँध कर एकमात्र वायु में ही तादात्म्य भाव से निश्चित-बुद्धि होकर ऊपर तैरता रहता हूँ ॥ १९ ॥

  1. Finally, as the dissolution reaches its zenith, and even the Mountain Meru has been dissolved in the cosmic waters, then I resort to the "Dhāraṇā related to the Air elements, situating my Self as a non-different entity from the Air principle.

All the 'Corrected' English Translation of the Hindi Translation by Self.


In the later chapters (23 to 27), the same things on the Yoga are explained by Bhuśuṇḍi, thereby, explaining his cause of longevity.



Conclusion:

  • Therefore, we conclude that the 'immortal bird' viz. Kākabhuśuṇḍi survives the Pralaya mainly using the sixth limb of the Patañjali's Aṣṭāṅga Yoga i.e., the Dhāraṇa via concentrating on the Water (Vāruṇa), Mountain (Pārvatī), and the Air (Vāyu) Principles one by one.

  • There's no mantra involved in this process, as wrongly translated by the English Translator cited in the question.

  • A description of the 'Principles of the Dhāraṇa on the Five Great-Elements' is explained in the Skanda-Purāṇa Verses 4.1.41 (112-118), but I'm not sure if Bhuśuṇḍi is talking about those only or not.

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  • Isn’t any prani being immortal directly against the confirmed nature of death for any being that has taken birth,as per the Bhagavad Gita?
    – Amethyst
    Mar 19 at 5:19
  • Yes, It is. However, Kaka Living indefinitely is preordained. He himself explains his destiny in the further chapters. Verse 6.1.26.14 -"I am destined to dwell here forever in order to behold the visible world, rising and falling in tumultuous confusion, in the infinite ocean of the immense Brahma, and assuming their various forms like the waves of the sea at their alternate rise and fall for all eternity." Thus, it's as per the Divine Law. @Amethyst
    – Vivikta
    Mar 19 at 15:40
  • Since Death can be defined as the separation of the souls and body,and the body’s subsequent decay,does that Kaka’s body is indestructible?Also,does that mean that no matter how much of a bhakt,Kaka will never attain moksha?Or is he a jeevanmukt?Also,since Kaka’s birth and subsequent events(debate with Lomas,getting the crow body..)also happened in a universe,does this mean there is always one more immortal Kama existing after Pralaya?Since Kaka attributes his immortality to Ashtanga Yoga(as per the answer),does this mean anyone who practices this limb of yoga can be immortal?
    – Amethyst
    Mar 20 at 17:54
  • As I said, Kākabhuśuṇḍi is an exception, who's preordained with eternity, as per Yoga Vasistha. He is a jivanmukta in that, so he's already attained the Adavita definition of Moksha. Ofc, the non-Adavita school reject the text and the notion of Moksha while alive, so as per them this situation might not be valid. Personally, I don't think if anyone is capable of surviving a Kalpanta Pralaya with the exception of Trinity and a select few others. But, also words of Yoga Vasistha are authoritative since it's a canonical text, imo. @Amethyst
    – Vivikta
    Mar 21 at 1:23
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    Thanks for this interesting insight Apr 5 at 13:49
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The Varuna Mantra I think is from Natyashastra.

सर्वाम्भसां पतिर्देवो वरुणो हंसवाहनः । पूजितः प्रीतमानस्तु ससमुद्रनदीनदः ॥ ६४॥

“O Varuṇa, you who is the lord of all waters and has the swan as your mount, be pleased along with the seas and rivers, after I have worshipped you all.”

Vishwamitra taught this mantra to S’unahs’epha to sav him from sacrifice.

1-6. Vyâsa said :-- O King! When Vis’vâmitra saw that the boy was crying very pitifully, he went to him with a merciful heart and said :-- “O Child! I am giving you the Varuna Mantra; recollect this within your mind and if you go on repeating that Mantra silently, you will certainly fare well.” The sorrowful S’unahs’epha, hearing thus from Vis’vâmitra, began to repeat silently in his mind the above Mantra, clearly pronouncing each letter. O King! No sooner S’unahs’epha repeated that Mantra than the kind-hearted Varuna came suddenly before the boy, greatly pleased with him. Everyone in the assembly became thoroughly surprised to see Varuna Deva come there and they all became glad and chanted hymns in honour of him. The diseased Haris’chandra was also thoroughly surprised, fell to his feet, and with folded palms began to sing hymns to Varuna, standing before him.

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