The Story of Queen Chudala from Yoga Vasishta – Remain in the world and practice detachment

In a story narrated in the Yoga Vashishta, Sikhidhvaja, a king, was overwhelmed by vairagya (the sense of dispassion). He renounced his kingdom and went away to practice meditation and penance in the jungle. In his absence, his wife, Queen Chudala ruled the kingdom.

Now Queen Chudala was a Yogini. She was gifted with wisdom and internal vision and she had realized that her husband was wasting his time doing sadhana in the forest. She had intuitive experience or 'aparoksha anubhuti.' The queen did try to persuade her husband to stay in the kingdom and attain moksha but her words were taken lightly by the king.

The king started his Tapas (austerities) in the forest and the queen ruled the kingdom. Soon the queen decided to help the king who was wasting his time in the forest.

Using her yogic powers she reached the place where her husband was sitting in sadhana or intense meditation. And soon the king realized her presence as he was not doing ‘sadhana’ but merely sleeping and running away from responsibilities.

The king asked, ‘What are you doing here?’

The queen said, ‘I am her to tell you that you are not doing sadhana and you are merely sleeping and you have renounced nothing.’

The king retorted, I have renounced my kingdom. I have renounced you. How can you say that I have renounced nothing?’

The queen said, ‘No, you have renounced nothing.’

An angry king threw away all his belongings and asked, ‘Now?’

The queen said, ‘You have no real renunciation at all.’

An angry king started climbing the tree and said, 'I have only this body to renounce and I will commit suicide and renounce it too.’

Unfazed, the queen said, ‘Real renunciation consists in renouncing egoism, in renouncing the cravings and the desires (Vasanas), in renouncing the intellect that makes you identify the perishable body, that mistakes the body to be the soul. This you will have to renounce and only that constitutes real renunciation.

Hearing these words the king was thunderstruck and he came down from the tree and asked his wife to instruct him on spiritual life.

Queen said, ‘material life can never contaminate spiritual life. Money and desires cannot touch the spirit because they are different entities. If you mix water and oil, they will always remain separate. Likewise material life and spiritual life are totally different. People mistakenly think that worldly life can contaminate spiritual life.’

Queen continued, ‘When you identify yourself with karma, then you suffer. Karma is not the cause of suffering. Your identification with karma is the cause of suffering and this identification is a kind of neurosis.’

King Sikhidhvaja soon realized his mistake and returned to his kingdom along with his wife queen Chudala. He practiced renunciation and ruled his kingdom.

Yoga Vasishta