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Knowledge Is A Safeguard Against All Dangers – Story

 There is a story that indicates that knowledge is a safeguard against all dangers.

In days of yore there was a demoness who lived on the northern slopes of the Himalayas. Her name was Karkati. She was of fearful appearance and of gigantic stature. She lived in the sky but at any moment she could come to earth and assume form there. She was afflicted with an insatiable appetite and being a demoness she fed only on human beings. Living thus for many years, she began to reflect on her evil ways and she repented.

Then she went to the interior of the Himalayas and there performed religious practices for one thousand years. After that, her mind became purified. While she was thus engaged in spiritual practices with an illumined mind free from attachment and repulsion, Brahma appeared before her and asked her the object of her wish. Karkati replied, ‘O Brahma, you favour your devotees who contemplate you and praise you. Your servant wishes for Brahmajnana.’

Much pleased, Brahma granted her request, but told her that she should remain a demoness and support herself on the bodies of ignorant persons of cruel nature. When Brahma left, Karkati sat down for meditation and remained for a long time absorbed in nirvikalpa samadhi. At last she awoke. And again because of her being united with her mind, the thought of her old hunger revived in her. She then began to live on the bodies of ignorant people. But those who had realized the Truth, she could not molest.

While she was thus dwelling in the forest, a king and his minister on a hunting trip and having lost their way in the dark of night happened to come her way. Seeing them, Karkati reckoned on a good repast of them. But before she pounced on them she thought, ‘These may be wise men; let me test them.’ Then, remaining invisible in the sky, she set up a terrible roar and addressed the king thus: ‘O ye, who art like writhing vermin perishing underneath the dark and terrible stone of maya, have ye come here for the purpose of falling a prey to me? Who are you?’ To which the king replied,‘O demoness, where are you? Your voice sounds like a buzzing bee.’ Then assuming her terrible form and with her mouth wide open, Karkati approached the king. But, quite undaunted, the king told her to abandon her foolish intention of eating him and his minister, threatening to blow her away like a mosquito. Then Karkati understood that the king and his minister were not ordinary persons, for they were devoid of all fear. She addressed the king thus: ‘Those only are qualified to be kings and ministers who have nobleness of disposition, who regard all beings alike and who have knowledge of scriptures. Otherwise they are not worthy of discharging such duties. Therefore, if you are not well versed in wisdom you will serve as my food. I shall now ensnare you in the cage of my questions.’ At which the king requested her to state her questions.

And then Karkati asked the king about Brahman, and other questions. The king answered these questions with full understanding and discoursed on Brahman. Well pleased, Karkati offered to serve the king and said, ‘All persons are subjects of those who know Brahman. The company of such removes all sorrow.’

The king then asked her to desist from molesting people; and he wanted to know how she would satisfy her hunger if she did not live on human beings. She replied, ‘I shall again resort to samadhi, tasting the ambrosia that flows within and then I shall attain videha-mukti, being ever free.’ Promising not to injure any more beings, Karkati took leave of the king and his minister and returned to the Himalayas.