Yoga Vasistha – The story of Dama, Vyala and Kata

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Below is a story from Yoga Vasistha’s Sthithi(Existence) Prakarna. This story illustrates how ego(Ahankara) is instilled in the ignorant (Ajnani) minds:

An Asura by the name of Sambara roamed throughout the regions of Patella, living therein. He was an adept in the manifold wily arts, of Maya (illusion) and rested in Maya itself. Once this Daitya subjected to ignominy Devendra, through his powerful ocean of an army. Thereupon the Devas became infuriated and began to harass and destroy in all manner of ways the Asuras whether asleep or travelling in different directions. Observing this dastardly attack of the Devas, the chief of the Asuras despatched, against them, a large army headed by Mundika, Anka, Dhruma and others. The Devas availed themselves of an opportune
occasion to foil their enemies and so did away with all of them. Hearing all these, the irate Sambara marched to Deva loka. The Devas having heard him approach who was well-skilled in Maya-Vidya (the science of illusion), were struck with terror and hid themselves in the caves of the great Meru Mountains. There upon Sambara shed flames everywhere in Devaloka like the Tripuras (three cities) set on flames by Parameswara (Rudra) and returned from there to his own place, rendering it a regular void and leaving the Deva ladies wailing in the streets.

Finding the coast clear, the Devas returned in numbers to their place. Hearing which, the Asura despatched through Maya-Vidya armies after armies without any intermission. But these were repulsed and killed completely by the Devas. Sambara became greatly infuriated at these disastrous results and so created through his Mayavic power Dama, Vyala and Kata. These had broad shoulders fit to bear the weight of Mahameru on them.. They were not subject to the bond of Vasanas and were devoid of desires or egoism. They knew neither death nor life, neither pleasures nor pains, neither victory nor defeat, neither waging war nor retreating. They were therefore incapable of defeat and were able to put an end to their antagonists through the discharge of arrows. Fully convinced of their invulnerability, Sambara living in Patala, gathered together all his hosts living over hills, ocean and earth and sent them along to reinforce these three Mayavic personages.

The countless hosts sent by Sambara sallied forth like so many hills walking on their legs or as if the ocean full of fishes overflowed the land or the Kalpa came to an end. Similarly did the Devas march out in great numbers. Both the armies came into direct encounter like wind facing fire. Thus it seemed as though the next Kalpa was already come. Weapons breathing flames came into contact with human bodies which at once dropped down dead and began to accumulate like a mountain. Even mountains began to be tossed to and fro in the scarlet ocean of blood oozing out of the lifeless bodies. The angry and deceptive Asuras approached close their enemy and drove them away. All the Devas fled the field with a despondent heart. But the three Mayavic personages mentioned above went in quest of them in all quarter: Not being able to trace them to their places of concealment, the victorious triumvirs returned from Deva loka to where their leader was.

Meanwhile all the Deva hosts, ignorant what to do, re sorted for aid to Brahma seated on his lotus seat. Having, with true love, paid the homage of due respects to him, they related to him the atrocities committed by Sambara flaming like fire and their utter rout at the hands of the three persons created by the Asura. Thereupon Brahma meditated and pacifying them, gave vent to the following words – After the lapse of a thousand years, Devendra will kill the Asuras in the war between himself and Sambara who is now over powering his enemies. Till then, we shall advise you thus. From today forward, you go to Dama and others and apprise them of your intention to war with them. Having made pretence of fighting with them, withdraw when they make onslaughts on you. If you conduct yourselves thus, repeating it over and over (for thousand years), then the Vasana of Ahankara, will begin to reflect itself in the minds of the three Asuras like a shadow in a glass. Then if this idea of ‘I’ gets firmly rooted in their minds, then they will be in bondage, like birds caught in a trap and can be easily disposed of. It is desires that, like Yama (death), bring on manifold pains to persons in this world; devoid of them, there is bliss unsullied with pains. All creatures in this world being bound by the cord of pains are greatly afflicted thereby. With tight bonds, pains are generated; freed from them, pains also cease. It is only through desires that persons, whether they are pure or omniscient or all-puissant, do get trammelled in this world. Even persons, who are in a high state, fall low through their desires, like a lion in a cage. Therefore do not be disheartened. With these words, Brahma instantaneously disappeared at the very spot where he was.

The Devas having heard these words of Brahma, while in the full possessions of their five faculties of organs, departed for Deva loka and there caused large kettle-drums to be sounded for war so as to reverberate through earth and the rest of the whole universe. Having heard these sounds, the Asuras rushed with great ire from Patala to Deva loka and hurled at their enemies all kinds of destructive weapons – The latter, who were bent upon merely eking out the time according to Brahma’s injunctions, made the pretence of fighting and retreating again and again. Thus did a long period of time elapse, the war being waged in diverse ways, when the insidious desire of ‘I’ stole into the hearts of the three Asuras through such a process of warfare, and their minds got trammelled. Then fear was generated in their hearts and all kinds of delusions took firm hold of them. Being drowned in the pain-giving Maya and emaciated through pains, they were at a loss what to do. Then in order to preserve their body from deterioration, they began to deliberate upon the many means of enjoying happiness through the illusory worldly things. Being ever engaged in this thought, their minds got enthralled and unsteady. On the battlefield, consternation and depression of mind arose in them and they were appalled at the idea of death- Hence they were greatly agitated in their hearts and looked about for a safe asylum. Being completely denuded of all powers, they were not able to face even an antagonist, should he face them. Were there no fuel, will Agni (fire) be able to consume anything and offer oblations to the Devas? To cut the story short without many words, the three Asuras fled away panic-struck and died.

It is suggested to read the story of Bheema, Bhasa and Drudha after reading this story.

P.S.: The above story is from the english translation of Yoga Vasistha by Shri K. Narayanaswamy Aiyer. This book is available for free at This translation was published more than hundred years ago i.e. in the year 1896. If anybody still holds the copyright for this translation, kindly contact us with appropriate identification proof and copyright proof, upon verification we would remove this story from our website if required.

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