by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411

This page relates “the story of akashaja or son of akasha”, the 1st part of chapter 3 of Laghu-yoga-vasistha (English translation). This ancient Sanskrit book contains epic legendry (similair to puranas and itihasa) and deals with the Advaita-vedanta (non-dual) branch of Indian philosophy. It is authored by sage (rishi) Valmiki and condensed (laghu) from an even larger work, forming a discourse between Vasistha (Vasishtha) and Rama. This part is included in the chapter “utpatti-prakarana”.

Part 1 - The Story of Ākāśaja or Son of Ākāśa

Summary. Having initiated Rāma, bent upon attaining liberation, (he, having developed the first three means before), into the nature of the non-dual One and into the endeavors that should be made in attaining that One, viz., through the creation of pure Vāsanās and, for their furtherance, the development of Śānti and other qualities, Vasiṣṭha, in order that the self-cognition of Turya Jñāna may dawn in the Prince, now continues in four Prakaraṇas or chapters by stating that the consciousness reflected in the Līlā-Saṃkalpa of Brahman which ever is, before creation, of the nature of Sat, Chit and Ānanda, is alone the origin of the universe, its manifestation and its absorption and that the one Caitanya (absolute consciousness, viz., Brahman) which contains in itself this Trinity and is its state, is the Nirvāṇic bliss. Thus in order to show that all is Brahman, the author in the succeeding four Prakaraṇas, begins with Utpatti Prakaraṇa (or the chapter treating of the origin of the universe or ‘I’) teeming with 9 stories, wherein it is sought to illustrate first that all the universes, etc., are nothing but the first creations of the Saṃkalpa of the mind proceeding from or the cosmic Ideation of the one Caitanya.

Ātma is this universe, Jīva, etc. In the preceding chapter, we expatiated upon the regular means of Mumukṣus (or aspirants after emancipation) which thou shouldst adopt in order to attain Mokṣa. Now listen attentively as to how the several universes were evolved. Our Jīva (ego) is no other than the one Jñāna which can alone be directly cognized through one’s self and is dubbed, with different appellations, by different religionists. It rejoices in the appellations of Kūṭastha[1], Īśvara of agency and the visible Cidābhāsa.[2]

It is Jñāna through which the Jīva shines with the intelligence that manifests itself as Ākāśa and other objects. Like the vast waters manifesting themselves as waves, foam, etc., the above mentioned Jīva alone shines as the earth and other objects through the heterogeneous illusions of Saṃkalpas (thoughts) and Vikalpas (fancies) which arise and die. The causeless Sattā-Matrā (Absolute Be-ness) existing from before creation, manifests itself through its (inherent) Līlā (sportive) power of creation, as this world composed of the myriads of objects which are no other than our objective vision (or ideation) and rests in its own all-pervading Jñāna like the fluctuating power in Vāyu (air). The innumerable quarters and time, being but the diverse forms (or aspects) of the non-dual all-pervading Ātma Jñāna, is “That” only from which they start. Know therefore, through this means, that the universe, the illusory creation of Brahman is one that has no other cause than “That.”

The disappearance of the universe with Jñāna

Ātma-Caitanya alone evolves, in a moment, this universe into a visible shape. The evidences of inference, etc., are the means (through which Jñāna can be known). The reality of belief in the diversified visible objects, constitutes bondage, but a freedom from it, constitutes Mokṣa. We shall put forth, to thee, things in such a manner as to relieve thee from the attraction of all visible things. Please therefore hearken well to the following.

At the end of a Kalpa, when all the visible universes are annihilated like a dream in Suṣupti, there remains the incomparable Tattva-jñāna existing by itself alone, devoid of the fluctuations of thought, form, name and others and without the transcendent vast darkness of Ajñāna and the light of Vṛtti ((There are two kinds of wisdom, Vṛtti Jñāna and Svarūpa Jñāna. The former pertains to Manas, the reasoning mind, and the latter, to intuition or Buddhi.)) or mental Jñāna. This Supreme Principle is termed by the wise, for the purpose of understanding it, Satya (Truth), Brahman, Ātma, Param (the Supreme) and such like; and manifesting itself as another in a mysterious manner, shines with the title of Jīva; it becomes thereafter, subject to all pains. Then this Ātma which goes now by the name of Jīva and which is the Spirit of the latter, concretes itself through the Saṃkalpa of thought into Manas (mind).

It becomes Manas

This ever-agitated Manas having come into existence out of the ineffable Brahman creates the world according to its own Saṃkalpa. This legerdemain of the universe springs out of the Saṃkalpa of the Manas (mind). The word ‘ornament’ signifies no other than the gold (or other metal) of which it is composed: therefore it is needless to apply the epithet ‘golden’ to the word ornament. Likewise the word universe means Brahman and none else. The wise apply the many epithets of the painful Moha (delusion), bondage, Tamas, Mala (impurity), Avidyā, Māyā and Saṃsāra to this universe which, though arising out of the unreal mind, appears as real to it, like the waves in a flitting mirage. Now if thou wilt hear from us the nature of bondage, then thou wilt understand clearly Mokṣa. The existence in men of the differences of conception of ‘I’ and ‘thou’ is bondage. So long as this Saṃkalpa exists, so long is it difficult for them to attain liberation. Like a tree latent in a seed, all the visible objects will be merged in the seer without again manifesting itself. In the heart of a banyan seed as the cause, there exist the variegated differences of flowers, leaves, etc. Like the marvelous potency of creation which preserves everything potentially and then brings them out, without in the least being injured thereby, there arises, out of the womb of the all-pervading Principle called Jñāna-Ātma, a sprout which naturally expands itself into this universe of form, name, etc. Just as the seed begins to germinate in its proper time and place, so also the seer (the knower) appears as the visible things through the Saṃkalpa of the mind the visible things being no other than the seer itself.

Upon hearing the adventures of him who rose out of Jñāna-Ākāśa, thou wilt easily understand the origin of the creation of this universe replete with Tamas. Thou wilt therefore hear this story. Once upon a time, in the race of Brahman was born one, Ākāśaja (the son of Ākāśa), having, as his cause, the Jñāna-Ākāśa itself. He rejoiced in the possession of uninterrupted Samādhi, earnest regard towards all creatures and good Dharmas (or virtuous actions). Having seen him live for a long period, Kāla (Time) said to himself thus “How is it I am not able to encompass this one, when I am able to devour the whole universe as a mere paltry trifle. My powers are such as to annihilate everything. I am led to infer my powers have been much dullened of late, like the blade of a sword in poison. Persons of determined efforts will never abandon their pursuits.” With these cogitations in his mind, he at once marched straight to the habitation of the Brahmin (Ākāśaja) and entered his gates when he was (bedazzled and) scorched by the in tense glory of the Brahmin’s spiritual fire. Nothing undaunted, Kāla pierced through the spiritual glory and with his tall and stalwart arms, 1,000 in number, seized hold of the Brahmin, but was disappointed in his efforts, as he was too much for Kāla. As Ākāśaja was immovable like one of the forms (aspects) of Saṃkalpa (Divine will), Kāla was unable to overpower him and so returned from that place to go to Yama [3] (or God of death) and consult with him. To Yama, Kāla related all that happened between him and the Brahmin.

The advice of Yama

At which Yama said thus: “This universe which arose through Karmas will perish through Karmas only. The weapons with which we can destroy the universe are the former Karmas. Therefore try to take hold of those Karmas (in the life of the Brahmin) through which means you will be able to overpower him.”

Hearing those words of Yama, Kāla fished about for the former Karmas of the Brahmin in different places, such as the holy waters, tanks, the sphere of the earth, quarters and others. But nowhere was he able to discern any, in spite of all his tedious search. At last, he returned and disclosed, to the wise Yama, the fruits of his vain search. Thereupon Yama deliberated for a long time and delivered himself of the following words “Born, as he is, out of the pure Ākāśa, this imperishable Brahmin is no other than Jñāna Ākāśa itself. And as he has no cause, instrumental or material, he cannot be said to perform Karmas, though performing them. There being really no cause at all, the Karmas he performs do not really exist. The Saṅcita Karmas (past Karmas in embryo) which will enable you to put an end to him, do not exist in his case.” So said the fulfiller of Dharmas (laws), viz., Yama, at which the noble Kāla quietly betook himself to his own place in great wonderment. At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāghava having eyed him said thus: “From the story given out now by thy reverence, I am led to conclude that the son of Jñāna-Ākāśa is no other than Brahmā, the self-create and the non-dual one of the nature of Vijñāna.” Thereupon the immaculate Vasiṣṭha said thus “We have known thus the words which passed between the havoc-producing Kāla and Yama. (We shall describe still further what took place between them.) When, at the end of a Manu, the never-idle Kāla who had swallowed up all the universes rose up, he tried to overpower even Brahmā (as stated before). Then the lofty Yama delivered himself of the following words to the griefless Kāla: “Will that thought of yours fructify, which aims at destroying the incomparable Brahmā that is of the nature of the stainless and matchless Brahma-Ākāśa, (or Jñāna-Ākāśa) alone? The indestructible Brahmā shines like the above mentioned Saṃkalpa-Puruṣa of the form of pure Ākāśa alone without being composed of the elemental forms. It is the self-existent Parabrahm only which is Chid-ākāśa itself, alone and without beginning, middle or end, that manifests itself as true, like one having a body of dimensions or an eternal Puruṣa; but it really has no form (and is unreal) like the son of a barren woman.” So said Yama to Mṛthyu (or Kāla).

At these words of Vasiṣṭha, Rāma lifted up his eyes and questioned him thus “While all souls possess two kinds of bodies, viz., the lasting Ātivāhika ((Ātivāhika is the subtle body with which the soul lives while separated from Adhibhautika, the physical body.)) and the flitting Adhibhautika how comes it that Brahmā possess the former subtle body alone?” To which, Vasiṣṭha said thus “As all the Jīvas have two causes, viz., Brahman and the universe due to Brahmic light, they have two kinds of bodies; but as Brahmā who is not separate from Brahman has no other cause than Brahman, he has the one Ātivāhika body alone. Then as this universe is nothing but a mode of the mind self-evolved from Brahman, the cause of the universe, hence this all-pervading world is but consciousness itself.” So said the Muni lovingly, when Rāma asked to be enlightened as to why this illusory universe is but a mode of the mind. The mind creating the universe. Vasiṣṭha continued thus: “The individualized mind which is Avidyā-full, formless and all-pervading though existing in name, has no form, either externally or internally, like the Ākāśa permeating everywhere. The mere manifestation in all objects of reality (or non-reality therein) is the mind. Wherever there is the Saṃkalpa, there does the mind exist. The form of the mind is Saṃkalpa alone. Both of them are identical. The multitudinous denominations of unreality, delusion, impurity, bondage, Avidyā, Māyā, Tamas and others are the fit synonyms of Saṃkalpa. With the annihilation of this Saṃkalpa, all conception of the differences between the seer and the seen will vanish and then the Reality of Brahman will begin to shine unintercepted. Then this shadow of all the universe moveable and fixed, will be found absorbed in it in a non-dual state, though, in another sense, they cannot be said to commingle with it. Then Consciousness alone will shine without the reflections of a glass. If all the heterogeneous differences of objects arising through the conception of the mythical ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ are controlled and even a scintilla of the visible things be completely destroyed beyond resurrection, then such a destruction is itself the certitude of Kaivalya (or Liberation).

The time for the mind’s destruction

Like a dream generating another dream in it, the mind having no visible form will generate non-existent visible things. Not resting on any object firmly, it is characterized by an excessive fluctuating power. It will fluctuate and be confused; will flit away (from an object) and then return to it; will rejoice jubilant in vain and be intoxicated with Ahaṃkāra (or egoism). But at the period of Māhapralaya which alters the form of everything, Ākāśa and others will be absorbed in their highest essence and there will remain the solitary all-quiescence (of Jñāna). This is the primeval Brahman, the one Reality which is the Sun of never-setting Self-Jyotis (effulgence), limitless and not in the least painless, which is the all and the evolutor of all, and is in all places and times and which is all-pervading. Though above the reach of all words, it is yet dubbed with different illusory appellations by the wise. The most intelligent Saṃkhyās term It Ātma; the Vedantins of pure Jñāna call It Brahman; the Vijñānis[4] say It is Vijñāna; the atheists give It the pseudonym of Void; and so on. (But this much may be said of It, that) It is the light of Sun’s light, illumines all and shines as the (abstract) Light only. From this Principle which is firmly tacked to the world and the body and yet is not and which (seems to) talk, examine, hear, see, eat and think, a Jñāna-light arises like light from the sun. Now this (light of) consciousness pervading the Ākāśa has the Manas full of Vāsanās as its root, the organs as the flowers, the mundane eggs as the fruits and Māyā as the ground on which to take root. With these, It enacts its affairs in this Puryaṣṭaka[5] body, like a gem in a casket.

Ātma’s Nature

Being the immaculate Jñāna, It is the all-pervading Ākāśa itself. Whatever objects It contemplates upon, those objects come into existence (at once). In that Jñāna, all the three worlds will arise and be destroyed, like water in a mirage. Having evolved all objects, It will yet be in its true state unaffected, as if disconnected with them. The origin and absorption of the universe do not take place from and into Nirvikalpa[6] Ātma direct. If one should hold communion with that Supreme Principle, devoid of mental fancies and modifications, then the great bondage of the mind will cease, all doubts will vanish, and all Karmas will perish.

How all can enter into Brahman? Here Rāma asked Vasiṣṭha thus: “I may rather believe the entire Mahāmeru mountains to enter a mustard seed than the whole of Brahma’s egg to merge into Brahman which is (said to be) the atom of atoms. To which, Vasiṣṭha of rare Tapas replied thus “This doubt of thine can be removed only after a study of Ātma-jñāna Śāstras and the association with the wise for a number of months and not days. The conclusion of all Śāstras points to this only. Those who have with great pains understood clearly this abstruse account (of evolution, etc.,) go into Samādhi and who through it, attain a direct cognition of the all-full Jñāna, will reach the supreme state of a Jīvanmukta, devoid of this illusory universe, though existent to others; and then this Jīvanmukti state is no other than the Videhamukti state, the progress to the latter state being a mere matter of course.

Then Rāma asked the Muni to enlighten him as to the efforts that should be made by him to tread the path laid down by the Śāstras to attain the Jīvanmukti and Videha mukti states. Vasiṣṭha replied thus “Such persons, though moving in worldly objects, do not participate in them like the Cidākāśa, which though permeating all objects, yet appears not to be so (to our visible eyes). Such Jīvanmuktas are persons of transcendental nature in the enjoyment of eternal bliss. They are immaculate like Ākāśa and undefiled by love and other desires, though associated with their modifications. Whether performing Karmas or not, they are not enmeshed by them, as they have no egoism. Though acting up to the worldly observances of life, they remain cool and unaffected by them, like utter strangers. Notwithstanding the possession of a full-shining mind and attention, they have not the least of longings for objects. The certitude of their conviction is of such a nature that they neither sink under any load of grief nor rejoice at any pleasures. They are in that undisturbed state of mental equilibrium when they enjoy the Jāgrat (waking) state in Suṣupti or the Suṣupti state in Jāgrat, devoid of all Vāsanās. Neither are they afraid nor do they instill fear into the hearts, of any in the universe. The great ones who conduct themselves thus, are called the Jīvanmuktas and do not break loose from the bonds of Saṃsāra though in possession of minds, since their minds are above the worldly things.

On Videha Muktas

(Now about the Videhamukti state). Should the above certain state be bridged and the body perish, then one will attain Liberation in a disembodied state, like the all-permeating air in the immovable Ākāśa. Its nature is such that it is imperishable, unveiled, invisible, remote, endless and without fluctuation. It is neither ‘I’ nor any others nor anything else (we know of). It is neither light nor darkness nor motion nor evidence nor guṇas nor the heterogeneous objects of the world compounded of the five elements. Mayest thou, through they discrimination, cognize clearly and unfailingly that Non-dual state which is in the midst of (or above) the knower, knowledge and the known, being the all-full reality, neither Rūpa (form) nor Arūpa (non-form), neither Sat (being) nor Asat (non-being) and yet one.

On being questioned by radiant Rāma as to a clearer elucidation of Brahmic Reality replete with Chidananda (conscious bliss) in order that Jñāna may develop in him to the uttermost, Muni Vasiṣṭha went on thus “During the period of Māhakalpa, the cause of all (imaginable) causes, viz., the Brahmic Reality shines alone. If the modifications of the mind which lean to sensual pleasures be destroyed, then Ātma divested of its Ahaṃkāra (egoism) becomes the unnamable Brahmic (or the all-pervading) Reality. The Jīvic consciousness which does not regard (as real) the universe before it, may truly be stated to be Brahman itself. A mind which, though enjoying the diverse objects, does not yet enjoy them may be stated to be Brahman itself. That consciousness which is a witness to all thoughts of objects, the light of the Sun? etc., mind and the other visible things may be said to be Brahman itself. This Principle may be said to be the long Yoga sleep devoid of end, dream or non-intelligence. It is “that” from which evolve and into which merge, the trinity of the knower, knowledge and the known. It is the immutable. Jñāna-Ākāśa and not the Bhūta-Ākāśa (composed of the elements.) The internal state of self-cognition devoid of the modifications of Manas[7], Buddhi and Chitta and being as imperturbable as a block of wood, may also be likened to that Brahmic Reality. When Brahmā along with Viṣṇu, Rudra, Sadāśiva, Deva, Indra, Sun and others are absorbed (during Pralaya), this one Fount of Omniscience, viz., the Brahmic Reality free from the base Upādhis (or vehicles of matter, etc.), and devoid of the desires of the universe, will alone shine effulgent, stainless, all full and ever blissful.

Footnotes and references:


This term though applied to Paramātma is also applied here to Jīvātma (ego).


The distorted consciousness.


Kāla here refers to unconditioned time whereas Yama refers to unconditioned one in the Rūpa Lokas, putting an end to mortals, etc.


Those who cognize it directly.


Puryaṣṭaka body is the body composed of eight principles as the organs of sense, etc.


Nirvikalpa Ātma. Ātma free from Vikalpas, etc.


All these are aspects of Antaḥkaraṇa, the lower mind, producing- uncertainty, certitude and fluctuatingness.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: