by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of king janaka”, the 1st part of chapter 5 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 “upashanti-prakarana”.
Summary. Having shown in the previous chapter the play of Chit (consciousness) alone shines as this universe, the author through the nine stories stated in this Prakaraṇa, shows that this universe as universe, ever is not.
“According to the above-mentioned words of Muni Kacha, son of the Deva Guru (Jupiter), all these universes are of the nature of Ātma-jñāna only. The delusion of birth and death will only haunt those persons who have Rājas and Tamas guṇas and will abide in them as firmly as a dome supported by strong pillars. But persons of powerful Sāttvic tendency like yourself will ever be free from the fear of births. Such Sāttvic men will liberate themselves from the trammels of Māyā, like a serpent giving off one by one its sloughs.
Having contemplated that all are Brahman and the ‘I’ is that Brahman only, you should destroy the idea that the ‘I’ and the universes are different. All the created objects arising out of Brahmā-jñāna, the cause, do not really exist, like the foam in an ocean. There are really no such things as pleasures and pains, birth and death, or persons whirling in the vortex of birth and death; but one only Principle, that always is, endures.
Having tasted all things through experience and inference, do not grieve for them. Do not think of the past or of the future; but remain in that non-dual state with the transcendent Sattva-guṇa and without the dualities of desire and hatred and others. With an equal eye to all, with the certitude of conviction in Ātma-jñāna and a powerful Jñāna, and with extreme quiescence and a mind silent to all worldly objects, may you, Oh Rāma, relinquish all pains with a mind as transparent as crystal. In the closing birth whereafter there is no more rebirth, Ātma-jñāna will dawn in one easily. Will the resplendent bamboo pearls be found in other than bamboo clusters? In such persons, who will no more be reborn, are found nobleness, benevolence, love, clearness of intellect and all the qualities of a Jīvanmukta and an Ātma-jñāni. The good qualities of these great persons who walk in this amiable path will attract all persons unto themselves, like the melodious tunes of a bamboo flute enrapturing the hearts of even cows.
Now to those persons who, through these qualities, are able to arrest all at once the seven births. There are two kinds of paths leading to Mokṣa. Now listen to them. If one should, without the least fail, follow the path laid down by an Ācārya, delusion will wear away from him little by little and emancipation will result, either in the very birth of his initiation by his guru or in some succeeding births. The other path is where the mind, being slightly fortified with a stainless spontaneous knowledge, ceaselessly meditates upon it; and then there alights true Jñāna in it, like a fruit falling from above unexpectedly. Now listen attentively to a story that I shall now relate to you, in which Tattva-jñāna arose in one like a fruit in the Ākāśa, as in the second of the two paths mentioned above.
Over this universe once reigned a king of kings who never at any time labored under any fear from his foes. He was exceedingly wealthy and liberal. He wielded the sceptre over a country called Videha which had not the least taint of jealousy or envy. This king going by the name of Janaka rejoiced in the possession of good qualities transcending the ocean and befitting him to protect his subjects, like Viṣṇu. In the beautiful season of spring, this king with a great joy of heart stepped into his heavenly garden redolent of sweet smelling flowers, whilst his courtiers, armies and others were stationed outside the garden. Perambulating the garden alone, the king heard the songs of Siddhas whose minds had attained to the one Chit. Now, Oh Rāma, listen attentively to the songs containing the experiences of the Siddha hosts residing on the fragrant hills and withdrawing themselves from all pleasures of the visible things and heard by Janaka. They are: ‘That Jñāna-bliss which arises out of the commingling of the knower and the known is of Ātma-jñāna. And it is this Ātma-jñāna bliss, that should be longed after.’ So said one Siddha. Another Siddha said ‘After eradicating the seen and the visual with their Vāsanās, one should contemplate upon Ātmic Reality which is the primeval Light to the eagle vision (of high spiritual personages).’
Another Siddha remarked: ‘After having become all-pervading like that One which occupies the neutral centre between Sat and Asat, we should ever be contemplating upon Ātma-jñāna, that eternal Light which illuminates all other lights.’
Another Siddha remarked: ‘We will contemplate upon that effulgent Ātma-jñāna which always calls itself ‘I’ in all Jīvas.’
Other Siddhas also remarked thus: ‘To look for the God without, relinquishing the God within, is like going in quest of conch shells after giving up the Kausthubha gem on hand. Ātma can be attained only by those who have destroyed completely the forest of the hosts of desires. Those persons who, in spite of their knowledge of the non-existence of happiness both in the past and the present in the baneful objects (of the world), do yet entangle themselves in them with their thoughts clinging to them, deserve the appellation of an ass, if not a worse one. The serpents of Indryas (organs) which are hissing again and again, should be slain in the state of the mind by the rod of firm discrimination, just as Indra reduced to dust the mountains through his adamantine Vajra (thunderbolt). A mind, devoid of pains, which has developed an equal vision over all, through quiescence, will attain the state of its Ātmic Reality which is the plenum of complete bliss. This is Mokṣa.’ So said many Siddhas. Having heard clearly these indubitable words of sage counsels emanating from the Siddhas, Janaka became panic struck like a serpent stunned at hearing the sound of an angry and overwhelming Garuḍa (eagle). Therefore he left his cool pleasure garden for his mansion and dismissed his minister and other attendants.
Having closeted himself alone in a cool room in the topmost story of his mansion, he began to contemplate deeply upon the true significance of the words given out by the Siddhas. Observing the actions of the world where men and others ever flutter like birds always on their wings and then perish, he could no longer contain himself and cried out the following words: ‘Being much hemmed in on all sides and whirling in different conditions in this fluctuating world, I am ever whirling with delusion and afflicted with pains, like dusts of sand floating in the midst of a large stone. Now reflecting upon Time which is eternal (in its true nature), I cannot but term, as a moment, the 100 years of my life. While so, how is it I estimate my life greatly and fall into all sorts of despondencies through my powerful desires? Who is there so debased in life as myself, who am spoiled through my gross mind? Shame on this uneven life which cannot be considered as of any moment. Comparing this earth over which I rule to the countless universes, I cannot but consider it as an atom. It is really surprising that I should rate high this universe full of pains. Indeed I am unable to find one object in this archaic universe which is uncreate and sweet and beneficent for one twinkling of the eye at least. While so, it is really marvelous to see the heterogeneities of the universe. Even the greatest of persons will in course of time become the lowest of the low. Oh, my mind which fancies as real the ephemeral wealth of this world, whence these illusory thoughts of thine? All enjoyments, great men and their kindred have appeared in former times. Where then is the certitude of existence of all objects now? The innumerable earths with their rulers and their wealth, have all perished like fine sands; the Devalokas with their Indras and wealth have all disappeared like fish in the sky above; no limit can be imposed upon the number of universes, Brahmās, mundane eggs and Jīvas that have come and gone. Oh afflicting mind, where then are all the objects that have vanished out of sight? Where then is the permanency of your existence? It is only by bestowing my desires on the illusion of the long dream of bodily delusion in the dark night of the unreal Māyā that I have debased myself to this ignorant state. Enough, enough with all the deaths I had undergone in previous times. I have never been able to find that beneficent Kāla (time) which does not put an end to any object. Not one beneficent object exists on this earth, either in the beginning, middle or end, Are not all created objects coated over with the varnish of destruction? The ignorant, every day of their lives, enact with their body dire sinful acts, painful deeds and illimitable vices. In youth, they will be enveloped with Ajñāna; in adult age, they are entangled in the meshes of women; in old age, groaning under the burden of Saṃsāra, they die. Being thus always occupied, when will they find time to devote themselves to the commission of virtuous deeds? How came this Māyā to play and dance in this world? This ghost of my mind dances in the theatre of this universe to the music of the organs.
Asat is perched on the crown of Sat. Similarly Adharma or pains is ever seated on the crown of the illuminated Dharma in this universe. If pains are seated on the crown of (or are the necessary accompaniments) the stainless pleasures, how can we discriminate between them and find out the stainless? If in the opening and the closing of the eyelids, many Brahmās are created and destroyed, what am I, a puny self, before them? A rare marvelous wealth becomes a source of pains with the affliction of the mind; even an object of infinite danger is the source of great happiness through the mind rightly directed. It is only the dire Saṃsāric life that is the source of all pains. How can happiness be generated in those lives that are drowned in Saṃsāra? The mind of delusion constitutes the root of the tree of Saṃsāra of Ajñāna which ramifies in all directions with branches full of flowers, tendrils, fruits, etc. It is this mind which is called Saṃkalpa. With the destruction of Saṃkalpa, the mind will be also destroyed easily. The baneful root of mind being destroyed, the tree of birth and death will also be destroyed. Oh, I have detected the thief who robbed me of my Ātmic Jewel, viz., my Self. His name is Manas (Mind). I have been long suffering through this villain. I will now hang him and make him die.
Till now I have not been able to bore a hole in this pearl of mind. Now I will do so and make a rosary of it by stringing it in the string of experience and wear it on my person. I have learnt it all through the omniscient Siddhas, as my Guru. I am now in the enjoyment of that bliss which pertains to the pure Brahman. I have gradually dispelled from my mind such unrealities as ‘I’, ‘you’ and other differences of conception. I will never hereafter bring them back to my mind. I am now victorious in the conflict with my great adversary of the mind which spoiled my Ātma-jñāna. I have completely divested myself of all the pains which afflicted me. I have attained the life of quiescence. Oh, discriminative Jñāna which uplifted me to this lofty state, I adore thee.’
Thus did king Janaka remain statue-like in Samādhi, after having destroyed all fluctuation of mind. After being in it for a long time, he returned from it and then surveyed the universe through his quiescent mind, his impure one having been destroyed past resurrection, with the following remarks: ‘What object is there in this world for me to encompass? What is illusory? To my present scrutinizing eye, all is pure Jñāna only. I cognize nothing but the one immaculate Ātma-jñāna my own Reality. I will never long for any object, I do not come across; nor will I evince any aversion towards any object that I do not come by. I will remain immutably fixed in my own Self of Ātma-jñāna. Things will happen as pre-ordained.’ So saying the king was absorbed with Brahmic bliss in the non-dual state.
Just as the effulgent sun in the Ākāśa causes days, etc., to happen without any volition or desire on their part, so also Janaka contemplated upon performing, without any longing, all actions of his life which crop up spontaneously every day. So never for a moment ruminating upon the past or future, productive as they are of evil, he began at once to transact his present actions with a full heart. Only through the Ātmic enquiry created by the words of the Siddhas, did Janaka attain quiescence of mind and Ātma-jñāna. Oh lotus-eyed Rāma, the supreme state of Ātma-jñāna can be attained only through the stainless and beautiful Ātmic enquiry and not through the actions done by the low-minded without a guru. The worldly-inclined do long after other goals than Ātma; but the longing after the extraordinary enjoyment of spiritual bliss is only through previous Ātmic efforts. Therefore one should destroy Ajñāna, the seed of the previous tree of existence on this earth productive of fearful dangers and surrounded by the ocean of pains.
To the non-agitated Jñānins, the precious Jewel of Jñāna locked in the casket of their heart will fetch, in a moment, whatever they think of, like the Kalpa tree (of Devaloka). Desires, hatred, etc., will not affect those in whom the (Ātmic) bliss enjoyment has arisen through Ātmic enquiry after the annihilation of Ajñāna, just as persons clad in diamond armor are proof against arrows. Then the dense mist of Ahaṃkāra, which having screened the Sun of Brahman obscured the intelligence, will be dispersed piece-meal by the whirlwind of Jñāna. Should one aspire for the supreme Brahmic state, he should previously have killed out all desires in his mind. Is not grain obtained, only after previously ploughing the field?”
Footnotes and references:
In the two paths to Jñāna, a person is guided by a Guru in one, and in the other, he is guided by himself.
This is the Gem said to be shining on the breast of Viṣṇu.