by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1896 | 137,618 words | ISBN-10: 818514141X | ISBN-13: 9788185141411
This page relates “the story of deva-puja or the worship of god”, the 2nd part of chapter 6 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 “nirvana-prakarana”.
Summary. Having, in the previous story, described that Nirvāṇic bliss wherein all are Brahman only will result through Jñāna and Yoga, the author gives out the rationale of the Pūjā (or worship of God) made by the Hindus in order that they may know that what they worship is the perishable matter only and that they may rise to a higher ideal.
“All these things composed of the five elements are appearances only. So also is time through right discrimination. Moreover, it is quite false on our part to identify the ‘I’ with this body to which the terms ‘I’, ‘he’, etc., are applied. Therefore may you free yourself from the illusory conception of this body composed of network of bones, muscles, etc., being the ‘I’. Is there any limit to the myriads of forms created through Saṃkalpa? Oh Rāghava, after sleeping on cushioned beds at home, you roamed about in all directions and lost your equilibrium of mind in the contemplation upon the dreamy things of the world. Where is the body which can be called yours? Please reflect well upon it. Through letting loose the reins of mind in the waking state, it wanders about in diverse places such as Mahāmeru or Devaloka and is lost in a labyrinth. Where has the body, which can be called yours, taken its refuge in? Know this Saṃsāra to be a long dream or a mental sovereignty or delusion. This universe, which is nothing but a manifestation, neither is nor is not. Tattva-Jñānis say that the annihilation of the differentiated thought leads to the worship of the All-beneficent.
It is certain that one and all of us are destined to die. Therefore why should people in this world weep in vain over the death of a person? Oh valiant Rāma, persons born in this world enjoy but a tittle of happiness. Therefore why should Ahaṃkāra be manifested in actions which bring on but a tinge of bliss? Having given up all conceptions of duality, may you look equally upon all in this reflection of an universe, it is nothing but a stain in the glass of the mind. Whoever renders his mind free of all diversities and reflections and does not allow the serpents of love and hatred ingress into the hole of his mind, will be like a Kalpa tree which yields anything and everything to its owner. Oh intelligent Rāma, erudite persons who are self-presumptuous through their ability to solve any doubts are only like an ass carrying much burden and not worthy of being approached, if they are not devoid of love and hatred.
Should the axle, called Saṃkalpa, of the car of existence, having the wheels of illusory rebirths, be stopped completely, then the car will come to a dead halt; but if the axle of Saṃkalpa be a little in motion, then none, however mighty, will be able to arrest the motion of the car. Such a stoppage should be made through the power of Jñāna, subtle intellect and self-efforts. The whole universe contains not an object which cannot be encompassed by the efforts of true Jñāna, the qualities of the wise and a study of Ātma-jñāna Śāstras. This mischievous and powerful imp of the lower mind is the generator of all pains and all fears, and the destroyer of all noble (spiritual) wealth. Having slain this slayer, may you become ‘That’ which you are. Should this dire imp of mind take a firm possession of a person, any amount of study will not exorcise it. Even Ācāryas will find it difficult to scare it away. But if this evil spirit be divorced from one without even the shadow of thought, then will the Śāstras and others be of help to lift him out of rebirths, like a beast that, falling into a shallow pool without mire, can be easily lifted up. If one after relieving himself from all objects of enjoyment as well as the enjoyment itself wishes to attain his non-dual and all-full Ātmic Reality through the graces of the Guru and his own discriminative inquiry, then he should hear what passed between me and Parameśvara wearing the moon in his matted locks, in order to divest himself of all garments of illusion. Now I will relate it to you which you will presently hear with a clear mind.
Once upon a time, I spent a long time most instructively and delightfully in Kailāsa hills in the worship of Parameśvara, in the performance of Tapas in a raised shed on the banks of the Gaṅgā and the study of many books in the company of Siddhas. One night on the 8th day of the first half of the lunar month of Siṃha (August September), it was fifteen Ghaṭikas (12 o’clock) when bustle in all quarters was hushed up and nature was, as it were, in a state of Samādhi with utter silence. Not even a single footstep was heard. The darkness was so thick as to be cloven by the sword. Mountain caves, forests, etc., melted into thin void in the darkest gloom. I then returned from Samādhi and let my mind rove in the heterogeneous objects of the universe. Then flashed before me in that darkness an incomparable light which I had never witnessed before. It was, as if countless moons and pure white clouds contributed their mite to increase the dazzling splendor. In the light, I observed Parameśvara and Parvatī locked in each other’s arms and preceded by Nandikeśvara. Along with my disciples, I rose up and went to them with requisite materials ot worship. Standing at a distance, eulogized them first; and nearing them, I worshipped Parameśvara with prostrations, arghya (oblations of water), sweet and cool flowers and other objects Him whose mind is ever cool and who has a merciful eye, free from pains. Similarly did I worship his consort, Parameśvarī [= Parvatī] and prostrated myself before her. Then I paid lovingly my due respects to Īśvara’s and Parvatī’s attendants. After which the resplendent Parameśvara with significant words as cool as the nectar-like moon addressed me thus: ‘Has thy intelligence merged itself in the Brahmic state and attained quiescence therein, free from all pains and full of bliss? Hast thy Tapas being going on without any obstacles? Hast thou attained that which should be got at? Have all the visible things perished from thy mind?’
So said the cause of all the worlds, when I prostrated before him and submitted the following under his orders: ‘Oh Deva of Devas, there is nothing which is beyond the power of one who has duly obtained thy Grace. Never will fears of objects come in proximity to them. It is thy devotees that are worshipped by all in the world. Whatever place the Great Ones who have found an asylum in thee live in that is the real body, that is the true country and that is the fine mountain for others to take their abode in. Meditation on thee is but the result of one’s past virtuous Karmas, showers Dharmas on him in his present life and is the seed of future Dharmas. It is like a Pūrṇakumbha for storing up Jñāna nectar; is like a moon shedding its mild light and is the path leading to Mokṣa. Having come into the posses sion of the Chintmani (gem) of thy meditation, I am now trampling the heads of all unreal existences.’
Having thus eulogized him, I again prostrated myself at the two soft feet of Parameśvara, the First Cause, blooming with a face of mercy and again addressed him: ‘Oh ocean of grace living in Kailāsa hills, there is yet a doubt lingering in me who has understood all through thy grace. Please favour me with truth as regards it. What is meant by Deva-Pūjā (or the worship of God) which is said to destroy pains and confer bliss? And how should it be done?” To which the Lord replied “Deva (God) is neither the solitary Viṣṇu nor Īśvara nor any other having the body of five elements. Nor is it the mind. But it is the Jñāna, the Self without beginning or end. Can it be these paltry objects such as bodies, etc.? As Brahma-jñāna is the Jñāna which is illimitable, actionless, beginningless and endless, such a Jñāna alone is true and fit to be worshipped. But in the case of the ignorant devoid of Jñāna (wisdom), worship of forms alone is ordained to be the best. Just as wayfarers when they are unable to travel a long distance are told that their goal of destination is but a call’s distance in order not to let their spirit droop, so persons without Jñāna are told to worship diverse forms at first; but the wise say that they will not get the certitude of Jñāna through such a process. It is the beginningless and endless Jñāna-Ākāśa that pervades everywhere. As it is imperishable out-living all Kalpas, it alone is God. The Pūjā (or worship) of it should be conducted with the flowers of Jñāna (spiritual wisdom), equality of vision and contentment. Worship of particular forms is no worship at all. Through no other path, can the partless Jñāna-bliss be secured. It is only through the sprinkling of the flowers of Jñāna (wisdom), etc., that the bliss will become replete. This illuminated Jñāna is beyond the reach of all Śāstras. It is the Sattā-sāmānya which is common to, and occupies, the intermediate state between Sat and Asat in all internal thoughts. God is the great Sattā-Matrā alone. Should this Jñāna subject itself to Vikalpas, then it abandons its real form and becomes individualized and separate. The one Chit (Consciousness) contracts Saṃkalpa through the contemplation in regular succession upon the different states of Avidyā (or matter.) Then conditioned by space, time and other powers (and having conceptions of the same), it becomes the ignorant Jīva fulfilling the functions of Buddhi, Ahaṃkāra and Manas. With this Manas (mind), it will long for birth and death and cling to them. With the thought of the environment of the body, it will be sunk in the mire of the great delusion. Excessive pains will make it to go lower and lower along with its endless trail. These will go on afflicting it, so long as there is Saṃkalpa; otherwise not. Saṃkalpa itself is pains; its absence is Brahmic bliss. If through the tempestuous gate of thy discrimination, thou dispellest the cloud of Saṃkalpa, then there will remain the stainless one like a permanent autumnal and pure sky. Mayest thou live drowned in the ocean of Brahmic Bliss in an illuminated state, having destroyed the stains of Saṃkalpas through thy stainless efforts.
Ātma-tattva has all Śaktis (or potencies) in it. These Śaktis through their sportive play generate bondage and emancipation. In Ātma which is equal in all and the pure Jñāna and which yet generates all Vikalpas, there are numberless Śaktis such as Icchā Śakti, Vyoman (Ākāśa) Śakti, Kāla (time) Śakti, Niyati (law) Śakti, Mahā Śakti, Jñāna Śakti, Kriyā (action) Śakti, Kartṛ (Agency) Śakti, Akartṛ (non-agency) Śakti and others. The sportive Śakti of Ajñāna generates births and deaths. But they are arrested through the Śakti called Nirodha (Control). The annihilation of all Bhāvanās, thoughts through the different kinds of Ārādhana (respects paid to or worship of God) constitutes the pure Pūjā (worship). The avoidance of identification of ‘I’ with this body arising through Karmas is the supreme Arādhana. Through such a contemplation should the Ārādhana be made to It. It is the Jñāna-Light compared to which, even millions of suns appear but as a speck. It is this Light which all should reach up to, considering their ‘I’ as no other than this light. To this Jñāna-puruṣa, the highest Ākāśa is his head; the lowest Ākāśa is his golden lotus feet. All the quarters are his long hands. The heterogeneous universes are his hosts. All the countless myriads of mundane eggs will be absorbed in but a corner of his heart. The resplendent Paramākāśa is the beginningless and endless form of it. All lives such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Rudra, Devendra and others are like so many hairs in the pores of the body of this great Principle. Icchā and diverse other Śaktis which start a creation or are the motors of all in the mechanism of this universe rest in his body. Those who realize that such is the nature of the Supreme one, are fit objects of worship by all. will be of the nature of Jñāna and will enjoy themselves in Ātmic Reality. They will live everywhere; will be courted by all; will be the source of all states; will have time, which regulates all things in the world, as the porter at their gates; and will be the immaculate Self-Light. Enjoying at ease all objects of enjoyment through the five organs of sense and mind and contemplating within that all is Parameśvara who is above all Saṃkalpas, one should pay respects to the Supreme according to the dictates of the Vedas. All the external forms of worship paid to Ātma are not the proper ones. But one should through his nectary wisdom and without any pains or conception of duality pay respects to it. So long as there is the pure intelligence of wisdom within, so long will there be Dhyāna and proper Ārādhana. One should be ever Jñāna, whether engaged in the perception of objects through his five organs of sense or in sleeping, talking, walking and breathing. It is the Dhyāna (contemplation) of Ātma-tattva that constitutes the articles of worship in this Ārādhana of God. Through no other path will the great attain the true Jñāna. Even if the ignorant perform this Dhyāna of Ārādhana for thirteen twinklings of an eye, then it will generate the good effects of the gift of a cow; if the real Ātmic deity is contemplated upon for 100 seconds, then it will be tantamount to the good effects of a thousand Aśvamedha Yajñas (horse-sacrifices); if continued for twelve minutes, then the good effects of a hundred thousand of such Yajñas will ensue. If steadfastly continued thus for twentyfour minutes, the beneficial results of a Rāja-sūya sacrifice flow in; but if for half a day Ātma-jñāna is meditated upon without any distraction of thought, then there is the benefit of a hundred thousand of such Yajñas. Again if for a full day such a meditation is continued without any intermission, then one will merge in the stainless Brahmic Light. This is the highest Yoga and this is the highest Karma.
I have treated, up to now, of the external worship of Jñāna-God. Now I shall deal with its internal worship. Without ever forgetting the God of Parameśvara within the body, one should ever be contemplating upon him in all his actions as going and coming, sleeping and rising, enjoying wealth and objects and yet be disconnected with them. Though associating with the diverse objects of the world, he should ever worship the Īśvara-Liṅga of blissful Jñāna with the flowers of Jñāna after bathing in the sacred waters of Tattva-jñāna. This Jñāna-God pervades everywhere in centers without the modifications of the mind in Manas, Saṃkalpas, the state intermediate between Prāṇa and Apāna, the heart, the middle of the throat, the middle of the brow, the tip of the nose and other centers. Ceaseless and continued contemplation should be made upon God, shining as Light in the body as inseparable from Manas, eyes, organ of speech and other organs and all the hosts of Śaktis as chaste women inseparable from their Lord; also that the Manas which makes one cognize the three worlds should be contemplated upon as no other than the guard at his gates; the good thoughts should be known as no other than the guard at the gates; the Vṛtti-Jñāna thoughts as no other than ornaments to the perishable body; the Jñānendryas, and Karmendryas as no other than his gates. With these thoughts, he should contemplate that he is no other than ‘That’ which is the direct Jñāna of Ātma – as endless, partless, non-dual and yet wearing all in itself, full in itself and making all full, equal everywhere and having its natural laws and light and being the incomparable Jñāna. Thus should the internal worship be made that he is inseparable from it.
Much illumination will arise through this course of pure worship. Through the expansive intelligence of equality of all, the knowledge of body will be known by pure souls to be burdensome. Therefore they will ever worship the Jñāna which is above all body through the above articles of worship. The wise say that such is the worship practiced by the great. They should go on worshiping Jñāna without ever longing for things they cannot get or being hindered in the acquisition of objects. They should go on worshiping Jñāna, extracting Ātmic bliss out of eating and drinking, enormous supreme wealth, rest, going in vehicles and other pleasures. They should go on worshiping Jñāna by bestowing on it the flowers of unsullied actions, whether amidst mental or bodily malady, incipient Moha (illusion) or dire pains, the cumbersomeness of the administration of regal justice or sharp adversity. They should go on worshiping Jñāna, whether they enjoy stainless objects or abandon stainful enjoyments.
Enjoying with a sweet mind and a non-dual conception whatever objects one comes by and not longing for things inaccessible is Jñānārcanā (or the sprinkling of flowers, etc., on God). Unfailing worshipers of Jñāna should regard pleasures and pains as of the nature of Jñāna (and hence be indifferent to them). They should ever regard all forms and places as no other than Brahman and worship them as such. Like an ocean receiving unto itself innumerable rivers, Jñāna will be a capacious reservoir of all enjoyments, neither hating any things nor longing after them. Without in anywise being affected by appearances, base or high, they should be engaged in worship, in order to free themselves from all dualities of conception arising from pleasures and pains in the differences of space, time and substances. These are the beneficent articles of worship dictated in the great worship of God.
Just as the six tastes, sourness, pungency, bitterness, astringency, etc., are rendered full (and enjoyed completely), only when the Śaktis of tastes and the mind join together, so the Plenum arises when all these articles of worship are combined with Śānti (quiescence of mind). When this quiescence of mind is contemplated upon (along with the mind), then in an instant all objects will become one Universal nectar, like the ever-showering ambrosia of the moon; but if contemplation is made without quiescence of mind, then even Jñāna (spiritual) objects will appear but as stones. If the illusions of pleasures and pain, arising from objects which are differentiated through space, time and substance be dispelled, then the God within the temple of the body will be clearly cognized without any desires arising.
Pure Māyā dispels impure Māyā. It will destroy the virulent poison of the great Saṃkalpa. Like a washerman who removes dirt through dirt (i.e. a kind of alkaline soil), the impure Māyā should be slain by the pure Māyā. Though pure Māyā is not the cause, yet it will appear so through Ācārya’s (teacher’s) words. To the real enquirers after knowledge, they (the Guru’s words) will enable one to know his own Self. An Ācārya’s grace, in a mysterious manner, enable the disciple to perceive directly the Brahmic Principle within, though it is impossible for the Guru to point to Brahman as this or that or for the disciple to understand how it is prior to his direct perception. Each should cognize it within himself through his own Jñāna with the aid of an Ācārya and an understanding of the true significance of the many Śāstras. It is indeed very rare to attain that state without the help of a Guru and spiritual books. Should all the three combine, viz., an Ācārya, Jñāna-śāstras and a true disciple, then it is certain that the state beyond all bondage will be attained. If the link between these three last long, then it will generate stainless Jñāna like the sun bringing, in its train, actions in this world. According to the above-mentioned path, there is no doubt they will render themselves fit objects of eulogy by such as Myself and attain the Brahmic state.
This world, though it really is not, appears to be. Know, Oh Vasiṣṭha of great Tapas, that it is no other than a reflection. Know also that Jñāna is that Principle which is known by the Vāc (Speech) of Brahmā and others. This Caitanya (Consciousness) which is above all, manifests itself as the duality of visible things. Undergoing different names, it will contract Ahaṃkāra through the thoughts of the mind. This idea of ‘I’ will bring in its train the idea of time, space and other potencies. With these environments, the name Jīva accrues to it. Contemporaneously with it, there arises Buddhi in ignorant souls. Associated with the potencies of sound, actions and Jñāna, the collective entity will produce in one instant memory and in another instant will become Manas in order that it may be the seed of the tree of Saṃkalpa. This is what is called the Puryaṣṭaka body. It is said that this is the state of words. Through Ātma, Manas assumes countless forms. This alone assuming the form of Ākāśa and others, generates Prakṛti and other elements. Like evil spirits arising in the seeming void, the Vāsanās of the mind will arise in it.
Now if these Vāsanās which have acquired the name of the world are destroyed, then there will be an absolute quiescence. Those who are firmly clinging to the idea of permanancy in this ‘I’ or the universe which is but a mirage in an oasis, are not fit to be initiated (into Jñāna). Such persons are condemned by the wise as extremely sinful. The wise will initiate those discriminative persons only who have avoided all illusions; but they will never dream of initiating the weak-minded subject to the worldly illusions. Should they do so, it will only be like mating a virgin in the waking state with a husband dreamt of in the dreaming state. Oh Vasiṣṭha, we have thus given a reply to thy questions. Mayest thou grow in true love with us. Let us go.’
So saying Parvatī and Parameśvara with their suite encircling them, journeyed in the Ākāśa. At their departure, I saluted them with the worship of flowers. From that day forward, I have been unintermittingly worshiping the true Jñāna through the path of ever-increasing bliss and freedom from pains. Through the assiduous and the ever-continued performance of such worship, I feel now the Vāsanās to be as light as a feather. Neither during the day nor during the night do I find excess or defect (in my mind) through the sprinkling of the flowers of right conduct in my actions. When the knower and the visible things do unite as one, then all Ātmas (egos) do become equal. In such a state of union what the Jñāna-Yogis cognize is that which is in that state, (there being nothing external to them then). This is the supreme worship of Jñāna-Ātma. Therefore, through this kind of vision (or idea), may you live, Oh Rāma, in this world with a mind unattached to the things therein. Do not afflict your mind by letting it rove over this great forest of the world.”
Here Rāma overjoyed said: “I have cleared myself of all doubts. I have known all that should be known. I have attained thy grace without the least fluctuation of mind. I have slain all desires which are like huge elephants with long trunks. I do not get agitated by anything. Having crossed the banks of the ocean of existence free from all delusions and pains, my mind has become a diamond filled with Brahmic bliss and is now Bliss itself.”
Footnotes and references:
Kailāsa is the mountain of Śiva. Pārvatī is the wife of Śiva.
The (Īśvara or ) Śiva-liṅga is one of the forms through which He has to be worshipped. It is a great mystery.
The (Īśvara or ) Śiva-liṅga is one of the forms through which He has to be worshipped. It is a great mystery.
The (Īśvara or ) Śiva-liṅga is one of the forms through which He has to be worshiped. It is a great mystery.