Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter IV - Yoga-characteristic of the hindus

Max Müller characterises the Hindu as naturally disposed to Yoga or a contemplative turn of his mind for his final beatitude in the next life, amidst all his cares, concerns and callings in this world, which he looks upon with indifference as the transient shadows of passing clouds, that serve but to dim for a moment but never shut out from his view the full blaze of his luminous futurity. This description is so exactly graphic of the Hindu mind, that we can not with-hold giving it entire as a mirror of the Hindu mind to our readers on account of the scarcity of the work in this country.

"The Hindu" says he "enters the world as a stranger; all his thoughts are directed to another world, he takes no part even where he is driven to act, and even when he sacrifices his life, it is but to be delivered from it." Again "They shut their eyes to this world of outward seeming activity, to open them full on the world of thought and rest. Their life was a yearning for eternity; their activity was a struggle to return to that divine essence from which this life seemed to have severed them. Believing as they did in a really existing and eternal Being to ontos-onton they could not believe in the existence of this passing world."

"If the one existed, the other could only seem to exist; if they lived in the one they could not live in the other. Their existence on earth was to them a problem, their eternal life a certainty. The highest object of their religion was to restore that bond by which their own self (atman) was linked to the eternal self (paramatman); to recover that unity which had been clouded and obscured by the magical illusions of reality, by the so-called Maya of creation."

"It scarcely entered their mind to doubt or to affirm the immortality of the soul (pretya-bhava). Not only their religion and literature, but their very language reminded them daily of that relation between the real and seeming world." (Hist A. S. Lit. p. 18). In the view of Max Müller as quoted above, the Hindu mind would seem to be of that realistic cast as the Platonic, whose theory of Ontology viewed all existence as mere phantoms and percepta of sense, and very short of that perfection, which the mind realizes in its meditation or Yoga reveries.

The Hindu Yogi views the visible world exactly in the same light as we have said before, that Plato has represented it in the simile commencing the seventh book of his Republic. "He compares mankind to prisoners in a cave, chained in one particular attitude, so as to behold only an ever-varying multiplicity of shadows, projected through the opening of the cave upon the wall before them, by some unseen realities behind. The philosopher alone, who by training or inspiration, is enabled to turn his face from these visions, and contemplate with his mind, that can at once see the unchangeable reality amidst these transient shadows", Baine on Realism pp. 6 and 7.