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 VII - Nature of the soul

Now as the end and aim of Yoga is the emancipation of the Soul, it is necessary to give some account of the nature of the soul (atmatatwa) as far as it was known to the sages of India, and formed the primary subject of inquiry with the wise men of every country according to the sayings: "Gnothe seauton," =  "Nosce teipsum," "Know thyself," "Khodra bedan," and Arabic  "Taalam Nafsaka,"  ~~ &c.

"The word Atman," says Max Müller, "which in the Veda occurs as often as "twan," meant life, particularly animal life (Vide Rig Veda I. 63, 8). Atma in the sense of self occurs also in the Rig Veda (I. 162. 20), in the passage  ~~  ~~. It is also found to be used in the higher sense of soul in the verse  ~~ "The sun is the soul of all that moves and rests (R. VI. 115. 1). The highest soul is called paramatman ( ~~) of which all other souls partake, from which all reality in this created world emanates, and into which every thing will return." Atman originally meant air as the Greek atmos, Gothic ahma, Zend tmanam, Sanscrit  ~~ and  ~~, Cuniform adam, Persian dam, whence we derive Sans  ~~ Hindi  ~~ Uria and Prakrit  ~~ and Bengali  ~~,  ~~ &c. The Greek and Latin ego and German ich are all derived from the same source. The Romance je and Hindi ji are corruptions of Sanskrit  ~~ meaning life and spirit. Again the Pali  ~~ and the Prakrit  ~~ is from the Sanscrit  ~~, which is  ~~ in Hindi,  ~~ in Bengali and  ~~ in Uria &c. The Persian "man" is evidently the Satman by elision of the initial syllable.

These meanings of atman = the self and ego form the basis of the knowledge of the Divine soul both of the Hindu as of any other people, who from the consciousness of their own selves rise to that of the Supreme. Thus says Max Müller on the subject, "A Hindu speaking of himself  ~~ spoke also, though unconsciously of the soul of the universe  ~~, and to know himself, was to him to know both his own self and the Universal soul, or to know himself in the Divine self."

We give below the different lights in which the Divine soul was viewed by the different schools of Hindu philosophy, and adopted accordingly in their respective modes of Yoga meditation. The Upanishads called it Brahma of eternal and infinite wisdom  ~~

The Vedantists;—A Being full of intelligence and blissfulness  ~~

The Sankaras;—A continued consciousness of one self.  ~~  ~~ The doctrine of Descartes and Malebranche.

The Materialists—convert the soul to all material forms  ~~

The Lokayatas—take the body with intelligence to be the soul;  ~~

The Charvakas—call the organs and sensations as soul;  ~~

Do. Another sect—take the cognitive faculties as such;  ~~

Do. Others—Understand the mind as soul  ~~

Do. Others—call the vital breath as soul  ~~

Do. Others—understand the son as soul  ~~

The Digambaras—say, the complete human body is the soul  ~~

The Madhyamikas—take the vacuum for their soul  ~~-~~

The Yogacharis—understand the soul to be a transient flash of knowledge in the spirit in meditation.  ~~

The Sautrantas—call it a short inferior knowledge.  ~~-~~

The Vaibhashikas—take it to be a momentary perception  ~~  ~~

The Jainas—take their preceptor to be their soul  ~~  ~~

The Logicians—A bodiless active and passive agency  ~~-~~

The Naiyayikas—understand the spirit to be self manifest  ~~

The Sankhyas,—call the spirit to be passive, not active  ~~ ~~

The Yogis—call Him a separate omnipotent Being  ~~-~~

The Saivas,—designate the spirit as knowledge itself  ~~  ~~

The Mayavadis,—style Brahma as the soul  ~~-~~

The Vaiseshikas,—acknowledge two souls—the Vital and Supreme  ~~

The Nyaya says—because the soul is immortal there is a future state  ~~

And thus there are many other theories about the nature of the soul.

The Atmavadis—spiritualists, consider the existence of the body as unnecessary to the existence of the soul.