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 XIV - Philosophy of the numerical groups contained under the mystic syllable om

1. Inquiry into the numerical groups.

After the lengthy account we have given of the various classes of words contained under the different numbers and divisions and subdivisions of the mysterious letter Om, it must be asked by the inquisitive reader, what do these clusters of concrete and abstract terms which are numerically jumbled together under the unintelligible character Om serve to mean, and of what use are they to the contemplative Yogi in his meditation on the attributes of his Maker by that symbol?


2 (a). Enlargement of the understanding.

In answer to this query we are bound to repeat the definition of yoga, that it is the process of joining the ideas in the mind, and practicing the limited powers of the understanding to rise by degrees from their grasping the ideas of unities or single objects at a time, to the comprehension of dualities and pluralities for the enlargement of the intellect, till at last the mind is fraught with a clear and distinct idea of every thing in the universe comprised under the several groups or generalizations of particulars.


 2 (b). Their Pantheistic view.

And also as we have more than once mentioned in the preceding articles, that God is aham bahushyam—one in many, to on to pan of the Greeks, or the unity divided into and containing an Infinity of parts; so His symbol the holy Om is one circle and emblem of infinity, which for the sake of our conception and convenience is viewed in its Finite parts of monads &c, and their ever increasing multiples by all other numbers. But the monad like the prime number one whether multiplied or divided by any number in arithmetic, remains still the same simple one. Thus (1 × 2 = 2 × 1); (and 1/2 = 1 ÷ 2, or 1/2 = 1 × 1/2). This is the root of the pantheistic doctrine of the Vedanta.  ~~. This One is all: and the whole being taken from the whole the remainder is whole.  ~~


3. The Numerical Philosophy.

It was the oldest Sankhya or numerical school of philosophy in India, like the ancient Ionian school of Greece, that first made a classification of all objects in nature under certain co-ordinate groups for our contemplation of them under those classes; which its later development of the yoga system has converted to the objects of our meditation as same with or pervaded by the Deity; or in other words, has recommended the meditation of nature's God in nature itself as in Natural Theology. It was the Tantra worship of later ages that divided the symbol of unity and infinity of the divine om into a decad of parts, as it is the custom of mathematicians to divide the great circle of infinity into 360 degrees, though it might be divided into an infinity of parts.


4. The Sankhya and Pythagorean.

The Sankhya system of evolution which is closely allied to that of the Darwinian, views the monad as the elementary protozoa, which combined with other monads make up the duads, triads &c. we have mentioned before, and all which are resolvable to the primary monad. Om is always 'one' thing; nothing can destroy that numerical existence, combine the thing in every possible variety of ways, and it still remains 'one.' It cannot be less than one, it cannot be more. As (2 = 1 + 1 = II & 3 = 1 + 1 + 1 = III). Resolve it into its minutest particles, and each particle is one. As (1/2, 1/3, 1/4 &c). One is the only absolute number; all others are but relations to it. The Infinite therefore must be one, and if you take infinity and the infinitesimals from the infinite, there remains also the same infinity; according to the Vedanta paradox  ~~; ~~ and all modes of existence are but finite aspects of the Infinite.


5. Different aspects of the soul.

The soul being a self moved monad, is one, whether it connects itself with two or with three; in other words the essence remains the same whatever its manifestations may be. The one soul may have two aspects, Intelligence and Passion, as in brutes; or it may have three aspects, as in man &c. For more of this see Lewes' History of Philosophy (Vol. I pp. 33 and 34).


6. Query concerning Nature Worship.

There rises another question of some importance in this place as, what has the Yogi or worshipper of God to do with the objects presented to him in the different groups under the partitions of Om, when his business is solely to meditate on the nature and attributes of the Deity?


7. Spiritual Worship.

To this it may be answered that, the Hindu Yogi or meditative sage is enjoined to meditate on the Supreme Spirit in Spirit, "atma atmanyeva chintayet". ( ~~). He does not adore any visible object, but contemplates his creator with all his attributes as displayed in creation, which he sums up abstractedly in his own spirit and mind. There can be no contemplation of the inscrutable and incomprehensible nature of God apart from the light we derive from the abstract meditation of all sensible and intellectual natures. "Observe every thing in thyself and so shalt thou behold the Supreme."  ~~


8. Self knowledge What?

The ol d rule of self knowledge  ~~ or know thyself  ~~, which was believed to constitute highest wisdom, and which has given rise to different interpretations in various schools of philosophy, does not mean the knowledge of one's state and nature to be sufficient for him; but that of his soul which makes him truly great. The wise Socrates looked inwards, and there discovered the moral and psychological truths the world has derived from him. His pupil the divine Plato looked within him, and there found the eternal ideas of which sense awakened reminiscence.


9. Knowledge of the Soul.

The Hindu Yogi too looks inward and views within the circle of his cranium symbolized as Om, his soul seated as a ray and figure of the Divinity, and encompassed by the abstract ideas of all things whose impressions he has received by sense and mind. He then learns to distinguish by his discriminative power called the atmanatma viveka, ( ~~) the soul of the Universe from all the representations which it presents to his mind.


10. Of one in Many.

The Platonic system had also a sort of classification in which the search for One in Many and Many in One, together with the detection of the One in the Many was the constant aim, consult for further information on this head in Lewes' History of Philosophy. (Vol. 1. pp. 237 and 405).