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 XVII - The conclusive lesson on the practice of yoga

After our long and lengthy discussion on the subject of Yoga, and the sacred and mysterious words wherewith it is conducted, our treatise will be deemed incomplete until we set a form or praxis of the manner in which it is to be conducted; and particularly by those who are fully persuaded of its efficacy, and prepared for its practice, but are prevented from it for want of proper guides to initiate them into it, or deterred by the arduousness of the rites imposed upon them by false Yogis, as to give up the exercise in disgust and hopelessness of their possibility ever to master it.

We shall set to these a short lesson from the Upanishad with directions from the Bhagavad Gita, works which are believed to be of the highest authority and sanctity by every Hindu, and which can never be suspected of misleading any body; but on the other hand universally acknowledged as the only luminaries amidst the intellectual gloom of superstition and ignorance. The Kathopanishad says that the light of truth is to be gained by yoga only  ~~, and the Bhagavad Gita declares, that knowledge, faith and practice are the only means of its attainment  ~~. It directs all men of competence to betake themselves to the acquisition of learning, and the incompetent to the practice of acts thus:  ~~

The Maitri Upanishad gives the following directions for the practice of yoga. "In the same way (is declared) the rule for the exercise of these means (for the concentration of the mind). This concentration (yoga) has six parts:—restraint of the breath (pranayama), restraint of the senses (pratyahara), meditation (dhyana), attention (dharana); self examination (tarka), and absorption (samadhi). When beholding by this manner of contemplation, he beholds the golden coloured, the doer, the lord, the spirit, Brahman, the cause; then the seer abandoning his merits and sins, reduces every thing to unity in the Supreme indestructible (soul). Thus says the Sruti:—As beasts and birds approach not a blazing mountain, so faults never approach those who know Brahman". (18).

"It has been also said elsewhere when the sage, conditioned as prana, has obtained the mastery over his mind, and left outside all the objects of the senses, then let him remain void of all volition. Since the individual soul called prana springs from the non-prana (Supreme Intelligence); hence let the (apparent) prana fix itself in the fourth stage (of pure intelligence). Thus saith the Sruti:—"That which is itself apart from intellect, which yet abides in the midst of intellect, the inconceivable, the supremely secret, on this let him fix his intellect (chitta); thus this subtile body having no object, is merged (in the Supreme)." (19).

"It hath also been said elsewhere: there is yet a higher exercise of attention (dharana) for the sage; after pressing the end of his tongue against his palate and restraining his voice, mind and breath, he beholds Brahman by contemplation. When thus by the annihilation of the mind, he beholds the self-manifesting soul, the less than the least, as identified with the supreme soul, then having seen the soul thus identified, he becomes divested of self. Being thus divested, he becomes unlimited, destitute of material support, only an object of pure thought. This is the great secret,—final emancipation. Thus saith the Sruti:—By the serenity of the intellect he destroys all action, good or bad; with serene soul, abiding in the Divine Soul, he enjoys undying bliss." (20).

"It hath been said also: the artery, called sushumna, which supplies the passage for the vital air, rises upward (from the heart) and is interrupted in the middle of the palate. By means of this artery, conjoined with the prana (brought under subjection), the mind merged by contemplation into its object Brahman, and the repetition of the mystic syllable Om, let him rise upwards turning the end of his tongue on the palate, and uniting the senses (with the prana and mind). Let the absence of limitation contemplate itself (i. e. let him contemplate on the unlimited Brahman). Then he attains freedom from all organs; and becomes no longer capable of pain or pleasure. He gains absolute unity." Thus saith the Sruti:—"First having mastered prana, then having fixed it on the palate, having crossed the state of limitation, let him in the crown of his head, merge (the soul) in the unlimited Brahman." (21).

"Thus he may contemplate Om as the sound and non-sound &c. (22 and 23). Then Om as light, and all other significates of Om." (24 &c).

Those who may think the English version of the lesson on Yoga as not very explicit, will do well to consult the subjoined text in the original.