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...

Section 1 - Divine Adoration.

Hail The Eternal.

Om, salutation to the self-same Reality, from whom all beings proceed, by whom they are manifest, upon whom they depend, and in whom they become extinct (in the end).

2. He is the knower, the knowledge and all that is to be known. He is the seer, the (act of) seeing, and all that is to be seen. He is the actor, the cause and the effect: therefore salutation to Him (who is all) knowledge himself.

3. Salutation to Him (who is) supreme bliss itself, from whom flow the dews of delight (as water springs from a fountain) both in heaven and earth, and who is the life of all.


Section II - Narrative of Sutikshna.

4. One Sutikshna, a Brahmana, whose mind was full of doubts, went to the hermitage of Agasti and asked the sage respectfully:—

5. Oh great sage! that art informed in all the ways and truths of virtue, and knowest with certainty all the Sastras, I am in a great doubt (about something) which I pray you will kindly remove.

6. Tell me whether a man's acts or his knowledge or both of these, is in your opinion, the cause of his emancipation.

Agasti replied:—


As the flight of birds in the air is effected by means of both their wings, so the highest state of emancipation is attained through the instrumentality of both knowledge and acts.

8. It is neither our acts nor knowledge alone that produces emancipation, but both together are known as the means of it.


Section III. - Anecdote of Karunya.

9. I will recite to you an instance on this subject from the old traditions, relating a Brahman named Karunya, who was learned in the Vedas in days of yore.

10. He was the son of Agnivesya and accomplished in the Vedas and all their branches, and after finishing his studies at the preceptor's, returned to his own abode.

11. He remained a sceptic at home, holding his taciturnity and inertness to acts: when his father Agnivesya saw his son so slack in his duties, he upbraided him thus for his good.

12-13. Agnivesya said:—

Why my son do you not discharge your duties, tell me how can you succeed (in anything) if you remain inactive, and tell me also the reason of your cessation from acts.

Karunya replied:—


The offering of daily oblations, and performance of morning and evening devotions during life, are inculcated in the Veda and law as the active duties (of men).

15. But it is neither by acts or riches, nor by means of progeny, that one obtains his liberation, it is solely by self-denial that Stoics taste the ambrosia (of emancipation).

16. Tell me my father! which of these two ordinances is to be observed by me? Doubtful of this I have become indifferent to acts.

Agasti said:—


Hear me my son, that Karunya after saying so held his silence; when his father seeing him thus, rejoined his speech.

Agnivesya said:—


Hear me relate a narrative (to you) my son, and you having fully considered its purport in your mind, may do as you may choose (best for you).


Section IV - Story of Suruchi.

19. There was a damsel named Suruchi, the best of the Apsara nymphs, who was seated on the mountain peak of Himalaya, beset by peacocks around.

20. Here Kinnaras inflamed by love sported with their mates, and the fall of heavenly streams (Ganga and Yamuna), served to expurgate the gravest sins (of men).

21. She beheld a messenger of Indra making his way through the sky; and then this most fortunate and best of Apsaras, addressed him thus:

Suruchi said:—


O thou herald of gods, tell me kindly whence thou comest and whither art thou destined at present.


Section V - Account of Arishtanemi.

23. The divine Ariel replied:—Well hast thou asked Oh pretty browed maid, and I will tell thee all as it is. Know, Arishtanemi the royal sage, who has made over his realm to his son.

24. He has (now) with religious indifference (to the world), set out to the forest for (practice of) asceticism, and is performing his austerities on the Gandha Madana mountains.

25. I am now returning from there after discharge of my errand, and repairing to Sakra's (palace) to report the matter.

Suruchi said:—


Tell me, my Lord, what matter has taken place there. I am with submission (much) inquisitive after it, nor shouldest thou cause me (the pain of) anxiety.

27. The messenger replied:—

Hear me gentle maid, relate to thee in length (everything) as it has occurred.

28. On hearing that the king was practising the utmost rigors of asceticism in that forest, Indra, the lord of Gods, desired me to take this heavenly car and repair at once to the spot.

29. "Take this car," said he, "bearing the (dancing) Apsaras equipped with all their musical instruments, and furnished with a band of Gandharvas, Siddhas, Yakshas and Kinnaras."

30. "Convey them," said he, "with all their wired instruments, flutes and drums to the auspices of the Sylvan mount of Gandha Madana.

31. "There having placed the Prince Aristanemi in the vehicle, bring him to the enjoyment of heavenly delight in this city of Amaravati (the seat of immortals)."

32. The messenger added:—

Receiving this injunction of Indra and taking the car with all its equipments, I proceeded to that mountain.

33. Having arrived at the mountain and advancing to the hermitage of the king, I delivered to him the orders of the great Indra.

34. Hearing my words, Oh happy damsel! the king spoke to me with reluctance and said: "I wish to ask thee something O messenger, which (I hope) thou wilt deign to answer.

35. "Tell me what good and what evils there are in heaven, that knowing them (beforehand), I may think of settling there as I may choose."

36. I answered, saying:—

In heaven there is ample reward for merit, conferring perfect bliss (to all); but it is the degree of meritoriousness that leads one to higher heavens.

37. By moderate virtue, one is certainly entitled to a middle station, and virtue of an inferior order, leads a person to a lower position (in the heavens).

38. But one's virtue is destroyed by his impatience at the excellence of his betters, by his haughtiness to his equals, and by his joy at the inferiority of others.

39. When one's virtue is thus destroyed, he must enter the abode of mortals. These and the like are the effects of merit and demerit (with us) in heaven.

40. Hearing this, Oh good maiden, the king answered and said: "I do not, Oh divine messenger! like the heaven that is of such like conditions.

41. "I will henceforth practise the most austere form of devotion, and abandon this my unhallowed human frame in the same way, as the snake abandons his time-worn-skin (slough).

42. "Be thou pleased, Oh delegate of the Gods! to return with thy heavenly car to the presence of the great Indra whence thou comest, and fare thee well."

43. The celestial emissary resumed:—

Thus being bid, I went Oh goodly dame to the presence of Sakra to report the matter. Who upon my rehearsal of the matter, was struck with great wonder.

44. Then the great Indra again spoke to me with a sweet voice and said: "Go you my herald again to that king, and take him to the hermitage of Valmiki.

45. "He is well acquainted with every truth, tell him my errand for the instruction of the dispassionate prince, saying:—

46. "Oh thou great sage! remonstrate with this prince who is humble and dispassionate, and dislikes the enjoyments of heaven.

47. "So that this prince who is aggrieved at the miseries of the world, may gradually come to attain his emancipation."

48. I then went and explained my mission to the royal hermit, took him to the sage Valmiki (who had grown amidst the ant-hills), and to whom I delivered great Indra's charge for the king's practice (of the means) for his final liberation.

49. Then the sage (named after the ant-hill in which he had grown), welcomed the King with gentle inquiries regarding his welfare.

50. The prince replied:—

"Oh great seer, that art informed in all the truths of religion, and art the greatest of them that know the knowable, thy very sight has given me all that I desired, and therein is all my welfare.

51. "Great sire, I wish to learn from thee how I may escape the miseries which arise from one's connection with this world, and which (I hope) thou wilt reveal to me without reserve."

Valmiki said:—


Hear me Oh king! I will relate to you the entire Ramayana, by the hearing and understanding of which you will be saved even while in this life.


Section VI - History of Rama.

53. Hear me Oh great and intelligent king, repeat to you the sacred conversation which took place between Rama and Vasishtha relating the way to liberation, and which I well know from my knowledge (of human nature).

54. The prince said:—

"O thou best of sages, tell me precisely who and what this Rama was, what was his bondage and how he got freed from it."

Valmiki said:—


Hari was proscribed under an imprecation to take upon himself the form of a prince, with an assumed ignorance as that of a man of little understanding.

56. The prince said: "Tell me who was the author of that imprecation, and how it could befall on Rama, who was the personification of consciousness and felicity, and the very image of wisdom."

57. Valmiki replied: Sanat-kumara, who was devoid of desires, had been residing at the abode of Brahma, to which Vishnu, the Lord of the three worlds, was a visitor from Vaikuntha.

58. The Lord God was welcomed by all the inhabitants of the Brahmaloka as well as by Brahma himself, except by Sanat-kumara who was thus beheld and addressed to by the god.

59. "Sanat-kumar, it is ignorance that makes thee forsake thy desires

for fear of regeneration (on earth), therefore must thou be born under the name of Sara-janma to be troubled with desires."

60. Sanat-kumara in return denounced Vishnu by saying:—"Even all discerning as thou art, thou shalt have to sacrifice thine omniscience for some time, and pass as an ignorant mortal (on earth)."

61. There was another anathema pronounced upon Vishnu by the sage Bhrigu, who seeing his wife killed (by him), became incensed with anger and said: "Vishnu thou shalt have also to be bereft of thy wife."

62. He was again cursed by Vrinda to be deprived of his wife, on account of his beguiling her (in the form of her husband).

63. Again when the pregnant wife of Deva-datta was killed (with fear) on seeing the man-lion figure of Vishnu;

64. The leonine Hari was denounced by the husband, who was sorely afflicted at the loss of his consort, to be thus separated from his wife also.

65. Thus denounced by Bhrigu, by Sanat-kumara, Deva-datta and Vrinda, he was obliged (to be born in this earth) in the figure of a human being.

66. I have thus explained to you the causes of all the imprecations (which were passed on Vishnu), and will now relate to you all other things which you shall have carefully to attend to.