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 XVIII - Obloquy of the body

This body of ours that struts about on earth, is but a mass of humid entrails and tendons, tending to decay and disease, and to our torment alone.

2. It is neither quiescent nor wholly sentient, neither ignorant nor quite intelligent. Its inherent soul is a wonder, and it is reason (and its absence) that makes it graceful or otherwise.

3. The sceptic is doubtful of its inertness and intellection: and the unreasonable and ignorant people are ever subject to error and illusion.

4. The body is as easily gratified with a little, as it is exhausted in an instant, hence there is nothing so pitiable, abject and worthless as our bodies.

5. The face is as frail as a fading flower: now it shoots forth its teeth like filaments, and now it dresses itself with blooming and blushing smiles as blossoms.

6. The body is as a tree, having its arms resembling the branches, the shoulder-blades like stems, the teeth as rows of birds, the eye-holes like its hollows, and the head as a big fruit.

7. The ears are as two wood-peckers, the fingers of both hands and feet as so many leaves of the branches, the diseases as (parasite) plants, and the acts of the body are as axes felling this tree, which is the seat of the two birds the soul and intelligence.

8. This shady arbor of the body, is but the temporary resort of the passing soul, what then whether it be akin to or apart from anybody, or whether one would rely in it or not.

9. What man is there, O venerable fathers! that would stoop to reflect within himself, that this body is repeatedly assumed only to serve him as a boat to pass over the sea of the world.

10. Who can rely any confidence in his body, which is as a forest full of holes, and abounds in hairs resembling its trees?

11. The body composed of flesh, nerves and bones, resembles a drum without any musical sound, and yet I sit watching it as a cat (for the squeaking of mice).

12. Our bodies are as trees growing in the forest of the world, bearing the flowers of anxiety, and perforated by the worms of woe and misery, and mounted upon by the apish mind.

13. The body with its smiling face appears a goodly plant, bearing the fruits both of good and evil; but it has become the abode of the dragon of avarice, and a rookery of the ravens of anger.

14. Our arms are as the boughs of trees, and our open palms like beautiful clusters of flowers, the other limbs are as twigs and leaves, and are continually shaken by the breath of life.

15. The two legs are the erect stems (of the arbor of the body), and the organs are the seats of the birds of sense. Its youthful bloom is a shade for the passing traveller of love.

16. The hanging hairs of the head resemble the long grass growing on the tree (of the body); and egoism like a vulture (in hollow), cracks the ear with its hideous shrieks.

17. Our various desires like the pendant roots and fibres of the fig tree, seem to support its trunk of the body, though it is worn out by labour to unpleasantness.

18. The body is the big abode of its owner's egoism, and therefore it is of no interest to me whether it lasts or falls (for egoism is the bane of happiness).

19. This body which is linked with its limbs like beasts of burthen labour, and is the abode of its mistress Avarice—painted over by her taints of passions, affords me no delight whatever.

20. This abode of the body which is built by the frame-work of the back-bone and ribs, and composed of cellular vessels, tied together by ropes of the entrails, is no way desirable to me.

21. This mansion of the body, which is tied with strings of the tendons, and built with the clay of blood and moisture, and plastered white with old age, is no way suited to my liking.

22. The mind is the architect and master of this bodily dwelling, and our activities are its supports and servants; it is filled with errors and delusions which I do not like.

23. I do not like this dwelling of the body with its bed of pleasure on one side, and the cries of pain as those of its children on the other, and where our evil desires are at work like its bawling hand-maids.

24. I cannot like this body, which like a pot of filth, is full of the foulness of worldly affairs, and mouldering under the rust of our ignorance.

25. It is a hovel standing on the two props of our heels, and supported by the two posts of our legs.

26. It is no lovely house where the external organs are playing their parts, while its mistress the understanding sits inside with her brood of anxieties.

27. It is a hut which is thatched over with the hairs on the head, decorated with the turrets of the ears, and adorned with jewels on the crest, which I do not like.

28. This house of the body is walled about by all its members, and beset by hairs growing like ears of corn on it. It has an empty space of the belly within (which is never full), and which I do not like.

29. This body with its nails as those of spiders, and its entrails growling within like barking dogs, and the internal winds emitting fearful sounds, is never delightsome to me.

30. What is this body but a passage for the ceaseless inhaling and breathing out of the vital air? Its eyes are as two windows which are continually oped and closed by the eyelids. I do not like such a mansion as this.

31. This mansion of the body with its formidable (wide-open) door of the mouth, and (ever-moving) bolt of the tongue and bars of the teeth, is not pleasant to me.

32. This house of the body, having the white-wash of ointments on the outer skin, and the machinery of the limbs in continued motion, and the restless mind burrowing its base like the mischievous mouse, is not liked by me.

33. Sweet smiles like shining lamps, serve to lighten this house of the body for a moment, but it is soon darkened by a cloud of melancholy, wherefore I cannot be pleased with it.

34. This body which is the abode of diseases, and subject to wrinkles and decay, and all kinds of pain, is a mansion wherewith I am not pleased.

35. I do not like this wilderness of the body, which is infested by the bears of the senses. It is empty and hollow within, with dark groves (of entrails) in the inside.

36. I am unable, O chief of sages! to drag my domicile of the body, just as a weak elephant is incapable to draw out another immerged in a muddy pit.

37. Of what good is affluence or royalty, this body and all its efforts to one, when the hand of time must destroy them all in a few days.

38. Tell me, O sage! what is charming in this body, that is only a composition of flesh and blood both within and without it and frail in its nature.

39. The body does not follow the soul upon death; tell me Sir, what regard should the learned have for such an ungrateful thing as this.

40. It is as unsteady as the ears of an infuriate elephant, and as fickle as drops of water that trickle on their tips. I should like therefore to abandon it, before it comes to abandon me.

41. It is as tremulous as the leaves of a tree shaken by the breeze, and oppressed by diseases and fluctuations of pleasure and pain. I have no relish in its pungency and bitterness.

42. With all its food and drink for evermore, it is as tender as a leaflet and is reduced to leanness in spite of all our cares, and runs fast towards its dissolution.

43. It is repeatedly subjected to pleasure and pain, and to the succession of affluence and destitution, without being ashamed of itself as the shameless vulgar herd (at their ups and downs).

44. Why nourish this body any longer, when it acquires no excellence nor durability of its state, after its enjoyment of prosperity and exercise of authority for a length of time.

45. The bodies of the rich as well as those of the poor, are alike subject to decay and death at their appointed times.

46. The body lies as a tortoise in the cave of avarice amidst the ocean of the world. It remains there in the mud in a mute and torpid state, without an effort for its liberation.

47. Our bodies floating as heaps of wood on the waves of the world, serve at last for the fuel of funeral fire (on the pile); except a few of these which pass for human bodies in the sight of the wise.

48. The wise have little to do with this tree of the body, which is beset by evils like noxious orchids about it, and produces the fruit of perdition.

49. The body like a frog, lies merged in the mire of mortality, where it perishes no sooner it is known to have lived and gone.

50. Our bodies are as empty and fleeting as gusts of wind, passing over a dusty ground, where nobody knows whence they come, and whither they go.

51. We know not the course of our bodies (their transmigrations), as we do not know those of the winds, light and our thoughts; they all come and go, but from where and whither, we know nothing of.

52. Fie and shame to them, that are so giddy with the ebriety of their error, as to rely on any state or durability of their bodies.

53. They are the best of men, O sage! whose minds are at rest with the thought, that their ego does not subsist in their bodies, nor are the bodies theirs at the end (of their lives).

54. Those mistaken men that have a high sense of honor and fear dishonor, and take a pleasure in the excess of their gains, are verily the killers both of their bodies and souls.

55. We are deceived by the delusion of egoism, which like a female fiend (sorceress) lies hid within the cavity of the body with all her sorcery.

56. Our reason unaided (by religion) is kept in bondage like a female slave within the prison of our bodies, by the malicious fiend of false knowledge (or sophistry).

57. It is certain that whatever we see here is unreal, and yet it is a wonder, that the mass of men are led to deception by the vile body, which has injured the cause of the soul.

58. Our bodies are as fleeting as the drops of a water-fall, and they fall off in a few days like the withered leaves of trees.

59. They are as quickly dissolved as bubbles in the ocean; it is in vain therefore that it should hurl about in the whirlpool of business.

60. I have not a moment's reliance in this body, which is ever hastening to decay;and I regard its changeful delusions as a state of dreaming.

61. Let those who have any faith in the stability of the lightning, of the autumn clouds, and in glacial castles, place their reliance in this body.

62. It has outdone all other things that are doomed to destruction in its instability and perishableness. It is moreover subject to very many evils; wherefore I have set it at naught as a straw, and thereby obtained my repose.