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 XXVII - Vanity of the world

Rama said:—

1. O sage! this seemingly pleasing but actually unpleasant world, has nothing in it that is productive of such a thing as can afford tranquility to the soul.

2. After the playful boyhood is over, the mind wastes itself in the society of women like the deer fallen in a cavern, then the body bends down under old age, and the man has only to grieve (for his folly).

3. As the body is stricken with the frost of old age, its beauty flies afar from it like the bloom of the fading lotus, and then the fountain of man's worldliness is at once dried up.

4. As the body gets towards its decline, so much doth death rejoice in it. The body grows lean with grey hairs upon the head, just as a creeper fades away with the flowers upon it.

5. All living creatures are borne away by the stream of avarice, which upsets the tree of contentment growing on the bank and flows on for ever in this world.

6. Human body is like a vessel covered with skin; and glides over the ocean of the world (without its helmsman of reason). It is tossed about by sensual pleasures, and goes down under the water by the pressure of its whale-like passions.

7. The world is a wilderness abounding in creepers of avarice and trees of sensuality, with hundreds of desires as their branches. Our minds like monkeys pass their time in roving about this forest without getting the fruits (they seek).

8. Those that do not yield to grief in troubles, that are not elated with prosperity, nor smitten at heart by women, are rare in this world.

9. Those who fight boldly in the battle fields and withstand the war-elephants, are not so very brave in my opinion, as those who withstand the surges of the mind amidst the streams of carnal appetites.

10. I see no such deeds in the world which endure to the last (or final emancipation) of men. Actions proceeding from a desire of fruition in fools, serve only for their restlessness on earth.

11. Such men are rare in the world, that have filled the corners of the world with their fame and valour, who have filled their houses with true riches acquired by honest means and an unwavering patience.

12. Good and bad fortune always overtake a man, even if he were living in an aperture of the rock or within the walls of mountains, or even if he were enclosed within an iron built closet.

13. Our sons and riches are mere objects of delight to us. It is as erroneous to suppose them to be of any good to us at the end, as to expect any benefit from the decoction of poison.

14. Old people being reduced to calamitous circumstances at the pitiable state of the decay of their bodies and decline of life, have greatly to be tormented at the thoughts of the impious deeds (of their past lives).

15. Men having passed their early days in the gratification of their desires and other worldly pursuits at the expense of the acts of virtue and piety, are as much troubled with anxieties at the end, that their minds are seized with a tremor like that of the plumage of a peacock shaken by the breeze. How then can a man attain to tranquility at any time?

16. Wealth whether forthcoming or unattainable, whether got by labour or given by fortune, is all as deceitful to the worldly minded, as the high waters of rivers (swelling only to subside).

17. That such and such desirable acts are to be done, are the constant thoughts of men, who desire to please their sons and wives, until they are worn out with age and become crazy in their minds.

18. Like leaves on trees that grow to fall, and falling make room for others to shoot forth, are those men who devoid of reason, die away daily to be born again.

19. Men having travelled here and there and far and near, return to their homes at the end of the day; but none of them can have rest by day or night, except the virtuous few that live by honest dealings.

20. After quelling his enemies and getting enough of riches in his clutches, the rich man just sits down to enjoy his gains; when death comes upon him, and interrupts his joy.

21. Seeing the vile trash of worldly gains earned and accumulated by the basest means to be but transitory, the infatuated mob do not perceive their approaching dissolution.

22. Men loving their own lives, and making mouths at the demise of others, are like a herd of sheep bound to the stake, and staring at the slaughter of their fellows, yet feeding themselves to fall as fattened victims to death.

23. The multitude of people on earth, is ever seen to appear in and disappear from it as fast as the passing waves of the sea, but who can tell whence they come and whither they return.

24. Women are as delicate as poisonous creepers, that with their red petaled lips and garments, and their eyes as busy as fluttering bees, are killers of mankind and stealers of their ravished hearts.

25. Men are as passengers in a procession, repairing from this side and that to join at the place of their meeting. Such is the delusive union of our wives and friends here (for our meeting in the next world).

26. As the burning and extinguishing of the lamp depend on the wick and its moistening oil; so does our course in this transitory world (depend on our acts and affections only). Nobody knows the true cause of this mysterious existence.

27. The revolution of the world is comparable with that of the potter's wheel and the floating bubbles of rain water; that appear to be lasting to the ignorant observer only.

28. The blooming beauty and graces (of youth), are destined to be snatched away at the approach of old age. The youthful hopes also of men fly at a distance like the bloom of lotus buds in winter.

29. The tree which is ordained to be useful to mankind by the loads of fruits and flowers that it bears upon its body, is fated also to be hewn down by the cruel axe at last. How then can beneficent men expect to avoid the cruel hand of death.

30. Society with relatives is (of all others) as perilous as that of a poisonous plant; it is pleasant for its domestic affections, which are in reality but delusions of the soul.

31. What is that thing in the world, which has no fault in it; and what is that which does not afflict or grieve us; what being is born that is not subjected to death, and what are those acts that are free from deceit?

32. Those living a Kalpa age are reckoned as short-lived, compared with those living for many Kalpas, and they again are so in respect to Brahma. Hence the parts of time being all finite, the ideas of their length or shortness are altogether false.

33. Things that are called mountains are made of rocks, those that are called trees are made of wood, and those that are made of flesh are called animals, and man is the best of them. But they are all made of matter, and doomed to death and decay.

34. Many things appear to be endued with intelligence, and the heavenly bodies seem to be full of water; but physicists have found out by analysis that, there is no other thing any where except (minutiae of) matter.

35. It is no wonder that this (unreal world) should appear a miraculous (reality) to the wise, and seem marvelously striking in the minds of mankind; since the visions in our dreams also appear so very fascinating to every one in their state of dreaming.

36. Those that are corrupted in their greediness (after worldly enjoyments), will not even in their old age, receive the sermons on their eternal concerns, which they think to be false chimeras as those of a flower or a creeper growing in the sky.

37. People are still deluded in their minds in wishing to attain the state of their superiors; but they fall down still lower like beasts (goats) from the top of a hill, in wishing to lay hold on the fruits of a verdant creeper out of their reach.

38. Young men spending their wealth in personal gratifications, are as useless as plants growing in the bowels of a deep and inaccessible cavern, which spread their fruits and flowers, leaves and branches and their shades to the use of nobody.

39. Men are found to resemble the black antelopes (in their wanderings):some of them roving about the sweet, soft and beautiful sceneries of the country, and others roaming in sterile tracts and parts of boundless forests. (i. e. Some living in the society of men, and others as recluses from it).

40. The daily and diversified acts of nature are all pernicious in their nature; they appear pleasant and ravishing to the heart for a time, but are attended with pain in the end, and fill the mind of the wise with dismay.

41. Man is addicted to greediness, and is prone to a variety of wicked shifts and plots; a good man is not now to be seen even in a dream, and there is no act which is free from difficulty. I know not how to pass this state of human life.