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 VI - Refutation of fatalism

Vasishtha resumed saying:—

Now fate being no other than the result of our actions of the former state of our existence, it is possible to leave it at a distance, and to extricate one's self (from its fetters) by betaking himself to good company and study of moral Sastras.

2. Whatever one attempts to do, he readily meets with its reward: this being the effect of exertion. Fate is no other but the same thing.

3. Men laboring hard, are heard to exclaim "O how painful it is": so men suffering under fate cry out "O hard is fate!"(so the one is as bad as the other).

4. Thus then fate being no other than a name for our past actions, it is as easily overcome (by present acts) as a boy (is subdued) by an adult youth.

5. As some bad conduct of yesterday is corrected by proper behaviour of the present day, so the anterior fate is removed by (posterior) acts.

6. Those carnal minded libertines who do not try the means (of reforming their fate), but depend upon the favor of fortune, are perverted in their nature and marked for misery.

7. Thus if the acts of manliness are capable of forefending one's misfortunes, it must be acknowledged that manliness which destroys the other, is the mightier of the two.

8. As of two fruits growing on the same fore-stalk, the one is found to be empty within and the other full of juice, so the fruit of fate is rendered abortive by that of manliness.

9. Seeing the decay of the best things in the world, we must own the predominant power of the cause of this decay.

10. Like two rams our fate and exertions are fighting with one another, wherein the victory is always on the side of the stronger.

11. In the case of the royal elephant's taking up a beggar boy for being made the ruler (of a country), its cause is to be attributed more to the vote of the country-men and citizens (than to chance or fortune).

12. As a man takes his food and grinds it under his teeth, so is one (depending on fate) crushed by the stronger party relying on his exertions.

13. Inferior servants are thus employed like clods of earth by their more active masters in any work they like.

14. Silly and impotent men seeing the strong thriving by their exertions whether apparent or unseen, are apt to attribute it to their good fortune (instead of their diligence).

15. The strong efforts of men truly constitute their presiding fortune, and these two are viewed alike by the wise.

16. In the case of the (aforesaid) beggar boy's installation to the ruling and protection of the people of a realm, the unanimous concurrence of the law and ministers, of the elephant and citizens (is to be taken as the chief cause).

17. Should the beggar boy be ever elected for a ruler by the royal elephant itself (without the assent of men), in that case it is to be attributed to the boy's good fortune only (because there was no sensible exertion on his side).

18. Present acts destroy those of the past life and so also the vice versa comes to pass; but the exertions of a man are undoubtedly successful (at all times).

19. Of these two powers that of the present state is manifestly superior to the other; hence it is as possible to overcome the past by the present, as to lick a boy by an adult.

20. As a hail shower lays waste the cultivation of a whole year, so also doth the predominant fate sometimes overpower the attempts of this life.

21. However it does not behoove us to be sorry at the loss of our long earned treasure (as of the harvest), for what avails our sorrow at what is beyond our control.

22. If I should sorrow for what I have not the power to prevent, I must then weep all the days of my life because I am not to be spared by death.

23. All our acts are subject to their proper time and place, and to the modes of their operation and combination according to the course of nature; hence it is that the more diligent are the most successful (everywhere).

24. We ought therefore to rely in our exertions and clearness of understanding by the help of Sastras and association with the wise, for fording over the ocean of this world.

25. Actions of the past and present lives are the two fruit trees growing in the garden of humanity; of which the one that is cultivated best, thrives and fructifies the most.

26. He who is unable to overcome his false fate by his best exertions (in this life), is no better than an ignorant beast that has no power over its pain or pleasure.

27. He who thinks of going to heaven or hell by the will of the Maker, is also a slave to destiny and no better than a beast.

28. The man of a noble mind and one employed in acts of goodness, breaks off from the errors of the world as a lion from its cage.

29. Those who vainly imagine themselves to be led about by some (supernatural power), and so slight their necessary duties, are to be shunned at a distance as the mean and base.

30. There are thousands of acts that are attended with gain or loss to their doers; but it is the duty of man to do what is right whether they are pleasant or painful.

31. He who does not transgress the bounds of law, nor forsake the duties (of his race), is attended by every blessing abundant as the pearls in the sea.

32. Devoted diligence in acts leading to one's object, is termed to be his manliness by the wise; and that being guided by the Sastra leads to his success.

33. An act accompanied by exertion, is of itself the accomplisher of one's object, and the company of the wise and study of good books serve to raise a man by brightening his understanding.

34. The infinite happiness or a tranquil spirit is known as the Summum bonum by the wise; and those good works are fit for study which lead to that state.

35. The acts of our former lives constitute what we call our destiny, and they return to us from the region of the gods, for our good in both worlds.

36. We blame the fate which is a creation of the fancy of the ignorant, who by their adoration of the same come to meet their destruction.

37. One benefits himself always by his activity in both worlds, as his good acts of to-day gives a grace to those of yesterday.

38. Whoso therefore applies himself with diligence to his acts, reaps their fruits like that of an Amalaki in his palm, which though it is within his grasp, yet it could not be obtained without the cost of some labour:

39. It is the ignorant only that depart from the beaten path, and fall into the error of fatalism. Therefore give up that false faith in an unreal fate, which is a mere creation of the imagination and devoid of any cause or effect; and apply to your manly exertions.

40. The fruit of following the Sastras and observing the good customs and local usages, is long known (to be wholesome), as exciting the heart and the exertion of the limbs to action. This it is what they called "manly activity."

41. All wise men after discussion of the subject of fate and acts, have applied themselves to activity by utter rejection of fatality, and accomplished their ends by attendance on the good and wise.

42. Knowing the efficacy of activity, every one should betake himself to his personal exertions, and attain to his highest perfection by attending to good Sastras and the wise counsels of learned men.

43. And knowing the bondage of our births to be full of pain, let people strive for the exercise of their activities, and obtain the true and sweet blessing of tranquility by their attendance on the wise.