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 VIII - Invalidation of destiny

Vasishtha continued saying that:—

What does destiny mean, which has no form, nor act, no motion nor might, but is a false notion rooted in the (minds) of the ignorant.

2. It is a word that has come into vogue from the idea of the future retribution of one's past actions (or retributive justice) and the like, which is designated "destiny".

3. From this the ignorant are led to believe that there is a thing as destiny: the inscrutability of which has led them to the fallacy as that of the supposition of a snake in a rope.

4. As a past misdeed of yesterday is rectified by a good action of the following day, let this day therefore supercede the past, and employ yourself to-day to action.

5. The perverted understanding that believes in a destiny grounded on its erroneous conception, may well enter into the fire from his conviction that it will not burn him unless it is so destined.

6. If destiny is the sole cause of every thing, why then should a man betake himself to his actions of bathing and making his offerings, sitting and walking, all of which may be done by his destiny.

7. What then is the necessity of one's advising another to do a thing when destiny is the director of all? Let then all be silent and say nothing to nobody.

8. There is no one to be seen on earth that is motionless except the bodies of the dead; and if it is action that produces anything, it is useless to believe in destiny.

9. Nor is there any co-operative power of the invisible destiny perceptible in the actions of men, whence it is but a meaningless word.

10. Two things as the implements and members of the body being joined together, have each their several action; (as that of the pen and razor and the hand in writing and shaving); but the hand being wanted, nothing can be done by destiny (with its having those tools).

11. There is no such clear idea of a destiny like those of the mind and intellect, even in the (illiterate) cow-herd or in the (learned) pandit. Hence it is a mere non-entity.

12. If the concept of destiny be other (than that of an agent), it must mean something else; or if it be the same thing (with the agent) why then give it a different name (as destiny)? If it be proved to be an imaginary term, then why not imagine your exertion to be agent (of your action)?

13. The immaterial destiny like vacuity has no connection with the material body. If it had a form or figure it would be visible (to some one or other); hence destiny is a nullity.

14. If destiny is the main spring of the movements of all beings in the three worlds, then let all creatures rest at ease (with the assurance) that destiny will perform their parts.

15. The belief that we are guided by destiny and do as we are led to do, is a deception and an allegation (of self excuse); in fact there is no such thing as destiny.

16. It is the fool that fancies to himself a destiny and relies on it to his own disadvantage; while the intelligent raise themselves to better states by means of their exertion.

17. Say who is there among the mighty and brave, the intelligent and learned, that looks or waits upon destiny in this world?

18. Destiny may be said good, if it can have the power of saving a man from being beheaded, whom fortune-tellers had pronounced by their calculation to be long lived.

19. Again, O Raghava, should one who is foretold by his fortune-teller to become a learned man, attain his learning without being taught in it, then may we believe fortune to be true.

20. Mark, O Rama! how the sage Viswamitra has cast away his destiny at a distance; and attained to Brahmahood by his own exertions.

21. Look at us and others who have become sages, that it was by our industry we became aeronauts or wanderers in the etherial regions.

22. Remember, O Rama, how the chiefs of the Danava race, have established their empires on earth by their prowess, and by discarding their destinies altogether.

23. Look again how the chiefs of gods have wrested the extensive earth from those demons by their valourous deeds of slaying and harassing them (in battle).

24. See Rama! how they make handsome wicker vessels (of bamboo work) for the holding of water by their own industry, and without the aid of any destiny to the completion of the same.

25. In all our works of giving and receiving, walking, resting and the like, we see no causality of destiny in their completion, as we see of medicines (in healing diseases).

26. Therefore O Rama, give up this destiny of your mistaken fancy; which is in reality devoid of its cause or effect, and is a false and ideal nullity; and betake yourself to your best exertions.