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 IX - Investigation of acts

Rama asked:—

"Will you Sir, that art versed in all knowledge, kindly explain the true sense of destiny in popular use."

Vasistha replied:—

2. It is a man's activity and no other, O Raghava, that is the cause of all his actions, and the recipient of their consequence, wherein destiny has nothing to do.

3. Destiny is a mere imaginary thing, which neither exists nor acts nor feels (their effects). It is neither seen nor regarded (by any body).

4. The good or bad result which proceeds from the accomplished acts of successful activity, is expressed by the word destiny.

5. The wished for and unwished for consequences resulting from the good and bad deeds of human activity, are termed the effects of destiny by people.

6. Human activity which is the only cause of some unavoidable future consequence, is called as destiny by the majority of mankind.

7. Truly, O Raghava! destiny though void as vacuity, appears as real to some body, who thinks it to be an active agent, while others know it to be inactive.

8. Again destiny is a mere saying uttered by men upon the result of some good or bad effect of their actual exertion, that "it is this which has produced the other."

9. It is my belief and I have known it for certain that, destiny is no more than the word uttered by people upon their attainment of the object of their exertions.

10. Destiny is that word of consolation which is uttered by men, as significant of the good or evil which they meet with and which they call to be the effect of the other.

11. Rama asked:—How is it sir, that you who are all wise, do now contradict your own assertion that destiny is the result of the stock of our former acts (of past life)?

12. Vasishtha answered saying:—Well said O Rama! you know every thing;but hear me tell you the whole of it, whereby you will have a firm belief in the nullity of destiny.

13. All the various desires which men may have entertained in their minds before, even those come to be accounted as his deeds (or mental actions) at last.

14. All animals are seen also to act according to their desires, and to do nothing to which an inclination was wanting in their natures.

15. As the villager goes to his village and the townsman comes to the town: so it is the nature of the desire that leads men to their particular acts.

16. The keen and firm resolution with which an act was done in the former state of life, that verily is termed destiny in the successive births, or generations of living beings.

17. Thus are the acts of all active beings conformable with their natures, and the actions of men are in accordance to their desires, the desire is no other than the mind itself, and the mind is self-same with the human soul.

18. The mind is the soul and cause of all acts which they call the doings of destiny, certainly there is no other thing as destiny beside the mind.

19. This mind is verily the living soul, which acts as it desires, and enjoys accordingly the fruits thereof, and is same with destiny.

20. Know Rama that the mind, the heart, desire, action and destiny are synonymous terms, and applied by the virtuous to the unascertainable soul (evolved in these forms).

21. Now whatever the so named soul undertakes to do continually and with a firm resolution, it obtains the fruit thereof accordingly.

22. It is by means of the activity or exertion of this soul, and by no other means, O support of Raghu's race, that it obtains everything, and may it lead you to your good only.

Rama said:—

23. Being caught in the net of my pre-existent desire, I remain a captive to them and do as they lead me to. Say then, O sage what else I can do.

Vasishtha replied:—

24. So then O Rama, you will be able to reach to your lasting good, if you will but exert your activity for it, without which there is no other way to it.

25. These desires are of two kinds, some leading to good and others to evil. Hence the desire of one's prior state must have been of one kind or other.

26. If you will be guided now by the pure desires (of your nature), you will be gradually led by means of your good acts to attain the state of your lasting welfare.

27. But if your wrong inclinations tend to lead you to difficulties, you must try your best to overcome such propensities perforce.

28. You Rama are wise and perfectly intelligent, and not composed of a dull (material) body only; now if you should be in need of another's guidance to waken your intellect, say where lies your own intelligence.

29. If you would have one to enlighten your understanding, say where is that another to illumine him, and who is the other to illuminate him also. Hence as no one is wholly devoid of understanding, let him improve it himself.

30. The current of our desires is flowing betwixt the two channels of good and evil; it must be by exertion of our activity that we must turn it to the right course.

31. You who are the mightiest of the mighty, must exert the force of your activity to turn your mind to a profitable course from its direction to the profitless.

32. By directing the mind to the right way from the wrong, it will take the right course and so the vice versa. But as human mind is as (tender as) a child, it must not be employed by force (but gentle measures).

33. The training of the child like that of the mind, is effected slowly by gentleness and indulgence, and not by force and hurry.

34. You have already by your constant practice, got a mastery over all your good and bad desires; you have hence forward to direct your tendencies to good only.

35. O victorious Rama! When by your pristine habits you have an aptitude to do what is good, learn that it is the result of your good nature.

36. O sinless Rama, your desires are at present lying dormant in your mind, and require some practice to be employed only to the doing of good.

37. If you will not exert yourself at present to improve your dormant desires by constant practice, you can never expect to be happy.

38. When it is doubtful (to know the nature of the innate propensity), do you incline to what is good, and as you thrive in this, you shall have no evil to fear.

39. Whatever one practices, he becomes perfect in that in time; as studying from childhood makes the learned free from error.

40. When you have the good will in you, you must accomplish your purpose, by means of your activity and subjection of the organs of your body.

41. So long as your mind is imperfect and unacquainted with the state of divine truth, you must attend to your teacher, books and reasoning, and act according to their directions (in the paths of truth).

42. Having first finished your acts and known the truth, you must abandon even your meritorious deeds, and all your desires with them.

43. Having known by your good understanding, that the virtuous course led by honorable men is truly good, give particular attention to know the nature of God, then forsake even that (enquiry), and remain (silent) as a saint (muni).