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 XI - On the qualifications of the inquirer and lecturer

Vasishtha continued:—

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I have thus related to you fully about the descent of knowledge on earth, with the reason of my birth and the intention of the lotus born Brahma (in making me his apostle).

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Now Rama, as you are eager to learn the transcendental knowledge, and feel so great an anxiety for it in your mind, it must be the effect of your pristine merit.

Rama said:—

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How was it sir, that the Supreme lord felt a desire to send down knowledge on earth after his creation of it (and not along with it?)

Vasishtha replied:—

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This Brahma is in his own nature the same with the Supreme Brahm, and is born in him, as a billow is born of the waters of the deep. (The co-eternal logos).

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This great lord saw the imperfection of his creation, and saw its whole course (at one view) in times past, present and future. (The perversion of mankind subsequent to their fall).

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He saw the decay of ceremonial rites after the end of the Satya (golden) and other ages, and considering the error to which men were to fall afterward, he felt pity for their states (for want of sacrifices).

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Then the Lord thought of endowing me with true knowledge, and sent me on the surface of the earth for dispelling the ignorance of mankind.

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Like me he has sent also some other great sages here, as Sanat Kumara, Narada and many others also.

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He has sent them all for the redemption of mankind from the fetters of their ignorance by a series of meritorious acts, and their progress in divine knowledge also.

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These great sages seeing at the end of the past golden age, the gradual decay of the holy ritualistic rites on earth:—

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They created the rulers of earth at different divisions of the land, for regulating the course of duties, and observing their proper limits (of action).

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They have made many works on the traditional law and sacrificial rules to be observed on earth, and many appropriate provisions for the accomplishment of religious and temporal duties (in the smritis).

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But in the revolution of time, all these duties became slack in their course, and men have no other thought except that of seeking their daily maintenance.

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Every day disputes are rising among the land-owners on account of their estates and properties, and the people are subjected to various penalties in large numbers.

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In such a state, it is not possible for the rulers to rule over their states without fighting with one another, when they with their subjects are inevitably reduced to wretchedness (by warfare).

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In order to remove the impotence (of such princes), and to lead them to a comprehensive view of things, we have prescribed to them many excellent precepts of knowledge.

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It was the spiritual knowledge which had been at first propounded to princes; but it came afterwards to be known under the title of royal science (polity).

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This royal science is of a recondite nature, and is also the best kind of spiritual knowledge. Many kings have been set beyond the reach of calamity by a knowledge of this science.

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It is after many such fair-famed princes that have gone by, that your mighty self was begotten by the present king Dasaratha.

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O slayer of your enemies, I find a very agreeable and holy kind of apathy growing spontaneously in your most clear understanding.

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There is another kind of cold-heartedness, O Rama, which is caused (by some sorrow) in the minds of the virtuous and reasonable men, that is styled their casual indifference.

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But your unprecedented and astonishing apathy, which is produced without any cause and by your reason only, is called real stoicism by the wise.

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Seeing the obnoxiousness of worldly things, what man will not grow averse to them? The best displacency to them, is what rises in the mind of one from his own judgement.

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They are reckoned as great men and greatly wise also, whose indifference springs without any cause (of detestation to the world), and whose minds are clear (of all gloomy thoughts).

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One whose mind feels a disgust (to the world) from its own judgement and nice discrimination (of things), is as graceful to see as the youthful bridegroom adorned with chaplets of flowers.

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They are esteemed as the best of men, who betake themselves to indifference after judicious consideration of the worldly troubles.

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It must be by one's repeated and judicious examination of the inward and outward illusions (of this world), that he should forcibly withdraw himself from them.

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Who is there that feels not an aversion to worldliness at the doleful sight of a funeral event? It is that aversion however, which is born of itself that is highly commendable.

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I see you are sincerely indifferent, and reaching the acme of true greatness. You are worthy of the best knowledge as is the moist earth of receiving the seeds.

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It is by the grace of the Lord God and Supreme spirit, that a lucky understanding like yours, naturally inclines to reason.

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It is by performance of ritual duties and observance of the prescribed rules, that the demerits of former births are expunged.

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Upon expurgation of former demerits, the understanding turns of itself to take cognizance of spiritual matters, like the simultaneous flight of the crow towards the falling fruit of the palm.

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But those that are devoted only to ritual acts, are like persons plunged in an eddy, wherein they are whirled up and down until they come to perceive the state of supreme (felicity).

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Seeing this (illusory) state of the world, a man must shake off the delusion of his worldly-mindedness, just as the elephant breaks loose from his fetters.

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It is too intricate, O Rama! to understand the course of this boundless world, and not even the greatest of embodied beings (as man) can know it without true knowledge.

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Know, O support of Raghu's race! that men of great understandings have got over the unfordable ocean of the world by means of the raft of their knowledge and reason.

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Now hear with attention and steadiness of your mind, this rational knowledge for your deliverance from the flood of this world.

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The unceasing excitements of the senses and the fears and miseries of the world, will continually disturb the mind, without the remedy of right reason.

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There is naught beside rational knowledge, that can enable holy men to endure the afflictions of the opposite extremes of heat and cold and wind and rain.

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The incessant cares and miseries which befall to men at every step, serve sometimes to torment the ignorant mind as a flame of fire burns away the straw.

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But the troubles of this world can not afflict the wise man, who knows the knowable, and discerns all things (in their true light); just as it is impossible for the flame of fire to burn down a wood drenched by the rains.

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The man knowing the truth resembles the firm arbor of the oak (Kalpa), which no whirlwind of disease or distress, raised by the hot winds of this desert of the world, has the power to upset.

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The intelligent man who has a mind to know the truth, must diligently serve his wise preceptor with loving regard.

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The sayings of the well-minded preceptor who is asked about anything, must be carefully preserved in the mind, as a piece of fine muslin receives the dye (with which it is dyed).

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O best of the eloquent, you must not receive the instruction of one unacquainted with truth himself; whoever asks him anything is the greatest of fools.

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Whoever does not carefully attend to the words of the truth-telling preceptor who is asked about anything, is the basest of men.

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He is the best inquirer who makes his enquiry of one after ascertaining by his deeds whether he knows the knowable or not.

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But he is reckoned a vile inquirer and incapable of knowing great things, who makes a boyish query without ascertaining the lecturer's (qualifications).

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The wise man when asked, will reply to him who is able to comprehend the antecedent and subsequent propositions, and is possessed of a good understanding; but he should make no answer to a vile brutish being.

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The preceptor who gives his lecture without examining the capacity of the inquirer to grasp his meaning, is pronounced unwise by the learned.

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O delight of Raghu's race! this our meeting is a very congenial one and well adapted to each other, wherein you as inquirer are an admirer of virtue, and I the speaker, am well acquainted (with the subject).

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You that understand the meaning of words, should well consider all what I tell you, and take them to your heart.

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You are truly great and disgusted with the world, and know the truth among mankind; whatever is spoken to you must be impressed in your mind as the red dye on muslin.

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You by your attention to what I say and discrimination of spiritual matters, can make your understanding receive my instruction as the waters reflect the sun-light.

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Receive all that I say and store them diligently in your mind; or else it is useless to ask me anything.

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The mind, O Rama! is as fickle as an ape in the forest, correct it carefully and attend to spiritual instruction.

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Keep yourself always from the injudicious and ignorant, and those addicted to the company of wicked people, and honour the virtuous.

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It is by association with good people that we can gain wisdom, which resembles a tree yielding the fruits both of enjoyment and liberation (i. e., both of worldly and future good).

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There are four guards said to keep watch at the gate of Liberation, namely: peace, judgement, contentment and the society of the good.

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All these or three or two of them are to be attended with care, because they shall open to you the door leading to the abode of liberation.

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Or at least one of them is to be resorted to with diligence and even at the expense of one's life; because by securing one of these a man can reconcile and gain all the four (to his favour).

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The wise man is the receptacle of all Sastras and Srutis, of all knowledge and austerity, and is a gem on earth, as the sun is the receptacle of light (and gem of heaven).

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The dull understanding of the senseless man becomes as stiff as a (motionless) block, and like the frozen water becoming as hard as stone.

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Your good nature and good qualities, O Rama! and the counsels of the learned in the Sastras, have made you sit here with a heart blooming like lotus at the rising sun.

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Your lifted ears to hear these wise lectures, have enabled you to repress your thoughts; as the music of the lute attracts the mind of the deer.

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Now secure, O Rama! the treasures of peace and good nature by your practice of indifference of which there is no decay.

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Your knowledge of the attainment of liberation will be increased by your attending to the Sastras and the society of good men, as also by your practice of austerity and self subjection.

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You must know that, it is the study of divine knowledge with a clear understanding, that is a sure remedy against ignorance.

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Know this world to be a poisonous plant and seat of dangers. It infects the ignorant at all times, unless one will take the pains to dispel his darkness.

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Avarice accompanied by ignorance moves within the heart in a serpentine course, and expands and contracts it by turns like the bellows of a blacksmith.

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The true light of things dawns only in the minds of the wise, as the gentle moon appears to sight only in the clear and cloudless sky.

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He is truly called a man who can judge (the truth) by the major and minor propositions, whose mind is expanded and fraught with brilliant ingenuity.

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Rama! the clear wisdom of your mind, makes you shine as the full moon dispelling the darkness of the cloudless sky by her cooling and translucent beams.

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