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 XVII - On the contents of the work

Thus, O progeny of Raghu! it is the reasoning soul that is worthy of attending to the words of wisdom, as a prince (is inclined to listen) to a discourse on polity.

2. The clear and high-minded man, who has renounced the company of stupid folks, is capable of fair reasoning, as the clear sky has the capacity of receiving the moon-light.

3. You who are replete with the entire grace of this quality, should now attend to the words, that I say, to remove the errors of your mind.

4. He, the arbour of whose merits is bending down with the load of its fruits, feels a desire to hear these words for the sake of his salvation.

5. It is the noble minded only and not the base, that are receptacles of grand and holy sermons conferring the knowledge of their future state.

6. This collection consisting of thirty-two thousand stanzas, is deemed as containing the essence of the means conducing to liberation, and conferring the final annihilation (of our being).

7. As a lighted lamp presents its light to every waking man, so does this work effect the ultimate extinction of every person whether he would like it or not.

8. One's knowledge of this work whether by his own perusal or hearing of it from the rehearsal of others, tends to the immediate obliteration of his errors and augmentation of his delight, as it is done by the holy river of heaven (Ganges).

9. As the fallacy of a snake in the rope is removed by examining it, so the fallacy of the reality of the world is removed by perusal of this work, which gives peace to one who is vexed with and tired of the world.

10. It contains six books all fraught with sentences full of reason, and each distinct from the other in its import. It has many verses containing chosen examples on all subjects.

11. The first book treats of Indifference, and causes the growth of apathy (in the mind) like that of a tree in the desert soil.

12. It contains one thousand and five hundred stanzas, which being well considered in the mind, must impart a purity to it like the lustre of a gem after its polish.

13. The next book dwells on the conduct of one longing after his liberation, and contains a thousand slokas arranged in judicious order.

14. It describes the nature of men desiring their liberation. Then follows the book on the creation of the world, and filled with narratives and examples (of various kinds).

15. It has seven thousand stanzas teaching sound philosophy about the spectator and spectacle of the world in the forms of—I and thou, designated the ego and non-ego.


16. It contains a description of the production of the world from its state of non-existence. A diligent attention to this chapter will convey a full knowledge of this world into the mind of the hearer.

17. This ego and non-ego, and this vast expanse with all the worlds, space and mountains, are (to be viewed) as having no form nor foundation, and as there are no such things (in reality).

18. There are no elements as the earth and others which exist in our fancy only, and are like phantoms appearing in a dream, or as aerial castles and chimeras of the mind.

19-20. They resemble the moving hills on the shore to one passing in a boat, without any actual movement in them; or liken the hobgoblins appearing to an unsound mind. Such is the appearance of the world without any seed or source or origin of its own.

21. It is as the impression of a tale in the mind, or the sight of a chain of pearls in the sky, or taking a bracelet for its gold or a wave for the water (i. e. taking the appearance for its cause, or the phenomena for the noumena).

22. Or as the blueness of the sky is always apparent to sight without its reality, and evercharming to behold without the existence of any colour in it.

23. Thus whatever unreal wonders always appear to us in our dreams or in the sky, they are but the resemblances of a fire in a picture, which seems to be burning without having any fire in it.

24. The word "jagat"or passing, is appropriately applied to the transitory world, which passes like the sea with its heaving waves, appearing as a chain of lotus flowers in dancing.

25. It is (as false) as one's imagination of a body of waters at a spot, from the sound of the ruddy geese (that live by rivers); and (as useless) as a withered forest in autumn, when the leaves and fruits fall off, and yield neither shade nor luscious nutriment, (to the traveller).

26. It is full with delirious cravings as of men at the point of death, and as dark as caverns in the mountains. Hence the efforts of men are but acts of their phrenzy.

27. It is better to dwell in the clear sky of the autumnal (atmosphere of) philosophy, after subsidence of the frost of ignorance, than to view at this world, which is no more than an image at a post or a picture upon the wall.

28. Know all sensible and insensible things to be made of dust (to be reduced to dust again). Next follows the book on Existence.

29. It contains three thousand stanzas full of explanations and narratives, showing the existence of the world to be a form (or development) of the essence of the Ego (in a subjective light).

30. It treats of the manner in which the spectator (Ego) is manifest as the spectacle (non-ego), and how the ten-sided sphere of the arbour of the world is manifest both as the subjective and objective (at the same time).

31. It has thus arrived at its development which is said to be everlasting. Next follows the book on quietude consisting of five thousand stanzas.

32. The fifth is styled the book on holiness, containing a series of excellent lectures, and shewing the erroneous conception of the world, as I, thou and he (as distinct existences).

33. It is the suppression of this error, which forms the subject of this book;and the hearing of the chapter on quietude, serves to put an end to our transmigration in this world.

34. After suppression of the train of errors, there still remain slight vestiges of it to a hundredth part, as the dispersed troops in a picture afford us some faint idea of them.

35. Aiming at the object of another person is as vain as looking at the beauty of an imaginary city, and sitting in expectation of an unattainable object. It is as a noisy fighting for something in sleep.

36. It is as vain as a man of unsubdued desires, bursting into a roaring like that of the loud and tremendous thunder-claps, and as the raising of a city on the model of one's effaced impressions in a dream.

37. It is as vain as a would-be city, with its garden and flowers and fruits growing in it: and as a sterile woman bragging of the valorous deeds of her unborn and would-be sons.

38. Or when a painter is about to draw the picture of an imaginary city on the ground work of a chart, by forgetting to sketch a plan of it beforehand.

39. It is as vain as to expect evergreen herbage and fruitage of all seasons, and the breeze of an ungrown arbour; or to it in a future flowery parterre, pleasant with the sweets of spring.

40. Then follows the sixth book entitled annihilation, which is as clear as the waters of a river after subsidence of its billows within itself.

41. It contains the remaining number of slokas, (i. e. 14500 Stanzas of the aggregate number of 32000 Slokas composing the entire work), a knowledge of these is pregnant with great meanings, and the understanding of them leads to the chief good of utter extinction and pacification of desires.

42. The intellect being abstracted from all its objects, presents the manifestation of the soul, which is full of intelligence and free from all impurity. It is enveloped in the sheath of infinite vacuity, and is wholly pure and devoid of worldly errors.

43. Having finished its journey through the world and performed its duties here, the soul assumes a calmness as that of the adamantine column of the sky, reflecting the images of the tumultuous world (without changing itself).

44. It rejoices exceedingly at its being delivered from the innumerable snares of the world, and becomes as light as air by being freed from its desire of looking after the endless objects (of its enjoyments).

45. The soul that takes no notice of the cause or effect or doing of any thing, as also of what is to be avoided or accepted (i. e. which remains totally indifferent to every thing), is said to be disembodied though encumbered with a body, and to become unworldly in its worldly state.

46. The intelligent soul is compared to a solid rock, compact and without any gap in it. It is the sun of intelligence which enlightens all people, and dispels the darkness of ignorance.

47. (This soul) though so very luminous, has become grossly darkened (in its nature), by being confined to the vile fooleries of the world, and wasted by the malady of its cravings.

48. When freed from the chimera of its egoism, it becomes incorporeal even in its embodied state, and beholds (the glory of) the whole world as it was placed at the point of one of the myriads of hairs (on its body), or like a bee sitting on a flower upon the Sumera mountain.

49. The intelligent and vacuous soul contains and beholds in its sphere a thousand glories of the world, shining in each atom, as it was in a mirror.

50. It is not even possible to thousands of Haris, Haras and Brahmas, to equal the great minded sage in the extent of his comprehensive soul;because the liberated have their chief good (of internal joy) stretched to a far greater limit than any.