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 I - Causes of bondage to it

Section I - Exordium (bhumika.)

1. It is both by means of words and lights (Vagbhabhis i. e. the words of the scripture and the lights of nature and reason, that the knower of the Great God (Brahmavid), perceives the spirit of Brahma appearing within himself as in a dream. And he also knows him as such, who understands him according to the purport of the holy text. "What this is, that is the self." (i. e. He is all in all).

2. This passage shows in short, the visible world to reside in the vacuous bosom of Brahma at its creation:it is now to be known in length, what this creation is, whence it takes its rise, and wherein it becomes extinct at last.

3. Hear me, O intelligent Rama! now expound to you all things according to my best knowledge of them, and agreeably to their nature and substance in the order of creation.

4. One conscious of himself as a spiritual and intelligent being, views the passing world as a Somnum (swapnam) dream: and this dreaming simile of the passing world, applies equally to our knowledge of ego and tu or non-ego (which is as false as our cognitions in a dream).

5. Next to the book describing the conduct of the seekers of liberation (mumukshu-vyavahara), then follows the book of evolution (utpatti), which I am now going to propound to you.

Section II - Worldly Bondage

6. Bondage consists in our belief of the reality of the visible world (and our relation with its phenomena, Gloss). So our release depends on the negation of phenomenals. Now hear me tell you how to get rid of the visible (fetters of our minds).

7. Whoever is born in this world, continues to progress, till at last he obtains his final liberation (his ultimum and optimum perfection); or rises towards heaven or falls into hell (under the subjection of his righteous and unrighteous actions (Gloss)).

8. I shall therefore expound for your understanding every thing relating to the production and continuance of things, and their prior states as they were.

9. Hear me Rama, now give you an abstract of this book in brief, and I will here-after dilate upon it, as you may wish to know more of this (theory of production).


Section III - Phases of the Spirit

10. Whatever appears either as moving or unmoving in this world, know them all as appearances in a dream in a state of sound sleep (susupti);which become extinct at the end of a Kalpa-age. (The events of a Kalpa or day of Brahma are as his day dream).

11. Then there remains a nameless and undeveloped something, in a state of deep, dark and dank abyss, without any light or thick-spread (nebulae) over it. (The Teo and Beo of Moses, the tama = teom of Manu and Veda, and the Moisture of Thales).

12. This great self-existence is afterwards attributed with the titles of Reality (Rita), self (Atma), Supreme (Param), Immense (Brahma), Truth (Satyam) and so forth by the wise, as expressions for the Great Spirit (mahatman) for popular use. (Vide Gloss for definitions of these terms).

13. This self-same spirit next shows itself in another form, which is called the living soul (Jivatma), and comes afterwards to be understood in the limited sense of life. (Jiva, Jiv, Zeu or Zeus; Ji and Jan; Zoa Protozoa &c). (But it is the undivided and universal soul of which the divided, individual and particular souls are but parts and particles. Gloss).

14. This inert living principle (Jiva-Life or the Protozoa), becomes according to its literal signification the moving spirit (akulatma), which afterwards with its power of thinking (manana) becomes the Mind, and lastly the embodied soul (Bhutatma). (So says the Sruti; Etasmat Jayate pranah, manah, sarvendriyanicha, Kham, Vayurup, Prithivi &c. (i. e. From Him—the Spirit, is derived the life, mind and the organs of sense or body, whence he is styled the Living, Thinking and All acting Deity)).

15. Thus the mind is produced and changed from the quiescent nature of the Great Supreme Spirit to a state of restlessness (asthirakara) like that of a surge, heaving itself in the (Pacific) Ocean (i. e. the restful spirit of God-Brahma is transformed to the restless state of the Mind, personified as Brahma or Hiranyagarbha, called the Atmabhu—the son of the spirit of God or God the Son, Demiurge).

16. The mind soon evolves itself as a self-volitive power which exercises its desires at all times whereby this extensive magic scene of the world is displayed to our view. This scene is figured as Virajmurti, or manifestation of the desires of the will of Divine mind, and represented as the offspring of Brahma in the Indian Theogony. (Vide Manu on Genesis, chap I).

17. As the word golden bracelet signifies no other thing than a bracelet made of gold, so the meaning of the word world is not different from its source—the Divine will. (The difference is formal and not material, and consists in form and not in the substance, the divine will being the substratum of the formal world).

18. Again as the word gold bears the idea of the substance of which the bracelet is made, so the word Brahma conveys the meaning of immensity which contains the world in it; but the word world contains no idea of Brahma nor bracelet that of gold. (The substance contains the form as a stone does the statue, but the form does not contain the substance, as the statue may be of earth or metal or of wood).

19. The unreality of the world appears as a reality, just as the heat of the sun presents the unreal mirage in the moving sands of the desert as real waves of the sea. (So the phantasm of the mind-Brahma, presents the phantasmagoria of the world (Viswarupa) as a sober reality).

20. It is this phantasy (of the reality of the unreal world), which the learned in all things, designate as ignorance—avidya, nature—sansriti, bondage—bandha, illusion—maya, error-moha, and darkness—tamas. (To denote our mental delusion and deception of senses. Gloss).

Section IV - Nature of Bondage

21. Now hear me relate to you, O moon-faced Rama! about the nature of this bondage, whereby you will be able to know the mode and manner of our liberation from it (as the diagnosis of a disease being known, it is not difficult to heal it).

22. The intimate relation of the spectator with the spectacle is called his bondage to the same, because the looker's mind is fast bound to the object of his sight. It is the absence of the visible objects, therefore, from the mirror of the mind, which is the only means of his liberation. (So also is the removal of the objects of the other senses from the mind).

23. The knowledge of the world, ego and tu (as separate existences) is said to be an erroneous view of the soul (which is one and the same in all); and there can be no liberation of one, as long as he labours under this blunder of bheda-jnana or knowledge of individualities. (This is called savikalpa-jnana or cognition of biplicity, which cannot lead to Kaivalya mukti or the felicity derived from a knowledge of universal unity).

24. To say that the soul is neither this nor that (nedam-nedam) is but false logomachy, which cannot come to an end. The discrimination of alternatives serves only to increase the ardour for the visibles. (i. e. the ardour of induction spreads the infection of materialism. The idle neti-neti and tanna-tanna of Vedanta Philosophy is mere amphilogy and prevarication of both, as idem et non idem).

25. It is not to be obtained by sophists by the chopping of logic or by pilgrimage or ceremonial acts, any more than by a belief in the reality of the phenomenal world. (All these are observances of the esoteric faith and blind persuasion, but do not appertain to the science of esoteric spiritualism. Gloss).

26. It is hard to avoid the sight of the phenomenal world, and to repress one's ardour for the same. But it is certain that, the visibles can not lead us to the Reality, nor the Real mislead us to unreality (i. e. the spiritual and physical knowledge are mutually repugnant to each other).

27. Wherever the invisible, inconceivable and intelligent spirit is existent, there the beholder views the visible beauty of God shining even in the midst of atoms. (i. e. every particle of matter manifests the beauty of its maker; unless there be a dull material object to intercept the sight of the intelligent soul).

28. The phenomenal world has its rise from Him, yet those ignorant people that depart from Him to the adoration of others, resemble fools, that forsake rice to feed upon gruel. (i. e. they take the shadow for the substance).

29. Although this visible world is apparent to sight, yet O Rama! it is but a shadow of that Being, who resides alike in the smallest atom as in the mirror of the mind, that receives the image of the largest as well as minutest things. (Compare. As full and perfect in a hair as heart. Pope.)

30. The spirit is reflected in every thing like a figure in the mirror, and it shines equally in rocks and seas, in the land and water, as it does in the mirror of the mind. (compare: Wherever I cast my eyes, thy beauty shines).

31. The visible world is the scene of incessant woes, births, decay and death, and the states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep, are presenting by turns the gross, subtile and evanescent forms of things for our delusion.

32. Here I sit in my meditative mood (anirudha), having wiped off the impressions of the visibles from my mind; but my meditation is disturbed by the recurrence of my remembrance of the visibles: and this is the cause of the endless transmigrations of the soul (i. e. the reminiscence of the past is the cause of our everlasting bondage in life).

33. It is hard to have a fixed (nirudha) and unalterable (nirvikalpa) meditation (samadhi), when the sight of the visible world is present before our bodily and mental vision. Even the fourth stage of insensible samadhi called the turiya, in the state of sound sleep (susupti), is soon succeeded by one's self-consciousness and external intelligence.

34. On rising from this state of deep meditation, one finds himself as roused from his sound sleep, in order to view the world full of all its woes and imperfections opening wide before him. (Compare, "I wake to a sea of troubles, how happy they who wake no more". Young).

35. What then, O Rama! is the good of this transient bliss which one attains by his temporary abstraction (Dhyana), when he has to fall again to his sense of the sufferings to which the world is subject as a vale of tears. (Compare, "When the cock crew I wept &c." Young's Night Thoughts).

36. But if one can attain to a state of unalterable abstraction of his thoughts from all worldly objects, as he has in his state of sound sleep (susupti), he is then said to have reached the highest pitch of his holiness on earth. (For it is the entire oblivion of the world that is necessary for our spiritual perfection, as it is said, "forget the present for the future").

37. No body has ever earned aught of reality in the scene of unreal vanities; for whenever his thoughts come in contact with any outward thing, he finds it inseparable from the blemishes of existence. ("Vanity of vanities, the world is vanity." Ecclesiastes.)

38. Should any body (in the practice of the fixedness of his attention), fix his sight for a while on a stone, by forcibly withdrawing it from visible objects, he is sure to be carried away afterwards by the visibles pressing upon his sight.

39. It is well known to all that an unflinching meditation, having even the firmness of a rock, can have no durability, in the practice of the Yogi owing to his worldly propensities.

40. Even the nirudha or steadfast meditation which has attained the fixedness of a rock, cannot advance one step towards the attainment of that tranquillity which has no bounds to it (i. e. the everlasting bliss of liberation or moksha).

41. Thus the sight of phenomena being altogether irrepressible, it is a foolish supposition of its being suppressed by practices of Jap-tap or prayers and austerities and the like acts of devotion.

42. The idea of the phenomena (drisyadhi), is as inherent in the mind of the spectator of the visible world, as the seeds of the lotus flower are contained in the inner cells of the pericarp.

43. The ideal of the phenomenal world (drisyadhi), lies as hidden in the minds of the spectators of the outer world, as are the in-born flavour and moisture of fruits, the oil of sesamum seeds; and the innate sweet scent of flowers.

44. As the fragrance of camphor and other odoriferous substances inheres in their nature, so the reflection of the visible world resides in the bosom of the intellect.

45. As your dreams and desires rise and subside of themselves under the province of your intellect, so the notions of things always recur to your mind from the original ideas of them impressed in the seat of the visibles (the mind).

46. The mental apparition of the visible world, deludes its beholder in the same manner, as the visual appearance of a spectre or hobgoblin, misleads a child (to its destruction).

47. The notion of the visible world gradually expands itself, as the germ of the seed shoots forth in time, and spreads itself afterwards in the form of a plant.

48. As the minute germs and animalcules, which are contained within the bosoms of fruits and embryos of animals, expand themselves to wonderfully beauteous forms afterwards, so the seed of this world (originally) lying hid in the Divine Mind, unfolds itself in wonderful forms of the visible phenomena in nature.