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 IV - Description of the night-fall

Section I

Valmiki related:—

1. While vasistha—the leading sage, was thus going on with his lecture without interruption, the whole assembly was intent upon listening to it with a fixed tone and tenor of their minds.

2. The string of bells (tied to the waists of warriors) ceased to jingle, every one was motionless, and even the parrots in the cages ceased to warble and flutter.

3. The ladies forgot their dalliance and were quietly attentive to the sermon: and all in the royal hall, were fixed in attention as they were paintings and statues.

4. There remained but an hour to the closing of the day, and the sun-beams became agreeable to all. The busy bustle of the world was dwindling away with the glimmering light of the setting sun.

5. The beds of full-blown lotuses exhaled their fragrance all around, and soft Zephyrs were playing about, as if to attend the audience.

6. The sun glided away from his diurnal course, and advanced to the top of his solitary setting mountain, as if he meant to reflect on all that he had heard.

7. The shades of night began to cover the landscape, and the frost to overspread the forest-lands; as if they were cooled by the cooling lectures on philosophy.

8. Now failed the concourse of the people in all directions, as if they had availed themselves of the instructions of the sage to abate the fervour of their exertions.

9. All objects on earth cast their lengthened shadows, as if they stretched their necks to hear the preaching of Vasishtha.

10. The chamberlain then advanced lowly to the monarch of the earth, and begged to inform, that the time for evening ablution and service, was about to expire.

11. Upon this the sage Vasishtha, curbed his sweet speech and said:—Let thus far, mighty king! be your hearing of this day, and I will resume my lecture, and speak of other things to-morrow.

12. Here the sage held his silence, when the king responded "Be it so as you will," and rose from his seat.

13. He honoured for his own good, that godly sage and the other seers and Brahmans, with due respects and offerings of flowers, water, worthy honorariums, fees, gifts and homage.

14. Then rose the whole assembly with the king and the assemblage of sages; and the gems and jewels that decked the persons of the princes and people, shed their lustres on the faces of all.

15. There was a commingled tinkling of the bracelets and armlets of the throng caused by the collision of their bodies (in their egress), and mixed flashing of the necklaces and brocades that decorated their persons.

16. The jewels attached to the tufts and crests of hair on the tops of their heads, emitted a jingling sound resembling the humming of bees amidst their flowery braids.

17. The face of the sky on all sides, that shone with a purple hue reflected by the golden ornaments on their persons, seemed as it was pleased with the wise sayings and sense of the sage.

18. The aerial visitants vanished in the air, and the earthly guests repaired to their respective habitations on earth where they all performed their daily (evening) services in their own residences.

19. In the meantime sable night made her appearance on earth, and like a bashful young lady, withdrew to the closet apart from the rest of mankind.

20. The lord of the day passed to other lands to shine upon them, for verily it is the avowed duty of every good person to give the benefit of equal light to all.

21. The shade of evening veiled all sides, and uplifted the canopy of the starry sphere on high, which like the vernal atmosphere, was emblazoned with the starlike flowers of kinsuka.

22. The birds of air took to their repose in the hollows of mango trees, or on the tops of Kadamba arbours, as honest people of fair dealing, find their rest in the purity of their minds, and contriteness of their inward hearts.

23. The skirts of the clouds tinged with red by the slanting beams of the setting sun, and with a shade of yellow hue upon them, decorated the western hills with vests of yellow garb while the sky crowned their heads with gemming wreaths of starry groups.

24. The Goddess of evening (Vespera), having departed after receiving her homage (by the vespers of mankind), was followed by her train of dark night shades, appearing as black-bodied fiends—Vetalas, (night roving nisacharas of deserts).

25. A gentle and cooling breeze was blowing softened by the dew drops of night, and opening the petals of the Kumuda flowers (nylumbium), and bearing their fragrance all around.

26. A thick gloom covered the face of nature, and the stars were hid under the mists of night, and all the quarters of the skies, seemed with their overhanging loose and hairy mists, as the faces of widows shrouded by the dark dishevelled hair of mourning (for their departed lord the sun).

27. Now appeared the moist orb of the moon in her ambrosial form in the milky ocean of the sky, to moisten the mundane heat with her milk-white beams (sudha-subhra-didhiti).

28. On her rising, the thick mists of darkness fled from the eastern hemisphere, and became invisible in the air; as the darkness of ignorance is put to flight from the minds of monarchs, by their attendance to the sayings of wisdom.

29. Then the sages and seers, the rulers and priests of the people, took their rest in their respective beds, as the words of Vasishtha which were full of meaning, reposed in the recesses of their hearts.

30. As the thick darkness of night, resembling the dark complexion of death, receded from the arena of the skies, there followed close on its foot-steps the dewy dawn of the day with her slow moving pace.

31. The twinkling stars now disappeared from the sky, as the flowers on the trees were blown away by the breeze, and strewn on the ground as the fallen stars of heaven.

32. The sun became visible to the eyes, which his rays had roused from their sleep, as the new-rising faculty of reason becomes conspicuous in the minds of enlightened great souls.

33. Fragments of clouds shining with solar gleams, spread a yellow mantle over the eastern hills, which were still decorated with strings of stars, pendant on the crests of their lofty heads (like strings of pearls suspended to the crowns of kings).

34. All the terrestrial and celestial congress assembled again at the royal hall, in the order and manner (of their meeting) of the day before, after the performance of their morning services. (originally pratastanah matins or matutinal ceremonies).

35. The whole assemblage took their seats as on the previous day, and sat unmoved in their places, as a lotus-lake in its calmness after a storm.

Section II - Nature of the Mind

36. Then Rama addressed the most eloquent of sages Vasishtha, with his mellifluent words regarding the subject under investigation, (the nature of the mind).

He said:—

37. Tell me plainly, O venerable sir! about the form of the mind, which developed itself in all things of the universe, as they were offshoots of it (or manifestations of the mind).

Vasishtha replied:—

38. Rama! there is no form whatever of the mind, that may be seen by any body. It has nothing substantial besides its name as that of the formless and irremovable vacuity: (with which it is compared in its all-comprehensiveness, all-diffusiveness and all-pervasiveness).

39. The mind as an ens or entity (sat), is not situated in the outer body (or any part of it), nor is it confined in the cavity of the inward heart or brain. But know it O Rama, to be situated everywhere, as the all encompassing vacuum. (Being all-pervading and all-diffusive in its nature as vacuity itself).

40. This world is produced from it, and likens to the waters of the mirage. It manifests itself in the forms of its fleeting thoughts, which are as false as the appearance of secondary moons in the vapours.

41. The thinking principle is generally believed as something intermediate between the positive and negative, or real and unreal, you must know it as such and no other (i. e. neither material as the body, nor immaterial as the soul, but a faculty appertaining to the nature of both).

42. That which is the representative of all objects is called the mind:there is nothing besides to which the term mind is applicable.

43. Know volition to be the same as the mind, which is nothing different from the will, just as fluidity is the same with water, and as there is no difference between the air and its motion in the wind. (The inseparable property answering for its substance).

44. For wherever there is any will, there is that attribute of the mind also and nobody has ever taken the will and the mind for different things.

45. The representation of any object whether it is real or unreal is mind, and that is to be known as Brahma the great father of all.

46. The incorporeal soul in the body is called the mind, as having the sensuous knowledge or everlasting ideas of the corporeal world in itself. (i. e. the sentient and thinking soul is the same with mind).

47. The learned have given the several names of ignorance, intellect, mind, bondage, sin and darkness, to the visible appearance of creation.

48. The mind has no other image than that (of a receptacle and reflector of the ideas) of the visible world, which, I repeat to say, is no new creation; (but a reflection of the mind).

49. The visible world is situated in an atom of the great mind, in the same manner, as the germ of the lotus plant is contained within its seed.

50. The visible world is as innate in the all-knowing mind, as the light is inherent in the sun-beams, and velocity and fluidity are inborn in the winds and liquids.

51. But the visionary ideas of the visibles are as false and fleeting in the minds of their observers, as the form of a jewel in gold, and water in the mirage; and as wrong as the foundation of a castle in the air, and the view of a city in a dream.

Section III - Kaivalya or Metnal Abstraction

52. But as the phenomenals appear as no other than real to their observer, I will O Rama! cleanse them now from thy mind as they do the soil from a mirror.

53. As the disappearance of an appearance makes the observer no observer of it, know such to be the state of the abstraction of the mind from whatever is real or unreal in the world. (This is called Kevalibhava or non-chalance of all things).

54. This state being arrived, all the passions of the soul, and the desires of the mind, will be at rest, as torrents of rivers at the calm ensuing upon the stillness of the wind.

55. It is impossible that things having the forms of space, earth and air (i. e. material objects) will present the same features in the clear light (of induction), as they do to our open sight.

56. Thus when the observer comes to know the unreality of the phenomena of the three worlds, as well as of his own entity, it is then that his pure soul attains to the knowledge of kaivalya or solity of divine existence.

57. It is such a mind that reflects the image of God in itself as in a mirror; while all others are as blocks of stone, and incapable of receiving any reflection at all.

58. After suppression of the sense of ego and tu (or both the subjective and objective knowledge), and the error of the reality of the outer world the beholder becomes abstracted and remains without vision of external things in his sitting posture.

Rama rejoined:—

59. If the perception of entity is not to be put down, nor an entity become a non-entity nor when I cannot view the visibles (which are the causes of our error), as non-entities;

60. Then tell me O Brahman! how to uproot this disease of our eagerness for the visibles from the mind, which bewilders the understanding, and afflicts us with a train of troubles.

Vasishtha replied:—

61. Now hear my advice, Rama, for the suppression of this phantom of phenomenon, whereby it will surely die away and become utterly extinct.

62. Know Rama, that nothing that is, can ever be destroyed or become extinct; and though you remove it, yet it will leave its seed or trace in the mind.

63. This seed is the memory of such things, which reopens the ideas of the visibles in the mind, expanding themselves in the fallacious notions of the forms of big worlds and skies, mountains and oceans.

64. These (wrong notions) called doshas or faults and defects of understanding, are obstacles in the way to liberation; but they do not affect the sages who are found to be liberated.

65. Again if the world and all other things are real existences (as the Sankhyas maintain): yet they cannot confer liberation on any one;because the visibles, whether they are situated within or without us are perishable themselves.

66. Learn therefore this dreadful proposition (solemn truth), which will be fully explained to you in the subsequent parts of this work. (Note:—A dreadful dogma it is to physicists and "adivadis" or asserters of the encipientes mundi or beginning of the world).

67. That all things appearing in the forms of vacuity, elementary bodies, the world, and ego et tu, are non-entities, and have no meanings in them.

68. Whatever is seen apparent before us, is no other but the supreme Brahma himself, and his undecaying and imperishable essence.

69. The plenitude of creation is an expansion of his plenum, and the quiet of the universe rests in his quietude. It is his beom which is the substance of vacuum, and it is his immensity that is the substratum of the immense cosmos.

70. Nothing visible is real, and there is neither any spectator nor spectacle here. There is nothing as vacuity or solidity in nature, but all this is but a piece of extended Intelligence.

Rama rejoined:—

71. The adages relating the grinding of stones by the son of a barren woman, the horns of a hare, and the dancing of a hill with its extended arms;

72. And the oozing of oil from sand, the reading (of books) by dolls of marble, and the roaring of clouds in a painting, and such others are applicable to your words (of the reality of an unreal essence of God).

73. I see this world to be full of diseases, deaths and troubles, mountains, vacuities and other things, and how is it sir, that you tell me of their non-existence?

74. Tell me Sir, how you call this world to be unsubstantial, unproduced and inexistent, that I may be certain of this truth.

Vasishtha replied:—

75. Know Rama, that I am no inconsistent speaker, and hear me explain to you how the unreality appears as real, as the son of a barren woman has come to rumour.

76. All this was unproduced before, and did not exist in the beginning of creation. It comes to appearance from the mind like that of a city in a dream. (i. e. they are all but creations of the mind and fancy).

77. The mind also was not produced in the beginning of creation and was an unreality itself. Hear me tell you therefore, how we come to a notion of it.

78. This unreal mind spreads by itself the false and changing scenes of the visible world, just as we dream of changeful unrealities as true in a state of dreaming. (Here the dreaming philosopher sees dreams in his dream).

79. It then exerts its volition in the fabrication of the body and spreads far and wide the magic scene of the phenomenal world.

80. The mind by its potentiality of vacillation has many actions of its own, as those of expansion, saltation, and motion, of craving, roving, diving and seizing, and many other voluntary efforts (the causes of physical operations).