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 - On the supreme cause of all (parama karana)

Vasishtha continued:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
They are truly delighted and gratified (in their souls), who are ever devoted with all their hearts and minds in holy conversation among themselves.

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Those that are devoted to the acquisition of knowledge and investigation of spiritual science, enjoy the same bliss of liberation in their living state, as it is said to attend on disembodied souls.

Rama said:—

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Tell me O Brahman! the distinct natures of the living and disembodied liberations, that I may try to learn the same, with an understanding enlightened by the light of Sastras (literally, having the eye-sight of Sastras).

Vasishtha said:—

4. [Sanskrit available]
Who ever remains as he is, (i. e. without any perturbation in his worldly course), and continues intact as vacuity amidst society: such a one is called the living liberated (Jivan mukta).

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Who so is employed in his intellection only and seems to be sleeping in his waking state, though while conducting his worldly affairs: such a one is called the living liberated.

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Whose countenance is neither flushed nor dejected in pleasure or pain, (in joy or grief and such other reverses); and who remains contented with what he gets: such a one is called liberated while he is living.

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Whose waking is as a state of sound sleep, and who is not awake to the accidents of the waking state, and whose waking state is insensible of the desires incident to it: such a one is called liberated in his life.

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Who though actuated by the feelings of affection, enmity, fear and the like, is at rest, and as clear and undisturbed as vacuity within himself: such a one is called liberated while he is alive.

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Who has not an air of pride in him, and is not conceited (with a notion of his greatness) when he does or refrains to do anything: such a one is called self-liberated in his life time.

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Who at one glance or winking of his eye, has a full view of the whole creation and final destruction of the world, like the Supreme self (to which he is assimilated): such a one is said to be liberated in his life time.

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Who ever is not feared by nor is afraid of any body, and who is freed from the emotions of joy, anger and fear: such a one is liberated in life.

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Who is quiet and quietly disposes his business of this world, and who though he stands as an individual in the sight of men, attaches no individuality to himself; and who though a sentient being, is insensible to all impressions: such is the living liberated soul.

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Who being full of all possessions, and having every thing present before him, remains cold and apathetic to them, as if they were useless to him: such a man is liberated in his life.

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Now leaving the subject of "living liberation," I will tell you what they call the "disembodied liberation," which like a breath of wind enters into the soul, after it has fled from the mortal body.

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The disembodied free spirit neither rises nor sets (like the sun), nor is it subject to wane (like the moon); it is neither manifest nor hidden; it is not at a distance, nor is it in me, thee or in any other person.

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It shines forth in the form of the sun, and preserves the world in the manner of Vishnu. It creates the world in the shape of the lotus-born Brahma, and destroys all as Rudra or Siva.

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It takes the form of the sky supported on the shoulders of air, which supports all living beings, the gods, sages and demigods in the three worlds. It takes the form of boundary mountains and separates the different regions (of the earth and skies).

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It becomes the earth and supports these numerous sets of beings, it takes the forms of trees, plants and grass, and yields fruits and grains for supportance (of all living creatures).

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It takes the forms of fire and water and burns and melts in them by itself. It sheds ambrosia in the form of the moon, and causes death in the shape of poison.

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It becomes light wherewith it fills the space of the firmament, and spreads darkness in the form of Erebus (tama or Teom). It becomes vacuum (vyom or beom) to leave empty space for all, while in the form of hills it obstructs their free passage on earth.

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In the form of the fleet mind, it moves the self-moving animals, and in that of dull matter it settles the unmoving immovables. It girds the earth by its form of the ocean, as a bracelet encircles the arm.

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The bodiless spirit takes upon it the great body of the sun, and illumes all the worlds with their minute particles, while it remains quiet in itself.

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Whatever is shining in this universe or ever was or is to be so, in any of the three—past, present and future times, know them all O Rama! as forms of the Divine Spirit (which is free to take any shape it likes).

Rama said:—

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Tell me, O Brahman! why this view of liberation, appears so very difficult to me, as to make me believe it altogether incomprehensible to and unattainable by any body.

Vasishtha replied:—

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This (disembodied) liberation is called nirvana or total extinction of self-consciousness, and is styled Brahma also (in whom the human soul is finally absorbed). Attend now to the means of its attainment.

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All such visible objects known as I, thou, this &c., being unproduced (anutpanna) from the eternal sat or entity of God, it is impossible to have any conception of them in our minds.¨[1]

Rama said:—

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Methinks, O best of them that know the knowable! that the bodiless souls of the liberated, when they pass through the bounds of the three worlds, have again to be born according to the course of nature.

Vasishtha replied:—

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Those that retain the reminiscence of the three worlds have to move about in them, but such as have lost the idea of their existence, are absorbed in infinity.

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For how can one derive the knowledge of the unity of God from his belief in the duality of the separate existence of the world? Therefore the figurative sense of cosmos as God (Viswa) can not give the spiritual and infinite idea of Brahma.

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He is no other but himself, of the nature of pure intellect, and of the form of the clear and tranquil vacuum (that pervades all things). Brahma is said to be the world, to signify his manifestation of its unreality as a reality unto us.

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I have well considered about a golden bracelet, and found nothing as a bracelet in it save its gold. (The form is changeable, but the substance is real).

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I observed the billows, and found nothing in them but water; and where there was no water I saw no billow to rise. (It is the substance and not its shape or shadow that is to be looked into).

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I see no oscillation any where except in the winds, which are no other than this force in motion, and moving all things in the world. (Thus the spirit of God is the fountain or primum mobile of all forces, which are but forms of the main force).

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As vacuity abides in air, and water appears in the burning deserts, and as there is light spread over all creation; so is the spirit of Brahma manifest in the three worlds in the forms of the very worlds.

Rama said:—

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Tell me, O sage! the cause which makes this world with its nature of absolute negation or non-existence, to exhibit such distinct appearances in its phenomena.

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Tell me also, how the viewer and the view (of these worlds) being both extinct, (as they are equally unreal in their nature), there remains their nirvana or absorption in the Deity without their personalities.

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Again as it is impossible to conceive the existence of the visible objects, say how is it possible to conceive the existence of the invisible Brahma in his own nature (of incomprehensibility).

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Say by what mode of reasoning this truth may be known and ascertained, and this being accomplished, there remains nothing else to be inquired into.

Vasishtha replied:—

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This false knowledge or prejudice of the reality of the world, has been long prevalent like a chronic disease (among mankind); and requires to be removed by the specific charm (mantra) of reasoning only.

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It can not however be expelled quickly and in a minute, but requires length of time, like the ascent and descent of an even sided precipice.

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Therefore hearken to what I say, for dispelling your fallacy of the world, by means of arguments, logical inferences, and habitual meditation (about the nature of God).

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Attend now Rama! to a tale that I am to tell you for your attainment of this knowledge, and by the hearing of which you will become intelligent, wise and liberated.

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I will even now relate to you the subject of the production of the world, in order to show you, that all that is produced serves to bind our souls to the earth, and that you may live quite free from the same.

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I will tell you at present under this topic of creation, that the erroneous conception of the world is as unsubstantial as Vacuum itself. (i. e. all this is null and void).

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Because this world which appears to contain these moving and unmoving beings, and abounds in various races of gods, Asura—giants and Kinnara—pigmies.

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All these together with the Rudras and other demigods, become invisible and lose themselves in nothing at the ultimate dissolution of the world. (This final disappearance tirobhava of all things, proves their present appearance avirbhava to be mere phantoms of our brain. Gloss).

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Then there remains a moist and hollow deep, without light and thick spread with mist; all undefinable and undeveloped, save something which is Real and lasts for ever.

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There was no air nor form of any thing, no sight nor any thing to be seen. There were not these multitudes of created and material beings, that appear to be endless and everlasting to view.

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There was a nameless self, the fullest of the full in its form; it was no ens nor non ens, no entity nor non-entity, no reality nor unreality neither.

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It was mere intellect without its intellection, infinite without decay, auspicious and full of bliss. It was without its beginning, middle and end, eternal and imperishable.

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In him this world is manifest as a pearly goose in painting; He is and yet is not this (creation), and is the soul of both what is real as well as unreal. (Sadasadatman).

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He is without ears, tongue, nose, eyes and touch, yet he hears, tastes, smells, sees and feels every thing in all places and at all times.

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He is also that (intellectual) light (chidaloka), whereby the form of that real as well as unreal Being—sadasadatma is discerned by us in his perspective of creation, as one without beginning or end, and presenting a representation that is without any colour or shade.

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He is that vacuous Soul who views the worlds as clearly, as the yogi beholds Him in the form of ineffable light, with his half closed eyes, and fixing his sight to the midst of his eyebrows, (in his khechari mudra or aerial mode of meditation).[2]

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He is the cause of all, and whose cause is as nil as the horns of a hare; and whose works are all these worlds, like so many waves of the sea.

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His light is ever shining every where, and he has his seat in the human heart; and it is from the candle light of his intellect, that all the worlds derive their light.

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It is He without whose light the sun would dwindle into darkness;and whose existence alone gives the world its appearance of a mirage.

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It is his pulsation that vibrates throughout the universe, and it is his inertia that stops the course of the whole; it is on that pivot that the world has its revolution, just as the turning round of a fire brand describes a circle.

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His nature is pure and unchangeable; and the works of creation and destruction, are mere acts of his volition (Vilasa), in the persons of Brahma and Hara.

60. [Sanskrit available]
It is his inertia and force that gives rest and motion to all things, like the ubiquious course of the winds. But this is the common belief that he moves, while in reality his nature is free from all mutability (like the immovable rock).

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He is always awake in his ever sleeping state, and therefore can neither be said to be waking nor sleeping any where or at any time, but is both awake and asleep every where and at all times.[3]

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His quiescence is attended with bliss and tranquillity, and his agitation puts the world in motion and in its course of action; which is said to remain unaltered in both states which unite in him.

63. [Sanskrit available]
He is inherent in all things as fragrance is innate in the flower, and is indestructible as its odour at the destruction of the flower. He pervades all things, and is yet as intangible as the whiteness of linen.

64. [Sanskrit available]
Who though speechless, is the author of all speech and sound, and who though he appears to be as incogitant as a stone, is full of cogitation (being the intellect itself). Who though fully satisfied with his bliss, enjoys all things, although he requires nothing for himself.

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Who though bodiless actuates all the members of the body; and is attributed with a thousand arms and eyes (in the Veda); and who having no support for himself, is yet the support of all, and pervades the whole without being seated any where.

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Who having no organs nor organic power, is the organ of organs, and performs the functions of innumerable organs; and who without a sensorial mind, exhibits endless designs of his Divine mind in the infinity of creation.

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It is for want of our (knowledge) of him, that we are in constant dread of this delusive world as in that of a dragon or hydra; but it is at his sight (or by our knowledge of him), that all our fears and desires fly away afar from us.

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It is in the presence of the clear light of that God of Truth, that all the wishes of our minds have a better play, just as actors dance the best as long as they have the lights.

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It is by him that a hundred series of visible objects (as pots and plates—ghata-patadi), rise every moment to our view, like the ceaseless series of waves, billows and surges rising on the surface of the waters.

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It is he that exhibits himself otherwise than what he is, in hundreds of different shapes to our mistaken minds, as the substance of gold is made to appear to our view in the various forms of bracelets, armlets, and a hundred other sorts of trinkets.

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He who manifests himself as the soul, abiding in me, thee and in this or that person, and is neither myself, thyself, himself nor itself, is the Supreme soul or Self, that is the same with and apart from all.

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It is he and the self-same being, whether you view him in one or more objects, as it is the same water that heaves itself in this one or the other wave. Thus all visible phenomena have their rise from him.

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He from whom time has its counting and the visibles have their view; by whom the mind exercises its thinking powers, and by whose light the world is enlightened; is the Supreme.

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Whatever forms, figures and their actions, whatsoever flavours and odours, and what sounds, touch, feelings and perceptions soever, you are sensible of, know them all and their cause also to be the Supreme.

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You will be able to know your soul, O good Rama! if you will take it in the light of the sight or faculty of vision, that lies between the looker and the object looked upon.

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Know it as increate and indestructible, and without beginning and end. It is the eternal and everlasting Brahma and bliss itself. It is immaculate and infallible, highly adorable and unblamable in its nature. It is beyond all description and a mere void in its form. It is the cause of causes and a notion of something that is unknowable. It is the understanding, and the inward faculty of the intellect or the mind. (i. e. It is a spiritual substance and must be known in the spirit).

Footnotes and references:


Because the visible and destructible bodies could not proceed from the invisible and indestructible essence of God, nor the invisible and indestructible souls of persons, which are utpanna or produced from the essence of the eternal and infinite spirit, can have their extinction except in their main source, when they become instinct in and identic with the supreme spirit.


The khecarī or aerial mode of meditation is said to confer liberation from sickness and acts and the grasp of death. Thus:

Napīdyate rogena nacha lipyate karmanā,
Bādhyate sa na kalena, yo mudrām-vettā khecarīm.

The mode of conducting it is described as follows.

Kapāla kuhare jihvā, pravesitā viparītagā,
Bhruvorantargatā drishtir, mudrā-bhavati khecarī.


This passage contradicts the belief of his rising and sleeping by turns at the end of each kalpa of the creation and dissolution of the world, as well as the popular faith of Hari's, sayana and Utthāna at the opposite tropics.

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