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 XII - The idealistic theo-cosmogony of vedanta

Vasishtha said:—

From the state of perfect quiescence and tranquillity of the supremely Holy spirit, the universe rose to being in the manner, which you must hear with your best understanding and attention.

2. As sound sleep displays itself in visionary dreams, so does Brahma manifest himself in the works of creation, of which he is the soul and receptacle: (i. e. who contains and forms and enlivens the whole).

3. The world, which of its nature is continually progressive in its course, is identic with the essence of that Being, whose form is selfsame with the ineffable glory of his eternally gemming Intellect (chin-mani).

4. This chit or Intellect, then (i. e. after its inert quiescence), gets of itself an intellection (chetya) in itself, before assuming to itself consciousness or the knowledge of egoism. (This is the first stage of the percipient soul).

5. Then this thinking Intellect (chetya-chit), gets the notions (bodhas) of some faint images (uhita-rupas), which are purer and lighter than air, and which have received their names and forms afterwards. (The innate ideas are born in it before the embryonic mind or soul).

6. Afterwards this transcendent essence (Intellect), becomes an intelligent principle (sacheta), and eager for intelligence (chetana). It is now worthy of its name as Intellect or chit, on account of its attaining to what is called intelligence.

7. Lastly it takes the form of gross consciousness (ghana-samvedana), and receives the name of the living soul—jiva. It now loses its divine nature by reflecting on itself: (i. e. its own personality).

8. This living principle, is then involved in thoughts relating to the world only; but depends by its nature on the divine essence: (as the fallacy of the snake, depends on the substance of the rope).[1]

9. Afterwards there rises a void space into being, called Kham—vacuum (Arabic Khaviyetun), which is the seed or source of the property of sound, and which became expressive of meaning afterwards. (It is called akasa or sky-light from kasa to shine, as light was the first work of God).

10. Next in order are produced the elements of egoism and duration in the living soul; (i. e. the simultaneousness of the ideas of self-entity and duration in the living principle). And these two terms, are the roots of the subsistence of future worlds (i. e. the individuality and durability of things).

11. This ideal knowledge, of the unreal forms of the net-work of world, in divine Spirit, was made to appear as a reality by the Omnipotent power (i. e. the ideal world appeared afterwards as real).

12. Thus the ideal self-consciousness became the seed (or root) of the tree of desires, which were vacillated by egoism in the form of air.

13. The intellect in the form of the airy ego, thinks on the element of sounds (sabda tanmatram); it becomes by degrees denser than the rarefied air, and produces the element of mind.

14. Sound is the seed (or root) of words, which were afterwards diversified in the forms of names or nouns and significant terms; and the assemblage of words, as shoots of trees, is varied in padas or inflected words, vakyas or sentences, and the collections of Vedas and Sastras.

15. It is from this Supreme spirit, that all these worlds derived their beauty afterwards; and the multitude of words (which sprang from the sounds), and were full of meaning, became widely spread at last.

16. The Intellect having such a family as its offspring, is expressed by the word jiva (zoa) or the living soul, which became afterwards the arbor (or source) of all forms of beings, known under a variety of expressions and their significations (i. e. the living god Brahma became the cause of the formal world, from the tanmatra elements produced by Brahma).

17. The fourteen kinds of living beings, which fill the cells in the bowels of all worlds, sprang afterwards from this living soul. (These include all vegetable and animal life and all such as increase in bulk and growth).

18. It was then, that the Intellect by a motion and inflation of itself, and at an instantaneous thought, became the element tanmatra of touch and feeling (the air), which was yet without its name and action. (The Spirit breathed breathless. Sruti). This breath caused air, which expanded itself and filled all bodies, which are objects of touch and feeling.

19. The air, which is the seed (root) of the tree of tangibles, then developed itself into branches, composed of the (49) various kinds of winds, that are the causes of the breathings and motions of all beings.

20. Then the Intellect produced at pleasure and from its idea of light, the elemental essence of lustre, which received afterwards its different names (from the light of the sun and moon and the stars, as also from those of fire and lightning).

21. Then the sun, fire, lightning and others, which are the seeds (or roots) of the tree of light, caused the various colours of bodies that filled the world. (That light is the cause of colour, was known to the ancient Rishi).

22. It reflected on the want of fluidity, and produced the liquid body of waters, whose taste constitutes the element (tanmatra) of flavour.

23. The desire of the soul for different flavours (rasas), is the seed of the tree of taste, and it is by the relish of a variety of tastes, that the world is to go on in its course.

24. Then the self-willed Brahma, wishing to produce the visible earth, caused the property of smell to appertain to it from his own element of it.

25. He made his elementary solidity, the seed or source of the tree of forms (morphology); as he made his own element of rotundity the substratum of the spherical world.

26. Those elements being all evolved from the Intellect, are again involved of themselves in it, as the bubbles of water rise and subside in itself.

27. In this manner, all those beings remain in their combined states, until their final dissolution into their simple and separate forms.

28. All those things, which are but forms and formations of pure Intellect, remain within the sphere of Divine Intelligence, as the germs of the big banian tree, reside in the forms of pollen and the seed.

29. These sprouted forth in time, and burst out into a hundred branches: and after having been concealed in an atom, became as big as they were to last for ever.

30. Such is the growth and multiplication of things by pervasion of the Intellect, until they are put to a stop by its contraction and when weakened in their bodies by its desertion, they droop down in the end.

31. Thus is this class of elementary tanmatras, produced in the Intellect out of its own volition, and are manifested in the form of formless minutiae to sight.[2] (trasaranus).

32. These five-fold elements are verily the only seeds of all things in the world. They are the seeds of the primary momentum that was given to them (in the beginning). In our notions, they are the seeds of elementary bodies, but in their real nature, they are the increate ideal shapes of the Intellect replenishing the world.

Footnotes and references:


The living soul is the creative spirit of God, represented by the divine hypostasis of Hiranyagarbha or Demiurgus, which is dependent on the Supreme spirit.


Tanmātra or tat-mātra might be rendered from its affinity as "that matter,"but the idealistic theory of vedānta being opposed to that of the materialistic, it expresses only the idea and not the matter.