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 XIII - On the production of the self-born

Vasishtha said:—

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Rama! When the Supreme Brahma remains in his resplendent and tranquil state (before creation), there is no essence of etherial light or heat or even darkness produced in the intellectual spirit. (But they lie hidden there as if buried in oblivion).

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The Sat-God has the attribute of Chetya—intellectuality at first, and it is from the intellection (Chetana) of his intellectual part (Chetyansa), that the epithet of mind (Chitta) is attributed to him. The faculties (Sakti) of his intellect (Chit), are called its intelligence (Chetana).

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The Chit or intellect has then the attribute of the Living soul (Jiva), from its intelligence (Chetana), and connection with the chetya or intelligible objects in nature. It is next attributed with the title of maya or illusion, from the subjection of its Chetya or cognizable objects only to itself—Aham matra.

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It has then the attribute of understanding (buddhi), from the excess of its egoism (ahanta), which is full with the purposes of its mind and the elements of sound &c. (i. e. with a desire for all sensible objects).

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This (living, deluded and self reflecting) ego, is puffed up with thoughts of (possessing) all things, and looks upon the great arbour of the visible world, (as the great garden for its pleasure and gain).

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But the living souls, like so many evanescent objects seen in a dream, are made to rise and fall one after the other, in this great forest of the world surrounded by the skies.

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But the world is (as continuous) as the grove of Karajna plants, growing from unsown seeds; and its elementary bodies of the water, fire, earth and air, have no regard for any body; (that is living or dead).

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The intellect which is the soul of the universe, creates afterwards the earth and all other things, as one remembering the objects of his dream, (recalls them to his memory).

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Wherever there is the germ of the world, it develops itself even at that place; the live elements are the five fold seed of the world, but the undecaying intellect is the seed of the quintuple (pancha-bhuta).

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As is the seed so is its fruit; hence know the world to be a form and full of God; and the spacious firmament to be the reservoir of the quintuple elements in the beginning of creation.

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The soul like the body, is composed of the powers of the Intellect, and does not subsist of itself; but being inflated by the same, it extends its bulk.

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But the vacuous form of the intellect, which is seated in the spiritual body of the soul, cannot be composed of solid reality (as the primary elements of matter). This is not possible; hence nothing can come out from an impossibility.

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Again that which is changeable in its form, cannot have its sameness at all times: hence if the essence of the quintuple elements, be attributed to Brahma, from the idea of their being the quintessence of his spirit, there can be no immaterial and immutable Brahma.

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Therefore know this quintuple to be the developed Brahma himself, as he evolved them in the beginning, and as he is their producer for the creation of the world.

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Thus He being the prime cause of their production, there is nothing that is produced (without) him, and the world is no product of itself.

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The unreal appears as real as a city seen in a dream, and as a castle built in air by our hopes: so we place the living soul in ourselves, which has its foundation in the vacuous spirit of God.

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Thus the brilliant spirit, which is situated in the Divine Intellect, being no earthly or any other material substance, is styled the living soul, and remains in vacuum as a luminous body rising in the sky.

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Hear now how this vacuous living soul, comes to be embodied in the human body, after its detachment as a spark from the totality of vital spirits, in the empty sphere of divine Intellect.

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The soul thinks itself as "a minute particle of light"at first, and then it considers itself as growing in the sphere of its consciousness.

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The unreal appearing as real, proves to be unreal at last; as the fictitious moon becomes a nullity afterwards; so the soul continues to view itself subjectively and objectively both as the viewer and the view.

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Thus the single self becomes double as one sees his own death in a dream; and thus it waxes into bigness and thinks its vital spark as a star. (This is the form of the lingadeha or sentient soul within the body).

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As the soul goes on thinking itself the microcosm of the world (Viswarupa), so it falsely thinks itself as such in reality, as it is expressed by the dictum "Soham" "so am I."

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By thinking himself as such, man comes to believe it as true, as one believes himself as a traveller in his dream. So by thinking the soul as a star, he views it so within himself.

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By continued meditation of his soul as such, he loses his external sensations, and views this star in his cranium.

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He sees the soul within him though it be without him; just as the mirror reflects the distant hill in itself; and the soul remains confined within him, as a body is confined in a well, and as a sound is shut up in the hollow of a cave.

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The consciousness of our dreams and desires, is but a particle (attribute) of the living soul, whose real form is that of a star waking (keeping watch) within us. (Consciousness of external objects in our dream and desire, is compared to the reflection of outward images in a glass or bubble of water, and to the echo of a distant sound in a hollow cave).

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Now this vacuous life, which is composed of the essences of the mind, understanding and knowledge, resides in the hollow sheath of the star. (The star is supposed to be the eye-sight and residence of life. Gloss).

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It appears to me to take its flight to the sky, to see what is passing there (i. e. the manner in which the mental eye of the Yogi penetrates the regions of air). And then it enters the body by two holes, which have the names of the external organs (of sight) given them afterwards. (The whole sphere of air is thought to teem with life or living souls and spirits, which rove free in the air, until they are made to enter and pass out of the body by two unknown holes, whether of the nostrils or sockets or glottis, remains undefined and undetermined).

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The organs by which the embodied living soul, is to see (external objects), are called the eyes-netras (from their receiving (nayana) the light of the soul). That by which it is to feel, is styled the skin (twak or touch); and those whereby it is to hear, are termed the ears (srutis from sru to hear, corresponding with suna or shunu in vernaculars and Persian).

The organ of smelling is the nose said:—

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ghrana from its bearing the scent—ghrana to the soul; and that of taste is named as tongue rasana, for its conducting the rasa taste or flavour to the spirit.

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Then there is the breathing air (the air of breath or breath of life), which actuates the energies of the organs of action. It is this air which is the cause—of vision, and mover of the internal organs of the mind and thought.

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This (vital breath) supports the embodied and all supporting soul (ativahika-dehatma) in the vacuity of the body, and fills and kindles it as the air does a spark of fire.

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The word Jiva or the living soul (zoa), is brought under a figurative sense, 'to mean something real in the unreal body'. Hence Brahma is said to be the life and soul of the unreal world.

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The gross embodied soul, is of the form of vacuum like the mind and yet it imagines itself to reside in an ovum in the body, as Brahma is supposed to be seated in the mundane egg. (i. e. The soul loses its light airy shape and free range, by being confined in the body).

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Some view the spirit of God as floating on the surface of the (ante-mundane) waters (in the form of Narayana);and others view it in the person of the Lord of creatures (Brahma); while there are others, who look at it as infused throughout the creation in the figure of viraj. These are called the subtile and gross bodies of the soul (sthula and sukshma sariras).

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The soul or spirit is the spacious womb of productions, and the means of executing its own purposes, and of knowing the proper time and place, and the article and the manner of action (modus operandi).

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The mind is the inventor of words, expressive of ideas (in the soul), and subjects itself to the arbitary sounds of its own invention. Hence God is erroneously said to be embodied in words (sabda Brahma of Mimansa philosophy) in this world of errors.

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The unproduced and self-born Brahma, that has risen of himself (and represents the mind), is as unreal as the soaring of a man in the sky in his dream.

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This all supporting-embodied soul, is the prime Lord of creatures, who is said to have formed this illusory frame of the world.

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But there was nothing formed or born in it (in reality); nor is there any substance to be found in the world. It is the same vacuous form of Brahma still, whose essence is known to extend as the infinite space itself.

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Things appearing as real, are as unreal as an imaginary city (Utopia), which presents a variety (of forms and colours) to the fancy, without being built or painted by any body. (The phenomenal appearance of the world, is likened to a phantasmagoria).

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Nothing that is unmade or unthought of, can be real (either in substance or idea); and the gods Brahma and others, being freed from their avocations at the universal dissolution of existence, could neither resume their functions nor have materials for the same.

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The self-born Brahma, having then neither his remembrance of the past, nor any material appliance at hand, could neither form an ideal or material world out of nothing. Therefore production of Brahma and formation of the universe are alike (chimerical).

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The earth and all other existences, are but the eternal ideas of the divine mind, and they appear to us as objects of a dream in our waking state: (when they vanish into airy nothing).

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The divine spirit is known to be vacuum only, and so also is the world ever known to be: (because the like produces the like). So all waters are alike liquid bodies, though they are made to pass under different names.

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This creation is every where the same in the Supreme Spirit. It is but an evolution of the same (though presenting different aspects to us); and the creator is always and everywhere immutable in his nature.

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The vacuous universe, under the name of the mundane egg, shines as clearly as the Divine Spirit: it is calm in its appearance, and becomes disturbed by causes born in itself. (Nature is uniform, but ruffled by accidents).

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It is supported by the supportless supporter of all, who is one and without a second, but devoid of unity in (the variety of his) creation. All this is born in his consciousness, and therefore there is nothing that is produced anew.

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He, who is of the form of unlimited space, and without any vacuity in it, (because nature abhors a vacuum); who is transparent yet teeming with abundance; who is the whole world (God in nature), without any worldliness in him; is verily the substratum of all.

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He, who is neither the container nor the contained, nor the view of the world; who is neither the world nor its creator (Brahma), and about whom there can be no dispute nor disputant; is verily the unknown God.

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He, who is neither the passing world nor any of its passing things;who is quite at rest, yet situated in all things, (whether moving or quiescent); is the only Brahma that shines of himself in himself, (as the soul of and all in all).

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As we form in ourselves the image of a whirlpool, by the idea of the fluidity of water in our minds; so the sight of the world produces the false notion of its reality in the mind.

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All unrealities become extinct at the end, as we see the death of our frail bodies in dreams. So we find on the contrary the essential part of our soul, to be unscathed by its own nature of indestructibility, and remaining in the form of everlasting consciousness in the atmosphere of our intellects.

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Brahma the prime Lord of creatures, is ever manifest by himself in the form of vacuity in the Supreme spirit; and he being of a spiritual form as the mind, has no material body formed of earth as all other corporeal beings; and is therefore both real and unborn (in his essence).

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