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 XIV - Establishment of brahma

Vasishtha added:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
In this manner the visible world, myself, thyself and all other things are nothing; all these being unmade and unborn are inexistent: it is the Supreme spirit only that is existent of itself.

2. [Sanskrit available]
The primeval vacuous soul is awakened at first of itself, and by its own energy from its quietness, and begins to have a motion in itself like the troubled waters of the deep.

3. [Sanskrit available]
It then begins to reflect in itself, as in a dream or in imagination, without changing its vacuous form, which is likened to a rock with the inward faculty of thought.

4. [Sanskrit available]
The body of the Great Viraja also, is devoid of any material form, either of earthly or any other elemental shape, (as it is viewed in the Vedas). It is purely a spiritual, intellectual and etherial form, and as transparent as the ether itself.

5. [Sanskrit available]
It is undecaying and steady as a rock, and as airy as a city seen in a dream. It is immovable as the line of a regiment represented in a picture.

6. [Sanskrit available]
All other souls are as pictures of dolls and puppets, painted and not engraven on the body of Viraj as upon a huge pillar; and he standing as an uncarved column in the empty sphere of Brahma, represents all souls (and not bodies) as they are mere pictures on it.

7. [Sanskrit available]
The prime Lord of creatures is said to be self-born at first, and he is known as the increate (Brahma), for want of his prior acts to cause his birth. (He is coeternal with the eternal Brahma, and is therefore not subject to birth and death).

8. [Sanskrit available]
The primeval patriarchs, who obtain their ultimate liberation at the final dissolution of the world, have no antecedent cause to be reborn as unliberated mortals. (So the emancipate souls of the living and dead, are freed from the doom of regeneration.)

9. [Sanskrit available]
Brahma, who is the reflector of all souls, is himself invisible in the inward mirror of other souls: (i. e. he reflects all images in himself, but never casts his own reflection upon any). He is neither the view nor the viewer, and neither the creation nor the creator himself. (These being the functions of the creative and representative powers of Brahma and Viraj).

10. [Sanskrit available]
Though thus negated of all predicates, yet is Brahma the soul of all predicables, that may be affirmed or denied of him; (since he is all in all). He is the source of these chains of living beings, as light is the cause of a line of lighted lamps in illuminations.

11. [Sanskrit available]
The will of the gods (Brahma and Viraj), proceeding from the volition of Brahma, is of that spiritual nature as the other; just as one dream rising in another, is equally unsubstantial as the first: (i. e. the products of spiritual causes, are also spiritual, by the rule of the homogeneity of the cause and effect).

12. [Sanskrit available]
Hence all living souls, which are evolved from the breathing of the Supreme Spirit, are of the same nature as their origin for want of an auxiliary causality. (God made man in his own image, and as perfect as himself: and this man is manas the Brahma, or as he is named Adam, corresponding with Adima or Adyam purusham—the first male or Protogonus).

13. [Sanskrit available]
Want of a secondary agency, produces the equality of effects with their cause; (as the fruits and flowers of trees, are of the same kind with the parent tree, unless there rises a difference in them by cause of engraftments). Hence the uniformity of created things, proves the conception of their creation by a secondary cause, to be wholly erroneous.

14. [Sanskrit available]
Brahma himself is the prime soul of Viraj and selfsame with him, and Viraj is the soul of creation and identical with it. He is the vacuous vitality of all; and it is from him that the unreal earth and other things have their rise. (Viraj is the spirit of God diffused in nature).

Rama said:—

15. [Sanskrit available]
Tell me, whether the living soul, is a limited thing or an unlimited mass of life; or does the unbounded spirit of God, exist in the shape of a mountainous heap of living souls: (i. e. whether it is to be taken in a collective or integral sense, and whether it forms a totality—samashti existent in the Divinity, of which all individual souls are either as parts vyashti or separate existences).

16. [Sanskrit available]
Are these living souls like showers of rain-water falling from above, or as the drizzling drops of waves in the vast ocean of creation, or as the sparks of fire struck out of a red-hot iron, and from whence they flow, and by whom they are emitted.

17. [Sanskrit available]
Tell me sir, the truth concerning the profusion of living souls, and though I have a partial knowledge of it, I require it to be more fully and clearly explained by you.

Vasishtha replied:—

18. [Sanskrit available]
There being but one living soul of the universe, you can not call it a multitude. Your question therefore is quite out of place, as the query about the horns of hares, (which do not exist in nature).

19. [Sanskrit available]
There are no detached living souls, O Rama, nor are they to be found in multitudes any where, nor was there a mountainous heap of souls known to have existed at any time.

20. [Sanskrit available]
Living soul is but a fictitious word, and it is heaped with many fictions, all of which, you must know for certain, do not apply to the soul.

21. [Sanskrit available]
There is but one pure and immaculate Brahma, who is mere Intellect (chinmatram) and all pervasive. He assumes to himself all attributes by his almighty power. (Here Brahma is represented not only as Omniscient and Omnipotent; but as saguna also by his assumption of all attributes).

22. [Sanskrit available]
The living soul is viewed by many to evolve itself from the intellect into many visible and invisible forms (murta-mutam); just as a plant is seen to develope itself into its fruits and flowers.

23. [Sanskrit available]
They add to their knowledge of the soul the attributes of the living principle, understanding, action, motion, mind and unity and duality, as if these appertain to its nature.

24. [Sanskrit available]
But all this is caused by ignorance, while right understanding assigns them to Brahma. The ignorant are bewildered by these distinct views (of the soul), and will not be awakened to sense.

25. [Sanskrit available]
These different believers are lost (in their various views), as the light is lost under darkness. They will never come to the knowledge of truth as it is the case with the ignorant.

26. [Sanskrit available]
Know Brahma himself as the living soul without any divisibility or distinction. He is without beginning or end. He is omnipotent, and is of the form of the great Intellect which forms his essence.

27. [Sanskrit available]
His want of minuteness (i. e. his fulness) in all places, precludes his distinctive appellations every where. Whatever attributes are given him (by fiction), are all to be understood to mean Brahma himself.

Rama asked said:—

28. [Sanskrit available]
How comes it, O Brahman? that the totality of the living souls in the world, is guided by the will of one universal soul, which governs the whole, and to which all others are subject.

Vasishtha replied:—

29. [Sanskrit available]
Brahma the great living soul and Omnipotent power, remained from eternity with his volition (satya sankalpa—fixed determination) of creation, without partition or alteration of himself.

30. [Sanskrit available]
Whatever is wished by that great soul, comes to take place immediately. The wish it formed in its unity at first, became a positive duality at last. Then its wish "to be many"(Aham bahu syam), became the separate existences afterwards.

31. [Sanskrit available]
All these dualities of his self-divided powers (the different living souls), had their several routines of action allotted to them, as "this is for that";meaning "this being is for that duty, and such action is for such end".

32. [Sanskrit available]
Thus though there can be no act without exertion, (by the general rule as in the case of mortals), yet the predominant will of Brahma, is always prevailing without its exertion to action, (as in the case of saints whose wills are effective of their ends without the aid of action).

33. [Sanskrit available]
Though they that bear the name of living beings, effect their purposes by exertion of their energies, yet they can effect nothing without acting according to the law appointed by the predominant power.

34. [Sanskrit available]
If the law of the predominant power, is effective of its end; (i. e. the law of action for production of acts); then the exertions of the subordinate powers (the living souls), must also be attended with success: (i. e. the attainment of the like result of the like action).

35. [Sanskrit available]
Thus Brahma alone is the great living soul that exists for ever and without end; and these millions of living beings are no other in the world (than agents of the divine energies).

36. [Sanskrit available]
It is with a consciousness of the intellectual soul, (i. e. the inward knowledge of the divinity within themselves), that all living souls are born in this world; but losing that consciousness (their knowledge of God) afterwards, they became alienated from him.

37. [Sanskrit available]
Hence men of inferior souls, should pursue the course of conduct led by the superior souls, for regaining their spiritual life atmajivatwam, as the copper becomes transformed into gold (by chemical process).

38. [Sanskrit available]
Thus the whole body of living beings, that had been as inexistent as air before, come into existence, and rise resplendent with the wonderful intellect.

39. [Sanskrit available]
Whoso perceives this wondrous intellect in his mind, and gets afterwards a body and the consciousness of his egoism, he is then said to be an embodied living soul.

40. [Sanskrit available]
The mind that is gratified with intellectual delights, becomes as expanded as the intellect itself, and thinks those pleasures to constitute the sum total of worldly enjoyments.

41. [Sanskrit available]
The Intellect is said to remain unchanged in all its succeeding stages; and though it never changes from that state, yet it wakes (developes) by a power intrinsic in itself.

42. [Sanskrit available]
The uninterrupted activity of the Intellect, indulges itself in the amusement of manifesting the intelligibles in the form of the world, (i. e. Of evolving the knowables from its own knowledge of them. Or it is the pleasure of the intellect to unfold the secrets of nature to view).

43. [Sanskrit available]
The extent of the intellectual faculty, is wider and more rarefied than the surrounding air, and yet it perceives its distinct egoism by itself and of its own nature. (The subjective knowledge of ego—self).

44. [Sanskrit available]
Its knowledge of self, springs of itself in itself like the water of a fountain; and it perceives itself (its ego) to be but an atom amidst the endless worlds.

45. [Sanskrit available]
It perceives also in itself the beautiful and wondrous world, which is amazing to the understanding, and which is thereafter named the universe. (i. e. The one existing in the other and not without it: meaning, the soul to be the seat of both the subjective and objective knowledge).

46. [Sanskrit available]
Now Rama, our egoism being but a conception of the intellect is a mere fiction (kalpana); and the elementary principles being but creatures of egoism, they are also fictions of the intellect.

47. [Sanskrit available]
Again the living soul being but a resultant of our acts and desires, you have to renounce these causes, in order to get rid of your knowledge of ego and tu: (i. e. of the existence of yourself and that of others); and then you attain to the knowledge of the true one, after discarding the fictions of the real and unreal.

48. [Sanskrit available]
As the sky looks as clear as ever, after the shadows of clouds are dispersed from it, so does the soul look as bright as it existed at first in the intellect, after its overshadowing fictions have been removed.

49. [Sanskrit available]
The universe is a vacuum, and the world is a name for the field of our exertions. This vacuity is the abode of the gods (Viswa and Viraj, both of whom are formless). The wonderful frame of plastic nature, is but a form of the formless intellect and no other.

50. [Sanskrit available]
What is one's nature never leaves him at any time; how then can a form or figure be given to the formless Divinity?

51. [Sanskrit available]
The divine intellect is exempt from all the names and forms which are given to unintelligent worldly things, it being the pervader and enlivener, of all that shines in the world. (Intellect is the power of understanding).

52. [Sanskrit available]
The mind, understanding and egoism, with the elements, the hills and skies, and all things that compose and support the world, are made of the essences proceeding from the intellect. (The intellect from interlegere contains all things).

53. [Sanskrit available]
Know the world to compose the mind-chitta of the intellect-chit of God, because the mind does not subsist without the world. Want of the world would prove the inexistence of the mind and intellect which consist of the world. (Hence the identity of the intelligent world with the mind and intellect of God).

54. [Sanskrit available]
The intellect like the pepper seed, is possest of an exquisite property within itself, and bears like the flavour of the other, the element of the living soul, which is the element of animated nature.

55. [Sanskrit available]
As the mind exerts its power and assumes its sense of egoism, it derives the principle of the living soul from the Intellect, which with its breath of life and action, is called a living being afterwards. (The mind is what thinks, moves and acts).

56. [Sanskrit available]
The intellect (chit), exhibiting itself as the mind (chitta), bears the name of the purpose it has to accomplish, which being temporary and changeable, is different from the chit and a nullity. (The mind being the principle of volition, is applied also to the object of the will, as we say, I have a mind to play; which is equal to the expression, I have a playful mind: and this state of the mind being variable, is said to be null).

57. [Sanskrit available]
The distinction of actor and act, does not consist in the intellect, it being eternal, is neither the author or the work itself. But the living soul, which is active and productive of acts, is called the purusha or the embodied soul residing in the body—purau-sete. It is action which makes the man-purusha, from which is derived his manhood-paurusha.

58. [Sanskrit available]
Life with the action of the mind constitutes the mind of man. The mind taking a sensitive form, employs the organs of sense to their different functions. (The sensitivity of the mind bears an active and not the passive sense of sensitiveness or sensibility).

59. [Sanskrit available]
He, the radiance of the light of whose intellect, is the cause of infinite blessings to the world, is both its author and workmanship from all eternity, and there is none beside him. (He is the Pratyagatma the all-pervading soul).

60. [Sanskrit available]
Hence the ego or living soul is indivisible, uninflammable, unsoilable and undriable in its essence; it is everlasting and infinite (ubiquious), and as immovable as a mountain. (The living soul is viewed in the light of the eternal soul).

61. [Sanskrit available]
There are many that dispute on this point, as they dispute on other matters, in their error, and mislead others into the same; but we are set free from all mistake. (The disputants are the dualists, who make a distinction between the eternal and created souls. (Jivatma-paramatma-dvaita-vadis)).

62. [Sanskrit available]
The dualist relying on the phenomena, is deceived by their varying appearances; but the believer in the formless unity, relies in the everlasting blessed spirit; (which he views in his intellect).

63. [Sanskrit available]
Fondness for intellectual culture, is attended with the vernal blossoms of intellect, which are as white as the clear firmament, and as numberless as the parts of time.

64. [Sanskrit available]
The intellect exhibits itself in the form of the boundless and wonderful mundane egg, and it breathes out the breath of its own spirit in the same egg. (The breathing soul is called the sutratma one of the ten hypostases of Brahma, the vital air is the first of the elementary bodies, in the order of emanation alias creation).

65. [Sanskrit available]
It then showed itself in the wondrous form of the antimundane waters, not as they rise from springs or fall into reservoirs, as also in those of the substances constituting the bodies of the best of beings.

66. [Sanskrit available]
It next shone forth with its own intellectual light, which shines as bright as the humid beams of the full moon.

67. [Sanskrit available]
Then as the intellect rises in full light with its internal knowledge, upon disappearance of the visibles from sight; so also it is transformed to dullness by dwelling upon gross objects, when it is said to lie dormant. In this state of the intellect, it is lowered to and confined in the earth.

68. [Sanskrit available]
The world is in motion by the force of the Intellect, in whose great vacuity it is settled; it is lighted by the light of that Intellect, and is therefore said to be both existent as well as inexistent by itself.

69. [Sanskrit available]
Like the vacuity of that Intellect, the world is said now to exist and now to be inexistent; and like the light of that Intellect, it now appears and now disappears from view.

70. [Sanskrit available]
Like the fleeting wind which is breathed by that Intellect, the world is now in existence and now inexistent; and like the cloudy and unclouded sphere of that Intellect, the world is now in being and now a not being.

71. [Sanskrit available]
Like the broad day light of that Intellect, the world is now in existence, and like the disappearance of that light, it now becomes nothing. It is formed like collyrium from the particles of the oil of the rajas quality of the Intellect.

72. [Sanskrit available]
It is the intellectual fire that gives warmth to the world, and it is the alabaster (conch) of the intellect that causes its whiteness; the rock of intellect gives it hardness, and its water causes its fluidity.

73. [Sanskrit available]
The sweetness of the world, is derived from the sugar of the intellect, and its juiciness from the milk in the divine mind; its coldness is from the ice, and its heat from the fire contained in the same. (i. e. The divine Intellect is the material cause (upadana karana) of the world).

74. [Sanskrit available]
The world is oily by the mustard seeds contained in the Intellect; and billowy in the sea of the divine mind. It is dulcet by the honey and aureate by the gold contained in the same.

75. [Sanskrit available]
The world is a fruit of the tree of Intellect, and its fragrance is derived from the flowers growing in the arbour of the mind. It is the ens of the Intellect, that gives the world its entity, and it is the mould of the eternal mind, that gives its form.

76. [Sanskrit available]
The difference is, that this world is changeful, while the clear atmosphere of the Intellect has no change in it; and the unreal world becomes real, when it is seen as full of the Divine spirit.

77. [Sanskrit available]
The invariable self-sameness of the Divine spirit, makes the entity and non-entity of the world alike; (because it has no existence of its own, but in the Supreme soul). And the words 'part and whole' are wholly meaningless, because both of these are full with the divine spirit.

78. [Sanskrit available]
Fie to them, that deride notions as false talk; because the world with its hills, and seas, earth and rivers, is all untrue without the notion of God's presence in it. (The Buddhists are perceptionalists, and have no faith in any thing beyond their sensible perceptions (pratyaksha); but the Vedantic spiritualists, on the contrary, are abstract conceptionalists, and believe nothing to be true, of which they have no notion or inward conception).

79. [Sanskrit available]
The intellect being an unity, cannot be mistaken for a part of any thing; and though it may become as solid as a stone, yet it shines brightly in the sphere of its vacuity.[1]

80. [Sanskrit available]
It has a clear vacuous space in its inside, as a transparent crystal, which reflects the images of all objects, though it is as clear as the sky.

81. [Sanskrit available]
As the lines on the leaves of trees, are neither the parts of the leaves nor distinct from them, so the world situated in the Intellect, is no part of it nor separate from it.

82. [Sanskrit available]
No detached soul is of heterogeneous growth, but retains in its nature the nature of the intellect, and Brahma is the primary cause of causes. (Hence called Hiranyagarbha.)

83. [Sanskrit available]
The mind is of its own nature a causal principle, by reason of its notion of the Intellect; but its existence is hard to be proved, when it is insensible and unconscious of the intellect.

84. [Sanskrit available]
Whatever is in the root, comes out in the tree, as we see the seed shoot forth in plants of its own species.

85. [Sanskrit available]
All the worlds are as void as vacuity, and yet they appear otherwise, as they are situated in the Great Intellect. All this is the seat of the Supreme, and you must know it by your intellection.

86. [Sanskrit available]
As the Muni spake these words, the day declined to its evening twilight. The assembly broke with mutual salutations, to perform their vesperal ablutions, and met again at the court hall with the rising sunbeams, after dispersion of the nocturnal gloom.

Footnotes and references:


The conceptualism of Europe, is a doctrine between Realism and Nominalism and betwixt Idealism and Relationism. The realist says, universal genera are real and independent existences; but the nominalist (like the Pratyaksāvādi) says that, things only exist and universals are Flatus venti-pralāpa.

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