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 XX - The moral of the tale of lila

Section I

The goddess said:—That Brahman whom I said before, had become a monarch on earth, is the same with thy husband, and his wife Arundhati, is no other than thyself—the best of women.

2. You two are the same pair now reigning over this realm, and resembling a pair of doves in your nuptial love, and the deities Siva and Parvati in your might.

3. I have thus related to you the state of your past lives, that you may know the living soul to be but air, and the knowledge of its reality is but an error.

4. The erroneous knowledge (derived from sense), casts its reflection in the intellect, and causes its error also; (errors in the senses breed errors in the mind); and this makes you doubtful of the truth and untruth of the two states; (of the sensible and intellectual worlds).

5. Therefore the question, 'which is true and which is untrue,' has no better solution than that all creations, (whether visible or invisible, mental or ideal), are equally false and unsubstantial.

Vasishtha said:—

6. Hearing these words of the goddess, Lila was confused in her mind, and with her eyes staring with wonder, she addressed her softly.

Lila said:—

7. How is it, O goddess! that your words are so incoherent with truth, you make us the same, with the Brahmanic pair, who are in their own house, and we are sitting here in our palace.

8. And how is it possible that the small space of the room in which my husband's body is lying, could contain those spacious lands and hills and the ten sides of the sky: (as I already saw in my trance—Samadhi).

9. It is as impossible as to confine an elephant in a mustard seed, and as the fighting of a gnat with a body of lions in a nut-shell.

10. It is as incredible as to believe a lotus seed containing a hill in it, and to be devoured by a little bee; or that the peacocks are dancing on hearing the roaring of clouds in a dream.

11. It is equally inconsistent to say, O great goddess of gods! that this earth with all its mountains and other things, are contained within the small space of a sleeping room.

12. Deign therefore, O goddess to explain this mystery clearly unto me;because it is by thy favour only that the learned are cleared of their doubts.

13. The goddess said:—Hear me fair lady! I do not tell thee a lie;because transgression of the law is a thing unknown to us. (The law is nanritam vadeta—never tell an untruth).

14. It is I that establish the law when others are about to break it; if then I should slight the same, who else is there who would observe it.

15. The living soul of the village Brahman, saw within itself and in the very house, the image of this great kingdom, as his departed spirit now views the same in its empty vacuity. (Therefore both these states are equally ideal).

16. But you have lost the remembrance of the states of your former lives after death, as they lose the recollection of waking events in the dreaming state.

17. As the appearance of the three worlds in dream, and their formation in the imagination; or as the description of a warfare in an epic poem and water in the mirage of a maru or sandy desert (are all false):

18. So were the hills and habitations which were seen in the empty space of the Brahman's house, which was no other than the capacity of his own mind to form the images of its fancy, and receive the external impressions like a reflecting mirror (all mere ideal).

19. All these though unreal, yet they appear as real substances on account of the reality of the intellect, which is seated in the cavity of the inmost sheath of the body and reflects the images.

20. But these images, which are derived from the remembrance of unreal objects of the world, are as unreal as those objects which cast their reflexions in the intellect; just as the waves rising in the river of a mirage, are as unreal as the mirage itself.

21. Know this seat (sadana) of yours, which is set in this closet (kosha) of the house, as well as myself and thyself and all things about us, to be but the reflections of our intellect only, without which nothing would be perceptible, as to one who is devoid of his intellect.

22. Our dreams and fallacies, our desires and fancies, as also our notions and ideas, serve as the best evidences, that afford us their light for the understanding of this truth: (that nothing is true beside the subjective mind, which creates and forms, produces and presents all objects to our view).

23. The spirit of the Brahman resided in the vacuity of his house (the body), with the seas and forests and the earth (i. e. their impressions) within itself, as the bee abides in the lotus.

24. Thus the habitable globe with every thing it contains, is situated in a small cell in one corner of the intellect, as a spot of flimsy cloud in the firmament.

25. The House of the Brahman was situated in the same locality of the intellect, which contains all the worlds in one of its atomic particles.

26. The intelligent soul contains in every atom of it, unnumbered worlds within worlds, enough to remove your doubt; of the Brahman's viewing a whole realm within the space of his intellect.

27. Lila asked:—How can the Brahmanic pair be ourselves, when they are dead only eight days before, and we have been reigning here for so many years?

28. The goddess replied:—There is neither any limit of space or duration, nor any distance of place or length of time in reality: hear me now tell you the reason of it.

29. As the universe is the reflexion of the divine mind, so are infinity and eternity but representations of himself.

30. Attend to what I tell you about the manner in which we form the idea of time, and its distinct parts of a moment and an age, in the same way as we make the distinction of individualities in me, thee and this or that person, (which are essentially the same undivided spirit and duration).[1]


Section II - State of the Human Soul after Death

31. Hear now, that no sooner does any one come to feel the insensibility consequent to his death, than he forgets his former nature and thinks himself as another being.

32. He then assumes an empty form in the womb of vacuity in the twinkling of an eye, and being contained in that container, he thinks within himself in the same receptacle.

33. "This is my body with its hands and feet." Thus the body he thinks upon, he finds the same presented before him.

34. He then thinks in himself: "I am the son of this father and am so many years old; these are my dear friends and this is my pleasant abode."

35. "I was born and became a boy, and then grew up to this age. There are all my friends and in the same course of their lives."

36. Thus the compact density of the sphere of his soul, presents him many other figures, which appear to rise in it as in some part of the world.

37. But they neither rise nor remain in the soul itself, which is as transparent as the empty air; they appear to the intellect as a vision seen in a dream.

38. As the view beheld in a dream, presents the sights of all things in one place, so does every thing appear to the eye of the beholder of the other world as in his dream.

39. Again whatever is seen in the other world, the same occurs to men in their present states also; wherefore the reality of this and unreality of the other world, are both alike to a state of dreaming.

40. And as there is no difference in the waves of the same seawater, so the produced visible creation is no other than the unproduced intellectual world, both of which are equally indestructible: (the one being but a copy of the other).

41. But in reality the appearance is nothing but a reflection of the intellect; and which apart from the intelligible spirit, is merely an empty vacuity.

42. The creation though presided by the intelligible spirit, is itself a mere void, its intelligible soul being the only substance of it as the water of the waves.

43. The waves though formed of water, are themselves as false as the horns of hares; and their appearance as natural objects: is altogether false (because they are the effects of the auxiliary cause of the winds which have raised them).

44. Hence there being no visible object in reality (except a false appearance of such), how can the observer have any idea of the visible, which loses its delusion at the moment of his death.

45. After disappearance of the visible outer world from sight, the soul reflects on its reminiscence of the creation in its inner world of the mind, according to the proper time and place of every thing.

46. It remembers its birth, its parents, its age and its residence, with its learning and all other pursuits in their exact manner and order.

47. It thinks of its friends and servants, and of the success and failure of its attempts. And thus the increate and incorporeal soul, ruminates on the events of its created and corporeal state in its intellectual form.

48. It does not however remain long in this state, but enters a new body soon after its death, to which the properties of the mind and senses, are added afterwards in their proper times.

49. It then becomes a baby, and finds a new father and mother, and begins to grow. Thus whether one may perceive it or not, it is all the product of his former reminiscence.

50. Then upon waking from this state of trance, like a fruit from the cell of a flower, it comes to find that a single moment appeared to it as the period of an age.

51. So King Harish Chandra of yore thought one night as a period of twelve years; and so one day seems as long as a year to them that are separated from their beloved objects.

52. Again as the birth or death of one in his dream, or his getting a begotten father in infancy, or a hungry man's faring on dainty food in thought, is all false:

53. So when a sated man says he is starving, or one declares he is an eye witness of a thing he has not seen, or an empty space is full of people, or that he has got a lost treasure in his dream, who is there to believe him?

54. But this visible world rests in the invisible spirit of God, as the property of pungency, resides in the particles, of the pepper seed, and as the painted pictures on a column. But where are the open and clear sighted eyes to perceive the same?


Section III - Interpretation of Lila’s Vision

55. The vision of Lila, called samadhi in Yoga and clairvoyance of spiritualism, was the abstract meditation of her lord in her memory. Which presented her with a full view of every thing imprinted in it. The memory is taken for the whole intellect chit, which is identified with God, in whose essence the images of all things, are said to be eternally present.

Footnotes and references:


Note. It is the mind that lengthens time by the quick succession of its thoughts, and shortens it by its quiescence.