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 XXI - Guide to peace

Soon after the insensibility occasioned by one's death is over, there appears to him (soul) the sight of the world, as he viewed it with his open eyes when he was living.

2. It presents before him the circle of the sky and its sides with the cycle of its seasons and times, and shows him the deeds of his pious and secular acts, as they were to continue to eternity.

3. Objects never seen nor thought of before, also offer themselves to his view, as the sight of his own death in a dream, and as they were the prints in his memory.

4. But the infinity of objects, appearing in the empty sphere of the immaterial intellect, is mere illusion, and the baseless city of the world, like an aerial castle, is but the creation of imagination.

5. It is the remembrance of the past world, that makes it known to us, (because it is impossible to recognise any thing without a previous impression of its kind in the mind). Hence the length of a kalpa age and the shortness of a moment, are but erroneous impressions proceeding from the rapidity and slowness of our thoughts.

6. Therefore knowledge, based upon previous notions or otherwise, is of two kinds, and things known without their cause, are attributed to Divine Intelligence (as the hidden cause of all).

7. We are conscious also of thoughts, unthought of before in our minds, as we often have in our dreams; and think of our parents after their demise by mistake of other persons as such.

8. Sometimes genius supercedes the province of memory, as in the first creation or discovery of a thing, which is afterwards continued by its remembrance.

9. According to some, those visible worlds are said to have remained in their ideal state in the Divine mind; and according to others, that there were no pre-existent notions of these in the mind of God.

10. According to some others, the world manifested itself not from the memory, but by the power and will of God; while others maintain it to be the production of a fortuitous combination, of intelligence and atomic principles on a sudden (Kakataliya sanyoga).

11. It is the entire forgetfulness of the world, which is styled liberation, and which can not be had from attachment to what is desirable or aversion of the undesirable.

12. It is difficult to effect an entire negation, both of one's subjective as well as objective knowledge of his self, and the existence of the outer world; and yet no body can be freed without obliteration of both.

13. As the fallacy of taking a rope for a snake, is not removed until the meaning of the world snake, is known to be inapplicable to the rope;so no one can have rest and peace of his mind, unless he is convinced of the illusive nature of the world.

14. One party, who is at peace with himself (by his abandonment of the world), can not be wholly at rest without divine knowledge; as the ghost of his inward ignorance, may overtake him after his getting rid of the devil of worldliness.

15. The world is certainly a monster in itself without the knowledge of its Author; but the difficulty of knowing the first cause, has rendered it an impassable wilderness.

Lila said:—

16. If reminiscence be the cause of one's reproduction, then say, O goddess! what were the causes of the birth of the Brahmanic pair, without the vestiges of their past remembrance.

17. The goddess replied:—Know that Brahma the first progenitor of mankind, who was absolute in himself, did not retain any vestige of his past remembrance in him.

18. The first born, who had nothing to remember of a prior birth, was born in the lotus with his own intelligence—chaitanya;(and not because of his remembrance).

19. The lord of creatures being thus born by chance of his own genius or creative power, and without any assignable cause or design on his part, reflected within himself "now I am become another and the source of creation."

20. Whatever is thus born of itself, is as it were nothing and never produced at all, but remained as the absolute intellect itself in nubibus (chinnabhas).

21. It is the Supreme being that is the sole cause of both states of reminiscence, (i. e. the one caused by vestiges of prior impressions, and the other produced by prior desires); and both the conditions of cause and effect combine in Him in the sphere of his intellect.

22. Thus it is the knowledge of the union of the cause and effect, and the auxiliary cause in Him, that gives us our tranquillity and naught otherwise.

23. Causality and consequence are mere empty words of no significance, since it is the recognition of the universal intellect, which constitutes true wisdom.

24. Hence nothing is produced that is seen in the phenomenal, or known in the noumenal or intellectual world (Chid-jagat); but every thing is situated within the space of the sphere of the intellect in one's own soul.

Lila said:—

25. O! wonderful was the sight thou hast shown me, O goddess; it was a fair prospect of the world as in its morning light, and as brilliant as in the glare of a lightning.

26. Now goddess! deign to satisfy my curiosity, until I become conversant with it by my intense application and study.

27. Kindly take me to that dwelling where the Brahman pair dwelt together, and show me that mountainous spot of their former residence.

28. The goddess replied:—If you want to see that sight, you shall have to be immaculate, by forsaking the sense of your personality (mana or meum), and betaking yourself to the clairvoyance or clear sightedness of seeing the unintelligible Intellect (achetya-chit) within the soul.

29. You shall then find yourself in a vacuous atmosphere (vyomatman), and situated in the sky (nabhas-nubibus), resembling the prospects of earthly men, and the apartments of the firmament (i. e. all nil and void).

30. In this state we shall be able to see them with all their possessions without any obstruction; otherwise this body is a great barrier in the way of spiritual vision.

Lila said:—

31. Tell me kindly, O goddess! the reason, why do we not see the other world with these eyes, nor go there with these bodies of ours.

32. The goddess replied:—The reason is that you take the true futurity for false, and believe the untrue present as true. For these worlds which are formless, appear as having forms to your eyes, as you take the substance gold in its form of a ring.

33. Gold though fashioned as a circlet, has no circularity in it; so the spirit of God appearing in the form of the world, is not the world itself.

34. The world is a vacuity full with the spirit of God; and whatever else is visible in it, is as the dust appearing to fly over the sea. (Hence called maya or illusion of vision, as specks peopling the summer skies).

35. This illusory quintessence of the world is all false, the true reality being the subjective Brahma alone; and in support of this truth we have the evidence of our guides in Vedanta philosophy, and the conviction of our consciousness.

36. The Brahma believer sees Brahma alone and no other anywhere, and he looks to Brahma through Brahma himself, as the creator and preserver of all, and whose nature includes all other attributes in itself.

37. Brahma is not known only as the author of his work of the creation of worlds, but as existent of himself without any causation or auxiliary causality, (i. e. as neither the creator or created, nor supporter of nor supported by another).

38. Until you are trained by your practice of Yoga, to rely in one unity, by discarding all duality and variety in your belief, so long you are barred from viewing Brahma in his true light.

39. Being settled in this belief of unity, we find ourselves by our constant practice of Yoga communion, to rest in the Supreme spirit.

40. We then find our bodies mixing with the air as an aerial substance, and at last come to the sight of Brahma with these our mortal frames.

41. Being then endued with pure, enlightened and spiritual frames, like those of Brahma and the gods, the holy saints are placed in some part of the divine essence.

42. Without practice of yoga, you can not approach God with your mortal frame. The soul that is sullied by sense, can never see the image of God.

43. It is impossible for one to arrive at the aerial castle (objects of the wish) of another, when it is not possible for him to come to the castle (wished for object), which he has himself built in air.

44. Forsake therefore this gross body, and assume your light intellectual frame; then betake yourself to the practice of yoga, that you may see God face to face.

45. As it may be possible to realize an aerial castle by the labour of building it, so it is possible to behold God, either with this body or without it, by practice of yoga only and not otherwise.

46. And as the erroneous conception of the existence of the world, has continued since its first creation (by the will of Brahma); so it has been ever since attributed to an eternal fate—niyati (by fatalists), and to an illusory power (maya sakti of Maya vadis).

47. Lila asked:—Thou saidst O goddess? that we shall go together to the abode of the Brahman pair, but I ask thee to tell me, how are we to effect our journey there?

48. As for me, I shall be able to go there with the purer part of my essence the sentient soul, (after leaving this my gross body here). But tell me how wilt thou that art pure intellect (chetas), go to that place?

49. The goddess replied:—I tell thee lady, that the divine will is an aerial tree, and its fruits are as unsubstantial as air, having no figure nor form nor substance in them.

50. And whatever is formed by the will of God from the pure essence of his intelligent nature, is only a likeness of himself, and bears little difference from its original.

51. This body of mine is of the like kind, and I will not lay it aside, but find out that place by means of this as the breeze finds the odours.

52. And as water mixes with water, fire with fire and air with air, so does this spiritual body easily join with any material form that it likes.

53. But a corporeal body cannot mix with an incorporeal substance, nor a solid rock become the same with an ideal hill.

54. And as your body, which is composed both of its spiritual and mental parts, has become corporeal by its habitual tendency to corporeality.

55. So your material body becomes spiritual (ativahika), by means of your leaning to spirituality, as in your sleep, in your protracted meditation, insensibility, fancies and reveries.

56. Your spiritual nature will then return to your body, when your earthly desires are lessened and curbed within the mind.

Lila said:—

57. Say goddess, what becomes of the spiritual body after it has attained its compactness by constant practice of yoga; whether it becomes indestructible, or perishes like all other finite bodies.

58. The goddess replied:—Any thing that exists is perishable, and of course liable to death; but how can that thing die which is nothing, and is imperishable in its nature? (Such is the spirit).

59. Again the fallacy of the snake in a rope being removed, the snake disappears of itself, and no one doubts of it any more.

60. Thus, as the true knowledge of the rope, removes the erroneous conception of the snake in it, so the recognition of the spiritual body, dispels the misconception of its materiality.

61. All imagery is at an end when there is no image at all, as the art of statuary must cease for want of stones on earth. (Thus they attribute materiality to the immaterial spirit from their familiarity with matter).

62. We see clearly our bodies full of the spirit of God, which you can not perceive owing to your gross understanding.

63. In the beginning when the intellect—chit, is engrossed with the imagination of the mind—chitta, it loses thenceforth its sight of the only one object (the unity of God).

64. Lila asked:—But how can imagination have any room or trace out anything in that unity, wherein the divisions of time and space and all things, are lost in an undistinguishable mass?

65. The goddess replied:—Like the bracelet in gold and waves in water, the show of truth in dreams, and the resemblance of aerial castles:—

66. As all these vanish on the right apprehension of them, so the imaginary attributes of the unpredicable God, are all nothing whatever.

67. As there is no dust in the sky, so there can be no ascribing of any attribute or partial property to God; whose nature is indivisible and unimaginable, who is an unborn unity, tranquil and all-pervading.

68. Whatever shines about us, is the pure light of that being, who scatters his lustre like a transcendental gem all around.

Lila said:—

69. If it is so at all times, then tell me, O goddess! how we happened to fall into the error of attributing duality and diversity to His nature.

70. The goddess replied:—It was your want of reason that has led you to error so long; and it is the absence of reasoning that is the natural bane of mankind, and requires to be remedied by your attending to reason.

71. When reason takes the place of the want of reason, it introduces in a moment the light of knowledge in the soul, in lieu of its former darkness.

72. As reason advances, your want of reason and knowledge and your bondage to prejudice, are put to flight; and then you have an unobstructed liberation and pure understanding in this world.

73. As long as you had remained without reasoning on this subject, so long were you either dormant or wandering in error.

74. You are awakened from this day both to your reason and liberation, and the seeds for the suppression of your desires, are sown in your heart.

75. At first neither was this visible world presented to you nor you to it, how long will you therefore reside in it, and what other desires have you herein?

76. Withdraw your mind from its thoughts of the visitor, visibles and vision of this world, and settle it in the idea of the entire negation of all existence, then fix your meditation solely in the supreme Being, and sit in a state of unalterable insensibility (by forgetting yourself to a stone).

77. When the seed of inappetency has taken root in your heart, and begun to germinate in it, the sprouts of your affections and hatred (literally—pathos and apathy), will be destroyed of themselves.

78. Then the impression of the world will be utterly effaced from the mind, and an unshaken anesthesia will overtake you all at once.

79. Remaining thus entranced in your abstract meditation, you will have in process of time a soul, as luminous as a luminary in the clear firmament of heaven, freed from the concatenation of all causes and their consequences for evermore.