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 XL - Reflections on human life and mind

Vasishtha related:—

The nocturnal fiends were thus infesting the gloomy field, and the myrmidons of death (Yama), roaming about it as marauders in the day time.

2. The naked and fleeting ghosts, were revelling on their provision of carrion in their nightly abode, and under the canopy of thick darkness, which was likely to be laid hold upon under the clutches of one's hand (hasta-grahya).

3. It was in the still hour of the gloomy night, when the host of heaven seemed to be fast bound in sleep, that a sadness stole in upon the mind of Lila's magnanimous husband (the belligerent prince Viduratha by name).

4. He thought about what was to be done on the next morning, in council with his Counsellors; and then went to his bed, which was as white as moonlight, and as cold as frost. (A cold bed in the east vs. a warm one in the west).

5. His lotus-eyes were closed in sleep for a while in his royal camp, which was as white as the moonbeams, and covered by the cold dews of night.

6. Then the two ladies, issued forth from their vacuous abode, and entered the tent through a crevice, as the air penetrates into the heart and amidst an unblown bud of flower.

7. Rama asked:—How is it possible sir, that the gross bodies of the goddesses, with their limited dimensions, could enter the tent through one of its holes, as small as the pore of a piece of cloth?

8. Vasishtha answered saying that:—Whoso mistakes himself to be composed of a material body, it is no way possible for him to enter a small hole with that gross body of his.

9. But he who thinks himself to be pent up in his corporeal body as in a cage, and obstructed by it in his flight, and does not believe himself to fill his frame, or to be measured by its length; but has the true notion of his inward subtle spirit, it is no way impossible for him to have his passage any where he pleases to go.

10. He who perceives his original spiritual state, as forming the better half of his body, may pass as a spirit through a chink; but whoso relies in his subsequent half of the material body, cannot go beyond it in the form of his intellect.

11. As the air never rises upward, nor the flame of fire ever goes downward; so it is the nature of the spirit to rise upward, as that of the body to go down; but the intellect is made to turn in the way in which it is trained.

12. As the man sitting in the shade, has no notion of the feeling of heat or warmth; so one man has no idea of the knowledge or thoughts of another person.

13. As is one's knowledge so is his thought, and such is the mode of his life; it is only by means of ardent practice (of yoga and learning), that the mind is turned to the right course.

14. As one's belief of a snake in a rope, is removed by the conviction of his error; so are the bent of the mind and course of conduct in life, changed from wrong to right by the knowledge of truth.

15. It is one's knowledge that gives rise to his thoughts, and the thoughts that direct his pursuits in life: this is a truth known even to the young and to every man of sense.

16. Now then the soul that resembles a being seen in a dream or formed in fancy, and which is of the nature of air and vacuum, is never liable to be obstructed any where in its course: (for who can constrain the flight of his imagination?).

17. There is an intellectual body, which all living beings possess in every place. It is known both by consciousness, as well as the feelings of our hearts.

18. It is by the divine will, that the intellect rises and sets by turns. At first it was produced in its natural, simple and intellectual form, and then being invested with a material body, it makes together an unity of the person out of the duality (of its material and immaterial essences).

19. Now you must know the triple vacuity, composed of the three airy substances—the spirit, mind and space, to be one and the same thing, (all the three being equally all pervasive); but not so their receptacle (of the material body), which has no pervasion.

20. Know this intellectual body of beings, to be like the air, present with every thing and every where (over which it extends and which it grasps in itself); just as your desire of knowing extends over all things in all places, and presents them all to your knowledge.

21. It abides in the smallest particles, and reaches to the spheres of heavens, (which it grasps within itself): it reposes in the cells of flowers, and delights in the leaves of trees. (i. e. It stretches over all these things in its knowledge of them).

22. It delights in hills and dales, and dances over the waves of the oceans; it rides over the clouds, and falls down in the showers of rain and hailstones of heaven.

23. It moves at pleasure in the vast firmament, and penetrates through the solid mountains. Its body bears no break in it, and is as minute as an atom.

24. Yet it becomes as big as a mountain lifting its head to heaven, and as large as the earth, which is the fixed and firm support of all things. It views the inside and outside of every thing, and bears the forests like hairs on its body.

25. It extends in the form of the sky, and contains millions of worlds in itself; it identifies itself with the ocean, and transforms its whirlpools to spots upon its person.

26. It is of the nature of an uninterrupted understanding, ever calm and serene in its aspect; it is possessed of its intellectual form, from before the creation of the visible world, and being all comprehensive as vacuity itself, it is conversant with the natures of all beings.

27. It is an unreality as the appearance of water in the mirage, but manifests itself as a reality to the understanding by its intelligence. Without this (intellection), the intellectual man is a nil as the son of a barren woman, and a blank as the figure of a body seen in a dream.

28. Rama asked:—How is that mind to which you attribute so many powers, and what is that again which you say to be nothing? Why is it no reality, and as something distinct from all what we see?

Vasishtha replied:—

29. All individual minds are indued with these faculties, except all such individualities, whose minds are engrossed with the error (of the reality) of the outer world.

30. All the worlds are either of a longer or shorter duration, and they appear and disappear at times; some of these vanish in a moment, and others endure to the end of a Kalpa. But it is not so with the mind, whose progress I will now relate to you.

31. There is an insensibility which overtakes every man before his death; this is the darkness of his dissolution (maha-pralaya-yamini).

32. After the shocks of delirium and death are over, the spiritual part of every man, is regenerated anew in a different form, as if it was roused from a state of trance, reverie or swoon; (the three states of insensibility—avidya-trayam).

33. And as the spirit of God, assumes his triune form with the persons of Brahma and Virat, after the dissolution of the world for its recreation; so every person receives the triplicate form of his spiritual, intellectual and corporeal beings, after the termination of his life by death.

Rama said:—

34. As we believe ourselves to be reproduced after death by reason of our reminiscence; so must we understand the recreation of all bodies in the world by the same cause. Hence there is nothing uncaused in it (as it was said with regard to the unproduced Brahma and others).

Vasishtha replied:—

35. The gods Hari, Hara and others, having obtained their disembodied liberation or videha-mukti, (i. e. the final extinction of their bodies, their minds and spirit as in nirvana), at the universal dissolution, could not retain their reminiscence to cause their regeneration.

36. But human beings having both their spiritual and intellectual bodies entire at their death, do not lose their remembrance of the past, nor can they have their final liberation like Brahma, unless they obtain their disembodied state, which is possible to all in this life or hereafter, by the edification of their souls, through yoga meditation alone.

37. The birth and death of all other beings like yourself, are caused by their reminiscence, and for want of their disembodied liberation or eternal salvation.

38. The living soul retains its consciousness within itself, after its pangs of death are over; but remains in its state of insensibility by virtue of its own nature (called pradhana).

39. The universal vacuum is called nature (prakriti). It is the reflexion of the invisible divine mind (chit prativimbam); and is the parent of all that is dull or moving (Jada-Jada), which are so produced by cause of their reminiscence or its absence (sansmriti and asmriti);the former causing the regeneration of living beings, and the latter its cessation as in inert matter.

40. As the living principle or animal life begins to have its understanding (bodha), it is called mahat or an intelligent being, which is possessed of its consciousness (ahankara). It has then the organs of perception and conception, added to it from their elements (tanmatras) residing in the vacuous ether.

41. This minutely intelligent substance, is next joined with the five internal senses, which form its body, and which is otherwise called its spiritual body (ativahika or lingadeha).

42. This spiritual being by its long association with the external senses, comes to believe itself as a sensible being; and then by imagining to have the sensible form, it finds itself invested with a material body (adhibhautika-deha) as beautiful as that of a lotus.

43. Then seated in the embryo, it reposes in a certain position for sometime, and inflated itself like the air, until it is fully expanded.

44. It then thinks itself to be fully developed in the womb, as a man dreams of a fairy form in his sleep, and believes this illusion as a reality.

45. He then views the outer world, where he is born to die, just as one visits a land where he is destined to meet his death; and there remains to relish its enjoyments, as prepared for him.

46. But the spiritual man soon perceives every thing as pure vacuum, and that his own body and this world are but illusions and vain vacuities.

47. He perceives the gods, and human habitations, the hills and the heavens resplendent with the sun and stars, to be no more than abodes of disease and debility, decay and ultimate death and destruction.

48. He sees nothing but a sad change in the natures of things, and all that is movable or immovable, great or small, together with the seas, hills and rivers and peoples of this earth and the days and nights, are all subject to decay sooner or later.

49. The knowledge that I am born here of this father, and that this is my mother, these my treasures, and such are my hopes and expectations, is as false as empty air.

50. That these are my merits and these my demerits, and these the desires that I had at heart; that I was a boy and am now young; are the airy thoughts of the hollow mind.

51. This world resembles a forest, where every being is like a detached arbor; the sable clouds are its leaves, and the stars its full blown flowers.

52. The walking men are as its restless deer, and the aerial gods and demons its birds of the air; the broad day light is the flying dust of its flowers, and the dark night the deep covert of its grove.

53. The seas are like its rills and fountains, and the eight boundary mountains as its artificial hills; the mind is the great tank in it, containing the weeds and shrubs of human thoughts in abundance.

54. Wherever a man dies, he is instantly changed to this state, and views the same things every where; and every one thus rises and falls incessantly, like the leaves of trees in this forest of the world.

55. Millions of Brahmas, Rudras, Indras, Maruts, Vishnus and Suns, together with unnumbered mountains and seas, continents and islands, have appeared and disappeared in the eternal course of the world.

56. Thus no one can count the numbers of beings that have passed away, are passing and shall have to pass hereafter, nor such as are in existence and have to become extinct in the unfathomable eternity of Brahma.

57. Hence it is impossible to comprehend the stupendous fabric of the universe any how except in the mind, which is as spacious as the infinite space itself, and as variable as the course of events in the world.

58. The mind is the vacuous sphere of the intellect, and the infinite sphere of the intellect, is the seat of the Supreme.

59. Now know the whirlpool and waves of the sea to be of the same element, as the sea in which they rise and fall, though they are not of the same durable nature as the sea water, by reason of their evanescence. So the phenomena are the same with the Noumena, though none of these is a reality.

60. The etherial sphere of heaven, is but a reflexion of the intellectual sphere of the Divine mind, and the bright orbs of the firmament, are as gems in the bosom of Brahma. Its concavity is the cave of the mind of the Eternal One.

61. The world according to the sense in which I take it, as the seat of God, is highly interesting, but not so in your sense of its being a sober reality. So the meaning of the words "I and thou," refers according to me to the intellectual spirit, and according to you to the living soul and body.

62. Hence Lila and Sarasvati, being in their vacuous intellectual bodies, were led by the pure desire of their souls, to every place without any obstruction or interruption.

63. The intellectual spirit has the power, to present itself wherever it likes, on earth or in the sky, and before objects known or unknown and wished to be known by it. It was by this power that they could enter into the tent of the prince.

64. The intellect has its way to all places and things, over which it exercises its powers of observation, reflection and reasoning to their full extent. This is known as the spiritual and unconfined body (Ativahika), whose course cannot be obstructed by any restriction whatever.