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 LVI - State of the soul after death

Argument. The desire of the king, and his departure to the realm of death, followed by Lila and the goddess; and their arrival to his former city.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. In the meantime the eye-balls of the king became convoluted, and his lips and cheeks grew pale and dry, with his whole countenance; and there remained only the slender breath of life in him.

2. His body became as lean as a dry leaf, and his face turned as ghastly as the figure of death; his throat gurgled as the hoarsest beetles, and his lungs breathed with a bated breath.

3. His sight was darkened upon the insensibility of death, and his hopes were buried in the pit of despair; and the sensations of his external organs, were hid within the cavity of his heart.

4. His figure was as senseless as a picture in painting, and all his limbs were as motionless, as those of a statue carved upon a block of marble.

5. What need is there of a lengthy description, when it may be said in short; that his life quitted his body, as a bird flies off afar from a falling tree.

6. The two ladies with their divine eye-sight, beheld his animal spirit, flying upwards in the sky in its aerial form; and his consciousness disappearing, like the odour of a flower wafted by the wind.

7. His living soul being joined with its spiritual body, began to fly higher and higher in the air; as it was led by its inward desire or expectation of ascending to heaven.

8. The two ladies, kept going after that conscious soul, like a couple of female bees, pursuing a particle of perfume borne afar in the air on the wings of the wind.

9. Then in a moment after the fainting fit of death was over; the conscious soul was roused from its insensibility, like some fragrance expanding itself with the breeze.

10. It saw the porters of death, carrying away the souls of the dead, that have resumed their grosser forms, by means of the mess offerings of their kinsmen to their manes.

11. After a long year's journey on the way, it reached at the distant abode of Yama, with the hope of reaping the reward of its acts; but found the gate fast beset by beasts of prey. (Like the Cerebrus at the hellgate of Pluto).

12. Yama, on beholding the departed spirit of every body brought before him, ordered to find out its foul acts all along its life time.

13. On finding the prince's spirit spotless, and ever inclined to virtuous acts and to have been nourished by the grace of the goddess of wisdom:—

14. He ordered it to be released, and re-entered into its former dead body, which lay buried under the flowers in the tomb.

15. It was then let to fly in the etherial path, with the swiftness of a stone flung from a sling; and was followed by the living Lila and the goddess in the air.

16. The living soul of the king thus sailing through the sky, did not observe the forms of the two ladies that followed it, though they saw it all along its course. (Because heavenly forms are invisible to mortal eyes and souls).

17. They traversed through many worlds, and soon passed the bounds of the extra-mundane systems; till they arrived at the solar world, whence they descended on this orb of the earth.

18. The two self-willed forms (of Lila and the goddess), in company with the living soul of the king; arrived at the royal city of Padma, and entered the apartment of Lila.

19. They entered in a trice and of their own free will, into the inside of the palace; as the air passes in flowers, and the sunbeams penetrate in the water, and the odors mix with the air.

Rama asked said:—

20. How was it Sir, that they entered into the abode adjoining to the tomb, and how could they find out the way to it, the one having been dead a long time, and all three being but bodiless vacuity?

Vasishtha replied:—

21. The tomb of the dead body of the prince, being impressed in his soul, and the object of its desire; led his spirit insensibly to it, as if it were by its inborn instinct.

22. Who does not know, that the endless desires which are sown in the human breast, like the countless seeds of a fig fruit; come of their own nature, to grow up to big trees in their time?

Just as the living body bears its seed said:—

23. the subtile or linga deha in the heart, which germinates and grows to a tree at last; so every particle of the intellect, bears the mundane seed in itself. (The cosmos is contained in every individual soul).

24. As a man placed in one country, sees within himself his house, which is situated in a far distant land; so the soul sees the objects of his distant desires, ever present before it.

25. The living soul, ever longs after the best object of its desire; though it may undergo a hundred births, and become subject to the errors and delusions of his senses, and of this illusive world. (For whatever is born in the root, must come out in the seed; and that which is bred in the bones, must appear in the flesh).

Rama rejoined:—

26. There are many persons, that are free from their desire of receiving the funeral cake: now tell me, sir, what becomes of those souls, who get no cake offering at their Sradh.

Vasishtha replied:—

27. The man having the desire of receiving the mess settled in his heart, and thinking it to be offered to him; is surely benefitted by its offering. (The funeral cake like every other food, is said to nourish the spirit, and cause its resuscitation in a new life and body).

28. Whatever is in the heart and mind, the same notions form the nature of living beings; and whether these are in their corporeal or incorporeal states, they think themselves as such beings and no other. (The sense of personal identity accompanies the soul everywhere).

29. The thought of having received the pinda cake, makes a man sapinda, though it is not actually offered to him; so on the other hand the thought of not being served with the cake, makes a sapinda become a nispinda (or one served with it becomes as one without it).

30. It is verily the desire of all living beings to be such and such as they have in their hearts, and that is the cause of their becoming so in reality. (Gloss. The ordinance of the necessity of cake offering, fosters its desire in the hearts of men. Or, which is the same thing, the desire of receiving the funeral cake, is fostered in the hearts of men, by the ordinance of Sradh).

31. It is the thought of a man, that makes the poison savour as nectar to his taste; and it is his very thought that makes an untruth seem as truth to him. (Gloss. The thought of a snake-catcher that he is the snake eating Garuda, makes him swallow the bitter poison as sweet honey;and the thought of snake-bite from the pricking of a thorn, mortifies a man by his false fear or imagination only).

32. Know this for certain, that no thought ever rises in any one without some cause or other; hence the desire or thought which is inherent in the spirit, is the sole cause of its regeneration on earth.

33. Nobody has ever seen or heard of any event, occurring without its proper cause; except the being of the Supreme Being, which is the causeless cause of all beings, from their state of not-being into being.

34. The desire is inherent in the intellect, like a dream in the soul;and the same appears in the form of acts, as the Will of God is manifested in his works of creation.

Rama said:—

35. How can the spirit that is conscious of its demerit, foster any desire of its future good; and how can it profit by the pious works of others for its salvation? (as the Sradh made by the relatives of the deceased).

36. Tell me too whether the pious acts of others, which are offered to the manes go for nothing; and whether the absence of future prospects of the unmeritorious ghost, or the benevolent wishes of others (for its future good) are to take effect.

Vasishtha said:—

37. A desire is naturally raised in one at its proper time and place, and by application of appropriate acts and means; and the rising of the desire necessarily overcomes its absence. Gloss. So a Sradh done in proper season and manner, serves to the benefit of the desertless spirit.

38. The pious gifts made on behalf of the departed souls, accrue to them as their own acts; and the sense which they thus acquire of their worthiness, fills them with better hopes and desires of their future state. (Hence rises the hope of redemption by means of the redeeming son of man).

39. And as the stronger man gains the better of his adversary, so the later acts of piety drive away the former impiety from the spirit. Therefore the constant practice of pious acts is strictly enjoined in the Sastras.

Rama said:—

40. If the desire is raised at its proper time and place, how then could it rise in the beginning when there was no time nor place (i. e., when all was void and yet Brahma had his desire and will).

41. You say that there are accessory causes, which give rise to the desires, but how could the will rise at first without any accessory cause whatever?

Vasishtha replied:—

42. It is true, O long-armed Rama, that there was neither time nor place in the beginning, when the Spirit of God was without its will.

43. And there being no accessory cause, there was not even the idea of the visible world, nor was it created or brought into existence; and it is so even now.

44. The phenomenal world has no existence, and all that is visible, is the manifestation of the Divine Intellect, which is ever lasting and imperishable.

45. This will I explain to you afterwards in a hundred different ways, and it is my main purpose to do so; but hear me now tell you what appertains to the matter under consideration.

46. They having got in that house, saw its inside beautifully decorated with chaplets of flowers as fresh as those of the spring season.

47. The inmates of the palace were quietly employed in their duties, and the corpse of the king was placed upon a bed of mandara and kunda flowers.

48. The sheet over the dead body, was also strewn over with wreaths of the same flowers; and there were the auspicious pots of water placed by the bed side.

49. The doors of the room were closed, and the windows were shut fast with their latchets; the lamps cast a dim light on the white washed walls around, and the corpse was lying as a man in sleep, with the suppressed breathing of his mouth and nostrils.

50. There was the full bright moon, shining with her delightsome lustre, and the beauty of the palace, put to blush the paradise of Indra; it was as charming as the pericarp of the lotus of Brahma's birthplace, and it was as silent as dumbness or a dummy itself, and as beautiful as the fair moon in her fulness.