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 LXI - On the nature of the world

Argument. Proofs of the unreality of the world, leading to the Quietism of the Spirit.

Rama said:—

Please sir, explain to me whence arises this error of our knowledge of the objective world, without a cause of this error. (The True God cannot lead us to the knowledge of untruth).

Vasishtha said:—

2. Because we have the knowledge of all things (i. e. the objective), to be contained alike in our consciousness (as of the subjective self); it is plain that this eternal and increate self (or soul), is the cause and container of them all at all times.

3. That which has an insight or intuitive knowledge of all things, which are expressed by words and their meanings, is Brahma—the soul and no other; and nothing that is meant by any significant term, has a different form of its own. (It is the doctrine of nominalism that the notions conveyed by words have no realities corresponding with them in the mind, and have no existence but as mere names).

4. As the quality of a bracelet is not different from its substance of gold, nor that of a wave from the water; so the expansion of the world, is not distinct from the spirit of God. (The spirit inflated and produced the world out of itself. Sruti).

5. It is Brahma that is manifest in the form of the world, and not the world that appears as God; and so doth gold display itself in the form of a bracelet, and not the bracelet that takes the nature of gold.

6. As the whole is displayed in all its various parts, so the entire intellect shows itself in all the various operations of the mind composing the world. (The intellect displaying the mind, and this the world).

7. It is ignorance of the infinite and eternal Spirit of God, that exhibits itself as myself, thyself and the world itself in the mind (i. e. the knowledge both of the subjective and objective results from ignorance of the only One—tanmatram).

8. As the shades of different colours in gems, are not apart from the gems; so the notions of one's self and the world are the shades inherent in the self-same intellect.

9. Like waves appearing on the surface of the undulated waters of the deep; this so-called and meaningless creation, is but a phasis in the Divine Intellect.

10. Neither does the Spirit of God reside in the creation, nor does the creation subsist in the Divine Spirit (like waves in the waters);nor is there such relation as of a part with the whole between them. (These are not parts of one undivided whole).

11. One should meditate on his intellect as the form of the Divine Intellect, in his own consciousness of it; and he will feel the Divinity stirring within himself, as it were stirred by the breath of a breeze. (There is a divinity stirring within us, Addition).

12. The minute particle of the vacuous intellect, will then appear in its wondrous form of a void, within the empty space of his conscious mind. (The primary hypostasis of the vacuous soul being but a void, its attributes of the intellect and mind, are of the same form).

13. He then finds this vacuous form stirring in himself as the airy spirit, with its property of feeling, as it is felt in the flatus venti or breath of air. (This is the Spirit of God).

14. The God then assumes a luminous form as the state of his own substantiality; and this is posited in the sheath of the intellect as a spark of fire. (This is the holy light of the God of glory or glorious God).

15. The light then melts into water as the self-same substance of itself; and this fluid substance contains in it the property of taste. (This is the liquid state of the floating spirit before creation).

16. The same is condensed in the form of a solid substance, which is the same with the Divine Mind. This becomes the earth bearing in its bosom the property of smell. (The earth being produced from the scum of water, is dissolved again into its watery form).

17. Again God represents himself to our intellect, as one infinite and uniform duration; and its measures in twinklings and other divisions, are but manifestations of the succession of our thoughts. (Prakachanamvidah parampara—is the very doctrine of Locke and others).

18. The other states in which God presents himself to our intellects are that, He is Holy, infinitely glorious, seen within us,[1] and without beginning, middle and end; that, He has no rising nor setting, and subsists of Himself without a substratum and as the substratum of all.

Sruti. So says the mystic sufi:—I sought him everywhere but found him nowhere; I then looked within myself, and saw him there—as his seat was there.

19. This knowledge of God is bliss itself, and his creation is identic with himself. Ignorance of God leads to the knowledge of the objective world, and its extinction is the way to know the eternity of His existence.

20. Brahma is conceived in the same manner in our souls, as He is represented to us by our intellects;just as we know all other things according to our ideas of them, in our all comprehensive minds.

21. Of these, those things only are true, the notions of which we derive from the dictates of our well-directed understandings; as all those are untrue, which the mind paints to us from the impressions of the senses and the meanings of words; which are incapable of expressing the nature of the undefinable and indescribable God (whom no words can express—Yato vacho nivastante. (Sruti))

22. Know the unreal world which appears as real, and the reality of God which appears as unreality, to be of the manner of the air in motion and at rest. The visible world like the current air, appears true to them, that have no knowledge of the invisible God, who is as calm as the still air underlying the etherial air and its fluctuations.

23. A thing may appear different from another, and yet be the same with it; as the light in the fire is the selfsame fire. So the visible world arising from the invisible Brahma, appears as another reality; though it is same with the reality of God.

24. All things whether in being or not being, subsist in God as their invisible and unknown source and cause; as the unscooped earth is the cause of the would-be doll, the unhewn tree of a future statue, and the soot of the ink not inesse. (So all future statues are contained in the unhewn marbles, according to Aristotle).

25. One thing is exhibited as another in the great desert of the Divine Mind, which shows the phenomena of the world as figures in the mirage.

26. The wise soul thinks this world as one with its source—the Divine Intellect, as he considers the tree no way different from its parent seed.

27. As the sweetness of milk, the pungency of pepper, the fluidity of water, and the motion of winds, are the inseparable properties of their substances:—

28. So this creation is inseparable from the spirit of Brahma, and is a mere form of the one Supreme soul, beside which there is nothing in reality. (Whose body nature is, and God the soul).

29. This world is the manifestation of the lustre of the gem of Divine mind, and has no other cause except the essence of Brahma, which is no other than its material cause—the Supreme soul itself.

30. The will, the mind, the living soul, and its consciousness, are all the offspring of Divine intellection; because there is nothing that can be produced by exertion of any power without direction of the Intellect.

31. There is nothing that rises or sets anywhere, nor appears or disappears at any time; but everything is unborn at all times, and lies quiet in the Divine Intellect, which is as solid as a massive rock.

32. To attribute the formation of these multitudes of the combination of atoms, and to suppose every particle to be composed of minutest infinitesimals; are but vagaries of imagination, as none of them could combine of themselves except by direction of the eternal mind. (Matter having no force nor design in itself).

33. All force resides in some living principle, as the waking, sleeping and dreaming states appertain to the living soul; and as the undulation of waves subsists in the water (or) as the current of the stream lies hidden in it.

34. When the living soul feels its inappetency towards worldly enjoyments, it is then said to have reached to his highest perfection by the Sruti (such as;—nishkama or abandonment of the desire of fruition, is the highest state of human felicity).

35. As the mind is freed from its choice and dislike of things, so is the soul liberated by avoiding its egoism and personality, and then it has no more to be conscious of the pain, attending upon a future birth and transmigration.

36. Whoso comes to know in his understanding, this state of supreme and inexpressible felicity; he is sure to overcome all his worldly appetites, that bind him fast to this earth.

37. But whoso labours in his mind under his affections to this world, he has to rove continually in it as in the whirlpool of a stream, and destroys the supreme felicity of his soul in his continuous turmoil.

38. It was the lotus-born Brahma, that was conscious of his egoism at first, and who has by the will of his mind, spread out this universe. (He is eternally acting, and has not retired after his act of creation).

Footnotes and references:


The intuition of his existence, is the best proof of the same.