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 LXII - Interpretation of destiny

Argument. The erroneous conception of creation and of Destiny both as active and inactive.

Vasishtha continued:—

These myriads of worlds and the millenniums of kalpa ages, are no more real in themselves than our false computation of the millionth part of an atom or the twinkling of an eye.

2. It is our error that represents them as true to us, though they are as false as our calculation of those infinitesimals.

3. These creations whether past or future, follow one another in endless succession, like the overflowing currents of water, with all the waves, eddies and whirlpools in them.

4. The prospect of these created worlds is as false, as the delusive mirage, which presents a stream of water, flowing with strings of flowers, fallen from the plants on the shore.

5. The conceptional creation is as baseless, as a city in a dream or magic show; or as a mountain in fiction, or an imaginary castle in air.

(It is a flatus venti, and not based on any thing real; but has a mere psychological existence, depending on fancy and imagination).

Rama said:—

6. Sir, the drift of your reasoning, leads to the establishment of the identity of the conceptional creation with the creator; and that this unity of both is the belief of the learned and wise. (So says Hegel: "creation is the reality of God; it is God passing into activity", Lewe's Hist. Phil. II p. 626).

7. Now tell me, what you have to say with regard to the material bodies, which these existence bear on earth; and what is the cause that the body is subject to the casualties unknown to the inward spirits (i. e. the body is subject to material laws, but not so the immaterial spirit which has no change).

Vasishtha replied:—

8. There is a supernatural and active energy of the Divine Intellect, called the predominant Decree, Fate or Destiny, which must come to pass, and bear its command over all our actions and desires. (Destiny is irresistible, being the decree of Providence, governing all events and our free wills also. Fate is the personification of the female agency of god. Here Vasishtha is a fatalist also; but his fate is the Divine decree).

9. She is invested from the beginning with irresistible and multifarious powers; and destines the manner in which every thing is to take place and continue for ever. (The philosophical destiny is the sum of the laws of universe, of matter and mind).

10. She is the essential cause of all essence, and the chief mover of the intellect; she is styled as the great power of powers, and remains as the great viewer of all things.

11. She is called the great agency and the great producer of all events;She is known as the chief mover of occurrences, and she is the soul and source of all accidents. (The mythological Destiny is superior to gods and men, and rules over the great Jove himself).

12. She whirls the worlds as straws, and bears her sway over the deities and demons; she commands the Naga dragons and the mountain monsters to the end of time.

13. She is sometimes thought to be an attribute of Divine essence, and to remain pictured in her ever varying colours in the hollow vacuity of the Divine Mind. (The theological destiny is the Almighty Will of God and his foreknowledge also; before which the fates float about, as if they are drawn up in variegated pictures).

14. The learned have explained Brahma the Demiurge, to be identic with the Spirit of Brahma, for the understanding of those that are ignorant in spiritual knowledge; and by destiny they mean his creation (i. e. creation is destination of the preordaining and irrevocable will of God).

15. The immovable spirit of Brahma, appears to be full of moving creatures and the infinity of Divine existence, seems to teem with the finite creation in the midst of it, like a grove of trees growing under the concavity of the hollow sky.

16. The unwaking spirit of God reflected various images in itself (as in a dream), likening to the reflection of a dense forest in the lens of a crystal stone: and these were understood by the demiurgus Brahma, as the prototype of the destined creation, in the hollow sphere of the Divine mind.

17. The Intellect naturally exhibits a variety of forms in itself, as the body of an embodied person, shows its various members to view; and these were taken by the lotus-born Brahma, as the several parts in the great body of the cosmos. (The Intellect is the phantasmagoria of the world, and the Demiurge is the formal framer of it).

18. This foreknowledge of events imprinted in the Intellect of God, is called Destiny, which extends over all things at all times. (This is Fatum christianum, that every thing is regulated by foreknowledge and Providence).

19. The meaning of Destiny, comprises the knowledge of the causes, which move, support and sustain all things in their proper order; and that such and such causes, must produce such and such effects for ever. (This is the Stoic Fate of Jewish Essences; or a concatenation of causes whence all things necessarily result).

20. This destiny is the force or mobile power, that moves all men and animals, and vegetable and inanimate creations; it is the beginning (or primary source) of the time and motion of all beings. (It is fatum from fari—the word or decree of Providence, that was the beginning of all existence.)

21. It is combined with Divine power, as the power divine is combined with it; and this combination of them into one, is the cause of the production and existence of the world.

22. It is the union or conformity of human exertion, with the course of destiny or decree of God, that is productive of certain ends, which are respectively called their destiny and destined effects. (Here Destiny is defined as the combination of human and superhuman powers; and that the co-operation of natural and supernatural agencies, are necessary to the production of effects).

23. What more have you to ask me, Rama! with regard to destiny and self-exertion; when I tell you that it is destined to all beings to betake themselves to their proper actions, in the destined or prescribed manner, in order to bring about the desired result? (Their destiny is equal to Vidhi or fixed laws, which were combined in Brahma).

24. When a predestinarian sits idle and quiet, under the belief of being fed by his fixed lot; he is then said to depend on his destiny alone: (as a fatalist).

25. By sitting idle in the manner of a waiter on Providence, for the whole of his lifetime, he gains nothing; but comes to lose his good sense and energy in a short time, and finally dies away in famine by his sole reliance on destiny. (Hence fate = fat and faut (in Arabic), is synonymous with death).

26. It is quite certain that whatever is destined, must surely come to pass of its own accord; and that it is impossible to prevent it by the foresight of gods and men.

27. Yet the intelligent ought not cease to exert their activity, by relying in their fates only;for they must know that it is our exertion that brings destiny into action. (Because it is, destined, that destiny requires to be enforced by human exertion, in order to bring on its effect. It is operation which enforces the law, which is otherwise dormant and a dead letter).

28. Destiny is inactive and abortive, without an active power to enforce it to action; it is human activity, that is productive of any effect or production in nature by the help of destiny.

29. Depend on destiny, and remain both deaf and dumb as a doll; be inactive, and become dull and torpid as a block. Say, what is the good of this vital breath, unless it has its vitality and activity? (Destiny has destined man to exertion in order to produce the destined end; and has so ordained all animated nature, in order to be productive).

30. It is good to sit quiet; by restraining even the vital breath in Yoga meditation; whereby one can obtain his liberation: otherwise the inactive man is not to be called a Yogi, but an idler and a lazzarone.

31. Both activity and inactivity are good for our liberation from pain; but the high minded esteem that as better, which saves them from the greater pain of regeneration (i. e. the hybernation of Yoga meditation).[1]

32. This inactive destiny is a type of the latent Brahma; and who so leans to it by laying aside his busy course, is verily installed in the supremely holy state of highest felicity (as in ecstasis and hypnotism).

33. The inert destiny resides every where in the manner of Brahma—the latent soul in all bodies, and evolves itself in various shapes, by means of activity in all its productions.

Footnotes and references:


Activity is attended with the pleasure of enjoyment with the pain of bondage; and inactivity with the pleasure of freedom, and the pain of poverty. The insensible are fond of fruition at the expense of their freedom; but the wise prefer their liberty with poverty, as it is said in the Upanishad:—[Sanskrit: shrutī hi pumsāmadhikam vrinīte | mandoyoga kse mādadhikam vrinīte |]