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 LXIV - The germinating seed

Vasishtha resumed:—

The supreme Deity is the all-pervading spirit and the great God and Lord of all. He is without beginning and end, and is self-same with the infinite bliss of his translucent self-cogitation.

2. It is this supreme felicity and purely intellectual substance, whence the living soul and mind have their rise, prior to their production of the Universe (i. e. The eternal and inert bliss called Brahma, became the living soul—anima, of and the active mind—mens, which created the world).

3. Rama asked:—How could the self-cogitation of Brahma, as the infinite spirit and one without a second, conceive in it a finite living soul other than itself, and which was not in Being.

(The inactive and active souls, are not the one and the same thing, nor can the immutable and infinite be changed to one of a finite and changeful nature; nor was there a secondary being co-existent with the unity of the self-existent God).

Vasishtha replied:—

4. The immense and transparent Spirit of Brahma, remained in a state of asat—non-existence, a state of ineffable bliss as seen by the adept Yogi; but of formidable vastness as conceived by the uninitiated novice (i. e. the meditation of the Infinite is a delight to the spiritualist, but it is a horror to the gross idolator, whose mind knows nothing beyond matter and material forms).

5. This state of supreme bliss, which is ever tranquil, and full with the pure essence of God, is altogether undefinable, and incomprehensible, even by the most proficient in divine knowledge. (God is unknowable, is the motto of the wise Athenians and modern Agnostics).

6. Thence sprang a power (an hypostasis) like the germ of a seed, and possessed of consciousness and energy, that is called the living and conscious soul, and which must last until its final liberation. (This is the Demiurge, an emanation from God, and the source and soul of the world).

7. The clear mirror of the mind of this being, reflected in its vast vacuous sphere, the images of innumerable worlds set above one another, like statues engraved upon it.

8. Know Rama! the living soul to be an inflation of Divine Spirit, like the swelling of the sea and the burning of a candle, when its flame is unshaken by the wind.

(The psyche or anima is the energy of the universal soul, or the finite rising from the Infinite).

9. The living soul is possessed of a finite cognoscence as distinguished from the clear and calm consciousness of the Divine Spirit. Its vitality is a flash of the vacuous intellect of Brahma and appertaining to the nature of the living God. Divina particula aurae. The Lord says: 'Aham asmi—I am that I am'; but the living soul knows itself to be 'Soham asmi'—I am He or of Him.

10. Vitality is the essential property of the soul, resembling the inseparable properties of motion in the wind, warmth in the fire and coldness in the ice. (Animation is the natural faculty and necessary property of the soul).

11. Our ignorance of the nature of the Divine Intellect and Spirit, throws us to the knowledge of ourselves by our self-consciousness, and this it is, which is called the living soul.

(Beyond our conscious or subjective knowledge of ourselves, we know nothing of the subjectivity of God, nor are we certain of any objective reality).

12. It is by means of this positive consciousness, that we know our egoism or self-existence; it strikes us more glaringly than a spark of fire, and enlightens us to the knowledge of ourselves more than any other light.

(Our self-consciousness is the clearest of all knowledge, and the basis of all truth according to Descartes).

13. As in looking up to heaven, its blue vault is presented to the sight, beyond which our eyes have not the power to pierce; so in our inquiry into the nature of soul, we see no more than the consciousness of ourselves, and nothing besides (i. e. the subjective soul only is knowable, and naught beyond it).

14. Our knowledge of the soul presents to us in the form of Ego known by its thoughts, like the vacuous sky appearing as a blue sphere by cause of the clouds. (The Ego is the subject of thoughts and self-cogitation).

15. Egoism differentiates the soul from our ideas of space and time, and stirs within it like the breath of winds, by reason of its subjectivity of thoughts. (Differentiation of the subjective Ego from the Objective space and time, is as the difference of Ego and Non-Ego, I and Not I, Le moi et non moi, Das Ich und nicht ich, Aham and twam &c.).

16. That which is the subject of thoughts, is known as the Ego, and is various by styled as the intellect, the soul, the mind, the maya or delusion and Prakriti or nature. (The Ego personified is Rudra, the personification of chitta-cogitation is Vishnu, of Jiva or the soul is Brahma, and of the manas or mind is the maya or Illusion).

17. The mind (chetas) which is the subject of thoughts, contemplates on the nature of elementary matter, and thus becomes of itself the quintessence of the five elements.

(The mind is opposed to matter, but being the principle of volition produces matter at its will).

18. The quintessential mind next becomes as a spark of fire (of itself), and remains as a dim star—a nebula, in the midst of the vacuity of the yet unborn universe.

(The nebulae are the primary formations of heavenly bodies, called Brahmandas or mundane eggs).

19. The mind takes the form of a spark of fire by thinking on its essence, which gradually developes itself like the germ of a seed, in the form of the mundane egg by its internal force.

(The doctrine of evolution from fire, the arche of all things according to Heraclitus. Lewe's Hist. Ph. I 72).

20. The same fiery spark figuratively called the Brahmanda or mundane egg, became as a snowball amidst the water, and conceived the great Brahma within its hollow womb.

(The Spirit of God, dove-like, sat brooding over the hollow deep. Milton).

21. Then as sensuous spirits assume some bodily forms at pleasure, although they dissolve as a magic city in empty air; so this Brahma appeared in an embodied form to view. (Spirits are at liberty to take upon them any form they like).

22. Some of them appear in the form of immovable, and others in those of moving beings; while others assume the shapes of aerials, as they are fond of choosing for themselves. (Hence the transmigration of souls in different bodies, depends on their own choice; and not on necessity or result of prior acts).

23. Thus the first born living being had a form, for himself as he liked in the beginning of creation, and afterwards created the world in his form of Brahma or Virinchi (Vir-incipiens). (The Demiurge, maker, creator or architect of the visible world, had necessarily a personality of his own).

24. Whatever the self-born and self-willed soul, wishes to produce, the same appears immediately to view as produced of its own accord. (Everything appeared of itself at the Fiat of God).

25. Brahma, originating in the Divine Intellect, was by his nature the primary cause of all, without any cause of his own; though he appointed the acts of men; to be the cause of their transition from one state to another, in the course of the world.

(All the future states of beings depend on their acts of past and present lives, except that of the Great creator who is uncreated and unchangeable).

26. The thoughts naturally rise in the mind, like the foaming water, to subside in itself; but the acts done thereby, bind us, as the passing froth and flying birds are caught by ropes and snares.

(The thoughts are spontaneous in their growth as grass, and they entail no guilt on us. Shakespeare).

27. Thoughts are the seeds of action, and action is the soul of life.

Past acts are productive of future consequence, but inaction is attended with no result. (Our lives are reckoned by our acts, and there is no vitality without activity).

28. The living soul bears its vitality as the seed bears the germ in its bosom; and this sprouts forth in future acts, in the manner of the various forms of leaves, fruits and flowers of trees.

(Thus the living soul of Brahma was the seed of all animate and inanimate beings).

29. All other living souls that appeared in the various forms of their bodies, had such forms given to them by Brahma, according to their acts and desires in premundane creations in former Kalpas. (Hence the belief in the endless succession of creations).

30. So the personal acts of people are the causes of their repeated births and deaths in this or other worlds; and they ascend higher or sink lower by virtue of their good or bad deeds, which proceed from their hearts and the nature of their souls.

31. Our actions are the efforts of our minds, and shape our good or bad destinies according to the merit or demerit of the acts. The fates and chances of all in the existing world, are the fruits and flowers of their past acts, and even of those done in prior Kalpas; and this is called their destiny. (Sastra: No act goes for naught even in a thousand Kalpas. Ma bhuktan kshiyate Karma, kalpa koti satai rapi).