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 LXVII - Lecture on truth

Argument. Nature of the Active and Living Soul (Jiva) and its Sensations.

Rama said:—

Leaving the mind please tell me more about the nature of the living soul; what relation it bears to the Supreme soul, how it sprang from the same and what is its essence.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. Know Brahma is omnipresent, and the Lord of all at all times; He manifests himself in whatever attribute he assumes to himself at his free will. Ex arbitrio suo.

3. The attribute which the universal soul assumes to itself in the form of perception (chetana), is known by the term living soul, which possesses the power of volition in itself.

4. There are two causal principles combined with the living soul, namely: its predestination resulting from its prior acts and volitions; and its later free will which branch forth severally into the various causes of birth, death and subsistence of beings.

Rama said:—

5. Such being the case, tell me, O thou greatest of sages, what this predestination means and what are these acts, and how they become the causal agents of subsequent events.

Vasishtha replied:—

6. The intellect (chit) is possest of its own nature of the properties of oscillation and rest, like the vacillation and stillness of the winds in the air. Its agitation is the cause of its action, otherwise it is calm and quiet as a dead lock—quietus itself.

7. Its oscillation appears in the fluctuation of the mind, and its calmness in the want of mental activity and exertions; as in the nonchalance of Yoga quietism.

8. The vibrations of the intellect lead to its continual transmigrations; and its quietness settles it in the state of the immovable Brahma. The oscillation of the intellect is known to be the cause of the living state and all its actions.

(The moving force of the mind is the animism of Stahl, and its rest is the quietus of Plato).

9. This vibrative intellect is the thinking Soul, and is known as the living agent of actions; and the primary seed of the universe. (This is the anima mundi or moving force of the world,—the doctrine of Stahl).

10. This secondary soul then assumes a luminous form according to the light of its intellect, and afterwards becomes multifarious at its will, and by means of the pulsations of the primary intellect all over the creation. (This luminous form is represented by the red body of Brahma and the red clay of which Adam was formed. It was the All—to pan of Pantheism, and the Principium hylarchicum or first principle of Henry Moore).

11. The pulsative intellect or soul, having passed through many transformations (or transmigrations), is at last freed from its motion and migration. And there are some souls which pass into a thousand births and forms, while there are others which obtain their liberation in a single birth (by means of their Yoga meditation or unification with

God, which is the final aim of Platonism and of the Chinese Laotseism).

12. So also the human soul being of its own nature prone to assume its dualism of the motive intellect, becomes by itself the cause of its transmigration and sufferings, as also of its transient bliss or misery in heaven or hell. (There is no rest for the restless soul, until it rests in the bosom of the all-tranquil and Universal soul).

13. As the same gold is changed to the forms of bracelets and other things, and as the same gross matter appears in the different forms of wood and stone; so the uniform soul of God appears as multiform according to his various modes and attributes. (The soul modifies itself into many forms of activity and passivity).

14. It is the fallacy of the human mind, that views the forms as realities, and causes one to think his soul which is freed from birth and form, to be born, living and dead, as a man sees a city to rise and fall in his delirium. (The appearances and forms of things are objective and false fabrications of the intellect).

15. The varying intellect erroneously conceives its unreal egoism and meitatem as realities, from its ignorance of its unity with the unchangeable reality of God, and also from its felicity of enjoyments peculiar to its varied state. (The [Sanskrit: bhogasha] or desire of fruition is the cause of the revolution of the soul in endless states of beings).

16. As Lavana the King of Mathura, falsely deemed himself as a Chandala, so the intellect thinks on its own different states of existence and that of the world (from its desire of enjoying its pleasures which are deeply rooted in itself).

17. All this world is the phantom of an erroneous imagination, O Rama! it is no more than the swelling of the waters of the deep. (The world is the expansion of the self-same soul and its evolution is the volition of Brahma).

18. The intellect is ever busied with the intellection of its own intelligences, and the innate principles of its action; in the same manner as the sea is seen to swell with its waters moving in waves of themselves. (The continuation of the intellect in the association of its preconceived ideas, is carried on by law of continuity).

19. The intellect is as the water in the wide expanse of Brahma; its inflation raises the waving thoughts in the mind, resembling the bubbles of water, and produces the revolutions of living souls like eddies in the sea of this world.

20. Know thy soul, O gentle Rama! as a phenomenon of the all pervading Brahma, who is both the subject and object of his consciousness, and who has posited in thee a particle of himself, like the breath of a mighty lion.

21. The intellect with its consciousness, constitutes the living soul, and that with the will forms the mind; its knowing power is the understanding, and its retentiveness is called its memory: its subjectivity of selfishness is styled egoism, and its error is called maya or delusion. (Consciousness is perception qua mens de presenti suo statu admonitur. The living soul is psyche or animus. The intellect is the mover of the will. The intellectus est prior voluntate, non enim est voluntas &c. The understanding has the power to acquire knowledge, and memory has the power of retention &c.).

22. The mind by its imagination stretches out this world, which is as false as the phantom of Utopia—Gandharva-nagaram or an air drawn city.

23. The objective knowledge of the world in the mind, is as false as the appearance of chains of pearls in the sky, and as the visionary scenes in a dream. (The objective is the feigned fabrication of the mind, and therefore unreal).

24. The soul which is ever pure and self sufficient in its nature, and remains in its own state of tranquillity; is not perceived by the perverted mind dwelling on its delusive dreams.

25. The objective world is referred to waking—Jagrat, because it is perceived in the waking state of the soul; and the subjective mind is allied to sleep—swapna, because the mind is active during the sleeping and dreaming states. The ego is related to deep sleep—sushupta, when we are unconscious of ourselves, and the fourth or pure Intellect—turiya or turya, is the trance or hybernation of the soul.

26. That which is above these four conditions, is the state of ultimate bliss, ecstasis; and it is by reliance on that supremely pure essence of God, that one is exempted from all his causes of grief and sorrow (in his ecstatic delight).

27. Everything is displayed in Him and all things are absorbed in Him also; this world is neither a reality here or there; it presents only the false appearance of strings of pearls in the sky. (Sensible forms are empty appearances, and are only believed as real by materialists).

28. And yet God is said to be the cause and substratum, of all these unobstructed phantoms rising to the view, as the empty air is said to be the receptacle of the rising trees. Thus the uncausal God is said to be the cause of this uncaused world, which only exists in our illusive conceptions, and presents itself to our delusive sensations of it.

29. As a polished piece of iron gets the reflexion of a grosser piece, so do our finer or inner sensations take the representations of the gross forms of their particular objects (though the senses and sensible objects are both untrue, as mere delusive and delusions).

30. These sensations are conveyed to the mind, and thence again to the living soul and intellect, in the same manner as the roots supply the sap to the stem, and thence to the branches, and lastly to the fruits of trees (i. e. the Divine Intellect is the last receptacle of the impressions of the senses).

31. As the seed produces the fruit, and the same contains the seed in itself; so the intellect producing the mind and its thoughts can not get rid of them; but is contained in, and reproduced by them in successive transmigrations.

32. There is some difference however in the simile of the insensible seed and tree; with the sensible intellect and mind (which are freed from reproduction by their attainment of liberation); but the thoughts of the creator and creation like the seed and tree, are reproductive of one another without end. (Because the thought of the creator accompanies that of the creation, and so the vice versa; owing to the unbroken chain and interminable concatenation of the ideas of causality and its effect).

33. But there is this difference between the insensible seed and sensible intellect, that the former is continually productive of one another, while the latter ceases in its process upon its attainment of liberation; yet the ideas of the creator and creation are reproductive of each other ad infinitum.

34. Yet our understanding shows it as clearly—as the sun light sets forth the forms and colours of objects to view; that there is one eternal God of truth, who is of the form of intellectual light, which shows the forms of all things, that proceed from Him (as the colours of objects originate from the solar light, and are shown again by the same to our optical vision).

35. As the ground which is dug presents a hollow, so the reasoning of every system of sound philosophy establishes the existence of the transcendental void as the cause of all. (An unknown first cause without any attribute, is the unanimous conclusion, arrived at every rational system of Philosophy. See Kusumanjali. Here Vasishtha establishes his vacuous rather than a personal cause).

36. As a prismatic crystal represents various colours in its prisms, without being tinged by the same; so the transparent essence of Brahma shows the groups of worlds in its hollow bosom without its connection with them. (This variety of vision is caused by our optical deception).

37. The universal soul is the source, and not the substance of all these vast masses of worlds; just as the seed is the embryo, and not the matter of the trees and plants and their fruits and flowers that grow from the same. (The to on is the only principle called God, all other objects are but phenomenal modifications of his essence).

Rama said:—

38. Oh how wonderful is this world, which presents its unreality as a reality in all its endless forms unto us; and though situated in the Divine self, appears to be quite apart from it. O how it makes its minuteness seem so very immense to us. (What are these worlds but as particles subsisting in the divine essence, when they are compared with the immensity of the Divine spirit and mind—the finite with the Infinite).

39. I see how this shadowy scene of the world appearing in the Divine soul, and becoming as an orb, by virtue of the ideal tanmatras or particles of the divine essence in it. I find it as a snow ball or icicle made of frozen frost.

40. Now tell me Sir, how the spiritual particles increase in bulk, and in what manner the body of the self born Brahma was produced from Brahma. Say also in what manner do these objects in nature come to existence in their material forms.

(Brahma the Demiurgus was an emanation of God according to Gnostics; and Vaishvanara was the same as the soul of the world according to Plotinus).

Vasishtha replied:—

41. Too incredible is this form and without a parallel, which sprang of itself from its own essence. It is altogether inconceivable how some thing is produced of its own conception.

42. Just fancy, O Rama! how the unexpanded phantom of a Vetala or ghost, swells in bigness to the sight of fearful children; and conceive in the same manner the appearance of the living spirit from the entity of Brahma. (Evolution of the Living God from the inert Brahma, is as the springing of the moving spirit from the dormant soul).

43. This living spirit was a development of Brahma—the universal soul; it was holy and a commensurable and finite being, and having a personality of its own; it remained as an impersonal unreality in the essence of the self-existent God. Being separated afterwards from its source, it had a different appellation given to it. (This is the Holy spirit or ghost in one sense, as also the Divine Logos in another, and in whom there was life).

44. As Brahma the all extended and infinite soul, became the definite living soul at will; so the living spirit, became the mind by its volition afterwards. (There is a trinity or triple division of the soul into soma or the universal soul, the pneuma or anima or the living spirit, and the nous or mens or mind).

45. The mind which was the principle of intellection, took a form of its own;and so likewise the life assumed an airy form in the midst of vacuity. (The mind is the state of the impersonal soul with a sense of its personality, and life is animation or the vital principle in the form of the vital breath).

46. The wakeful living god (who had no twinkling of his eyes), whereby we measure time was yet conscious of its course by means of his thoughts; and had the notion of a brilliant icicle of the form of the future mundane egg in his mind. See Manu's Genesis of the World. I.

47. Then the living soul felt in itself the sense of its consciousness, and by thinking 'what am I,' was conscious of its egoism. (Why is the non-ego of the objective world put before the ego? The objective orb of the world should follow the subjective consciousness).

48. This god next found in his understanding the knowledge of the word taste, and got the notion of its becoming the object of a particular organ of sense, to be hereafter called "the tongue."(Rasana or the instrument of the perception of rasa or flavour. Rasa abiding in water is reckoned first of the elements on account of the Spirit of God resting on it before creation, wherefore God is himself called rasa in the Srutirasa vaitat).

49. The living soul then found out in his mind the meaning of the word 'light,' which was afterwards to sparkle in the eye—the particular organ of sight.

(The Bible says, lux fiat et lux fit—Light to be the first work of creation; though the Vedas give Priority to water as in the passages "apa eva sasarjadau", Manu. Yasrishtih Srasturadya. Sakuntala).

50. Next the god came to know in his mind the property of smell, and the organ of smelling; as also the substance of earth to which it appertains as its inseparable property. (The Nyaya says: prithvi gandhavati—the earth is smelling. It followed the creation of light).

51. In this manner the living soul, came to be acquainted at once with the other sensations, and the organs to which they appertain as their inseparable properties and objects. (The word bhavita means the spontaneous growth of these faculties in the soul or mind, and kakataliya signifies the simultaneous occurrence of the senses, and sensible objects, and their sensations in the mind).

52. The unsubstantial living spirit which derives its being from the essence of the substantial Brahma, comes next to acquire the knowledge of sound, the object of the organ of hearing, and the property of air.

(So Nyaya:—"akash sabdadharah"; and "ya Sruti visaya gunah"—Sakuntala).

53a. It then comes to understand the meaning of the word touch (twak) as the medium of feeling, as also to know the tongue as the only organ of taste. (According to schoolmen, taste is the object of the palate and not of the tongue).

53b. It finds the property of colour to be the peculiar object of the eye—the organ of sight; and that of smell to be an object peculiar to the nose—the organ of the sense of smelling (ghranendriya).

54. The living soul is thus the common receptacle of the sensations, and source of the senses, which it developes afterwards in the organs of sense in the body. It perceives the sensation of sensible objects through the perceptive holes, that convey their perceptions into the sensorium of the mind. (The common sensory is variously placed in Western philosophy, such as the heart, brain, pineal gland, the ventriculus &c.).

55. Such, O Rama! as it was with the first animated being, is still so with all living animals; and all these sensations are represented in the Soul of the world—anima mundi, in its spiritual form—ativahika, known as the sukshma or lingadeha—the subtle body. (The spiritual body has 17 organs of sense viz, 5 Internal, 5 External, the mind and Intellect and others: called the saptadasha lingatmaka linga sarira).

56. The nature of this abstruse essence, is as undefinable as that of the spirit; it appears to be in motion, when it is really at rest, as in our idea of the soul. (Spiritual bodies are said to move and fly about, because the spirit is the motive, and life the animating principle as the soul is that of consciousness).

57. As measure and dimensions are foreign, to our notion of Brahma—the all conscious soul, so are they quite apart from that of the spirit also, which is no more than the motive power of the soul. (Magnitude, figure, motion, rest, number, place, distance, position, &c. are all objects of the senses).

58. As the notion of the spiritual, is distinct from that of all others which are material and corporeal; so the notion of Brahma is quite apart from every thing, except that of his self-consciousness.

(God says in the Scripture, "I am that I am," which proves his consciousness of himself to constitute his essence).

Rama said:—

59. If consciousness is self-same with Brahma, and our consciousness of ourselves as Brahma, make us identic with Brahma Himself; then what is the use of devising a duality of the soul (as the divine and human souls), or of talking of the liberation and final absorption of the one in the other? (If what the Sruti says,

Brahmasmi said:—

I am Brahma; as the scripture declares—"In Him we live and move,"then what means our redemption or return to Him?).

Vasishtha replied:—

60. Rama, your question is irrelevant at this time, when I was going to prove another thing. Nothing can be appropriate out of its proper time and place, as the untimely offering of flowers to gods is not acceptable to them. (A question beside the mark is apropos de bottes, and brought in by the head and shoulders).

61. A word full of meaning, becomes meaningless out of its proper place; like the offering of flowers to gods and guests, out of their proper season. (So all intempestive acts, go mal a propos, unless they are done in proper time).

62. There is a time for the introducing of a subject, and another to hold silence over it; so every thing becomes fruitful in its proper season. (Tempus coronat opus).

63. But to resume our subject; the living soul afterwards appeared from Him, as the human soul appears in dreaming; and thought in himself that he was the great father of created beings in time to come (i. e. he would become the Maker of the world).

64. He uttered the syllable Om (on or ens), and was conscious of the verification of its meaning in his mind, which soon displayed all forms of beings to his mental vision (i. e. the All One became many, which displayed themselves in the mind of the living God as visions in a dream).

65. All these were unrealities, that were displayed in the empty sphere of the divine mind; and the shadowy world seemed as a huge mountain, floating before him in the air.

66. It was neither born of itself, nor was made by Brahma; nor is it destroyed at any time by any other power. It was Brahma himself, appearing as the phantom of an aerial city.

67. As the living Brahma and other spiritual beings, are unreal in their nature; so also are the essences of other beings, from the big giant to the little emmet, but mere unrealities in their substance.

68. It is our erroneous understanding, that represents these unrealities as real ones unto us; but the clear understanding will find all things, from the great Brahma down to the minutest insect, to vanish entirely from its sight. (Errors of the mind breed errors in the brain; and these lead to errors of vision again).

69. The same cause that produces Brahma, produces the insects also; and it is the greater depravity of the mind, that causes its transmigration, into the contemptible forms of worms.

70. The living being that is possest of a rational soul, and is devoted to the cultivation of the mind, attains to the state of man; and then acts righteously for attaining a better state in after life. (These are the states of gods and angels in heaven).

71. It is wrong to suppose one's elevation, to be owing to the merit of his acts, and his degradation to the condition of worms, to result from his former acts of demerit; because there is the same particle of intellect in both of them, and this being known, will destroy the mistaken difference between the great and small.

72. The notions of the measurer, measure and measurable, are not separate from the intellect (or mind); therefore the controversy of unity and duality, is as futile as the horns of a hare or a lake of lotuses in the air. (This means the ideas of the producer, production and product, are always one in the Absolute subjective. Schelling).

73. It is our misconception of the blissful Brahma, that produces the wrong notion of solid substances in us; and this imagination of our own making, binds us as fast as the silk-worms are fast bound in the cocoons; formed by their own serum (or ichor or serosity).

74. It is the case of the knower, to perceive everything in his mind, as it is revealed in it by Brahma; and also to meet with every thing as it is allotted by God to his share. (God is the revealer and giver of all things. Or—Man meets his fate, as it is meted to him by his Maker).

75. It is the immutable law of nature, that nothing can be otherwise than what it is ordained to be; and there is nothing in nature, which can change its nature for a minute in a whole kalpa-age. (Nature derives her power from the will of her Maker, and her course is, according to the immutable order, fixed by the ordainer of all).

76. And yet this creation is a false phantom, and so is the growth and dissolution of all created beings, as also our enjoyment of them. (All visible Nature is the working of the invisible Spirit).

77. Brahma is pure, all pervading, infinite and absolute. It is for our misery only, that we take him for the impure matter and unreal substance; and as the definite and limited pluralities.

78. It is the vitiated imagination of boys, that fancies the water and its waves as different things; and makes a false distinction between them which are really the same things. (Hence whatever differences there appear in objects, they are all as the fallacy of a snake in the rope with the unknowing. There is no difference of antagonistic powers felt in the spirit of Brahma, who is equal in all, and to whom all things are equal; though there seems a constant opposition in the natures of things).

79. It is His undivided self which expanded itself in visible nature, and which appears as a duality, like that of the waves and the sea, and the bracelets and gold. Thus He of himself appears as other than himself (i. e. the difference appearing in the visibles, disappears in the indifference of the Divine Mind).

80. We are led to imagine the visible and mutable world, to have sprung from the invisible and immutable spirit, which manifested itself in the form of the mind that produced the Ego. Thus we have the visible from the invisible, and the mind and the ego from the same source. (The absolute Brahma manifesting itself in two forms, the mind or ego and nature or non-ego. The Ego of the mind is infinite, which produced the finite ego or human soul, personified as the first male (adimapurusha or Adam)).

81. The mind joined with the ego, produced the notions of elementary principles or elemental particles; which the living soul combined with its intellect, derived from the main source of Brahma, and of which it formed the phenomenal world. (These notions were the intentive concepts of the formal and reflexive world, existing primordially in the essence of Brahma, as its material cause or (upadanam). So says the Vedanta:—Yato viswamva imami bhutani &c.).

82. Thus the mind being realised from Brahma, sees before it whatever it imagines; and whatever the intellect thinks upon, whether it is a reality or unreality, the same comes to take place. The reflexion verily passes into reality. (The imagination is the faculty representative of the phenomena of internal and external worlds. It is both productive and reproductive. Sir Wm. Hamilton. Here intellect means the Supreme Intellect, the wisdom of God and his design in the works of creation. All beings and things are manifestations of one Eternal and original mind God).