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 LXX - Conduct of visuchi, or the adventures of the needle

Argument. The gradual leanness of Suchi, and her entrance in Human bodies.

Vasishtha continued:—

Now this Suchi who had been as tall as a mountain-peak, and a Rakshasi of the blackest kind, resembling a thick and dark cloud of the rainy season; began gradually to fade away, and grow leaner and leaner day by day.

2. Her gigantic cloud-like form, was soon reduced to the shape of the branch of a tree, which afterwards became of the figure of a man, and then of the measure of a cubit only.

3. It next became of the length of a span in its height, and then of a finger's length in all. Growing by degrees thinner and thinner like a corn or grain, it became at last as lean as a needle or pin.

4. She was thus reduced to the thinness of a needle, fit only to sew a silken robe; and became as lean as the filament of the lotus flower by her own desire; which can change a hill to a grain of sand. (This passage bears reference to the microcosm of human soul).

5. The unmetallic Suchi, was thus transformed to the form of a black and slender iron needle; which containing all her limbs and organs of her body in it, conducted her in the air and everywhere as she liked. (Thus the gross human body being reduced to its subtle ativahika or spiritual form, it is possible for the Yogi to traverse through the air, as we perceive in the course of our minds).

6. She viewed her person as an iron pin, and having neither any substance nor length or breadth of her body. (The false idea of length and breadth of the soul is a fallacy of our understanding; because the soul like a geometrical line, has no dimension nor substance whatever in it).

7. Her mind with its power of thought, appeared as bright as a golden needle (pointing to the point); and as a streak of the sapphire impregnated by solar ray.

8. Her rolling eye-balls, were as dark as the spots of black clouds, moved to and fro by the winds; and her sparkling pupils were gazing at the bright glory (of God); piercing through their tenuous pores. (It is explained also as fixing the eye-sight to some chink (as that of a wall or other), through which the light of God enters the sensory of sight, and then penetrates into the soul as in Yoga meditation).

9. She had observed the vow of her taciturnity (mauna-vrata), for reducing the plumpness of her person, and was gladdened in her face, to become as lean as the filament of a feather. (The vow of keeping silence is said to be of great good, by increasing the power of thought; for he who speaks little thinks much, and whoso talks much, must talk in vain. It is the practice of munis or saints to remain silent, whence the vow has its name).

10. She beheld a light alighting on her, from the air at a distance; and she was glad in her face to find her inward spirit, to be sublimated as air. (The internal light and lightness of the body are results of yoga practice).

11. With her contracted eye brows, she beheld the rays of light extending to her from afar; which caused the hairs on her body, to stand up like those of babies at bathing.

12. Her grand artery called Brahmanadi or sushumna, was raised about its cavity in the head called the Brahma-randhra; in order to greet the holy light, as the filaments of the lotus, rise to receive the solar light and heat.

13. Having subdued the organs of her senses and their powers, she remained as one without her organic frame, and identified with her living soul; and resembled the intelligent principle of the Bauddhas and Tarkikas, which is unseen by others (i. e. in her spiritual form only).

14. Her minuteness seemed to have produced the minutiae of minute philosophers, called the siddharthas; and her silence was like that of the wind confined in a cave. Her slender form of the puny pin, resembled the breath of animal life, which is imperceptible to the eye.

15. The little that remained of her person, was as thin as the last hope of man (which sustains his life). It was as the pencil of the extinguished flame of a lamp; that has its heat without the light.

16. But alas! how pitiable was her folly, that she could not understand at first, that she was wrong to choose for herself the form of a slender pin, in order to gratify her insatiable appetite.

(This is a ridicule to Yogis and students, that emaciate themselves with intense study and Yoga, only with a desire to pamper their bodies afterwards, with luxuries and carnal enjoyments).

17. Her object was to have her food, and not the contemptible form of the pin; her heart desired one thing, and she found herself in another form, that was of no use to her purpose.

18. It was her silliness, that led her to make the injudicious choice of needleship for herself; and so it is with the short witted, that they lack the sense of judging beforehand, about their future good.

19. An arduous attempt to accomplish the desired object, is often attended by a different result; and even success on one hand, becomes a failure on another; just as the mirror is soiled by the breath, while it shows the face to the looker. (Disappointment lurks in many a shape, and often stings us with success).

20. How be it, the Rakshasi soon learnt to be content with her needleship, after she had relinquished her gigantic form; although she viewed her transformation as worse, than her dissolution itself. (Utter annihilation is more desirable to the Yogi than his metamorphosis to meaner forms).

21. Lo! the contrariety in the desires of the infatuated, who distaste in a trice, what they fondly wished at one time; as this fiend was disgusted at her pinship in lieu of her monstrous figure. (And so they wilfully shun the object of their former fondness, as the suicides and dying people quit their fond bodies without remorse).

22. As one dish of food is easily replaced by another, suiting the taste of the voluptuary; so this fiend did not hesitate to shun her gigantic body, which she took to taste the heart blood of animals in her pinnate form.

23. Even death is delectable to the giddy headed, when they are overfond of some thing else; as the minim of a meagre needle was desirable to the monstrous fiend for the gratification of her fiendish desire.

24. Now this needle took the rarefied form of air, and moved about as the colic wind (colica flatulenta), after all living beings, in quest of her suction of animal gore.

25. Its body was that of fiery heat, and its life the vital breath of animals; its seat was in the sensitive heart, and it was as swift as the particles of solar and lunar beams.

26. It was as destructive as the blade of the deadly sword, and as fleet as the effluvia flying in air. It penetrated into the body in the form of the minutiae of odor.

27. It was ever bent to do evil, like an evil spirit, as she was now known by that name; and her sole object was to kill the lives of others at her pleasure.

28. Her body was afterwards divided into two halves; one of which was as fine as a silken thread, and the other as soft as a thread of cotton.

29. Suchi ranged all about the ten sides of the world, in these two forms of hers; and pierced and penetrated into the hearts of living beings, with all her excruciating pains.

30. It was for the accomplishment of all these purposes of hers, whether they be great or little; that Karkati forsook her former big body, and took the form of the acute and small needle. (Because humbleness and acuteness are the means of success in every project).

31. To men of little understanding, a slight business becomes an arduous task; as the foolish fiend had recourse to her austerities, in order to do the mean work of the needle.

32. Again men however good and great, can hardly get rid of their natural disposition; and it was for this reason that the great Rakshasi, performed her austere devotion, in order to become a vile pin for molesting mankind.

33. Now as Suchi was roving about in the sky, her aerial form which was big with her heinous ambition, disappeared in air like vapour, or as a thick cloud in autumn.

34. Then entering in the body of some sensualist or weak or too fat a person, this inward colic flatulence of Suchi, assumed the shape of Visuchika or cholera.

35. Sometimes she enters in the body of some lean person, as also in those of healthy and wise people; and appearing at first as a choleraic pain, becomes a real cholera at last.

36. She is often delighted, to take her seat in the hearts of the ignorant; but is driven back afterwards by the good acts and prayers, and mantras and medicines of the wise.

37. In this manner she continued many years in her rambles; her bipartite body kept sometimes flying up in the air, and oftentimes creeping low on the ground.

38. She lies concealed in the dust of the ground, and under the fisted fingers of hands; she hides herself in the sun-beams, in air and in the threads of cloths. (All this refers to the pestilential air).

39. She is hid in the intestines, entrails and genitals, and resides in the bodies of pale and ash coloured persons;she abides in the pores, lines and lineaments of the body; as also in dry grass and in the dried beds of rivers (All these are abodes of malaria).

40. She has her seat among the indigent, and in the naked and uncovered bodies of men; as also in those which are subject to hard breathings. She dwells in places infested by flies and of obstructed ventilation, as also in green verdures excepting only of the mango and woodapple (bel) trees.

41. She lurks in places scattered with bones and joints of animal bodies, and such as are disturbed by violent winds, and gusts of air, she lies in dirty places, and in cold and icy grounds and likewise in polluted cloths and places polluted by them.

42. She sits in holes and hollow places, withered trees, and spots infested by crows, flies and peacocks. Also in places of dry, humid and high winds, and in benumbed fingers and toes.

43. As also in cloudy regions, in cavernous districts of the form of rotten bodies; in regions of melting and driving snows, and in marshy grounds abounding in ant hills and hills of malura trees.[6]

[6] Malura or Kapitha or Kath-bel, which is deemed unwholesome.

44. She exhibits herself in the mirage of desert sand, and in wildernesses abounding with ravenous beasts and snakes. Sometimes she is seen in lands infested by venomous reptiles, and disgusting leeches and worms.

45. She frequents the stagnate pools, soiled by dry leaves and those chewed by the Pisachas; and haunts the hovels beside the cross ways, where passengers halt and take shelter from cold.

46. She rambles in all places, ever where the leeches suck the blood of men, and vile people tear them with their nails and hold them in their fists for feeding upon them. (Here is a relation between the blood sucking Suchi or Needle and the leeches).

47. In this manner she passes in all places, that we view in the landscape of cities in drawings; until she is tired with her long journey through them.

48. She then stops in her course like a tired bullock, whose body is heated by travelling through towns, with loads of cotton and utensils on their backs.

49. She afterwards lays her down to rest in some hidden place, like a needle tired with continued sewing; and there drops down like it, from its bridling thread in the hand of the sewer.

50. The hard needle held in the hand of the sewer, never hurts his finger; because a servant however sharp he may be, is never faithless or is injurious to his master.

51. The iron needle growing old in its business of stitching, was at last lost by itself; like the rotten plank of a boat, bearing the burthensome ballast of stones in it.

52. It wandered about on all sides of its own accord, and was driven to and fro like chaff by the driving winds, according to the course of nature (with all things).

53. Being taken up by some one, it is fed with the fag end of a thread put into its mouth, as the malady of cholera is caught by those human parasites, who glut themselves with food supplied by the sap of another.

54. The malady of colic, like the needle, is ever fond of feeding on the pith of others with its open mouth; and continually finds the thread-like heartstring of some body put into its hole.

55. Thus the strong bodies of greedy and heinous beings, are nourished by the sap of the weak and innocent, as the colic disease preys on the lean bodies of the poor; and the sharp needle is supported by the thin thread of the needy (who cannot afford to buy new suits).

56. Though the heart of Suchi like the hole of the needle, was to receive the thread-like sap of the patient's heart; yet her power to pierce it, was like that of the sewing needle, which is as potent as the piercing sun-beams, to penetrate into the toughest substances.

57. At last Suchi came to find on a sudden, the fault of her wrong choice of the puny body (of the needle); which was to be filled with her scanty fare of a bit of thread, and then she began to repent for her folly.

58. She continued however with all her might, to trudge on in her wonted course, of pricking and piercing the bodies of others; and notwithstanding her great regret, she could not avoid the cruelty of her nature.

59. The sewing man cuts and sews the cloth; agreeably to his own liking; but the weaver of destiny weaves the long loom of lengthened desires in all bodies, and hides their reason under the garb of her own making.

60. The colic Suchi went on like the sewing needle, in her business of piercing the hearts of people by hiding her head; as it is the practice of robbers to carry on their rogueries, by covering their faces. (All the three are sly boots, and carry on their trades under the seal of secrecy).

61. She like the needle with the sewing thread behind it, raises her head to make and look at the loop-hole, that she should penetrate in the manner of burglars, making and marking the holes in the wall for their entry.

62. She entered alike in the bodies of the weak and strong, like the needle stitching cloths of all textures (whether silken, linen or fibrous); as it is the custom of the wicked to spare neither the just nor unjust (from their calumny and villainy).

63. The colic pain like the piercing needle, being pressed under the fingers, lets off its griping, like the thread of the needle in its act of sewing. (So the wicked when caught in the act, let out and give up their wickedness).

64. The acute and unfeeling colic, being as ignorant as the stiff and heartless needle, of the softness or dryness of the object; pierces the hardiest breast, without deriving any sweetness from it. (So the unfeeling ruffians molest the moneyless, to no benefit to themselves).

65. The needle is compared with a rich widow, being both equally stern and full of remorse; both equally veiled and speechless, and with their eye of the needle, are empty in their joyless hearts.

66. The needle hurts no body (but rather does good in clothing mankind, by mending their tattered habits); and yet she is dragged by the thread, which is no other than the thread of her fate (woven by the fatal sisters for her drudgery).

67. Slipt from the finger of her master, the needle sleeps in peace after her trudging, in company with her fellows of dirt and dregs; for who is there that does not deem himself blest, in the company of his equals, when he is out of employ?

68. The herd of common people, is ever fond of mixing with the ignorant rabble in their modes of life; because there is no body that can avoid the company of his equals. (Kind flies with its own kind; or, Birds of one feather fly together).

69. The lost needle when found by a blacksmith and heated in the hearth, flies to heaven by the breath of the bellows, after which it disappears in the air. (So the society of the good elevates one to heaven, which leads at last to his final liberation).

70. In this manner the current of vital airs, conducts the breath of life in to the heart; which becomes the living spirit, by force of the acts of its prior states of existence.

71. The vital airs being vitiated, in the body, cause the colic pains known by different names; such as flatulence, bile and the like.

72. The colic caused by vitiation of the Vyana air, produces many diseases, and affects all the members of the body with a watery fluid. When it comes by breathing of the lungs, it causes the Vaya sula or pulmonary colic of lungs, and is attended by disfigurement of the body, and insanity or hysteria known as the hysteric colic.

73. Sometimes it comes from the hands of sheepkeepers, and by the smell of the sheep's wool in blankets; and at others it seizes the fingers of children, and causes them to tear their bed cloths therewith.

74. When it enters the body by the foot, it continues in sucking the blood; and with all its voracity, becomes satisfied with very little food.

75. It lies in the glandular vessel of the faeces, with its mouth placed downward; and takes at pleasure any form, it likes to assume as its prerogative.

76. It is the nature of the malicious, to show the pervertedness of their hearts by doing injury to others; as it is characteristic of the base people to raise a row for their pleasure, and not for any gain or good to themselves.

77. The miserly think much of their gain of even a single cowry: so deeprooted is the avaricious selfishness of human nature. (All little gain is no gain, compared with the wants of men).

78. It was but for a particle of blood, or as much as could be picked out by the point of a pin, that the colic Suchi was bent on the destruction of men: so the wise are fools in their own interests (and so do cut-throats kill others for a single groat).

79. How great is my master-stroke, says the needle, that from stitching the shreds of cloth, have come to the pitch of piercing the hearts of men; so be it and I am happy at my success.

80. As the rust of the lazy needle passes off in sewing, without being rubbed with dust; so must it take the rust, unless it is put in the action of piercing the patient and passive shreds. (The rolling stone gathers no moss).

81. The unseen and airy darts of fate, are as fatal as the acts of the cruel Visuchi; though both of them have their respite at short intervals of their massacres.

82. The needle is at rest after its act of sewing is done; but the wicked are not satisfied, even after their acts of slaughter are over.

83. It dives in the dirt and rises in the air, it flies with the wind and lies down wherever it falls; it sleeps in the dust and hides itself at home and in the inside, and under the cloths and leaves. It dwells in the hand and ear-holes, in lotuses and heaps of woolen stuffs. It is lost in the holes of houses, in clefts of wood and underneath the ground. (Compare the adventures of a pin in Gay's Fables).

Valmiki added:—

84. As the sage was speaking in this manner, the sun went down in the west, and the day departed to its evening service. The assembly broke after mutual salutations, to perform their sacred ablution; and joined again on the next morning, with the rising beams of the sun to the royal palace.