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 LXXVII - Deliberation of karkati

Argument. Description of the dark night. The Rakshasi's meeting a raja and his minister. Her trial of and argumentation with them.

Vasishtha resumed:—

1. It was a deep dark night, black as ink and as thick as tangible pitch; hiding the habitation of the Kiratas under its nigrescent umbrage. (Kiratas are the present Kirantis of the Himalayas, and the ancient Kerrhoides of Ptolemy).

2. The sky was moonless, and overcast by a veil of sable clouds; the woodlands were obscured by tamala trees, and thick masses of black clouds were flying about in the air.

3. The thick furze and bushes besetting the hilly villages, obstructed the passages by their impervious darkness, and the flitting light of fireflies gave the homesteads an appearance of the bridal night.

4. The thick darkness spreading over the compounds of houses, shut out the passage of the light of lamps, which made their way of or from the chinks of the dwelling in which they were burning.

5. Karkati beheld a band of Pisachis, dancing about her as her companions; but she became motionless as a block of wood, on seeing the giddy Vetalas, moving about with human skeletons in their hands.

6. She saw the sleeping antelopes by her, and the ground matted over by the thick snow falls; while the drizzling drops of dew and frost, were gently shaken by the breeze on the leaves of trees.

7. She heard the frogs croaking in the bogs, and the night ravens cawing from the hollows of trees; while the mingled noise of jocund men and women, were issuing from the inside of the houses.

8. She saw the ignis fatuus burning in the swamps, with the lustre of portentous meteors; and found the banks and bournes, thick with thorns and thistles, growing by their sides, and washed by the waters gliding below them.

9. She looked above and saw the groups of stars shining in the firmament, and beheld the forest about her shaking their fruit and flowers by the breeze.

10. She heard the alternate and incessant cries of owls and crows in the hollows of trees; and listened also the shouts of robbers in the skirts, and the wailings of the villagers at a distance.

11. The foresters were silent in their native woods, and the citizens were fast asleep in the cities;the winds were howling in the forests, and the birds were at rest in their sylvan nests.

12. Furious lions lay in their dens; and the deer were lying in their caves also. The sky was full of hoarfrost, and the woodlands were all still and quiet.

13. The lightnings flashing from amidst the dark inky clouds, resembled the reflections of ray from the bosom of a crystal mountain. The clouds were as thick as solid clay, and the darkness was as stiff as it required to be severed by a sword.

14. Blown by the storm, the dark cloud fled like the sable Anjana mountain in the air, and it deluged a flood of pitchy rain, like a water-fall from the bosom of a mountain.

15. The night was as dark as the pit of a coal-mine, and as jet black as the wing of the black bee—bhramara; and the whole landscape lulled to sleep, appeared as the world lying submerged under ignorance. (Sleep and ignorance are twin brothers, and a reversion of the comparison of ignorance with sleep. Such reversed similes are not uncommon in oriental poetry, as that of the moon with the beauteous face &c.).

16. In this dreadful dead of night, she saw in the district inhabited by Kiratas, a prince and his minister, wandering together in the forest.

17. The prince was named Vikrama, and was as brave and valorous as his name and conduct implied him to be. He came out undaunted from within the city, after the citizens had fallen fast-asleep.

18. Karkati beheld them roving in the forest with the weapons of their valour and fortitude, and searching the Vetalas infesting the neighbourhood.

19. Seeing them, she was glad to think that she had at last got her proper food; but wanted to know beforehand, whether they were ignorant folks or had any knowledge of their souls, or whether their weariness under the burthen of their bodies, had exposed them to the dangers of the darksome night.

20. The lives of the unlearned (said she), are verily for their perdition in this world and the next; it is therefore meet to put an end to these, rather than leave them to live to their peril in both worlds. (The earlier the ignorant die, the sooner do they rid themselves of their miseries and responsibilities).

21. The life of the untutored is death, without spiritual knowledge, and physical death is preferable; in as much as it saves the dying soul from its accumulation of sin. (Living in the sinful world is sin, unless it is averted by spiritual knowledge).

It is the primeval law ordained by our prime father said:—

22. the lotus-born Brahma, that ignorant souls and those without knowledge of their selves, should become the food of the heinous (i. e. of voracious and envious animals, which devour the body and not the soul).

23. Therefore there is no harm in my feeding upon these two persons, who have offered themselves for my food;because it is silliness to let slip, a ready prize or proffered gift from the hand. (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or a self-given gift is not to be lost).

24. But lest they should prove to be men of parts and good and great souls, I cannot in that case feel disposed of my own nature, to put an end to their valuable lives.

25. I must therefore make a trial of them, and see if they are possessed of such parts; that I may decline from making my mess of them, because I feel averse to molest the intelligent.

26. For those that expect to have true glory and real happiness, with the length of their lives on earth; must always honour the learned with honorariums, adequate to their parts and desires.

27. I should rather suffer my body to perish with hunger, than destroy the intelligent for its supportance; because the soul derives more satisfaction from the counsels of the wise, than bare life without knowledge, can possibly afford.

28. The learned are to be supported even at the expense of one's own life; because the society of the wise affords a physic to the soul (psyches iatrion), though death should deprive us of our bodies (for it ameliorates even the pangs of death).

29. Seeing me a man-eater Rakshasi, so favorably disposed to the preservation of the wise; what reasonable man is there, that must not make a breast-plate of the wise for himself (i. e. the wise are ornaments to human beings however inhumane they may be to others of their fellow creatures. Hence the most cruel tyrants were the greatest supporters of learning).

30. Of all embodied beings, that move about on the surface of the earth, it is the man of profound understanding only, who sheds his benign influence like cooling moon-beams all around him. (The light of knowledge is compared with the gentle moonbeams).

31. To be despised by the wise is death, and to be honoured by the learned is true life; because it is the society of the sapient only, that makes the life bring forth its fruits of heavenly bliss and final beatitude.

32. I will now put a few questions for their examination, and know whether they are men of parts, or gilded on the surface with sapient looks, like copper by a chemical process.

33. Upon examination and ascertainment of the qualifications if they prove to be wiser than the examiner; in that case one should avail of their instruction, or otherwise there is no harm to make an end of them as they best deserve.