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...

Argument. The undaunted valour of the Prince, the Rakshasi's Questions and the Minister's solution of them.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. Afterwards the Rakshasi, who was an offshoot of the great garden of Rakshasa race, made a loud and tremendous yell like the deep roarings of a cloud.

2. After her deep roar she muttered in a clattering voice, like the rattling of a thunder clap following the rumbling of clouds.

She said:—

3. Ho, ho? what are ye, that venture abroad in this dread and dreary desert, dark as the great delusion of Maya, and which without the light of the sun and moon, is as gloomy as the gloom of ignorance. What are ye crawling here for like insects bred in stones?

4. What men of great minds are ye, to have come here as the weak minded aberrants that have lost their way? you have become an easy prey to me, and must meet your fate in my hands in a moment.

The prince replied:—

5. O thou demon, what art thou and where is thy stand: If thou beest an embodied being, show thyself unto us, or who is to be terrified by thy bodiless form buzzing like a bee?

6. It is the business of the brave to pounce at once like a lion upon his prey (and not to bark as a dog at a distance). Therefore leave off thy bragging and show us thy prowess at once.

7. Tell me what thou dost want of us, and whether thou dost terrify us by thy vain vauntings, or utterest these words from thy own fear of us.

8. Now measure thy body according to thy speech (i. e. let them conform with one another,) and confront thyself to us without delay;because the dilatory gain no good, save the loss of their time.

9. On hearing the prince's speech she thought it was well said, and immediately showed herself to them, uttering her loud shout with a grinning laughter.

10. The prince heard her voice to fill the air, and resound in the woods, and saw her huge and hideous person, by the light of her open mouth and ivory teeth, in the act of her loud laughter.

11. Her body was as a huge cliff, hurled down by the thunder bolt of the last doomsday (when high mountains were rent and thrown into the sea to form their hidden rocks). The flashes of her eyeballs blazed in the sky like a pair of bangles or conch shells.

12. The darkness of her appearance, cast into shade, the deep dark waters of the deep at the universal deluge; which hid the flame of the submarine fire under them; and her voice was as hoarse as the growling of clouds on the high heads of hills.

13. Her statue was like that of a monumental pillar standing between the heaven and earth; while the gnashing of her teeth struck the night-rovers with the terror of being grinded under them to death.

14. Her figure inspired like those of the nocturnal goblins, yakshas, Rakshas and Pisachas, with the dread of dire disaster, by its erect hairs, muscular limbs, dingy eyes and coal black colour of the body.

15. The air she breathed in the lungs, snored as the horrible snorting of the nostrils of horses; while the tip of her nose was as big as a mallet, and its sides as flat as a pair of bellows or winnowing fans.

16. She stood with her jet black body like a rock of dark agate, and that joined with her loud laugh, gave her the appearance of the all subduing night of dissolution. (Kalaratri—the night of universal doom, is an attribute of Kali—the goddess of destruction).

17. Her bulky body resembling a thick cloudy night, approached to them like an autumnal cloud, moving in the forest of the sky.

18. The huge body appeared as a demon rising from underneath the ground, and approaching to devour them as the eclipse ingulfs the orbs of the sun and moon.

19. Her ebon breasts were hanging down, like two pendant clouds of sombre sapphires, or more like the two mortars or water pots, with her necklaces hanging on them.

20. Her two arms were suspended to her bulky body, like a couple of stout branches to the sturdy oak, or like two logs of burnt wood to her coal like body.

21. Seeing her thus, the two valiant men remained as steadfast, as those standing on the firm ground of certainty, are never led away by doubts.

The minister said:—

22. O great friend! what causes this rage and fury in thy great soul? It is the mean and base only, that are ever violent even in trifling matters.

23. Lay aside this great ado for nothing, which does not become thee;because the wise pursue their business with coolness to crown it with success.

24. Know the soft and slow breath of our moderation, has driven away in the air, swarms of such flies like thyself; as the slight breath of the wind scatters about the dry leaves and straws.

25. Setting aside all hauteur and ardour of spirit, the wise man conducts his business with the calm coolness of the mind, assisted by reason and practical wisdom.

26. One must manage his affairs with slowness, whether it prove effectual or not; because the overruling destiny has the disposal of all events, which human ardour has no power to prevent.

27. Now let us know thy desire and what is thy object with us; because no suitor of ours, has been refused of his prayer, nor let to return in disappointment.

28. Hearing these words, the Rakshasi pondered in her mind and said:—O the serene composure of these lion-like men and the affability of their conduct with others?

29. I do not think them to be men of the ordinary kind, and the more wonderful it is, that their inward soul is exprest in the outward gestures of their faces and eyes, and in the tone and tenor of their speech. (This is a truth of the Samudrika science of physiognomy).

30. The words, the face and eyes, are expressive of the inward thoughts of the wise, and these go together like the salt and water of the sea (which are inseparable from one another. So Chanakya).—[Sanskrit: manasyekam vacasyekam karmanyekam mahatmanam | manasyanyat vacasyanat karmanyanyat dusatmanam ||] The mind, the word and act of the wise all agree. But those of fools disagree in all the three.

31. My intention is already known to them, as is theirs also to me: they cannot be destroyed by me when they are indestructible themselves by their moral excellence. (So the Sastra:—The virtuous may endure or live for ever—chiranjivati dharmatma.)

32. I understand them to be acquainted with spiritual knowledge also, without which there cannot be a good understanding. Because it is the knowledge of the indestructibility of the spirit, that takes away the fear of death which is wanting in these men.

33. I shall therefore ask them, about something wherein I am doubtful;because they that fail to ask the wise what they know not, must remain dunces throughout their lives.

34. Having thought so, she opened her mouth to make her queries, by suppressing her roaring voice and her loud laughter for a while.

35. Tell me, O ye sinless men, that are so brave and valiant, who you are and whence ye come: because your very sight has raised my regard for you, as the good hearted become friends with one another, even at their first sight.

The minister said:—

36. This is the king of the Kiratas, and I his councillor; we have come out tonight in our nightly round, for apprehending malicious beings like thyself.

37. It is the duty of princes to punish the wicked, both by day and night; for such as trespass the bounds of their duty, must be made as fuel to the fire of destruction.

The rakshasi said:—

38. Prince! thou hast a good minister, but a bad one unbecomes a prince; all good princes have wise counsellors, and they make the good prince.

39. The wise minister is the prince's guide to justice, and it is he who elevates both the prince and his people. Justice is the first of the four cardinal virtues (justice, temperance, prudence and frugality), and it is the only virtue of a ruler; who is thence called the Dharma avatara or personification of justice.

40. But kings must have spiritual knowledge also, because it is the highest of human knowledge. The king having this knowledge, becomes the best of kings; and the minister who knows the soul, can give the best counsel for the guidance of other souls. (For it is said:—Nandhenaiva niyamana yathandhah; the blind cannot lead the blind. So the Gospel: one blind man cannot lead another).

41. It is the fellow feeling for others that makes a ruler, whoever is unacquainted with this rule, is not fit to be either a ruler or his minister. (The rule is: Rule others as ye rule yourselves. Sadhi swatma vadanyan).

42. If ye know this polity, it is good and ye shall prosper, or else ye wrong yourselves and your subjects; in which case ye must be made a prey to me. (Because if you have no regard for your own souls and those of others, why should I have any regard for yours?)

43. There is but one expedient for you two lads, to escape from my clutches; and it is by your solution of my intricate questions; according to your best wits and judgement. (The queries are said to be prasna pinjara or the cage or prison-house of dilemmas; in which sense the text should read vidarayasi for vicharayasi, to mean that, if you cannot break the knots, I will not stop to break your necks).

44. Now do you, O prince and you his counsellor, give me the solution of the questions that I require of you. If you fail to give the proper answers as you have agreed to do, you must then fall under my hands, as any body that fails to keep his words. (The breach of a promise was punishable with death by the old Hindu law. Hence the first question; "Why am I obliged in keeping my word" in Paley's Moral philosophy).