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 LXXIX - Interrogatories of the ‘rakshasi’

Argument. Seventy questions of Karkati, which are hard for the unlearned but too plain to the wise. They are intricate for their riddling nature to boys, but plain by their double sense to the learned.

Vasishtha continued:—

After saying so, the fiend began to put forth her queries; and you should be attentive to them Rama, like the prince who told her to go on.

2. The Rakshasi resumed:—What is that atomic minim which is one yet many, and as vast as the ocean, and which contains innumerable worlds like the bubbles of the sea? (It is a minim for its minuteness, an atom—owing to its imperceptibility, one—as regards its unity, many—on account of its attributes (upadhis), and vast in respect to its infinity, containing the passing worlds as the evanescent bubbles of water).

3. What is that thing which is a void yet no-void, which is something yet nothing? What is it that makes myself, and thyself, and wherein do I or thou dost abide and subside? (It is nothing in appearance, but something in our consciousness, and is both the subjective and objective).

4. What is it that moveth unmoved and unmoving, and standeth without stopping; what is it that is intelligent yet as dull as a stone; and what is it that presents its variety in the vacuity of the understanding? (Another text reads vyomni chitra krit, which means: who paints the sky with variegated hues).

5. What is it that has the nature of fire without its burning quality; and what is that unigneous substance which produces the fire and its flame. (This passage refers to the glory and light of God which shines without burning).

6. Who is he that is not of the nature of the ever-changing solar, lunar and stellar lights, but is the neverchanging enlightener of the sun, moon and stars; and who is that being who having no eyes, gives the eye its sight?

7. Who is he that gives eyesight to the eyeless vegetables, and the blind mineral creation? (Whereby they perceive the light of the luminaries of heaven as the sunflower moonflower—helioselini and others).

8. Who is the maker of heavens, and who is the author of the natures of things; who is the source of this gemming world, and whose treasure are all the gems contained in it? (Man foolishly owns them for a time, but leaves at last to their true possessor and maker).

9. What is that monad which shines in darkness, and is that point which is and is not; what is that iota which is imperceptible to all, and what is that jot which becomes an enormous mountain? (A geometrical monad is a point without dimension. In the Monadology of Leibnitz, it is the elementary particle of vital force acting not mechanically, but from internal principle. It is the entelechy of Aristotle, whose essence consists in force).

10. To whom is a twinkling of the eye, as long as a Kalpa millennium; and a whole age but a moment? Who is he whose omnipresence is equal to his absence, and whose omniscience is alike his total ignorance? (i. e. to whom eternity is a moment, and whose omnipresence and omniscience are unknown to us).

11. Who is called the spirit, but is no air in itself; and who is said to be the sound or word, but is none of them himself? He is called the All, but is none at all of all that exists; and he is known as Ego, but no ego is he himself. (Spiritus or the breathing of

ventus-wind-prana and the sabda-sonus or Sruti are not God; nor is he one and all in his person, nor the ego and non ego, I not I, and le moi et non le moi, das ich und nicht ich, the subjective and objective, and having no personality of his own).

12. What is it that is gained by the greatest application, of a great many births (lives), and when gained at last, is hard to be retained (owing to the spiritual carelessness of mankind)? (Liberation by final extinction—nirvana, is hard to be had owing to the interminable metempsychosis of the soul, according to the doctrine of the pre-existence and immortality of souls).

13. Who being in easy circumstances in life, has not lost his soul in it; and who being but an atom in creation, does not reckon the great mountain of Meru as a particle? i. e. the egotist. (It is harder for the easy rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle. Gospel. The pride of egotism levels mountains to dust, and its ambition soars above them).

14. What is that which being no more than an atom, fills a space of many leagues; and who is an atomic particle; that is not contained (measured) in many miles? (It is the atomic theism of Kanada's Vaiseshika system and of Ecphantus and Archelaus. The mind is included in the atomism of Empedocles and Anaxagoras. Epicurus added morality to it, and Lucretius added to it the beauty of poetry also. See also the Ateistic Atomic systems of Leucippus and Democritus).

15. At whose glance and nod is it, that all beings act their parts as players; and what is that ace which contains in its bosom many a mountain chain? (The mountain was produced from and is contained in the atom of the divine mind; and so every grain of the human brain, contains in it the form of a prodigious mountain).

16. Who is it, that is bigger than the mount Meru in his minuteness; and who is it that being, lesser than the point of a hair, is yet higher than the highest rock? (So the sruti: Anor-aniyan mahato mahiyan: i. e. Minuter than the minutest and bigger than the biggest).

17. Whose light was it, that brought out the lamp of light from the bosom of darkness; and what minute particle is it, that contains the minutiae of ideas ad infinitum in it? (God said "Lux fiat et lux

fit." Genesis. Hail holy light Heaven's first born. Milton. Eternal ideas of immaterial forms of possible existences in the Divine Mind, the archetype of the ectypal world. These are the Types of things, Plato;Forms of ditto. Cicero. Eternal exemplars of things. Seneca &c.).

18. Which having no flavour in it, gives savour to all things; and whose presence being withdrawn from all substances, reduces them to infinitesimal atoms (i. e. by destruction of cohesion. So the Sruti:—Raso vai tat.—He is flavour etc. Attraction of all kinds, is a manifestation of Divine power—akrishti, personified in the form of Krishna—the regent of the sun, whose gravity supports the solar world).

19. Who is it that by his self-pervasion, connects the particles composing the world (as by their power of attraction); and what imperceptible power is it, that rejoins the detached particles, after their separation and dissolution for recreation of the new world? (The atomic powers of attraction and repulsion of particles and bodies).

20. Who being formless, has a thousand hands and eyes; and a twinkling of whose eye, comprehends the period of many cycles together? (The divine hypostases of Viraj, is endowed with a thousand hands and eyes, as in the Purusha Sukta: Sahasra sirsha, sahasra vahu sahasraxa &c.).

21. In what microscopic mite does the world subsist as an arbour in its seed, and by what power do the unproductive seeds of atoms, become productive of worlds?

22. Whose glance is it, that causes the production of the world, as from its seed; and who is it that creates the world without any motive or material? (The motives are the subjective or internal cause and the objective or external objects of creation. And material means the matter of unisubstantism of materialists).

23. What is that being, who without his visual organs, enjoys the pleasure of seeing—Drishti; and is the viewer—drashta of Himself, which he makes the object of his view (drishya). I. e. God sees all things in himself as the receptacle of all in the eternal ideas of them in his mind. Or: the Ego meditates on itself both subjectively as the viewer, and objectively as the view. (So Milton, "And God saw his works were good", answering his fair idea).

24. Who is he that having no object of vision before him, sees nothing without him, but looks upon himself as an infinity void of all visibles within it. (This is the subjective reflection of the Yogi, like that of God on his own self, as abstracted from the thought of all other things. The Mind is the subjective reality and matter has no objective reality).

25. Who is it, that shows the subjective sight of the soul by itself, as an objective view; and represents the world as the figure of a bracelet, in his own metal? (I. e. the subjective soul and the metal are the true realities, and the objective view of the jewel and the world, is but error and delusion. The Vedantist like Berkeley, held all objective reality to be subjective).

26. Who is it that has nothing existent beside himself, and in whom all things exist, like the waves existing in the waters; and who is it whose will makes them appear as different things? (The one being no more than fluctuations of the other, and substantially the same).

27. Both time and space are equally infinite and indivisible, as the essence of God wherein they subsist, why then do we try to differentiate and separate them like the water from its fluidity?

28. What is the inward cause in us, which makes the believer in the soul, to view the unreal world as real, and why does this fallacy continue at all times?

29. The knowledge of the worlds whether as present, past or in futuro, is all a great error;and yet what is that immutable being, which contains in it the seed of this phenomenal wilderness?

30. What being is that, which shows these phenomena without changing itself, such as in the shape of the seed of the world, before it developes itself in creation; and sometimes in the form of a developed forest of created beings?

31. Tell me, O prince! on what solid basis does the great Meru, stand like a tender filament of the lotus; and what gigantic form is that, which contains thousands of Merus and Mandaras within its capacious womb?

32. Tell me, what is that immeasurable Intellect, which has spread these myriads of intelligences in all these worlds; what is that which supplies thee with thy strength for ruling and protecting thy people, and in conducting thyself through life; and what is it in whose sight, thou dost either lose thyself or thinkest to exist? Tell me all these, O clear sighted and fair faced prince, for the satisfaction of my heart.

33. Let thy answer melt down the doubt, that has covered the face of my heart as with snows. If it fail to efface this dirt of doubt altogether from the surface of my heart, I will never account it as the saying of the wise.

34. But if thou fail to lighten my heart of its doubts, and set it at ease; then know for certain, that thou shalt immediately be made a fuel to the fire of my bowels at this very moment.

35. I shall then fill this big belly of mine with all the people of thy realm; but shouldst thou answer rightly, thou shalt reign in peace; or else thou shalt meet thy end like the ignorant, who are surfeited with the enjoyments of life.

36. Saying so, the nocturnal fiend made the loud shout of a roaring cloud, expressive of her joy; and then sat silent with her fearful features, like a light hearted cloud in autumn (which is of gigantic shape, but empty of rain waters within).