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 LXXXIV - Development of the germ of the mind

Argument. Reason of the application of the name Karkati, and its simile to a crooked crab.

Vasishtha said:—

1. I have thus related to you Rama, the unblamable legend of Karkati, the Rakshasi of Imaus, from its beginning to end in ipso facto. (Imaus and Imodus are ranges of the Himalayas. The Gloss interprets Imaus as a synonym of Himalayas, by apocope of the latter member of the compound word, and by a grammatical rule, that the curtailing of a part of a proper name, does not affect the full meaning of the name. So for the omissions of agnomens and cognomens).

Rama rejoined:—

2. But how could one born in a cave of Himavatas (Imodus), become a black Rakshasi, and why was she called Karkati? These I want to be clearly explained to me. (Rama's demand was reasonable, as the people of the Himalayas, are always of fair complexions, and the Rakshasas were the Negroes of Southern India).

Vasishtha replied:—

3. The Rakshas (cannibals), are originally of many races, some of whom are of dark and others of fair complexions, while many have a yellowish appearance and some of a greenish shade. (We know the red Rakshasas of America, but it is impossible for us to account for the green or blue Rakshasas in the text).

4. As for Karkati, you must know that there was a Rakshasa by name of Karkata, from his exact resemblance to a cancer. (Here is a reversion of Sycorax the Negro parent, and her crooked son caliban Kaliban—the black Negro, having long arms and legs, with feet and hands furnished with claws and long nails like those of beasts).

5. The reason of my relating to you the narrative of Karkati, was only for her queries which I recollected and thought, would serve well to explain the omniform God, in our disquisition into spiritual knowledge. (Gloss. Vasishtha adduces a contradiction in the spiritual knowledge of God, by calling him a spirit and yet as all forms of things. But this seeming contrariety will disappear upon reflecting that, the phenomenal is contained in the noumenal, and the forms are viewed only in the spirit as visions in dreams).

6. It is evident that the pure and perfect unity, is the source of the impure and imperfect duality of the phenomena, and this finite world has sprung from its Supreme cause, who is without beginning and end. (The One is the cause of many, and the Infinite is the source of the finite. Ahamsarvasyam. Anadiradi sarvasya).

7. These float (before our eyes) like the waves upon waters, which are apparently of different forms, and yet essentially the same with the element, on which they seem to move. So the creations whether present, past or future, are all situated in the Supreme Spirit. (The immaterial spirit is the basis and substratum of material bodies).

8. As wet wood when ignited, serves for the purpose of infusing heat, and inviting the apes of the forest to warm themselves in cold weather;so the externally shining appearance of the world, invites the ignorant to resort to it.

9. Such is the temporary glow of the ever cool spirit of God, in the works of creation; which shows itself in many forms without changing its essence.

10. The absent world appeared in presence, and its unreality appears as a reality to consciousness, like the potential figures carved in wood. (The would be world existed in the eternal ideas in the mind of God, like the possible figures in the wood, which were carved out afterwards. And so too Aristotle).

11. As the products, of the seed from its sprout to the fruit, are all of the same species; so the thoughts (chetyas) of the mind—Chitta, are of the same nature as those originally implanted in it. (The homogeneity of the cause with all its effects).

12. By the law of the continuity of the same essence, there is no difference in the nature of the seed and its fruit; so the intellect (chit) and the thoughts (chetyas), differ in nothing except in their forms; like the waves and water differing in external appearance, and not in the intrinsicality of their substance (Vastu).

13. No demonstration can show the difference between thoughts and the mind; and whatever distinction our judgement may make betwixt them, it is easily refuted by right reasoning. (Such as the incapability of an effect being produced without its cause, or disagreement between the effects of the same or similar causes).

14. Let this error therefore vanish, as it has come from nothing to nothing; and as all causeless falsities fail of themselves. You will know more of this, Rama! when you are awakened to divine knowledge. In the meantime, do away with error of viewing a duality, which is different from the only existent Unity. (Duality being driven out, all will appear one and the same. So Sadi the sophist: duiracho badar kardam ekebinam ekedamam).

15. After the knot of your error is cut asunder, by your attending to my lectures, you will come to know by yourself, the signification and substance (object) of what is called the true knowledge, which is taken in different senses by the various schools; but that which comes of itself in the mind, is the intuitive knowledge of divine truth.

16. You have a mind like that of the common people (itara), which is full of mistakes and blunders (anarthas); all which will doubtlessly subside in your mind, by your attending to my lectures (because the words of the wise remove all errors).

17. You will be awakened by my sermons to know this certain truth, that all things proceed from Brahma into whom they ultimately return. (Brahma is the producer, sustainer, and recipient or the first and last of all. He is alpha and omega).

Rama rejoined:—

18. Sir, your affirmation of the first cause in the ablative case, "that all things proceed from Brahma", is opposed to the negative passage in the Sruti in the same case, that "nothing is distinct from Him";and is inconsistent in itself (in as much as, there cannot be all things, and again nothing but Brahma; and to say "the same thing comes from the same," would be a palpable absurdity).

Vasishtha answered said:—

19. Words or significant terms are used in the Sastras for instruction of others; and where there appears any ambiguity in them, they are explained in their definitions. (Hence the ablative form "from Brahma"is not faulty, for what is in the receptacle, the same comes out of it; or as they say, "what is in the bottom, the same comes upon the surface"; and the one is not distinct from the other, as the wave differs not from the water whence it rises. This is downright pantheism).

20. Hence it is the use though not in honest truth, to make a difference of the visibles from the invisible Brahma (for the purpose of instruction);as it is usual to speak of ghosts appearing to children, though there be no such things in reality. (It is imagination that gives a name to airy nothing, and it is the devise of language to use words for negative ideas, as the word world to denote a duality and darkness for want of light, and not anything in itself).

21. In reality there is no duality connected with the unity of Brahma, as there is no dualism of a city and the dream that shows its apparition in sleep. Again God being immutable in his nature and eternal decree, it is wrong to apply the mutations of nature and the mutability of Will to Him. (Volition is accompanied by nolition (Volo and nolo) in mutable minds, but there is no option Vikalpa in the sankalpa—suo arbitrio of the unchangeable Mind).

22. The Lord is free from the states of causality and the caused, of instrumentality and instruments, of a whole and its part, and those of proprietorship and property. (The attribution of cause and effect or any other predicate or predicable, is wholly inapplicable to him, who is devoid of all attributes).

23. He is beyond all affirmative and negative propositions, and their legitimate conclusions or false deductions and elenches (i. e. nothing can be truly affirmed or denied or ascertained or negated of Him, by any mode of reasoning. Naisatarkenananeyah).

24. So the attribution, of the primary volition to the Deity, is a false imputation also. Yet it is usual to say so for the instruction of the ignorant; though there is no change in his nature from its nolliety to velleity. (So it is usual to attribute sensible properties of speech and sight, to the immaterial spirit of God, by a figure of speech; and for the instruction of the vulgar, who cannot comprehend the incomprehensible).

25. These sensible terms and figurative expressions, are used for the guidance of the ignorant; but the knowing few, are far from falling into the fallacy of dualism. All sensible conceptions ceasing upon the spiritual perception of God, there ensues an utter and dumb silence. (We become tongue-tied, and our lips are closed and sealed in silence, to speak anything with certainty of the unspeakable).

26. When in time you come to know these things better, you shall arrive at the conclusion, that all this is but one thing, and an undivided whole without its parts, and having no beginning nor end. (The world is therefore self-same and co-eternal and co-existent, with the eternal and self-existent God).

27. The unlearned dispute among themselves from their uncertainty of truth; but their differences and dualisms are all at an end, upon their arriving to the knowledge of the true unity by instructions of the wise. (The reality is precisely in the indifference of the subject and object. Schelling).

28. Without knowledge of the agreement of significant words with their significates, it is impossible to know the Unity, for so long as a word is taken in different senses, there will be no end of disputes and difference of opinions. Dualisms being done away, all disputes are hushed up in the belief of unity (i. e. All words expressive of the Deity, refer to his unity and signify the one and the same Lord of all, which ends all controversy on the point).

29. O support of Raghu's race! place your reliance on the sense of the great sayings of the vedas; and without paying any regard to discordant passages, attend to what I will tell you at present. (Such as: Brahma is used in one place in the ablative and in another in the locative case, and also in the nominative and as the same with the world).

30. From whatever cause it may have sprung, the world resembles a city rising to view in a vision; just as the thoughts and ideas appearing before the mirror of the mind, from some source of which we know nothing. (They are as puppet shows of the player, behind the screen).

31. Hear Rama! and I will relate to you an instance for your ocular evidence, how the mind (chitta), spins out the magical world (mayika) from itself. (This ocular instance called the drishtanta-drishtavedana, is that of the spider's thread (urnanabha-tantu) woven of itself, and given in the Sruti).

32. Having known this, O Rama! you will be able to cast away all your erroneous conceptions; and being certain of the certitude, you will resign your attachment to, and your desires in this enchanted and bewitching world. (Hence the certainty, of God's being aloof from the false world, as it is said Deus ex machina).

33. All these prospective worlds are machinations or the working of the mind. Having forsaken these false fabrications of fancy, you will have the tranquillity of your soul, and abide in peace with yourself for ever. (Exemption from all worldly cares and anxieties of the past, present and future lives, leads to the peace of mind).

34. By paying your attention to the drift of my preachings, you will be able to find out of your own reasoning, a mite of the medicine, for curing all the maladies of your deluded mind. (Right reason by the art of reasoning, furnishes the true medicine (psyches iatrion) to remove the errors of the understanding).

35. If you sit in this manner (in your silent meditation), you will see the whole world in your mind; and all outward bodies will disappear (in your abstract contemplation), like drops of oil in the sand. (All things are presented to the mind by intuition, and are present in the memory—the great keeper or master of Rolls of the soul).

36. The mind is the seat of the universe as long as it is not vitiated by passions and affections and afflictions of life; and it is set beyond the world (in heavenly bliss), no sooner it gets rid of the turmoils of its present state. (The mind, says Milton, can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven).

37. The mind is the means to accomplish anything; it is the store-keeper to preserve all things in the store-house of its memory; it is the faculty of reasoning; and the power to act like a respectable person. It is therefore to be treated with respect, in recalling, restraining and guiding us to our pursuits and duties. (Facultates sunt quibus facilius fit, sine quibus omnino confici non potest. Cicero).

Note. said:—

The mind is what moves and acts by its active and cognitive faculties, and is more to be regarded than the body, which move entirely as it is moved by the mind. Hence God is called the Mind of the world—Anima mundi?

38. The mind contains the three worlds with all their contents, and the surrounding air in itself; and exhibits itself as the plenum of egoism, and plenitude of all in its microcosm. (The mind is the synthesis of all its attributes, and man is living synthesis of the world with regard to his mind. Paracelsus. Its memory is both a capacity and a power by its retention and ready reproduction of every thing).

39. The intellectual part of the mind, contains the subjective self-consciousness of ego, which is the seed of all its powers; while its other or objective part, bears the erroneous forms of the dull material world in itself. (The former is called the drashta or viewer ego, and the latter the drishta or the view non ego. The subjective is the thinking subject ego, and the objective is the object of thought the non ego).

40. The self-born Brahma saw the yet increate and formless world, as already present before his mind in its ideal state, like a dream at its first creation. He saw it (mentally) without seeing it (actually) (i. e. the eternal ideas of immaterial forms of possible things in the Divine Mind. The eternal exemplars of things and Archetypes of the Ectypal world. Thus the passage in the Bible "And God saw his works were good." i. e. answer those in his fair idea. Milton).

41. He beheld the whole creation in the self-consciousness (samvitti) of his vast mind, and he saw the material objects, the hills &c., in the samvid of his gross personal consciousness. At last he perceived by his sukshma vid subtile sightedness (clairvoyance), that all gross bodies were as empty as air and not solid substantialities. (Consciousness being the joint knowledge of the subjective and objective, i. e. of ourselves in connection with others; the one is called superior or subjective self-consciousness, and the other or objective personal-consciousness).[1]

42. The mind with its embodying thoughts, is pervaded by the omnipresent soul, which is spread out as transpicuously as sun-beams upon the limpid water. (The soul is the chit or intellectual part of the mind (chitbhaga of chitta), and the root of all mental activities. The chidbhaga has the power of giving knowledge which moves the other faculties of the mind. Gloss).

43. The mind is otherwise like an infant, which views the apparition of the world in its insensible sleep of ignorance; but being awakened by the intellect chit, it sees the transcendent form of the self or soul without the mist of delusion, which is caused by the sensitive part of the mind, and removed by the reasoning faculties of the intellect—Chidbhaga.

44. Hear now Rama! what I am going to tell of the manner, in which the soul is to be seen in this phenomenal world, which is the cause of misleading the mind from its knowledge of the unity to the erroneous notion of the duality. (The sensitivity of the mind of objective phenomenals, misleads it from its intellection of the subjective noumenal part which is a positive unity. Gloss).

45. What I will say, can not fail to come to your heart, by the opposite similes, right reasoning, and graceful style, and good sense of the words, in which they shall be conveyed to you; and by hearing of these, your heart will be filled with delight, which will pervade your senses, like the pervasive oil upon the water.

46. The speech which is without suitable comparisons and graceful phraseology, which is inaudible or clamorous, and has inappropriate words and harsh sounding letters, cannot take possession of the heart, but is thrown away for nothing, like butter poured upon the burnt ashes of an oblation, and has no power to kindle the flame.

The blemishes of speech are all comprised in the following couplet in the mahabhashya of patanjala said:—

[Sanskrit: grastam [...]]

47. Whatever narrative and tales there are in any language on earth, and whatever compositions are adorned with measured sentences and graceful diction; all these are rendered perspicacious by conspicuous comparisons, as the world is enlightened by the cooling beams of the moon. Hence every sloka almost in this work, is embellished with a suitable comparison.

Footnotes and references:


Samvitti is the superior or subjective consciousness personified as Virāj, and samvid or inferior consciousness of the objective as received in the personification of Viswa. Here Schelling says:—The absolute infinite cannot be known in personal or objective consciousness; but requires a superior faculty called the intuition.

The joint knowledge of the subjective and objective is had by Ecstasy, which discerns the identity of the subject and object in a series of souls which are as the innumerable individual eyes, which the infinite World-spirit behold, in it-self, Lewis Hist. Phil. II. 580.