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 XCI - Incarnation of the living soul or jiva

Argument. The Mind is the cause of all its creations.

The Sol continued:—Therefore I say, my lord! that the mind like time, is indestructible of its nature, and the inavertible imprecation of the sage, could not alter its tenor.

2. Therefore it is not right for thee, O great Brahma! to destroy the ideal fabric of the air-drawn world of the sons of Indu, because it is improper for great souls, to put a check to the fancies of others (but rather to let every one to delight in his own hobby horse and romantic visions).

3. What thing is there, O lord of lords! that is wanting in thee in this universe of so many worlds, that should make thy great soul, to pine for the air built worlds of Indu's sons? (It is not for noble minds to pine for the greatness of others, nor repine at the loss which they may sustain).

4. The mind is verily the maker of worlds, and is known as the prime Male—Purusha (the Demiurgus or Protogonus). Hence the mind that is fixed to its purpose, is not to be shaken from it by the power of any imprecation or by virtue of any drug or medicine, or even by any kind of chastisement.

5. The mind which is the image of every body, is not destructible as the body, but remains forever fixed to its purpose. Let therefore the Aindavas continue in their ideal act of creation (as so many Brahmas themselves).

6. Thou lord that hast made these creatures, remain firm in thy place, and behold the infinite space which is spread out before thee, and commensurate with the ample scope of thy understanding, in the triple spheres of thy intellect and mind, and the vast vacuity of the firmament (i. e. the infinitude of the etherial vacuum is co-extensive with the amplitude of Brahma's mind, and the plenitude of creations).

7. These three fold infinities of etherial, mental and intellectual spaces, are but reflexions of the infinite vacuity of divine intellect, and supply thee, O Brahma, with ample space for thy creation of as many worlds at thy will.

8. Therefore thou art at liberty to create ad libitum, whatever thou likest and think not that the sons of Indu, have robbed thee of anything; when thou hast the power to create everything.

Brahma said:—

9. After the sun had spoken to me in this manner, concerning the Aindava and other worlds, I reflected awhile on what he said, and then answered him saying:—

10. Well hast thou said, O sun, for I see the ample space of air lying open before me; I see also my spacious mind and the vast comprehension of my intellect, I will therefore go on with my work of creation forever.

11. I will immediately think about multitudes of material productions, whereof O sun! I ordain thee as my first Manu or progeny, to produce all these for me. (The sun light was the first work of creation, and the measure of all created beings, by his days and nights or mornings and evenings).

12. Now produce all things as thou wilt, and according to my behest, at which the refulgent sun readily complied to my request.

13. Then this great luminary stood confest with his bipartite body of light and heat; with the first of which he shone as the sun in the midst of heaven.

14. With the other property of the heat of his body, he became my Manu or agent in the nether worlds. (The solar heat or calor, is the cause of growth upon earth).

15. And here he produced all things as I bade him do, in the course of the revolutions of his seasons.

16. Thus have I related to you, O sagely Vasishtha! all about the nature and acts of the mind, and omnipotence of the great soul; which infuses its might in the mind in its acts of creation and production.

17. Whatever reflexion is represented in the mind, the same is manifested in a visible form, and becomes compact and stands confest before it. (The ideal becomes visible or the noumenal is exprest in the phenomenal).

18. Look at the extraordinary power of the mind, which raised the ordinary Aindava Brahmans to the rank of Brahma, by means of their conception of the same in themselves.

19. As the living souls of the Aindavas, were incorporated with Brahma, by their intense thought of him in them (or by their mental absorption of themselves in him); so also have we attained to Brahmahood, by means of our mental conception of that spiritual light and supreme intellect in ourselves. (So in our daily ritual, [Sanskrit: aham brahma [...] brahmaivasmin [...] | saccidanandarupo 'ham [...] |]).

20. The mind is full of its innate ideas, and the figure that lays a firm hold of it, the same appears exprest without it in a visible shape; or else there is no material substance beside one's own mind. (This is the doctrine of conceptionalists, that all outward objects are but representations of our inborn ideas, in opposition to the belief of sensationalists, that the internal notions are reflections of our external sensations).

21. The mind is the wonderful attribute of the soul, and bears in itself many other properties like the inborn pungency of the pepper. (These inborn properties are the memory, imagination and other faculties of the mind).

22. These properties appear also as the mind, and are called its hyperphysical or mental faculties; while it is downright mistake on the part of some to understand them as belonging to the body. (The sankhya materialists understand the internal faculties as products of the body and matter).

23. The self same mind is termed also the living principle—Jiva (Zoa), when it is combined with its purer desires; and is to be known after all to be bodiless and unknown in its nature. (The life being combined with gross desires, assumes the body for its enjoyment of them, but loosened from its fetters, it resumes its purer nature. Hence the future spiritual life, is free from grosser wishes).

24. There is no body as myself or any other person in this world, except this wondrous and self-existent mind; which like the sons of Indu, assumes the false conception of being real Brahmas themselves.

25. As the Aindavas were Brahmas in their minds, so my mind makes me a Brahma also; it is the mind that makes one such and such, according to the conception that he entertains of himself. (We are in reality nothing, but what our minds inform us to be).

26. It is only by a conceit of my mind, that I think myself situated as a Brahma in this place; otherwise all these material bodies, are known to be as unreal, as the vacuity of the soul wherein they abide.

27. The unsullied mind approximates the Divine, by its constant meditation of the same; but being vitiated by the variety of its desires, it becomes the living being, which at last turns to animal life and the living body. (This is called the incarnation of the living soul or the materialization of the spirit).

28. The intelligent body shines as any of the luminous orbs in the world of the Aindavas, it is brilliant with the intelligent soul, like the appearance of a visionary creation of the mind. (The body is a creature of the mind like a figure in its dream).

29. All things are the productions of the mind and reflexions of itself, like the two moons in the sky, the one being but a reflexion of the other; and as the concepts of the Aindava worlds.

30. There is nothing as real or unreal, nor a personality as I or thou or any other; the real and unreal are both alike, unless it be the conception which makes something appear as a reality which has otherwise no reality of itself.

31. Know the mind to both active and inert (i. e. both as spirit and matter). It is vast owing to the vastness of its desires, and is lively on account of its spiritual nature of the great God; but becomes inert by its incorporation with material objects.

32. The conception of phenomenals as real, cannot make them real, any more than the appearance of a golden bracelet, can make it gold, or the phenomenals appearing in Brahma, can identify themselves with Brahma himself.

33. Brahma being all in all, the inert also are said to be intelligent, or else all beings from ourselves down to blocks, are neither inert nor intelligent. (Because nothing exists besides Brahma, wherefore what exists not, can be neither one nor the other).

34. It is said that the lifeless blocks, are without intelligence and perception; but every thing that bears a like relation to another, has its perception also like the other. (Hence all things being equally related to Brahma, are equally sentient also in their natures).[1]

35. Know everything to be sentient that has its perception or sensitivity; wherefore all things are possest of their perceptivity, by the like relation (sadrisya-sambandha) of themselves with the supreme soul.

36. The terms inert and sensitive are therefore meaningless, in their application to things subsisting in the same divine spirit; and it is like attributing fruits and flowers to the arbors of a barren land. The barren waste refers to the vacuum of the divine mind, and its arbours to its unsubstantial ideas, which are neither inert nor sentient like the fruits or flowers of those trees.

37. The notion or thought, which is formed by and is an act of the intellect, is called the mind; of these the portion of the intellect or intellectual part, is the active principle, but the thought or mental part is quite inert.

38. The intellectual part consists of the operation of intellection, but the thoughts or thinkables (chetyas), which are the acts of the chit or intellect are known to be inert; and these are viewed by the living soul in the erroneous light of the world (rising and sitting before it like the sceneries of a phantasmagoria).

39. The nature of the intellect—chit is a pure unity, but the mind—chitta which is situated in the same, and thence called chit—stha or posited in the intellect, is a réchauffé or dualism of itself, and this appears in the form of a duality of the world.

40. Thus it is by intellection of itself as the other form, that the noumenal assumes the shape of the phenomenal world; and being indivisible in itself, it wanders through the labyrinth of errors with its other part of the mind.

41. There is no error in the unity of the intellect, nor is the soul liable to error, unless it is deluded by its belief of pluralities. The intellect is as full as the ocean, with all its thoughts rising and sitting in it as its endless waves.[2]

42. That which you call the mental part of the intellect, is full of error and ignorance; and it is the ignorance of the intellectual part, that produces the errors of egoism and personality.

43. There is no error of egoism or personality in the transcendental category of the divine soul; because it is the integrity of all consciousness, as the sea is the aggregate of all its waves and waters.

44. The belief of egoism rises as any other thought of the mind, and is as inborn in it as the water in the mirage, which does not exist really in it.

45. The term ego is inapplicable to the pure and simple internal soul; which being vitiated by the gross idea of its concupiscence, takes the name of ego, as the thickened coldness is called by the name of frost.

46. It is the pure substance of the intellect which forms the ideas of gross bodies, as one dreams of his death in his sleep. The all-pervading intelligence which is the all inherent and omnipotent soul, produces all forms in itself, and of which there is no end until they are reduced to unity.

47. The mind manifests various appearances in the forms of things, and being of a pure etherial form, it assumes various shapes by its intellectual or spiritual body.

48. Let the learned abstain from the thoughts of the three-fold forms of the pure intellectual, spiritual and corporeal bodies, and reflect on them as the reflexions of the divine intellect in his own mind.

49. The mind being cleansed of its darkness like the mirror of its dirt, shows the golden hue of spiritual light, which is replete with real felicity, and by far more blissful than what this earthly clod of body can ever yield.

50. We should cleanse the mind which exists for ever, rather than the body which is transient and non-existent; and as unreal as the trees in the air, of which no one takes any notice.

51. Those who are employed in the purification of their bodies, under the impression that the body also is called the atma or soul (in some sastra); are the atheistic charvakas, who are as silly goats among men.

52. Whatever one thinks inwardly in himself, he is verily transformed to its likeness, as in the instance of the Aindava Brahmans, and of Indra and Ahalya cited before.

53. Whatever is represented in the mirror of the mind, the same appears in the figure of the body also. But as neither this body nor the egoism of any one, is lasting for ever, it is right to forsake our desires.

54. It is natural for every body to think himself as an embodied being, and to be subject to death (while in reality it is the soul that makes the man, who is immortal owing to the immortality of the soul). It is as a boy thinks himself to be possessed of a demon of his own imagination, until he gets rid of his false apprehension by the aid of reasoning.

Footnotes and references:


So says a spiritualistic philosopher. Think you this earth of ours is a lifeless and unsentient bulk, while the worm on her surface is in the enjoyment of life? No, the universe is not dead. This life—jīva, what is it but the pervading afflux of deific love and life, vivifying all nature, and sustaining the animal and vegetable world as well as the world of mind? These suns, systems, planets and satellites, are not mere mechanisms. The pulsations of a divine life throb in them all, and make them rich in the sense that they too are parts of the divine cosmos. Should it be objected that it proves too much; that it involves the identity of the vital principle of animals and vegetables, let us not shrink from the conclusion. The essential unity of all spirit and all life with this exuberant life from God, is a truth from which we need not recoil, even though it bring all animal and vegetable forms within the sweep of immortality. Epes Sargent.


The unity of all phenomena was the dream of ancient philosophy. To reduce all this multiplicity to a single principle, has been and continues to be the ever recurring problem. To the question of a unity of substance the Greek science, repeatedly applied itself; and so did the sophists of Persia and India. It was the craving for unity, which led the white men of Asia, the ancient Aryan race, to the conception of God as the one substance immanent in the universe. At first they were polytheists, but with the progress of thought their number of gods diminished, and became the authors of Veda. At last arrived to the conception of a unity of forces, of a divine power as the ultimate substratum of things. They regarded the beings of the world, as in effect, composed of two elements; the one real and of a nature permanent and absolute, and the other relative, flowing and variable and phenomenal; the one spirit and the other matter, and both proceeding from an inseparable unity, a single substance. Ibid. According to Vasishtha this single substance is the chit or divine intelligence, which produces the Mind, which is conversant with matter.