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 XCV - Identity of the actor and his action

Argument. It is for persuasion of men addicted to Acts, that the Actor is identified with his Acts.

Vasishtha said:—

There is no difference of acts, from the agent, as they have sprung together from the same source of their creator: they are the simultaneous growth of nature like flowers and their odour. (The Gita says:—The actor, act and its effect, are naturally united together).

2. When human souls are freed from their desires, they are united with the supreme soul of Brahma, as the blueness of the sky which appears distinct to the eyes of the ignorant, is found to be joined with the clear firmament. (The human soul is a shadow of the supreme, as blueness is a shade of vacuity).

3. Know, O Rama! that it is for the understanding of the ignorant, that the living souls are said to have sprung from Brahma: when they are in reality but shadows of the same.

4. Wherefore it is not right on the part of the enlightened to say that such and such things are produced from Brahma, when there is nothing that exists apart or separate from him (on account of the unity of all existences and identity of the actor and the act).

5. It is a mere fiction of speech to speak of the world as creation or production, because it is difficult to explain the subject and object of the lecture, without the use of such fictitious language (as the actor and act, the creator and the created &c.).

6. Hence the language of dualists and pluralists is adopted in monotheistic doctrines, as the expressions, this one is Brahma, or divine soul, and these others are the living souls, as they are in use in the popular language.

7. It has been seen (explained), that the concrete world has sprung from the discrete Brahma; because the production of something is the same with its material cause, though it seems different from it to common understandings.

8. Multitudes of living beings rising like the rocks of Meru and Mandara mountains, are joined with the main range from which they jut out. (All are but parts of one undivided whole. Pope.)

9. Thousands and thousands of living beings, are incessantly produced from their common source, like the innumerable sprigs of forest trees, filling the woodland sky with their variegated foliage. (So are all creatures but off shoots of the parent tree of the Supreme Soul).

10. An infinity of living beings will continue to spring from the same, like blades of grass sprouting from the earth below; and they will likewise be reduced to the same, like the season plants of spring, dying away in the hot weather of Summer.

11. There is no counting of the living creatures that exist at any time, and what numbers of them, are being born and dying away at any moment:(and like waves of water are rising and falling at each instant).

12. Men with their duties proceed from the same divine source, like flowers growing with their fragrance from the same stem; and all these subside in the same receptacle whence they had their rise.

13. We see the different tribes of demons and brutes, and of men and gods in this world, coming into existence from non-existence, and this is repeated without end.

14. We see no other cause of their continuous revolution in this manner, except the forgetfulness of their reminiscence, which makes them oblivious of their original state, and conform with every mode of their metempsychosis into new forms. (Otherwise the retention of the knowledge of its original state and former impressions, would keep it alive in the same state of primeval purity, and exempt it from all transmigrations).

Rama said:—

15. For want of such reminiscence, I think that, obedience to the dictates of the infallible Sastras, which have been promulgated by the sages, and based on the authority of the Vedas, is the surest way for the salvation of mankind.

16. And I reckon those men as holy and perfect, who are possest of the virtues of the great, and have magnanimity and equanimity of their souls, and have received the light of the unknowable Brahma in them. (Such men are exempt from the pain of transmigration).

17. I reckon two things as the two eyes of the ignorant, for their discernment of the path of salvation. The one is their good conduct, and the other their knowledge of the Sastras, which follows the former.

18. Because one who is righteous in his conduct only, without joining his righteousness with his knowledge also, is never taken into account;and is slighted by all to be plunged into insignificance and misery. (The unlearned virtuous, is as despicable as the learned vicious).

19. Again Sir;—it is the joint assent of men and the Veda, that acts and their actors come one after the other; and not as you said of their rising simultaneously from their divine origin. (That is to say; that the morals established by the wise, and the virtues inculcated by the holy scriptures, are the guides of good acts and their observers, which are not the spontaneous growth of our nature or intention).

20. It is the act which makes the actor, and the actor who does the work. Thus they follow one another on the analogy of the seed and the tree which produce one another. This mutuality of both is seen in the practice of men and ordinances of the Veda.

21. Acts are the causes of animal births, as the seed gives birth to the sprouts of plants; and again works proceed from living beings as the sprouts produce the seeds. (Thus both are causes and effects of one another by turns, and never grown together).

22. The desire that prompts a person to his particular pursuit in his prison house of this world, the same yields him the like fruits and no other. (Men get what they have in their hearts and nothing besides).

23. Such being the case, how was it sir, that you said of the production of animals from the seed of Brahma, without the causality of their prior acts, which you say to be simultaneous with the birth of animal beings.

24. On one hand you have set at naught the law of antecedence and sequence of birth and action to one another, by your position of their simultaneity.

25. And again to say, that Brahma is not the origin of actions, and that Brahma and other living beings are subjected to their several actions, are self contradictory propositions and opposed to common sense. (For the acts do not originate from Brahma, they cannot be binding on others; and if the actions do not proceed from that source, whence do they come to take place). This question upsets the doctrine of Free Will.

26. And also to say that living beings are born together with their actions (by predestination), and are bound to them to no purpose, would be to apply to them the analogy of fishes which are caught by the baits they cannot devour, but cause their death. (So men must be bound in vain to the baits of their actions, if they are to go without reaping their fruition).

27. Therefore please to tell me sir, about the nature of acts, for you are best acquainted with the secrets of things, and can well remove my doubts on the subject.

Vasishtha replied:—

28. You have well asked, my good Rama! about this intricate subject, which I will now explain to you in a manner that will enlighten your understanding.

29. It is the activity of the mind which forms its thoughts and intentions, which are the roots or seed of actions; and it is its passivity, which is the recipient of their results. (So says the

Sruti said:—

whatever is thought in the mind, the same is expressed in words and done in action).

30. Therefore no sooner did the principle of the mind spring from the essence of Brahma, than it was accompanied by its thoughts and actions in the bodies, which the living beings assumed, according to their prior deserts and in-born desires.

31. As there is no difference between the self-same flower and its fragrance; in the same manner there is no distinction of the mind, from its actions which are one and the same thing.

32. It is the exertion of bodily activity, which we call an action here; but it is well known to the wise to be preceded by a mental action, which is called its thought in the mind (chitta of the chit or the thought of the thinking principle).

33. It is possible to deny the existence of material objects, of the air and water, the hill and others; but it is impossible to deny the operations of our mental faculties, of which we have subjective evidence in ourselves.

34. No deliberate action of the present or past life goes for nothing;all human actions and efforts are attended with their just results, to which they are properly directed. (Savadhanam anushthitan).

35. As the ink ceases to be ink, without its inky blackness, so the mind ceases to exist, without the action of its mental operations.

36. Cessation of mental operation, is attended with desinence of thought, and quiescence of the mind, is accompanied with discontinuance of actions. The liberated are free from both of these; but the unemancipate from neither (i. e. the liberated are devoid of the thoughts and actions, which are concomitants with one another).

37. The mind is ever united with its activity as the fire with its heat, and the want of either of these, is attended to worldlings with the extinction of both.

38. The mind being ever restless in itself, becomes identified with the actions proceeding from its activity. The actions also whether good or bad, become identified with the mind, which feels their just rewards and punishments. Hence you see Rama! The inseparable connection of the mind and acts, in reciprocating their actions and reactions upon each other.