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 XCVII - The magnitude of the sphere of the intellect

Argument. The Intellectual, Mental and Material Spheres, and their representations in the Mind.

Rama said:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
I come to understand, O venerable sage! from all you have propounded, that this grandeur of the universe being the work of the Divine Mind, is all derived from the same. (Here the creation of the world by the Divine mind, is viewed in the pantheistic light of Emanation).

Vasishtha answered said:—

2. [Sanskrit available]
The Mind as already said, having assumed a substantial form, manifested itself in the form of water in the mirage, raised by the shining blaze of its own light. (This passage embodies both theories, that light was the first work of God, and the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters. O ruh Eloim marhapeth-fi pene al maim. Genesis. Apa eva Sasarjadan. Manu).

3. [Sanskrit available]
The mind became amalgamated (identic), with the contents of the world, in the Spirit of Brahma, now showing itself in the form of man, and now appearing as a God (i. e. the mind reflected on these images which were evolution of itself in itself; because the thought or product of the mind, was of the same substance with itself. This accords with the pantheistic doctrine, that God and Nature are one substance, and the one is a modification of the other).

4. [Sanskrit available]
Somewhere he showed himself as a demon and at another place like a yaksha (yakka); here he was as a Gandharva, and there in the form of a Kinnara. (All these were the ideal manifestations of the Divine Mind).

5. [Sanskrit available]
The vast expanse of the Mind, was found to comprise in it the various tracts of land; and the pictures of many cities and habitable places. (Because the mind is the reservoir of all their images).

6. [Sanskrit available]
Such being the capacity of the mind, there is no reckoning of the millions of bodies, which are contained in it, like the woods and plants in a forest. All those are not worth our consideration in our inquiry about the mind. (They are as useless to the psychologist as botany is to the geologist).

7. [Sanskrit available]
It was this mind which spread out the world with all its contents, beside which there exists naught but the Supreme Spirit. (The mind is the container of the archetypes of the ectypal world, or the recording power of knowledge; but the Supreme Soul is the disembodied self-consciousness, having the principle of volition or Will; while the Spirit is the animating faculty of the soul).

8. [Sanskrit available]
The soul is beyond every category, it is omnipresent and the substratum of all existence, and it is by the power of this soul, that the mind doth move and manifest itself. (The mind is the soul incorporated with bodies; but the soul is quite apart from these).

9. [Sanskrit available]
The Mind is known as the cause of the body, which is work of the mind; it is born and becomes extinct with the body, which the soul does not, nor has it any such quality which belongs to the mind.

10. [Sanskrit available]
The mind is found by right reasoning to be a perishable object, and no sooner doth it perish, than the living soul succeeds to obtain its final liberation. For the desires of the mind are the bondage of its transmigration, but the dissolution of the mind with its desires, secures its liberation. (Volition and velleity, are the active and inactive acts of the mind for its eternal bondage).

11. [Sanskrit available]
After decadence of the mental desires there is no more any exertion for acts. This state is called the liberation of living souls, from their release from trouble and care; and the mind thus released, never comes to be born and die again. (Free from desire, is freedom from deadly sin).

Rama said:—

12. [Sanskrit available]
Sir! You have said before, that human nature is principally of three kinds viz:—the good, the gentle and the base (Satva, rajas and tamas);and it is owing to the good or bad nature of their minds, that men differ from one another.

13. [Sanskrit available]
Now please tell me, how could the wondrous mind originate from the pure intellect with its good or bad propensities, which are wanting in the Divine Intellect.

Vasishtha replied:—

14. [Sanskrit available]
Know Rama, that there are three spheres of the infinite vacuity, at immense distances from one another: and these are the intellectual, mental, and the physical spheres.

15. [Sanskrit available]
These spheres are common to all mankind, and are spread out everywhere; and they have all sprung and come to being from the essence of the Chit or Divine Intellect. (The first is the space of Divine Infinity, the second is the spatium dunamia or potential space and may be filled by bodies; and the third is the place energeia or actually occupied by bodies).

16. [Sanskrit available]
That space which is both in the inside and outside of everything, and denotes its occupation or otherwise by some substance or its absence, and pervades through all nature, is called the inane sphere of the Intellect.

17. [Sanskrit available]
That is called the sphere of the Intellect, which embraces all space and time which has spread out the other spheres, and which is the highest and best of all.

18. [Sanskrit available]
The physical sphere contains all created beings, and extends to the circuit of the ten sides, all about and above and below us. It is a continued space filled with air, which supports the clouds and waters above the firmament.

19. [Sanskrit available]
Then the vacuity of the mental sphere, which has also sprung from the intellectual sphere, has likewise the intellect for its cause like the others, as the day is the source of all works and animal activities. (Here the word works has the double sense of the works of creation, which were made in the week days, and the daily works of men and their religious duties, all which are done in the day time. The night being the time to sleep).

20. [Sanskrit available]
The vitiated Intellect which views itself as a dull thing, amidst the gross material objects of the physical sphere, the same is termed the mind, which thinks of both spheres, whence it is born and where it is placed.

21. [Sanskrit available]
It is for the understanding of the unenlightened, that I have made use of the metaphor of the spheres; because figures are used for the instruction of the unenlightened and not to lighten the enlightened. (These serve for ocular demonstrations in mathematical and not in metaphysical sciences).

22. [Sanskrit available]
In the intellectual sphere, you will see one Supreme Brahma, filling its whole space, and being without parts or attributes, and intelligible only to the enlightened.

23. [Sanskrit available]
The ignorant require to be instructed in appropriate words and precise language, showing the demarkation between monotheism and ditheism, which is unnecessary for the instruction of the enlightened.

24. [Sanskrit available]
I have contrived to explain to you the nature of divine knowledge, by the parable of the three spheres, which will enlighten you as long as you are in dark on the subject.

25. [Sanskrit available]
The intellectual sphere being obscured by ignorance, we are led to look into the mental and physical spheres; not knowing that they are as delusive as the sunbeams in a mirage, and as destructive as the flames of a conflagration.

26. [Sanskrit available]
The pure intellect being changed to the state of the changeful mind, takes a debased figure; and then being confounded in itself, weaves the magic web of the world to entangle itself in the same.

27. [Sanskrit available]
The ignorant that are guided by the dictates of their perverted minds, know nothing concerning the nature of the Intellect, which is identic with the Supreme. So the witless that unwittingly take the white shells for bright silver, are seen to labour under their delusion, until they are freed from it, by the clear light of their understanding.[1]

Footnotes and references:


The allegory of the three spheres, means no more than the triple state of man, as a spiritual, an intellectual and a physical or corporeal being. The intellectual state in the text, is properly the spiritual and highest state of a human being. The mental is next to the intellectual or midmost state of man, and the physical or corporeal state, is the lowest condition, in which the elevated nature of humanity is subjected like an inferior animal, to grovel upon the earth.

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