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 CII - On the indivisibility and immortality of the soul

Argument:—Fallacy of Egoism, and Rational Investigation into the nature of the Soul. The Means of curbing Egotism, and the flight of Fancy.

Vasishtha continued:—

The ignorant are subject to errors caused by their false fancies, from which the wise are entirely free; and they by imagining and attributing perishable properties to the imperishable soul, beguile themselves like children, by taking their dolls for men. (It is the attributing of sensible properties to the conscious soul).

Rama rejoined:—

2. What is this perishable property, which is imagined of and imputed to the imperishable soul? Tell me, also O greatest of theologians! what is that misrepresentation, which misleads the mind to the erroneous conception, of the unreal world for a reality.

Vasishtha replied:—

3. The soul by its continued association with unreal and perishable things, thinks itself as one of them, and takes upon it the title of an unreal and perishable egoism, as a boy by association of his thoughts imagines a false apparition to be a real ghost. (Egoism and tuism and suism, means the personality or personal reality of the three persons I, thou and this—aham, twam and sah, which in all systems of mystic philosophy, is denied of all finite beings. The absolute Ego is the supreme soul, and all other souls are but reflections of it).

4. All things being situated in one absolute reality, it is hard to account for one's personal egoism; and to say how and whence this conception came to be in vogue. (The impersonal and universal soul is the true Ego, and has no personal existence what ever).

5. In fact there is no egoism beside that of the supreme soul; and yet is the nature of the injudicious to make a difference of a finite and infinite Ego, and of a mortal and immortal soul; as we see two streams of water in the sun-beams in a sandy desert. (The human soul is no other, than a particle of the supreme).

6. The mind is a spacious mind (of richest gems) in this extensive creation, and depends for its support on the supreme soul; as the waves are dependent on the waters of the sea, for their rise and subsistence. (The mind is the individual soul, but the soul is the universal and undivided spirit and opposed to the European doctrine of the minds being a generic and the soul an individual name).

7. Therefore give up, O Rama! your erroneous view of the reality of the world and your reliance on the baseless fabric of the universe, and rely with delight on your judicious view of the true substratum and support of all.

8. Inquire now into the nature of Truth, with a rational understanding; and being freed from all error and bias, discard all that is false and untrue.

The idea of Tritheism and faith in the mystic number three, is as deeply rooted in the Hindu mind, as we find it in the Alexandrine triad of old, and the Trinity of modern Christians. We have already given an ample exposition of the various triads in Hindu theology and other sciences in our introduction to this work (Vol. I. Sect XI. p. 61). Besides those we meet herewith some other triads which are conveyed in the allegorical story of the old nurse to her infant care for his early instruction, though it is doubtful that the boy could either understand or derive any benefit thereby. It will be worth while to mention here the Alexandrian Triad of the three hypostases of the one Being in the psyche—eternal soul, nous—the mind, and ZoaJiva—life or activity. This last is the same with the logos—Word, the manifestation of Divine power in whom there was life also. Others formed their Triad of matter, soul and force, as the three principia in nature. The Christian Trinity, which some maintain as an imitation of the Alexandrians, presents many differences respecting some portion of this doctrine, which resulted in the heresies of Arianism, Sabellianism, Nestorianism &c. see further particulars on this head in Lewes' History of Philosophy, Vol. 1, p. 391.

9. Why do you think the unconfined soul to be confined in the body? It is vain to suppose the nature of the infinite soul, to be confined in any place.

10. To suppose the one as many, is to make a division of and create a variety in the nature of the Supreme Spirit. Again the Divine essence being diffused alike in all, it cannot be said to be confined in one thing and absent in another.

11. The body being hurt, the soul is supposed to be hurt likewise; but no pain or hurt or sickness of any kind, can appertain to the unchanging soul.

12. The body being hurt or weakened or destroyed, there is no injury done to the soul, as the bellows (of the blacksmith) being burnt, the wind with which it was filled, escapes unconsumed.

13. Whether the body lasts or falls, it is of no matter to us (since the soul survives its loss); as the flower being destroyed, deposits its fragrance in the air.

14. Let any pain or pleasure befall on the body, as dew-drops falling on lotus-leaves: it can affect us no more than it is for the fading lotus, to affect or afflict in any manner the flying and aerial bee.

15. Let the body rise or fall, or fly in smoke and mix with the air;these changing forms of it, can have no effect whatever on the soul.

16. The connection of the body with the soul, is like that between the cloud and the wind; and as that of the lotus with the bee. (The former is moved and alighted upon by the latter, and not that the latter is preserved by the former).

17. If the mind which forms a part of all living bodies, is not affected by bodily pain; how is it possible that the primary power of intellect which resides in the soul, shall ever be subject to death?

18. If you know, O wise Rama, the soul to be indestructible and inseparable (from any place or person), what cause then can you have to sorrow for the supposed separation or disappearance of the all pervading spirit?

19. After destruction of the body, the soul flies from it, to abide in the infinite space of empty air; like the wind mixing with the air after dispersion of the clouds, and the bee flying to it after the lotus has faded away.

20. The mind also is not relaxed with all its enjoyments of life, unless it is burnt down by the knowledge of truth; why then speak of the annihilation of the soul.

21. The connection of the perishable body and imperishable soul, is analogous to that of a vessel and the fruit it holds, and of a pot and the air in it (i. e. of the container and the contained; the frame-work is fragile, but its component is infrangible).

22. As a plum is held in the hand or it falls into a pit, so the vacuous soul is reposed in or deposed from the body.

23. As a pot being broken, its vacuous part mixes, with the air; so the body being dissolved, the soul remains unhurt in the empty space.

24. The mind and body of living beings, are apt to disappear at times from their habitations, and hide themselves under the shroud of death;why then should we sorrow for such renegades?

25. Seeing the death and disappearance of others at all times, no fool learns to think for himself, but fears to die like all ignorant fools.

26. Therefore renounce, O Rama! Your selfish desires, and know the falsity of egoism. Forsake the bond of the body for flying upward, as a new fledged bird flies above, and leaves its nest behind.

27. It is an act of the mind, to lead us to good or evil; as it is another function of it, to fabricate the false fabric of the world like appearances in a dream.

28. It is our incorrigible ignorance, that stretches out these imageries for our misery only; and it is our imperfect knowledge, which shows these false-hoods as realities unto us.

29. It gives us a dim sight of things, as we view the sky obscured by a mist; and it is the nature of the mind, to have an erroneous view of objects.

30. The dull and unreal world, appears as a reality to us; and the imaginary duration of the universe, is as a protracted dream in our sleep.

31. It is the thought or idea of the world, that is the cause of its formal existence, as it is the blinking of the eye, that shows a thousand disks of the sun and moon in the clear sky.

32. Now Rama, employ your reason to annihilate the formal world from your mind, as the sun dissolves the snows by the heat of his beams.

33. As one wishing to overcome his cold, gets his object at sunrise; so he who wishes to demolish his mind (its errors), succeeds in it at the rise of his reason.

34. As ignorance increases, so it introduces a train of impervious errors and evils. It spreads a magic spell around it, as Samvara the sorcerer showered a flux of gold dust about him.

35. The mind makes the way to its own destruction by its worldliness, and acts the part of its own catastrophe or self destruction by all its acts.

36. The mind cares only for keeping itself from destruction; but it is a fool not to know beforehand its imminent death.

37. The mind by its restless desires, hastens itself to a painful death;which reasonable are trying to avoid; by their government of the mind. (It is not right to trouble the mind with worldly cares).

38. The mind that is purified by reason, is purged from its volitions and nolitions; and resigns itself to the will of the Divine soul, which is ever present before it.

39. The curbing of the mind, is the magnanimity of soul, and gives rise to liberation from pain, therefore try to restrain your mind, and not to give a loose rein to it.

40. The world is a vast wilderness, full of the forests of our weal and woe, and beset by the dragons of disease and death on all sides: the irrational mind is as the rampant lord of the desert land, and drives us anon to all sorts of dangers and difficulties.

41. As the sage ended his sermon, the day departed to its end; and the sun declined to the west to his evening service. The assembly broke after mutual salutations, and met again and greeted each other with the parting night and rising sun. (This is the Brahma muhurta or dawning day break at 4 A.M.)