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 CXVIII - Directions to the stages of knowledge

Argument. Definitions of the seven Grounds of Knowledge, together with that of Adepts—arudhasin in Yoga, and also of Liberation.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. O sinless Rama, attend now to the sevenfold stages of cognoscence, by the knowledge of which you will no more plunge into the mire of ignorance.

2. Disputants are apt to hold out many more stages of Yoga meditation;but in my opinion these (septuple stages) are sufficient for the attainment of the chief good on ultimate liberation. (The disputants are the Patanjala Yoga philosophers, who maintain various modes of discipline, for attaining to particular perfections of consummation—Siddhi; but the main object of this Sastra is the summum bonum (parama-purushartha), which is obtainable by means of the seven stages—Bhumikas which are expounded herein below).

3. Knowledge is understanding, which consists in knowing these seven stages only; but liberation—mukti, which is the object of knowledge (jnana), transcends the acquaintance of these septuple stages.

4. Knowledge of truth is liberation (moksha), and all these three are used as synonymous terms; because the living being that has known the truth, is freed from transmigration as by his liberation also. (The three words mukti, moksha and jnana imply the same thing).

The grounds of knowledge comprise the desire of becoming good said:—

5. subhechha, and this good will is the first step. Then comes discretion or reasoning (vicharana) the second, followed by purity of mind (tanu-manasa), which is the third grade to the gaining of knowledge.

The fourth is self reliance as the true refuge said:—

6. Satta-patti, then asansakti or worldly apathy as the fifth. The sixth is padarthabhava or the power of abstraction, and the seventh or the last stage of knowledge is turya-gati or generalization of all in one.

7. Liberation is placed at the end of these, and is attained without difficulty after them. Attend now to the definitions of these steps as I shall explain them unto you.

8. First of all is the desire of goodness, springing from dispassionateness to worldly matters, and consisting in the thought, "why do I sit idle, I must know the Sastras in the company of good men".

9. The second is discretion, which arises from association with wise and good men, study of the Sastras, habitual aversion to worldliness, and consists in an inclination to good conduct, and the doing of all sorts of good acts.

10. The third is the subduing of the mind, and restraining it from sensual enjoyments; and these are produced by the two former qualities of good will and discretion.

11. The fourth is self-reliance, and dependence upon the Divine spirit as the true refuge of this soul. This is attainable by means of the three qualities described above.

12. The fifth is worldly apathy, as it is shown by one's detachment from all earthly concerns and society of men, by means of the former quadruple internal delight (which comes from above).

13. By practice of the said fivefold virtues, as also by the feeling of self-satisfaction and inward delight (spiritual joy); man is freed from his thoughts and cares, about all internal and external objects.

14. Then comes the powers of cogitation into the abstract meanings of things, as the sixth step to the attainment of true knowledge. It is fostered either by one's own exertion, or guidance of others in search of truth.

15. Continued habitude of these six qualifications and incognition of differences in religion, and the reducing of them all to the knowledge of one true God of nature, is called generalization. (Because all things in general, proceed from the one and are finally reduced in to the same).

16. This universal generalization appertains to the nature of the living liberation of the man, who beholds all things in one and in the same light. Above this is the state of that glorious light, which is arrived by the disembodied soul.

17. Those fortunate men, O Rama, who have arrived to the seventh stage of their knowledge, are those great minds that delight in the light of their souls, and have reached to their highest state of humanity.

18. The living liberated are not plunged in the waters of pleasure and sorrow, but remain sedate and unmoved in both states;they are at liberty either to do or slight to discharge the duties of their conditions and positions in society.

19. These men being roused from their deep meditation by intruders, betake themselves to their secular duties, like men awakened from their slumber (at their own option).

20. Being ravished by the inward delight of their souls, they feel no pleasure in the delights of the world; just as men immerged in sound sleep, can feel no delight at the dalliance of beauties about them.

21. These seven stages of knowledge are known only to the wise and thinking men, and not to beasts and brutes and immovable things all around us. They are unknown to the barbarians and those that are barbarous in their minds and dispositions.

22. But any one that has attained to these states of knowledge, whether it be a beast or barbarian, an embodied being or disembodied spirit, has undoubtedly obtained its liberation.

23. Knowledge severs the bonds of ignorance, and by loosening them, produces the liberation of our souls: it is the sole cause of removing the fallacy of the appearance of water in the mirage, and the like errors.

24. Those who being freed from ignorance, have not arrived at their ultimate perfection of disembodied liberation; have yet secured the salvation of their souls, by being placed in these stages of knowledge in their embodied state during their life time.

25. Some have passed all these stages, and others over two or three of them; some have passed the six grades, while a few have attained to their seventh state all at once (as the sage Sanaka, Narada and other holy saints have done from their very birth).

26. Some have gone over three stages, and others have attained the last;some have passed four stages, and some no more than one or two of them.

27. There are some that have advanced only a quarter or half or three fourths of a stage. Some have passed over four quarters and a half, and some six and a half.

28. Common people walking upon this earth, know nothing regarding these passengers in the paths of knowledge; but remain as blind as their eyes were dazzled by some planetary light or eclipsed by its shadow.

29. Those wise men are compared to victorious kings, who stand victorious on these seven grounds of knowledge. The celestial elephants are nothing before them; and mighty warriors must bend their heads before them.

30. Those great minds that are victors on these grounds of knowledge, are worthy of veneration, as they are conquerors of their enemies of their hearts and senses; and they are entitled to a station above that of an emperor and an autocrat, samrat and virat, both in this world and in the next in their embodied and disembodied liberations—sadeha and videha muktis.

Notes said:—

These terms called the grades of knowledge may be better understood in their appropriate English expressions, as:

  1. Desire of improvement.
  2. Habit of reasoning.
  3. Fixity of attention.
  4. Self-dependence—Intuition (?)
  5. Freedom from bias or onesidedness.
  6. Abstraction or abstract knowledge.
  7. Generalization of all in the universal unity.
  8. Liberation is anaesthesia or cessation of action, sensation and thoughts.