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 CXXI - Proof of the futility of mind

Argument. Lavana's return to his Palace and the interpretation of his dream by Vasishtha.

The chandala continued:—

1. O lord of men! After lapse of sometime, their occurred a dearth in this place owing to the drought of rain, which broke down all men under its diresome pressure.

2. Pressed by extreme scarcity, all our village people were scattered far abroad, and they perished in famine and never returned.

3. Thence forward O lord! we are exposed to utmost misery, and sit lamenting here in our helpless poverty. Behold us lord, all bathed in tears falling profusely from our undrying eyelids.

4. The King was lost in wonder, at hearing these words from the mouth of the elderly lady; and looking at the face of his follower the faithful minister, remained in dumb amazement as the figure in a picture.

5. He reflected repeatedly on this strange occurrence, and its curious concurrence with his adventures in the dream. He made repeated queries relating to other circumstances, and the more he heard and learned of them, the more he found their coincidence with the occurrences of his vision.

6. He sympathised with their woes, and saw them in the same state, as he had seen them before in his dream. And then he gave suitable gifts and presents to relieve their wants and woes.

7. He tarried there a long while, and pondered on the decrees of destiny; when the wheel of fortune brought him back to his house, wherein he entered amidst the loud cheers and low salutations of the citizens.

8. In the morning the King appeared in his court hall, and sitting there amidst his courtiers, asked me saying:—"How is it, O sage, that my dream has come to be verified in my presence to each item and to my great surprise?"

9. "They answered me exactly and to the very point all what I asked of them, and have removed my doubt of their truth from the mind, as the winds disperse the clouds of heaven."

10. Know thus, O Rama! it is the illusion of Avidya, that is the cause of a great many errors, by making the untruth appear as truth, and representing the sober reality as unreality.

11. Rama said: Tell me sir, how the dream came to be verified; it is a mysterious account that cannot find a place in my heart.

Vasishtha replied:—

12. All this is possible, O Rama! to the illusion of ignorance (Avidya); which shows the fallacy of a picture (pata) in a pot (ghata); and represents the actual occurrences of life as dreams, and dreams as realities.

13. Distance appears to be nigh, as a distant mountain seen in the mirror; and a long time seems a short interval, as a night of undisturbed repose.

14. What is untrue seems to be a truth as in dreaming one's own death in sleep; and that which is impossible appears possible, as in one's aerial journey in a dream.

15. The stable seems unsteady, as in the erroneous notion of the motion of fixed objects to one passing in a vehicle; and the unmoving seem to be moving to one, as under the influence of his inebriation.

16. The mind infatuated by one's hobby, sees exposed to its view, all what it thinks upon within itself. It sees things in the same light, as they are painted in his fancy, whether they be in existence or not, or real or unreal.

17. No sooner does the mind contract its ignorance, by its false notions of egoism and tuism, than it is subjected to endless errors, which have no beginning, middle or end and are of incessant occurrence in their course.

18. It is the notion that gives a shape to all things; it makes a kalpa age appear as a moment, and also prolongs a moment of time to a whole Kalpa.

19. A man deprived of understanding, believes himself as he is said, to have become a sheep; so a fighting ram thinks himself to be a lion in his ideal bravery. (The word sheep is a term of derision, as the lion is that of applause).

20. Ignorance causes the blunder of taking things for what they are not, and falling into the errors of egoism and tuism: so all errors in the mind produce errors in actions also.

21. It is by mere accident, that men come in possession of the objects of their desire; and it is custom that determines the mode of mutual dealings. (The gain is accidental and the dealing is conventional).

22. Lavana's remembrance of the dream of his having lived in the habitation of the Pukkasa, was the internal cause, that represented to him the external picture of that abode, as it was a reality. (The mind shows what we think upon, whether they are real or unreal ones).

23. As the human mind is liable to forget many things which are actually done by some, so it is susceptible to remember those acts as true which were never done, but had been merely thought upon in the mind. (The forgetfulness of actualities as well as the thoughts of inactualities, belong both to the province of the mind. Here Lavana did not remember what he had not done, but recollected the thoughts that passed in his mind).

24. In this manner is the thought of my having eaten something while I am really fasting; and that of my having sojourned in a distant country in a dream, appears true to me while I think of them.

25. It was thence that the king came to find the same conduct in the habitation of the Chandalas at the side of Vindhya, as he had been impressed with its notion in his dream as said before.

26. Again the false dream that Lavana had dreamt of the Vindhyan people, the same took possession of their minds also. (The same thought striking in the minds of different persons at the same time (as we see in men of the same mind)).

27. The notion of Lavana as settled in the minds of the Vindhyans, as the thoughts of these people rose in the mind of the king. (If it is possible for us to transfer our thoughts to one another, how much easier must it be for the superior instrumentality of dreams and revelations to do the same also. This is the yoga, whereby one man reads the mind of another). Again the same error taking possession of many minds all at once, proves the futility of common sense and universal belief being taken for certainty, hence the common belief of the reality of things, is the effect of universal delusion and error.

28. As the same sentiments and figures of speech, occur in different poets of distant ages and countries, so it is not striking that the same thoughts and ideas should rise simultaneously in the minds of different men also. (We have a striking instance of the coincidence of the same thought in the titles of Venisanhara and Rape of the Lock, in the minds of Vhattanarayn and Pope).

29. In common experience, we find the notions and ideas to stand for the things themselves, otherwise nothing is known to exist at all without our notion or idea of it in the mind. (All that we know of, are our ideas and nothing besides. Locke and Berkeley).

30. One idea embraces many others also under it, as those of the waves and current, are contained under that of water. And so one thought is associated by others relating its past, present and future conditions of being; as the thought of a seed accompanies the thoughts of its past and future states and its fruits and flowers of the tree. (So the word man, comprises almost every idea relating to humanity).

31. Nothing has its entity or non-entity, nor can anything be said to exist or not to be, unless we have a positive idea of the existent, and a negative notion of the in-existent.

32. All that we see in our error, is as inexistent as oiliness in sands; and so the bracelet is nothing in reality, but a formal appearance of the substance of gold.

33. A fallacy can have no connection with the reality, as the fallacy of the world with the reality of God, and so the fallacy of the ring with the substance of gold and of the serpent with the rope. The connection or mutual relation of things of the same kind, is quite evident in our minds.

34. The relation of gum resin and the tree, is one of dissimilar union, and affords no distinct ideas of them except that of the tree which contains the other. (So the idea of the false world, is lost in that of its main substratum of the Divine Spirit).

35. As all things are full of the Spirit, so we have distinct ideas of them in our minds, which are also spiritual substances; and are not as dull material stones which have no feelings.[1]

36. Because all things in the world are intellectually true and real, we have therefore their ideas impressed in our minds also.

37. There can not be a relation or connection of two dissimilar things, which may be lasting, but are never united together. For without such mutual relation of things, no idea of both can be formed together.

38. Similar things being joined with similar form together their wholes of the same kind, presenting one form and differing in nothing.

39. The intellect being joined with an abstract idea, produces an invisible, inward and uniform thought: so dull matter joined to another dull object, forms a denser material object to view. But the intellectual and material can never unite together owing to their different natures.

40. The intellectual and material parts of a person, can never be drawn together in any picture; because the intellectual part having the intellect, has the power of knowledge, which is wanting in the material picture.

41. Intellectual beings do not take into account the difference of material things as wood and stone; which combine together for some useful purpose (as the building of a house and the like).

42. The relation between the tongue and taste is also homogeneous;because rasa taste and rasand the instrument of tasting, are both watery substances, and there is no heterogeneous relation between them. (And so of the other organs of sense and their respective objects).

43. But there is no relation between intellect and matter; as there is between the stone and the wood; the intellect cannot combine with wood and stone to form anything. (The mind and matter have no relation with one another, nor can they unite together in any way).

44. Spiritually considered, all things are alike, because they are full with the same spirit; otherwise the error of distinction between the viewer and the view, creates endless differences as betwixt wood and stones and other things.

45. The relation of combination though unseen in spirits, yet it is easily conceived that spirits can assume any form ad libitum and ad infinitum (but they must be spiritual and never material. So also a material thing can be converted to another material object, but never to a spiritual form).

46. Know ye seekers of truth, all things to be identic with the entity of God. Renounce your knowledge of nonentities and the various kinds of errors and fallacies and know the One as All to pan. (The omnipotent spirit of God, is joined with all material things, in its spiritual form only; and it is knowable to the mind and spirit of man, and never by their material organs of sense).

47. The Intellect being full with its knowledge, there is nothing wanting to us; it presents us everything in its circumference, as the imagination having its wide range, shews us the sights of its air-built castles and every thing beside. (The difference consists in the intellect's shewing us the natures of things in their true light, and the imagination's portraying them in false shapes and colours to our minds).

48. To Him there is no limit of time or place, but his presence extends over all his creation. It is ignorance that separates the creator from creation, and raises the errors of egoism and tuism (i. e. of the subjective and objective. The union of these into One is the ground-work of pantheism).

49. Leaving the knowledge of the substantive gold, man contracts the error of taking it for the formal ornament. The mistake of the jewel for gold, is as taking one thing for another, and the production for the producer.

50. The error of the phenomenon vanishes upon loss of the eyesight, and the difference of the jewel (or visible shape), is lost in the substance of gold.

51. The knowledge of unity removes that of a distinct creation, as the knowledge of the clay takes off the sense of puppet soldiers made of it. (So the detection of Aesop's ass in the lion's skin, and that of the daw with the peacock's feathers, removed the false appearance of their exteriors).

52. The same Brahma causes the error of the reality of the exterior worlds, as the underlying sea causes the error of the waves on its surface. The same wood is mistaken for the carved figure, and the common clay is taken for the pot which is made of it. (The truth is that, which underlies the appearance).

53. Between the sight and its object, there lieth the eye of the beholder, which is beyond the sight of its viewer, and is neither the view nor the viewer. (Such is the supreme Being hidden alike from the view and the viewer).

54. The mind traversing from one place to another, leaves the body in the interim, which is neither moving nor quite unmoved; since its mental part only is in its moving state. (So should you remain sedate with your body, but be ever active in your mind).

55. Remain always in that quiet state, which is neither one of waking, dreaming nor of sleeping; and which is neither the state of sensibility or insensibility; but one of everlasting tranquillity and rest.

56. Drive your dullness, and remain always in the company of your sound intellect as a solid rock; and whether in joy or grief, commit your soul to your Maker.

57. There is nothing which one has to lose or earn in this world;therefore remain in uniform joy and bliss, whether you think yourself to be blest or unblest in life. ("Naked came I, and naked must I return;blessed be the name of the Lord").

58. The soul residing in thy body, neither loves nor hates aught at any time; therefore rest in quiet, and fear naught for what betides thy body, and engage not thy mind to the actions of thy body.

59. Remain free from anxiety about the present, as you are unconcerned about the future. Never be impelled by the impulses of your mind; but remain steadfast in your trust in the true God.

60. Be unconcerned with all, and remain as an absent man. Let thy heart remain callous to everything like a block of stone or toy of wood; and look upon your mind as an inanimate thing, by the spiritual light of your soul.

61. As there is no water in the stone nor fire in water, so the spiritual man has no mental action, nor the Divine spirit hath any. (There is no mutability of mental actions in the immutable mind of God).

62. If that which is unseen, should ever come to do anything or any action; that action is not attributed to the unseen agent, but to something else in the mind. (But the mind being ignored, its actions are ignored also).

63. The unselfpossessed (unspiritual) man, that follows the dictates of his fickle and wilful mind, resembles a man of the border land, following the customs of the outcast Mlechchas or barbarians.

64. Having disregarded the dictates of your vile mind, you may remain at ease and as fearless, as an insensible statue made of clay.

65. He who understands that there is no such thing as the mind, or that he had one before but it is dead in him to-day; becomes as immovable as a marble statue with this assurance in himself.

66. There being no appearance of the mind in any wise, and you having no such thing in you in reality except your soul; say, why do you in vain infer its existence for your own error and harm?

67. Those who vainly subject themselves to the false apparition of the mind, are mostly men of unsound understandings, and bring fulminations on themselves from the full-moon of the pure soul.

68. Remain firm as thou art with thyself (soul), by casting afar thy fancied and fanciful mind from thee; and be freed from the thoughts of the world, by being settled in the thought of the Supreme Soul.

69. They who follow a nullity as the unreal mind, are like those fools who shoot at the inane air, and are cast into the shade.

70. He that has purged off his mind, is indeed a man of great understanding; he has gone across the error of the existence of the world, and become purified in his soul. We have considered long, and never found anything as the impure mind in the pure soul.

Footnotes and references:


All things existent in the Divine mind in their eternally ideal state, present the same ideas to our minds also, which are of the similar nature and substance with the Divine.