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 CXXII - Ascertainment of the self or soul

Argument. Description of the grounds of knowledge, vanity of fears and sorrows, and the natures of the intellect and soul.

Vasishtha said (prose):

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After the birth of a man and a slight development of his understanding, he should associate the company of good and wise men.

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There is no other way except by the light of Sastras and association with the good and wise, to ford over the river of ignorance, which runs in its incessant course flowing in a thousand streams.

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It is by means of reasoning that man is enabled to discern what is good for him, and what he must avoid to do.

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He then arrives to that ground of reason which is known as good will, or a desire to do what is good and keep from what is bad and evil.

5. Then he is led by his reason to the power of reasoning, and discerning the truth from untruth, and the right from wrong.

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As he improves in knowledge, he gets rid of his improper desires, and purifies his mind from all worldly cares.

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Then he is said to have gained that stage of knowledge, which is called the purity of his soul and mind and of his heart and conduct.

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When the yogi or adept attains to his full knowledge, he is said to have arrived at his state of goodness—satva.

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By this means and the curtailing of his desires, he arrives to the state called unattachment or indifference to all worldly matters (anasakta), and is no more subjected to the consequence of his actions.

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From the curtailment of desires, the yogi learns to abstract his mind from the unrealities of the world.

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And whether sitting inactive in his posture of Samadhi meditation, or doing anything for himself or others, he must fix his mind to whatever is productive of real good to the world. His soul being cool by the tenuity of his desires, is habituated to do its duties, without the knowledge of what it is doing. (He neither fondly pursues anything nor thinks with ardour of any. His want of desire makes him indifferent to all, and like a man waking from his sleep, he takes himself to the discharge of his duties).

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Verily, he who has subdued his mind, has reached to the contemplative stage of yoga meditation.

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Thus one having his mind dead in himself, learns by practice of years, to perform his duties, by refraining from his thoughts of external objects. Such a one is said to have attained the turya or fourth stage of his spiritual elevation, and to have become liberated in his life-time.

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He is not glad to get anything, nor sorry to miss it. He lives without fear of accidents, and is content with whatever he gets.

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Thou hast O Rama! known whatever is to be known by man; and thou hast certainly extirpated thy desire in all thy actions through life.

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Thy thoughts are all spiritual, and transcend the actions of the corporeal body, though thou art in thy embodied state. Do not give up thy self to joy or grief, but know thyself to be free from decay and defect.

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Spiritually thou art a pure and bright substance, which is ubiquious and ever in its ascendancy. It is devoid of pleasure and pain, and of death and disease.

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Why dost thou lament at the grief or loss of a friend, when thou art so friendless in thyself. Being thrown alone in this world, whom dost thou claim as a friend of thy soul?

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We see only the particles of matter of which this body is composed;it exists and passes away in its time from its place; but there is no rising or falling of the soul.

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Being imperishable in thyself, why dost thou fear to fall into naught? And why think of the destruction of thy soul, which is never subject to death?

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When a jar is broken in twain from its upper part, its vacuity is not lost, but mixes with the air; so the body being destroyed, the indestructible soul is not lost with it (but unites with its original source).

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As the sunlight causing the appearance of a river in the mirage, is not lost at the disappearance of the phenomenal river; so the immortal soul does not perish upon dissolution of the frail body.

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There is a certain illusion, which raises the false appetites within us; otherwise the unity of the soul requires the help of no duality or secondary substance, in order to be united with the sole unity.

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There is no sensible object, whether visible, tangible, audible or of taste or smelling (which relate to the particular senses and brain), that can affect the unconnected soul.

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All things and their powers, are contained in the all-powerful and all-comprehensive soul; these powers are displayed throughout the world, but the soul is as void as the empty air.

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It is the mental deception, O Raghava, that presents before it the phenomena of the triple world, representing diverse forms according to the triplicate nature of man (the satva, rajas and tamas).

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There are threefold methods of dispelling this delusion of the mind, namely: by the tranquillity of the mind, by destroying its desires, and by abandonment of acts (which lead only to errors in our repeated regenerations).

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The world is a crushing mill, with its lower and upper stones of the earth and heaven; our desires are the cords that incessantly drag us under it: therefore Rama, break off these ropes (and you will escape the danger of being crushed by it).

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Our unacquaintance with spiritual knowledge, is the cause of all our errors; but our acquaintance of it, leads us to endless joy and ultimately to Brahma himself.

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The living being having proceeded from Brahma, and travelled over the earth at pleasure, turns at last to Brahma by means of his knowledge of Him.

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Rama! all things have sprung from one Being, who is perfect felicity itself, inconceivable and undecaying in its nature; and all these are as the rays of that light, or as the light of that everlasting fire.

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These are as lines on the leaves of trees, and as the curls and waves on the surface of waters. They are as ornaments made of that gold, and as the heat and cold of that fire and water.

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Thus the triple world subsists in the thought of the Divine mind. It has thus sprung from the mind of God, and rests in its self-same state with the all-comprehending mind.

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This Mind is called Brahma, who is the soul of all existence. He being known the world is known also (i. e., the world is known through him); and as he is the knower of all, he gives us the knowledge of all things. (Thus the Sruti:—There is no knowing of anything but by the knowledge that He imparts to us).

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This all pervasive Being is explained to us by the learned, by the coined epithets of the soul, intellect and Brahma, used both in the sastras as in the popular language.

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The pure notion that we have of an everlasting Being, apart from all sensible ideas and impressions, is called the Intellect and soul.

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This Intellect or Intelligent soul, is much more transparent than the etherial sky; and it is the plenum, that contains the plenitude of the world, as a disjoined and distinct reflection of itself.

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The knowledge of the separate existence of the unreal reflection of the world, apart from that real reflector, is the cause of all our ignorance and error; but the view of their subsistence in the mirror of the supreme soul, blends them all to myself also (who am the same soul).

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Now Rama, that hast a bodiless soul of the form of pure intellect, thou canst have no cause to fall into the error, of being sorry for or afraid of the vanities of the world.

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How can the unembodied soul be affected by the passions and feelings of the body? It is the ignorant and unintelligent only, that are subject to vain suspicions about unrealities.

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The indestructible intellect of the unintelligent even, is not destroyed by the destruction of their bodies, how then should the intelligent be afraid of their dissolution?

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The intellect is irresistible in its course, and roves about the solar path (ecliptic); it is the intellectual part that makes the man, and not the outward body. (Puri sete purushah; it is the inner soul that is called man).

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The soul called the purusha or inner person, whether it abideth in the body or not, and whether it is intelligent or otherwise (rational or irrational), never dies upon the death of the body.

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Whatever miseries you meet with, Rama! in this transient world, all appertain to the body, and not to the intangible soul or intellect.

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The intellectual soul being removed from the region of the mind (which is but an inward sense, and of the nature of vacuity, and not the grains of the brain composing the mind), is not to be approached by the pleasures and pains affecting the body and mind.

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The soul that has curbed its earthly desires, flies to its seat in the spirit of Brahma, after the dissolution of its prison house of the body; in the same manner as the bee lying hid under the coverlet of the lotus petals in the darkness of the night, takes to its heavenward flight by the dawning light of the day.

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If life is known to be frail, and the living state to be a transient scene, then say, O Rama! what it is that is lost by loss of this prison-house of the body, and what is it that you mourn for?

48. Think therefore, O Rama! on the nature of truth; and mind not about the errors of ignorance. Be freed from your earthly desires, and know the sinless soul to be void of all desires.

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The intellectual soul being tranquil and transparent, and a mere witness of our doings, without any doing or desire of its own, receives the reflection of the undesirous God, as a mirror reflects the images of things.

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The soul being, as said before, a translucent particle, reflects the images of all worlds in itself; as a polished gem reflects the rays of light in its bosom.

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The relation of the indifferent soul with the world, is like that of the mirror and its reflections; the difference and identity of the soul and the world, are of the same kind.

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As the activities of living beings, have a free play with the rising sun;so the duties of the world, are fully discharged by the rising of the intellect.

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No sooner you get rid of your error of the substantiality of the world, than you shall come to the consciousness of its being a vacuum, resting in the spirit of God (which is the receptacle of infinite space, and whatever there appears in it).

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As it is the nature of a lighted lamp to spread its lustre all around, so it is the nature of mental philosophy, to enlighten us with the real state of the soul.

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The essence of the supreme soul gave rise to the mind (will) at first, which spread out the universe with its net work of endless varieties. It was as the sky issuing out of the infinite vacuity, and assuming the shape of the blue atmosphere which is also a nullity.

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Privation of desires melts down the mind, and dissolves the mist of ignorance from the face of the intellect. Then appears the bright light of the one infinite and increate God, like the clear firmament of autumn after the dispersion of clouds.

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The mind sprouts out at first from the supreme soul with all its activities, and takes upon it the nature of the lotus-born Brahma by its desire of creation. It stretches out a variety of worlds by its creative will, which are also as the fancied apparitions, appearing before the imaginations of deluded boys.

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Non-entity appears as an entity before us, it dies away at death, and reappears with our new birth. The mind itself takes its rise from the divine intellect, and displays itself in the substance of the Divine Soul, as the waves play about on the surface of the waters of the deep.

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