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 I - Janya-jani-nirupana

On Genesis and Epigenesis

Argument. The variety of creation is described as the working of the mind, and the existence of one Brahma only, is established in refutation of the Atomic and Materialistic doctrines of Nyaya and Sankhya philosophy.

Vasishtha said:—

Attend now Rama, to the subject of Existence, which follows that of Production: a knowledge of this, is productive of nirvana or utter annihilation of the self or soul.

2. Know then the phenomenal world which is existent before you, and your knowledge of egoism or self-existence, to be but erroneous conceptions of the formless inexistence or inanity.

3. You see the tints of various hues painting the vacuous sky, without any paint (colouring substance), or their cause (the painter). This is but a conception of the mind without its visual perception, and like the vision in a dream of one, who is not in a state of sound sleep. (The world is a dream).

4. It is like an aerial city built and present in your mind; or like the warming of shivering apes beside the red clay, thinking it as red hot fire; and as one's pursuing an unreality or (grasping a shadow).

5. It is but a different aspect of the self same Brahma, like that of a whirlpool in water, and as the unsubstantial sunlight, appearing as a real substance in the sky.

6. It is like the baseless fabric of gold of the celestials on high;and like the air-built castle of Gandharvas in the midway sky. (The gods and Gandharvas are believed to dwell in their golden abodes in heaven).

7. It is as the false sea in the mirage, appearing true at the time; and like the Elysian and Utopian cities of imagination in empty air, and taken for truth.

8. It is like the romantic realms with their picturesque scenes in the fancies of poets, which are nowhere in nature but it seems to be solid and thick within, without any pith or solidity in it, as a thing in an empty dream.

9. It is as the etherial sphere, full of light all around, but all hollow within;and like the blue autumnal sky, with its light and flimsy clouds without any rain-water in them.

10. It is as the unsubstantial vacuum, with the cerulean blue of solid sapphire; and like the domes and dames appearing in dreams, fleeting as air and untangible to touch.

11. It is as a flower garden in a picture, painted with blooming blossoms; and appearing as fragrant without any fragrance in them. It is lightsome to sight, without the inherent heat of light, and resembles the orb of the sun or a flaming fire represented in a picture.

12. It is as an ideal domain—the coinage of the brain, and an unreal reality or a seeming something; and likens a lotus-bed in painting, without its essence or fragrance.

13. It is as the variegated sky, painted with hues which it does not possess; and is as unsolid as empty air, and as many-hued as the rain-bow without any hue of its own.

14. All its various colourings of materiality, fade away under the right discrimination of reason; and it is found in the end to be as unsolid a substance as the stem of a plantain tree (all coated without, and nothing solid in the inside).

15. It is like the rotation of black spots, before the eyes of a purblind man; and as the shape of a shadowy inexistence, presented as something existent before the naked eye.

16. Like the bubble of water, it seems as something substantial to sight; but in reality all hollow within; and though appearing as juicy, it is without any moisture at all.

17. The bubbling worlds are as wide spread as the morning dews or frost;but take them up, and you will find them as nothing, it is thought as gross matter by some, and as vacuum by others. It is believed as a fluctuation of thought or false vision by some, and as a mere compound of atoms by many. (It is the dull matter of Sankhyas; mere vacuity of Vedantists; fluctuation of error—avidya spanda of the Sankaras; empty air of Madhyamikas; fortuitous union of atoms of Acharyas; different atomisms of Sautrantas, and Vaibhashikas; and so likewise of Kanada, Gotama and Arhatas; and so many more according to the theories of others). (Gloss).

18. I am partly of a material frame, on my body and mind, but spiritually I am an empty immaterial substance; and though felt by the touch of the hand, I am yet as intangible as a nocturnal fiend:—(an empty shadow only).

Rama said:—

19. It is said Sir, that at the end of a great Kalpa age, the visible world remains in its seed; after which it developes again in its present form, which I require to be fully explained to me.

20. Are they ignorant or knowing men, who think in these various ways? Please Sir, tell me the truth for removal of my doubts, and relate to me the process of the development.

Vasishtha replied:—

21. Those who say that the mundane world existed in the form of a seed at the final sleep (of Brahma), are altogether ignorant of the truth, and talk as children and boys (from what they think themselves, or hear from others).

22. Hear me tell you, how unaccordant it is to right reason and how far removed from truth. It is a false supposition, and leading both the preacher and hearer of such a doctrine to great error and egregious mistake.

23. Those who attempt to show the existence of the world, in the form of a germ in the mundane seed; maintain a very silly position, as I shall now explain unto you.

24. A seed is in itself a visible thing, and is more an object of sense than that of the mind; as the seeds of paddy and barley, are seen to sprout forth in their germs and leaves.

25. The mind which is beyond the six organs of sense, is a very minute particle; and it cannot possibly be born of itself, nor become the seed of the universe.

26. The Supreme Spirit also, being more rarefied than the subtile ether, and undefinable by words, cannot be of the form of a seed.

27. That which is as minute as a nil and a zero, is equivalent to nothing; and could never be the mundane seed, without which there could be no germ nor sprout.

28. That which is more rare and transparent than the vacuous and clear firmament; cannot possibly contain the world with all its mountains and seas; and the heavens with all their hosts, in its transcendent substratum.

29. There is nothing, that is in any way situated as a substance, in the substantiality of that Being;or if there is anything there, why is it not visible to us?

30. There is nothing that comes of itself, and nothing material that comes but of the immaterial spirit; for who can believe a hill to proceed from the hollowness of an earthen pot?

31. How can a thing remain with another, which is opposed to it in its nature? How can there be any shadow where there is light, and how does darkness reside in the disc of the sun, or even coldness in fire?

32. How can an atom contain a hill, or anything subsist in nothing? The union of a similar with its dissimilar, is as impossible as that of shadow with the light of the sun.

33. It is reasonable to suppose that the material seeds of the fig and paddy, should bring forth their shoots in time; but it is unreasonable to believe the big material world to be contained in an immaterial atom.

34. We see the same organs of sense and their sensations, in all men in every country; but there is not the same uniformity in the understandings of men in every place, nor can there be any reason assigned to this difference.

35. Those who assign a certain cause to some effect or event, betray their ignorance of the true cause; for what is it that produces the effect, except the very thing by some of its accessory powers. (Every production is but a transformation of itself, by some of its inherent powers and properties).

36. Throw off at a distance, the doctrine of cause and effect invented by the ignorant; and know that to be true, which is without beginning and end, and the same appearing as the world. (An increate everlasting prototype in the mind of God).