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 X - Bhrigu’s conference with kala or death

Argument. Bhrigu's grief at seeing the death-like body of his son.

Vasishtha continued:—

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After the lapse of a thousand years, the great Bhrigu rose from his holy trance (anaesthesia); and was disengaged in his mind from its meditation of God, as in a state of suspension or syncope of his holy meditations.

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He did not find his son lowly bending down his head before him, the son who was the leader of the army of virtues, and who was the personified figure of all merits.

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He only beheld his body, lying as a skeleton before him, as it was wretchedness or poverty personified in that shape.

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The skin of his body was dried by the sun, and his nostrils snoring as a hooping bird; and the inner entrails of his belly, were sounding as dry leather-pipes with the croaking of frogs.

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The sockets of his eyes, were filled with new-born worms grown in them; and the bones of his ribs had become as bars of a cage, with the thin skin over them resembling the spider's web.

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The dry and white skeleton of the body, resembled the desire of fruition, which bends it to the earth, to undergo all the favourable and unfavourable accidents of life.

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The crown of the head had become as white and smooth (by its baldness or grey hairs), as the phallus of Siva anointed with camphor, at the Indu-varcha ceremony in honor of the moon.

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The withered head erected on the bony neckbone, likened the soul supported by the body:—(either to lead or be led by it).

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The nose was shriveled to a dry stalk, for want of its flesh; and the nose-bone stood as a post, dividing the two halves of the face.

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The face standing erect on the protruded shoulders on both sides, was looking forward in the womb of the vacuous sky, whither the vital breath had fled from the body.

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The two legs, thighs, knees and the two arms (forming the eight angas or members of the body), had been doubled in their length (for their long etherial course); and lay slackened with fatigue of the long journey.

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The leanness of the belly like a lath, showed by its shriveled flesh and skin, the empty inside of the ignorant (i.e. they may be puffed up with pride on the outside, but are all hollow in the inside).

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Bhrigu seeing the withered skeleton of his son, lying as the worn-out post (to which the elephant was tied by its feet), made his reflections as said before, and rose from his seat.

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He then began to dubitate in his mind, at the sight of the dead body, as to whether it could be the lifeless carcass of his son or any other.

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Thinking it no other than the dead body of his son, he became sore angry upon the god of death (that had untimely taken him away).

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He was prepared to pronounce his imprecation against the god of fate, in vengeance of his snatching his son so prematurely from him.

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At this Yama—the regent of death, and devourer of living beings, assumed his figurative form of a material body, and appeared in an instant before the enraged father.

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He appeared in armour with six arms and as many faces, accompanied by the army of his adherents, and holding the noose and sword and other weapons in his hands. (The commentary ascribes a dozen of arms to Yama, by the number of the twelve months of the year, and having half of the number on either side, according to the six signs of the zodiac in either hemisphere. The six faces are representative of the six seasons of Hindu astronomy instead of four of other nations).

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The rays of light radiating from his body, gave it the appearance of a hill, filled with heaps of the crimson kinsuka flowers, growing in mountain forests.

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The rays of the living fire flashing from his trident, gave it the glare of golden ringlets, fastened to the ears of all the sides of the sky.

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The breath of his host, hurled down the ridges of mountains, which hung about them, like swinging cradles on earth.

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His sable sword flashing with sombre light, darkened the disk of the sun; as it were by the smoke of the final conflagration of the earth.

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Having appeared before the great sage, who was enraged as the raging sea, he soothed him to calmness as after a storm, by the gentle breath of his speech.

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"The sages"said he, "are acquainted with the laws of nature, and know the past and future as present before them. They are never moved even with a motive to anything, and are far from being moved without a cause."

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"You sages are observers of the multifarious rules of religions austerities, and we are observant of the endless and immutable laws of destiny; we honour you therefore for your holiness, and not from any other desire (of being blessed by you or exempted from your curse)."

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Do not belie your righteousness by your rage, nor think to do us any harm, who are spared unhurt by the flames of final dissolution, and cannot be consumed by your curses.

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We have destroyed the spheres of the universe and devoured legions of Rudras, millions of Brahmas and myriads of Vishnus (in the repeated revolutions of creation); what is it therefore that we cannot do?

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We are appointed as devourers of all beings; and you are destined to be devoured by us. This is ordained by destiny herself, and not by any act of our own will.

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It is the nature of flame to ascend upwards, and that of fluids to flow downward; it is destined for the food to be fed upon by its eaters, and that creation must come under its destruction by us.

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Know this form of mine to be that of the Supreme Being, whose universal spirit acts in various forms, all over the universe.

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To the unstained (clear) sight, there is no other agent or object here, except the supreme; but the stained sight (of the clear eyed), views many agents and objects (beside the one in all).

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Agency and objectivity are terms, coined only by the short sighted;but they disappear before the enlarged view of the wise.

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As flowers grow upon trees, so are animals born on earth; their growth and birth, as also their fall and death, are of their own spontaneity, and miscalled as their causality.

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As the motion of the moon is caused by no casual cause, though they falsely attribute a causality to it; such is the course of death in the world of its own spontaneous nature.

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The mind is falsely said to be the agent of all its enjoyments in life; though it is no agent of itself. It is a misbelief like the false conception of a serpent in the rope, where there is no serpent at all.

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Therefore, O sage! allow not yourself to be so angry for your sorrow; but consider in its true light, the course of events that befall on humankind.

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We were not actuated by desire of fame, nor influenced by pride or passion to any act; but are ourselves subject to the destiny, which predominates over all our actions.

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Knowing that the course of our conduct, is subject to the destiny appointed by the Divine will, the wise never allow themselves to be subjected under the darkness of pride or passion, at our doings.

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That our duties only should be done at all times, is the rule laid down by the wise creator; and you cannot attempt to remove it by your subjection to ignorance and idleness.

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Where is that enlightened sight, that gravity and that patience of yours, that you grovel in this manner in the dark like the blind, and slide from the broad and beaten path laid open for every body? (This path is submission to what is destined by the Divine will, according to the common prayer: "Let not mine, but thy will be done").

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Why don't you consider your case as the sequence of your own acts, and why then do you, who are a wise man, falsely accuse me like the ignorant (as the cause of what is ordained by the Supreme cause of all!)

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You know that all living beings have two bodies here, of which one is known as the intellectual or spiritual body or mind.

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The other is the inert or corporeal frame, which is fragile and perishable. But the minute thing of the mind which lasts until its liberation, is what leads all to their good or evil desires.

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As the skilful charioteer guides his chariot with care, so is this body conducted by the intelligent mind, with equal attention and fondness.

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But the ignorant mind which is prone to evil, destroys the goodly body; as little children break their dolls of clay in sport.

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The mind is hence called the purusha or regent of the body, and the working of the mind is taken for the act of the man. It is bound to the earth by its desires, and freed by its freedom from earthly attractions and expectations.

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That is called the mind which thinks in itself, "this is my body which is so situated here, and these are the members of my body and this my head."

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The mind is called life, for its having the living principle in it;and the same is one and identic with the understanding. It becomes egoism by its consciousness, and so the same mind passes under various designations, according to its different functions.

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It has the name of the heart from the affections of the body, and so it takes many other names at will (according to its divers operations). But the earthly bodies are all perishable.

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When the mind receives the light of truth, it is called the enlightened intellect, which being freed from its thoughts relating to the body, is set to its supreme felicity.

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Thus the mind of your son, wandered from your presence, as you sat absorbed in meditation, to regions far and wide in the ways of its various desires. (i.e. His body was before thee, but his mind was led afar by its inward desires).

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He having left this body of his behind him, in the mountain cave of Mandara, fled to the celestial region, as a bird flies from his nest to the open air.

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This mind got into the city of the tutelar gods, and remained in a part of the garden of Eden (Nandana), in the happy groves of Mandara, and under the bower of parijata flowers.

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There he thought he passed a revolution of eight cycles of the four yugas, in company with Viswachi a beauteous Apsara damsel, unto whom he clung as the hexaped bee clings to the blooming lotus.

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But as his strong desire led him to the happy regions of his imagination, so he had his fall from them at the end of his desert, like the nightly dew falling from heaven.

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He faded away in his body and all his limbs, like a flower attached to the ear or head ornament; and fell down together with his beloved one, like the ripened fruits of trees.

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Being bereft of his aerial and celestial body, he passed through the atmospheric air, and was born again on earth in a human figure.

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He had become a Brahman in the land of Dasarna, and then a king of the city of Kosala. He became a hunter in a great forest, and then a swan on the bank of Ganges.

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He became a king of the solar race, and then a raja of the Pundras, and afterwards a missionary among the Sauras and Salwas. He next became a Vidyadhara, and lastly the son of a sage or muni.

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He had become a ruler in Madras, and then the son of a devotee, bearing the name of Vasudeva, and living on the bank of Samanga.

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Your son has also passed many other births, which he was led to by his desire; and he had likewise to undergo some itara-janma heterogeneous births in lower animals.

He had repeatedly been a kirata said:—

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huntsman in the Vindhya hills and at Kaikatav. He was a chieftain in Sauvira, and had become an ass at Trigarta.

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He grew as a bamboo tree in the land of Keralas, and as a deer in the skirts of China. He became a serpent on a palm tree, and a cock on the tamala tree.

This son of yours had been skilled in incantations said:—

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mantras, and propagated them in the land of Vidyadharas. (So called from their skill in enchantments).

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Then he became a Vidyadhara (Jadugar) or magician himself; and plied his jugglery of abstracting ornaments from the persons of females.

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He became a favourite of females, as the sun is dear to lotus-flowers; and being as handsome as Kama (Cupid) in his person, he become a favourite amongst Vidyadhara damsels in the land of Gandharvas.

67. [Sanskrit available]
At the end of the kalpa age (of universal destruction), he beheld the twelve suns of the zodiac shining at once before him, and he was reduced to ashes by their warmth, as a grasshopper is burnt up by its falling on fire.

68. [Sanskrit available]
Finding no other world nor body where he could enter (upon the extinction of the universe), his spirit roved about in the empty air, as a bird soars on high without its nest.

69. [Sanskrit available]
After the lapse of a long time, as Brahma awoke again from his long night of repose, and commenced anew his creation of the world in all its various forms:—

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The roving spirit of your son was led by its desire, as if it was propelled by a gust of wind, to become a Brahman again, and to be reborn as such on this earth.

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He was born as the boy of a Brahman, under the name of Vasudeva, and was taught in all the Srutis, among the intelligent and learned men of the place.

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It is in this kalpa age that he has become a Vidyadhara again, and betaken himself to the performance of his devotion on the bank of Samanga, where he is sitting still in his yoga meditation.

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Thus his desire for the varieties of worldly appearances, has led him to various births, amidst the woods and forests in the womb of this earth, covered with jungles of the thorny khadira, karanja and other bushes and brambles.

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