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 XI - Cause of the production of the world

Argument. Yama's narration of Sukra's meditation, and his inclination to worldliness.

Yama continued:—

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Your son is still engaged in his rigorous austerities on the bank of the rivulet, rolling with its loud waves on the beach, and the winds blowing and howling from all sides.

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He has been sitting still in his firm devotion, with matted braids of hair on his head; and beads of rudraksha seeds in his hand; and controlling the members of his body from their going astray.

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If you wish, O venerable sage! to know the reveries in his mind, you shall have to open your intellectual eye, in order to pry into the thoughts of others.

Vasishtha said:—

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Saying so, Yama the lord of world, who sees all at one view, made the Muni to dive into the thoughts of his son with his intellectual eye.

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The sage immediately saw by his percipience, all the excogitations of his son's mind; as if they were reflected in the mirror of his own mind.

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Having seen the mind of his son in his own mind, the muni returned from the bank of Samanga to his own body on mount Mandara, where it was left in its sitting posture, in the presence of Yama (during the wandering of his mind).

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Surprised at what he saw, the sage looked upon Yama with a smile; and dispassionate as he was, he spoke to the god in the following soft and dispassionate words.

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O god, that art the lord of the past and future! we are but ignorant striplings before thee; whose brilliant insight views at once, the three times presented before it.

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The knowledge of the existence of the world, whether it is a real entity or not, is the source of all errors of the wisest of men, by its varying forms and fluctuations.

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It is thou, O potent god! that knowest what is inside this world; while to us it presents its outward figure, in the shape of a magic scene only.

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I knew very well, that my son is not subject to death; and therefore I was struck with wonder, to behold him lying as a dead body.

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Thinking the imperishable soul of my son, to be snatched by death; I was led to the vile desire, of cursing thee on his untimely demise.

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For though we know the course of things in the world; yet we are subjected to the impulses of joy and grief, owing to the casualties of prosperity and adversity.

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Moreover, to be angry with wrong doers, and to be pleased with those that act rightly, have become the general rule in the course of the world.

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So long do we labour under the sense of what is our duty, and what we must refrain from, as we are subject to the error of the reality of the world; but deliverance from this error, removes all such responsibilities from us.

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When we fret at death, without understanding its intention (that it is intended only for our good); we are of course blamable for it.

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I am now made to be acquainted by thee, regarding the thoughts of my son; and am enabled also to see the whole scene on the bank of Samanga (by thy favour).

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Of the two bodies of men, the mind alone is ubiquitous, and leader of the outer body of animated beings. The mind therefore is the true body, which reflects and makes us conscious of the existence of ourselves, as also of the exterior world.

Yama replied:—

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You have rightly said, O Brahman! that the mind is the true body of man. It is the mind that moulds the body according to its will, as the potter makes the pot ad libitum (ex suo moto).

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It frames a form and gives a feature to the person, that it had not before; and destroys one in existence in a moment. It is the imagination that gives an image to airy nothing, as children see ghosts before them in the dark. (The mind changes the features of the face and body, and views things according to its own fancy).

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Its power to create apparent realities out of absolute unreality, is well known to every body, in his dream and delirium, in his misconceptions and fallacies and all kinds of error; as the sight of magic cities and talismans.

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It is from reliance in visual sight, that men consider it as the principal body, and conceive the mind as a secondary or supplementary part.

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It was the (Divine) mind, that formed the world from its thought;wherefore the phenomenal is neither a substance by itself (as it subsists in the mind); nor is it nothing (being in existence in us). Gloss. It is therefore undefinable—anirvachaniya.

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The mind is part of the body, and spreads itself in its thoughts and desires into many forms; as the branch of a tree shoots forth in its blossoms and leaves. And as we see two moons by optical deception, so does one mind appear as many in many individuals (and as different in different persons).

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It is from the variety of its desires, that the mind perceives and produces varieties of things, as pots and pictures and the like—ghatapatadi. (Hence the mind is the maker of all things).

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The same mind thinks itself as many by the diversity of its thoughts; such as:—"I am weak, I am poor, I am ignorant and the like;" (all which serve to liken the mind to the object constantly thought upon).

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The thought, that I am none of the fancied forms which I feign to myself, but of that form from whence I am, causes the mind to be one with the everlasting Brahma, by divesting it of the thoughts of all other things.

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All things springing from Brahma, sink at last in him; as the huge waves of the wide and billowy ocean, rise but to subside in its calm and undisturbed waters below.

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They sink in the Supreme Spirit, resembling one vast body of pure and transparent, cold and sweet water; and like a vast mine of brilliant gems of unfailing effulgence.

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One thinking himself as a little billow, diminishes his soul to littleness. (He who bemeans himself, becomes mean).

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But one believing himself as a large wave, enlarges his spirit to greatness. (Nobleness of mind, ennobles a man).

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He who thinks himself as a little being, and fallen from above to suffer in the nether world; is born upon earth in the form he took for his pattern.

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But he who thinks himself to be born to greatness, and rises betimes by his energy; becomes as big as a hill, and shines with the lustre of rich gems growing upon it.

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He rests in peace, who thinks himself to be situated in the cooling orb of the moon; otherwise the body is consumed with cares;as a tree on the bank is burnt down by a conflagration.

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Others like forest trees are fixed and silent, and shudder for fear of being burnt down by the wild fire of the world; though they are situated at ease, as beside the running streams of limpid water, and as high as on mountain tops of inaccessible height.

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Those who think themselves to be surrounded by worldly affairs; are as wide-stretching trees, awaiting their fall by impending blasts of wind.

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Those who wail aloud for being broken to pieces under the pressure of their misery; are like the noisy waves of the sea, breaking against the shore and shedding their tears in the form of the watery spray.

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But the waves are not of one kind, nor are they altogether entities or nullities in nature; they are neither small or large nor high or low, nor do these qualities abide in them.

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The waves do not abide in the sea, nor are they without the sea or the sea without them: they are of the nature of desires in the soul, rising and setting at their own accord.

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The dead are undying (because they die to be born again), and the living are not living (because they live but to die at last). Thus is the law of their mutual succession which nothing can forefend or alter.

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As water is universally the same and transparent in its nature, so is the all pervading spirit of God, pure and holy in every place.

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It is this one and self-same spirit which is the body of God, that is called the transparent Brahma. It is omnipotent and everlasting, and constitutes the whole world appearing as distinct from it.

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The many wonderful powers that it contains, are all active in their various ways. The several powers productive of several ends, are all contained in that same body. All the natural and material forces, have the Divine spirit for their focus.

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Brahma was produced in Brahma as the billow is produced in the water, and the male and female are produced from the neuter Brahma, changed to and forming both of them.

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That which is called the world, is only an attribute of Brahma; and there is not the slightest difference between Brahma and the world. (The one being a fac-simile of the original Mind).

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Verily this plenitude is Brahma, and the world is no other than Brahma himself. Think intently upon this truth and shun all other false beliefs (of the creator and created, and the like).

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There is one eternal law, that presides over all things, and this one law branches forth into many, bringing forth a hundred varieties of effects. The world is a congeries of laws, which are but manifestations of the Almighty power and omniscience. (Therefore says the psalmist:"Blessed is he, who meditates on his laws day and night—O bhi Turat Jehovah hefzo yomam olaila).

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Both the inert and active (matter and life), proceed from the same;and the mind proceeds from the intellect—chit of God. The various desires are evolved by the power of the mind, from their exact prototypes in the Supreme soul.

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It is Brahma therefore, O sinless Rama! that manifests itself in the visible world; and is full with various forms, as the sea with all its billows and surges.

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It assumes to itself all varieties of forms by its volition of evolution or the will of becoming many; and it is the spirit that displays itself in itself and by itself (of its own causality); as the sea water displays its waves in its own water and by itself.

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As the various waves are no other than the sea water, so all these phenomena are not different from the essence of the lord of the world.

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As the same seed developes itself in the various forms of its branches and buds, its twigs and leaves, and its fruits and flowers; so the same almighty seed evolves itself in the multifarious varieties of creation.

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As the strong sun light, displays itself in variegated colours in different bodies; so does Omnipotence, display itself in various vivid colours, all of which are unreal shades. (Urdu: O leken chamakta hai har rang men.—It is His light, that shines in all colours).

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As the colourless cloud receives in its bosom, the variety of transient hues displayed in the rainbow; so the inscrutable spirit of the Almighty, reflects and refracts the various colours displayed in creation. (Shines in the stars, glows in the sun &c. Pope).

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From the active agent, proceed the inert matter and inactivity without a secondary cause; as the active spider produces the passive thread, and the living man brings upon him, his dull torpor in sleep. (So the active spirit of God, brings forth inertia and inactive matter, out of itself into being. The laws of statics as well as dynamics both subsist in the energy of the spirit).

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Again the Lord makes the mind to produce matter for its own bondage only; as he makes the silkworm weave its own sheathing for its confinements alone. (So the mind maketh its material equipage, for its own imprisonment in the world).

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The mind forgets its spiritual nature of its own will; and makes for itself a strong prison house (of its earthly possessions), as the silkworm weaves its own coating.

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But when the mind inclines to think of its spiritual nature by its own free will; it gets its release from the prison-house of the body and bondage in the world; as a bird or beast is released from its cage, and the big elephant let loose from his fetters and the tying post.

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The mind gradually moulds itself into the form, which it constantly thinks upon in itself; and it derives from within itself, the power to be what it wishes to become. (Constant thought brings about its end. Yadrisi bhavana yasya &c.).

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The long sought power when acquired, becomes as familiar to the soul, as the dark clouds are attendant upon the sky in the rainy-season.

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The newly obtained power is assimilated with its recipient, as the virtue of every season is manifested in its effect upon the trees (i.e. in the season fruits and flowers).

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There is no bondage nor liberation of human soul, nor of the Divine Spirit. We cannot account for the use of these words among mankind. (These terms apply to the mind which is bound and freed, and not to the soul which is ever free).

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There is no liberation nor bondage of the soul, which is the same with the Divine. It is this delusive world which shows the immortal soul under the veil of mortality, or as eclipsed by and under the shadow of temporary affairs.

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It is the unsteady mind, which has enwrapped the steady soul, under the sheath of error; as the coverlet of the silkworm, covers the dormant worm.

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All other bondages which bind the embodied soul to earth, are the works of the mind, which is the root of all worldly ties and affections.

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All human affections and attachments to the visible world, are born in and remain in the mind; although they are as distinct from it, as the waves of the sea or as the beams of the moon; are produced from and contained in their receptacles.

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It is the Supreme spirit, which is stretched out as one universal ocean, agitated into myriads of its waves and billows. The Intellect itself is spread out as the water of the universal ocean, containing everything that is aqueous and terrene in its infinite bosom.

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All those that appear as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudras, as also they that have become as gods, and those that are called men and male creatures:—68—(1). Are all as the waves of the sea, raised spontaneously by the underlying spirit;and so are Yama, Indra, the sun, fire, Cuvera and the other deities. 68—(2). So too are the Gandharvas and Kinnaras, the Vidyadharas and the other gods and demigods, that rise and fall or remain for a while like the breakers of the sea. 68—(3). They rise and fall as waves on every side, though some continue for a longer duration, as the lotus-born Brahma and others.68—(4). Some are born to die in a moment, as the petty gods and men; and others are dead no sooner they are born as the ephemerids and some worms.

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Worms and insects, gnats and flies and serpents and huge snakes, rise in the great ocean of the Divine Spirit, like drops of water scattered about by waves of the sea.

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There are other moving animals as men and deer, vultures and jackals, which are produced on land and mountains, in woods and forests and in marshy grounds.

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Some are long lived and others living for a short duration; some living with higher aims and ambitions, and others with no other care than that of their contemptible bodies, or self-preservation only.

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Some think of their stability in this world of dreams, and others are betrayed by their false hope of the stability of worldly affairs, which are quite unstable. (So in Persian Darega jehan ra baquina didam).

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Some that are subjected to penury and poverty, have little to effect in their lives; and always torment themselves with the thoughts, that they are poor and miserable, weak and ignorant.

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Some are born as trees, and others have become as gods and demigods; and while some are furnished with moving bodies, others are dissolved as water in the sea.

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Some are no less durable than many kalpas (as the land and sea and mountains &c.); and others return to the Supreme Spirit, by the moonlike purity of their souls. All things have risen from the oceanlike Spirit of Brahma, like its moving undulations. It is the intellectual consciousness of every body that is termed his mind.

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