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 XXXI - Investigation of reality and unreality

Argument. Egoism the cause of Poverty and Calamity, illustrated in the instance of Dama and others.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. It was for your enlightenment, O high minded Rama! that I have related to you the instance of Dama and Vyala, that you may derive instruction thereby, and not let it go for nothing as a mere idle story.

2. Following after untruth by slighting the truth, is attended with the danger of incurring endless miseries, which the careless pursuer after it, is little aware of.

3. Mind! how great was the leadership of Sambara's army, (once held by Dama and his colleagues), and whereby they defeated the hosts of the immortal deities, and reflect on the change of their state to contemptible fishes in a dry and dirty quagmire.

4. Mind their former fortitude, which put to flight the legions of the immortals; and think on their base servility as hunters, under the chief of Kiratas afterwards.

5. See their unselfishness of mind and great patience at first, and then see their vain desires and assumption of the vanity of egotism at last.

6. Selfish egotism is the root of the wide extended branches of misery in the forest of the world, which produces and bears the poisonous blossoms of desire.

7. Therefore, O Rama! be diligent to wipe off from thy heart the sense of thy egoism, and try to be happy by thinking always of the nullity of thyself.

8. The error of egoism like a dark cloud, hidest the bright disk of the moon of truth under its gloom, and causes its cooling beams to disappear from sight.

9. The three Daityas Dama, Vyala and Kata, being under the demoniac influence of Egoism, believed their nonentity as positive entity by the excess of their illusion.

10. They are now living as fishes in the muddy pool of a lake, among the forest lands of Kashmir, where they are content at present with feeding with zest upon the moss and weeds growing in it. (The watery land of Kashmir is well-known to abound in fishes feeding on aquatic herbs and moss).

Rama said:—

11. Tell me sir, how they came to existence when they were nonexistent before; for neither can a nil be an ens, nor an entity become a nonentity at any time.

Vasishtha replied:—

12. So it is, O strong armed Rama! that nothing can ever be something, or anything can ever be nothing. But it is possible for a little thing to be great, as for a great one to be reduced to minuteness. (As it is the case in the evolution and involutions of beings).

13. Say what nonentity has come to being, or what entity has been lasting for ever. All these I will explain to you by their best proofs and examples.

Rama answered said:—

14. Why sir, all that is existent is ever present before us as our own bodies, and all things beside ourselves; but you are speaking of Dama and the demons, as mere nullities and yet to be in existence.

15. Yes Rama, it was in the same way, that the non-existent and unreal Dama and others seemed to be in existence by mere illusion, as the mirage appears to us to be full of water by our optical delusion (or deception of vision).

16. It is in like manner that ourselves, these gods and demigods, and all things besides, are unrealities in fact, and yet we seem to turn about and speak and act as real persons.

17. My existence is as unreal as thine, and yet it appears as real as we dream our death in sleep. (So we dream of our existence while we are awake).

18. As the sight of a dead friend in a dream is not a reality, so the notion of the reality of the world, ceases upon the conviction of its unreality, as that of the demise of the person seen in a dream.

19. But such assertions of our nihility are not acceptable to them, who are deluded to the belief of the reality of sensible objects. It is the habit of thinking its reality, that will not listen to its contradiction.

20. This mistaken impression of the reality of the world, is never to be effaced without the knowledge of its unreality, derived from the sastras, and the assuetude of thinking it so.

21. He who preaches the unreality of the world and the reality of Brahma, is derided by the ignorant as a mad man; (for his negation of the seeming reality, and assertion of the unseen God).

22. The learned and the ignorant cannot agree on this subject, as the drunken and sober men can not meet together. It is one who has the distinct knowledge of light and darkness, that knows the difference between the shade and sunlight.

23. It is as impossible to turn the ignorant to truth, from their belief in the reality of unrealities, as to make a dead body to stand on it legs by any effort.

24. It is in vain to preach the doctrine of "to pan," that "Brahma is all" to the vulgar, who for want of their knowledge of abstract meditation, are devoted to their sensible notions.

25. There prohibition is an admonition, giving to the ignorant, (who are incapable of persuasions); as for the learned who know themselves to be Brahma, it is useless to lecture them on this subject (which they are already acquainted with).

26. The intelligent man, who believes that the supremely quiescent spirit of Brahma, pervades the whole universe, is not to be led away by any from his firm belief.

27. So nothing can shake the faith of that man, who knows himself as no other, beside the Supreme Being who is all in all; and thinks himself to be dependent on the substantiality of God, as the formal ring depends on its substance of gold.

28. The ignorant have no notion of the spirit, beside that of matter, which they believe as the cause and effect (Karya Karana) of its own production; but the learned man sees the substantive spirit, in all forms of creation, as he views the substance of gold in all the ornaments made of that metal.

29. The ignorant man is composed of his egoism only, and the sage is fraught with his spirituality alone; and neither of them is ever thwarted from his own belief.

30. What is one's nature or habit (of thinking), can hardly be altered at any time; for it would be foolish in one, who has been habituated to think himself as a man, to take himself for a pot or otherwise.

31. Hence though ourselves and others, and that Dama and the demons are nothing in reality; yet who can believe that we or these or those and not what ourselves to be.

32. There is but One Being that is really existent, who is truth and consciousness himself, and of the nature of the vacuum and pure understanding. He is immaculate, all pervading, quiescent and without his rise or fall.

33. Being perfect quietude and void, he seems as nothing existent; and all these creations subsist in that vacuity as particles of its own splendour.

34. As the stars are seen to shine resplendent in the darkness of night, and the worms and waves are seen to float on the surface of the waters, so do all these phenomena appear to occur in his reality.

35. Whatever that being purposes himself to be, he conceives himself to be immediately the same: it is that vacuous Intellect only which is the true reality, and all others are also real, as viewed in it and rising and setting in it out of its own will (volition or bidding).

36. Therefore there is nothing real or unreal in the three worlds, but all of or the same form as it is viewed by the Intellect, and rising before it of its own spontaneity. (The three worlds are composed of this earth and the worlds above and beneath it, called as swarga, martya and patala).

37. We have also sprung from that Will Divine as Dama and others; hence there is neither any reality or unreality in any of us, except at the time (when we exist or cease to do so).

38. This infinite and formless void of the Intellect, is ubiquitous and all pervading; and in whatever form this intellect manifests itself in any place, it appears there just in the same figure and manner.

39. As the divine consciousness expanded itself with the images of Dama and others, it immediately assumed those shapes by its notions of the same. (But here it was the consciousness of Sambara or Satan, which manifested itself in those shapes, and implies every thing to be but a manifestation of our notion of it).

40. So it is with every one of us, that all things are produced to our view, according to their notions which are presented to our consciousness. (This is the tenet of conceptualism or idealism, which bears resemblance to the doctrine of Realism. See Cousin's treatise "De Intellectibus").

41. What we call the world, is the representation of things to us as in our dream; it is a hollow body as a bubble rising in the empty ocean of the Intellect, and appearing as the water in the mirage.

42. The waking state of the vacuous intellect, is styled the phenomenal world, and its state of sleep and rest, is what we call liberation, emancipation or salvation from pain (atyantika dukkha nivritti moksha).

43. But the Intellect which never sleeps, nor has to be awakened at any time (but is ever wakeful), is the vacuity of the Divine Mind, in which the world is ever present in its visible form (and to which nothing is invisible).

44. There the work of creation is united with the rest of nirvana, and the cessation from the act of creation, is joined with uninterrupted quiescence; and no difference of alternate work and rest whatever subsists in God any time. (There is no such thing as "God rested from his works").

45. The Divine Intellect views its own form in the world, and the world in itself in its true sense; as the blinded eye sees the internal light in its orbit. (?)

46. The Divine Intellect like the blinded eye, sees nothing from without, but views every form within itself; because there is no visible nor phenomenal world, beside what is situated within the vacuous sphere of the intellect.

47. There are all these things every where, as we have ideas of them in our minds; but there is never any thing any where, of which we have no previous idea in the mind. It is the one quiet spirit of God, which lies extended in all these forms coming to our knowledge. Therefore knowing him as all in all, give up all your fears and sorrows and duality, rest in peace in his unity.

48. The great intellect of God, is as solid and clear as a block of crystal, which is both dense and transparent in the inside. They appear to be all hollow within, but replete with the images of all things from without.