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 XXXIX - The same quietness or quietude of the spirit

Argument. Explanation of Divine Omnipotence, and inability of Vasishtha to give full exposition of it.

Rama rejoined:—

(Prose) Tell me, O high-minded sage, how could the creation proceed from the Supreme Brahma, whom you represent to remain as a painting in the tableau of vacuity.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. O prince, such is the nature of Brahma, that all power incessantly flows from him, wherefore every power is said to reside in him. (It is unvedantic to say, that Brahma is omnipotent or the reservoir of power, and not omnipotence or identic with all power himself).

3. In him resides entity and non-entity, in him there is unity, duality and plurality, and the beginning and end of all things. (Because omnipotence has the power to be all things, which limited powers cannot do).

4. This is one and no other else (i.e. it is all that is, and there is none else beside it (Id est non alter)). It is as the sea, whose waters have endless varieties of shapes, and represent the images of myriads of stars in its bosom; rising spontaneously of themselves.

5. The density of the Intellect makes the mind, and the mind brings forth all the powers of thinking, willing or volition, and of acting or action. These it produces, accumulates, contains, shows and then absorbs in itself.

6. (Verse) Brahma is the source of all living beings, and of all things seen all around us. His power is the cause of exhibiting all things, in their incessant course or quiescence.

7. All things spring from the Supreme Spirit, and they reside in his all comprehensive mind. They are of the same nature with that of their source, as the water of the sweet and saltish lakes.

8. Rama interrupted here and said:—Sir, your discourse is very dark, and I cannot understand the meaning of the words of your speech.

9. There is that nature of Brahma, which you said to be beyond the perception of the mind and senses, and what are these perishable things, which you say to have proceeded from him. If your reasoning comes to this end, I cannot then rely upon it.

10. Because it is the law of production, that anything that is produced from something, is invariably of the same nature with that of its producer.

11. As light is produced from light, corns come from corn, and man is born of man, and all kinds come out of their own kind.

12. And so the productions of the immutable Spirit, must also be unchangeable and spiritual too in their nature.

13. Beside this the Intellectual Spirit of God, is pure and immaculate; while this creation is all impure and gross matter.

14. The great Sage said upon hearing these words:—Brahma is all purity and there is no impurity in him; the waves moving on the surface of the sea may be foul, but they do not soil the waters of the deep.

15. You cannot conceive Rama, of there being a second person or thing beside the One Brahma; as you can have no conception of fire beside its heat. (Its light being adscititious).

Rama rejoined:—

16. Sir, Brahma is devoid of sorrow, while the world is full of sorrows. I cannot therefore clearly understand your words; when you say this to be the offspring of that. (The maculate equal to the immaculate or the perishable to the imperishable is absurd).

17. Valmiki said to Bharadwaja:—The great Sage Vasishtha remained silent at these words of Rama; and stopped in his lecture with the thoughtfulness of his mind.

18. His mind lost its wonted clearness (in its confusion), and then recovering its perspicacity, he pondered within himself in the following manner.

19. The educated and intelligent mind, that has known the knowable One, has of itself got to the end of the subject of liberation, by its own reasoning and intuition as that of Rama.

20. It is no fault of the educated to be doubtful of something, until it is explained to them to their full satisfaction, as in the case of Raghava. (Relating the identity of the cause and its effect).

21. But the half-educated are not fit to receive spiritual instruction, because their view of the visibles, which dwells on obvious objects, proves the cause of their ruin (by obstructing their sight of the spiritual).

22. But he who has come to the sight of transcendental light, and got a clear insight of spiritual truths, feels no desire for sensual enjoyments; but advances in course of time to the conclusion, that Brahma is All in all things (to pan).

(The transcendental philosophy of modern German schools, has arrived at the same conclusion of Pantheism, Ho Theos to pan).

23. The disciple is to be prepared and purified at first, with the precepts and practice of quietism and self-control (Sama and dama);and is then to be initiated in the creed that "All this is Brahma, and that thyself art that pure Spirit."

24. But who so teaches the faith of "all is Brahma"to the half taught and the ignorant;verily entangles him in the strong snare of hell. (Because they take the visible for the invisible, which leads them to nature and idol worships which casts them to hell).

25. The well discerning Sage should tell them, that are enlightened in their understandings, whose desire of sensual gratifications has abated, and who are freed from their worldly desires, that they are purged of the dirt of their ignorance, and are prepared to receive religious and spiritual instruction.

26. The spiritual guide who instructs his pupil without weighing well his habits and conduct, is a silly pedagogue and sinks into hell and has to dwell there until the last day of judgment; (to answer for misleading his disciples).

27. The venerable Vasishtha, who was the chief of sages, and like the luminous sun on earth, having considered these things, spoke to Rama as follows. (The sages are said to be luminous both from the fairness of their Aryan complexions, as also on account of their enlightened understandings).

Vasishtha said:—

28. I will tell thee Rama at the conclusion, of this lecture, whether the attribution of the dross of gross bodies, is applicable to Brahma or not. (I.e. how a spiritual body may assume a material form &c.).

29. Know now that Brahma is almighty, all pervading, ubiquitous and is all himself, because of his omnipotence, which can do and become all and every thing of itself.

30. As you see the various practices of magicians and the trickeries of jugglers, in producing, presenting, and abstracting many things in the sight of men, that are all but unreal shows; so doth Brahma produce, present and retract all things from and into himself.

31. The world is filled with gardens as those in fairy lands, and the sky is replenished with the airy castles of Gandharvas and the abodes of gods; and men are seen to descend from the cloudless sky, to the surface of the earth, and rise upwards to heaven (in vimanas or balloons).

32. Fairy cities like the palaces of the Gandharvas of the etherial regions, are shown on earth, and filled with the fairies of the Fairy land. (I.e. the courts and palaces of princes, which vie with the abodes of gods).

33. Whatever there is or has been or is to be in this world in future, are like reflexions of the revolving sky and heavenly bodies, or a brazen ball affixed to the top of a tower, and darting its golden light below.

34. All these are but exhibitions of the various forms of manifestations of the selfsame God. ("These as they change,—these are but the varied God." Thomson. So Wordsworth and the Persian Mystics).

35. Whatever takes place at any time or place and in any form, is but the variety of the One Self-existent reality. Why therefore, O Rama! should you give vent to your sorrow or joy, or wonder at any change of time or place or nature and form of things, which are full of the spirit of God, and exhibit the endless aspects of the Infinitive Mood.

36. Let the intelligent preserve the sameness (samata) of their minds and dispositions amidst all changes; knowing them as the varying conditions of the same unvarying Mind.

37. He who sees his God in all, and is fraught with equanimity, has no cause of his wonder of surprise, his grief or delight or any fluctuation of his mind, in any change in nature or vicissitude of his fortune (because the one Omnipresence is present in all events, and its Omnipotence directs all potentialities).

38. The unaltered mind continues to view the varieties of the power of his Maker, in all the variations of time and place, and of all external circumstances.

39. The Lord proposes these plans in the formation of his creation, and exhibits as the sea does its waves in endless varieties and successions from the plenitude of his mind.

40. So the Lord manifests the powers situated in himself, as the sea does its waves in itself. Or as the milk forms the butter, the earth produces the pot (ghata), and the thread is woven into the cloth (pata). So the bata or fig tree brings forth its fruit, and all other varied forms are contained in their sources. But these formal changes are phenomenal not real. They are mere appearances of the spectrum, as those of apparitions and spectres.[1]

41. There is no other agent or object, nor an actor and its act, or any thing which is acted upon, nor is there any thing that becomes nothing except it by but a variety of the one unity. (In nihilo riverti posse).

42. The mind that witnesses the spiritual truths, and remains with its unimpaired equanimity, and is undepressed by external accidents, comes to see the light of truth in itself. (Truth like the sun shineth in the inmost soul).

43. (Verse). There being the lamp, there is its light also; and the sun shining brings the day with him. Where there is the flower, there is its odour likewise; so where there is the living soul, there is the light or knowledge of the world in it.

44. The world appearing all around, is as the light of the soul; it appears as the motion of the wind, whereof we have no notion of its reality or unreality. (So says Herbert Spencer concerning our notion of motion. We see the wheel in motion and changing its place, but have no idea of its motion).

45. The immaculate Soul, is the prime mobile power of the appearance and disappearance of the myriads of gross bodies which like the revolving stars of the sky, and the season flowers of the spring, appear and reappear to us by turns, like the ups and downs of wheels in motion. (We see their revolutions, but neither see their motion nor the soul the giver of motion).

46. All things die away when our souls are without us, but how can any thing be null when we are in possession of our souls? (Everything exists with ourselves, but we lose all, with loss of our souls).

47. All things appear before us in the presence of our souls, and they vanish from before us in their absence from the body. (Every thing is existent with us with the existence of our souls, and nothing is perceived by us without them, as when we are dead).

48. Everything is born with us with our souls, and is lost with loss of them. (The living have all, but the dead are lost to view. And the human soul, when in conjunction with the Divine, has a clear view of everything).

51. The minds of men are endowed with their knowledge at their very birth. Then growing big by degrees in course of time, they expand themselves in the form of this spacious forest of the world.

52. The wood of the world is the fastening post of the soul, where our blooming desires are fraught with fruits of poignant griefs. It branches out with gratifications, blossoms with hoary age, and is breaking its goodly post, and wandering at large of its free will.

Footnotes and references:


But these formal changes are phenomenal and not real. They are mere appearances. Gloss.