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 XLIV - The incarnation of human souls in the world

Argument. Discussion about incarnation of the spirit, and its extinction by death and liberation.

Rama asked:—I understand now how the particles of the Divine Spirit, take the forms of the living souls; but I cannot conceive how it assumes the corporeal body composed of bones and ribs.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. Why don't you know it Rama, when I have explained it to you before? Where have you lost your deductive reasoning of arriving to the conclusion from those premises.

3. All these corporeal bodies in the world, and all these moving and unmoving persons and things, are but false representations, rising before us as the visions in our dreams.

4. The phenomenal world differs only in its being but a longer and more delusive dream; it is as the sight of the double moon by optical deception, and of a mountain in the delusion of darkness.

5. The enlightened mind which is cleared of its drowsiness of ignorance, and is freed from the fetters of its desire, views the world to be no more than a dream.

6. The world is a creation of the imagination, by the nature of all living souls, and it remains therefore impressed in the soul, until it attains its final liberation.

7. The fleeting essence of the soul, is like the eddy of waters; or like the germ of the seed, or more like the leaflet of a sprout.

8. And as the flower is contained in the branch, and the fruit within its flowers; so this creation of the imagination, is contained in the receptacle of the mind.

9. As the ever-changing form of the chameleon, exhibits but a particular hue at a time; so the ever-varying mind shows only the figure, which is prominent in its thought for the time being (and this inward figure is reflected by the visual organs).

10. The same thought assumes a visible form, as the clay takes the form of a pot; and the good thoughts and actions of the prior state of life, serve to give the soul a goodly form in its next birth on earth.

11. We see the mighty lotus-born Brahma situated in the cell of that flower, and find it to be the effect of the good thoughts he had in his mind.

12. This unlimited creation is the false fabrication of imagination;whereupon the living soul in conjunction with the mind, obtained the state of Virinchi the Brahma (vir inchoatious or incipiens the primary man, otherwise called adima-purusha—Adam or the first male).

Rama said:—

13. I require, Sir, to be fully informed, whether all other beings sprang from the same cause as Brahma—the lotus-born.

14. Vasishtha answered:—Hear me tell you, O long-armed Rama, the manner of Brahma's having the body; and from his instance, you will learn about the existence of the world.

15. The Supreme soul, which is unlimited by time or space, takes of his own will, and by the power of his Omnipotence, the limited forms of time and space upon himself.

16. The same becomes the living soul, and is fraught with various desires in itself, of becoming many:—aham bahu syama.

17. When this limited power which is Brahma, thinks on the state of his having been the Hiranyagarbha, in his former state of existence in the prior Kalpa; he is immediately transformed to that state which is in his mind, and which is ever busy with its thoughts and imaginations.

18. It thinks first of the clear sky, the receptacle of sound, and which is perceptible by the auditory organs; and this thought being condensed in the mind, makes it vibrate as by the wind of the air.

19. It thinks then on the vibrations of air, which are the objects of feeling, through the porous skin and the mind; and is moved by the thoughts of air and wind to assume that form, which is invisible to the naked eye.

20. The condensation of the elements of air and wind together, produced the idea of light which is the cause of sight, and which has the colours and figures for its objects; and thus the mind being actuated by its triple thoughts of air, wind and light, produced the property of fire.

21. These joined immediately to produce the idea of coldness the property of water; and the mind then came to form the quadruple ideas of the four elements of air, wind, fire and water.

22. These united together produced the gross form of earth—the receptacle of scent; and then the mind being filled with these minute elementary particles in its thoughts of them, forsook its fine form of the spirit for its gross body of the quintuple elements (called the quintessence of material bodies (panchabhautika)).

23. It saw this body shining as a spark of fire in the sky, which joined with its egoism and understanding, formed its personality.

24. This is called the spiritual body (lingasarira),—the embodying octuple, which is situated as the bee in the pericarp of the lotus-like heart, and which gives growth to the outer body by its inner working (as the inner seed grows the outer tree).

25. It is thickened by the action of the heart of its internal process of calefaction, like the bel fruit or woodapple. And the outer body receives the qualities of the inner mind, as the jewel shines with the lustre of the little particle of gold, which is infused in the melted state of the metal in the crucible.

26. The quality of the inner soul or mind, manifests itself in the outer body, as the quality of the seed appears in the form and taste of its fruit. The mind then dwells upon the thoughts of its actions, which have their display in the several organs, and members of the bodily actions, which are produced by the motions of the inner thoughts and acts, as the leaves and branches of trees are projected by the inner process and operations of the seed.

27. Its thoughts of upside and below, lifts and lowers its head and feet upward and downward; and its thought of both sides, extends its two arms to the right and left.

28. Its thoughts of the backward and forward, places its back behind, and its breast and belly before it; and the hairs on the head and fingers of the hands, are as the filaments and twigs of trees.

29. In this manner did Brahma, who is called a muni or mental being, from his having sprung from the mind of Brahma, produced the several parts of his body, according to his thoughts of their usefulness to it.

30. He brought the body and its limbs to compactness, as the seasons bring their fruits and grains to perfection. Thus is every thing perfected in time, and all beings have their beautiful bodies and figures.

31. He, the lord Brahma was the progenitor of all beings, and fraught with the qualities of strength and understanding, activity, dignity and knowledge. (The Smriti attributes the Siddhi chatushtaya or quadruple perfections to him).

32. Being begotten by the vacuous Brahma, he resides in the lap of vacuity; and is of the form of melted gold, like every other luminous body in the heavens.

33. Though situated in the Supreme, yet the mind of Brahma is liable to the mistakes of its own making; and at times it quite forgets its having no beginning, middle nor end, like its source.

34. Sometimes the lord thinks himself, as identic with the waters which existed before creation in his mind; and at another as the mundane egg, which was as bright as the fire of universal destruction (see Manu I).

35. Sometimes the lord thought himself as the dark wood, which covered the earth before creation of living animals, and them as the lotus bed (wherein he was born). Afterwards he became of many forms at each phase and epoch of creation. (These epochs are called kalpas or periods, in which the divine mind manifested itself according to its wish within the different stages of creation).

36. Thus Brahma became the preserver of many kinds of beings, which he created of his own will from his mind at each stage or kalpa-period; of which he was the first that issued from Brahma himself. (He was the first begotten, and nothing was created but by him).

37. When Brahma was first begotten, he remained in his happy state of insensibility and forgetfulness (of his former existence); but being delivered from his torpor in the womb, he came to see the light. (I.e. he saw the light of heaven, after his delivery from the darkness of the womb).

38-39. He took a corporeal body, with its breathings and respirations (pranapana); it was covered with pores of hair, and furnished with gums of two and thirty teeth. It had the three pots of the thighs, backbone, and bones, standing on the feet below; with the five air, five partitions, nine cavities, and a smooth skin covering all the limbs. (The five airs are pranapana &c. The five partitions are, the head, the legs, the breast, belly and the hands).

40. It is accompanied by twice ten fingers and their nails on them; and with a couple of arms and palms and two or more hands and eyes (in the cases of gods and giants).

41. The body is the nest of the bird of the mind, and it is hole of the snake of lust; it is the cave of the goblin of greediness, and the den of the lion of life.

42. It is a chain at the feet of the elephant of pride, and a lake of the lotuses of our desire; The lord Brahma looked upon his handsome body, and saw it was good.

43. Then the lord thought in himself, from his view of the three times of the past, present and future, and from his sight of the vault of heaven, with a dark mist as a group of flying locusts.

44. "What is this boundless space, and what had it been before. How came I to being?" Thus pondering in himself, he was enlightened in his soul. (Thus did Adam inquire about his birth, and the production of the world in Milton's Paradise Lost).

45. He saw in his mind the different past creations, and recollected the various religions and their various sects, which had grown upon earth one after the other.

46. He produced the holy Vedas as the spring does its flowers; and formed with ease all varieties of creatures from their archetypes in his mind.

47. He set them in their various laws and customs, as he saw them in the city of his mind, for the purpose of their temporal and spiritual welfare.

48. He thought upon the innumerable varieties of sastras which had existed before, and all of which came to exist on earth in their visible forms, from their prototypes in his eternal mind; like the flowers springing from the womb of the vernal season.

49. Thus O Rama! did Brahma take upon him the form of the lotus-born, and create by his activity, all the different creatures upon their models existent in his mind, which took their various forms in the visible world at his will. (So the Sufi and Platonic doctrine of the phenomenal, as a copy of the noumena, or the suari zahiri as but a shadow of the suvari manavi or catini. See Allami).