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 II - Rama’s recapitulation of vasishtha’s lectures

Argument. Performance of Daily Rites, and Rama's Reflection of Vasishtha's Teaching at night.

Valmiki continued his relation to bharadwaja and said:—

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After the moon-bright princes had got to their residence, they discharged their daily services according to the diurnal ritual.

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Even Vasishtha and the other saints, sages, and Brahmans not excepting the king and the princes, were all engaged in their holy services at their own houses.

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They bathed in the sacred streams and fountains, filled with floating bushes of lotuses and other aquatic plants, and frequented by the ruddy geese, cranes and storks on their border.

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After they had performed their ablutions, they made donations of lands and kine, of seats and beddings and of sesamum grains, with gold and gems, and food and raiments to the holy Brahmans.

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They then worshipped the gods Vishnu and Siva in their temples, and made oblations to the sun and regents of the skies in their own houses, with offerings of gold and gems; which are sacred to particular deities and the planets. (Particular gems and metals are sacred to their presiding divinities).

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After their offerings were over, they joined with their sons and grandsons, friends, and relatives, and their guests also, in partaking of their lawful food. (Unlawful food is hateful to the faithful).

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Shortly after this, the daylight faded away at the eighth watch (yamardha) of the day; and the charming scene of the city began to disappear from sight.

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The people then employed themselves to their proper duties at the decline of the day, and betook to their evening service with the failing beams of the setting sun.

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They recited their evening hymn (Sandhya), repeated their japamantras, and uttered their prayer for the forgiveness of sins (agha marshana); they read aloud their hymns and sang their evening song of praise.

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Then rose the shade of night to allay the sorrow of lovelorn damsels, as the moon arose from the milky ocean of the east, to cool the heat of the setting sun.

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The princes of Raghu's race then reclined on their downy and flowery beds, sprinkled over with handfuls of camphor powder, and appearing as a sheet of spreading moon-light.

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The eyes of all men were folded in sleep, and they passed the live-long night as a short interval;but Rama kept waking in his bed, meditating on all things he had heard from the sage.

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Rama continued to reflect on the lectures of Vasishtha, which appeared as charming to him, as the cry of the parent elephant, is gladsome to its tender young (karabha).

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What means this wandering of ours, said he, in this world, and why is it that all these men and other animals, are bound to make their entrances and exits in this evanescent theatre?

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What is the form of our mind and how is it to be governed? What is this illusion (Maya) of the world, whence hath its rise and how is it to be avoided?

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What is the good or evil of getting rid of this illusion, and how does it stretch over and overpower on the soul, or is made to leave it by any means in our power?

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What does the muni say with regard to the means, and effect of curbing the appetites of the mind? What does he say regarding the restraining of our organs, and what about the tranquillity of the soul?

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Our hearts and minds, our living souls and their delusion, tend to stretch out the phenomenal world before us; and our very souls make a reality of the unreal existence.

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All these things are linked together in our minds, and are weakened only by the weakening of our mental appetites. But how are these to be avoided in order to get rid of our misery.

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The slender light of reason is over-shadowed, like a single crane in the air, by the dark cloud of passions and appetites; how am I then to distinguish the right from wrong, as the goose separates the milk from the water?

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It is as hard to shun our appetites on the one hand, as it is impossible to avoid our troubles here, without the utter annihilation of our appetency. Here is the difficulty in both ways.

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Again the mind is the leader to our spiritual knowledge on the one hand, and our seducer also to worldliness on the other. We know not which way to be led by it. The difficulty is as great as a man's mounting on a mountain, or a child's escaping from the fear of a yaksha.

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All worldly turmoil is at an end, upon one's attainment of true felicity; as the anxieties of a maiden are over, after she has obtained a husband.

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When will my anxieties have their quietism, and when will my cares come to an end? When will my soul have its holiness, and my mind find its rest from acts of merit and demerit?

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When shall I rest in that state of bliss, which is as cooling and complete in itself; as the full-moon with all her digits, and when shall I rove about the earth at large, free from worldly cares and ties?

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When will my fancy stop from its flight, and concentrate into the inward soul? When will my mind be absorbed in the Supreme soul, like the turbulent wave subsiding in the breast of the quiet sea?

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When shall I get over this wide ocean of the world, which is disturbed by the turbulent waves of our desires, and is full of the voracious crocodiles of our greedy avarice, and get rid of this feverish passion?

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When shall I rest in that state of complete quiescence and unfeelingness of my mind, which is aimed at by the seekers of liberation, and the all-tolerant and indifferent philosopher. (It is the sullen apathy of stoicism, which constitutes the true wisdom and happiness of asceticism also).

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Ah! when will this continuous fever of my worldliness abate, which has irritated my whole body by its inward heat, and deranged my humours out of their order!

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When will this heart of mine cease to throb from its cares, like the light of the lamp ceasing to flutter without the wind; and when will my understanding gain its light, after dispersion of the gloom of my ignorance.

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When will these organs and members of my body, have their respite from their incessant functions; and when will this parched frame of mine get over the sea (flame?) of avarice, like the phoenix rising from its ashes.

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When will the light of reason like the clear atmosphere of the autumnal sky, dispel this dark cloud of my ignorance, that envelopes my heavenly essence under the veil of this sorry and miserable form.

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Our minds are filled with the weeds of the mandara plants of the garden of paradise (i.e. desiring the enjoyments of heaven). But my soul pants for its restitution in the Supreme spirit.

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The dispassionate man is said to be set in the pure light of reason; it is therefore that passionless state of my mind which I long to attain.

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But my restless mind has made me a prey to the dragon of despair, and I cry out in my sorrow, O my father and mother! help me to get out of this difficulty.

I exclaim also saying said:—

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O my sister understanding! condescend to comply with the request of thy poor brother; and consider well the words of the wise sage for our deliverance from misery.

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I call thee also, O my good sense to my aid, and beg of thee, O progeny of thy virtuous mother! to remain firm by my side, in my struggle of breaking the bonds of the world.

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Let me first of all reflect on the sayings of the sage on Resignation (Vairagya), and then on the conduct of one who longs for his liberation, and next about the creation of the world, (in the Srishti Prakarana).

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Let me remember afterwards all that he has said on the Existence of the universe (Sthiti Prakarana), together with its beautiful illustrations; all of which are replete with sound wisdom and deep philosophy.

40. [Sanskrit available]
Although a lesson may be repeated a hundred times over, it proves to be of no effect, unless it is considered with good understanding and right sense of its purport. Otherwise it is as the empty sound of autumn clouds without a drop of rain.

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