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 IX - Reflections of janaka

Argument. Abstraction of Janaka's mind, from the Vanities of the World.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. Upon hearing these sonatas of the Siddhas (holy spirits), Janaka was dejected in his mind, like a coward at the noise of a conflict.

2. He returned homeward, and conducted himself in silence to his domicile, as a stream glides in its silent course under the beach trees, to the bed of the distant main.

3. He left behind all his domestics in their respective dwellings below, and ascended alone to the highest balcony, as the sun mounts on the top of a mountain.

4. Hence he saw the flights of birds, flying at random in different directions; and reflected on the hurrying of men in the same manner, and thus bewailed in himself on their deplorable conditions.

5. Ah me miserable! that have to move about in the pitiable state of the restless mob, that roll about like a rolling stone (or ball), pushed backward and forward by another.

6. I have a short span of endless duration, allotted to my share of lifetime; and yet I am a senseless fool to rely my trust in the hope of its durability.

7. Short is the duration of my royalty also, which is limited to the period of my lifetime only; how is it then that I am secure of its continuance as a thoughtless man.

8. I have an immortal soul lasting from before, and to continue even after my present existence, the present life is a destructible One, and yet I am a fool to rely in it, like a boy believing the painted moon as real.

9. Ah! what sorcerer is it that hath thus bewitched me by his magic wand, as to make me believe I am not spell-bound at all.

10. What faith can I rely in this world which has nothing substantial nor pleasant, nor grand nor real in it; and yet I know not why my mind is deluded by it.

11. What is far from me (i.e. the object of sense), appears to be near me by my sensation of the same; and that which is nearest to me (i.e. my inmost soul), appears to be farthest from me (by my want of its perception). Knowing this I must abandon the outward (sensible objects), in order to see the inward soul.

12. This hurry of men in their pursuits, is as impetuous and transient as the torrent of a whirlpool. It precipitates them to the depth of their dangers, and is not worth the pain it gives to the spirit.

13. The years, months, days and minutes, are revolving with succession of our pains and pleasures; but these are swallowed up, by the repeated trains of our misery (rather than that of happiness).

14. I have well considered everything, and found them all perishable and nothing durable or lasting; there is nothing to be found here worthy of the reliance of the wise.

15. Those standing at the head of great men to-day, are reduced low in the course of a few days; what worth is there in giddy and thoughtless greatness, which is deserving of our estimation.

16. I am bound to the earth without a rope, and am soiled herein without any dirt (in my person); I am fallen though sitting in this edifice. O my soul! how art thou destroyed while thou art living.

17. Whence has this causeless ignorance over-powered my intelligent soul, and whence has this shadow overspread its lustre, as a dark cloud overshades the disk of the sun?

18. Of what avail are these large possessions and numerous relations to me, when my soul is desponding in despair, like children under the fear of ghosts and evil spirits.

19. How shall I rest any reliance in my sensual enjoyments which are the harbingers of death and disease, and what dependence is there on my possessions, which are fraught only with anxieties and cares?

20. It matters not whether these friends, the feeders on my fortune, may last or leave me at once; my prosperity is but a bubble and a false appearance before me.

21. Men of greatest opulence and many good and great men and our best friends and kindest relatives, that have gone by, now live in our remembrance only.

22. Where are the riches of the monarchs of the earth, and where the former creations of Brahma. The past have given way to the present, and these are to be followed by future ones; hence there is no reliance in anything.

23. Many Indras have been swallowed up like bubbles in the ocean of eternity; hence the like expectation of my longevity, is ridiculous to the wise.

24. Millions of Brahmas have passed away, and their productions have disappeared under endless successions; the kings of earth have fled like their ashes and are reduced to dust; what is the confidence then in my life and stability?

25. The world is but a dream by night, and the sensuous body is but a misconception of the mind. If I rely any credence on them I am really to be blamed.

26. My conception of myself and perception of other things, are false imaginations of my mind. It is my egoism that has laid hold of me, as a demon seizes an idiot.

27. Fool that I am, that seeing I do not see, how the span of my life is measured every moment by the imperceptible instants of time, and their leaving but a small portion behind.

28. I see the juggler of time seizing on Brahmas, Vishnus and Rudras, and making playthings of them on his play ground of the world, and flinging them as balls all about.

29. I see the days and nights are incessantly passing away, without presenting me an opportunity which I can behold the true imperishable one.

30. The objects of sensual enjoyment, are larking in the minds of men, like cranes gabbling in the lakes, and there is no prospect of the true and best object in the mind of any body.

31. We meet with one hardship after another, and buffet in the waves of endless miseries in this earth;and yet are we so shameless, as not to feel ourselves disgusted with them.

32. We see all the desirable objects to which we attach our thoughts, to be frail and perishing;and yet we do not seek the imperishable one, and our everlasting good in the equanimity of the Soul.

33. Whatever we see to be pleasant in the beginning (as pleasures), or in the middle (as youth), or in the end (as virtuous deeds), and at all times (as earthly goods), are all unholy and subject to decay.

34. Whatever objects are dear to the hearts of men, they are all found to be subject to the changes of their rise and fall (i.e. their growth and decay).

35. Ignorant people are every where enclined to evil acts, and they grow day by day more hardened in their wicked practices. They repent every day for their sins, but never reprove themselves for the better.

36. Senseless men are never the better for anything, being devoid of sense in their boyhood, and heated by their passions in youth. In their latter days, they are oppressed with the care of their families, and in the end thy are overcome by sorrow and remorse.

37. Here the entrance and exit (i.e. the birth and death), are both accompanied with pain and sorrow (for men come to and go away from the world with crying). Here every state of life is contaminated by its reverse (as health by disease, youth by age, and affluence by poverty). Everything is unsubstantial in this seeming substantial world, and yet the ignorant rely in its unreal substantiality.

38. The real good that is derived here by means of painful austerities, are the arduous sacrifices of rajasuya asvamedha and others, or the attainment of heaven; which has no reality in it, by reason of its short duration of the small portion of a kalpa compared with eternity. (The Hindu heaven is no lasting bliss).

39. What is this heaven and where is it situated, whether below or above us or in this nether world; and where its residents are not overtaken by multitudes of locust-like evils? (The Sruti says: "Evil spirits infest the heavens and they drove the gods from it." So we read of the Titan's and Satan's band invading heaven).

40. We have serpents creeping in the cells of our hearts, and have our bodies filled with the brambles of diseases and dangers, and know not how to destroy them.

41. I see good is intermixed with evil, and pain abiding with pleasure; there is sorrow seated on the top (excess) of joy, so I know not whereto I shall resort.

42. I see the earth full of common people, who are incessantly born and dying in it in multitudes; but I find few honest and righteous men in it.

43. These beautiful forms of women, with their eyes like lotuses, and the gracefulness of their blandishments, and their charming smiles, are made so soon to fade and die away.

44. Of what note am I among these mighty beings (as Brahma and Vishnu), who at the twinkling of their eyes, have created and destroyed the world; and yet have succumbed to death at last. (This last passage shows that the Hindu gods were mortal heroes of antiquity).

45. You are constantly in search of what is more pleasant and lasting than others, but never seek after that highest prosperity, which is beyond all your earthly cares.

46. What is this great prosperity in which you take so much delight, but mere vexation of your spirit, which proves this vanity to be your calamity only.

47. Again what are these adversities which you fear so much, they may turn to your true prosperity, by setting you free from earthly broils and leading you to your future felicity.

48. The mind is broken to pieces by its fears, like the fragments of the moon, floating on the waves of this ocean of the world. Its selfishness has tossed it to and fro, and this world being got rid of, it is set at perfect ease (from all vicissitudes of fortune).

49. There is an unavoidable chance (necessity), actuating our worldly affairs and accidents; it is impudence therefore to welcome some as good, and to avoid others as evil.

50. We are prone to things that are pleasant to the sight, but bear a mortal flame in them, and consume us like poor moths in the flames, which it is bright to see but fatal to feel.

51. It is better to roll in the continual flame of hell-fire to which one is habituated, than rise and fall repeatedly in the furnace of this world, as from the frying pan into the fire.

52. This world is said by the wise, to be a boundless ocean of woes (vale of tears); how then can any body who has fallen amidst it, expect any happiness herein?

53. Those who have not fallen in the midst and been altogether drowned in woe, think the lesser woes as light and delight, as one condemned to be beheaded, is glad to escape with a light punishment.

54. I am grown as the vilest of the vile, and resemble a block of wood or stone; there is no difference in me from the ignorant clown, who has never had the thought of his eternal concerns in his head.

55. The great arbour of the world, with its very many branches and twigs and fruits, hath sprung from the mind and is rooted in it. (The outer world has its existence in the sensitive mind only; because the insensible bodies of the dead and inanimate things, have no consciousness of it).

56. It is the conception (sankalpa) of the world, in my mind, that causes its existence and presents its appearance before me, I will now try to efface this conception from my mind, and forget this world altogether. (This doctrine of idealism was derived, by Janaka from his own Intuition (Svena-Jnatena)).

57. I will no longer allow myself to be deluded like monkeys with the forms of things, which I know are not real; mere ideal, but changeful and evanescent. (Here also Janaka learns by intuition not to rely on concrete forms, but to have their general and abstract ideas).

58. I have woven and stretched out the web of my desires, and collected only my woes and sorrows; I fell into and fled from the snare of my own making, and am now resolved to take my rest in the soul.

59. I have much wailed and bitterly wept, to think of the depravity and loss of my soul, and will henceforth cease to lament, thinking that I am not utterly lost.

60. I am now awakened, and am glad to find out the robber of my soul; it is my own mind, and this I am determined to kill, as it had so long deprived me of the inestimable treasure of my soul.

61. So long was my mind at large as a loose and unstrung pearl, now will I pierce it with the needle of reason, and string it with the virtues of self-control and subjection to wisdom.

62. The cold icicle of my mind, will now be melted down by the sun-heat of reason; and will now be confined in the interminable meditation of its Eternal Maker (from where it cannot return. Sruti).

63. I am now awakened to my spiritual knowledge, like these holy Siddhas, saints and sages; and will now pursue my spiritual inquiries, to the contentment of my soul.

64. Having now found my long-lost soul, I will continue to look upon its pure light with joy in my lonely retirement; and will remain as quiet and still in contemplation of it, as a motionless cloud in autumn.

65. And having cast away the false belief of my corporeality (i.e. of being an embodied being), and that these possessions and properties are mine, and having subdued my force by mighty enemy of the Mind, I will attain the tranquillity of my soul by the help of my reason.