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 XIV - Ascertainment of the thinking principle

Argument. People unworthy of persuasion, their transmigrations, and purification of the mind.

Vasishtha said:

1. These multitudes of men, that are carried away by the waves of the torrents of the sea of worldly pursuits; are deaf and dumb to the admonitions of their spiritual instructors.

2. They are not fit to derive the benefit of the spiritual knowledge, which I have propounded in this yogasastra by my rational discourses.

3. They who are born blind and can see nothing, are not to be presented with the picture of a garden, portrayed with blooming blossoms and beautiful flowers by the intelligent artist.

4. There is no such fool that would present fragrant odours to one, whose nostrils are snorting under some nasal disease (pinasa. Polypus), nor so great a dolt, that would consult an ignorant man on spiritual matters.

5. What lack-wit is there, that would refer a question on law or religious subjects, to one of ungoverned passions and organs of sense, or whose eyeballs are rolling with the intoxication of wine.

6. Who asks of the dead the way he should go, or one in the grave about the concourse in the city; and what witless man is there that resorts to an idiot to clear his doubts.

7. Of what good is it to advise a witling, whose serpentine mind is coiling and creeping in the cave of his heart;and though it lies there in silence and sightless, is yet ungovernably wild?

8. Know there is no such a thing as a well governed mind, for though you may fling it at a distance from you, yet it is never lost or annihilated. (The unsubdued mind recurs to us in repeated births).

9. The simpleton who does not bear his sway over his false and delusive mind, is tormented to death by its venomous smart, as if stung by a deadly reptile.

10. The learned know the vital powers, and the operations of the organs of action, to depend on the action and force of the soul; say then, O Rama, what is that thing which they call the mind. (The three functions of motion, thought and organic action, being conducted by force of the vital breath, it is in vain to suppose the existence of the mind).

11. The vital breath gives the force for bodily actions, and the soul produces the power of knowledge;the organs act by their own force, and the supreme spirit is the main source of all.

12. All forces are but parts of the omnipotence of the supreme Spirit;their different appellations are but inventions of men.

13. What is it that they call the living soul, and which has blindfolded the world; and what they term as the mind, is really an unreality and without any power of its own.

14. Rama! I have seen the continued misery arising from their false conception of the unreal mind; and my pity for them has caused my incessant sorrow.

15. But why should I sorrow for the ignorant rabble, who bring their woe by their own error? The common herd is born to their misery like beasts and brutes.

16. The ignorant rabble are born in their dull material bodies, for their destruction only. They are born to die away incessantly, like the waves of the ocean.

17. What pity shall I take for them, that are seen every day to perish under the jaws of death, like numbers of animals immolated in the shambles.

18. For whom shall I sorrow, when I see billions and trillions of gnats and moths, are destroyed day by day, by gusts of wind (which is their element and support).

19. Whom shall I sorrow for, when I observe on every side the millions of deer and beasts of chase, that are killed every day in the hills and forests, by their hunters and sportsmen.

20. Whom shall I feel for, when I find innumerable shoals of small fishes, that are devoured every day in the waters, by the bigger ones!

21. I see an infinite number of animalcules, to be eaten up by flies and fleas; which in their turn, are devoured by the voracious spiders and scorpions.

22. The frog feeds on flies, and is in its turn devoured by snakes. The birds of prey swallow the snake, and the weasel preys upon them.

23. The weasel is killed by the cat, which is killed again by the dog; the bear destroys the dog, and is at last destroyed by the tiger. ([Bengali: bhibaja bhibanaharah]:—One animal is food to another.)

24. The lion overcomes the tiger, and is overcome in its turn by the sarabha (a fabulous beast with eight feet). The sarabha is overthrown by its fall on rocky steeps, in its attempt to jump over the gathering clouds.

25. The clouds are worsted by tempests, and these again are obstructed by the rising rocks and mountains. The mountains are split by thunder claps, and the thunderbolts of heaven are broken by the thundering Sakra (Jove).

26. This Sakra or Indra is vanquished by Upendra or Vishnu (his younger brother), and Vishnu is made to undergo his incarnations in the shapes of men and beasts. He is subjected to the vicissitudes of pain and pleasure, and to the conditions of disease, decay and death. (Change is the order of nature.)

27. Big-bodied beasts are fed upon by the leaches and fleas that stick to their bodies to suck their blood; and men fraught with knowledge and armed with weapons, are infested by their bloodsucking bugs and gnats.

28. Thus the whole host of living bodies, are continually exposed to feed upon and to be fed by one another, with remorseless voracity.

29. There is an incessant growth of leaches, fleas and ants, other small insects and worms on the one hand;and a continued dissolution of both the big and puny bodies in every place on earth.

30. The womb of the waters, bears the breed of fishes, whales, hippopotami and other aquatic animals; and the bowels of the earth, produce the multitudes of worms and reptiles to infinity.

31. The air teems with the brood of birds of various kinds, and the woods abound with wild beasts, and lions and tigers, the fleet deer and other brutes.

32. There are inborn worms growing in the intestines, and upon the skin of animal bodies; and parasitical insects and animalcules, feeding upon the bark and leaves of trees.

33. Insects are seen to be born in the crusts of stones, as frogs, vajrakitas and others; and many kinds of worms and insects, are found to grow in and subsist upon the faeces and excrements of animals.

34. In this manner an endless number of living beings, are being born and perishing for ever and ever; and it is of no avail to them, whether kind hearted men are joyous or sorrowful at their births and deaths.

35. The wise can have no cause for their joy or grief, in this continued course of incessant births and deaths of the living world.

36. Such is the nature of all the different series of animal beings, that they incessantly grow to fall off like the leaves of trees. (These are known as the ephemerids and the heirs and poor pensioners of a day).

37. The kind-hearted man, who wishes to remove the sorrows of the ignorant by his advice, attempts an impossibility, as that of shrouding the all-pervasive sunshine, by means of his umbrella.

38. It is useless to give advice to the ignorant, who are no better than beasts in their understandings; as it is fruitless to talk to a rock or block of wood or stone in the wilderness.

39. The dull-headed ignorant, who are no better than beasts, are dragged by their wilful minds, like the cattle by their halters.

40. It would make even the stones to melt into tears, to see the ignorant plunged in the slough of their perverted minds, and employed in acts and rites for their own ruin. (The ruin of their souls caused by ritualistic observances.)

41. Men of ungoverned minds, are always exposed to dangers and difficulties; but the expurgated minds of the wise, are free from the evils and mishaps of life.

42. Now Rama, consider well the miseries of ungoverned minds; and betake yourself to the knowledge of the knowable One. (I.e. the One alone that is worthy of being known).

43. Never entertain in your imagination the vain bugbear of a mind, which has no real existence of its own; and beware of this false belief, which may betray you like the ideal ghost of children.

44. As long as you are forgetful of the soul, you must remain in utter ignorance; and so long will you continue to be tortured by the dragon, residing in the recess of your heart.

45. Now you have known the whole truth, as I have expounded to you; that it is your imagination only, that presents you with the idea of your mind, of which you must get rid for ever.

46. If you rely in the visibles, you are subject to the delusion of your mind; but no sooner, you shun your reliance in them, than you are liberated from your illusion of it.

47. The visible world is a combination, of the three qualities of satva, rajas and tamas;and it is exposed before you, by your maya or illusion only, as a snare is spread for entanglement of beasts.

48. Think of the inexistence both of the subjective self and the objective world; and remain as firm as a fixed rock on earth, and behold the Lord only, in the form of infinite space in thy heart. (This is Vasishtha's Vacuism).

49. Shun, Rama, the false thoughts of thy self-existence, and that of the visible world also; and forsake thy belief in the duality, in order to settle thyself in the infinite unity.

50. Continue to meditate on the soul, as it is situated between the subjective viewer, and the objective view of this world; and as it is existent in thy vision, which lies between the two. (I.e. between yourself and the visible object, which is empty space).

51. Forsake the ideas of the subject and object of your taste, (i.e. of the taster and tastable); and thinking on their intermediate state of gustation or tasting, be one with the soul.

52. Rama, place yourself in the position of your thought or power of thinking, which lieth betwixt the thinker and thinkables; support your soul on the supportless soul of all, and remain steady in your meditation.

53. Forsake the cares of the world, and be exempt from the thoughts of existence and non-existence; meditate on the universal soul and be settled with thy soul in that soul.

54. When you have learnt to think on the thinkable one, by relinquishing the thought of your own existence; you shall then arrive to that state of the unconsciousness, which is free from misery (or the state of supreme bliss).

55. Know your thoughts to be your fetters, and your self-consciousness as your binding chain; therefore O Rama! loosen the lion of your soul, from the prison house of your mind.

56. By departing from the state of the Supreme Soul, and falling to the thoughts of the mind, you will be crowded by your imaginations, and see only the objects of your thought all about you.

57. The Knowledge, that intellection or thinking power is distinct from the soul, introduces the existence of the unhappy mind, which must be got rid of for the sake of true happiness. (by knowing them as the one and same thing).

58. When you become conscious of the Supreme soul in you, and as permeated throughout all nature, you will then find the thinker and his thinking, the thinkables and their thoughts, vanish into nothing.

59. The thought that "I have a soul and a living soul also," brings on us all the miseries to which we are exposed to all eternity. (I. e. consciousness of a personal entity, causes the woes which personality is ever liable to).

60. The consciousness that "I am the one soul, and not a living being or distinct existences;" (because all things distinct from the universal soul are nothing at all); is called the tranquillity of the spirit and its true felicity.

61. When you are certain, O Rama! that the world is the universal soul itself, you will find the false distinctions of your mind and living soul, to be nothing in reality.

62. When you come to perceive that all this is your very self, your mind will then melt away into the soul, as the darkness dissolved in the sunlight, and the shadow disappears in the air.

63. As long as you cherish the snake of your mind within yourself, you are in danger of catching its poison; but this being removed by your yoga meditation, you escape the danger at once.

64. Be bold, O Rama! to destroy the mighty demon of the deep-rooted error of your mind, by the power of incantation (mantras) of your perfect knowledge.

65. Upon disappearance of the demon of the mind from the dwelling of your body, as when a Yaksha disappears in the air, you will be free from every disease, danger, care and fear.

66. Dispassionateness, and disinterestedness, joined with the knowledge of unity, melt down the substance of the mind, and confer the best and highest state of felicity and rest in the Supreme spirit;and bring on that state of tranquillity which is the main aim of every body. May all these blessings attend upon you.