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 XXII - Narrative of virochana

Argument. Account of king Bali and his kingdom, and the Infernal Regions; His Resignation of the World, and Rambles over the Sumeru mountains.

Vasishtha said:—

O Rama! that art the bright moon of Raghu's race, you should also follow the example of Bali, in acquiring wisdom by self-discernment. (Bali the Daitya king and founder of Maha Bali Pura, called Mavalipura in Deccan, and in Southey's poem on its Ruins).

Rama said:—

2. Venerable Sir, that art acquainted with all natures, it is by thy favour that I have gained in my heart all that is worth gaining; and that is our final rest in the purest state of infinite bliss.

3. O sir, it is by your favor, that my mind is freed from the great delusion of my multifarious desires; as the sky is cleared of the massy clouds of the rainy weather in autumn.

4. My soul is at rest and as cold as a stone; it is filled with the ambrosial draught of Divine knowledge and its holy light; I find myself to rest in perfect bliss, and as illumined as the queen of the stars, rising in her full light in the evening.

5. O thou dispeller of my doubts, and resemblest the clear autumnal sky, that clears the clouds of the rainy season! I am never full and satiate with all thy holy teachings to me.

6. Relate to me Sir! for the advancement of my knowledge, how Bali came to know the transcendental truth. Explain it fully unto me, as holy saints reserve nothing from their suppliant pupils.

Vasishtha replied:—

7. Attend Rama! to the interesting narrative of Bali, and your attentive hearing of it, will give you the knowledge of the endless and everlasting truth and immutable verities.

8. There is in the womb of this earth, and in some particular part of it, a place called the infernal region, which is situated below this earth. (The Infra or Patala means the antipodes and is full of water).

9. It is peopled by the milk white Naiades or marine goddesses, born in the milky ocean-sweet water, and of the race of demons, who filled every gap and chasm of it with their progeny. (The subterranean cells, were peopled by the earth-born Titans).

10. In some places it was peopled by huge serpents, with a hundred and thousand heads; which hissed loudly with their parted and forky tongues, and their long projected fangs.

11. In other places there were the mountainous bodies of demons, walking in their lofty strides, and seeming to fling above the balls of the worlds as their bonbons, in order to devour them.

12. In another place there were big elephants, upholding the earth on their elevated probosces, and supporting the islands upon their strong and projected tusks. (These elephants were of the antediluvian world, whose fossiled remains are found under the ground).

13. There were ghosts and devils in other places, making hideous shrieks and noise; and there were groups of hellish bodies, and putrid carcasses of ghostly shapes.

14. The depth of the nether world concealed in its darksome womb, rich mines of gems and metals, lying under the surface of the earth, and reaching to the seventh layer of patala or infernal regions.

15. Another part of this place, was sanctified by the dust of the lotus-like feet of the divine Kapila (Siva or Pluto); who was adored by the gods and demigods, by prostration of their exalted heads at his holy feet.

16. Another part of it was presided by the god Siva, in his form of a golden phallus (linga); which was worshipped by the ladies of the demons, with abundant offerings and merry revelries. (Siva or Pluto—the infernal god was fond of Bacchanals and revels).

17. Bali the son of Virochana, reigned in this place as the king of demons, who supported the burden of his kingdom, on the pillars of their mighty arms.

18. He forced the gods, Vidyadharas, serpents, and the king of the gods, to serve at his feet like his vassal train, and they were glad to serve him as their lord.

19. He was protected by Hari, who contains the gemming worlds in the treasure of his bowels (brahmanda—bhandodara), and is the preserver of all embodied beings, and the support of the sovereigns of the earth.

20. His name struck terror in the heart of Airavata, and made his cheeks fade with fear;as the sound of a peacock petrifies the entrails of serpents (because the peacock is a serpivorous bird).[1]

21. The intense heat of his valour, dried up the waters of the septuple oceans of the earth; and turned them to seven dry beds, as under the fire of the universal Conflagration.

22. But the smoke of his sacrificial fire, was an amulet to the people for supply of water;and it caused the rains to fall as profusely from above as the seas fallen below from the waters above. (This alludes to the dynamite which was ignorantly believed to be a talisman).

23. His frowning look, made the high heads of mountains stoop low to the ground; and caused the lofty skies to lower with water, like the high branches of trees when overloaded with fruits. (It means, that the mountains and skies were obedient to his bidding).

24. This mighty monarch reigned over the demons for myriads of years, after he had made an easy conquest of all the treasures and luxuries of the world.

25. Thus he lived for many ages, which glided on like the course of a river rolling about like the waters of whirlpool; and witnessed the incessant flux and reflux of the generations of gods, demons and men, of the three worlds.

26. The king of the demons felt at last, a distaste to all the enjoyments of life, which he had tasted to surfeit; and he felt also an uneasiness amidst the variety of his pleasures.

27. He retired to the farthest polar mount of Meru, and there sitting at the balcony of one of its gemming pinnacles, he reflected on the state of this world and the vanity of mortal life.

28. How long yet, thought he in himself, shall I have to rule over this world with my indefatigable labour; and how much more must I remain to roam about the triple world, in my successive transmigrations?

29. Of what use is it to me to have this unrivaled sovereignty, which is a wonder in the three worlds; and of what good is it to me, to enjoy this plenteous luxury, which is so charming to the senses?

30. Of what permanent delight are all these pleasures to me, which are pleasant only for the present short time, and are sure to lose all their taste with my zest in them in the next moment?

31. There is the same rotation of days and nights in unvarying succession, and the repetition of the same acts day after day. It is rather shameful and no way pleasant to any one, to continue in the same unvaried course of life for a great length of time.

32. The same embraces of our beloved ones, and partaking of the same food day by day, are amusements fit for playful boys only, but are disgraceful and disgusting to great minds.

33. What man of taste is there, that will not be disgusted to taste the same sweets over and over again, which he has tasted all along, and which have become vapid and tasteless to-day; and what sensible man can continue in the same course, without the feelings of shame and remorse?

34. The revolving days and nights bring the same revolution of duties, and I ween this repetition of the same acts—kritasya karanam, is as ridiculous to the wise, as the mastication of his grinded meat—charbita charbana. (Kritasya karanam nasti, mritasya maranam yatha. There is no doing of an act, which has been done? Nor the dying of a man, that's already dead).

35. The actions of men are as those of the waves, which rise to fall and then rise again to subside in the waters. (This rising and falling over and anon again, is to no purpose whatever).

36. The repetition of the same act, is the employment of mad men; and the wise man is laughed at, who reiterates the same chime, as the conjugation of a verb by boys, in all its moods, tenses and inflexions.

37. What action is that which being once completed, does not recur to us any more, but crowns its actor with his full success all at once? (It is cessation from repetition of the same action. I.e. inaction).

38. Or if this bustle of the world, were for a short duration only, yet what is the good that we can derive from our engaging in this commotion?

39. The course of actions is as interminable, as the ceaseless repetends of boyish sports; it is hollow harping on the same string, which the more it is played upon, the more it reverberates to its hollow sound. (The acts of men make a renown and vain blustering sound only, and no real good to the actor).

40. I see no such gain from any of our actions, which being once gained, may prevent our further exertions. (Action leads to action, but non-action is a leader to quiescence or naiskarma).

41. What can our actions bring forth, beside the objects of sensible gratification? They cannot bring about anything that is imperishable. Saying so, Bali fell in a trance of his profound meditation.

42. Coming then to himself; he said:—"Ah! I now come to remember, what I had heard from my father": so saying he stretched his eye-brows, and gave vent to what he thought in his mind.

43. "I had formerly asked my father Virochana, who was versed in spiritual knowledge, and acquainted with the manners of the people of former and later ages.

44. Saying: what is that ultimate state of being, where all our pains and pleasures cease to exist; and after the attainment of which, we have no more to wander about the world, or pass through repeated transmigrations.

45. What is that final state towards which all our endeavours are directed, and where our minds are freed from their error; and where we obtain our full rest, after all our wanderings and transmigrations?

46. What is that best of gains, which gives full satisfaction to the cravings of the soul; and what is that glorious object, whose sight transcends all other objects of vision?

47. All those various luxuries and superfluities of the world, are no way conducive to our real happiness; in as much as they mislead the mind to error, and corrupt the souls of even the wisest of men.

48. Therefore, O father, show me that state of imperishable felicity, whereby I may attain to my everlasting repose and tranquillity".

49. My father having heard these words of mine, as he was then sitting under the shade of the kalpa tree of paradise, whose flowers were fairer far than the bright beams of the nocturnal luminary, and overspread the ground all around; spoke to me in his sweet mellifluous accents the following speech, for the purpose of removing my error.

Footnotes and references:


Airāvata signifies both Indra, the god of caelum and the celestials, as also his vehicle, the elephantine clouds.