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 XXIV - On the healing and improvement of the mind

Argument. Quelling of the misleading mind, and waiting upon the sovereign soul, with the perfection of Platonic Quietism.

Bali said:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
Tell me sir, plainly who is this minister of so great might, and by what expedients can so mighty a being be vanquished and brought under subjection.

Virochana replied:—

2. [Sanskrit available]
Though that minister, is invincible and stands above all in his great might; yet I will tell you the expedients, whereby he may be overcome by you or any one else.

3. [Sanskrit available]
Son! It is by employment of proper means that he may be easily brought under subjection, and by neglect of which he will have the upper hand of you like the snake poison, if it is not repelled in time by means of efficacious mantras and incantations.

4. [Sanskrit available]
The ministerial mind being brought up like a boy in the right way he should go; leads the man to the presence of the sovran soul, as the raja yoga or royal service advances the servant before his king.

5. [Sanskrit available]
The appearance of the master makes the minister disappear from sight; as the disappearance of the minister, brings one to the full view of his king.

6. [Sanskrit available]
As long as one does not approach to the presence of his king, he cannot fail to serve the minister; and so long as he is employed in service of the minister, he cannot come to the sight of his king.

7. [Sanskrit available]
The king being kept out of sight, the minister is seen to exercise his might; but the minister being kept out of view, the king alone appears in full view.

8. [Sanskrit available]
Therefore must we begin with the practice of both these exercises at once;namely, approaching by degrees to the sight of the king, and slighting gradually the authority of the minister.

9. [Sanskrit available]
It must be by the exercise of your continued manly exertions and diligent application, that you employ yourself in both these practices, in order to arrive to the state of your well being.

10. [Sanskrit available]
When you are successful in your practice, you are sure to reach to that blissful country; and though you are a prince of the demons, you can have nothing to obstract your entrance into it.

11. [Sanskrit available]
That is a place for the abode of the blessed, whose desires are at rest and whose doubts are dissipated, and whose hearts are filled with perpetual joy and calmness.

12. [Sanskrit available]
Now hear me, explain to you, my son, what that place is which I called a country. It is the seat of liberation (moksha), and where there is an end of all our pains.

13. [Sanskrit available]
The king of that place is the soul of divine essence, which transcends all other substances; and it is the mind which is appointed by that soul as its wise minister.

14. [Sanskrit available]
The mind which contains the ideal world in its bosom, exhibits its sensible form to the senses afterwards; as the clod of clay containing the mould of the pot, shows itself as the model of a pot to view; and the smoke having the pattern of the cloud in its essence, represents its shadowy forms in the sky. (The pattern of everything is engraven in the mind).

15. [Sanskrit available]
Hence the mind being conquered, everything is subdued and brought under subjection; but the mind is invincible without adoption of proper means for its subjugation.

Bali interrogated said:—

16. [Sanskrit available]
What are these means, sir, which we are to adopt for quelling the mind; tell it plainly to me, that I may resort to the same, for this conquering invincible barrier of bliss.

17. [Sanskrit available]
Virochana answered: The means for subduing the mind, are the want of reliance and confidence on all external and sensible things, and absence of all desire for temporal possessions.

18. [Sanskrit available]
This is the best expedient for removal of the great delusion of this world, and subduing the big elephant of the mind at once.

19. [Sanskrit available]
This expedient is both very easy and practicable on one hand, as it is arduous and impracticable on the other. It is the constant habit of thinking so that makes it facile, but the want of such habitude renders it difficult.

20. [Sanskrit available]
It is the gradual habit of renouncing our fondness for temporal objects, that shows itself in time in our resignation of the world; as continuous watering at the roots of plants, makes them grow to large trees afterwards.

21. [Sanskrit available]
It is as hard to master anything even by the most cunning, without its proper cultivation for some time; as it is impossible to reap the harvest from an unsown and uncultivated field.

22. [Sanskrit available]
So long are all embodied souls destined to rove about the wilderness of the world, as there is the want of resignation in their heart of all the sensible objects in nature.

23. [Sanskrit available]
It is impossible without the habit of apathy, to have a distaste for sensible objects, as it is no way possible for an able-bodied man, to travel abroad by sitting motionless at home.

24. [Sanskrit available]
The firm determination of abandoning the stays of life, and a habitual aversion to pleasures and enjoyments, make a man to advance to purity, as a plant grows in open air to its full height.

25. [Sanskrit available]
There is no good to be derived on earth, without the exertion of one's manliness, and man must give up his pleasure and the vexation of his spirit, in order to reap the fruit of his actions.

26. [Sanskrit available]
People speak of a power as destiny here, which has neither any shape nor form of itself. It means whatever comes to pass, and is also called our lot or fatality.

27. [Sanskrit available]
The word destiny is used also by mankind, to mean an accident over which they have no control, and to which they submit with passive obedience.

28. [Sanskrit available]
They use the word destiny for repression of our joy and grief (at what is unavoidable); but destiny however fixed as fate, is overcome and set aside by means of manly exertions (in many instances).

29. [Sanskrit available]
As the delusion of the mirage, is dispelled by the light of its true nature; so it is the exertion of manliness, which upsets destiny by effecting whatever it wishes to bring about.

30. [Sanskrit available]
If we should seek to know the cause for the good or bad results of our actions, we must learn that they turn as well as the mind wishes to mould them to being.

31. [Sanskrit available]
Whatever the mind desires and decrees, the same becomes the destiny;there is nothing destined (or distinctly to be known), as what we may call to be destined or undestined.

32. [Sanskrit available]
It is the mind that does all this, and is the employer of destiny; it destines the destined acts of destiny.

33. [Sanskrit available]
Life or the living soul is spread out in the hollow sphere of the world, like air in vacuum. The psychic fluid circulates through all space. (The psychic fluid extending throughout the universe, according to the theory of Stahl).

34. [Sanskrit available]
Destiny is no reality, but a term invented to express the property of fixity, as the word rock is used to denote stability. Hence there is no fixed fate or destiny, as long as the mind retains its free will and activity.

35. After the mind is set at rest, there remains the principle of the living soul (Jiva—zoo). This is called the purusha or embodied spirit, which is the source of the energies of the body and mind.

36. [Sanskrit available]
Whatever the living soul intends to do by means of its spiritual force, the same comes to take place and no other. (There being not even the influence of the mind to retard its action. So my son, there is no other power in the world except that of spirit or spiritual force).

37. [Sanskrit available]
Reliance on this spiritual power will uproot your dependance on bodily nutriments; and there is no hope of spiritual happiness, until there is a distaste towards temporal enjoyments.

38. [Sanskrit available]
It is hard to attain to the dignity of the all conquering self-sufficiency, as long as one has the dastardly spirit of his earthly cravings.

39. [Sanskrit available]
As long as one is swinging in the cradle of worldly affairs, it is hard for him to find his rest in the bower of peaceful tranquillity.

40. [Sanskrit available]
It is hard for you to get rid of your serpentine (crooked) desires, without your continued practice of indifference to and unconcernedness with worldly affairs.

Bali rejoined:—

41. [Sanskrit available]
Tell me, O lord of demons! in what manner, indifference to worldly enjoyments, takes a deep root in the human heart;and produces the fruit of longevity of the embodied spirit on earth. (By longevity is meant the spiritual life of man, and his resting in the divine Spirit, by being freed from the accidents of mortal life).

Virochana replied:—

42. [Sanskrit available]
It is the sight of the inward spirit, which is productive of indifference to worldly things; as the growth of vines is productive of the grapes in autumn.

43. [Sanskrit available]
It is the sight of the inward Spirit, which produces our internal unconcernedness with the world; as it is the glance of the rising sun, which infuses its lustre in the cup of the lotus.

44. [Sanskrit available]
Therefore sharpen your intellect, by the whetstone of right reasoning; and see the Supreme Spirit, by withdrawing your mind from worldly enjoyments.

45. [Sanskrit available]
There are two modes of intellectual enjoyment, of which one consists of book learning, and the other is derived from attendance on the lectures of the preceptor, by those that are imperfect in their knowledge. (I.e. the one is theoretical for adepts and the other is practical for novices).

46. [Sanskrit available]
Those who are a little advanced in learning, have the double advantage of their mental enjoyment, namely: their reflection of book learning and consultation with wise preceptors on practical points. (Hence the practice of Yoga requires a Yogi guide also).

47. [Sanskrit available]
Those who are accomplished in learning, have also two parts of their duties to perform; namely, the profession of the sastras teaching them to others, and the practice of indifference for themselves. (But the last and lowest kind, only have to wait on the guru and reflect on what they hear from him).

48. [Sanskrit available]
The soul being purified, the man is fitted for Spiritual learning; as it is the clean linen only which is fit to receive every good tincture upon it.[1]

49. [Sanskrit available]
The mind is to be trained by degrees, like a boy in the path of learning; namely by means of persuasion and good lectures, and then by teaching of the sastras, and lastly by discussion of their doctrines.

50. [Sanskrit available]
After its perfection in learning and dispersion of all difficulties and doubts, the mind shines as a piece of pure crystal, and emits its lustre like the cooling moonbeams.

51. [Sanskrit available]
It then sees by its consummate knowledge and clear understanding, in both the form of its God the Spirit, and the body which is the seat of its enjoyments on earth.

52. [Sanskrit available]
It constantly sees the spirit before it, by means of its understanding and reason; which help it also to relinquish its desire for worldly objects and enjoyments.

53. [Sanskrit available]
The sight of the Spirit produces the want of desires, and the absence of these shows the light of the spirit to its sight; therefore they are related to each other like the wick and oil of the lamp, in producing the light, and dispelling the darkness of the night.

54. [Sanskrit available]
After the loss of relish in worldly enjoyments, and the sight of the Supreme Spirit, the soul finds its perpetual rest in the essence of the Supreme Brahma.

55. [Sanskrit available]
The living souls that place their happiness in worldly objects, can never have the taste of true felicity, unless they rely themselves wholly in the Supreme Spirit.

56. [Sanskrit available]
It may be possible to derive some delight from acts of charity, sacrifices and holy pilgrimage; but none of these can give the everlasting rest of the Spirit.

57. [Sanskrit available]
No one feels a distaste for pleasure, unless he examines its nature and effects in himself; and nothing can teach the way of seeing the soul, unless the soul reflects on itself.

58. [Sanskrit available]
Those things are of no good whatever, my boy, that may be had without one's own exertion in gaining it; nor is there any true happiness, without the resignation of earthly enjoyments.

59. [Sanskrit available]
The Supreme felicity of rest in the state of Brahma, is to be bad nowhere in this wide world, either in this mundane sphere, or anywhere else beyond these spheres.

60. [Sanskrit available]
Therefore expect always how your soul may find its rest in the divine Spirit, by relying on the exertion of your manliness, and leaving aside your dependance on the eventualities of destiny.

61. [Sanskrit available]
The wise man detests all worldly enjoyments as if they are the strong bolts or barriers at the door of bliss; and it is the settled aversion to earthly pleasures, that brings a man to his right reason.

62. [Sanskrit available]
As the increasing gloominess of rainy clouds, is followed by the serenity of autumnal skies, so clear reasoning comes after detestation of enjoyments, which fly at the advance of reason.

63. [Sanskrit available]
As the seas and the clouds of heaven, help one another by lending their waters in turn; so apathy to pleasures and right reasoning, tend to produce each other by turns.

64. [Sanskrit available]
So disbelief in destiny, and engagement in manly exertion, are sequences of one another, as reciprocities of service are consequences of mutual friendship.

65. [Sanskrit available]
It must be by the gnashing of your teeth (i.e. by your firm resolve), that you should create a distaste even of those things, which you have acquired by legal means and conformably to the custom of your country.

66. [Sanskrit available]
You must first acquire your wealth by means of your manly exertions, and then get good and clever men in your company by means of your wealth (i.e. patronise the learned therewith, and improve your mind by their instructions).

67. [Sanskrit available]
Association with the wise produces an aversion to the sensual enjoyments of life, by exciting the reasoning power, which gains for its reward an increase of knowledge and learning.

68. [Sanskrit available]
These lead gradually to the acquirement of that state of consummation, which is concomitant with the utter renunciation of worldly objects.

69. [Sanskrit available]
It is then by means of your reasoning that you attain to that Supreme State of perfection, in which you obtain your perfect rest and the holiness of your soul.

70. [Sanskrit available]
You will then fall no more in the mud of your misconceptions; but as a pure essence, you will have no dependance on anything, but become as the venerable Siva yourself.

71. [Sanskrit available]
Thus the steps of attaining consummation, are first of all the acquisition of wealth, according to the custom of the caste and country; and then its employment in the service of wise and learned men. Next follows your abandonment of the world, which is succeeded by your attainment of Spiritual knowledge, by the cultivation of your reasoning powers.[2]

Footnotes and references:


Instruction of abstruse knowledge from yoga to the impure, is pearls before swine; as it is said: [Sanskrit: panidatā eva upadeshtbyāh na ca murkhah kadācan]


Reason is a divine attribute and given to man for his discernment of truth from untruth, and of true felicity of the soul, from its fetters of the frailties of this world.

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