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 XXXIV - Prahlada’s self knowledge of spiritualism

Argument. Prahlada's meditations and attainment of spiritual knowledge by the blessing of Vishnu.

The lord said:—

1. O thou rich jewel on the crown of the Daitya race! Receive thy desired boon of me for alleviation of thy worldly afflictions.

Prahlada replied:—

2. What better blessing can I ask of thee, my Lord! than to instruct me in what thou thinkest thy best gift, above all other treasures of the world, and which is able to requite all our wants in this miserable life.

The lord answered said:—

3. Mayst thou have a sinless boy! and may thy right discrimination of things, lead thee to thy rest in God, and the attainment of thy Supreme felicity, after dispersion of thy earthly cares, and the errors of this world.

Vasishtha rejoined:—

4. Being thus bid by his god, the lord of demons fell into a profound meditation, with his nostrils snoring loudly like the gurgling waters of the deep.

5. As the lord Vishnu departed from his sight, the chief of the demons made his oblations after him; consisting of handfuls of flowers and rich gems and jewels of various kinds.

6. Then seated in his posture of padmasana, with his legs folded over one another, upon his elevated and elegant seat; and then chaunted his holy hymn and reflected within himself.

7. My deliverer from this sinful world, has bade me to have my discrimination, therefore must I betake myself to discriminate between what is true and falsehood.

8. I must know that I am in this darksome world, and must seek the light of my soul as also what is that principle (Ego), that makes me speak, walk and take the pains to earn myself.

9. I perceive it is nothing of this external world, like any of its verdant trees or hills; the external bodies are all of a gross nature, but my ego is quite a simple and pure essence.

10. I am not this insensible body, which is both dull and dumb, and is made to move for a moment by means of the vital airs. It is an unreal appearance of a transitory existence.

11. I am not the insensible sound, which is a vacuous substance and produced in vacuity. It is perceptible by the ear-hole, and is as evanescent and inane as empty air.

12. I am neither the insensible organ of touch, or the momentary feeling of taction; but find myself to be an inward principle with the faculty of intellection, and the capacity of knowing the nature of the soul.

13. I am not even my taste, which is confined to the relishing of certain objects, and to the organ of the tongue;which is a trifling and ever restless thing, sticking to and moving in the cavity of the mouth.

14. I am not my sight, that is employed in seeing the visibles only; it is weak and decaying and never lasting in its power, nor capable of viewing the invisible Spirit.

15. I am not the power of my smelling, which appertains to my nasal organ only, and is conversant with odorous substances for a short moment only. (Fragrance is a fleeting thing).

16. I am pure intelligence, and none of the sensations of my five external organs of sense; I am neither my mental faculty, which is ever frail and fruit; nor is there any thing belonging to me or participating of my true essence. I am the soul and an indivisible whole.

17. I am the ego or my intellect, without the objects of intellection; (i.e. the thinking principle freed from its thoughts). My ego pervades internally and externally over all things, and manifests them to the view. I am the whole without its parts, pure without foulness and everlasting.

18. It is my intellection that manifests to me this pot and that painting, and brings all other objects to my knowledge by its pure light; as the sun and a lamp show everything to the sight.

19. Ah! I come to remember the whole truth at present, that I am the immutable and all pervading Spirit, shining in the form of the intellect (Gloss. The internal and intellectual Soul, is the Spirit of God).

20. This essence evolves itself into the various faculties of sense; as the inward fire unfolds itself into the forms of its flash and flame, and its sparks and visible light.

21. It is this principle which unfolds itself, into the forms of the different organs of sense also; as the all-diffusive heat of the hot season, shows itself in the shape of mirage in sandy deserts.

22. It is this element likewise which constitutes the substance of all objects; as it is the light of the lamp which is the cause of the various colours of things; as the whiteness or other of a piece of cloth or any other thing. (The intrinsic perceptivity of the soul, causes the extrinsic senses and their separate organs).

23. It is the source of the perception of all living and waking beings, and of everything else in existence;and as a mirror is the reflector of all outward appearances, so is the Soul the reflective organ of all its internal and external phenomena.

24. It is by means of this immutable intellectual light alone, that we perceive the heat of the sun, the coldness of the moon, solidity of the rock and the fluidity of water.

25. This one is the prime cause of every object of our continuous perceptions in this world; this is the first cause of all things, without having any prior cause of its own. (The soul produces the body, and not the body brings forth the soul).

26. It is this that produces our notions of the continuity of objects that are spread all around us, and take the name of objects from their objectivity of the soul; as a thing is called not from the heat which makes it such.

27. It is this formless cause, that is the prime cause of all plastic and secondary causes (such as Brahma the creative agent and others). It is from this that the world has its production, as coldness is the produce of cold and the like.

28. The gods Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Indra, who are causes of the existence of the world, all owe their origin to this prime cause, who has no cause of himself.

29. I hail that Supreme soul which is imprest in me, and is apart from every object of thought of the intellect, and which is self-manifest in all things and at all times.

30. All beings besides, stand in the relation of modes and modalities to this Supreme Being; and they immerge as properties in that intellectual Spirit.

31. Whatever this internal and intelligent Soul wills to do, the same is done every where; and nothing besides that self-same soul exists in reality any where.

32. Whatever is intended to be done by this intellectual power, the same receives a form of its own; and whatever is thought to be undone by the intellect, the same is dissolved into nought from its substantiality.

33. These numberless series of worldly objects (as this pot, these paintings and the like), are as shades cast on the immense mirror of vacuum (or as air-drawn pictures represented on the canvas of empty Space).

34. All these objects increase and decrease in their figures under the light of the soul, like the shadows of things enlarging and diminishing themselves in the sun shine.

35. This internal Soul is invisible to all beings, except to those whose minds are melted down in piety. It is seen by the righteous in the form of the clear firmament.

36. This great cause like a large tree, gives rise to all these visible phenomena like its germ and sprouts; and the movements of living beings, are as the flitterings of bees about this tree.

37. It is this that gives rise to the whole creation both in its ideal and real and mobile or quiescent forms; as a huge rock gives growth to a large forest with its various kinds of big trees and dwarf shrubberies. (To him no high, no low, no great, no small; He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all! Pope).

38. It is not apart from anything, existing in the womb of this triple world; but is residing alike in the highest gods, as in the lowest grass below; and manifests them all full to our view.

39. This is one with the ego, and the all-pervading soul; and is situated as the moving spirit, and unmoving dullness of the whole.

40. The universal soul is beyond the distinction, of my, thy or his individual spirit; and is above the limits of time, and place, of number and manner, of form or figure or shape or size.

41. It is one intelligent soul, which by its own intelligence, is the eye and witness of all visible things; and is represented as having a thousand eyes and hands and as many feet. (Wherewith he sees and grasps everything, and stands and moves in every place).

42. This is that ego of my-self, that wanders about the firmament, in the body of the shining sun; and wanders in other forms also, as those of air in the current winds. (The first person I is used for supreme Ego).

43. The sky is the azure body of my Vishnu with its accompaniments of the conchshell, discus, club and the lotus, in the clouds, all which are tokens of prosperity in this world by their blissful rains. (Vishnu is the lord of Lakshmi or prosperity, which is another name for a plenteous harvest. Her other name Sri the same with Ceres—the goddess of corn and mother of Prosperine in Grecian mythology).[1]

44. I find myself as identic with this god, while I am sitting in my posture of padmasana and in this state of Samadhi—hypnotism, and when I have attained my perfection in quietism. (which is the form of Vishnu in the serene sky).

I am the same with siva said:—

45. the god with his three eyes, and with his eye-balls rolling like bees, on the lotus face of Gauri; and it is I that in the form of the god, Brahma, contain the whole creation in me, as a tortoise contracts its limbs in itself. (The soul in rapture, seems to contain the macrocosm in itself).

46. I rule over the world in the form of Indra, and as a monk I command the monastery which has come down to me. I.e. I am an Indra, when I reign over my domain; and a poor monk, when I dwell in my humble cell.

47. I (the Ego) am both the male and female, and I am both the boy and girl; I am old as regards my soul, and I am young with regard to my body, which is born and ever renewed.

48. The ego is the grass and all kinds of vegetables on earth; as also the moisture wherewith it grows them, like its thoughts in the ground of the intellect; in the same manner as herbs are grown in holes and wells by their moisture, i.e. The ego or soul is the pith and marrow of all substance.

49. It is for pleasure that this ego has stretched out the world; like a clever boy who makes his dolls of clay in play. (God forms the world for his own amusement).

50. This ego is myself that gives existence to all being, and it is I in whom they live and move about; and being at last forsaken by me, the whole existence dwindles into nothing. (The ego is the individual as well the universal soul).

51. Whatever image is impressed in the clear mirror or mould of my intellect, the same and no other is in real existence, because there is nothing that exists beside or apart from myself.

52. I am the fragrance of flowers, and the hue of their leaves; I am the figure of all forms, and the perception of perceptibles.

53. Whatever movable or immovable thing is visible in this world; I am the inmost heart of it, without having any of its desires in my heart.

54. As the prime element of moisture, is diffused in nature in the form of water;so is my spirit overspread in vegetables and all things at large in the form of vacuum. (Which is in the inside and outside of every thing).

55. I enter in the form of consciousness, into the interior of everything; and extend in the manner of various sensation at my own will.

56. As butter is contained in milk and moisture is inherent in water; so is the power of the intellect spread in all beings, and so the ego is situated in the interior of all things.

57. The world exists in the intellect, at all times of the present, past and future ages; and the objects of intelligence, are all inert and devoid of motion; like the mineral and vegetable productions of earth.

58. I am the all-grasping and all-powerful form of Virat, which fills the infinite space, and is free from any diminution or decrease of its shape and size. I am this all-pervading and all-productive power, known as Virat murti or macrocosm (in distinction from the sukshma-deha or microcosm).

59. I have gained my boundless empire over all worlds, without my seeking or asking for it; and without subduing it like Indra of old or crushing the gods with my arms. (Man is the lord of the world of his own nature, or as the poet says:—"I am monarch of all I survey; my right there is none to dispute").

60. O the extensive spirit of God! I bow down to that spirit in my spirit; and find myself lost in it, as in the vast ocean of the universal deluge.

61. I find no limit of this spirit; as long as I am seated in the enjoyment of my spiritual bliss; but appear to move about as a minute mollusk, in the fathomless expanse of the milky ocean.

62. This temple of Brahmanda or mundane world, is too small and straitened for the huge body of my soul; and it is as impossible for me to be contained in it, as it is for an elephant to enter into the hole of a needle.

63. My body stretches beyond the region of Brahma, and my attributes extend beyond the categories of the schools, and there is no definite limitation given of them to this day.

64. The attribute of a name and body to the unsupported soul is a falsehood, and so is it to compress the unlimited soul within the narrow bounds of the body.

65. To say this is I, and this another, is altogether wrong; and what is this body or my want of it, or the state of living or death to me? (Since the soul is an immortal and etherial substance and my true self and essence).

66. How foolish and short-witted were my forefathers, who having forsaken this spiritual domain, have wandered as mortal beings in this frail and miserable world.

67. How great is this grand sight of the immensity of Brahma; and how mean are these creeping mortals, with their high aims and ambition, and all their splendours of royalty. (The glory of God, transcends the glory of glorious sun).

68. This pure intellectual sight of mine, which is fraught with endless joy, accompanied by ineffable tranquillity, surpasses all other sights in the whole world. (The rapture of heavenly peace and bliss, has no bounds).

69. I bow down to the Ego, which is situated in all beings; which is the intelligent and intellectual soul, and quite apart from whatever is the object of intellection or thought (i.e. the unthinkable spirit).

70. I who am the unborn and increate soul, reign triumphant over this perishing world; by my attainment to the state of the great universal spirit, which is the chief object of gain—the summum bonum of mortal beings, and which I live to enjoy. (This sublimation of the human soul to the state of the supreme spirit, and enjoyment of spiritual beatification or heavenly rapture, is the main aim and end of Yoga meditation).

71. I take no delight in my unpleasant earthly dominion, which is full of painful greatness; nor like to lose my everlasting realm of good understanding, which is free from trouble and full of perpetual delight.

72. Cursed be the wicked demons that are so sadly ignorant of their souls; and resort for the safety of their bodies, to their strongholds of woods and hills and ditches, like the insects of those places.

73. Ignorance of the soul leads to the serving of the dull ignorant body, with articles of food and raiment; and it was thus that our ignorant elders pampered their bodies for no lasting good.

74. What good did my father Hiranyakasipu reap, from his prosperity of a few years in this world; and what did he acquire worthy of his descent; in the line of the great sage Kasyapa?

75. He who has not tasted the blissfulness of his soul, has enjoyed no true blessing, during his long reign of a hundred years in this world.

76. He who has gained the ambrosial delight of his spiritual bliss, and nothing of the temporary blessings of life; has gained something which is ever full in itself, and of which there is no end to the end of the world.

77. It is the fool and not the wise, who forsakes this infinite joy for the temporary delights of this world; and resembles the foolish camel which foregoes his fodder of soft leaves, for browzing the prickly thorns of the desert.

78. What man of sense would turn his eyes from so romantic a sight, and like to roam in a city burnt down to the ground: and what wise man is there that would forsake the sweet juice of sugarcane, in order to taste the bitterness of Nimba?

79. I reckon all my forefathers as very great fools, for their leaving this happy prospect, in order to wander in the dangerous paths of their earthly dominion.

80. Ah! how delightful is the view of flowering gardens, and how unpleasant is the sight of the burning deserts of sand; how very quiet are these intellectual reveries, and how very boisterous are the cravings of our hearts!

81. There is no happiness to be had in this earth, that would make us wish for our sovereignty in it; all happiness consists in the peace of the mind, which it concerns us always to seek.

82. It is the calm, quiet and unaltered state of the mind, that gives us true happiness in all conditions of life; and the true realm of things in all places and at all times, and under every circumstance in life.

83. It is the virtue of sunlight to enlighten all objects, and that of moonlight to fill us with its ambrosial draughts; but the light of Brahma transcends them both, by filling the three worlds with its spiritual glory; which is brighter than sun-beams, and cooler than moon-light.

84. The power of Siva stretches over the fulness of knowledge, and that of Vishnu over victory and prosperity (Jayas-Lakshmi). Fleetness is the character of the mental powers, and force is the property of the wind.

85. Inflammation is the property of fire, and moisture is that of water; taciturnity is the quality of devotees for success of devotion, and loquacity is the qualification of learning.

86. It is the nature of the aerials to move about in the air, and of rocks to remain fixed on the ground; the nature of water is to set deep and run downwards; and that of mountains to stand and rise upwards.

87. Equanimity is the nature of Saugatas or Buddhists, and carousing is the penchant of winebibbers; the spring delights in its flowering, and the rainy season exults in the roaring of its clouds.

88. The Yakshas are full of their delusiveness, and the celestials are familiar with cold and frost, and those of the torrid zone are inured in its heat. (This passage clearly shows the heaven of the Hindus, to have been in the northern regions of cold and frost).

89. Thus are many other beings suited to their respective climes and seasons, and are habituated to the very many modes of life and varieties of habits; to which they have been accustomed in the past and present times.

90. It is the one Uniform and Unchanging Intellect, that ordains these multiform and changing modifications of powers and things, according to its changeable will and velocity.

91. The same unchanging Intellect presents these hundreds of changing scenes to us, as the same and invariable light of the sun, shows a thousand varying forms and colour to the sight.

92. The same Intellect sees at a glance, these great multitudes of objects, that fill the infinite space on all sides, in all the three times of the present, past and future.

93. The selfsame pure Intellect knows at once, the various states of all things presented in this vast phenomenal world, in all the three times that are existent, gone by and are to come hereafter.

94. This pure Intellect reflects at one and the same time, all things existent in the present, past and future times; and is full with the forms of all things existing in the infinite space of the universe.

95. Knowing the events of the three times, and seeing the endless phenomena of all worlds present before it, the divine intellect continues full and perfect in itself and at all times.

96. The understanding ever continues the same and unaltered, notwithstanding the great variety of its perceptions of innumerables of sense and thought: such as the different tastes of sweet and sour in honey and nimba fruit at the same time. (I.e. the varieties of mental perception and conception, make no change in the mind), as the reflection of various figures makes no change in the reflecting glass.

97. The intellect being in its state of arguteness, by abandonment of mental desires, and knowing the natures of all things by reducing their dualities into unity:—

98. It views them alike with an equal eye and at the same time; notwithstanding the varieties of objects and their great difference from one another. (I.e. all the varieties blend into unity).

99. By viewing all existence as non-existence, you get rid of your existing pains and troubles, and by seeing all existence in the light of nihility, you avoid the suffering of existing evils.

100. The intellect being withdrawn from its view of the events of the three tenses (i.e. the occurrences of the past, present and future times), and being freed from the fetters of its fleeting thoughts, there remains only a calm tranquillity.

101. The soul being inexpressible in words, proves to be a negative idea only; and there ensues a state of one's perpetual unconsciousness of his soul or self-existence. (This is the state of anaesthesia, which is forgetting oneself to a stock and stone).

102. In this state of the soul it is equal to Brahma, which is either nothing at all or the All of itself; and its absorption in perfect tranquilness is called its liberation (moksha) or emancipation from all feelings (bodhas).

103. The intellect being vitiated by its volition, does not see the soul in a clear light, as the hoodwinked eye has naught but a dim and hazy sight of the world.

104. The intellect which is vitiated by the dirt of its desire and dislike, is impeded in its heavenly flight, like a bird caught in a snare. (Nor love nor hate of aught, is the best state of thought).

105. They who have fallen into the snare of delusion by their ignorant choice of this or that, are as blind birds falling into the net in search of their prey.

106. Entangled in the meshes of desire, and confined in the pit of worldliness, our fathers were debarred from this unbarred sight of spiritual light and endless delight.

107. In vain did our forefathers flourish for a few days on the surface of this earth; only to be swept away like the fluttering flies and gnats, by a gust of wind into the ditch.

108. If these foolish pursuers after the painful pleasures of the world, had known the path of truth they would never fall into the dark pit of unsubstantial pursuits.

109. Foolish folks being subjected to repeated pains and pleasures by their various choice of things; follow at last the fate of ephemeral worms, that are born to move and die in their native ditches and bogs (i.e. as they are born of earth and dust so do they return to dust and earth again).

110. He is said to be really alive who lives true to nature, and the mirage of whose desires and aversion, is suppressed like the fumes of his fancy, by the rising cloud of his knowledge of truth.

111.The hot and foul fumes of fancy, fly afar from the pure light of reason, as the hazy mist of night, is dispersed by the bright beams of moon-light.

112. I hail that soul which dwells as the inseparable intellect in me; and I come at last to know my God, that resides as a rich gem enlightening all the worlds in myself.

113. I have long thought upon and sought after thee, and I have at last found thee rising in myself; I have chosen thee from all others; and whatever thou art, I hail thee, my Lord! as thou appearest in me.

114. I hail thee in me, O lord of gods, in thy form of infinity within myself, and in the shape of bliss within my enraptured soul; I hail thee, O Supreme Spirit! that art superior to and supermost of all.

115. I bow down to that cloudless light, shining as the disk of the full moon in me; and to that self-same form, which is free from all predicates and attributes. It is the self-risen light in myself, and that felicitous self-same soul, which I find in myself alter ego.

Footnotes and references:


The history of Sanskrit words derives the name Lakshmī from the appellation of king Dilipa's queen, who was so called from her luckiness. Thus the words lucky and luckhy (valgs), are synonymous and same in sound and sense.