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 XLIII - Rest and repose of prahlada

Argument. All knowledge is derived by one's own attention and personal exertion, joined with his reliance on the grace of God.

Rama said:—

Sir, your knowledge of all truths, and the light of your holy discourses, have gratified me as much, as the cooling moon-beams gratify the medicinal plants (whence the moon is called oshadhisa or lord of medicinal drugs).

2. Your gentle and purifying words are as gratifying to my ears, as the beautiful and sweet flowers delight the external senses (by their colours and odours). (Sweet words are often compared with flowers by Persian and Urdu poets: as, guleazrouzeijaved. Elahikar sakhur meriko up phol.)

3. Sir, if the exertions of men, as you said, be the causes of their success, how was it that Prahlada came to be enlightened without his effort or attempt? (in obtaining his divine knowledge without his learning or help of a preceptor).

Vasishtha replied:—

4. Yes Rama, it was by his manly exertion, that the highminded Prahlada had acquired his divine knowledge; and there was no other cause (of his knowing and having whatever he knew and possessed).

5. The soul of man is the same as the spirit of Narayana, (which means abiding in man); and there is no difference between them, as there is none between the oil and the sesamum seed; and as the cloth and its whiteness, and the flower and its fragrance are not distinct things. (Because the spirit of God was breathed into the nostrils of man. Narayana and Purusha both mean the spirit dwelling in man).

6. And Vishnu is the same with his spirit or the soul of man, and the human soul is the same with Vishnu (which means the inherent spirit); Vishnu and the soul are synonymous terms as the plant and the vegetable.

7. Prahlada came at first to know the soul by himself (of his own intuition), it was afterwards by means of his intellectual power, that he was led to the persuasion and made many proselytes after his own example.

8. It was by his own desert, that Prahlada obtained his boon from Vishnu; and it was by the exercise of his own reasoning, that he came to the knowledge of the eternal Mind.

9. Sometimes the soul is awakened of itself by one's own intuition, and at others it is roused by the grace of the personal god Vishnu, owing to one's faith in his person. (As it is said:"Thy faith will save thee").

10. And though this god may be pleased with his prolonged service and devout worship, yet he is unable to confer spiritual knowledge to one devoid of his reasoning faculty. (Or to one who has no understanding. Hence gross idolators can have no salvation, which is to be had by spiritual knowledge only. Blind faith is of no good, without the light of reason).

11. Hence the primary cause of spiritual light is the intelligence of a man and which is gained by exertion of his mental powers only; the secondary causes may be the blessing and grace of a deity, but I wish you to prefer the former one for your salvation. (So it is knowledge and intrinsic merit which exalt a man, and not the mere favour of a patron, is ever able to raise the unworthy).

12. Exert therefore your manliness at first, to keep the quintuple organs of sense under proper control;and habituate yourself with all diligence to cultivate your understanding, and the power of reasoning.

13. For know whatever gain any one makes at any time, it is owing to his own endeavours only that he gains the same, and not by any other means whatever.

14. It is only by dependence on your manly powers, that you can surmount the insuperable barriers of your sensual appetites; and then by crossing over the ocean of this world, reach to the other shore of supreme felicity.

15. It requires no exertion or manly effort to see the figure of Vishnu;but the mere sight of the image is not sufficient to save you, or else the birds and beasts would all be saved by looking at it.

16. If it were in the power of the spiritual guide also to save his foolish followers by his preachings; it would be possible also to the leaders of camels and kine, to save their herds in their future lives. (This figure is set in many temples, and in stones also).

17. It is in the power of the mind only to acquire anything good for one's self, and not the favour of Hari or that of Hara, or the influence of money, that is able to effect anything.

18. It is by means of constant practice, accompanied by self-resignation and self-control, that one is enabled to effect anything;and whatever he is unable to do by these means, is impossible for him to do by any other in the three worlds.

19. Look to the spirit in the spirit, and adore the spirit in your own soul; behold the supreme soul in yourself, and have the universal soul in your own soul, and thus remain with it.

20. Fools flying from attending to the sastras, or practising their self-devotion and exercise of reason, have adopted to themselves the Vaishnava faith as a path leading to their better being (or a means towards the great object of final beatitude).

21. Practice and diligence are said to be steps to self-edification, and rites and ceremonies are represented as secondary courses resorted to for want of the former!

22. The senses being refractory what is the good of ceremonial observances, and these being under control, it is useless to observe the ritual. (In both ways the rituals are useless to men of virtuous and vicious habits; the former being in no need, of them and the latter not benefiting by them).

23. Without rationality and dispassionateness of his spirit, it is hard to have Hari (or spiritual felicity); and when there is the cool and calm reasoning of the mind, it is as useless to have the idol of Hari, as to place a lotus in the hand of the dead and liberated.

24. When you have the qualities of abstraction and composure in your mind, think you have every thing in yourself; for these being in your possession, you become an adept, or else you are an ass of the forest. (that is good for nothing).

25. Men are eager to find favour in the sight of the gods (and great men); but they do not seek the favour of their hearts and minds (which can give them whatever blessing is derived from any other).

26. Vishnu the indwelling spirit of the body, is situated in the inmost soul of every individual; it is the ignorant fool only that forsake the innermost Vishnu, and seek the outer form for its leading to the other (which is more closely allied to us than the latter).

27. The consciousness dwelling in the cavity of the heart, is the true body of the everlasting spirit;and the outward form of Vishnu, holding the conchshell, cudgel, lotus and the discus, is but a false representation of it. (A fabrication of the ignorant for the immaterial spirit, in a material form).

28. He who forsakes the real form, and follows the fictitious one, lets off the ambrosia pass from his hand, in pursuit of some promised confectionary.

29. He who is not settled amidst the charming scenery of his spiritual meditation, lets his frantic mind to rove at large, after every object that presents itself before him.

30. He who has not the abstract knowledge of the soul in himself, is under the subjection of his infatuated mind; and worships the image bearing the conch, discus, club and lotus in its hands, as the supreme Lord and God.

31. It is by practice of continued austerity, and a prolonged worship of this deity, that the mind of the devotee becomes purified in process of time, and gets rid of its turbulent passions at last.

32. But the daily practice of self-control and abstract meditation, gives the mind the same purity, and like the amra or mango fruit, it gets its accompanying virtues one by one. (The virtues of the mango are its flavour, colour &c.).

33. So the soul is said to get in itself the virtues of peace, contentment and the rest, by means of the external adoration of Hari;and it is for this reason that the practice of idol worship is prescribed in the sastras. (As a preparatory step to holiness and spiritual worship).

34. He who obtains his boon from the all powerful god, gets it in reward of his merit; as a fruit of the tree of his long practice.

35. It is mental labour (lit.: painstaking), which is the foundation of every improvement, and of all lasting good in life; just as the cultivated soil is the cause of the good condition of the harvest.

36. Even the digging of the ground, and the pulling of the hill (by bodily labour), is productive of no good without application of the mind. (Gloss. The digging of the ground alludes to the mining of the earth by the sons of Sagara;and the pulling of the hill refers to the churning of the sea with Mandara by the gods and demons. Both these hardy works were for the sake of obtaining the gems hid under them which required knowledge (of geology)).

37. Men may undergo a thousand transmigrations, and wander about the earth in various births and shapes, and yet find no rest composure of their minds.

38. They may worship Brahma, Vishnu and the Rudras for ever, and gain their favour also, and yet can have no salvation owing to the perturbed state of their minds.

39. Leave off worshipping the visible form or image of Vishnu (or any other god), either internally or externally in your mind or before your sight; and put an end to your transmigration, by meditating on your consciousness alone.

40. Behold the unsullied form of One infinite God in your conscious self, and by forsaking all whatever it is conscious of. Relish the sweet essence of the one real entity, and go over the ocean of repeated births in the mortal world.