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 XLVIII - On the wondrous power of illusion

Argument. Devotion of Gadhi after his return, and Vishnu's exhibition of the extraordinary power of delusion to him.

Vasishtha continued:—

Gadhi was bewildered in his mind, at all that he heard and observed about the Chandala and his residence, and felt uneasy to learn more about them.

2. He went back to the place, and observed the abodes that lay scattered upon the plain; as when the lotus-born Brahma looks over the ruins, made by the great deluge at the end of a kalpa age.

3. He said to himself, those bones lying scattered about the ruined huts in this forest, look like little imps (pisachas), gathered round the trees standing on the burial ground.

4. These posts and pegs of elephant's tusks, that are fastened to and upon the walls of the ruined houses; look like the craigs of mount Meru, drowned under the waters of the kalpa deluge.

5. Here the Chandala feasted on his meat food of monkey's flesh, and dressed with the sprouts of young bamboos; and there he caroused on his country grog, in company with his drunken friends.

6. Here he slept in the embrace of his murky spouse, on his bed of the lion's skin; being drunk with the better liquor mixed with the ichor, exuding from the frontal proboscis of the elephant.

7. There was a pack of hounds, tied to the trunk of the withered Bharaeda tree, and fed with the rotten flesh of the putrid carcasses.

8. Here I see three earthen vessels covered with the hides of buffaloes, resembling fragments of dark clouds; and which had once contained the precious pearls falling from the sculls of slain elephants. (The low and poor people, use earthen pots and boiling kettles for boxes and chests).

9. I see the site of the place which I had seen in my dream, and where the Chandala boys played on the dust, with as much glee and gaiety, as the cuckoos have in flitting on the tufts of mango leaves.

10. I see the place I had seen in my vision, where the boys sang responsive to the tune of their bamboo pipes; and drank the milk of bitches, and adorned themselves with flowers from the funeral grounds.

11. Here the families of the wedding parties, met together to celebrate their marriage festivity; and danced and sang as loudly, as the noise of the dashing waves of the sea.

12. There I find the bamboo cages, still suspended on high; which were laid before, for catching the flying birds of the air; in order to be killed for the food (of their slayers).

Vasishtha resumed:—

13. Thus Gadhi remained for a long time on the spot, observing all what he remembered to have seen in his dream; and was lost in wonder, to think on the miraculous disclosure of these things in his dream. (Lit.:—heart-strings palpitated with surprise &c.).

14. He then departed from that place, and travelled through many countries beyond the boundaries of Butan, for a long time.

15. He passed over many rivers and rocks, and through many deserts and forests; until he reached to the snowy mountain, and the habitation of humankind beyond its borders.

16. He then arrived at the city of a great monarch, the towers of which rose as hills upon the earth; and there stopped after his long journey, as when Narada rests in his heavenly dome, after the fatigue of travelling through the numerous worlds.

17. He beheld in that city all the places answering to the romantic thoughts in his mind, and those as he had seen and enjoyed in his dream, and then asked the citizens in a respectful manner.

18. Good Sirs, said he, do you remember any thing regarding the Chandala king that reigned here for sometime, which, if you do, be pleased to relate unto me in its proper order.

19. The citizens replied:—Yes, O Brahman, there reigned here a Chandala king for full eight years, and he was elected to its government, by the auspicious elephant of the realm.

20. Being at last discovered to be of so vile a race, he committed his self-immolation on the funeral pyre; and it is now a dozen of years, since the direful event has taken place.

21. In this manner the inquisitive Gadhi continued in his inquiry of every man he met with, and was satisfied to learn the same information from the mouth of every body there.

22. He then beheld the king of that city coming with his body guards and vehicles, and whom he recognized to be no other than the god Vishnu and his attendants as he had seen in his devotion, and were now going out of the city.

23. He saw the sky shadowed by the cloud of dust raised by the feet of the passing procession; and remembered with grief the like state of his pomp under his past kingship.

24. He said to himself, here are the same Kiri damsels with their rosy skins, resembling the petals of lotuses; and those with their bodies blazing as liquid gold, and their cerulean eyes trembling like blue lotuses.

25. The waving of the chowry flappers, flashes with the light of bright moonbeams; and resembles the falling waters of a cascade, and clusters of kasa flowers.

26. Beautiful maidens, waving the snow white fans in their beauteous hands, resembled the forest plants with pearly flower on their branches.

27. The rows of furious elephants, standing on both sides of the land, are like thick lines of kalpa trees, growing on ridges of the Sumeru mountains.

28. These chieftains resembling the gods Yama, Kubera and Varuna—the lord of waters, are like the regents of the different quarters of the sky, accompanying Indra—the lord of heaven.

29. These long extending lines of goodly edifices, which are full of a great variety of things, and abounding in all sorts of comforts, resemble a grove of kalpa trees, conferring all the objects of desire.

30. In this royal city of the Kirs, and in the manners of its assembled people, I see exactly the same customs and usages, as those of the kingdom of my past life.

31. Truly this is but a vision in my dream, and appearing as a reality in my waking state; I cannot understand why this delusive magic show is spread out before me.

32. O yes, I am as fast bound by my ignorance, and captivated by my reminiscence, as a captive bird in a net, that has lost all power over itself.

33. O fie! that my silly mind is so deluded by its desires, that it is always wont to mistake the shadow for the substance, of people dwelling on their aerial castles.

34. This extraordinary magic, I ween is shown to me by Vishnu—the holder of the discus, of whom I recollect to have asked the favour of showing Maya or delusion to me.

35. I will now betake myself to austere devotion in the cavern of a hill, in order to learn the origin and subsistence of delusion (i.e. how the deceitful delusion sprang from the truthful God, and whereof it consists).

36. Having long thought in this manner, Gadhi went out of the city, and came to the cavern of mountain; where he rested after all his travels and travail of thought, like a lion tired with his roaming for forage.

37. He remained there for a whole year, living only on the water of the cataract collected in the hollow of his palm; and devoted himself to the worship of Vishnu, the holder of the Saringi bow.

38. Then the lotus eyed god appeared to him in his watery form, which was as clear and graceful to sight, as the limpid lake of autumn with the blue lotuses full blown upon it.

39. With this form, the god approached to the hermit's cell in the mountain, and stood over it in the likeness of a transparent watery cloud, resting on the humid atmosphere.

40. The lord spoke to him saying:—Gadhi thou hast fully seen the great spell of my magic (maya); and known the network or delusion, which is spread by destiny over all the affairs of this world. (I.e. man is destined, and to be deluded to think the false scenes of the world as real ones).

41. Thou hast now well understood the nature of delusion, which thou didst desire in thy heart to know, what is it again that thou wantest to know, by these austerities of thine in this mountain cave?

Vasishtha said:—

42. Gadhi the best of Brahmans, seeing Hari addressing him in this manner, honoured him duly with strewing plentiful of flowers at his divine feet.

43. After Gadhi had made his offering of flowers, with due obeisance and turning round the deity;he addressed him with his words, sounding as sweet as notes of the chataka to the blooming lotus.

Gadhi said:—

44. Lord! I have seen the dark delusion, that thou hast shown me in her form of gloominess; I pray thee now to show her unto me in her fair form, as the sun appears after the gloom of night.

45. The mind which is vitiated by the dirt of its desires, views a great many errors, rising before it like false phantoms and visions in a dream; but how is it my lord! that the same visions continue to be seen in the waking state also (or as waking dreams likewise)?

46. It was for a moment only that I thought to have seen some thing as false as a dream, when I stood amidst the waters but how was it, O thou enlightener of the mind, that it became manifest to my outward sense and sight?

47. Why was not the delusion of my birth and death as a Chandala, which took place long ago, and lately verified by many visible vestiges, confined in my memory only, as well as other idle creations of the brain, but became palpable to my naked eyes?

48. The lord replied:—Gadhi! it is the nature of delirium as of one's desires, to present many false appearances to view; and to make one believe what he has never seen before, to be present to his external sight, which in reality is a vision of his mind only.

49. There is nothing on the outside of any body as the earth, sea, hills and the sky; they are all contained in the mind as the fruits, flowers and leaves of trees, are born in the seed and grow from its germ.

50. Like fruits and flowers growing out of the seed and its sprout, this earth and all other things are the productions of the mind alone, and not distinct from it in their essences (i.e. all sensible perceptions are not reflexions of the inborn ideas of the mind).

51. Know it for certain that this earth and all other things, are situated in the mind and not outside of it; as the fruit, flowers and leaves are all contained in the inside of the seed and not without it.

52. The sight of things present, and the thoughts of the absent past and unseen future, are all but acts of the mind, as the making and unmaking of pots, are both of them the doings of the pot maker.

53. Whatever notions there are in the minds of men from their youth to age are alike to the phantoms of their dream or the deliriums of their ebriety or some (mental) disease.

54. The settled desires of the mind present a thousand appearances before its sight, as the rooted plants on earth, abound with fruits and flowers of various kinds, on the surface of the ground.

55. But the plants being rooted out of the ground, there remains no vestige of a fruit or flower or leaf upon earth: so the desires being driven out of the mind, there is no more any trace of anything left behind them; nor is there any probability of future transmigrations, when the reminiscence of the past is utterly obliterated from the soul.

56. It is no wonder for the shifting stage of the mind, to present you the single scene of the Chandala, when it has in store, and can with equal ease show you an infinity of appearances at its pleasure. (The drama of life exhibits but a partial scene at a time).

57. It was the impression (eidolon) in thy mind, that made thee think thyself as the Chandala, in the manner of the many phantoms, that rise before the mind in the delirium of a sickly person.

58. It was the same phrenzy that made thee see the advent of thy Brahman guest, and entertain him with board and bed; and all thy conversation with him, was no other than the phantasies of thy mind.

59. Then the thoughts of thy departure from home, and arrival at the district of the Bhootas, thy sight of the Bhotias and their villages and habitations, were but aberrations of thy mind.

60. Next thy sight of the ruins of the former abode of Katanjala, and the account that thou didst get of him from the mouths of the people, were all the fumes of thy fancy.

61. Afterwards thy visit to the city of the Kirs, and the tale told thee of the Chandala's reign by the people, were the excogitations of thy own mind.

62. Thus all that thou didst hear and see, was the network of thy imagination, and what thou dost believe as true is as false as a phantom of thy brain.

63. The mind infatuated by its hopes and desires sees everything before it, how far soever it may be removed from it; as one dreams of objects as present before him, which would take a whole year for him to reach at.

64. There was neither the guest nor the city, nor were there the Bhotias or the Kiris that thou didst see in reality. It was all a day dream, that thou didst see with thy mind's eye.

65. The truth is, that on thy way to the country of the Bhotias at one time, thou didst halt in the cave of this mountain, as a stag rests himself in a forest, after his long wandering.

66. There being tired with the fatigue of thy travel, thou didst fall into a sound sleep; and dreamt of the Bhotia city and the Chandala, in thy reverie without seeing anything in reality.

67. It was there and in the same state of thy mind that thou sawest the city of the Kirs; and it was the delusion of thy mind that showed thee those things at the time of thy devotion in the water.

68. In this manner thou dost see many other things, wherever thou goest at any time; as a high flier sees his vagaries on all sides about him. (All worldly sights, are but vagaries of imagination).

69. Rise therefore and remain unshaken in the discharge of thy duties, without being misled by the vagaries of thy mind; because it is practice of one's profession that leads him to success, and not the ideals or his mind. (I.e. mind thyself what thou art, and not what thou dost fancy to be).

Vasishtha said:—

70. So saying the lotus-naveled Hari, who is worshipped by the saints and sages in all places, went to his abode in the sea, where he was received by the hands of the gods and holy sages, who led him to his residence. (Vishnu is called lotus-naveled [Sanskrit:padmalabhah] on account of Brahma's birth from it, who is thence named the lotus-born [Sanskrit: padmayoni]).