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 LII - Ratiocination of uddalaka

Argument. Uddalaka's Remonstration with himself, amidst the reveries of his meditation.

Vasistha resumed:—

1. The saintly Uddalaka then entered in that grotto of Gandhamadana mountain, as the sauntering bee enters into the lotus-cell, in the course of its romantic peregrination.

2. It was for the purpose of his intense meditation, that he entered the cave and sat therein;as when the lotus-born creator, had retired to and rested in his seclusion, after termination of his work of creation.

3. There he made a seat for himself, by spreading the unfaded leaves of trees on the floor; as when the god Indra spreads his carpet of the manifold layers of clouds.

4. He then spread over it his carpet of deerskin, as the bedding of stars, is laid over the strata of the blue clouds of heaven.

5. He sat upon it in his meditative mood, with the watchfulness of his mind; as when an empty and light cloud alights on the top of the Rishyasringa mountain. (I.e. his mind was as fleet, as a fleeting cloud).

6. He sat firmly in the posture of padmasana like Buddha, with his face turned upwards; his two legs and feet covered his private parts, and his palms and fingers counted the beads of Brahma.

7. He restrained the fleet deer of his mind, from the desires to which it ran by fits and starts; and then he reflected in the following manner, for having the unaltered steadiness of his mind.

8. O my senseless mind! said he, why is it, that thou art occupied in thy worldly acts to no purpose; when the sensible never engage themselves, to what proves to be their bane afterwards.

9. He who pursues after pleasure, by forsaking his peaceful tranquillity; is as one who quits his grove of mandara flowers, and enters a forest of poisonous plants. (Thoughts of pleasure poisons the mind).

10. Thou mayst hide thyself in some cave of the earth, and find a place in the highest abode of Brahma, then yet thou canst not have thy quiet there, without the quietism of thy spirit.

11. Cease to seek thy objects of thy desire, which are beset by difficulties, and are productive of thy woe and anxiety; fly from these to lay hold on thy chief good, which thou shalt find in thy solitary retirement only.

12. These sundry objects of thy fancy or liking, which are so temporary in their nature; are all for thy misery, and of no real good at any time (either when they are sought for, or enjoyed or lost to thee).

13. Why followest thou like a fool, the hollow sound of some fancied good, which has no substantial in it? It is as the great glee of frogs, at the high sounding of clouds that promise them nothing. (Hence the phrase "megha mandukika", that is, the frogs croaking in vain at the roaring of clouds; answering the English phrases "fishing in the air and milking the ram, or pursuing a shadow &c.").

14. Thou hast been roving all this time with thy froggish heart, in the blind pursuit after thy profit and pleasure; but tell me what great boon has booted thee;in all thy ramblings about the earth.

15. Why dost thou not fix thy mind to that quietism, which promises to give thee something as thy self-sufficiency; and wherein thou mayst find thy rest as the state of thy liberation in thy life time.

16. O my foolish heart! why art thou roused at the sound of some good which reaches unto thy ears, and being led by thy deluded mind, in the direction of that sound; thou fallest a victim to it, as the deer is entrapped in the snare, by being beguiled by the hunter's horn.

17. Beware, O foolish man! to allow the carnal appetite to take possession of thy breast, and lead thee to thy destruction, as the male elephant is caught in the pit, by being beguiled by the artful koomki to fall into it. (The female elephant is called koomki in elephant-catching).

18. Do not be misled by thy appetite of taste, to cram the bitter gall for sweet; or bite the fatal bait that is laid, to hook the foolish fish to its destruction.

19. Nor let thy fondness for bright and beautiful objects, bewitch thee to thy ruin; as the appearance of a bright light or burning fire, invites the silly moth to its consumption.

20. Let not thy ardour for sweet odour, tempt thee to thy ruin; nor entice thee like the poor bees to the flavour of the liquor, exuding from the frontal proboscis of the elephant, only to be crushed by its trunk.

21. See how the deer, the bee, the moth, the elephant and the fish, are each of them destroyed by their addiction to the gratification of a single sense; and consider the great danger to which the foolish man, is exposed by his desire of satisfying all his refractory senses and organs.

22. O my heart! it is thou thyself, that dost stretch the snare of thy desires for thy own entanglement; as the silk worm weaves its own cell (cocoon) by its saliva, for its own imprisonment.

23. Be cleansed of all thy impure desires, and become as pure and clear as the autumnal cloud (after it has poured out its water in the rains); and when thou art fully purged and are buoyed up as a cloud, you are then free from all bondage.

24. Knowing the course of the world, to be pregnant with the rise and fall of mankind, and to be productive of the pangs of disease and death at the end; you are still addicted to it for your destruction only.

25. But why do I thus upbraid or admonish my heart in vain; it is only by reasoning with the mind that men are enabled to govern their hearts (i.e. to repress all their feelings and passions).

26. But as long as gross ignorance continues to reign over the mind, so long is the heart kept in its state of dulness; as the nether earth is covered with mist and frost, as long as the upper skies are shrouded by the raining clouds.

27. But no sooner is the mind cleared of its ignorance, than the heart also becomes lighter (and cleared of its feeling); as the disappearance of the rainy clouds disperses the frost covering the nether earth.

28. As the heart becomes lighter and purer by means of the mind's act of reasoning; so I ween its desires to grow weaker and thinner, like the light and fleeting clouds of autumn.

29. Admonition to the unrighteous proves as fruitless, as the blowing of winds against the falling rain. (I.e. counsel to the wicked is as vain, as a blast of wind to drive the pouring rain).

30. I shall therefore try to rid myself of this false and vacant ignorance; as it is the admonition of the sastras, to get rid of ignorance by all means.

31. I find myself to be the inextinguishable lamp of intellect, and without my egoism or any desire in myself; and have no relation with the false ignorance, which is the root of egoism.

32. That this is I and that is another, is the false suggestion of our delusive ignorance; which, like an epidemic disease, presents us with such fallacies for our destruction.

33. It is impossible for the slender and finite mind to comprehend the nature of the infinite soul; as it is not possible for an elephant to be contained in a nut shell. (Lit.: in the crust of a bilva or bel fruit).

34. I cannot follow the dictate of my heart, which is a wide and deep cave, containing the desires causing all our misery.

35. What is this delusive ignorance, which, like the error of injudicious lads, creates the blunder of viewing the self-existent one, in the different lights of I, thou, he and other personalities.

36. I analysed my body at each atom from the head to foot, but failed to find what we call the "I" in any part of it, and what makes my personality. (It is the body, mind and soul taken together, that makes a person).

37. That which is the "I am" fills the whole universe, and is the only one in all the three worlds; it is the unknowable consciousness, omnipresent and yet apart from all.

38. Its magnitude is not to be known, nor has it any appellation of its own; it is neither the one nor the other, nor an immensity nor minuteness (but is greater than the greatest, and minuter than the minutest).[1]

39. It is unknowable by the light of the Vedas, and its ignorance which is the cause of misery is to be destroyed by the light of reason.

40. This is the flesh of my body and this its blood! these are the bones and this the whole body; these are my breaths, but where is that I or ego situated?

41. Its pulsation is the effect of the vital breath or wind, and its sensation is the action of the heart;there are also decay and death concomitant of the body; but where is its "I" situated in it?

42. The flesh is one thing and the blood another, and the bones are different from them; but tell me, my heart, where is the "I" said to exist?

43. These are the organs of smelling and this the tongue;this is skin and these my ears; these are the eyes and this the touch—twac; but what is that called the soul and where is it situated?

44. I am none of the elements of the body, nor the mind nor its desire;but the pure intellectual soul, and a manifestation of the divine intellect.

45. That I am everywhere, and yet nothing whatever that is anywhere, is the only knowledge of the true reality that we can have, and there is no other way to it (i.e., of coming to know the same.)[2]

46. I have been long deceived by my deceitful ignorance, and am misled from the right path;as the young of a beast is carried away by a fierce tiger to the woods.

47. It is now by my good fortune that I have come to detect this thievish ignorance;nor shall I trust any more this robber of truth.

48. I am above the reach of affliction, and have no concern with misery, nor has it anything to do with me. This union of mine with these is as temporary, as that of a cloud with a mountain.

49. Being subject to my egoism, I say I speak, I know, I stay, I go, &c.; but on looking at the soul, I lose my egoism in the universal soul.

50. I verily believe my eyes, and other parts of my body, to belong to myself; but if they be as something beside myself, then let them remain or perish with the body, with which I have no concern.

51. Fie for shame! What is this word I, and who was its first inventor? This is no other than a slip slop and a namby pamby of some demoniac child of earth. (I.e., it is an earth-born word and unknown in heaven).

52. O! for this great length of time, that I have been groveling in this dusty den; and roving at large like a stray deer, on a sterile rock without any grass or verdure.

53. If we let our eyes to dry into the true nature of things, we are at a loss to find the true meaning of the word I, which is the cause of all our woe on earth. (I.e., ignorance of ourselves is the cause of our woe, and the obliteration of our personalities obviates all our miseries).

54. If you want to feel your in being by the sense of touch, then tell me how you find what you call I, beside its being a ghost of your own imagination.

55. You set your I on your tongue, and utter it as an object of that organ, while you really relish no taste whatever of that empty word, which you so often give utterance to.

56. You often hear that word ringing in your ears, though you feel it to be an empty sound as air, and cannot account whence this rootless word had its rise.

57. Our sense of smelling, which brings the fragrance of objects to the inner soul, conveys no scent of this word into our brain.

58. It is as the mirage, and a false idea of something we know not what;and what can it be otherwise than an error, of which we have no idea or sense whatever?

59. I see my will also is not always the cause of my actions, because I find my eyes and the other organs of sense are employed in their respective functions, without the direction of my volition.

60. But the difference between our bodily and wilful acts is this, that the actions of the body done without the will of the mind are unattended with feeling of pain or pleasure unto us. (Therefore let all thy actions be spontaneous and indifferent in their nature, if thou shalt be free from pain or pleasure).

61. Hence let thy organs of sense perform their several actions, without your will of the same; and you will by this means evade all the pleasure and pain (of your success and disappointment).

62. It is in vain that you blend your will with your actions, (which are done of themselves by means of the body and mind); while the act of your will is attended with a grief similar to that of children, upon the breaking of the dolls of their handy work in play. (I.e., boys make toys in play, but cry at last to see them broken).

63. Your desires and their productions are the facsimiles of your minds, and not different from them; just as the waves are composed of the same water from which they rise. Such is the case with the acts of will.

64. It is your own will that guides your hand to construct a prison for your confinement; as the silly silkworm is confined in the pod of its own making.

65. It is owing to your desires that you are exposed to the perils of death and disease, as it is the dim sightedness of the traveller over the mountainous spots that hurls him headlong into the deep cavern below.

66. It is your desire only, that is the chief cause of your being attached to one another in one place;as the thread passing through the holes of pearls, ties them together in a long string round the neck. (Every desire is a connecting link between man and man).

67. What is this desire, but the creation of your false imagination, for whatever you think to be good for yourself; (though it may not be so in reality); and no sooner you cease to take a fancy for anything, than your desire for it is cut off as by a knife.

This desire said:—

68. the creature of your imagination—is the cause of all your errors and your ruin also; as the breath of air is the cause both of the burning and extinction of lamps and lightening the fiery furnaces.

69. Now therefore, O my heart! that art the source and spring of thy senses, do thou join with all thy sensibility, to look into the nature of thy unreality, and feel in thyself the state of thy utter annihilation—nirvana at the end,

70. Give up after all thy sense of egoism with thy desire of worldliness, which are interminable endemics to thee in this life. Put on the amulet of the abandonment of thy desires and earthliness, and resign thyself to thy God to be free from all fears on earth.

Footnotes and references:


[Sanskrit: anoraniyān, mahatī mahīyān]. Sruti.


[Sanskrit: nānvapantha hitīyakamanāya]. Sruti.