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 LXVI - The transitoriness of life and evanescence of world by things

Argument. Speech of Bhasa, on the vain sorrows and griefs of unenlightened Minds.

Vasishtha continued:—

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The two sorrowful hermits continued in the observance of their rigorous austerities, until their bodies where emaciated as two withered trees in the forest.

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They passed their time with cool apathy in their minds in the solitary forest; and were as helpless as stray stags separated from each other, and wandering afar from their home and possessions.

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They passed their days and nights, and months and years in this manner; until both of them were worn out by age, like two withered trees in a valley (having no-body to take notice of them).

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Not attaining to true knowledge, their austerities served only to shatter their frames, and reduce their strength;till at last they happened to meet one another, and betook to their conversation in the following manner.

Vilasa said:—

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O Bhasa, that art the best fruit of the tree of my life, that hast thy seat in the recess of my heart, and art a sea of ambrosia to me, I welcome thee, O my best friend in this world.

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Tell me my good friend, how and where you passed so long a time, after your separation from me; and whether your austerities have been successful to be rewarded with their fruit.

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Tell me whether thy mind is freed from anxieties, and whether thou art in possession of thy self (i.e. self-possessed by knowledge of thy soul). Say, hast thou obtained the reward of thy learning, and hast thou after all, got thy peace and quiet.

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Being thus addressed and asked by Vilasa, whose mind was troubled amidst the vexations of this world;Bhasa who had attained to consummate knowledge, replied to him as respectfully as a friend doth to his dearest friend.

Bhasa replied:—

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O good friend! you are fortunately and happily met here this day; but how can we expect to have our peace and rest so long as we have to remain in this world of strife and vale of misery.

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How can I have my rest so long, as the turbulent passions are not subdued in my breast; and until I can know the knowable (the unknown one that is only worth knowing); and till I can get across this sea of the world.

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How can we have our quiet, as long as our desires and hopes and fears continue to infest in our minds; and until we can weed them out, like thorns and brambles of bushes, with the spade of our reason.

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Until we can gain true knowledge, and have the evenness of our minds; and until we can have a full knowledge of things, we can have no rest in us.

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Without the knowledge of the soul and acquisition of true knowledge, which is the greatest remedy against all diseases of the mind, it is impossible to escape from the pestilence of the world.

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The poisonous plant of worldliness, sprouts forth in our childhood; it shoots out in its leaves in our youth, it flowers in our old age, and never fructifies before our death. (We live to long after the fruit best never to earn it).

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The body decays as a withered tree, and our relatives flutter as bees over it; old age overtakes us with its blossoming grey hairs, and produces the fruit of death.

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We have to reap the bitter fruits of our actions of bygone times, which are laid up in store, and fructify in their seasons; and thus years upon years glide upon us, in the same monotonous rotation of business, and the sad tenor of our minds.

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This tall body of ours, rising as a thief on the ground, has all its inner cells and caves, filled with the thorns of our cravings; it is the abode of the serpentine train of our actions, emitting the poison of continuous woe in our repeated transmigrations in new bodies.

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See how our days and nights are rolling on, in their circuit of continued misery and misfortune, which are misconstrued by men for transient joy and good fortune.

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See how our lives are spent, in useless pursuits after objects of our vain wishes; and how we misspend our time with trifles, that are of no good to us.

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The furious elephant of the ungoverned mind, breaks loose from its fetters of good sense; and then joining with the elephants of wild desire, ranges at large without rest or sleep.

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The bawling tongue sets on screaming, as a vulture in the hollow of the tree of human body; and fosters itself by feeding on the gems of thought (chintamani), lying hidden in it. (The talkative fool is no thoughtful man).

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The slackened limbs of the old and withered body, drop down like the dry leaves of trees; and there is nothing to prop up the drooping spirit, from its decay and decline day by day.

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The brightness of the body flies away in old age, and the mind dejected at the disregard of every body, becomes as pale and withered, as the lotus flower fades away under the frost.

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As the channel of the body dries up in old age, and the water of youth is drained out of it; so the swan of life flies away far from it, and there is nothing to retard its flight.

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The old and time worn tree of the aged body, is overpowered by the force of the blasts of time; which blast its leaves and flowers (like human hopes) below, and then buries them all underneath the ground. (So says the Persian poet: Ai basa haus ke baz manda, oai basa arzu ke khak shuda).

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As the serpent of desire lies dormant in the heart, (for want of overtaking its prey in old age); it is content like the croaking frog, to hold its complaints in the mouth; and the mind like a monster, hides itself in the pool of dark despondence.

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Our desires with their various wishes, are as the variegated flags of temples, furling and fluttering in all directions, till they are hurled down by the hurricane old age.

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The world is a long linked chain, lying in the depth of eternity; wherein the rat of death is always busy in gnawing down the knot of life at the root.

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The stream of life glides muddily on, with the foam and froth of cares and anxieties; there are the whirlpools of repeated transmigrations, and the waves of youthful levities, which are as boisterous as they are dangerous.

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The stream of our actions on earth, flows on interminably, with the billows of our worldly duties, and the various arts of life, all leading to the abyss of perdition.

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The current of our friends and relations, and the concourse of people, glide on incessantly to the deep and boundless ocean of eternity; from whose bourne no body ever returns to life.

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The body is a valuable instrument, for the discharge of our worldly duties; but it is soon lost under the mud of this ocean of the world, and no body knows where it is buried in its repeated births.

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The mind is bound to the wheel of its anxieties, and put to the rack for its misleads; it revolves all along as a straw, in the eddy of this ocean of the world.

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The mind dances and floats, over the waves of the endless duties of life; it has not a moment's respite from its thoughts, but continues to oscillate with the action of the body, and rise and fall according to the course of events.

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The mind like a bewildered bird, flutters between its various thoughts, of what it has done, what it is doing and what it is about to do; and is thus caught in the trap of its own fancies for evermore.

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The thoughts that this one is my friend, and the other one is my foe, are our greatest enemies in this world; and these tear my heart strings like the rough wind, that tears the tender lotus leaves and fibres. (It is wrong to take one for a friend or foe whom we do not know, and with whom we have no concern).

37. [Sanskrit available]
The mind is overwhelmed in the whirlpool of its cares; it is sometimes hurled down to the bottom, and at others floating upon and loosened from it like a living fish caught by angling hook.

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The belief of the external body for the internal self, is the cause of all our woe herein; and so the taking of others as our own is equally for our misery.

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All mankind placed between their weal and woe in life, are swept away to age and death; as the leaves of trees growing on high hills, are scattered by the high winds of heaven.

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