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 LXXI - A discourse on the body, mind and soul

Argument. Consideration of the Soul in its Various lights, and its Irrelation with the body.

Vasishtha continued:—

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The consideration of the fourth stage, is attended with the knowledge of monoity or oneness of all; and this is the province of the living liberated man according to the dicta of the veda. (Consideration or paramarsha is defined as a logical antecedent or knowledge of a general principle, combined with the knowledge that the case in question is one to which it is applicable; as the smoke of the hill is attended by fire, is a logical antecedent. In plain words it means, that the Turiya yoga, presupposes the knowledge of unity or onliness of the one self existent Kaivalya or monism).

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Rising above this to the turyality or hyperquartan state, in which one sees nothing but an inane vacuity. This is the state of disembodied spirits, that are lost in infinity, and of whom the sastras can say nothing (i.e. the embodied or living soul has knowledge of its personality, up to the fourth stage of its elevation; but the disembodied or departed soul, that is liberated after death, and becomes (Videha mukta), grows as impersonal as the undistinguishable vacuum).

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This state of quiet rest, lies afar from the farthest object; and is attained by those who are liberated of their bodies; just as the aerial path is found only by aerial beings. (The spheres of spirits are unknown to embodied beings).

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After a man has forgotten the existence of the world, for sometime in his state of sound sleep; he gains the fourth state of turiya, which is full of felicity and rapture.

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The manner in which the spiritualists have come to know the superquartan state, should also be followed by you, O Rama, in order to understand that unparalleled state of felicity which attends upon it.

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Remain, O Rama, in your state of hypnotism—Susupta, and continue in your course of worldly duties even in that state; so as your mind like the moon in painting may not be subject to its waning phases, nor be seized by any alarm (like the threatening eclipses of the moon).

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Do not think that the waste or stability of your body, can affect the state of your intellect; because the body bears no relation with the mind, and is but an erroneous conception of the brain.

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Although the body is nothing, yet it must not be destroyed by any means; because you gain nothing by destroying it, nor lose anything by its firmness; but remain in the continuance of your duties, and leave the body to go on in its own wonted course.

You have known the truth said:—

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that God presides over the world; you have understood the Divine nature in all its three-fold states; you have attained your true-state of spirituality, and are freed from your worldly sorrows.

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You have got rid of your liking and disliking what you desire or despise, and are graced with the cooling light of your reason; you have got out of the dark cloud of prejudice, and have become as graceful as the autumnal sky with the lustre of the full moon (of your intellect) shining over it.

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Your mind has got its self possession, and does not lower itself to meaner things; it has become as perfect as those, that are accomplished in their devotion (namely in the observance of yoga and its austerities), so that you would not deign to stoop to earth from that higher sphere.

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This is the region of the pure and uniform intellect, having no bounds to it, nor are there the false landmarks of "I, and thou, this and that, mine and thine"and such like errors.

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This Divine Intellect is attributed with the imaginary title of Atma (—atmos or self) for general use; or else there is no occasion of the distinction of names and forms, with that being who is quite distinct from all.

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As the sea is a vast body of water, with its waves of the same element, and no way different from it; so is all this plenum composed of the pure soul, and this earth and water are no other than itself.

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As you see nothing in the ocean, except the vast body of water;so you find nothing in the sphere of the universe, except the one universal soul.

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Say O ye intelligent man, what is it to which you apply the terms yourself, itself and the like; what is it that you call yourself and to belong to you, and what is that other which is not yourself, nor belongs to you.

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There being no duality beside the only soul, there can be no material body at all; nor is there any relation between this and that, than there is between the light of the sun and the gloom of night.

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Supposing the existence of a duality, yet I will tell you, O Rama, that the existence of material bodies, bears no relation with the spiritual soul.

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As light and shade and darkness and sunshine, bear no relation to one another;so the embodied soul has no connection with the body (in which it is thought to reside).

As the two contraries said:—

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cold and hot can never combine together, so the body and soul can never join with one another.

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As the two opposites can have no relation between them, so is it with the body and soul, the one being dull matter, and the other an intelligent principle.

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The dictum of the connection of the body with the pure intellect of the soul, is as improbable as the subsistence of a sea in a conflagration (i.e., the impossibility of the meeting of water and wild fire).

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The sight of truth, removes every false appearance; as the knowledge of light in the sandy desert, displaces the mirage of the ocean in the sun-beams.

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The intellectual soul is immortal and undecaying, and perfectly pure and shining by itself; while the body is perishable and impure, and cannot therefore be related with the spirit.

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The body is moved by the vital breath, and is fattened by solid aliments; and cannot therefore be related with the self-moving soul, which is without its increase or decrease.

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The duality of the body (or matter) being acknowledged, does not prove its relation with the soul; and the dualism of material bodies being disproved, the theory of its relativity, falls at once to the ground.

27. Knowing thus the essence of the soul, you must rely on its subjective in-being within yourself; and then you will be free both from your bondage and liberation, in all places and at all times.

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Believe all nature to be quiet and full of its quiescent soul; and let this be your firm belief, in whatever you see within and without yourself.

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The thoughts that I am happy or miserable, or wise or ignorant, proceed from our false (or comparative view of things); and you will always remain miserable, as long as you continue to believe in the substantiality of outward things.

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As there lies the wide difference, between a rock and a heap of hay;and between a silk-pod and a stone; the same applies in the comparison of the pure soul and the gross body.

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As light and darkness bear no relation nor comparison between themselves, such is the case also, O Rama! between the body and soul, which are quite different from one another.

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As we never hear of the union of cold and hot even in story, nor of the junction of light and darkness in any place;such is the want of union between the soul and body, which are never joined together.

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All bodies are moved by the air, and the human body moves to and fro by its breath; it is sonant by means of its breath, and the machinery of its wind pipes.

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The human body utters its articulate sounds, combined with the letters of the alphabet; and by means of its internal breathings. Its mechanism is the same as that of sounding bambu pipe.

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So it is the internal air, which moves the pupils and the eyelids; it is the same air that gives motion to the limbs of the body; but it is the intellect which moves the soul, and gives movement to its consciousness.

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The soul is present in all places, whether in heaven above or in the worlds beneath; and its image is seen in the mind as its mirror.

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You will have some notion of the soul in your mind by thinking that it flies like a bird from the cage of its body, and wanders about at random, being led by its desires and fancies.

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As the knowledge of the flower, is accompanied with that of its odour; so the knowledge of the soul is inseparable from that of the mind (which is as it were, the odour of the soul).

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As the all pervading sky, is partly seen in a mirror;so the omnipresent soul, is partially seen in the mirror of the mind.

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As water seeks the lowest level for its reservoir; so it is the mind, which the soul makes the receptacle of its knowledge (i.e. the soul receives and deposits all its knowledge from and in the mind).

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The knowledge of the reality or unreality of the world, which is reflected upon the internal organ of the mind; is all the working of the conscious soul, as light is the production of solar rays.

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This internal organ (of the mind), is regarded as the actual cause of all (under the title of Hiranyagarbha); while the soul which is the prime cause of causes, is regarded as no cause at all, owing to its transcendent nature (and this is called the supreme Brahma; or the soul, that remains intact from all causality).

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Men of great minds, have given the appellation of fallacy, misjudgement and ignorance to this internal or causal mind; which is the source of the creation of worlds. (But all of these, are mere fabrications of the imaginative mind).

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It is error and want of full investigation; that make us mistake the mind for a distinct entity; it is the seed of all our ignorance, which casts us in darkness from the sunlight of reason.

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It is by means of the true knowledge of the soul, Rama! that the mind becomes a nihility, as the darkness becomes a zero before the light of the lamp.

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It is ignorance (of true knowledge), that mistakes the mind for the cause of creation, and recognizes it under its various denominations; such as of jiva (zeus) or the living soul, the internal organ, the mind, the thinking principle and the thought (as they are stated in the Utpatti prakarana of this work).

Rama said:—

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Tell me sir, why are so many different appellations, heaped upon the only one thing of the mind, and deliver me from the confusion, which is caused by them in my mind.

Vasishtha answered said:—

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All these are but the various modes of the single substance of the soul, whose intellect displays these modalities;as the same substance of water, displays itself into the variety of its waves.

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The soul is a fluctuating principle, which inheres in all its modifications; as the fluidity of water, is inherent in the undulatory waves of the sea.

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The supreme soul is sometimes without its vibration, and remains stationary in all immovable things; as the water which presents its fluidity in the loose billows, shows also its inelasticity in the liquids which are at rest (as in water pots and bottles).

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Hence the stones and other immovable substances, remain at rest with their inherent spirit; but men and all animated nature, are as the foaming froths of the distilled liquor of the universal soul.

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The almighty power resides in all bodies, with the inertia of his spirit; which is known as the insensibility, dullness or ignorance of inert bodies.

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The infinite soul being involved in that ignorance, takes the name of the living or animal soul; which is confined as an elephant, in the prison house of the delusion of this world.

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It is called jiva or living from its animation, and also as the ego from its egoism; it is termed the understanding from its power of discernment, and as the mind from its will or volition.

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It is called dull nature from its natural dullness, and also as body from its being embodied with many elementary principles; it is inert in its natural state, and sensible also from the essence of the soul imbrued in it.

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The spiritual substance which lies between the inert and active principles, is called the mind; and it passes under various designations, according to its different faculties and functions.

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This is the quiddity of the animating soul jiva, as given in the Brihadaranyaka and other upanishads; and there are many other definitions of it to be found, in the other works of Vedanta.

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But the unvedantic paralogists, have invented many other words over and above these, to designate the animal soul; and have thereby misled the ignorant to false beliefs, tending to their bewilderment only.

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Know thus, O long armed Rama! this animating soul to be the cause of creation, and not the dull and dumb body, which has not the power of moving itself, without being moved by some spiritual force.

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It happens many times, that the destruction (or ablation) of either the container or contained, causes the annihilation of both; so it is the case with the receptacle of the body and its content the soul, that the removal of the one leads to the dissolution of both. (But this means their decomposition and not their destruction, as neither of these is destroyed at once).

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The moisture of a leaf when dried, is neither wasted nor lost in air;but subducted from it to reside in the rays of the all sucking sun.

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So the body being wasted, there is no waste of the embodied soul; which is borne to live in banishment from its former abode, and reside in the region of empty air or in the reservoir of the universal spirit.

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He who falls into the error of thinking himself as lost at the loss of his body, is like a baby, which is snatched away by a fairy from the breast of its mother.

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He who is thought to have his utter extinction, is said to rise again (by the resurrection of his soul);it is the abeyance of the mind which is called utter extinction and liberation of the soul.

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A person being dead, is said to be lost—nashta; but this is entirely false and untrue; as one who being long absent from his country returns to it again; so the dead man revisits the earth, in his repeated transmigrations.

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Here men are borne away like straws and sticks by the current of death, to the vast ocean of eternity; and having disappeared as fruits from their nature, soil and season, appear in others and in other scenes.

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Living beings bounden to their desires, are led from one body to another in endless succession; as monkeys quit the decayed trees of the forest, in search of others elsewhere.

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They leave them again when they are worn out, and repair to others at distant times and climes.

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Living beings are hourly seen to be moving about, and led away by their insatiate desires from place to place; as restless infants are rocked and carried by their cunning nurses.

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Bound by the rope of desire, to the decayed trees of their infirm bodies, men are seen to drag their lives of labour, in search of their livings in this valley of misery.

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Men though grown old and decrepit and loaded with misery, and though they are shattered in their bodies at the last stage of their life; are still dragged about by the inborn desires of their hearts, to be cast into hell pits (both while alive and after their death).

Valmiki said:—

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As the sage had said thus far, the sun sank down and bade the day to observe its evening rites. The assembly broke with mutual salutations, and all of them proceeded to their evening ablutions, until they met again after dispersion of the gloom of night, by the rising rays of the orient sun.

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