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 LXXXII - Investigation into the nature of the sensuous mind

Argument. Story of Vita-havya, materialist becomes a spiritualist.

Vasishtha continued:—

It was in this manner that the learned Samvarta, who had the knowledge of the soul reasoned with himself, and which he communicated to me on the Vindhyan mountain. (Samvarta is said to have been the brother of Brihaspati, both of whom have transmitted to us two distinct treatises on law, which are still extant).

2. Shut out the world, said he, from your sight, and employ your understanding to abstract reasoning, in order to get over the vast ocean of this world.

3. Hear me tell you Rama of another view of things, whereby the great sage Vita-havya gave up the practice of making his offerings to fire, and remained dauntless in his spiritualistic faith.

4. The illustrious Vita-havya wandered about the forests in former times, and then resided in a cave of the Vindhya mount, which was as spacious as a cave of Meru under the sun's passage. (The cave of mount Meru is the Polar circle about which the sun is said to turn; but Sumeru is the meridian circle on which the sun passes).

5. He grew in course of time dissatisfied with the ritual acts, which serve only to bewilder men, and are causes of diseases and difficulties to man (rather than those of their removal).

6. He fixed his aim to the highest object of unalterable ecstasis—samadhi, and abandoned his cares for the rotten world, in the course of his conduct in life.

7. He built a hut of leaves with the branches of plantain trees; strewed it with black stones, and perfumed it with fragrant earth.

8. He spread in it his seat of deer's skin, serving as a pure paillasse for holy saints; and sat still upon it as a rainless cloud in the clear firmament.

9. He sat there in the posture of padmasana with his legs crossed upon one another, and held his heels with the fingers of both his hands, and remained with his uplifted head, like the fast and fixed peak of a mountain summit.

10. He closed his eyesight from looking upon the surrounding objects, and pent up his mind in his bosom, as the descending sun confines his beams in the hollow caves of Meru.

11. Then having stopped the course of his internal and external senses, he thus revolved in his mind, which was free from sin and guile.

12. How is it that though I have restrained my outer organs, I cannot with all my force stop the course of my mind, which is ever as fickle as a leaflet, floating on and dancing over the waves.

13. It impels the external organs (as a charioteer drives his horses), and is propelled by them in turn to their different objects, as a juggler tosses about and flings up and down his play balls.

14. Though I refrain from the exercise of my external faculties, yet it pursues them with eagerness, and runs towards the objects from which I try to stop its course.

15. It turns from this object to that, as they say from the pot to the picture and from that to the chariot (ghata, pata and sakata): and in this manner the mind roves about the objects of sense, as a monkey leaps from branch to branch of a tree.

16. Let me now consider the courses of the five external senses and their organs, which serve as so many passages for the mind.

17. O my wicked and wretched senses, how shall I counsel to call you to your good sense, when you are so senseless as to roll on restlessly like the billows of waters in the sea.

18. Do not now disturb me any more with your fickleness, for I well remember to what trains of difficulties I have been all along exposed by your inconstancy.

19. What are ye O my organs, but passages (to conduct the outer sensations) to the inner mind, and are dull and base of yourselves, and no better than the billows of the sea and the water in the mirage.

20. Ye senses that are unsubstantial in your forms, and without any spiritual light in you; your efforts are as those of blind men only to fall into the pit.

21. It is the intellectual soul only, that witnesseth the objects of sense, it is in vain that ye are busy without the soul.

22. It is in vain for the organs of sense, to display themselves to view, like the twirling of a firebrand and the appearance of a snake in the rope; since they have no essence of their own, and are of no use without the soul.

23. The all knowing soul knows well the eyes and ears, though none of these organs knows the internal soul, and is as far from it, as the heaven and hell asunder.

24. As the wayfarer is afraid of snakes, and the twice born Brahmans are in dread of demoniac savages; so the intellect fears and avoids the company of the senses for its safety, and remains retired from them for its security.

25. Yet the unseen intellect directs the organs of sense, to their various duties from a distance; as the distant sun directs the discharge, of the diurnal duties of men on earth, from his situation in heaven.

26. O my mind! that art wandering all about like a mendicant, in order to fill the belly with food; and actest as a charvaka materialist, to make a god of thy body, and to enslave thyself to its service

; do not thus rove about the world in the vain search of your bane only.

27. It is a false pretension of thine, to think thyself to be as intelligent as an intelligence or as the intellect itself; you two are too different in your natures, and cannot agree together.

28. It is thy vain boast also, to think thyself to be living, and to be the life and the ego likewise; because these things belong to the soul, and thou art entirely devoid of the same.

29. Egoism produces the knowledge of "I am the Ego"which thou art not; and neither art thou anything except a creature of false imagination, which it is good for thee to give up at once (because the mind's eye sees the fumes of fancy only.)

30. It is the conscious intellect, which exists without its beginning and end, and nothing else is existent beside this: what art thou then in this body, that takest the name of the mind.

31. The impression of the activity and passivity of the mind is as wrong, as the belief of poison and nectar to be the one and same thing; since the two opposites can never meet together.

32. Do not, therefore thou fool, expose thyself to ridicule, (that art dependant on the organs of the body); by thinking thyself as both the active and passive agent, which thou art not; but a mere dull thing as it is known to all.

33. What is thy relation with enjoyments or theirs with thee, that thou wishest to have them come to thee? Thou art a dull thing and without thy soul, canst have no friend or foe to thee.

34. The unreal has no existence, and the existence of the mind, is an unreality as the redness of a crystal. Knowledge, action and passion belong to the soul only, and are not attributable to the mind.

35. If thou beest the eternal Mind, then thou art selfsame with the eternal soul; but the painful mutability of thy nature, bespeaks thee to be not the same (immutable, everlasting and imperishable soul).

36. Now as thou hast come to be acquainted, with the falsity of thine action and passion;hear now how I am purged of these impressions, by my own reasoning as follows.

37. That thou art an inert unreality, said I, is a truth beyond all doubt; and that the activity of an inactive nullity is as false, as the dancing of the ideal demon or of inert stones.

38. Therefore art thou dependant on the Supreme Spirit for thy movement; and it is in vain for thee to fain thyself as living or doing anything by thyself (being but a puppet player by the power of the Almighty).

39. Whatever is done by the power of another, is ascribed to that other and not to actor); as the harvest which is reaped by the sickle of the husband man, is said to be the act of the reaper and not of the instrument.

40. He who kills one by the instrumentality of another, is considered the slayer, and not the intermediate means of slaughter; for nobody upbraids the passive sword with guilt, by exculpation of the perpetrator.

41. He who eats and drinks, is said to be the eater and drinker; and not the plate or cup, which hold the eatables or the drinkables.

42. Thou art entirely inactive in thy nature, and art actuated by the All wise Intellect; therefore it is the soul only that perceives everything by itself, and not thou ignorant mind (that assumest the title of the percipient to thee).

43. It is the Supreme Soul, that awakens and informs the mind without intermission; as the ignorant people require to be constantly guided by their superiors by repeated admonitions.

44. The essence of the soul is manifest to all in its form of intelligence, from which the mind derives its power and name for its existence.

45. Thus the ignorant mind is produced by some power of the soul, and remains all along with its ignorance; until it comes to melt away like snow, under the sunshine of its spiritual knowledge.

46. Therefore, O my ignorant mind! that art now dead under the influence of my knowledge of the soul; do not boast any more of thy being a particle of thy spiritual origin for thy sorrow only.

47. The conception of the entity of the unreal mind, is as false as the production of a plant by the light of a magic lantern; there is only that true knowledge which proceeds directly from the Great God. (All else is error and misconception).

48. Know Rama, these worlds to be no manifestations of Divine power, but as illusive representation of His intellect (chit and maya), like the glittering waves of waters in the sea.

49. O thou ignorant mind, if thou art full of intelligence as the Intellect, then there would be no difference of thee from the Supreme one, nor wouldst thou have any cause of sorrow. (Hence the human mind is not Divine).

50. The Divine mind is all knowing and omnipresent and omniform at all times; and by the attainment of which one obtains everything.

51. There is no such thing as thou or he, except the Great Brahma, who is always manifest every where; we have conceptions of ourselves without any exertion on our parts (which proves a Divinity stirring of itself in us).

52. If thou art the soul, then it is the soul that is everywhere here and naught besides; but if thou art anything other than the soul, then thou art nothing, because all nature is the body of the universal soul.

53. The triple world is composed of the Divine soul, beside which there is no existence; therefore if thou art anything thou must be the soul, or otherwise thou art nothing.

54. I am now this (as a boy), and then another (as an old man), and that these things are mine and those another's, are thoughts that vainly chase upon the mind; for thou art nothing positive here, and positivism is as false a theory as the horns of a hare (or rara avis) on earth.

55. We have no notion of a third thing between the intellect and the body, to which we can refer the mind, as we have no idea of an intermediate state betwixt sunlight and shade (where we may betake us to rest).

56. It is that something then, which we get by our sight of (i.e. by the light of) truth, after the veil of darkness has been removed from our eyes. It is our consciousness (the product of the light of truth), that we term the mind.

57. Hence, O foolish mind! thou art no active nor passive agent of action, but art the sedate self-consciousness of Brahma (knowing only "I am what I am" "Sohamasmi"). Now therefore cast off thy ignorance, and know thyself as a condition of the very soul.

58. Truly the mind is represented as an organ of the sense of perception and action, and the internal instrument of knowing the soul, and not the soul itself; but this is only by way of explaining the knowable by something familiar and better known to us, and serving as its Synonym. (As to see one's unlookable face, by the reflexion of the very face in the looking glass; so it is to perceive the invisible soul by its shadow cast upon the mind. This explains the mention of the mind in the Srutis such as in the texts:—"It is by means of the mind alone, that the knowledge of the soul is to be gained." "It is through the mind only, that the soul is to be seen." And so many other passages).

59. The mind being an unreal instrumentality (as the sight &c.), can have no existence without its support (as the eyes of the sight); nor can it have any action of its own, without the agency of an actor (as the sword of the swordsman). Hence it is false to attribute activity or sensibility to it.

60. Without the agency of an actor, the instrument of the mind has no power nor activity of its own; as the passive sickle has no power of cutting the harvest, without the agency of the reaper.

61. The sword has the power of slaying men, but by means of the agency of the swordsman; otherwise the dull instrument has no power in any part of its body, to inflict a wound on another.

62. So my friend, thou hast no power nor agency of thine own, to do thine actions to trouble thyself in vain. It is unworthy of thee to toil for thy worldliness like the base worldling (i.e. worldly goods), unless it were for thy spiritual welfare.

63. The Lord (who works of his free will), is not to be pitied like thee that art subjected to labour, because his works are all as unaccountable as those he has not yet done (but thy acts are brought to account for themselves).

64. Thy boast of serving the soul, proceeds from thy ignorance only and thy fellowship with the insensible organs of sense, is quite unworthy of thee.

65. Thou art wrong to pursue the objects of sense, for the sake of thy maker and master; because the Lord is independent of all desire (of the service of others,) being full and satisfied in himself forever.

66. It is by his self-manifestation, and not by act of his exertion of creation, that the omnipresent and omniscient God, fills the whole with his unity, which admits of no duality even in imagination.

67. The one God that manifests himself as many, and that is all by himself, and that comprises the whole within himself, has nothing to want or seek, beside and apart from himself.

68. All this is the magnificence of God, and yet the foolish mind craves after them in vain; as a miserable man longs to have the princely pomp of another, which is displayed before him.

69. Thou mayst try to derive the divine blessings, by being intimate with the Divine soul; but there will be no more intimacy between the soul and the mind, than there is between the flower and its fruit

(i.e. The fruit which here represents the mind, does not inherit the quality of the flower which is here put for the soul). Gloss.

70. That is called the intimate relation of two things, when the one agrees in all its properties with the other; which is here wanting in the case of the soul and mind; the first being immortal, calm and quiet, and the second a mortal and restless thing.

71. O my mind! thou art not of the same kind with the soul, owing to thy changing appearances and ever changeful occupations, and promptness for multifarious inventions. Thy states of happiness and misery, moreover bespeak thee plainly to be of a different nature (from thy source of the soul thou art derived from).

72. The relationship of the homogeneous (as of the liquid and curdled milk), as well as of the heterogeneous (as between the milk and water), are quite apparent to sight; but there is no relation betwixt the contraries (as it is observed in the antagonism of the soul and mind). Note. The spiritual man represses the sensuous mind, and the sensualistic mind buries the conscious and conscientious soul).

73. It is true that there are many things, having the qualities of other things, or an assemblage of properties common to others; yet everything has a special identity of its own; and therefore I do beseech thee, not to lose the consciousness of thy identity with that of the soul, whereby thou exposest thyself to misery (i.e. keep in mind thy divine nature).

74. Therefore employ thyself with intense application to the meditation of the soul; or else thou art doomed to misery, for thy ruminating on the objects of the visible world, in thy internal recesses.

75. Sliding from consciousness of thyself, and running after the imaginary objects of thy desire, are calculated for thy misery only;therefore forget thyself O man!, to associate with thy mind and the bodily organs, in order to find thy rest in the soul or Samadhi—ecstasy.

76. Whence is this activity (i.e. what is this active principle), since the mind is proved to be a nullity as a skyflower, and to be utterly extinct, with the extinction of its thoughts and desires.

77. The soul also is as void of activity, as the Sky is devoid of its parts. It is only the Divine spirit that exhibits itself in various shape within itself.

78. It bursts forth in the form of oceans with its own waters, and foams in froths by the billows of its own breathing. It shines in the lustre at all things, by its own light in itself. (So says the Urdu poet:Oleken chamakta hai har rang meh).

79. There is no other active principle anywhere else, as there is no burning fire brand to be found in the sea; and the inert body, mind and soul (as said and seen before), have no active force in any one of them.

80. There is nothing essential or more perspicuous, than what we are conscious of in our consciousness; and there is no such thing as this is another or this no other, or this is good or bad, beside the self-evident One.

81. It is no unreal ideal, as that of the Elysian gardens in in the sky; it is the subjective consciousness samvid, and no objective object of consciousness samvedya, that extends all around us.

82. Why then entertain the suppositions of "this is I and that is another," in this unsuppositious existence? There can be no distinction whatever of this or that in one unlimited, all extending and undefinable expanse of the soul; and the ascription of any attribute to it, is as the supposition of water in the mirage, or of a writing in the Sky.

83. O my honest mind! if thou canst by the purity of thy nature, get thyself freed from the unrealities of the world; and become enlightened with the light of the soul, that fills the whole with its essence, and is the inbeing of all beings, thou shalt verily set me at rest from the uneasiness of my ignorance, and the miseries of this world and this miserable life.