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 LXXXIX - A lecture on rationalistic meditation

Argument. On Freedom from Desires and Delusions, and Aerial flights of yogis, and the Indestructibleness of their bodies.

Vasishtha said:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
Rama! you must have to imitate this sage, in order to know the nature of the soul, and all that is knowable and worth knowing. And in order to know these things, you must be passionless, and without the emotions of fear and perturbation of your spirit at all times.

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As this sage seemed to pass the course of many millions of years, in his cheerful meditation;so you shall have to habituate yourself to your silent contemplation, without the discontentedness of your mind.

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There have been many more sages of great minds in their times and places, who have had their perfection in the same way; and who are worthy of your imitation for the consummation of your object.

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Knowing the soul to be inaccessible by pain and pleasure at all times, and as everlasting and ubiquitous in all places; no one, O mighty prince! has any cause to be sorry for it (or mourn for the loss of what is immortal in its nature).

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There are many persons living in this world, who are well acquainted about the nature of the soul; but no body is so sorry for the misery of human souls like yourself (as it is related in the beginning of this work).

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Remain quiet and in good cheer, with the magnanimity and equanimity of thy mind; and know thyself to be imperishable, and without any change or regeneration.

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No living liberated man like yourself, is ever subject to sorrow or mirth at the vicissitudes of life; as the brave lion is never moved from his sedateness like the changeful peacock (at the change of seasons like the weather-cock).

Rama said:—

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Sir, this discourse of yours, gives rise to a doubt in me, which I want you to disperse like an autumnal cloud. (The doubt is resembled to a thick rainy cloud, and its form is likened to that of a flimsy mist in autumn).

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Tell me Sir, that art best acquainted with spiritual knowledge, why the bodies of living liberated persons, are not to be seen to mount to the skies.

Vasishtha replied:—

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Know Rama, the powers of mounting to the sky and flying in the air, belong naturally to volant bodies (as the fowls and flies of the air). (And the mounting to the sky is the property of igneous and etherial beings, as those of the flame of fire and aerial spirits).

11. [Sanskrit available]
All the various motions that are seen to act in different directions, are according to the natural tendencies of bodies, and are never desired by the spiritualist (who would derive no good or benefit whatever by his bodily movements).

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Volitation is no way desirable to the living liberated soul, when the volant power is easily acquired by the unspiritual and unliberated ignorant people, by many physical and artificial powers, derived by application of proper means, mantras and other practices. (Such as, the flight of winged ants before the rains, the aerostatics of balloons and pyrotechnics, the aerostation of magical mantras, and the volant power acquired by some practical Yogis, who practise the swinging of their bodies in air, by means of the suppression of their breath).

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Volitation or flying is no business of the spiritualist, who is concerned with his knowledge of the soul only; he is content with his spiritual knowledge and union with the Supreme soul, and does not meddle with the practices of the ignorant practitioners of false yoga.

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Know all earthly contrivances to be the offspring of worldliness, and the progeny of spiritual ignorance. Say then what spiritualist is there, that will be so foolish as to plunge himself in this gross ignorance.

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He who pursues the path of spiritual ignorance, by his meditations and contrivances for his temporal welfare; must be blind to the future welfare of his soul, against the course of the holy sage and saint.

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It is possible for the wise as well as the unwise, to acquire the power of his flying in the air, by the continued practice of yoga, or some other of the aforesaid arts and expedients of mantras and the like.

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But the spiritual man remains quite aloof and afar from these, and has no desire for any such thing;he is content with himself, and finds his rest in the supreme soul, beside which he has nothing in view.

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He has neither the aerial journey, nor any supernatural power or worldly enjoyment for his object; and neither is earthly glory or honour in his view, nor does he desire to live nor fear to die.

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He is ever content and quiet in his soul, and is devoid of desires and affections in his mind; he is of the form of empty air, and remains with his spiritual knowledge as the idol of his soul.

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He is unapprehensive of adversity or calamity, and unaffected by feelings of pleasure and pain; he has full satiety in his privation of everything, and is unconcerned about his life and death, by remaining himself as the living dead.

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He remains unmoved at all evens and odds, as the Ocean is at a stand still with all the outpourings of the rivers; and he continues to meditate on, and adore the divine spirit in his own spirit.

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He has no need of acquiring or amassing any wealth for himself, nor is he in need of asking anything of any body for his supportance.

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The unspiritual man who aims at the acquisition of supernatural powers, must sacrifice the means of his consummation to the acquirement of such powers (i.e. he must give up the seeking of his perfection in pursuit of those powers. Or, he who wants to wax rich and great, may become so at the loss of his peace and content and honesty).

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All things are accomplished by application of their proper means, and what is thus ordained to take place, can not be undone even by the three-eyed God Siva himself. (It is believed that some mantras and gems are possessed of the power, of lifting living bodies in the air).

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Thus volitation depends on the application of proper means, and not on one's volition only; and nothing can alter the nature of things, as that of the coolness of moon-beams.

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Whether one is all-knowing or much-knowing, and all-powerful or much powerful as a Hari or Hara; yet there is no body that has the power of setting aside the destined law of nature (as for the terrestrials to fly in air, and the celestials to walk on the earth).

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Thus it depends on the nature of things, Rama! and the combination of times and circumstances, as also the application at proper means and mantras, that causes a mortal to fly in the air, and an immortal to descend on earth.

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So it is the property of some drugs, gems and mantras, to destroy the destructive power of poison; and of wine to intoxicate the wine-bibber; and so of emetics to cause vomiting.

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Thus all things have naturally the power of producing some effect, according to its proper application and the mode and manner of it.

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Hence no one that is unacquainted with these things, is able to effect his flight in the air; and he that is fraught with his spiritual knowledge, has no need of these practices.

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All knowledge relating to the properties of things, and their application in proper mode and manner for the bringing on of certain ends, is of no good to the spiritualist for his attaining to spirituality.

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He who wishes to have supernatural powers, may gain them by his long practice; but what need has the theosophist of these practices or powers for himself?

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It is after his freedom from the net of his desires, that the spiritualist attains to his spiritual state; how then can he entertain any desire which is opposed to it?

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Every one endeavours to present in the course, to which he is led by the desires rising in his heart; and whether he is learned or not, he reaps the reward of his endeavours in due time.

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Vita havya never endeavoured to acquire any supernatural power; all his endeavours aspired to the gaining of spiritual perfection, which he obtained by his devotion in the forest.

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It is not impossible or hard, to effect the acquisition of supernatural powers; should one persist in the course of practicing and applying the proper means to those ends.

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The success which attends on any body in the consummation of his object, is entirely owing to his personal exertion, and may be called the fruit of the tree of his own labour.

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But these successes and consummations, are of no use to those great minded men, who have known the Knowable One in himself: and who have made an end of their worldly desires.

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Rama said: Sir I have yet another question for your explanation and it is this, why did not the ravenous beasts of the desert, devour the deadlike body of the devoted sage, and why did it not moulder under the earth, by which it was covered?

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And again how the bodiless and liberated soul of the sage, which was absorbed in the sunlight, return to resume its dilapidated body, which was buried in the mountain cave.

Vasishtha replied:—

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The conscious soul that believes itself to be embodied with its mortal body, and beset by the coils of its desires and the bonds of its affections, is here subjected both to the feeling of pleasure and the pangs of pain.

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But the intelligent soul which relies on its pure consciousness, and is freed from the net of its desires, remains only with its subtile spiritual body (which no beast or bird can devour, nor any dust or rust can destroy). So says the Gita:—It is indivisible and unconsumable, and neither does it moulder nor dry up at any time.

43. [Sanskrit available]
Hear now, Rama, the reason why the body of the Yogi, is not subject to the accidents of disjunction or corruption for many hundreds of years (under the influence of heat and cold and other casualties).

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Whenever the mind is occupied with the thought of any thing, it is immediately assimilated into the nature of that object, and assumes the same form on itself.

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Thus upon seeing or thinking of an enemy, the mind turns to enmity, at the very sight or thought of its foe; as it assumes the nature of friendliness, on the visit and remembrance of a friend.

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So on seeing a hill or tree or passenger, that bears no enmity or friendship to it, the mind remains equally indifferent towards the same, and without any change in its disposition as it is perceived by us.

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Again the mind is sweetened (pleased) on relishing the sweets, and embittered by tasting the bitter. It becomes fond of the sweet, and averse to whatever is sour and bitter and unpalatable.

48. [Sanskrit available]
So when a ravenous beast comes in the sight of a dispassionate Yogi, its envious nature is changed to dispassionateness, and it desists from doing him any injury. (So says Patanjali, "Good company turns the wicked to goodness").

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The malicious being freed from his malice, in the company of the even minded stoic, desists from the doing of any harm, to any one; as the indifferent wayfarer has no business to break the straggling branches and trees growing on the way side, which the rude rustics are apt to lop off and cut down (for the making of their fuel).

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But the savage beast being removed from the side of the Yogi, resumes its ravenous nature again, in the company of the rapacious and wild beasts of the forest.

51. [Sanskrit available]
Hence it was that the envious beasts of the forest, the tigers, lions and bears; as also the reptiles and creeping insects of earth, did not molest the sedate body of the sage, so long as they lurked and crept about it.

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The reason why the body was not reduced to the dust of the earth is, because the silent conscience that there dwells in common, in all existent bodies of animals, vegetables and minerals, and abides in them as in the person of a dumb creature; would not allow them to injure the innocent body of the sage lying flat on the ground.

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The spiritualised body of the Yogi, is seen to move about on earth, like the shadow of something floating on the water.

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Therefore the spiritual body of the sage, which was rarefied above the elemental bodies by virtue of his spiritual knowledge, became quite incorruptible in its nature.

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Hear me tell you another reason, Rama! that it is the want of oscillation which is the cause of destruction, as it is the vibration or breathing of the heart which is the cause of life.

56. [Sanskrit available]
It is the breathing of vital breaths, which causes the vibration of the arteries, and this being stopped, the body becomes as still as a stone.

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He who has lost the pulsations of his heart and vital breaths, has lost also both his vitality and mortality, and become as stones (which are neither dead nor alive).

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When the internal and external pulsations of the body are at a stop, know, O well-informed Rama! the intestinal parts are not liable to any change.

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The motion of the body being stopped, and the action of the heart having ceased; the humours of the body become as stiff and inert, as the solid mountain of Meru.

60. [Sanskrit available]
So the want of fluctuation, is seen to cause the steadiness of all things in the world; and hence the bodies of sages are known to be as quiet, as the blocks of wood and stone.

61. [Sanskrit available]
The bodies of Yogis therefore, remain entire for thousands of years; and like clouds in the sky and stones underneath the water, are neither soiled nor rotten at any time.

62. [Sanskrit available]
It was in this manner that this sage, who knew the truth, and was best acquainted with the knowledge of the knowable, left his earthy body, in order to find the rest of his soul in the Supreme Spirit.

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Those men of great minds who are dispassionate, and know what is chiefly to be known above all others; pass beyond the bounds of this earth and even of their bodies, to assume an independent form of their own.

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They are then perfect masters of themselves, whose minds are well governed by their right understanding; and are not affected by the influence of their destiny or the acts of their past lives, nor moved by their desires of any kind.

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The minds of consummate Yogis, are of the nature of destiny; because they can easily effect whatever they think upon, as if they were the acts of chance as in Kakataliya Sanyoga.

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So it was with this sage, who no sooner thought of the renovation of his body, than he found it presented before his sight, as if it were an act of chance (or the kakatalic accident).

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When the soul forsakes its earthly frame, after the fruition of the fruits of its passed actions is over; it assumes a spiritual form, which is the state of its disembodied liberation, and when it enjoys its perfect liberty in its independent state.

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The mind being freed from its desires, is released from all its bonds, and assumes the spiritual form of the pure soul; it then effects instantly all that it wishes to do, and becomes all powerful as the great Lord of all.

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