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 XCII - Means of obtaining the divine presence

Argument. Divine knowledge and want of desires and feelings, forming the Trivium of salvation.

Rama said:—

1. Of all, the seeds which you have spoken, say sir, which of these is the most essential one to lead us to the attainment of the supreme Brahma.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. It is by the gradual demolition of the seeds and sources of woe, which I have mentioned one after the other, that one is enabled to attain his consummation in a short time.

3. You can relinquish by your manly fortitude, your desire for temporal objects; and endeavour to seek that which is the first and best of beings:—

4. And if you remain in your exclusive and intense meditation on the Supreme Being, you are sure to see that very moment the Divine light, shining in full blaze in and before you.

5. If it is possible for you to think of all things in general, in your well developed understanding;you can have no difficulty to elevate your mind a little higher, to think of the universal Soul of all.

6. O sinless Rama! If you can remain quietly with meditating on your conscious soul, you can find no difficulty in the contemplation of the Supreme soul, by a little more exertion of your intellect.

7. It is not possible, O Rama! to know the knowable Spirit at once in your understanding, unless you think of it continually in your consciousness. (The Divine Spirit is knowable in our spirits and consciousness and by own intuition only).

8. Whatever thou thinkest and wherever thou goest and dost remain, is all known to thee in thy consciousness; and so it is the conscious soul which is the seat of God, and wherein He is to be sought and seen. (So says Maulana Rumi:—I sought him everywhere and found him nowhere; I looked within myself and found him there).

9. If you will but strive, Rama, to renounce your earthly appetites; you will get yourself loosened from all its bonds and diseases and dangers.

10. Of all others which have been said before, it is the most difficult task to get rid of one's earthly desires; and it is impossible to root them out of the mind, as it is to uproot the mount Meru from its basis.

11. As long as you do not subdue the mind, you cannot get rid of your desires; and unless you suppress your desires, you can not control your restless mind. (They are so interwoven together).

12. Until you know the truth, you cannot have the peace of your mind;and so long as you are a stranger to your mental tranquillity, you are barred from knowing the truth.

13. As long you do not shun your desires, you cannot come to the light of truth; nor can you come to know the truth, unless you disown your earthly desires.

14. Hence the knowledge of truth, subjection of the mind, and abandonment of desires, are the joint causes of spiritual bliss; which is otherwise unattainable by the practice of any one of them singly.

15. Therefore, O Rama! the wise man should betake himself, to the practice of all these triple virtues at once; and abandon his desire of worldly enjoyments, with the utmost of his manly efforts. (Because it is weakness to be a dupe to pleasure, and true bravery consists in contemning them).

16. Unless you become a complete adept, in the practice of this triplicate morality; it is impossible for you to attain to the state of divine perfection, by your mere devotion during a whole century. (Because the mendicant Yogis, that are devoid both of their divine knowledge and disinterestedness, are never blessed with their spiritual rapture).

17. Know ye, O highminded Muni! that it is the simultaneous attainment of divine knowledge, in combination with the subjection of the mind and its desires, that is attended with the efficacy of Divine presence.

18. The practice of any one of these, in disjunction from the others, is as fruitless as imprecations of one's death or derangement of understanding (i.e. no one's curse, can effect any evil on another).

19. Though the adept may be long inured in the practice of these virtues; yet none of them will help him singly to approach to the Supreme; as no single soldier or regiment can dare advance before the adverse host. (Here is pun of the word, param signifying both the Supreme and the enemy).

20. These virtues being brought under the practice of the wiseman, by his undivided attention and vigilance; will break down every obstacle on his way, like the current of a confluence of three streams, carrying away a rock from the coast.

21. Accustom yourself with diligence, to destroy the force of your mind and its desires and feelings; and habituate your intellect to the acquisition of knowledge with equal ardour, and you will escape from every evil and error of the world.

22. Having mastered these triple virtues; you will cut asunder your heart strings of worldly affections; as the breaking of the lotus-stalk severs its interior fibres.

23. The reminiscence of worldliness, which is inherited and strengthened in the long course of a hundred lives (or transmigrations of the soul), is hard to be removed with the assiduous practice of these triple virtues.

24. Continue to practice these at all times of your life; whether when you sit quiet or move about; or talk or listen to another or when you are awake or asleep; and it will redound to your greatest good.

25. The restraining of respirations also, is tantamount to the restraint put upon your desires; then you must practise this likewise, according to the directions of the wise.

26. By renunciation of desire, the mind is reduced to an insensible and dead block; but by restraining your breathing, you can do whatever you like. By the practice of the pranayama, the yogi identifies himself with the Supreme, and can do all things as the Deity.

27. By the protracted practice of restraining the breathing, according to the directions given by the guru; and by keeping the erect posture, and observing the rules of diet &c. one must restrain his respiration.

28. By right observation of the nature of things, we can have no desires for any thing (which is so frail and false); and there is nothing which is the same or remains unchanged from first to last, except the unchangeable nature of the Deity, which must be the only desirable object.

29. It is the sight and knowledge of God, that serve to weaken our worldly desires; and so will our avoidance of society and worldly thoughts (will put an end to our earthly desires).

30. Seeing the dissolution of human bodies, we cease to desire our worldly goods; and so also the loss of desired objects, puts a check to our desiring them any more.

31. As the flying dust is set on the ground, after the gust of the wind is over; so the flying thoughts of the mind are stopped, when our breathings are put to a stop: they being the one and the same thing. (Swedenborg saw the intimate connection between thought and vital life. He says "thought commences and corresponds with vital respiration. A long thought draws a long breath, and a quick one is attended with rapid vibrations of breath").

32. From this correspondence of the motion of thoughts with the vibrations of breath, there is heaved a large mass of worldly thoughts resembling heaps of dust on earth. Let therefore the intelligent men try their utmost to suppress their breath (in order to stop the assemblage of their thoughts also).

33. Or do away with this process of the Hatha Yogis (if it be hard for you to suppress your breath), and sit quietly to suppress your fleeting thoughts only at all times.

34. If you want to keep your control over the mind, you will be able to do so in the course of a long time; because it is not possible to subdue the mind without the discipline of strict reason.

35. As it is impossible to restrain the infuriate elephant without its goading; so it is not possible for you to curb your indomitable mind, without the help of spiritual knowledge, and association with the wise and good.

36. The abandonment of desires and suppression of breathing, in the manner as hereinafter inculcated, are the most efficient means of subduing the mind. (The mind dwells in the brain which shares the various fortunes of breathing; therefore the suppression of breath tends also to the subjection of the mind. Swedenborg).

37. There are milder means of pacifying the mind, as the cooling showers of rain set down the dust of the earth; and yet the Hatha-Yoga, attempts to restrain it by stopping the breath, as it were to prevent the rising of dust, by means of a breathless calm.

38. Ignorant men who want to subdue the mind, by prescriptions of the Hatha-Yoga or bodily restraints; are like those silly folks, who want to dispel the darkness by black ink instead of a lighted lamp. (Painful bodily practice, is no part of Raja or spiritual Yoga).

39. Those who attempt to subdue the mind by bodily contortions, strive as vainly as they, who wish to bind the mad elephant with a rope of grass or straws.

40. Those rules which prescribe bodily practices, instead of mental reasoning and precepts, are known as the patterns of Hatha-Yoga, and misleading men to dangers and difficulties. (Because the mind alone governs the mind, and bodily austerities have ruined many bodies and killed many men also; and the correspondence between the states of the mind and lungs, has not been admitted in science).

41. Wretched men like beasts have no rest from their labour, but wander in dales and woods, in quest of herbs and fruits for their food.

42. Ignorant men who are infatuated in their understandings, are timid cowards like timorous stags; and are both dull-headed and weak-bodied, and languid in their limbs (by incessant toil).

43. They have no place of confidence anywhere, but stagger as the distrustful deer in the village;their minds are ever wavering between hopes and fears, as the sea water rising and falling in waves.

44. They are borne away like leaves fallen from a tree, by the current of the cascade gliding below a water-fall; and pass their time in the errors of sacrificial rites and religious gifts and austerities, and in pilgrimages and adoration of idols.

45. They are subject to continued fears, like the timid deer in the forest, and there are few among them, who happen by chance to come to the knowledge of the soul. (Most men are betaken by the exoteric faith).

46. Being broiled by outward misery and internal passions, they are rarely sensible of their real state;and are subjected to repeated births and deaths, and their temporary habitation in heaven or hell. (There is no everlasting reward or punishment, adjudged to the temporal merit and demerit of human actions).

47. They are tossed up and down like play balls in this world, some rising up to heaven, and others falling to hell torments while they are even here. (The gloss represents higher births as heaven, and the lower ones as hell-torments; and since the Hindu idea of bliss is idleness, he deems the idle life of the great his heaven. Otia cum dignitate).

48. These men roll on like the incessant waves of the sea; therefore leave off the exterior view of the exoteric, and sink deep into the spiritual knowledge for your everlasting rest. (The Hatha-Yoga is deemed like the other modes of public worship, to belong to the exoteric faith).

49. Remain quiet and sedate, with your firm faith in your inward consciousness; and know that knowledge is power, and the knowing man is the strongest being on earth; therefore be wise in all respects.

50. Rama! renounce the cognizance of the knowable objects, and depend on the abstract knowledge of all things in thy subjective consciousness; remain firm in full possession of thy inner soul, and think thyself as no actor of thy acts. Then forsaking all inventions of men as falsehoods (kalana and kalpana), shine with the effulgence of thy spiritual light.