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 XCIII - Universal indifference or insouciance

Argument. Cultivation of understanding and Reason.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. Rama! He who is possessed of little reason, and tries to subdue his mind as well as he can; succeeds to reap the fruit (object) of his life (salvation). (Neither is much learning required for divine knowledge, nor is much purity necessary for salvation;nor is the entire want of either, attended by its main object).

2. The small particle of reason that is implanted in the mind, becomes by culture a big tree in time, projecting into a hundred branches in all departments of knowledge.

3. A little development of reason, serves to destroy the unruly passions of the human breast, and then fill it with the good and pure virtues;as the roes of a fish fill the tank with fishes. (The seed of reason germinates in all good qualities).

4. The rational man who becomes wise, by his vast observation of the past and present, is never tempted by the influence of the ignorant, who value their wealth above their knowledge.

5. Of what good are great possessions and worldly honours to him, and of what evil are the diseases and difficulties unto the man, who looks upon them with an indifferent eye.

6. As it is impossible to stop the impetuous hurricane, or to grasp the flashing lightning, or hold the rolling clouds in the hand:—

7. As it is impossible to put the moon like a brilliant moonstone, in a box of jewels; and as it is not possible for a belle to wear the crescent of the moon like a moon flower on her forehead.

8. As it is impossible also for the buzzing gnats, to put to flight the infuriate elephant, with the swarm of bees sucking his frontal ichor, and the lotus bushes gracing his fore-head:—

9. As it is impossible too for a herd of timid stags, to withstand in fighting the brave lion, gory with the frontal pearls of slaughtered elephants in his bloody chase:—

10. As it is impossible likewise for a young frog, to devour a huge and hungry snake, which like the poisonous tree, attracts other animals to it by its poison, and then swallows them entire:—

11. So it is impossible for the robbers of outward senses, to overpower upon the man of reason, who is acquainted with the grounds of Knowledge, and knows the knowable Brahma.

12. But the sensible objects and the organs of sense, destroy the imperfect reason; as the violence of the wind, breaks off the stalks of tender plants.

13. Yet the wicked passions and desires, have no power to destroy the perfected understanding; as the lesser gales of minor deluges, are not strong enough to remove the mountain. (The great deluge is the mahakalpanta, and the partial ones are called the Khanda or yuga-pralayas).

14. Unless the flowery arbor of reason, takes its deep root in the ground of the human mind, it is liable to be shaken at every blast of the conflicting thoughts; because the unstable soul can have no stability; nor the uncertain mind can have any certainty.

15. He whose mind does not stick to strict reasoning, either when he is sitting or walking, or waking or sleeping; is said to be dead to reason.

16. Therefore think always within yourself, and in the society of good people, about what is all this, what is this world, and what is this body in a spiritual light (i.e. Spiritually considered, the material universe will disappear from view).

17. Reason displays the darkness of ignorance, and shows the state of the Supreme as clearly, as when the light of the lamp shows everything clearly in the room. (Hence reason is said to be the light of the soul).

18. The light of knowledge dispels the gloom of sorrow, as the solar light puts to flight the shadow of night. (Knowledge is the sunlight of the soul).

19. Upon appearance of the light of knowledge, the knowable comes to appear of itself; as the appearance of sunlight in the sky, shows every object on earth below.

20. That science which brings to the knowledge of Divine Truth, the same knowledge is known as selfsame with the knowable Truth itself.

21. Spiritual knowledge is the result of reason, and is reckoned as the only true knowledge by the wise; it includes the knowledge of the knowable soul, as the water contains its sweetness within itself.

22. The man knowing all knowledge, becomes full of knowledge; as the strong dramdrinker turns a tippler himself. (Fullness of spiritual knowledge is compared with hard drinking, in the mystic poetry of orientals, to denote the inward rapture which is caused by both).

23. They then come to know the knowable, supreme spirit as immaculate as their own souls; and it is only through the knowledge of the supreme spirit, that this rapture imparts its grace to the soul.

24. The man fraught with perfect knowledge, is full of his unfailing rapture within himself, and is liberated in his life; and being freed from all connections, reigns supreme in the empire of his mind. (This refers equally to a savant in all knowledge, to a deep philosopher, as also to a holy man; a yogi and the like).

25. The sapient man remains indifferent to the sweet sound of songs, and to the music of the lute and flute; he is not humored by the songstresses, and by the allurement of their persons and the enticement of their foul association.

26. He sits unaffected amidst the hum of buzzing bees, fluttering joyfully over the vernal flowers; and amidst the blooming blossoms of the rainy weather, and under the growling noise of the roaring clouds.

27. He remains unexcited by the loud screams of the peacock, and the joyous shrill of storks at the sight of fragments of dark clouds; and by the rolling and rumbling of the gloomy clouds in humid sky.

28. He is not elated by the sound of musical instruments, as that of the jarring cymbal or ringing bell held in the hands; and the deep rebellowing drum beaten by the rod; nor the wind, wired or skinned instruments can act upon his mind.

29. He turns his mind to nothing that is sweet or bitter to taste, but delights in his own thoughts; as the moon sheds her light upon the spreading lotus-bud in the lake.

30. The wise man is indifferent to the attractions of beauties and celestial nymphs; who are as graceful in their stature and attire, like the young shoot of the plantain tree with its spreading foliage.

31. His mind is attached to nothing that is even his own, but remains indifferent to everything; as a swan exposed to a barren spot. (The world to the wise is a barren desert).

32. The wise have no taste in delicious fruits, nor do they hunger after dainty food of any kind. (Here follows the names of some sweet fruits and meats which are left out).

33. He does not thirst after delicious drinks, as milk, curd, butter, ghee and honey; nor does he like to taste the sweet liquors at all. He is not fond of wines and liquors of any kind, nor of beverages and drinks of any sort, such as milk, curds, butter &c., for his sensual delight. (But he hungers and thirsts for eternal life &c., see the Sermon on the Mount).

34. He is not fond of the four kinds of food, which are either chewed or licked or sucked or drunk;nor of the six flavours as sweet, sour, bitter, pungent &c., to sharpen his appetite. He longs for no sort of vegetable or meat food; (because none of these can give him satiety).

35. Quite content in his countenance, and unattached to every thing in his mind, the wise Vipra does not bind his heart either to the pleasures of taste, or tending to the gracefulness of his person.

36. The sapient is not observant of the adoration paid to Yama, sun, moon, Indra, and Rudras and Marutas (in the Vedas); nor does he observe the sanctity of the Meru, Mandara and Kailasa Mountains, and of the table lands of the Sahya and Dardura hills (the early habitations of Indian Aryans).

37. He takes no delight in the bright moon-beams, which mantles the earth as with a silken vesture;nor does he like to rove about the groves of the Kalpa arbours, for refreshment of his body and mind.

38. He does not resort to houses rich with jewels and gold, and with the splendour of gems and pearls; nor does he dote upon beauties with their fairy forms of celestials nymphs, as an Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha and a Tilottama.

39. His graceful person and unenticed mind, does not pine or pant for whatever is pleasant to sight; but remain about everything with his indifference, and the sense of his satisfaction and the fulness of his mind, and with his stern taciturnity and inflexibility even among his enemies.

40. His cold mind is not attracted by the beauty and fragrance of the fine flowers of lotuses, and lilies and the rose and jasamine (the favourite themes of lyric poets).

41. He is not tempted by the relish of the luscious fruits, as apples and mango, jamb &c., nor by the sight of the asoka and Kinsuka flowers.

42. He is not drawn over by the fragrance of the sweet scenting sandal-wood, agulochum, camphor, and of the clove and cardamom trees.

43. Preserving an even tenor of his mind, he does not incline his heart to any thing; he holds the perfumes in hatred, as a Brahman holds the wine in abhorrence; and his even mindedness is neither moved by pleasure nor shaken by any fear or pain.

44. His mind is not agitated by fear, at hearing the hoarse sound of the sounding main, or the tremendous thunder-clap in the sky, or the uproaring clouds on mountain tops; and the roaring lions below, do not intimidate his dauntless soul.

45. He is not terrified at the loud trumpet of warfare, nor the deep drum of the battle-field; the clattering arms of the warriors and the cracking cudgels of the combatants, bear no terror to his mind; and the most terrific of all that is terrible, i.e. God, is familiar to his soul. So the Sruti:—"bhayanam bhayam, bhishanam bhishananam. &c.

46. He does not tremble at the stride of the infuriate elephant, nor at the clamour of Vetala goblins; his heart does not thrill at the hue and cry of Pisacha cannibals, nor at the alarm of Yakshas and Rakshas.

47. The meditative mind is not moved by the loud thunder clap or the cracking of rocks and mountains; and the clangor of Indra and Airavana, can not stir the Yogi from his intense reverie.

48. The rigid sage does not slide from his self-possession, at the harsh noise of the crashing saw and the clanking of the burnished sword striking upon one another. He is not shaken by the twanging of the bow, or the flying and falling of deadly arrows around.

49. He does not rejoice in pleasant groves, nor pines in parched deserts; because the fleeting joys and sorrows of life, find no place in his inevitable mind.

50. He is neither intolerant of the burning sands of the sandy desert, resembling the cinders of living fire; nor is he charmed in shady woodlands, fraught with flowery and cooling arbours.

51. His mind is unchanged, whether when he is exposed on a bed of thorns, or reposing in a bed of flowers; and whether he is lifted on the pinnacle of a mount, or flung into the bottom of a fount; his mind is always meek (as those of persecuted saints and martyrs).

52. It is all the same with himself, whether he roves on rough and rugged rocks, or moves under the hot sunbeams of the south, or walks in a temperate or mild atmosphere. He remains unchanged in prosperity and adversity, and alike both under the favour and frown of fortune.

53. He is neither sad nor sorrow in his wanderings over the world, nor joyous and of good cheer in his rest and quiet. He joys on doing his duty with the lightness of his heart, like a porter bearing his light burthen with an unberthened mind.

54. Whether his body is grated upon the guillotine or broken under the wheel; whether impaled in the charnel ground, or exiled in a desert land; or whether pierced by a spear or battered by a cudgel, the believer in the true God remain inflexible (as the Moslem Shahids and Christian? martyrs, under the bitterest persecution).

55. He is neither afraid at any fright nor humiliates himself nor loses his usual composure in any wise; but remains with his even temper and well composed mind as firm as a fixed rock.

56. He has no aversion to impure food, but takes the unpalatable and dirty and rotten food with zest; and digests the poisonous substances at it were his pure and clean diet. (It is the beast of Aghori to gulp unwholesome and nasty articles, as their dainty food, and thus their stoicism degrades them to beastliness).

57. The deadly henbane and hellebore, is tasted with as good a zest by the impassive Yogi, as any milky and saccharine food, and the juice of hemlock is as harmless to him as the juice of the sugarcane.

58. Whether you give him the sparkling goblet of liquor or the red hot bowl of blood; or whether you serve him with a dish of flesh or dry bones; he is neither pleased with the one nor annoyed at the other.

59. He is equally complacent at the sight of his deadly enemy, as also of his benevolent benefactor. (The foe and friend are alike to him).

60. He is neither gladdened nor saddened at the sight of any lasting or perishable thing; nor is he pleased or displeased at any pleasant or unpleasant thing, that is offered to his apathetic nature.

61. By his knowledge of the knowable, and by the dispassionateness of his mind, as also by the unconcerned nature of his soul, and by his knowledge of the unreliableness of mortal things, he does not confide on the stability of the world.

62. The wise man never fixes his eye on any object of his sight, seeing them to be momentary sights and perishable in their nature. (The passing scene of the world, is not relied upon by the wise).

63. But the restless people, who are blind to truth and ignorant of their souls, are incessantly pressed upon by their sensual appetites, as the leaves of trees are devoured by the deer.

64. They are tossed about in the ocean of the world, by the dashing waves of their desires; and are swallowed by the sharks of their sense, with the loss of their lives and souls.

65. The growing desires and fleeting fancies of the mind, can not overpower upon the reasonable soul, and the orderly and mannerly man; that have found their security in peace and tranquillity, as the great body of torrents has no power to overflow upon the mountain.

66. Those who have passed the circuit of their longings, and found their rest in the supreme Being; have really come to the knowledge of their true selves, and look upon the mountain as it were a mite.

67. The vast world seems as a bit of straw to the wise; and the deadly poison is taken for ambrosia, and a millennium is passed as a moment, by the man of an even and expanded mind. (The fixed thought of a sedate mind, perceives no variation of things and times).

68. Knowing the world to consist in consciousness, the mind of the wise is enrapt with the thought of his universality; and the wise man roves freely everywhere with his consciousness, of the great cosmos in himself. (The cosmologist is in reality a cosmopolitan also).

69. Thus the whole world appearing in its full light in the cosmical consciousness within one's self, there is nothing which a man may choose for or reject from his all including mind.

70. Know thy consciousness to be all in all, and reject everything as false which appears to be otherwise. Again as everything is embodied in thy consciousness, there is nothing for thee to own or disown us thine and not thine.

71. Just as the ground grows the shoots of plants and their leaves and branches, so it is in the same manner, that our consciousness brings forth the shoots of all predicables (tatwas) which are inherent in it. (This means the eternal ideas which are innate in the mind, and become manifest before it by its reminiscence).

72. That which is a nonentity at first and last, is so also even at present; and it is by an error of our consciousness that we become conscious of its existence at any time. (This means the erroneous conception of all things, which are really nil at all times).

73. Knowing this for certain, abandon your knowledge of reality and unreality; transcend over the knowledge of existence, and transform thyself to the nature of thy consciousness (to know thyself only);and then remain unconcerned with everything besides. (The transcendentalism of the subjective over objective knowledge).

74. The man who is employed in his business with his body and mind, or sits idle with himself and his limbs, he is not stained by anything, if this soul is unattached to any object.

75. He is not stained by the action which he does with an unconcerned mind; nor he also who is neither elated nor dejected at the vicissitudes of his fortune, and the success or failure of his undertakings.

76. He whose mind is heedless of the actions of his body, is never stained with the taint of joy or grief, at the changes of his fortune, or the speed or defeat of his attempts.

77. The heedless mind takes no notice of a thing that is set before the eyes of the beholder;but being intent on some other object within itself, is absent from the object present before its sight. This case of the absence of mind is known even to boys (and all man).

78. The absent minded man does not see the objects he actually sees, nor hears what he hears, nor feels what he touches. (So the sruti. "Who thinks of that, sees naught before him, nor hears aught that he hears").

79. So is he who watches over a thing as if he winks at it; and smells a thing as if he has no smell of the same; and while his senses are engaged with their respective objects, his soul and mind are quite aloof from them.

80. This absence of mind is well known to persons sitting at their homes, and thinking of their lodging in another land; and this case of the wandering attention, is known even to boys and to ignorant people also.

81. It is attention which is the cause of the perception of sensible objects, and it is the attachment of the mind which is the cause of human society; it is mental concern that causes our desires, and it is this concernedness of ours about other things, that is the cause of all our woe.

82. It is the abandonment of connections, which is called liberation, and it is the forsaking of earthly attachments, which releases us from being reborn in it; but it is freedom from worldly thoughts, that makes us emancipate in this life. (Freedom in this state, makes us free in the next).

Rama said:—

83. Tell me briefly my lord, that dost like a gale blow away the mist of my doubts; what are these connections that we are to get rid of, in order to be freed both in this life and in the next.

Vasishtha answered said:—

84. that impure desire of the pure soul, for the presence or absence of something which tends to our pleasure or pain, is called our attachment to the same. (The desire of having the desirable and avoiding the contrary, is the cause of our attachment to the one, and our unconnection with the other).

85. Those who are liberated in their lifetime, foster the pure desire which is unattended by joy or grief; and is not followed by future regeneration (or metempsychosis of the soul).

86. Thus the pure desire being unconnected with any worldly object, is styled unworldly and is apart from the world; it continues through life, and whatever actions are done by it, they do not tend to the bondage of the soul, nor lead it to future transmigrations.

87. The ignorant men that are not liberated, in their present state of existence in this world, entertain impure desires causing their pleasure and pain in this life, and conducing to their bondage to repeated transmigrations in future.

88. This impure desire is expressed also by the term attachment, which leads its captive soul to repeated births; and whatsoever actions are done by it, they tend to the faster bondage of the miserable soul.

89. Abandon therefore thy desire for, and thy attachment to anything of this kind, which is at best but to the trouble of the soul; and thy freedom from them will keep thy mind pure, although thou mayst continue to discharge thy duties of life, with a willing mind and unenslaved soul.

90. If thou canst remain unaffected by joy or grief, or pleasure or pain, and unsubjected by passions, and unsubdued by fear and anger; thou becomest impassible and indifferent.

91. If you do not pine in your pain, or exult in your joy, and if you are not elated by hope, nor depressed by despair; you are truly unconcerned about them.

92. If you conduct your affairs with equanimity, both in your prosperity and adversity; and do not lose your temper in any circumstance of life, you are truly insensible and regardless of them.

93. When you can know the soul, and by knowing it you can see the same in yourself; and manage yourself with evenness, under any circumstance as it may happen to thee; you are then unconscious of them.

94. Rely Rama, in your easily obtainable insouciance and stick firmly to your liberation in this life; be passionless and even tempered, and rest in your peace for ever.

95. That man is honourable, who is free from the feverish passions of pride, giddiness and envy in his mind; and possessing his liberation, taciturnity and full mastery over his organs of sense.

96. So is he who retains his equanimity and meekness of mind, in all things which are presented before him; and never deviates from the connate duties of his caste, to do others which bear no relation with him.

97. One who attends to his hereditary duties, which are co-natural with him, and discharges them with a mind freed from all concern and expectation, is truly happy in himself.

98. Whether under the trial of troubles and tribulations, or under the temptations of rank and prosperity; the great minded man, does not transgress his intrinsic nature, as the Milky ocean does not tarnish its whiteness, though perturbed under the charming Mandara mountain.

99. Whether gaining the sovereignty of the earth, or elevated to the dignity of the lord of gods; or degraded to grovel upon the earth, or lowered to a creeping worm underneath the ground; the great minded man remains unchanged at his rise and fall, as the bright sun remains the same, both in his elevation and culmination.

100. Freed from tumults and differences of faith, and exempted from pursuits for different results, employ your great mind, O Rama! to the highest duty of investigation into the nature of the soul, and securing your ultimate liberation by it.

101. Live by the clear and purpling stream of your investigation, and you will come to rely in the undecaying and unsullied state of the pure soul; and then by coming to the knowledge and sight of the Supreme Spirit, by the light of your understanding; you will no more be bound to the bonds of future births upon this earth.