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 VI - The narration of delirium (moha)

Argument:—Prevalence and influence of delirium (moha).

Vasishtha Continued:—

Hear me moreover to tell you, my dear Rama, some excellent sayings for your good, and also for the benefit of every one of my audience here.

2. Though you are unlike others, in the greater enlightenment of your understanding; yet my lecture will equally edify your knowledge, as that of the less enlightened men than yourself.

3. He who is so senseless as to take his body for the soul, is soon found to be upset by his unruly senses; as a charioteer is thrown down by his head-strong and restive horses. (So says the Sruti also. "The soul is the charioteer of the vehicle of the body, and the senses are as its horses").

4. But the Sapient man who knows the bodiless soul and relies therein, has all his senses under the subjection of his soul; and they do not overthrow him, as obstinate horses do their riders.

5. He who praises no object of enjoyment, but rather finds fault with all of them, and discerns well their evils; enjoys the health of his body without any complaint. (The voluptuary is subject to diseases, but the abstinent is free from them; for in the midst of pleasure there is pain).

6. The soul has no relation with the body, nor is the body related with the soul; they are as unrelated to each other as the light and shade. (And are opposed to one another as sun-light and darkness).

7. The discrete soul is distinct from concrete matter, and free from material properties and accidents; the soul is ever shining and does not rise or set as the material sun and moon (and it never changes as the everchanging objects of changeful nature and mind).

8. The body is a dull mass of vile matter, it is ignorant of itself and its own welfare; it is quite ungrateful to the soul, that makes it sensible; therefore it well deserves its fate of diseases and final dissolution. (The body is frail, and is at best but a fading flower).

9. How can the body be deemed an intelligent thing, when the knowledge of the one (i.e., the soul) as intelligence, proves the other (i.e., the body) to be but a dull mass. (They cannot both be intelligent, when the nature of the one is opposite to that of the other; and if there is no difference between them, they would become one and the same thing (i.e. the soul equal with the body, which is impossible).

10. But how is it then, that they mutually reciprocate their feelings of pain and pleasure to one another, unless they are the one and the same thing, and participating of the same properties? (This is a presumptive objection of the antagonistic doctrine, touching the co-relation of the mind and body).

11. It is impossible, Rama, for the reciprocation of their feelings, that never agree in their natures; the gross body has no connection with the subtile soul, nor has the rarefied soul any relation with the solid body. (It is the gross mind that sympathises with the body, and not the unconnected spirit or soul).

12. The presence of the one, nullifies the existence of the opposite other; as in the cases of day and night, of darkness and light, and of knowledge and ignorance (which are destructive of their opposites).

13. The unbodied soul presides over all bodies, without its adherence to any; as the omnipresent spirit of Brahma, pervades throughout all nature, without coalescing with any visible object. (The spirit of God resides in all, and is yet quite detached from everything).

14. The embodied soul is as unattached to the body, as the dew drop on the lotus leaf is disjoined with the leaf; and as the divine spirit is quite unconnected with everything, which it fills and supports.

15. The Soul residing in the body, is as unaffected by its affections, as the sky remains unmoved, by the motion of the winds raging in its bosom. (It is figuratively said, that tempests rend the skies, and the passions rend their recipient bosom; but nothing can disturb the empty vacuity of the sky or soul.

16. Knowing your soul to be no part of your body, rest quietly in it to eternity; but believing yourself as the body, be subject to repeated transmigrations of it in endless forms.

17. The visibles are viewed as the rising and falling waves, in the boundless ocean of the Divine soul; but reliance in the supreme soul, will show the light of the soul only.

18. This bodily frame is the product of the Divine soul, as the wave is produced of the water of the sea; and though the bodies are seen to move about as waves, yet their receptacle the soul is ever as steady as the sea;—the reservoir of the moving waves.

19. The body is the image of the soul, as the sun seen in the waves is the reflection of that luminary; and though the body like the reflected sun, is seen to be moving and waving, yet its archetype—the soul, is ever as steady as the fixed and unfluctuating sun in the sky.

20. The error of the substantiality and stability of the body is put to flight, no sooner the light of the permanent and spiritual Substratum of the soul, comes to shine over our inward sight. (Knowledge of the immaterial and immortal soul, removes the blunder of the material and mortal body).

21. The body appears to be in the act of constant motion and rotation like a wheel, to the partial and unspiritual observers of materialism; and it is believed by them to be perpetually subject to birth and death, like the succession of light and darkness. (Lit.:—As candle light and darkness follow each other, so is the body produced and dissolved by turns).

22. These unspiritual men, that are unconscious of their souls; are as shallow and empty minded, as arjuna trees; which grow without any pith and marrow within them.

23. Dull headed men that are devoid of intelligence, are as contemptible as the grass on the ground;and they move their limbs like the blades of grass, which are moved by force of the passing wind (and by direction of the Judging mind). Those that are unacquainted with the intelligent soul, resemble the senseless and hollow bamboos, which shake and whistle by breath of the winds alone. (The internal air moves the body and the limbs, as the external breeze shakes the trees).

24. The unintelligent body and limbs, are actuated to perform and display their several acts, by action of the vital breath; as the vacillation of the insensible trees and leaves, is caused by the motion of the breeze; and both of them cease to move, no sooner the current airs cease to agitate them.

25. These dull bodies are as the boisterous waves of the sea, heaving with huge shapes with tremendous noise; and appearing to sight as the figures of drunken men, staggering with draughts of the luscious juice of Vine.

26. These witless men resemble the rapid currents of rivers, which without a jot of sense in them, keep up on their continual motion, to no good to themselves or others.

27. It is from their want of wit, that they are reduced to utmost meanness and misery; which make them groan and sigh like the blowing bellows of the blacksmith.

28. Their continued motion is of no real good to themselves, but brings on their quietus like the calm after the storm; they clash and clang like the twang of the bowstring, without the dart to hit at the mark.

29. The life of the unintelligent man, is only for its extinction or death; and its desire of fruition is as false, as the fruit of an unfruitful tree in the woody forest.

30. Seeking friendliness in unintelligent men, is as wishing to rest or sleep on a burning mountain; and the society of the unintellectual, is as associating with the headless trunks of trees in a forest (The weak headed man like the headless tree, can neither afford any sheltering shade, nor nourishing fruit to the passenger. So the verse: It is vain to expect any good or gain, from men of witless and shallow brain).

31. Doing any service to the ignorant and lack witted men goes for nothing; and is as vain as beating the bush or empty air with a stick: and any thing given to the senseless, is as something thrown into the mud. (Or as casting pearls before the swine, or scattering grains in the bushes).

32. Talking with the ignorant, is as calling the dogs from a distance (which is neither heard nor heeded by them). Ignorance is the seat of evils, which never betide the sensible and the wise. (So the Hitopadesa—A hundred evils and thousand fears, daily befall to the fool, and not to the heedful wise).

33. The wise pass over all errors in their course amidst the world; but the ignorant are exposed to incessant troubles, in their ceaseless ardour to thrive in the pleasures of life.

34. As the carriage wheel revolves incessantly, about the axle to which it is fixed; so the body of man turns continually about the wealthy family, to which the foolish mind is fixed for gain.

35. The ignorant fool can never get rid of his misery, so long as he is fast bound to the belief of taking his body as his soul, and knowing no spiritual soul besides.

36. How is it possible for the infatuated, to be freed from their delusion; when their minds are darkened by illusion, and their eyes are blind-folded, by the hood-wink of unreal appearance.

37. The seeing man or looker on sights, that regales his eyes with the sight of unrealities; is at last deluded by them, as a man is moonstruck by fixing his eyes on the moon, and becomes giddy with the profuse fragrance of flowers.

38. As the watering of the ground, tends to the growth of grass and thorns and thistles; so the fostering of the body, breeds the desires in the heart, as thick as reptiles grow in the hollow of trees; and they invigorate the mind in the form of a rampant lion or elephant.

39. The ignorant foster their hopes of heaven on the death of their bodies; as the farmer expects a plenteous harvest, from his well cultivated fields (i.e. expectation of future heaven is vain, by means of ceremonial acts in life).

40. The greedy hell-hounds are glad to look upon the ignorant, that are fast-bound in the coils of their serpentine desires; as the thirsty peacocks are pleased to gaze on the black clouds, that rise before their eyes in the rainy season.

41. These beauties with their glancing eyes, resembling the fluttering bees of summer, and with lips blooming as the new blown leaves of flowers; are flaunting to catch hold of ignorant men; as poisonous plants are displayed, to lay hold on ignorant flies.

42. The plant of desire, which shoots out of the goodly soil of ignorant minds, shelters the flying passions under its shady foliage; as the coral plants foster the coral insects in them. (The corallines are known to be the formation of coral insects).

43. Enmity is like a wild fire, it consumes the arbour of the body, and lets out the smoke through the orifice of the mouth in the desert land of the heart, and exhibits the rose of the heath as the burning cinders.

44. The mind of the ignorant is as a lake of envy, covered with the leaves of spite and calumny: jealousy is its lotus-bed, and the anxious thoughts are as the bees continually fluttering thereupon.

45. The ignorant man that is subjected to repeated births, and is rising and falling as waves in the tumultuous ocean of this world, is exposed also to repeated deaths:and the burning fire which engulphs his dead body, is as in the submarine fire of this sea.

46. The ignorant are exposed to repeated births, attended by the vicissitudes of childhood, youth, manhood and old age, and followed at last by a painful death and cremation of the beloved body on the funeral pile.

47. The ignorant body is like a diving bucket, tied by the rope of transmigration to the Hydraulic machine of acts; to be plunged and lifted over again, in and over the dirty pool of this world.

48. This world which is a plane pavement and but narrow hole (lit., a cow foot-cave) to the wise, by their unconsciousness of it; appears as a boundless and unfathomable sea to the ignorant, owing to their great concern about it. (The wise think lightly of the world; but the worldly take it heavily upon themselves).

49. The ignorant are devoid of their eye-sight, to look out beyond their limited circle; as the birds long confined in their cages, have no mind to fly out of them.

50. The revolution of repeated births, is like the constant rotation of the wheel of a chariot; and there is no body that is able to stop their motion, by restraining his earthly desires; which are ever turning as the spokes affixed to nave of the heart.

51. The ignorant wander at large, about the wide extended earth; as huntsmen rove amidst the forest, in search of their prey; until they become a prey at the hand of death, and make the members of their bodies as morsels, to the vultures of their sensual appetites.

52. The sights of these mountainous bodies, and of these material forms made of earthly flesh, are mistaken by the ignorant for realities; as they mistake the figures in painting for real persons.

53. How flourishing is the arbour of this delusion, which is fraught with the endless objects of our erroneous imagination; and hath stretched out these innumerable worlds from our ignorance of them.

54. How flourishing is the kalpa tree or all fruitful arbour of delusion; which is ever fraught with endless objects of our imaginary desire, and stretches out the infinite worlds to our erroneous conception as its leaves.

55. Here our prurient minds like birds of variegated colours, rest and remain and sit and sport, in and all about this arbour.

56. Our acts are the roots of our repeated births as the stem of the tree is of its shoots; our prosperity and properties are the flowers of this arbor, and our virtues and vices are as its fruits of good and evil.

57. Our wives are as the tender plants, that thrive best under the moon-light of delusion; and are the most beautiful things to behold in this desert land of the earth.

58. As the darkness of ignorance prevails over the mind, soon after the setting of the sun light of reason; there rises the full moon of errors in the empty mind, with all her changing phases of repeated births. (This refers to the dark ages of Puranic or mythological fictions, and also to the Darshanic or philosophical systems which succeeded the age of Vedantic light, and were full of changeable doctrines, like the phases of the moon; whence she is styled dwija or mistress of digits. There is another figure of equivocation in the word doshah, meaning the night as well as the defect of ignorance).

59. It is under the influence of the cooling moon-light of ignorance;that our minds foster the fond desire of worldly enjoyments;and like the chakora birds of night, drink their fill of delight as ambrosial moon-beams. (The ignorant are fond of pleasures, and where ignorance is bliss, it is foolish to be wise).

60. It is under this delusion, that men view their beloved ones as buds of roses and lotuses, and their loose glancing eyes, as the black bees fluttering at random; they see the sable clouds in the braids and locks of their hair, and a glistening fire in their glowing bosoms and breasts.

61. It is delusion, O Rama! that depicts the fairies with the beams of fair moon-light nights; though they are viewed by the wise, in their true light of being as foul as the darkest midnight.

62. Know Rama, the pleasures of the world, to be as the pernicious fruits of ignorance; which are pleasant to taste at first, but prove to be full of bitter gall at last. It is therefore better to destroy this baneful arbour, than to lose the life and soul by the mortal taste of its fruits. (It is the fruit of the tree of ignorance rather than that of knowledge, which brought death into the world and all our woe. Milton).