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 XIII - The two yogas of knowledge and reasoning

Argument: The two yogas or Habits of restraining the Desires and Respiration herein before described, are followed by two others: viz. the Acquisition of knowledge and the Training to reasoning which are yogas also.

Rama said:—

1. I am verily becalmed and set at ease, O Brahman! by relinquishing all my desires, from my full knowledge of their impropriety; and by my being staid in the state of the liberated, even in this my present life. (The heaven of the holy, commences in their earthly life).

2. But tell me, sir, how a man can have his liberation, by restraining his respirations for a time; and how the restraint of one's breathings, can put a restriction to his desires, which reside and rise from the mind; while it belongs to the body and comes in and out of the heart and lungs. (Nostrils).

Vasishtha said:—

3. The means of fording over the ocean of this earth is known, O Rama! by the word Yoga or union, which is composed of the quality of pacifying the mind in either of the two ways or processes (as shown below).

4. The one is the acquisition of religious instruction, leading to the knowledge of the soul and of the Supreme soul, and the other is the restraining of respiration, which you will learn from the lecture that I am about to deliver.

Here rama interrupted and said:—

5. Tell me, sir, which of the two is more delectable, owing to its facility and unpainfulness; and the knowledge or practice whereof, releases us from all fear and trouble whatsoever.

Vasishtha replied:—

6. Rama! although I have mentioned here of two kinds of Yoga, yet the common acceptation of the term, restricts it to the restriction of breathing. (The vulgar have no idea of esoteric occultism or jnana Yoga, but call him a Yogi, who is employed in his exoteric practices, of asceticism and austerities, suppression of breath; and all kinds of wilful pains).

7. The true Yoga is the concentration of the mind in God, which is the only means of our salvation in this world; and this is achieved in either way of the regulation of breathing, or perfection in learning, both of which tend to the one and same effect, of fixing the attention in divine meditation.

8. The practical yoga by the regulation of respiration, appears as too arduous a task to some persons, while proficiency in knowledge seems to be too difficult of attainment to others. But to my understanding the ascertainment of truth by theoretical knowledge seems to be far better than practice. (The theoretical meditation is known as the raja yoga, and the forced contraction of the breath is called the hatha yoga or forced devotion, and is the device of Dattatreya who was an ancient Rishi also).

9. Ignorance is ever ignorant of truth, which does not lend its light to us in either our walking or sleeping states. So the ignorant practiser is always in ignorance both when he is in his meditative trance [Sanskrit: yogavidya] or otherwise; but knowledge is always knowing, both when the knower is awake or asleep.

10. The practical yoga which stands in need of fixed attention, painful postures, and proper times and places, is impossible to be practiced, owing to the difficulty of getting all these advantages at all times.

11. I have thus described to you, O Rama! both the two kinds of yoga propounded in the sastras, and the superiority of the pure knowledge, which fills the intellect with its unfading light.

12. The regulation of the breathings, the firmness of the body and dwelling in sequestered cells, are all I ween as pregnant of consummation—siddhi; but say, which of these is capable of giving knowledge [Sanskrit: vritti] to the understanding, which is the greatest perfection in human nature.

13. Now Rama! if you think it possible for you, to sit quiet with utter suppression of your breaths and thoughts; then can you attempt to sit in your sedate posture of meditation without uttering a single word.