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 XX - Explication of the mysterious character of bhusunda

Argument: The stability of the world even at the change and dissolution of the worldly objects; and the immortality of Bhusunda even after the Demise of his Brethren.

Bhusunda continued.

1. This world has existed by the prior and bygone kalpa, in the very same state as it does at present, and there is no variation in the formation or location of any thing in any wise. (The ante-diluvean world alike the post-diluvean).

2. Therefore O great Sage! I am accustomed to look to the past and present with an equal eye, and will relate the events of my passed life and by gone ages for your information, as if they are existent with me even at present. (It is the fashion of the old chroniclers, to describe the long past as if it is actually present before them).

3. I find to-day, O great Sage! the fruit of my pious acts of my passed life, that have rewarded me with your blessed presence in this my humble cell.

4. This nest of mine, this branch of the tree, this kalpaar-bour and this myself, are all blessed by your propitious presence in this place. (The sight of a superior is a great favour).

5. Deign Sir, to accept of this seat and this honorarium, which are here offered to you by a suppliant bird; and having purified us by your kind acceptance of our poor offerings, please command what other service can we render unto you. (i.e., what more can I relate to you).

Vasishtha said:—

6. Rama! after Bhusunda had again presented the seat and honorarium to me, I proffered to him another request in the following words.

7. I said, tell me, O thou senior among birds, why dont I see here those brethren of yours, who must be equally senile and strong in their bodies and intellects, as thou showest thyself to be.

Bhusunda answered and said:—

8. I am here destined to remain alone, O Muni! to witness the continuous course of time, and to count and recount the revolutions of ages, as they reckon the succession of days and nights.

9. During this length of time, I had the misfortune to witness all my juniors and younger brothers, to their mortal frames as trifling straws, and find their rest in the blessed state (Of eternity).

10. I saw, O great Sage! the very long lived, and the very great indignity, the very strong and very wise, to be all gorged in the unconscious bowels of bodiless death. (The great and small equally fall; and time at last devours them all. Non semper erit æstas).

Vasishtha said:—

11. Say, O venerable father! how you remained unmolested by the deluvian tempest, which outstripped the winds in its velocity, and bore the great bodies of the sun and moon and stars as jewels hanging about its neck.

12a. (The deluvian tempest is called tufani nuh or hurricane of Noah in the Koran. The Khandapralaya is a partial deluge of the earth, but the mahapralaya is the aggregate of all the cosmic revolutions of the whole world).

12. Say, O primeval seer! how you escaped unscorched by the burning flame of solar rays, which melted down the uprising mountains, and consumed there the woods in one all devouring conflagration. (The burning sun on the day of the last dissolution, is said in the Koran, to come down and stand at a lance's distance above the heads of men).

13. Say, O senile sire, how you remained unfrozen under the cold moon beams, that froze the limpid waters to hard stone; and how you fled unhurt from the showers of hail, which were poured in profusion by the deluvian clouds.

14. Say, O ancient bird! why you were not crushed under the snows, which fell from the deluvian clouds as thickly as huge trees, when they are felled by axes from the tops of high hills.

15. Say, why this kalpatree which rises higher than all other forests, was not broken down, when all other arbors on earth, were levelled to the ground by the universal tornado.

Bhusunda replied:—

16. Our station, O Brahman! in the open and empty air, is quite supportless and without any solid or fixed support. It is either unnoticed or looked upon with disregard and contempt by all, and our living and livelihood is the most despicable among all living beings. (All this is meant of the soul, which is here personified as a bird—a dark crow, and named as the amara Bhusunda, a contemptuous word often applied to senile people).

17. Thus has the Lord of beings appointed these aerial beings, to remain free from disease and death in these forests, or fly about in the empty air in their aerial course. (The forests mean the living bodies, and the empty air is the field for the rambles of disembodied spirits).

18. How then, O venerable sir, can any sorrow or sickness betide us here, where we are born to be immortal, and rove freely in open air; and are free from those pains and sorrows, which betake those birds that are bound in snares of their desires, and are subject to their hopes and fears.

19. We sir, have always placed our reliance on the peace and contentment of our souls, and never allow ourselves to fall into error, of taking the typo insubstantials for substantial.

20. We are quite content with what simple nature requires and affords, and are entirely free from those cares and endeavours which are attended with pain. We live only to pass our time in this our own and lonely lodging (which is allotted to us by providence).

21. We neither wish to live long to wallow in our bodily enjoyments nor desire death to avoid the retribution of our acts; but live as long as we have to live, and die when death comes upon us. (Neither love thy life nor hate, but live well how long or short permit to heaven. Milton).

22. We have seen the changeful states of mankind, and witnessed many instances of the vicissitudes of human affairs, and have thereby banished all sorts of levity from our bodies and minds. (Lit. the restlessness of body and mind).

23. By the constant light of our internal spirit, we are kept from the sight of all sorrow and grief; and from our seat on the height of the kalpa tree, we clearly see the course of the world and the changes of time. (The kalpa tree of desire is at once the tree of life and knowledge of the garden of paradise, because both of them are equally desirable to man; and any one who is seated above this tree, must know all things by his all knowingness and immortality as the soul of Bhusunda).

24. Though we are wholly unacquainted with the changes of days and nights, on this high pinnacle of our heavenly mountain (where there is the eternal sunshine of Divine presence); yet we are not ignorant of the vicissitudes of the times and events, in the solar and sublunary worlds which roll incessantly below us.

25. Though our habitation in the cell of this Kalpatree, is ever illumined by the light of gems which are inlaid in it; yet we can know the course of time by the respirations of our breath, which as a chronometer informs us with the regular course of time. (The ajapa or breathings indicate the succession of time, as any time piece or the course of days and nights).

26. Knowing what is real from all that is unreal, I have desisted from my pursuit after unrealities, and settled in my knowledge of the true reality; and by forsaking its natural fickleness, my mind is practised to rest at all times in its perfect peace and tranquillity. (The mind is no more troubled with the tempting trifles of the world, after it has come to know their falsity and vanity).

27. We are not led to the snare of false worldly affairs, nor frightened like earthly crows in our hankering after food by the hissings of men.

28. It is by the serene light of the supreme felicity of our souls, and by the virtue of the unalterable patience of our minds, that we look into the errors and delusions of the world, with out falling in them ourselves.

29. Know great sage, that our minds remain unruffled, even under the shock of those dangers and perils, which ruffle the tempers and understandings of ordinary people; just as the pure crystal remains unstained by the blackest hues that environ it all around.

30. The course of the world, appears very smooth and pleasant in its first beginning; but upon mature consideration, it proves to be frail, fickle and false, as one goes on in it.

31. Thus all living beings are seen to pass away, and whether to return here again or not, no body can tell; what then is it that we must fear (knowing death and demise to be the unavoidable doom of nature).

32. As the course of streams runs continually to the ocean, so the progress of life tends incessantly to the depth of eternity; but we that stand on the border of the great ocean of eternity, have escaped from being carried away by the current of time.

33. We neither cling to our life nor fling it away, but bear it as well as we may, and remain as airy orchids, lightly touching and unattached to their supporting arbour.

34. It is more over by the good of the best sort of men, who are beyond the reach of fear, sorrow and pain like yourself; that we have been set free from all sorts of malady.

35. From the examples of such persons, our minds have become cold, and unconcerned about the affairs of busy life; and are employed only in scanning truth and the true nature of things. (Blessed are they that meditate on the laws of God both day and night).

36. Our souls finding their rest in their unchangeable and unperturbed state, have the fullness of their light and delight, as the sea has its flux of floodtide at the rising of the full and new moon upon its bosom. (The flood of spiritual light in the soul, resembling the flood of hightide in the sea).

37. Sir, we were as highly pleased at your presence here at this time, as the milky ocean was overflown at its churning by the Mandara mountain. (The Mandara mountain is said to have been the resort of the remnants of men at the great deluge, and was used by them as their churning stick, to recover their lost properties from the depth of the waters. The recovery was rather joyous to the men than it could be to the sea).

38. Sir, We do not account any thing as more precious and more favourable unto us, than that the holy saints that have nothing to desire, should take pains to pay their kind visit to our humble cell.

39. What do we gain from our enjoyments, which are pleasant for the time being, and lose their zest the next moment; it is the company of the great and good only, that gives the best gifts like the philosopher's stone.

40. You sir, who are cool and grave in your nature, and soft and sweet and slow in your speech, are like the beneficent bee, that sits and sips the juice from the flowers in the three worlds, and converts it to the sweet balm of honey.

41. I ween, O spiritual Sage! all my sins to be removed at your blessed sight, and the tree of my life to be blest with its best fruit of spiritual bliss, which results from the society of the virtuous, and whose taste removes all diseases and dangers.