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 XXII - Account of past ages

Argument. said:—

The various Events of bygone days, and the changes in the order of things in the world.

Bhusunda continued:—

Moreover I will tell you sir, many other things that I remember to have occurred in the course of the world, and under the flight of by gone times. I remember the births of the seers Bharadwaja, Pulasta, Atri, Narada, Indra, the Marichis and yourselves also.

2. I bear in my mind the venerable Pulaha, Uddalaka, kratu, Bhrigu, Angiras and Sanatkumara, Bhringi and Ganesa, and Skanda and others in their train, who were known as Siddharshis or consummate sages of yore.

3. I retain the memory of Guari, Sarasvati, Laxmi, Gayatri and many more famous females, who are reckoned as female personifications of divine attributes. I have seen the mountains Meru, Mandara, Kailasa, the Himalayas and the Dardura hills.

4. I carry in my memory the exploits of the demons Hiranya ksha, Kalanimi, Hayagriva, Hiranya Kasipu, Vati and Prahlada and many others of the Danava or Demoniac race.

5. I keep in my mind the remembrance of the renowned Sibi, Nyanku, Prithu, Vainya, Nala, Nabhaga, Mandhata, Sagara, Dilipa and Nahusa kings of men and rulers of earth.

6. I know by heart the names of Atriya, Vyasa, Valmiki, Sukadeva, Vatsyayana and other sages, and know by rote the names of Upamanyu, Manimanki, Bhagiratha and other pious princes of old.

7. So there are many things of remote past times, and others of later ages and some relating to the present age; all of which are imprinted in the memory, wherefore it is needless to recount them over again.

8. O thou Sagely son of Brahma! I remember thy eight births, in the eight different epochs of the world, and this is verily thy eight births in which thou hast become a guest to my nest.

9. You are at one time born of air, and at another of heavenly fire; you are some time produced from water, and at others from empty vacuity or of the solid rock. (i.e., formed of one or other of these elementary bodies at different periods of the world).

10. The constitution of created bodies, conforms us with the nature of the principle elements of which they are formed; and the positions of heavenly bodies, have a great influence on their production. I have witnessed three such formations of the world composed of igneous, aqueous and terrene substances at different times.

11. I remember ten repeated creations, in which the usages of people were uniform and alike;and the gods were settled in their abodes (i.e., the Aryans led nomadic life). They were coeval with the Asuras whom they braved in battle, and were located in their homestead.

12. I saw the earth sinking five times under, and lifted up as many times by the divine Kurmamanantara, or incarnation of Vishnu in the form of the tortoise, from below the overflowing ocean.

13. I witnessed the great tumult of Suras and Asuras or the Gods and demi-gods, in uprooting and uplifting the Mandara mountain, for churning out the last ambrosia from underneath the ocean for twelve times over. (The meaning of Samudara manthana or churning of the sea, seems to be the refining of the salt water of the deluging sea).

14. Thrice have seen the imposing Hiranyaksha, that levied his tax upon the gods in heaven, hurling the fruitful earth with all her balmy and medicinal plants underneath the ocean.

15. I beheld Hari to have come down six times in the shape of Renuka's son or Parashurama, and extirpate the Kshetriya race at the intervals of very long periods.

16. I remember, O Sage! the return of a hundred kaliyuga ages, and a hundred incarnations of Hari in the form of Buddha, and as the son of royal Suka or Suddhadana in the land of Kirata.

17. I bear in my remembrance the overthrow of tripura thrice ten times by Siva, and the discomfiture of Dakhas' ceremony for more than once by the irritated Hara; and I recall to my mind the downfall of ten Indras by the offending God, who bears the crescent moon on his forehead (and the confinement of their thunder-bolts within the caverns of volcanoes glass).

18. I recollect the battle that has been fought eight times between Hari and Hara, and the first appearance of Vishnu and Siva, jvaras or the cold typhoid fevers in these conflicts. (This means the rising of the malarious fevers of Dinajpur, which raged among the belligerent forces on both sides).

19. I remember, O silent Sage! the difference in the intellects of men at every succeeding age, and the various readings of vedas at the ceremonial observances of mankind. (This means the varieties of reading of the vedas as pointed in the prati sakha, and the difference of phonetic intonation as shown in the sikshas, have greatly tended to the depravity of vedic recitation, and consequently to their inefficacy in producing their desired consequence also).

20. O sinless saint! The puranas also though they agree in the main substance, are so full of interpolations, that they have been greatly multiplied in successive ages. (It is quite true of works in manuscript and without their gloss).

21. I remember also many historical works, which have been composed by authors learned in the vedas in the succeeding ages. (These works are called Itihasas or legendary accounts, as the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata by Valmiki and Vyasa respectively).

22. I have the recollection of the other wondrous composition of legendary accounts, under the title of the Maharamayana a work comprising one hundred thousand slokas or tetrastichs, and replete with sound wisdom. (This was revealed by Brahma to Vasishtha and Viswamitra).

23. This work presents the conduct of Rama for the imitation of the men, and sets the misbehaviour of Ravana to the opprobrium of mankind. This precept contains the essence of all wisdom, and serves as the luscious fruit of the tree of knowledge, placed in the palm of all people. (The substance of these instances is, that virtue is true happiness below and vice is bane of life).

24. This work is composed by Valmiki, who will compose some others also in time; and these you will come to know, when they will be presented to world in time (as I have known them before hand by my foreknowledge of things, gloss) (This work is called Vasishtha Rama samvada in the form of a dialogue as those of Socrates and Plato).

25. This work whether it is a composition of Valmiki, or the composition of some other person, is published for the twelve times, and is now going to be almost forgotten by men.

26. The other work of like importance, is known under the name of Bharata; I remember it to have been written by Vyasa at first, but is becoming obsolete at present.

27. Whether it is the composition of person known by the name of Vyasa, or a compilation of some other person, it has up to this time undergone its seventh edition, and is now going fastly to be forgotten.

28. I remember also, O chief of Sages! many tales and novels and other sastras, composed in every age and Yuga; which have been written in a variety of styles and diction.

29. O good sage! I remember to have seen also many new productions and inventions, following one another in succeeding age; and it is impossible to enumerate this innumerable series of things.

30. I remember the Lord Vishnu descending many times on earth, for the destruction of ferocious Raksasas, and is now to appear here the eleventh time under the appellation of Rama.

31. I know the lord Hari to have thrice come down in his form of Nrisinha or leonine man, and thrashed the demon Hiranyakasipu as many times, as a lion kills a gigantic elephant. (i.e. Although the gods are of smaller forms and figures, yet they got the better of the giants, by means of their better arms and knowledge of warfare).

32. Vishnu is yet to be born in his sixteenth incarnation at Vasudeva's abode, for the purpose of rescuing the earth from the burthen of the oppression of its tyrannic lords and despots.

33. This cosmic phenomenon is no reality, nor it is even in existence; it is but a temporary illusion, and appears as bubble of water to disappear in next moment.

34. This temporary illusion of the phenomenals, rises and sets in the conscious soul of its own accord; as the boisterous billows heave and subside themselves in the bosom of the waters.

35. I have known the world to be sometimes uniform in its course and in the state of things, at others there is a partial difference in their nature and order, and again total change has also been observed to take place in the constitution of things. (Nature is never uniform, but all are subject to change more or less from its original state).

36. I remember the former nature and state of things, and the manner and actions of bygone people and the usages of those times; I saw them give room to others in their turn and those again to be displaced by others. (He that wants an even uniformity to see, expects what never had been, nor ever will be).

37. Every Manwantara or revolution of time; is attended O Brahman! with a reversion in the course of the world; and a new generation is born to supplant the old men of renown.

38. I have then a new set of friends and a new train of relatives; I get a new batch of servants, and a new habitation for my dwelling.

39. I had to remain some times in my solitary retreat by the side of the Vindhyan range, and some times on the ridge of the Sahya Mountain. I had at other times my residence on the Dardura Hills, and so my lodging is ever shifting from one place to another and never fixed in any spot forever. (The Dardura is the Dardue Hill in Afghanistan).

40. I have often been a resident of the Himalayas, and of the Malaya Mountain in the South of India, and then led by destiny as described before, I have found my last abode on this mount of Meru.

41. By getting to it, I built my nest on the branch of an Amra or mango tree, and continued to live there, O chief of the Munis! for ages and time without end.

42. It is by my pristine destiny that this tree has grown here for my residence, therefore, O sage! I can have no release from this body of mine to come to my desirable end. (i.e. the soul like a bird is destined by its prior acts, to endless transmigrations in material bodies, which are compared to its habitable trees, and from which it can have no release, although it pines for its dis-embodied liberation, as a decrepit old man wishes to get loose of his loathsome body).

43. It is by appointment of the predestination, that the same tree has grown here in the form of the kalpa arbour, which preserves the beauty even now, as it did at the time when my father Chanda had been living.

44. Being thus pre-ordained by destiny I was settled in this place, when there had been no distinction of the quarters of heaven as the north or east, nor of the sky or mountain.

45. Then the north was on another side, and this Meru was in another place;I was then one and alone, and devoid of any form or body, and was as bright as the essence, which is never shrouded by the darkness of night.

46. After awaking from the insensibility of my trance (at the beginning of another kalpa creation or of my generation), I saw and recognized all the objects of creation (as one comes to see and know the things about him after waking from the forgetfulness of his sleep); and knew the situations of the Meru and other hills and dales from the positions of the stars, and the motions of heavenly bodies.

47. The site of the polar circle of Meru and the course of the planets being changed in different creations, there ensues an alteration of the points of the compass, and a difference in the sides of the quarters;therefore there is nothing as a positive truth, except our conception of it such and such.

48. It is the vibration of the soul, that displays these wonderful conceptions in the mind; and excites the various phenomena in nature. It converts a son to a father and makes a son of the father, and represents a friend as a foe and again shows a foe in the light of a friend. (Hence there is no such thing as a positive certainty, but becomes transmutable to one in opposite nature, as the father supports the child in its youth, and is supported by the boy in his dotage).

49. I remember many men to become effeminate, and many women also to grow quite masculine; and I have seen the good manners of the golden age to prevail in Kali, and those of Iron-age gaining ground in its preceding ages.

50. I have seen also many men in the Treta and Dwapara Yugas or the silver and brazen ages of the world, that were ignorant of the Vedas and unacquainted with their precepts; and followed the fictions of their own invention which led them to heterodoxy.

51. I remember also O Brahman! the laxity of manners and morals among the gods, demi gods and men since the beginning of the world.

52. I remember after the lapse of a thousand cycles of the four Yuga ages, that Brahma created from his mind some aerial beings of unearthly forms; and these spiritual beings occupied a space extending over ten cycles of creations.

53. I remember likewise the varying positions and boundaries of countries, and also the very changing and diversified actions and occupations of their people. I remember too the various costumes and fashions and amusements of men, during the ceaseless course of days and nights in the endless duration of time.