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...

Argument: On the Breathings of Inspiration, Respiration and Expiration, and their rise and fall from and in the spirit of Brahma the origin and end of all.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Hear Rama, when the bird had said so far, I interrupted him and said, tell me, O ancient seer, how and what is the nature of the course of vital airs.

Bhusunda replied:—

2. How is it, O sage! that you who know everything, should propose this question to me as if it were in jest, but as you ask as this of me, I must tell you all I know about it.

3. The vital breath, O Brahman! is a moving force by its nature, and is always suo motu in its own motion, and pervades both in the inside and outside of bodies which its animates.

4. The apana or the emitting air also is a self motive power, and in its incessant motion;and is both within and without the living body, in its downward or receding direction.

5. It is good for livings being to restrain these vitals breaths both in their waking and sleeping states, and now hear me tell you, O learned sage, how it is to be effected for their best gain.

6. The internal vital air (prana), extends from the lotus-like heart to the crevice in the cranium, its effort to come out (by the mouth and nostrils), is termed by the wise as rechaka or exhaled air. (The expiration coming out of the heart, and reaching the cerebrum is called the rechaka breath).

7. The meeting of breaths at the distance of twelve inches from and below the nostrils, is called the puraka or inhaling-breath. (This is termed the [Sanskrit: vahyapuraka] or external inspiration).

8. It is also called Puraka, when the breath passes from without, and enters within the inner apana without any effort, and fills the inside from the heart to the cerebrum.

9. When the apana air has subsided in the heart, and prana breath does not circulate in the breast, it is called the Kumbhaka state, and is known to the yogis only.

10. All these three sorts of breaths, are perceived at the place from where the apana takes its rise, and this is at the distance of twelve inches below on the outside of the tip of the nose.

11. Hear now, O great minded sage! what the clear minded adepts have said, respecting the natures of the ever continuative and effortless. (i.e. self respiring) breathings.

12. Know sir, that the air which is inhaled from the distance of twelve inches on the out side of the tip of the nose, the same receives of its own nature the name of puraka or that of another.

13. As the outer part of a pot planted in the earth appears to sight, so the apana breath stretching to the distance of twelve inches just opposite to the tip of the nose in the air on the out side, is perceptible to the yogi, and is called Kumbhaka by the learned.

14. The exhaling air which rises from the heart, and extends to the tip of the nose, is styled the primary and external puraka breath ([Sanskrit: adyah vahyapurakam]) by the adepts in Yoga practice.

15. There is another (or secondary) external puraka air known to the wise, which takes its rise from the tip of the nose, and extends to the distance of twelve inches out-side of it.

16. After the prana breath sets out-side the nostrils, and before the apana breath has yet its rise, this interval of the entire abeyance of both, is known as the state of perfect equalization, and termed the external Kumbhaka.

17. The air which breathes out in the heart or pulsates within it, and without the rising of the apana breath; is styled the external rechaka in the Yoga system; and its reflection confers perfect liberation to man.

18. And this rising at the distance of twelve inches, in another kind of it and called the strong rechaka.

19. There is another kind of puraka, which is on the outside of the apana; and when it stretches to the inside of the navel within, it is known under the names of Kumbhaka &c.

20. The intelligent man who meditates by day and night on the octuple nature, and course of the prana and apana or the inhaling and exhaling airs, is not doomed to be reborn any more in this miserable earth.

21. I have thus related to you the various courses of the bodily airs, a restraint of which in the waking and sleeping states of man, as also in his states of sitting and waking, is productive of his liberation.

22. Though these are very fleeting in their natures, yet they are restrained by the good understanding of man, even when he is employed in his work or is in his act of eating.

23. The man that practises the Kumbhaka or suppression of his breathing within himself, cannot be employed in any action; but must remain calmly in this act of suppression, by giving all external thoughts and actions. (i.e., as in a state of torpidity).

24. A few days practice of this Yoga, by abnegation of all outward objects from the mind, enables a man to attain to the state of his solity, or his unity with the sole entity of the Deity.

25. Intelligent men have no fondness for worldly things, but bear an aversion to them as a holy Brahman has against the sweet milk contained in a flask of skin. They remain regardless of visible objects, with his eyes closed against them, as a blind man takes no heed of out-ward appearances.

26. They are in possession of all, which is the sum total (tout ensemble) of what is to be had as the best gain; and whether when they are awake or asleep or walking or sitting, they never lose sight of that true light which leads them to the other world.

27. Those who have obtained the knowledge of the course of his breathings, have got rid of all delusion and rest in quiet within themselves (i.e. In watching their inspirations and over-looking the external phenomena).

28. And whether the intelligent people are employed in busy life, or sit inactive at home; they are always quiet and at rest by following the course of their respiration (neither breathing hard or being out breath).

29. I know, O Brahman! the exhaling breath, to rise from its source of the lotus like heart, and stretch to the distance of twelve inches out of it, where it sets or stops. (As is mixed up with the current air).

30. The apana or inhaling breath is taking in from the same distance of twelve inches, and is deposited in the cup of the lotus situated in the human heart.

31. As the prana respiration is exhaled out in the air, to the distance of twelve inches from the heart, so the inhaled air of apana is taken into the breast, from the same distance of the open sky.

32. The prana or exhaling breath runs towards the open air, in the form of a flame of fire, and the inhaled breath turns inward to the region of the heart, and goes downward like a current of water.

33. The apana or inhaled breath is like the cooling moon light, and refreshes the body from without; while prana respiration resembling the sunshine or a flame of fire, warms the inside of the body.

34. The prana breath warms every moment the region of the heart, as the sunshine inflames the region of the sky; and then it torrifies the atmosphere before it, by the exhalation of breath through the mouth.

35. The apana air is as the moonlight before the moon, and being inhaled inward, it washes the sphere of the heart as by a deluge; then it refreshes the whole inside in a moment.

36. When the last digit of the moon-like apana or inhaling breath, is swallowed by the sun of the prana or exhaling breath;it meets with the sight of supreme spirit, and has no more any cause of affliction.

37. So also when the last portion of the sunlike prana or exhaling breath, is swallowed by the moon-like apana or inhaling breath; then there ensues the same visitation of Brahma in the inside, and the soul is emancipated from further transmigration in this world. (The meeting of the two is a yoga or junction of the human and Divine spirits).

38. The prana or exhaling breath assumes the nature of the solar heat, both in the inside and outside of the body; and afterwards it becomes and remains as the cooling moonlight. (It is the one and same breath of air, that takes the two names, according to its two different natures of inspiration and expiration. gloss).

39. The prana expiration forsakes its nature of the cooling moon, and turns in a moment to assume the nature of the hot sun, that dries and sucks up everything before it.

40. As long as the prana exhalation is not converted to the nature of the moon, after forsaking its solarity, it is so long considered as unconditioned by time and place, and freed from pain and grief. (The prana being peculiarised by time, place and number, is long or short and subject to misery; but its extinction in the interval, is instinct with the supreme spirit. Patanjali yoga sutra II 50).

41. He who sees the seat of his soul in the mind situated within his heart, and at the confluence of the sol-luni prana and apana breathings in the Kumbhuka or retained breath, is no more subjected to be reborn and die.

41a. He who feels the sun and moon of his prana and apana breaths, ever rising and setting in the kumbhaka or retained breath with his heart, verily sees the seat of his mind and soul placed at their confluence, and is freed from further birth and death. (The plain meaning is that, the mind and soul consist in the air deposited in the heart by the two inhaling and exhaling breaths of prana and apana).

42. He verily sees the soul in its full light, who beholds this bright sun [Sanskrit: prana] shining in the sphere of his heart, in conjunction with the rising and setting moon beams apana in his mind.

43. This light never fades nor grows faint at any time, but dispels the darkness of the heart, and produces the consummation—Siddhi of the meditative mind.

44. As the dispersion of outward darkness presents the world to view, so the disappearance of inward obscurity gives out the light of the spirit before the mental sight.

45. The removal of intellectual darkness, produces the liberation of the soul, and shows the rising and setting sun of the vital breath vividly to view.

46. When the moon of the apana or inspired breath, sets in the cavity of the heart, the sun of the prana or expiratory breathing, rises immediately to gush out of the same.

47. The apana or inhaling breath having set in the cell of the lotus like heart, the exhaling breath of prana rises at the very moment to come out of it, as the shadow of the night being dispersed from sight, the bright sun of the day ushers his light.

48. As the prana expiration expires in the open air, the inhaling breath rises and rushes in a moment; just as the light having fled from the horizon, is succeeded immediately by deep darkness.

49. Know ye intelligent men, that the apana breath becomes extinct, where the prana comes to be born;and the prana respiration is lost, where the apana takes its rise.

50. When the prana breathing has ceased and the apana has its rise, it is then that one supports himself upon the Kumbhaka retained air, and does not depend on two other passing breaths.

51. On the extinction of apana, and the rise of the prana breath, one relying on the Kumbhaka air which is deposited within himself, is exempted from his pain and sorrow.

52. By depending on the rechaka breath, and practicing the suppression of Kumbhaka breath, at the great distance of sixteen inches from the apana; a man has no more to be sorry for any thing.

53. By making the apana a receptacle of rechaka, and filling the prana in the inside, and finding himself filled with the puraka all within his body, a man has no more to be born on earth.

54. When a man finds the perfect tranquillity of his soul, by subsidence of both the prana and apana within himself; he has no longer to sorrow for any thing whatever.

55. When a man reflects his prana breath to be devoured by the apana air both within as well as without himself, and loses his thoughts of time and space, he has no more any cause for sorrow.

56. He who sees his prana breath devouring the apana air, both within and without himself, together with his sense of space and time, has no more his mind to be reborn on earth.

57. When the prana is swallowed up by the apana, or the apana by the prana, both in the in-side and out-side of the adept; together with his thoughts of time and place;

58. At this moment the Yogi finds his prana to set down, and his apana to rise no more, and the interval between the two, is common to all animals though it is known to Yogis alone.

59. The Kumbhaka taking place of itself on the out-side, is known as the divine state, but when it happens to occur in the in-side, and without any efforts on the part of the adept, it is said to be the state of the most supreme. (Because God does not breathe).

60. This is the nature of the divine soul, and this is the state of the supreme intellect, this is the representation of the eternal spirit, and one attaining to this state, is never subject to sorrow.

61. Like fragrance in the flower, there is an essence indwelling within the vital breath also, and this is neither the prana nor apana, but the intellectual soul which I adore. (As the true God).

62. As taste indwells in the water, so is there an essence immanent in the apana; and this is neither the apana nor the not apana, but the intelligent soul which I adore.

63. There is at the end of the extinction of prana, and beyond the limit of the exhaustion of apana, and situated in the interval between the extremities of both of these, which I ever adore.

64. That which forms the breathing of breath, and is the life of life, what is the support and bearer of the body, is the intellectual spirit which I ever adore.

65. That which causes the thinking (power) of the mind, and the cogitation of the understanding; as also the egotism of egoism, is the intellectual soul, which I have learnt to adore.

66. That which contains and produces all things, which is all (or permeated in all things, as every thing is (evolved from) itself; and what is changed to all at all times, is that mind which I adore for ever.

67. What is the light of lights, what is holiness and the holy of holies, and what is unchangeable in its nature, is the intellect which I adore.

68. I adore that pencil of pure intellectual light, which rises at the juncture of the setting of the apana and springing up of the prana breath. (This sloka occurs in the Kashmere Mss).—68a.—I adore that intellect which trolls on the tip of the nose, at the point where the prana sets in, and the apana has not yet taken its rise.

69. I adore the intellect which rises at the time when both the prana and apana breaths have stopped, and when neither of them has taken its rise.

70. I adore that intellect which appears before the Yogi, and supports him at the point which he has reached unto upon the setting of the prana and apana breaths, both within and without himself.

71. I adore that intellect which is force of all forces, and rides in the car of prana and apana breaths, and when both of them are compressed in the heart of the yogi.

72. I adore the lord intellect, which is the Kumbhaka breath in the heart, and the apana Kumbhaka on the outside; and a part of the puraka left behind.

73. I adore the essence of that intellect, which is attainable by reflection of the breathings, and which is the formless cause of our intelligence of the natures of the prana and apana breaths, as also the motive principle of their actions.

74. I adore the essence of that intellect, which is the cause of the causes, and the main spring of the oscillations of vital airs, and giver of the felicity derived from the vibrations of breath.

75. I adore that prime and supreme Being Brahma, who is worshipped by the gods bowing down before him, who makes himself known to us by his own power, and who is, by the particles of vital breaths, under the name of Spirit.