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 XXVIII - Lecture on theopathy or spiritual meditation

Argument. said:—

Learning from examples and parables. Falsity of phenomenal and reliance in the noumenal.

Vasishtha said:—

I have thus far related to you, O sinless Rama! the narrative of Bhusunda; who had passed over the perilous sea of delusion, by means of his intelligence and wisdom.

2. Keeping this instance in view, and following his practice of pranayama or regulation of breath; you will also, O mighty armed Rama! pass over the wide ocean of this hazardous ocean.

3. As Bhusunda has obtained the obtainable one, by means of his knowledge and by virtue of his continued practice of yoga; so do you strive to gain the same by imitation of his example.

4. Men of uninfatuated understanding may attain the stability of Bhusunda, and their reliance in the transcendental truth like him by their attending to the practice of pranayama or restraining of their breath.

5. Thus you have heard me relate to you many things, relating to true knowledge; it now depends on your own understanding to do as you may like to choose for yourself. (Either to betake yourself to spiritual knowledge or the practice of pranayama or either as the gloss explains it, either to esoteric contemplation yoga or exoteric adoration


Rama replied:—

6. you sir, that are the luminous sun of spiritual light on earth, have dispelled the thick gloom of unspiritual knowledge from my mind at once (by transcendental light of your holy lectures).

7. I am fully awake to and joyous in my divine knowledge, and have entered into my state of spirituality; I have known the knowable, and am seated in my divine state like yourself.

8. O the wondrous memoir of Bhusunda that you have narrated! It fills me with admiration, and is fraught with the best instruction. (Lit. it is instructive of the highest wisdom).

9. In the account that you have given of Bhusunda, you have said that the body is the abode of the soul, and is composed of flesh and blood, and of the inner bones and outer skin (as its materials and plaster).

10. Please tell me sir, who made this fabric and how it came to be formed; how it is made to last, and who abides therein.

11. Vasishtha answered: Listen now Rama, to what I will relate to you for the instruction of the supreme knowledge, as also for removal of the evils which have taken root instead of true knowledge.

12. This dwelling of the body, Rama! which has the bones for its posts, and the blood and flesh for its mortar, and the nine holes for so many windows, is built by no one: (but is formed of itself).

13. It is a mere reflection, and reflects itself so to our vision; as the appearance of two moons in the sky by illusion, is both real as well as unreal. (This vedantic doctrine is opposed to the popular faith of the creatorship of God).

14. It may be right to speak of two moons from their double appearance to our sight, but in reality there is but one moon and the other its reflection. (So are all phenomenal bodies but reflections of the noumenal).

15. The belief of the existence of body makes it a reality, the unreal seems as real, and therefore it is said to be both real and unreal at the same time. (The perception is real but the object of perception an unreality. Just so the perception of a snake in the rope may be true, though the snake in the rope is quite untrue).

16. Any thing seen in a dream is true as a dream, and appears to be so in the state of dreaming, but afterwards it proves to be untrue, so a bubble of water is true as a bubble, which comes to be known afterwards to be false in reality. (So all things appearing to be true to sight, vanish into nothing when they are judged aright, and even a judge may deem a thing as just, which upon further and right investigation is known as unjust).

17. The body seems to be substantiality in the doing of bodily actions, but it proves otherwise when we view the essentiality of the spirit only; so the reflection of the sun on the sandy desert, makes the mirage appear as water, whose reality proves to be unreal the next moment: (so it is of the body).

18. The body existing as a reflexion disappears the next moment. It is no more than a reflexion, and so it reflects itself.

19. It is your error to think that you are the material body which is made of flesh and bones. It is the inward thought of your mind that is situated in the body, and makes you to think yourself as so and so and such a one. (The reminiscence of the mind of its former body, causes to think itself as an embodied being, in all its repeated transmigrations. Gloss).

20. Forsake therefore the body that you build for yourself at your own will, and be not like them, who while they are asleep on their pleasant beds, deport themselves to various countries with their dreaming bodies:(which are all false and unreal).

21. See, O Rama! how you deport yourself to the kingdom of heaven even in your waking state, in the fanciful reverie of your mind;say then where is your body situated. (It neither accompanies the mind to heaven, nor is it on earth being unperceived and unaccompanied by the mind).

22. Say Rama, where is your body situated, when your mind wanders on the Meru in your dream, and when you dream to ramble with your body about the skirts of this earth.

23. Think Rama, how you seem to saunter about the rich domains (of the gods) in the fancied kingdom of your mind, and tell me whether you are then and there accompanied with your body, or is it left behind.

24. Tell me, where is that body of yours situated; when you think of doing many of your bodily and worldly acts without your body, in the fancied realm of your mind.

25. Tell me, O strong armed Rama! where are those members of your body situated; with which you think to coquette and caress your loving courtezans in the court of your painful mind.

26. Where is that body of yours, with which you seem to enjoy anything;the enjoyment belongs to the mind and not to the body, and both of them are real as well as unreal, owing to their presence at one time and absence at another.

27. The body and the mind are known to be present with coeval with their actions, and they participate with one another in their mutual acts (without which they are said to be inexistent). Therefore it is erroneous to say that, I am this body and am situated here, and these things are mine, all which are illusory and caused by illusion. (Egoism and meity are illusive ideas).

28. All this is the manifestation of the will or energy of the mind, and you must know it either as a long dream or lengthened fallacy of the mind.

29. Know this world, O son of Raghu's race, to be a display of the vast kingdom of your imagination, and will vanish into nothing, when you will come to your good understanding by the grace of your God.

30. You will then see the whole as clearly as in the light of the rising sun, and know this would to be like a creation of your dream or volition. (i.e. as you wish to have a thing for yourself).

31. So is this world a display of the will of the lotus-born Brahma, as I have said before in length in the book of creation.

32. There rises of itself a willful creation within the mind, and out of its own accord as if it were so ordained by destiny; and the mind being fully possest of the great variety of forms, is lost at last into the error of taking them for true.

33. It is a creation of the will only and a display of it in the same manner, as the fancied chimera of Brahmanship had possessed the minds of the sons of Indu. (See the narrative of Indu's sons in the upasama Prakarana).

34. After the soul has passed from its former frame, it receives the same form which it has in view before it after the fancy of the mind, which is either of the kind, to which it has been long used and accustomed, or what it fondly longs in the mind.

35. The body shows itself in the form as it is shaped by the prior acts of a person, and is also convertible to the intellect by the manly exertions of some: (whose corporeal bodies may become intellectual beings, as some persons have mere brutal, while others are highly intellectual).

36. He that thinks himself as another, is transformed to the nature of that air (as it is the pattern that moulds a thing after its own model): and the thought that you are this or that, and have this thing or others for yourself, is what actually makes you so in this world. (The metamorphose of the natures and forms of things and persons to other kinds in Ovid, were all owing to their tendencies and inclinations towards them).

37. Whatever is thought upon keenly and firmly, the same comes to take place accordingly; and whatever is thought of with intense and great force of thought, the same must occur in a short time:(so are all things done to which we set our minds).

38. We see every day the objects of our desire, presenting their fair forms to our view, like the comely faces of our beloved ones present before our sight, in the same manner as the sights in a dream and distant objects, are recalled to the mind of men; with their closed and half-shut eyes. (This is the doctrine of reminiscence which reproduces our long remembered bodies to us).

39. This world is said to be a creation of the thoughts of men, and appears to sight from habitual reflection of it, in the same manner as the sights in a dream, appear to the mind of a man in the day time.

40. The temporary world appears to be as lasting, as the river which appears in the sky under the burning sunshine. (Though in fact both of them are equally evanescent).

41. This inexistent earth also appears as existent in our cogitation, as there appears bundles of peacock's feathers in the sky to the vitiated or purblind eye.

42. It is only the vitiated understanding that dwells upon the beauties of creation, as the vitiated eye sight looks upon the various tinges in the sky. But to the clear sighted understanding the one is as evanescent, as the other is to the clear sighted eye.

43. The sharp sighted man is never led away by the display of worldly grandeur, as even the most timid man is never afraid of a tiger in his imagination.

43a. This great show of worldly grandeur can never mislead the penetrating sight of the wise, as a monstrous creature of imagination cannot terrify even the most timid. (Because the one knows the falsity of the show as well as the other does that of imaginary monster).

44. The wise man is never afraid of his imaginary world, which he knows to be the production of his own mind, from its nature of self-evolution bahir mukhata. (The mind is naturally possessed of both its power of self involution in the interior soul, as also that of its evolving itself in the form of the exterior world).

45. He that has stood in the path of this world, needs not fear for any thing in it, and he that is afraid of it for fear of falling into its errors, should learn to purify his understanding from all its dross and impurity. (Stretch your mind, and the world will appear to light, curb it in yourself and every thing will disappear from view).

46. Know Rama, that the soul is free from the erroneous conception of the world, and from the errors which pervade all over it. Look well into these things, and you will have a nature as pure as your inward soul.

47. The soul is not soiled by impurity, as a pure gold is not spoiled by dirt; and though it may sometimes appear to be tarnished as copper, yet it soon resumes its colour after its dirt is cleansed or burnt away. Thus the world being a reflexion of the omnipresent Brahma, is neither an entity nor a nonentity of its own nature.

48. Thus the abandonment of all other thoughts, besides that of the universal soul or Brahma, is called the true discernment of the mind;which derives the thoughts of life and death, heaven and hell into nothing, and proves all knowledge to be ignorance alone.

49. The knowledge of the nullity of everything, except its being a reflexion of the Intellect, is called the individuality and right discernment of the mind, which removes the thought of the separate and independent existence of the ego and tu, and also of this world and its ten sides: (i.e. of the subjective as well as the objective).

50. That all things are but reflexions of the soul, is what is known as the true and right discernment of the mind; and is derived from its observation of true nature of things in this real and unreal world. (The real is the spiritualistic view of the world, and the unreal is illusory phenomenal appearance).

51. That nothing rises or sets or appears or disappears in this world, is what the mind perceives by its right discernment of things; and by its investigation into the true and apparent natures of all. (In their true light all things are in a state of continued revolution, and nothing rises anew to view or disappears into nothing).

52. Right discernment gives the mind its peace and tranquillity, and its freedom from all desires; and makes it indifferent to joy and grief, and callous to all praise and censure.

53. The mind comes to find this truth as the cooling balsam of the heart, that we are all doomed to die one day or other, with all our friends and relations in this world of mortality.

54. Why therefore should we lament at the demise of our friends, when it is certain that we must die one day sooner or later (and without the certainty of when or where).

55. Thus when we are destined to die ourselves also, without having any power in us to prevent the same; why then should we be sorry for others when we can never prevent also.

56. It is certain that any one who has come to be born herein, must have some state and property for his supportance here; but what is the cause of rejoicing in it (when neither our lives nor their means are lasting for ever).

57. All men dealing in worldly affairs, gain wealth with toil and pain for their trouble and danger only; what is the reason therefore for pining at its want, or repining at its loss.

58. These spheres of worlds enlarge, expand and rise to our view, like bubbles of water in the sea which swell and float and shine for a time, and then burst and subside in the water of eternity.

59. The nature of reality (the entity of Brahma), is real at all times, and the condition of the unreal world is unsubstantial for ever, and can never be otherwise or real, though it may? appear as such for a time. Why then sorrow for what is nil and unreal.

60. I am not of this body nor was I in it, nor shall I remain in it; nor is it any thing, even at present, except a picture of the imagination. Why then lament at its loss.

61. If I am something else beside this body, that is a reflexion of the pure intellect; then tell me of what avail are these states of reality and unreality to me, and wherefore shall I rejoice or regret.

62. The Sage who is fully conscious of the certainty of this truth in himself, does not feel any rise or fall of his spirits at his life or death, nor doth he rejoice or wail at either in having or losing his life.

63. Because he gains after the loss of his gross body, his residence in the transcendental state of Brahma or spiritual existence; as the little bird tittera builds its nest of tender blades, after its grassy habitation is broken down or blown away.

64. Therefore we should never rely in our frail and fragile bodies, but bind our souls to the firm rock of Brahma by the strong rope of our faith, as they bind a bull to the post with a strong cord.

65. Having thus ascertained the certitude of this truth, rely thy faith on the reality of thy spiritual essence, and by giving up thy reliance on thy frail body, manage thyself with indifference in this unreal world.

66. Adhere to what is thy duty here, and avoid whatever is prohibited to thee; and thus proceed in thy course with an even tenor of thy mind, without minding at all about thy reliance on the one and miscreance of the other.

67. He gets a cool composure of his mind; like the coolness at the close of a hot summer-day, who shuts out from his view the reflexions of all worldly objects.

68. Look on this universe, O sinless Rama, as one common display of Divine light, like the appearance of day light which is common to all; it is the mind which taints it with various forms, as the sun-beams are reflected in sundry piece by objects.

69. Therefore forsake all reflexions, and be without any impression in thy mind, be of the form of pure intellectual light, which passes through all without being contaminated by any.

70. You will be quite stainless by your dismissal of all taints and appearances from your mind, and by your thinking yourself as nothing and having no true enjoyment in this world.

71. That these phenomena are nothing in reality, but they show themselves unto us for our delusion only; and that yourself also are nothing will appear to you, by your thinking the whole as a display of the Divine Intellect.

72. Again the thought that these phenomena are not false, nor do they lead to our illusion since they are the manifestation of the supreme Intellect, is also very true and leads to your consummation.

73. It is well Rama, and for your good also if you know either of these; because both of these views will tend equally to your felicity.

74. Conduct yourself in this manner, O blessed Rama! and lessen gradually all your affection and dislike to this world and all worldly things. (i.e. Neither love nor hate aught at any time).

75. Whatever there exists in this earth, sky and heaven, is all obtainable by you, by means of the relinquishment of your eager desire and hatred.

76. Whatever a man endeavours to do, with his mind freed from his fondness for or hatred to it, the same comes shortly, to take place, contrary to the attempts of the ignorant: (whose excessive desire and dislike turn to their disadvantage).

77. No good quality can have its abode in the heart that is troubled by the waves of faults; as no stag will set its foot on the ground, heated by burning sands and wild fires.

78. What acquisitions does he not make, in whose heart there grows the kalpa tree of desire, and which is not infested by the snakes of ardent desire or dislike (the two cankers of human breast).

79. Those men who are wise and discreet, learned and attentive to their duties, and at the same time influenced by the feelings of love and hatred, are no better than jackals (or jack asses) in human shape, and are accursed with all their qualifications.

80. Look at the effects of these passions in men, who repine both at the use of their wealth by others, as also in leaving their hard earned money one behind them. (This proceeds from excessive love of wealth on the one hand, and hatred of family and heirs on the other as is said

[Sanskrit: putradapi ghanabhajam bhati], the monied miser, dislikes even his son).

81. All our riches, relatives and friends, are as transitory as the passing winds: why then should a wise man rejoice or repine at their gain or loss.

82. All our gains and wants and enjoyments in life, are mere illusion or maya, which is spread as a net by Divine power, all over the works of creation, and entraps all the worldlings in it.

83. There is no wealth, nor any person, that is real or lasting to any one in this temporary world; it is all frail and fleeting, and stretched out as a false magic show to sight.

84. What wise man is there that will place his attachment on anything, which is an unreality both in its beginning and end, and is quite unsteady in the midst. No one has any faith in the arbour of his imagination or aerial castle.

85. As one fancies he sees a fairy in a passing cloud, and is pleased with the sight of what he can never enjoy, but passes from his view to the sight of distant peoples; so is this passing world, which passes from the sight of some to that of others, without its being fully enjoyed or long retained in the possession of any one. (The passing world passes from hand to hand, without its standing still at any one's command).

86. The bustle of these fleeting bodies in the world, resembles the commotion of an aerial castle, and the appearance of a city in an evanescent dream and fancy.

87. I see the world as a city in my protracted dream, with all its movables and immovable things, lying as quiet and still as in profound sleep.

88. Rama, you are wandering in this world, as one rolling in his bed of indolence, and lulled to the long sleep of ignorance; which lends you from one error to another, as if dragged by a chain of continuous dreaming.

89. Now Rama, break off your long chain of indolent ignorance, forsake the idol of your errors, and lay hold on the inestimable gem of your spiritual and divine knowledge.

90. Return to your right understanding, and behold your soul in its clear light as a manifestation of the unchangeable luminary of the Intellect; in the same manner as the unfolding lotus beholds the rising sun.

91. I exhort you repeatedly, O Rama! to wake from your drowsiness, and by remaining ever wakeful to your spiritual concerns; see the undecaying and undeclining sun of your soul at all times.

92. I have roused you from your indolent repose, and awakened you to the light of your understanding, by the cooling breeze of spiritual knowledge, and the refreshing showers of my elegant diction.

93. Delay not Rama, to enlighten your understanding even now, and attain your highest wisdom in the knowledge of the supreme being, to come to the light of truth and shun the errors of the delusive world.

94. You will not be subject to any more birth or pain, nor will you be exposed to any error or evil, if you will but remain steady in your soul, by forsaking all your worldly desires.

95. Remain steadfast, O high minded Rama, in your trust in the tranquil and all soul of Brahma, for attainment of the purity and holiness of your own soul, and you will thereby be freed from the snare of your earthly desires, and get a clear sight of that true reality, wherein you will rest in perfect security, as were in profound sleep.