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 XXX - Inquiry into the nature of the intellect

Argument: Description of the Pervasion and Supervision of the Intellect; and its transformation into the mind in living beings. Or Intellect as universal soul and mind of living beings.

The god said:—

1. Thus the Intellect is all this plenum, it is the sole supreme soul (of all); it is Brahma the Immense and the transcendent vacuum, and it said to be the supreme god.

2. Therefore its worship is of the greatest good, and confers all blessings to men; it is source of creation, and all this world is situated on it. (The Divine Mind or omniscience).

3. It is unmade and increate, and without its beginning and end; it is boundless and without a second, it is to be served without external service (i.e. by spiritual adoration), and all felicity is obtained thereby. (Hence Solomon's choice of Wisdom).

4. You are enlightened, O chief of sages! and there I tell you this;that the worship of gods is not worthy to the wise, and offering of flowers and frankincense is of no use to them.

5. Those who are unlearned, and have their minds as simple as those of boys; are the persons that are mostly addicted to false worship, and devoted to the adoration of gods.

6. These being devoid of the quietness of their understandings, are led to ceremonious observances, and to the false attribution of a soul, to the images of their own making.

7. It is for boys only to remain contented with their act of offering flowers and incense to gods, whom they honour in the modes of worship, which they have adopted of their own hobby-choice.

8. It is in vain that men worship the gods for gaining the objects of their desire, for nothing that is false of itself; can ever give the required fruit.

9. Adoration with flowers and incense, is inculcated to childish understandings (and not for the wise). I will tell you now, the worship that is worthy of men enlightened like yourself.

10. Know, O most intelligent sage, that the god whom we adore is the true god, who is the receptacle of the three worlds, the supreme spirit and no other.

11. He is Siva—the felicity, who is above the ranks of all other gods, and beyond all fictions and fictitious images of men; He is accompanied with all desires (will or volition), and is neither the enjoyer of all or any part of the production of his will. He is full with the imaginations of all things, but is neither the all or any one of the objects in his mind.

12. He encompasses all space and time, and is neither divided nor circumscribed by either of them. He is the manifester of all events and things, and is nothing except the image of pure Intellect Himself.

13. He is consciousness without parts, and situated in the heart of every thing. He is the producer of every thing, and their absorber also in himself.

14. Know Brahma to be situated between existence and inexistence and it is He who styled the God, the supreme soul, the transcendental, the Tat sat—Id Est, and the syllable Om—on or ens.

15. By his nature of immensity, he spreads alike in all space, and being the great Intellect himself, he is said to be transcendent and supreme being.

16. He remains as all in all places, as the sap circulates through the bodies of plants; thus the great soul of the supreme being, extends alike as the common entity of all things.

17. It is He who abides in the heart of your spouse Arundhati as in yours, the same also dwells in the heart of Parvati as in those of her attendants.

18. That intellection which is one and in every one in all the three worlds is verily the god, by the best knowing among philosophers: (that god is the universal mind).

19. Tell me O Brahman! how they may be called as gods, who having their hands and feet, are yet devoid of their consciousness; which is the pith of the body. (This is said of idols and images).

20. The Intellect is the pith and marrow of the world, and contains the sap which it supplies to every thing in it. It is the one and all—ego-sarvam and therefore all things are obtained from it. (The god Siva is also called the all to pan-sarva and Ego, that is I am the universal ego and giver of all gifts to all).

21. He is not situated at a distance, O Brahman! nor is He unobtainable by any body; He resides always in all bodies, and abides alike in all places, as also in all empty space and sky. (This omnipresence of the divine spirit, sets aside the belief of a swarga-heaven or bihesht as the special seat of God).

22. He does, he eats, he supports all, and moves every where; He breathes and feels and knows every member of the body. (This is according to the sruti; He fills and directs every part of the body to the end of the nails-anakhagrat. [Sanskrit: puryyamaste / sa eva pravishta anakhagrebhyah]).

23. Know him, O chief of sages! to be seated in the city of the body; and directing the various functions that are manifest by it, under his direct appointment.

24. He is the lord of the cavity of the heart, and the several hidden sheaths—Koshas, which are contained within the cavity of the body;which is made by his moving abodes and moves as he pleases to move it.

25. The immaculate soul is beyond the essence and actions of the mind, and the six organs of sense; it is for our use and understanding only, the word chit-intellect is applied to him.

26. That intellectual spirit is too minute and subtile, immaculate and all-pervading; and it is his option and volition, to manifest this visible representation of himself or not.

27. This intellect is too fine and pure, and yet manages the whole machinery for beautifying the world, as the subtle and intelligent season of spring, beautifies the vegetable world with freshness and moisture.

28. The beautiful and wonderous properties that reside in the divine Intellect, are astonishing to behold in their display into the various form as the sky.

29. Some of these take the name of the living soul, and some others assume the title of the mind; some take the general name of space, and others are known as its parts and divisions. (These are but parts of one stupendous whole &c. Popes Moral Essays).

30. Some of these pass under the name of substance, and others of their action; and some under the different categories of mode and condition, genus, species and adjuncts.

31. Some of them shine as light, and others stand as mountains and hills; some brighten as the sun and moon and the gods above, and others are as the dark yakshas below.

32. All these continue in their own states, without any option on their parts; and they evolve of their own nature, and causation of the divine spirit, as the sprouts of trees grow of their own accord, under the influence of the vernal spring (season).

33. It is the intellect alone which extends over all the works of nature, and fills all bodies which overspread the vast ocean of the world, as the aquatic plants swim over the surface of waters.

34. The deluded mind wanders like a roving bee, and collects the sweets of its desire from the lotus of the body, and the intellect sitting as its Mistress, relishes their essence from within. (Spiritual substances can taste the essence of sweets. Milton).

35. The world with all the gods and gandharvas, and the seas and hills that are situated in it; rolls about in the circuit of the Intellect, as the waters whirl in a whirlpool.

36. Human minds resembling the spokes of a wheel, are bound to the axles of their worldly affairs; and turn about in the rotatory wheel of the ever revolving world, within the circumference of the Intellect.

37. It was the Intellect which in the form of the four-armed vishnu, destroys the whole host of the demoniac asuras; as the rainy season dispels the solar heat, with its thundering clouds and rainbows.

38. It is the Intellect, which in the form of the three-eyed Siva, accompanied by his ensigns of the bull and the crescent of the moon, continues to dote like a fond bee, on the lotus-like lovely face of Gauri (his consort).

39. It was the intellect which was born as a bee in the lotus-like navel of Vishnu in the form of Brahma, and was settled in his meditation upon the lotus of the triple vedas; (revealed to the sage afterwards).

40. In this manner the Intellect appears in various forms, like the unnumbered leaves of trees, and the different kind of ornaments made of the same metal of gold.

41. The Intellect assumes of its own pleasure, the paramount dignity of Indra; who is the crown jewel over the three worlds, and whose feet are honoured by the whole body of gods.

42. The Intellect expands, rises and falls, and circulates everywhere in the womb of the triple world; as the waters of the deep overflow and recede and move about in itself.

43. The full moon beams of intellect, scatter their widespread brightness on all sides; and display to the full view the lotus lake of all created beings in the world.

44. The translucent brightness of the mirror of the Intellect, shows the reflections of the world in it, and receives benignantly the images of all things in its bosom;as if it were pregnant with them.

45. The Intellect gives existence to the circles of the fourteen great regions (of creation) above and below; and it plants them in the watery expanse of the sea on earth, and in the etherial expanse of the waters in heaven. (The fourteen regions are the seven continents—sapta dwipas, beset by the seven watery oceans, sapta-samudras on earth; and the seven planets revolving in the etherial ocean of the skies. Manu says the god Brahma planted his seed in the waters; and the Bible says—God divided the waters above from the waters below by the midway sky).

46. Intellect spreads itself like a creeper in the vacuous field of air, and became fruitful with multitudes of created beings;it blossomed in the variety of the different peoples; and shooted forth in the leaves of its dense desires.

47. These throngs of living beings are its farina flying about, and their desires are as the juice which gives them their different colours; their understandings are their covering cuticles and the efforts of their minds are buds that unfold with flowers and fruits of their desire. (49a) These ivories and lifeless etc. hard knuckles of all the seasons. They get folded out of the apprehension of separate with the changed fonts of these roots.

48. The lightsome pistils of these florets are countless in the three worlds, and their incessant undulation in the air, expressed their gaysome dance with the sweet smiling of the opening buds.

49. ?missing text?

50. It is the Intellect which stretches out all these real and unreal bodies, which expand like the gentle and good looking flowers for a time, but never endure for ever. (The body like a fading flower is soon blown away.)

51. It produces men like moon bright flowers in all places, and these flush and blush, and sing and dance about, deeming themselves as real bodies.

52. It is by the power of this great Intellect, that the sun and other luminous bodies shining over the sky as the two bodies in a couple, are attracted to one another to taste the fruit of their enjoyment as that of gross bodies.

53. All other visible bodies that are seen to move about in this phenomenal world, are as flakes of dust dancing about on eddy. (i.e. All things move about and tend towards their central point the Intellect).

54. The Intellect is like a luminary of the universe, and manifests unto us all the phenomena of the three worlds, as the flame of a lamp shows us the various colours of things: (which are reflected by light on dark and opaque matter).

55. All worldly things exhibit their beauty to our sight, by their being immerged in the light of the Intellect, as the dark spot on the disk of the moon, becomes fully apparent to view by its immersion in the lunar beams. (The black spot on the moon's surface, becomes white by the brightness of the moon-beams, so the dark world becomes illumined by the presence of the Intellect in it).

56. It is by receiving the gilding of the Intellect, that all material bodies are tinctured in their various hues; as the different trees receive their freshness, foliage and fruitage from the influence of the rainy weather.

57. It is the shadow (or absence of intellect), which causes the dullness of an object; and all bodies are inanimate without it, as a house becomes dark in absence of light or a lamp. (Intellect gives life to dull matter).

58. The wondrous powers of the intellect (which gives a shape and form to every thing), are wanting in any thing; it becomes a shapeless thing, and cannot possibly have any form or figure in the world, over its dull materiality. (Even inanimate nature of all forms and kinds, receives its figure from the power of intellect).

59. The intellect is as the skylight, wherein its active power or energy resembling its consort, resides with her offspring of desire in the abode of the body, and is ever restless and busy in her actions. (This active power is personified as the goddess sakti or Energy, and her offspring-desire is the personification of Brahma).

60. Without the presence of the Intellect, it is no way possible for any one to perceive the taste of any flavour though it is set on the tip of his tongue, or see it with his eyes? (Intellect is the cause of all perception).

61. Hear me and say, how can this arboretum of the body subsist, with its branching arms and hairy filaments, without being supplied with the sap of the intellect.

62. Know hence the intellect to be the cause of all moving and immovable things in nature, by its growing and feeding and supporting them all; and know also that the intellect is the only thing in existence, and all else is inexistent without it.

Vasishtha said:—

63. Rama! after the moon-bright and three-eyed god had spoken to me in his perspicuous speech, I interrogated again the moon-bright god in a clear and audible voice and said.

64. O lord! If the intellect alone is all pervading and the soul of all, then I have not yet been able to know this visible earth in its true light.

65. Say why is it that people call a living person, to be endued with intellect so long as he is alive, and why they say him to be devoid of intellect, when he is layed down as a dead and lifeless mass.

The god replied:—

66. Hear me tell you all: O Brahman, about what you have asked me; it is a question of great importance, and requires, O greatest of theists! a long explication.

67. The intellect resides in every body, as also in all things as their inherent soul; the one is viewed (by shallow understandings) as the individual and active spirit, and the other is known (to comprehensive mind) as unchanging and universal soul·

68. The mind that is misled by its desires, views the inward spirit as another or the living soul, as the cupidinous person takes his (or her) consort for another, in the state of sleep or dreaming. (The unsettled mind takes every individual soul for the universal one).

69. And as the same man seems to be changed to another, during his fit of anger; so the sober intellect is transformed to a changeable spirit, by one's mistake of its true nature. (The nirvi kalpa or immutable spirit, is changed to a savi kalpa or mutable one).

70. The intellect being attributed with many variable qualities and desires, is made to lose its state of purity; and by thinking constantly of it gross nature, it is at last converted to the very gross object of thought.

71. Then the subjective intellect chit, becomes itself the chetya or object of thought, and having assumed the subtile form of a minute etherial atom, becomes the element of sound;and is afterwards transformed to the rudimental particle of air vata tan matra.

72. This aerial particle then bearing relation to the parts of time and place, becomes the vital principle (as existing some where for a certain period of time); which next turns to the understanding and finally to the mind.

73. The intellect being thus transformed into the mind, dwells on its thoughts of the world, and is then amalgamated with it, in the same manner as a Brahman is changed to chandala, by constantly thinking himself as such. (Thus this creation is a display of the divine mind and identic with it).

74. Thus the divine Intellect forgets its universality by its thoughts of particulars; and assumes the gross forms of the objects of its thoughts and desires. (Hence we say a man to be of such and such a mind, according to the thought or desire that he entertains in it. i.e. The whole being taking for a part and the part for the whole).

75. The Intellect being thus replete with its endless thoughts and desires, grows as dull as the gross objects it dwells upon; till at last the subtile intellect grows as stony dull, as the pure water is converted to massive stones and hails.

76. So the stolid intellect takes the names of the mind and sense, and becomes subject to ignorance and illusion; by contracting a gross stolidity restrained from its flight upwards, and have to grovel forever in the regions of sense.

77. Being subjected to ignorance at first, it is fast bound to the fetters of its cupidity afterwards, and then being pinched by its hankerings and angry frettings, it is tormented alike by the pleasure of affluence and the pains of penury.

78. By forsaking the endless felicity (of spirituality), it is subjected to the incessant vicissitudes of mortality, it now sets dejected in despair, and lamenting over its griefs and sorrow, and then burns amidst the conflagration of its woes and misery.

See how it is harassed with the vain thought of its personality said:—

79. that I am such a one; and look at the miseries to which it is exposed, by its reliance on the frail and false body.

80. See how it is worried by its being hushed to and fro, in the alternate swinging beds of prosperity and adversity; and see bow it is plunged in the deep and muddy puddle of misery, like a worn out elephant sinking in the mire.

81. Look at this deep and unfordable ocean of the world, all hollow within and rolling with the eventful waves of casualties; it emits the submarine fire from within its bosom, as the human heart flashes forth with its hidden fire of passions and affections.

82. Human heart staggers between hope and fear, like a stray deer in the forest; and is alternately cheered and depressed at the prospects of affluence and want.

83. The mind that is led by its desire, is always apprehensive of disappointment; and it coils back for fear of a reverse, as a timorous girl flies afar from the sight of a spectre.

84. Man encounters all pains for a certain pleasure in prospect, as the camel browses the thorny furze in expectation of honey at a honey comb in it; but happening to slip from his intermediate standpoint, he is hurled headlong to the bottom.

85. One meeting with a reverse falls from one danger to another; and so he meets with fresh calamities, as if one evil invited or was the harbinger of the other.

86. The mind that is captivated by its desires, and led onward by its exertions, meets with one difficulty after another, and has cause to repent and grieve at every step (or is the cause of remorse and grief). (All toil and moil, tend to the vexation of the spirit).

87. As a man advances in life, so he improves in his learning;but alas! all his worldly knowledge serves at best, but to bind down the soul fast to the earth.

88. Cowards are in constant fear of everything, until they die away in their fear; as the little shrimp being afraid of the waterfall, falls on dry land, and there perishes with flouncing.

89. The helplessness of childhood, the anxieties of manhood, the miserableness of old age; are preliminaries to the sad demise of men engaged in busy life. (The last catastrophe of human life).

90. The propensities of past life cause some to be born as celestial nymphs in heaven, and other as venomous serpents in subterranean cells; while some become as fierce demons, and many are reborn as men and women on earth.

91. The past actions of men make to be born again as Rakshas among savages, and others as monkeys in forests; while some become as Kinnaras on mountains, and many as lions on mountain tops. (All these are depraved races of men viz; the anthropophagi cannibals, the pigmy apes—banars, the ugly mountaneers kinnaras and the leonine men narasinhas).

92. The vidyadharas of the Devagiri mountains, and the Nagas of the forest caves (are degenerations of men); and so are the fowls of air, the quadrupeds of wood lands, the trees and plants of forests, and the bushes on hills and orchides on trees; (are all but transformation of the perverted intellect).

93. It is self same intellect which causes Narayana to float on the surface of the sea, and makes the lotus born Brahma to remain in his meditation; It keeps Hara in the company of his consort Uma, and places Hari over the gods in heaven.

94. It is this which makes the sun to make the day and the clouds to give the rain (or pour in rains); It makes the sea to breathe out in waves, and the volcanic mountains to blow out in fire and flame.

95. It makes the curricle of time to revolve continually in the circle of the seasons; and causes the day and night to rotate in their cycles of light and darkness.

96. Here it causes the seeds to vegetate with the juice contained in them; and there it makes the stones and minerals lie down in mute silence.

97. Some times it blooms in fruits ripened by the solar heat, and at others maturated by the burning fuel; some where it gives us the cold and icy water; and at others the spring water which cannot be lasted.

98. Here it glows in luminous bodies, and there it shows itself of impenetrable thickets and in accessible rocks; It shines as bright and white in one place, and is as dark and blue in another; It sparkles in the fire and dwindles in the earth, it blows in the air and spreads in the water.

99. Being the all-pervading, omnipresent and omnipotent power itself, it is the one in all and the whole plenum. It is therefore more subtile and transparent, than the rarefied and translucent air.

100. As the intellect spreads out and contracts itself, in any manner in any place or time; so it conceives and produces the same within and without itself, as the agitation of waters produces both the little billows and huge surges of the sea. (The intellect is the immanent cause of all phenomena).

101. The intellect stretches itself in the various forms of ducks and geese, of cranes and crows, of storks, wolves and horses also; it becomes the heron and partridge, the parrot, the dog, the stag, the ape and Kinnara likewise.

102. It is the abstract quality of the understanding, beauty and modesty, and of love and affections also; it is the power of illusion and the shadow and brightness of night and of moonlight likewise.

103. It stretches itself in these and all other forms of bodies, and is born and reborn in all kinds and species of things. It roves and rolls all about the revolving world, in the manner of a straw whirling in a whirlpool.

104. It is afraid of its own desires, as the she-ass is seen to shudder at its own brayings; and it has no one like itself. ([Sanskrit: mugva bala-cala-vala]).

105. I have told you already, O great sage! how this principle of the living spirit, becomes vitiated by its animal propensities, and is afterwards debased to the nature and condition of brute creatures.

106. The supreme soul receiving the appellation of the living soul or principle of action, becomes a pitiable object, when it becomes subject to error and illusion, and is subjected to endless pains and miseries.

107. The deluded soul is then overpowered by its connate sin, which causes it to choose the wrong unreality—asat for itself, which being frail and perishable, makes the active soul to perish with itself. (This passage appears to allude to the original sin of man, which became the cause of the death and woes of human life. The connate sin is compared to the husk which is born with the rice, and not coming from without. It is otherwise called the inborn sinfulness or frailty of human nature—Man is to err &c.).

108. The soul being thus degraded from its state of endless felicity, to the miserable condition of mortal life, laments over its fallen state, as a widow wails over her fate.

109. Look on the deplorable condition of intellect—chit; which having forgotten its original state (of purity), is subjected to the impotent Ignorance, which has been casting it to the miseries of degradation, as they cast a bucket in the well by a string, which lowers it lower and lower till it sinks in the bottom of the pit. (This string araghatta is said to be the action of human life, which the more it is lengthened, the more it tends to our degradation, unless we prevent by our good action. So the sruti! [Sanskrit: yathakari yathachari tatha bhalati / saghukari sadhurbhabati / prapakari papibhavati / punyo bai punyema karmmana bhavati / papah papereti]).