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 XXXI - Identity of the mind and living soul

Argument—The pure Intellect shown to be without vitality;and the mind to consist in the vital power in connection with the sensations and external Perceptions.

The god continued:—

1. When the intellect collects (takes) the vanities of the world to itself (and relies on them) and thinks to be a miserable being; it is said to have fallen into error, (by forgetting the reality and its true nature); it then resembles a man that is deluded to think himself for another, in his dream or ebriety. (The living soul is forgetful of its spiritual nature).

2. Though immortal yet it is deceived to believe itself as mortal, by its infatuated understanding; as a sick man weeps to think himself dead when he is still alive.

3. As the ignorant man views the revolving spheres to be at a stand still, so the deluded intellect sees the world and thinks its personality as sober realities.

4. The mind alone is said to be the cause of the perception of the exterior world in the intellect; but the mind can be no such cause of it, from the impossibility of its separate existence independent of the intellect. (The intellect is the cause of guiding and informing the mind, and not this of that).

5. Thus there being no causality of the mind, there cannot be its causations of the thinkable world also. Therefore the intellect only is the cause of thought, and neither the mind nor the thinkable world (which produces or impresses the thought). The gloss says that, "the intellect whereby the mind thinks, is not the mind nor its dependant or the objective thinkable world; but it is the pure subjective self-same intellect only."

6. There is no spectacle, spectator (or sight of) of anything anywhere, unless it be a delusion, as that which appears oiliness in a stone; and there is no matter, making or work of any kind; unless it be a mistake like that of blackness in the moon. (The oily glossiness of the marble and the shade in the moon, are no other but the inherent properties of those things).

7. The terms measure, measurer, and measurable are as negative in nature, as the privation of forest plants in the sky; and the words intellect, intellection and intelligible are as meaningless in themselves, as the absence of thorns and thistles in the garden of Paradise. (gloss. The intellect chit is the subjective intellection, chetana is chitta vritti—the property of chit, is the attribute, and the intelligible chetya is the object of thought. The meaning is that, there is no separate subject, object or attribute in nature, but they all blend in the essentiality of God, who is all in all. The words subjective, objective and attributive, are therefore mere human inventions, and so are the words thinker, thinking and the thought ([Sanskrit: mantri, mati, mantavya],) and knower, knowing and knowledge ([Sanskrit: viha, vuhvi, vihavya], and the ego, egoism and egotist ([Sanskrit: ahamkara, ahamkartta, ahamkaryya]) all which refer to the same individual soul).

8. The personalities of egoism, tuism and illism; [Sanskrit: ahantvam tvantvam, tatvam], are as false as mountains in the firmament; and the difference of persons (as this is my body and that another's), is as untrue as to find whiteness in ink.

9. The Divine spirit is neither the same nor different in all bodies;because it is as impossible for the universal soul to be confined in any body, as it is impracticable for the mount Meru to be contained in an atom of dust. And it is as impossible to express it in words and their senses as it is incapable for the sandy soil to grow the tender herbs.

10. The dictum netineti.—It is neither this nor any other, is as untrue as the belief of the darkness of night subsisting in company with the day light: and substantiality and unsubstantiality are both as wanting in the supreme spirit, as heat is wanting in ice.

11. It is as wrong to call it either as empty or solid, as it is to say a tree growing in the womb of a stone to call it either the one or the other; is to have it for the infinite vacuum or the full plenum.

12. It is the sole unity that remains in its state of pure transparency forever; and being unborn from the thought or mind of any body, it is not subject to the misrepresentation of of any body. (The gloss says:Not being born from the mind of Brahma as this creation, the Intellect is free from the imperfections of both).

13. It is however imputed with many faults and failings, in the thoughts and opinions of men; but all these imputations and false attributes, vanish before one knowing its true nature.

14. The learned devoid of indifference, are employed in many other thoughts and things; though not a straw of all this vast world, is under the command of any body.

15. It is in the power of every body to get rid of his thoughts, but very difficult to get the object of his thought; How then is it possible for one to have, what it is impracticable for him to try for? (i.e. The full object of desire).

16. The one sole and immutable Intellect which pervades all nature, is the supreme one and without an equal, and is more pellucid than the translucent light of a lamp and all other lights.

17. It is this intellectual light which enlightens every thing, it is ubiquious and ever translucent; it is ever shining without a shade, and immutable in its nature and mind.

18. It is situated every where and in all things, as in pots and pictures, in trees and huts, and houses in quadrupeds, demons and devils, in men and beasts, in the sea, earth and air.

19. It remains as the all witnessing spirit, without any oscillation or motion of its own to any place; and enlightens all objects, without flickering or doing any action by itself.

20. It remains unsullied with by its connection with the impure body, and continues unchangeable in its relation with the changeful mind. It does not become dull by being joined with the dull body, and is never changed to anything by its extension over all things.

21. The extremely minute and immutable intellect, retains its consciousness in itself; and by rolling itself like a rundle of thread, enters the body in the form of a particle of air (or the vital breath or air pranayama).

22. It is then accompanied with the powers of vision and reflection, which are wakeful in the waking state and lie dormant in sleep; whence it is said to be existent and inexistent by turns.

23. The clear and pure intellect, comes then to think of many things in its waking state, and is thus perverted from its purity; as an honest man turns to dishonesty in the company of the dishonest. (The perversion of the intellect is owing to its attachment to the flesh, and its entertaining to worldly thoughts).

24. As the pure gold is converted to copper by its alloy, and is again restored to its purity by removal of the base metal; such is the case of the intellect owing to its contracting and distracting of vicious thoughts.

25. As a good looking glass being cleansed of its dirt, shows the countenance in a clear light; so the intellect being born in the human body, attains its divine nature by means of its good understanding.

26. Its want of the knowledge of itself as the all, presents the sight of the false world to it as a true reality; but upon coming to know its true nature, it attains the divine state.

27. When the mind thinks of itself of its difference (from the intellect), and the existence of the unrealities (in nature), it gets the sense of its egoism, and then it perishes though it originally imperishable in its nature. (The sruti [Sanskrit: tasya bhayam, bhavati], "it then fears to die"because the personal soul is subject to death, and not the impersonal or universal soul which never dies. So the phrase: "Forget yourself and you'll never fear to die").

28. As a slight wind scatters the fruits of trees growing on the sides of mountain, so the consciousness of self, drops down at the gust of a slight disease, like a large tree.

29. The existence of the qualities of form and colour and others, is owing to that of intellect; as the position of subalterns—adhyasta is dependent on the station of the superior—adhishthata. And the pure intellect—infinite and indefinite in itself, is designated as a unity, duality and plurality by want of right understanding.

30. It is from the essence of the intellect only, that the mind and senses derive their faculties of thinking and perception;as it is presence of day light, which gives rise to the routine of daily business.

31. It is the action of the vital air, which gives pulsation to the pupils of the eye, and whose light is called the sight, which is the instrument of perceiving the forms and colours of things that are placed without it, but the perception belongs to the power and action of the intellect.

32. The air and skin are both of them contemptible and insensible things, yet their union gives the perception of touch or feeling; the mind becomes conscious of that feeling, but its consciousness is dependent on and caused by the intellect.

33. The particles of scent being carried by the particles of air to the nostrils, give the sense of smelling to the mind; but it is intellect which has the consciousness of smelling.

34. The particles of sound are conveyed by the particles of air to the organ of hearing for the perception of the mind, and the intellect is conscious of this as in its sleep. (And as a silent witness of the same).

35. The mind is the volitive principle of action from some desire or to some end and aim of its own, and the thoughts of the mind are all mixed with foulness, while the nature of the intellectual soul is quite pure and simple. (The difference between the sensuous mind and the conscious intellect, is that the one is the volitive and active agents of its actions, the other is the passive and neutral witness of all and every thing that is and comes to take place, without its interference in any).

36. The intellect is manifest by itself, and is situated of itself in itself; it contains the world within itself, as the crystalline stone retains the images of all things in its bosom. (The subjective soul bears in it the objective world, which is not different but self-same with itself. Hence the nullity of the objective duality, which is identic with the subjective unity).

37. It is the single and sole intellect which contains the whole, without dividing or transforming itself to parts or forms other than itself. It neither rises or sets, nor moves nor grows at any place or time (but occupies all space and time, in its infinity and eternity).

38. It becomes the living soul by fostering its desires, and remains as the pure intellect by forsaking them for ever; and then seated in itself, it reflects on its two gross and pure states. (The two gross states are the gross world, and the gross mind that dwells only on gross bodies of the world).

39. The intellect has the living soul for its vehicle, and egoism is the vehicle of the living principle; the understanding is the car of egotism and the mind the seat of the understanding.

40. The mind again has the vital breath for its curricle, and the senses are vehicles of the vital airs;the body is the carriage of the senses, and the organs of action are the wheels of the body.

41. The motion of these curricles forms the course of this world (which is hence called karma Kshetra or world of activity); and the continued rotation of the body (called the cage of bird of life); until its old age and demise, which is the dispensation of the Almighty power. (That man must toil and moil till he is worn out and goes to his grave).

42. The world is shown unto us as a phantasmagoria of the supreme soul, or as a scene in our dream; it is a pseudoscope and wholly untrue as the water in a mirage.

43. Know, O sage, that the vital breath is called the vehicle of the mind by fiction only; because wherever there is the breath of vitality, there is also the process of thinking carried on along with it.

44. Wherever the breath of life circulates like a thread, and acts as spring, there the body is made to shake with it; as the forms and colours of bodies, present themselves to view at the appearance of light.

45. The mind being employed with its desires, perturbs the vital breath and body as a tempest shakes the forest; but being confined in the cavity of the heart, it stops their motion as when the winds are confined in the upper skies. (The mind being fixed to some particular object of meditation, stops the course of life and gives longevity to man).

46. Again the confinement of the vital breath in the vacuity of the heart, stops the course of the mind (thoughts); as the hiding of a light, removes the sight of the objects from view. (No thought without breathing, and no sight without light).

47. As the dusts cease to fly after the winds are over; so the mind (thought) ceases to move, when the breath is pent up in the heart. (These are subjects of Pranayama or restraint of breath, treated at large in chapter XXV of this book).

48. As the carriage is driven wherever the driver wishes to drive it; so the mind being driven by the vital breath, runs from country to country in a moment.

49. As the stone flung from a fling is lost forever, so the thoughts of the mind are dispersed in the air, unless they are fixed upon some object. The thoughts are accompaniments of the mind and vitality, as fragrance is attendant on flowers and heat upon fire.

50. Wherever there is vital breath breathing (in any animal being), there is the principle of the mind with its train of thoughts likewise; as whenever the moon appears to view, it is accompanied with its beams also. Our consciousness is the result of the vibrations of the vital air, like our perception of the perceptibles; and this air is the sustainer of the body also, by supplying the juice of the food to all the nerves and arteries.

51. The mind and consciousness both belong to the body, the one residing in the hollow of the vital air, and the other is as clear as the intellect, and resides alike in all gross and subtile bodies, like the all pervading and transparent vacuum.

52. It remains in the form of conscious self-existence in dull inanimate bodies; and appears to be afraid of the vibrations of animal life (i.e. The vegetables and minerals are conscious of their own existence, without having their vital and animal actions of breathing and locomotion).

53. The dull body being enlivened by the vital breath, is recognized by the mind as belonging to itself; and plays many parts and frolics with it, as in its prior state of existence.

54. The mind vibrates no longer, after the extinction of breathing; and then, O sage! the pure intellect is reflected in the eight fold receptacle of vacuum. (These are termed the puryashtakas and consist of the mind, life, knowledge, the organs of action, illusion, desire, activity and the subtile body).

55. As it is the mirror only that can reflect an image, and no other stone; so it is the mind alone these as their octuple receptacle—puryashtaka, and which is the agent of all actions, and is termed by different names according to the views of different divine teachers.

56. That which gives rise to the net work of our imaginary visible world, and that in which it appears to be situated, and whereby the mind is made to revolve in various bodies, know that supreme substance to be the Immensity of Brahma, and source of all this world (or as diffused as all in all which is thence called the visvam—the all to pan).