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 XLI - Vanity of world and worldly things

Argument: Refutation of Received Doctrines.

Vasishtha asked said:—

1. What is called the god Siva, and is meant by supreme Brahma; and what is the meaning of soul, and what is its difference from the supreme soul?

2. That the tat satId. est is the true entity, and all else is non entity; what is vacuum that is nothing, and what is philosophy that knows everything. Explain to me these differences, for thou lord! knowest them all.

The god replied:—

3. There exist a sat ens, which is without beginning and end; and without any appearance, or reflection of its own; and this entity appears as a non entity, owing to its imperceptibility by the senses.

Vasishtha rejoined:—

4. If this entity, lord! is not perceptible by the organs of sense, and unknowable by the understanding, how then, O Isana! is it to be known at all.

The god replied:—

5. The man that desires his salvation, and yet sticks to his ignorance, is a sage by name only; and such men are subjected to greater ignorance, by the sastras they are guided by.

6. Let one ignorance removes another, as washerman cleanses one dirt by another. (i.e. Let the erroneous and mutually discordant theories of the sastras, refute the errors of one another).

7. When the error of ignorance, are removed by the opposition to each other; it is then that the soul appears of itself to view as a matter of course.

8. As a child daubs his fingers by rubbing one piece of coat against another (so is a man darkened the more by the tenets of contradictory sastras); but gets them cleansed by washing off his hands from both of them.

9. As they examine both sides of a question in a learned discussion, and the truth comes out from amidst them both, so the knowledge of the soul, appears from midst of the mist of ignorance.

10. When the soul perceives the soul, and scans it by itself; and as it comes to know it in itself, it is said to get rid of its ignorance, which is then said to be utterly destroyed.

11. The paths of learning and the lectures of a preceptor, are not the proper means to the knowledge of the soul, until one comes to know the unity of this thing by his own intuition.

12. All the preceptors of sastras, place the soul amidst the bodily senses; but Brahma is situated beyond the senses, and is known after subjection of sensible organs. So the thing which is obtainable in absence of something, is never to be had in the presence of that thing (such is the antipathy of the soul and senses against one another).

13. It is seen however, that many things are used as causes of what they are no causes at all;as they make use of the lectures of the preceptor and the like, as means for the attainment of spiritual knowledge.

14. A course of lectures is of course calculated, to throw light on the student's knowledge of the knowables; but in matters of abstract knowledge and invisible soul, it is the soul itself that must throw its own light.

15. No explanation of the sastras, nor the lectures of the preceptor, are calculated to give light on spiritual knowledge, unless it is understood by the intuitive knowledge of the spirit itself.

16. Again the soul is never to be known without learning and lectures, and therefore both of them must combine with our inquiry to bring us to the light of the soul.

17. It is therefore the combination of bookish knowledge with the instruction of the preceptor, joined with the investigation of the inquirer, that is calculated to enlighten us on spiritual knowledge, as the appearance of the day with the rising sun and waking world, gives an impetus to the rise of duties of the rising world.

18. After subsidence of the senses and actions of bodily organs, together with the imperceptibility of our sensations of pain and pleasure; that we come to the knowledge of Siva, other wise known as the soul, the tat sat, He that is, and under many other designations.

19. When there was not this plenum of the world, or it existed in its spiritual or ideal forms; it is since then that this infinite entity has existed, in its vacuous form which is rarer than the ether.

20. Who is continually meditated upon by the nice discernment of the seekers of salvation, and is variously represented by the pure minded and those of vitiated minds.

21. There are others who are situated in the sight of, and not far from the path of living liberation, who are employed in leading others to salvation, and in the exposition of the sastras in their works.

22. There have been many thinking and learned men, who have used the words Brahma, Indra, Rudra, and the names of the regents of worlds (for God), in order to justify the doctrines of the Puranas, vedas and siddhantas.

23. Others have applied the fictitious titles of chit or intellect, Brahma, Siva, Atma the soul or spirit, Isha-the Lord, the supreme spirit and Isvara-god, to the nameless god head that is apart and aloof from all.

24. Such is the truth of nature and of thyself also, which is styled the siva of felicitous; and which always confers all felicity to the world and to thyself also. (The word siva means jovus or solas and is meant to express the joviality and soliety which always attends on all beings).

25. The words siva, soul, supreme Brahma and some others, have been coined by the ancients to express the supreme being; and though they differ in sound, there is no difference of them in sense and signification.

26. Know, O chief of sages! that wise men always adore this god whom we serve also, and unto when we return as the best and ultimate states of all. (Siva is a hypostasis of the infinite deity).

Vasishtha said:—

27. Please Lord! explain to me in short, how the ever existent Deity remains as non-existent, and could it come to existence from its prior state of nihility?

The god replied:—

28. Know the meaning of the words Brahma &c. to bear relation to our consciousness only, and this though it is as clear as the sky, and as minute as an atom, has the great bulk of the mount Meru contained in it.

29. Although this is unintelligible to us, and far beyond our conception and comprehension of it; yet it becomes intelligible to us when we take it the form of our intellect.

30. By taking it objectively, it becomes intelligible to us in the manner of our Egoism; and by thinking on its personality we have the same idea of it, as one has of a wild elephant from its sight in a dream.

31. These ideas of its egoism and personality, being limited by time and space, give rise to many aerial forms as attendants upon it. (These aerial forms are the different attributes of God).

32. Accompanied with these, there proceeds the entity called the jiva or living spirit, which is conversant with its oscillation and respiration, in the form of a pencil of air.

33. After the power of vitality is established and has come in force; there follows the faculty of understanding; which remains in utter ignorance at first.

34. It is followed by the faculties of bearing, action and perceptions;all of which operate inward by without their development in outward organs.

35. All these powers uniting together, conduce to the excitement of memory, which exhibits itself soon in the form of the mind;which is the tree of desires.

36. Hear now what is called the spiritual body by the learned, it is the inward power of God of the form of the conscious soul, and seeing the divine soul in itself.

37. There rise afterwards the following powers in the mind; which develop themselves in the outer organs, although their powers may be wanting in them. (Such as the blind eyes, deaf ears &c.).

38. These are the essences of air and motion, and of feeling also, together with the senses of touch and heat emitted by the eyes.

39. There are the essences of colour, water and taste also, and likewise the essences of smell and flavour too.

40. There are the essences of earth and gold, and the essences of thick mass; and also the essences of time and space, all of which are without form and shape.

41. The spiritual body contains all these essences in itself as its component parts, as the seed of a fruit contains the leaves and germ of the future tree in its cell.

42. Know this to be ativahika or spiritual body, and containing the eight elementary senses, wherefore it is called the puryashtaka also;and these are developed afterwards in the organs of sense.

43. The primary or spiritual body which is formed in this manner, is actually nobody at all; since it is devoid of understanding, intellect, senses and sensibility.

44. It is the supreme Being only, which contains the essence of the soul, as it is the sea which contains the limpid waters.

45. The soul is that which is possessed of its consciousness and knowledge, all besides this is dull and insensible matter; and which is viewed by the soul, as the sight of a fairy land in the dream.

46. It is therefore by consciousness and knowledge that Siva can be known, and what is not to be known by these can be nothing at all.

47. The supreme soul sees all things within itself, as parts of itself (produced from its will of becoming or dividing itself into many); and beholds particles of his atomic self, formed into innumerable bodies.

48. These soon increased in bulk and became big bodies, and bore the marks of the organs upon them.

49. Then it became of the form of a man, from his thought of being so; and this soon grew up in its size of a full grown man.

50. So do our bodies appear to us in our living state, as the fairyland appears to one in his dream.

Vasishtha said:—

51. I see the appearance of the human body, to resemble the vision of the fairyland in the dream; and I see also the miseries awaiting on human life in this world. Now tell me, my Lord! how all this misery is to be removed from it.

The god replied:—

52. All human woe is owing to their desires, and belief of the reality of the world; but it must be known to be all as unreal, as waves of water seen in a sea in the mirage.

53. There why such desire, and for what good and use, and why should the dreaming man be deluded to drink the show of water in the mirage?

54. The viewer of truth, who is freed from his views of egoism and tuism, and has got off from the deluded and its delusive thoughts, doth verily behold the true entity of God in his presence, in the utter absence of all worldly thoughts from his mind.

55. Where there is no desirer or desire or the desired object, but the only thought of the one unity, there is an end of all error and misery.

56. He whose mind is freed from the true and false bugbears of common and imaginary error, and is settled in the thought of one unity alone, sees nothing but the unity before him.

57. The desires of the mind, rise as goblins in the midway sky; and the thoughts of the world rove about the sphere of the mind, as the numerous worlds revolve in the sky hence there is no peace of the soul, unless these subside to rest.

58. It is useless to advise the man to wisdom, who is elated by his egoism, and is deluded by the waters of the mirage of this evanescent world.

59. Wise men should advise the prudent only, and throw away their instruction to boys that are wandering in error, and are shunned by good people. To give good counsel to the ignorant, is as offering a fair daughter in marriage to the spectre of man seen in a dream.