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 XLVI - Parable of the stony sheath of the soul

Argument. said:—

The divine mind is the substratum of the totality of existence.

Rama said:—

Venerable sir, that knowest the substance of all truths; I understand the parable of bel fruit which you have just related to me to bear relation to the essence of the compact intellect, which is the only unit and identic with itself.

2. The whole plenitude of existence together with the personalities of I, thou, this and that form the plenum (or substance), of the intellect; and there is not the least difference between them, as this is one thing and that another. (All this is but one undivided whole, whose body nature is and God the soul. Pope).

3. Vasishtha answered—As this mundane egg or universe is likened to a gourd fruit, containing the mountains and all other things as its inner substance; so doth the intellect resemble the bel fruit or the grand substratum, that contains even the universe as the kernel inside it.

4. But though the world has no other receptacle beside the Divine intellect, yet it is not literally the kernel inside that crust (i.e. the substance of that substratum in its literal sense). Because the world has its decay, decline and dissolution also in time, but none of these belong to the nature of the everlasting mind of God).

5. The intellect resembles the hard coating of the pepper seed, containing the soft substance of its pith inside it, and is likened also to block of stone, bearing the sculptured figures peacefully sleeping in it. (All things are engraven in the divine mind).

6. Here me relate to you, O moon faced Rama! another pleasant story in this place which will appear equally charming as well as wondrous to you. (It is the story of stone like Brahma).

7. There is a huge block of stone somewhere, which is as big as it is thick and solid; it is bright and glossy, and cold and smooth to touch;it never wastes or wears out, nor becomes dark and dim.

8. There are many full blown lotuses, and unnumbered buds of water lilies, growing amidst the limpid lake of water, contained within the bosom of this wondrous stone. (It means that the mind of God has all these images of things engraved in it as in a stone).

9. There are many other plants growing also in that lake, some with their long and broad caves and others with their alternate and joint foliums likewise.

10. There are many flowers with their up lifted and down cast heads, and others with their petals hanging before them; some having a combined or common footstalk, and others growing separate and apart from one another; some are concealed and others manifest to view.

11. Some have their roots formed of the fibres of the pericarp, and some have their pericarps growing upon the roots (as orchids), some have their roots on the tops and others at the foot of trees, while there are many without their roots at all: (as the parasite plants).

12. There are a great many conch shells about these, and unnumbered diseases also strewn all about.

Rama said:—

13. All this is true, and I have seen this large stone of salgrama in my travels; and I remember it to be placed in the shrine of Vishnu, amidst a bed of lotus flowers. (The salgrama stone is perforated by the vajra-kita, and contains many marks inside it, resembled to the map of the world in the mundane egg of the divine mind. See vajra-kita in the works of Sir William Jones).

Vasishtha replied:—

14. You say truly, that you have seen that great stone and know its inside also; but do you know the unperforated and hollowless stone of the divine mind, that contains the universe in its concavity, and is the life of all living beings (and not the dull, lifeless and hollow salagrama stone which they worship as an emblem of the divine mind).

15. The stone of which I have been speaking to you, is of a marvelous and supernatural kind; and contains in its voidless bosom all things as nothing. (i.e. the ideas and not substances of things).

16. It is the stone like intellect of which I have spoken to you, and which contains all these massive worlds within its spacious sphere. It is figuratively called a stone from its solidity, cohesive impenetrability and indivisibility like those of a block.

17. This solid substance of the intellect, notwithstanding its density and unporousness, contains all the worlds in itself, as the infinite space of heaven is filled with the subtile and atmospheric air. (The divine mind like external nature, is devoid of a vacuity in it, according to the common adage: "Nature abhors a vacuum").

18. The mind is occupied with all its various thoughts, as the world is filled by the earth and sky, the air and atmosphere, and the mountains and rivers on all sides, there is not hole or hollow, which is not occupied by some thing or other in it.

19. The solid soul of God which resembles this massive stone, contains in it all these worlds which are displayed (to our deluded sight), as so many beds of lotuses in their blooming beauty;and yet there is nothing so very pure and unsullied as this solid crystalline soul. (The soul like a crystal, reflects its light in various forms).

20. As it is the practice of men to paint blocks of stones, with the figures of lotuses, conch shells and the like images; so it is the tendency of the fanciful mind, to picture many fantastic of all times in the solid rock of the soul. (The soul like a crystal stone is wholly blank in itself, it is only the imaginative mind, that tinges it in different shades and colours).

21. All things in the world appear to be situated exactly in the same state, as the various figures carved on the breast of a stone, seem to be separate though they are bellied in the same relief. (All distinctions blend in the same receptacle).

22. As the carved lotus is not distinct from the body of the stone, so no part of existence is set apart from the substantiality of the divine intellect; which represents its subtile ideas in their condensed forms.

23. This formal creation is as inseparable from the formless intellect of God, as the circular forms of lotus flowers which are carved in a stone, are not separate from the great body of the shapeless stone.

24. These endless chains of worlds, are all linked up in the boundless intellect of the Deity; in the same manner as the clusters of lotus flowers are carved together in a stone; and as a great many seeds, are set together in the inside of a long pepper.

25. These revolving worlds have neither their rise nor fall in the sphere of the infinite intellect, but they remain as firm as the kernel of a bel fruit, and as fixed as the fidelity of a faithful wife.

26. The revolution of worlds and their changing scenes, that are seen to take place in their situation in the Divine Intellect, do not prove the changeableness of the all containing Infinite Mind, because its contents of finite things are so changeable in their nature. (The container is not necessarily of the nature of its contents).

27. All these changes and varieties subside at last in the divine intellect, as the waves and drops of water sink down in the Sea; and the only change which is observable in the Supreme Intellect, is its absorption of all finite changes into its infinity. (All finite forms and their temporary transformations, terminate finally into infinity).

28. The word (Fiat) that has produced this all, causes their changes and dissolutions also in itself. Know then that Brahma from whom this fiat and these changes have sprung, and all these being accompanied with Brahma and the original fiat, the word change is altogether meaningless. (There is no new change from what is ordained from the beginning).

29. Brahma being both the mainspring as well as the main stay of all changes in nature; He is neither excluded from or included under any change, which occur in the sphere of his immensity (i.e. the spirit of God being the unchanging source of all phenomenal changes, is not exempted from the mutations that occur in his infinity. So says the poet: "These as they change are but the varied God &c." Thompson).

30. And know this in one or other of the two senses, that the change of the divine spirit in the works of creation, resembles the change or development of the seed into its stem, fruits and flowers and other parts; or that it is a display of delusion maya like the appearance of water in the mirage. (Here the changing scenes of nature, are viewed in both lights of evolution and illusion).

31. As the substance of seed goes on gradually transforming itself into the various states of its development, so the density of the divine intellect (or spirit) condenses itself the more and more in its production of solid and compact world, and this is the course of the formation of the cosmos by slow degrees.

32. The union of the seed with the process of its development forms the duality, that is destroyed by the loss of either of these. It is imagination only that paints the world as a dull material thing, when there is no such grossness in the pure intellect. (The gloss explains this passage to mean that, It is the doctrine of dualists to maintain the union of the productive seed or spirit of God, with the act of producing the material world to be coeternal, and the one becomes null without the other, but this tenet is refuted on the ground of the impossibility of the Combination of the immaterial with the material, whence the material world is proved to be a nullity and mere illusion).

33. The intellect and dull matter cannot both combine together, nor can the one be included under the other, therefore the ideal world resembles the marks inscribed in the stone and no way different in their natures.

34. As the pith and marrow of a fruit, is no other than the fruit itself;so the cosmos forms the gist of the solid intellect, and no way separable from the same; which is like a thick stone containing marks, undermarks, underlined under one another.

35. So we see the three worlds lying under one another, in the womb of the unity of God; as we behold the sleeping and silent marks of lotuses and conch shells, inscribed in the hollow of a stone.

36. There is no rising nor setting (i.e. the beginning or end), of the course of the world (in the mind of God); but every thing is as fixed and immovable in it, as the inscription carved in a stone.

37. It is the pith and marrow of the divine intellect, that causes the creative power and the act of creation;as it is the substance of the stone, that produces and reduces the figures in the stone.

38. As the figures in the stone, have no action or motion of their own;so the agents of the world have no action of theirs, nor is this world ever created or destroyed at any time (but it continues for ever as carved in the mind of God).

39. Every thing stands as fixed in the mind of God, as if they were the firm and immovable rocks; and all have their forms and positions in the same manner as they are ordained and situated in the Divine Mind.

40. All things are filled with the essence of God, and remain as somnolent in the Divine mind; the various changes and conditions of things that appear to us in this world, are the mere vagaries of our erroneous fancy; for every thing is as fixed and unchanged in the mind of God, as the dormant images on a stone.

41. All actions and motions of things are as motionless in mind of God, as the carved lie asleep in the hollow of a stone. It is the wrong superfluous view of things, that presents to us all these varieties and changes; but considered in the true and spiritual light, there is body nor any change that presents itself to our sight.