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 XLIX - Contemplation of the course of the world

Argument: Consideration of the changes in the state of things; and their origination from Ignorance and extinction in the true knowledge of their nature.

Rama said:—

1. Sir, if there is no change in the immutable spirit of God; say how do these various changes constantly appear to occur in the state of things in this world. (Because it is the change of cause that produces a change in the effect, as also a change in the state of any thing, argues a change in its cause likewise).

Vasishtha replied:—

2. Hear Rama! that it is the alteration of a thing that does not revert to its former state, that is called its change, as it occurs in the instance of milk, and its conversion to curd and butter, which never become the pure milk again.

3. The milk is converted to curd, but the curd never reverts to its former state of milk, such is the nature of change in the state of things; but it can never affect the great God, who remains alike all along the first, intermediate and last states of things.

4. There is no such change as that of milk or any other things in the immutable Brahma, who having no beginning nor end, can neither have any age or stage of life assigned to him. (i.e. The Infinite God is neither young nor old as any finite being).

5. The states of beginning and end which are attributed to eternal God, are the false imputations of ignorance and error, as there can be no change of changeless one. (To say therefore that God is the first and last, the alpha and omega of all, means that the beginning and end of all things, are comprised in his everlasting existence).

6. Brahma is not our consciousness, nor the object of our consciousness. He is as unconnected with us as our soul and intellect, and is only known to us by the word.

7. A thing is said to be the same, with what it is in the beginning and end; the difference that takes place in the form is only a mist of error, and is taken into no account by the wise. (The identity of a thing consists in its unalterable part).

8. It is the soul only that remains self same with itself, both in the beginning, middle and end of it, and in all places and times, and never changes with the change of the body or mind and therefore forms the identity of the person.

9. The soul which is formless and self-same with itself, forms the personality and individuality of a being, and because it is not subject to any modality or mutation at any time, it constitutes the essential identity of every body.

Rama rejoined:—

10. If the divine soul is always the same and perfectly pure in itself, when proceeds our error of its changeableness, and what is the cause of the avidya or ignorance that shows these changes unto us?

Vasishtha replied:—

11. The category of Brahma implies that, He is all what is, what was, and what will be in future; that He is without change and without beginning and end, and there is no avidya ignorance in him.

12. The signification that is meant to be expressed by the significant term Brahma, does not include any other thing as what is inexistent, or the negative idea of ignorance under it (i.e. God is what is and not what is not).

13. Thyself and myself, this earth and sky, the world and all its sides, together with the elementary of fire and others, are all the everlasting and infinite Brahma, and there is not the least misunderstanding in it.

14. Avidya or Ignorance is a mere name and Error, and is but another word for unreality; nor can you Rama, ever call that a reality, which is never existent of itself. (The words ignorance and error are both of them but negative terms).

Rama said:—

15. Why sir, you have said yourself of Ignorance in the chapter on Upasama or Tranquillity, and told me to know all these as products of error.

Vasishtha answered said:—

16. Rama! you had been all this time immerged in your ignorance, and have at last come to your right understanding by your own reasoning.

17. It is the practice of glossologists and men of letters, to adopt the use of the word ignorance, living soul and the like, for awakening the unenlightened to their enlightenment only.

18. So long as the mind is not awakened to the knowledge of truth, it remains in the darkness of error for ever; and is not to its right understanding; even by its traversing a hundred miles.

19. When the living soul is awakened to its right sense by the force of reason, it learns to unite itself to the supreme soul, but being led without the guidance of reason, it is successful in nothing with all its endeavours.

20. He who tells the unenlightened vile man, that all this world is the great Brahma himself, does no more than communicate his sorrows to the headless trunk of a tree. (A lecture to the listless man, is not listened to).

21. The fool is brought to sense by reasoning, and the wise man knows the truth from the nature of the subject; but the ignorant never learn wisdom, without the persuasion of reason. (The wise learn by intuition, but the unwise by no instruction).

22. You had been unwise so long as you depended on your own reasoning (judgment); but being guided by me, you are now awakened to truth. (No body is wise of his own conceit without the guidance of his preceptor).

23. That I am Brahma, thou art Brahma, and so the visible world is Brahma himself; know this truth and naught otherwise, and do as you please. (All inventions and imaginations of Him are false).

24. Inconceivable is the conception of God, and the visible world is all that is known of him;know him as one, and the infinite, and you will not be misled into error.

25. Rama, think in yourself whether when you are sitting or walking, or waking or sleeping, that you are this supreme spirit, which is of the form of light and intelligence, and pervades all things.

26. Rama! if you are without your egoism and meity or selfishness, and if you are intelligent and honest, then be as oecumenical and tranquil as Brahma himself, who is equally situated in all things.

27. Know your self as the pure consciousness, which is situated as one in all; which is without beginning and end, and is the essence of light and the most transcendent of all being.

28. What you call, Brahma the universal soul and the fourth or transcendent state; know the same to be materia or matter and natura or nature also. It is the inseparable one in all, as the mud is the essential substance of a thousand water pots.

29. Nature is not different from the nature of the soul, as the clay is no other than the pot itself; the Divine essence is as the intrinsic clay, and the divine spirit extends as the inward matter of all things.

30. The soul has its pulsation like the whirling of the whirlpool, and this is termed Prakriti force or matter, which is no other than an effort of the spirit.

31. As pulsation and ventilation, mean the same thing under different names; so the soul and nature express the same substance, which are not different in their essence.

32. It is mere ignorance which makes their difference, and which is removed by their knowledge; as it is sheer ignorance which represents a snake in the rope, and which is soon removed by knowledge of their nature.

33. As the seed of imagination falls in the field of the intellect, it shoots forth in the sprout of the mind, which becomes the germ of the wide spreading arbor of the universe.

34. The seed of false imagination (of avidya or personified Ignorance), being scorched by the flames of spiritual knowledge; will be able to vegetate no more, though it is sprinkled with the water of fond desire. (i.e. Fancy is fed by desire, but fly away at the appearance of reason).

35. If you do not sow the seed of imagination in the soil of your intellect, you will stop the germination of the plants of pain and pleasure in the field of your mind. (Pain and pleasure are imaginary ideas and not really so in their nature).

36. Rama! as you have come to know the truth, you must forsake your false conception of such a thing as ignorance or error existing in the world; and know that there is no duality in the unity of God. Being thus full with the knowledge of one supreme soul, you must repudiate your ideas of pain and pleasure in anything here below. Pain turns to pleasure, and pleasure to pain, know them both as unreal, as they are vain.