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 L - On sensation and the objects of senses

Argument. said:—

The production of the eight signs or senses in the vital soul, and their development into the External organs for the perception of outward objects.

Rama said:—

Sir, I have known whatever is to be known, and seen all that is to be seen; I am filled with the ambrosial draught of divine knowledge, which you have kindly imparted to me.

2. I see the world full with the fulness of Brahma, I know the plenitude of God that has produced this plenary creation; it is the fulness of God that fills the universe, and all its amplitude depends on the plenum of the all pervading Deity.

3. It is now with much fondness that I like to propose to you another question, for the improvement of my understanding; and hope you will not be enraged at it, but communicate to me the instruction as a kind father does to his fondling boy.

4. We see the organs of sense, as the ears, nose, eyes, mouth and touch, existing alike in all animals (whether when they are alive or dead).

5. Why is it then that the dead do not perceive the objects of their sense, as well as the living who know the objects in their right manner?

6. How is it that the dull organs perceive the outward objects, as a pot and other objects of sense which are imperceptible to the inward heart, notwithstanding its natural sensibility and sensitiveness.

7. The relation between outward objects and the organs, is as that of the magnet and iron, which attract one another without their coming in contact together. But how is it that the small cavities of the organs could let into the mind such prodigious objects that surround us on all sides.

8. If you well know these secrets of nature, then please to communicate them to me in a hundred ways, in order to satisfy my curiosity regarding them.

9. Vasishtha answered—Now Rama, I tell you in short, that neither the organs nor the heart and mind, nor the pots and pictures, are the things in reality; because it is impossible for any thing to exist apart and independent of the pure and intelligent spirit of God.

10. The Divine Intellect which is purer than air, takes the form of the mind by itself; which then assumes its elemental form of the organic body, and exhibits all things agreeably to the ideas which are engraven in the mind.

11. The same elements being afterwards stretched out into matter or maya and nature or prakriti, exhibit the whole universe as its ensemble, and the organs and their objects as its parts. (This passage rests on the authority of the sruti which says—[Sanskrit: mayantu prakritim vidyanamayinantu maheshvaram / ashabayavabhutestu vaptamsarvva midamjagat]).

12. The mind which takes the elemental form of its own nature, reflects itself in all the parts of nature in the forms of pots and all the rest of things. (It is repeatedly said that the mind is the maker of all things by reminiscence of the past).

Rama rejoined:—

13. Tell me sir, what is the form of that elementary body, which reflects itself in a thousand shapes on the face of the puryastaka or elemental world, as it were on the surface of a mirror.

Vasishtha replied:—

14. This elementary body which is the seed of the world, is the undecaying Brahma, who is without beginning and end, and of the form of pure light and intellect, and devoid of parts and attributes.

15. The same being disposed to its desires, becomes the living soul; and this being desirous of collecting all its desires and the parts of the body together, becomes the palpitating heart in the midst of it. (The word heart hrid is derived from its harana or receiving the blood and all bodily sensations into it; it, is called the chitta also, from its chinoti or collecting and distributing these in itself and to all parts of the body).

16. It becomes the ego from its thought of its egoism, and is called the mind from its minding—manana of many things in itself; it takes the name of buddhi or understanding from its bodha or understanding and ascertainment of things, and that of sense also from its sensation of external objects.

17. It thinks of taking a body and becomes the very body, as a potter having the idea of a pot forms it in the same manner. Such being the nature of the soul of being and doing all what it likes, it is thence styled the puryashtaka or manifest in its said eight different forms.

18. The Intellect is also called the puryashtaka or octuple soul, from its presiding over the eight fold functions of a person; as those of perception, action and passion and inspection or witnessing of all things and the like;as also from its inward consciousness and the power of vitality. (The gloss gives the following explanations of these words, viz.—Perception of what is derived by the organs of sense. Action of what is done by the organs of action [Sanskrit: karmendriya]. Passion or the feelings of pleasure or pain that is so derived. Inspection or the silent witnessing of all things by the isolated soul. And so on).

19. The living soul takes upon it different forms at different times, according as it is employed in any one of these octuple functions;and also as it is actuated by the various desires, that rise in it by turns.

20. The octuple nature of the soul causes it to put forth itself, in the same form, as it is led to by its varying desire at any time; in the same manner as a seed shoots forth in its leaves, according to the quantity of water with which it is watered.

21. The soul forgets its intellectual nature, and thinks it's a mortal and material being, embodied in the form of a living creature or some inanimate being, and ever remains insensible of itself under the influence of its erroneous belief.

22. Thus the living soul wanders about in the world, as it is dragged to and fro by the halter of desire tied about its neck; now it soars high and then it plunges below like a plank, rising up and sinking below the waves and currents of the sea.

23. There is some one, who after being released from his imprisonment in this world, comes to know the supreme soul, and attains to that state which has neither its beginning nor end.

24. There are others also, who being weary and worried by their transmigrations in multitudinous births, come after the lapse of a long period to their knowledge of the soul, and obtain thereby their state of final bliss at last.

25. It is in this manner, O intelligent Rama, that the living soul passes through many bodily forms, and you shall hear now, how it comes to perceive the outward objects of the pots &c. by means of the external organs of perception—the vision and others.

26. After the intellect has taken the form of the living soul, and the same has received its vitality; the action of the heart sends its feelings to the mind, which forms the sixth organ of the body.

27. As the living soul passes into the air, through the organs of the body it comes in contact with the external objects of the senses; and then joining with the intellect it perceives the external sensations within itself. (The gloss says—The organs of sense like canals of water, carry the sensations to the seat of the mind).

28. It is the union of the living soul with the outward objects, that causes and carries the sensations to the mind; but the soul being defunct and the mind being dormant, there is no more any perception of the externals.

29. Whatever outward object which is set in the open air, casts its reflexion on the subtile senses of living beings, the same comes intact with the living soul which feels the sensation;but the soul being departed, the dead body has neither its life nor feeling of aught in existence.

30. When the form of the outward object, comes in contact with the gemming eye sight of a person; it casts its picture on the same, which is instantly conveyed to the inward soul.

31. The image that is cast on the retina of the eye, is reflected thence to the clearer mirror of the soul, which perceives it by contact with the same; and it is thus that outer things come to the knowledge of the living soul.

32. Even babes can know whatever comes in taction with them, and so do brutes and vegetables have the power of feeling the objects of their touch; how then is it possible for the sensuous soul to be ignorant of its tangible objects?

33. The clear rays of the eyesight which surround the soul, present to it the pictures of visible objects which they bear in their bosom, and whereby the soul comes to know him.

34. There is the same relation of sensuous contact, between the perceptive soul and the perceptible objects of the other senses also;the taste, smell, sound, the touch of things, are all the effects of their contact with the soul.

35. The sound remaining in its receptacle of the air, passes in a moment in the cavity of the ear; and thence entering into the hollow space of the soul, gives it the sensation of its nature.

Rama said:—

36. I see that the reflexions of things are cast in the mirror of the mind, like the images of things carved on wooden tablets and slabs of stone; but tell me sir, how the reflexion of the image of God is cast on the mirror of the mind.

Vasishtha replied:—

37. know, O best of gnostics that know the knowable, that the gross images of the universal and particular souls, which are reflected in the mirror of the mind, are as false as the images of God and deities which are carved in stones and wood.

38. Never rely, O Rama, in the substantiality of this false world; know it as a great vortex of whirling waters, and ourselves as the waves rolling upon it.

39. There is no limitation of space or time or any action, in the boundless ocean of the infinity and eternity of the Deity; and you must know your soul to be identic with the Supreme, which is ubiquitous and omnipresent.

40. Remain always with a calm and quiet mind, unaddicted to anything in this world; know the vanity of worldly pleasures and pains, and go on with a contented mind where ever you will. Preserve your equality, and commit yourself to an indifferent apathy to every thing.