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 LI - On the perception of the sensible objects

Argument. said:—

Erroneous Belief in the Reality of the Body and Mind;instead of believing the unity and Entity of Brahma as All in All.

Vasishtha resumed:—

Rama, you have heard me relate unto you that, even the lotus-born Brahma who was born long before you, had been without his organs of sense at first (i.e. Brahma the creative power of God, was purely a spiritual Being, and had necessarily neither a gross body nor any of its organs as we possess).

2. As Brahma—the collective agents of creation was endued only with his consciousness—Samvid for the performance of all his functions;so are all individual personalities endowed with their self-consciousness only, for the discharge of all their necessary duties.

3. Know that as the living soul, dwelling in its body in the mother's womb, comes to reflect on the actions of the senses, it finds their proper organ supplied to its body immediately.

4. Know the senses and the organs of sense to be the forms of consciousness itself, and this I have fully explained to you in the case of Brahma, who represents the collective body of all individual souls.

5. At first there was the pure consciousness in its collective-form in the Divine Intellect, and this afterwards came to be diffused in millions of individual souls from its sense of egoism. At first was the Divine soul "the I am all that I am"and afterwards became many as expressed in the Vedic text "aham bahusyam".

6. It is no stain to the pure universal, undivided and subjective Divine spirit, to be divided into the infinity of individual and objective souls; since the universal and subjective unity comprises in it the innumerable objective individualities which it evolves of itself. (in its self manifestation in the universe).

7. The objectivity of God does not imply his becoming either the thinking mind or the living soul; nor his assuming upon him the organic body or any elemental form. (Because the Lord becomes the object of our meditation and adoration in his spirit only).

8. He does not become the Vidya or Avidya—the intelligible or unintelligible, and is ever existent as appearing non-existent to the ignorant; this is called the supreme soul, which is beyond the comprehension of the mind and apprehension of the senses.

9. From Him rises the living soul as well as the thinking mind; which are resembled for the instruction of mankind, as sparks emitted from fire.

10. From whatever source ignorance (Avidya) may have sprung, you have no need of inquiring into the cause thereof; but taking ignorance as a malady, you should seek the remedy of reasoning for its removal.

11. After all forms of things and the erroneous knowledge of particulars, are removed from your mind; there remains that knowledge of the unity, in which the whole firmament is lost, as a mountain is concealed in an atom. (The infinity of Deity, envelopes all existence in it).

12. That in which all the actions and commotions of the world, remain still and motionless; if they were buried in dead silence and nihility; is the surest rock of your rest and resort, after feeling from the bustle of all worldly business.

13. The unreal or negative idea of ignorance, has also a form, as inane as it is nothing; look at her and she becomes a nullity, touch her and she perishes and vanishes from sight. (Avidya like Ignorantia is of the feminine gender, and delusive and fleeting as a female).

14. Seek after her, and what can you find but her nothingness; and if by your endeavour you can get anything of her, it is as the water in the mirage (which kills by decoying the unwary traveller).

15. As it is ignorance alone that creates her reality, her unreality appears as a reality, and destroys the seeming reality at once. (Avidya or Ignorance is the Goddess of the agnostic saktas, who worship her, under the name of Maya or Illusion also).

16. Agnosticism imputes false attributes to the nature of the Deity, and it is the doctrine of the agnostics to misrepresent the universal spirit, under the forms of the living soul and the perishable body. (from their ignorance of the supreme).

17. Now hear me attentively to tell you the sastras that they have invented, in order to propagate their agnostic religion or belief in this avidya, by setting up the living soul and others in lieu of the supreme spirit.

18. Being fond of representing the Divine Intellect in a visible form, they have stained the pure spirit with many gross forms, such as the elemental and organic body, which is enlivened by the vital spirit dwelling in it.

19. Whatever they think a thing to be, they believe in the same; they make truth of an untruth, and its reverse likewise; as children make a devil of a doll, and afterwards break it to nothing.

20. They take the frail body formed of the five elements as a reality, and believe its holes of the organs as the seats of the sensuous soul.

21. They employ these five fold organs in the perception of the pentuple objects of the senses; which serve at best to represent their objects in different light than what they are, as the germ of a seed produces its leaves of various colours. (This means the false appearances which are shown by the deceptive senses).

22. They reckon some as the internal senses, as the faculties of the mind and the feelings of the heart, and others as external, as the outward organs of action and sensation; and place their belief in whatever their souls and minds suggest to them either as false or true.

23. They believe the moonlight to be hot or cold, according as they feel by their outward perception. (i.e. Though the moon-beams appear cooling to the weary, yet they seem to be warm to the love lorn amorosa).

24. The pungency of the pepper and the vacuity of the firmament, are all according to one's knowledge and perception of them, and do not belong to the nature of things. For sweet is sour to some, and sour is sweet to others; and the firmament is thought to be a void by many, but is found to be full of air by others, who assert the dogma of natures abhorrence of vacuum.

25. They have also ascertained certain actions and rituals, which are in common practice, as the articles of their creed, and built their faith of a future heaven, on the observance of those usages.

26. The living soul which is full of its desires, is led by two different principles of action through life; the one is its natural tendency to some particular action, and the other is the direction of some particular law or other. It is however the natural propensity of one, that gets the better of the other.

27. It is the soul which has produced all the objective duality from the subjective unity only; as it is the sweet sap of the sugarcane that produces the sugarcandy; and the serum of the earth, that forms and fashions the water pot. (The objective is the production of the subjective.)

28. In these as well as in all other cases, the changes that take place in the forms of things, are all the results of time and place and other circumstances; but none of these has any relation in the nature of God, in his production of the universe.

29. As the sugarcane produces its leaves and flowers from its own sap, so the living soul produces the dualities from sap of its own unity, which is the supreme soul itself. (The spirit of God that dwells in all souls. (Swatmani Brahmasatwa), produces all these varieties in them.

30. It is the God that is seated in all souls, that views the dualities of a pot, picture, a cot and its egoism in itself; and so they appear to every individual soul in the world.

31. The living soul appears to assume to itself, the different forms of childhood, youth, and age at different times; as a cloud in the sky appears as an exhalation, a watery cloud and the sap of the earth and all its plants, at the different times of the hot and rainy seasons of the year.

32. The living soul perceives all these changes, as they are exhibited before it by the supreme soul in which they are all present; and there is no being in the world, that is able to alter this order of nature.

33. Even the sky which is as clear as the looking glass, and is spread all about and within every body, is not able to represent unto us, all the various forms which are presented to the soul by the great soul of souls (in which they appear to be imprinted). Here Vasishtha is no more an akasa-vadi—vacuist, in as much as he finds a difference in the nature and capacity of the one from those of the other or the supreme soul.

34. The soul which is situated in the universal soul of Brahma, shines as the living soul (jiva) of living beings; but it amounts to a duality, to impute even an incorporeal idea of Avidya or Ignorance to it; because the nature of God is pure Intelligence, and cannot admit an ignorant spirit in it (as the good spirit of God cannot admit the evil spirit of a demon in itself).

35. Whatever thing is ordained to manifest itself in any manner, the same is its nature and stamp (swabhava and neyati);and though such appearance is no reality, yet you can never undo what is ordained from the beginning.

36. As a golden ornament presents to you the joint features of its reality and unreality at the same time (in that it is gold and jewellery, the one being real and the other changeable and therefore unreal); so are all things but combinations of the real and unreal, in their substantial essence and outward appearance. But both of these dissolve at last to the Divine spirit, as the gold ornament is melted down to liquid gold in the crucible.

37. The Divine Intellect being all-pervasive by reason of its intellectuality, it diffuses also over the human mind; as the gold of the jewel settles and remains dull in the crucible.

38. The heart having the passive nature of dull intellectuality, receives the fleeting impressions of the active mind, and takes upon it the form that it feels strongly impressed upon it at any time. (The heart is the passive receptacle of the impression of the active mind and reverberates to the tone of its thoughts).

39. The soul also assumes many shapes to itself at different times, according to the ever changing prospects, which various desires always present before it.

40. The body likewise takes different forms upon it, according to its inward thoughts and feelings; as a city seen in a dream varies considerably from what is seen with naked eyes. So we shape our future forms by the tenor of our minds (because our life is but a dream and our bodies but its shadows—prathibas).

41. As a dream presents us the shadows of things, that disappear on our waking, so these living bodies that we see all about, must vanish into nothing upon their demise.

42. What is unreal is doomed to perish, and those that die are destined to be born again, and the living soul takes another form in another body, as it sees itself in its dream.

43. This body does not become otherwise, though it may change from youth to age in course of time; because the natural form of a person retains its identity in every stage of life through which it has to pass.

44. A man sees in his dream all that he has seen or heard or thought of at any time, and the whole world being comprised in the state of dreaming, the living soul becomes the knower of all that is knowable in his dream. (The sruti says, the soul comprises the three worlds in itself, which it sees expanded before in its dream).

45. That which is not seen in the sight of a waking man, but is known to him only by name (as the indefinite form of Brahma); can never be seen in dream also, as the pure soul and the intellect of God. (Abstract thoughts are not subjects of dream).

46. As the living soul sees in its dream the objects that it has seen before, so the intellectual part of the soul sees also many things, which were unknown to it.

47. Subdue your former desires and propensities, by your manly efforts at present; and exert your utmost to change your habitual misconduct to your good behaviour for the future.

48. You can never subdue your senses, nor prevent your transmigrations, without gaining your liberation; but must continue to rise and plunge in the stream of life forever more and in all places.

49. The imagination of your mind, causes the body to grasp your soul as a shark, and the desire of your soul is as a ghost, that lays hold on children in the dark.

50. It is the mind, the understanding and egoism, joined with the five elements or tanmatras, that form the puryastaka or ativahika body, composed of the octuple subtile properties.

51. The bodiless or intellectual soul, is finer than the vacuous air;the air is its great arbor, and the body is as its mountain. (i.e. It is more subtile than the empty air and sky).

52. One devoid of his passions and affections, and exempt from all the conditions of life, is entitled to his liberation; he remains in a state of profound sleep (hypnotism), wherein the gross objects and desires of life, lie embosomed and buried for ever.

53. The state of dreaming is one, in which the dreamer is conscious of his body and self-existence; and has to rove about or remain fixed in some place, until his attainment of final liberation. Such is the state of living beings and vegetables (both of which are conscious of their lives).

54. Some times the sleeping and often the dreaming person, have both to bear and carry with them their ativahika or moveable bodies, until they obtain their final emancipation from life.

55. When the sleeping soul does not rise of itself (by its intellectual knowledge), but is raised from the torpor of its sleep by some ominous dream, it then wakes to the fire of a conflagration from its misery only. (Here waking to a conflagration is opposed to the waking to a seas of woes of Dr. Young. The gloss says, that it is a structure on the unintelligent waking of the Nyayikas).

56. The state of the unmoving minerals, including even that of the fixed arbor of the Kalpa tree (that is in its torpid hypnotism of susupti), exhibits no sign of intelligence except gross dulness.

57. The dull sleep of susupta being dispelled by some dream, leads the waker to the miseries of life in this world; but he that awakes from his trance with full intelligence, finds the perfect felicity of the fourth

(turya) states open fully to his view.

58. The living soul finds liberation by means of its intelligence, and it is by this means that it gets its spirituality also; just as copper being cleansed of its rust by some acid, assumes the brightness of pure gold.

59. The liberation that the living soul has by means of its intelligence, is again of two kinds, namely;—the one is termed emancipation from life or jivan mukta, and the other is known as the release from the burden of the body or deha mukta.

60. Emancipation from life means the attainment of the fourth state of perfection, and intelligence signifies the enlightenment of the soul, and this is obtainable by cultivation of the understanding.

61. The soul that is acquainted with sastra, and knows the supreme spirit in itself, becomes full of the Deity; but the unintelligent soul sees only horrors rising before it, like spectres of his troublesome dreams.

62. The horrors rising in the heart of man, serve only to disturb the rest of the breast; or else there is nothing in the heart of man, except a particle of the Divine Intellect.

63. Men are verily subjected to misery, by looking at the Deity in any other light, than the Divine light which shines in the soul of man, and beside which there is no other light in it.

64. Look at the world whenever you will, and you will find it full of illusion everywhere; as you find nothing in a pot full of foul water except the sediments of dirt.

65. In the same manner you see the atoms of human souls, full with the vanities of this world; it is by the fetters of its worldly desires, and gets its release by the breaking off those bonds of its desire.

66. The soul sleeps under the spell of its desires, and sees those objects in its dream, it wakes after their dispersion to the state of turya-felicity. The spell of gross desire, extends over all animate as well as in-animate creation.

67. The desire of superior beings is of a pure nature, and that of intermediate natures is of less pure form. The desires of inferior beings are of a gross nature, and there are others without them as the pots and blocks.

68. The living soul (passing through the doors of bodily organs) becomes united with the outward object, when the one becomes the percipient and the other the object of its percipience; and then the entity of both of these, namely of the inward soul and the outward object being pervaded by the all pervasive Intellect of God, they both become one and the same with the common receptacle of all. (I.e. All things blend in the Divine unity).

69. Hence the belief of the receiver, received and reception, are as false as the water in the mirage; and there is nothing that we can shun or lay hold upon as desirable or disgusting, when they are all the same in the sight of God.

70. All things whether internal or external, are manifested to us as parts of the one universal and intellectual soul; and all the worlds being but manifestations of the Divine Intellect, it is in vain to attribute any difference to them. All of us are displayed in the Intellect, which contains the inner and outer worlds for ever.

71. As the ocean is an even expanse of water, after the subsidence of all its various waves and billows, and shows itself as clear as sky with its pure watery expanse to view; so the whole universe appears as the reflexion of one glorious and ever lasting Deity, after we lose sight of the diversities that are presented to our superficial view.