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 LII - Story of arjuna, as the incarnation of nara-narayana

Argument: The Narrative of Arjuna given in Illustration of the truth, that the world is a dream and unworthy of our reliance.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Know Rama, this world to be as a dream, which is common to all living beings, and is fraught with many agreeable scenes, so as to form the daily romance of their lives, which is neither true nor entirely false.

2. But as it is not likely that the living souls of men should be always asleep; therefore their waking state is to be accounted as one of dreaming also. (Life is a dream. Addison).

3. Life is a longer dream than the short lived ones in our sleep; and know it, intelligent Rama, to be as untrue as it is unsubstantial and airy in its nature.

4. The living souls of the living world, continually pass from dream to dream, and they view the unrealities of the world as positive realities in their nature. (The unreal is thought as real by the Realists).

5. They ascribe solidity to the subtile, and subtilty to what is solid; they see the unreal as real, and think the unliving as living in their ignorance.

6. They consider the revolution of all worlds, to be confined in the solar system; and rove about like somnambulists and fleeting bees about the living soul, which they differentiate from the supreme.

7. They consider and meditate in their minds, the living soul as a separate reality, owing to its ubiquity and immortality, and as the source of their own lives. (This is the living liberation—jivanmukti of Buddhists, who consider their living souls as absolute agent of themselves).

8. Hear me to relate to you the best lesson of indifference (i.e. the unattachment to the world and life), which the lotus-eyed lord (Krishna) taught to Arjuna, and whereby that sagely prince became liberated in life time. (Here is an anachronism of antedating Krishnarjuna prior to Rama).

9. Thus Arjuna the son of Pandu will happily pass his life, and which I hope you will imitate, if you want to pass your days without any grief or sorrow.

Rama said:—

10. Tell me sir, when will this Arjuna the son of Pandu, come to be born on earth, and who is this Hari of his, that is to deliver this lesson of indifference to the world to him?

Vasishtha replied:—

11. There is only the entity of one soul, to whom this appellation is applied by fiction only. He remains in himself from time without beginning and end, as the sky is situated in a vacuum.

12. We behold in him the phantasmagoria of this extended world, as we see the different ornaments in gold, and the waves and billows in the sea. (Identity of the cause and effect of the producer and produced).

13. The fourteen kinds of created beings display themselves in him; and in him is the network of this universe, wherein all these worlds are suspended, as birds hanging in the net in which they are caught.

14. In him reside the deities Indra and Yama and the sun and moon, who are renowned and hallowed in the scriptures; and in him abide the five elemental creation, and they that have become the regents (of heaven and earth).

15. That the one thing is virtue and therefore expedient, and the other is vice and therefore improper, are both placed in him as his ordinances (or eternal laws); and depending on the free agency (sankalpa) of men, to accept or reject the one or the other for good or evil. (Hence there is no positive virtue or vice, nor God the author of good and evil; but it is the obedience or disobedience to his fixed laws, that amounts to the one or other).

16. It is obedience to the Divine ordinance, that the gods are still employed in their fixed charges with their steady minds.

17. The lord Yama is accustomed to make his penance, at the end of every four yugas (or kalpa age), on account of his greatness in destruction of the creatures of God. (Yama the Indian Pluto and god of death.)

18. Sometimes he sat penitent for eight years, and all others for a dozen of years, often times he made his penance for five or seven years, and many times for full sixteen years.

19. On a certain occasion as Yama sat observant of his austerity, and indifferent to his duty, death ceased to hunt after living beings in all the worlds.

20. Hence the multitude of living beings filled the surface of the earth, and made ground pathless and impassable by others. They multiplied like the filth born gnats in the rainy weather, that obstruct the passage of elephants.

21. Then the gods sat together in council, and after various deliberations came to determine the extirpation of all living beings, for relieving the over burdened earth. (This was to be done by the Bharata war celebrated in the great epic of the Mahabharata).

22. In this way many ages have passed away, and many changes have taken place in the usages of the people, and unnumbered living beings have passed and gone with the revolutions of the worlds.

23. Now it will come to pass, that this Yama—the son of the sun and the lord of the regions of the dead; will again perform his penance in the aforesaid manner after the expiration of many ages to come.

24. He will again resume his penitence for a dozen of years, for the atonement of his sin of destroying the living; when he will abstain from his wonted conduct of destroying the lives of human beings.

25. At that time, will the earth be filled with deathless mortals, so as this wretched earth will be covered and overburthened with them, as with dense forest trees.

26. The earth groaning under her burden, and oppressed by tyranny and lawlessness, will have recourse to Hari for her redress, as when a virtuous wife resorts to her husband from the aggression of Dasyus.

27. For this reason, Hari will be incarnate in two bodies, joined with the powers of all the gods, and will appear on earth in two persons of Nara and Narayana, the one a man and the other the lord Hari himself.

28. With one body Hari will become the son of Vasudeva, and will thence be called Vasudeva; and with the other he will be the son of Pandu and will thereby be named the Pandava Arjuna or Arjuna the Pandava.

29. Pandu will have another son by name of Yudhisthira, who will adopt the title of the son of Dharma or righteousness, for his acquaintance with politics, and he will reign over the earth to its utmost limit of the ocean.

30. He will have his rival with Duryodhana his cousin by his paternal uncle, and there will be a dreadful war between them as between a snake and weasel.

31. The belligerent princes will wage a furious war for the possession of the earth, with forces of eighteen legions on both sides. (Those of Duryodhana were eleven legions, and Yudhisthira were seven).

32. The God Vishnu will cause Arjuna to slay them all by his great bow of Gandiva, and thereby relieve the earth of her burden of riotous peoples.

33. The incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Arjuna, will comprise all the qualities incident to humanity; and will be fraught with the feelings of joy and vengeance, which are connatural with mankind.

34. Seeing the battle array on both sides, and friends and kinsmen ready to meet their fate, pity and grief will seize the heart of Arjuna, and he will cease from engaging in the war.

35. Hari will then with his intelligent form of Krishna, persuade his insensible person of Arjuna, to perform his part of a hero for crowning his valour with success.

36. He taught him the immortality of the soul by telling him that, the soul is never born nor does it die at any time, nor had it a prior birth, nor is it new born to be born again on earth, it is unborn and ever lasting, and is indestructible with the destruction of the body.

37. He who thinks the soul to be the slayer of or slain by any body, is equally ignorant of its nature, never kills nor is ever killed by any body.

38. It is immortal and uniform with itself, and more rare and subtile than the air and vacuity; the soul which is the form of the great God himself, is never and in no way destroyed by any body.

39. O Rama, that art conscious of yourself, know your soul to be immortal and unknown, and without its beginning, middle and end; it is of the form of consciousness and clear without any soil, so by thinking yourself as such, you become the unborn, eternal and undecaying soul yourself.