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 LV - Lecture on the living soul or jivatatwa

Arguments. said:—

The unity and reality is the causal subjective, and the duality and unreality is the objective worlds; and the situation of God between the two, means his witnessing both of these without being either of them, because the conditions of the cause and the caused do not apply to God who is beyond all attributes.

The Lord said:—Neither relinquish or abstain from your enjoyments, nor employ your minds about them or in the acquisition of the object thereof. Remain with an even tenor of your mind, and be content with what comes to thee.

2. Never be so intimately related to thy body, that is not intimately related with thee; but remain intimately connected with thyself, which is thy increate and imperishable soul.

3. We suffer no loss by the loss of our bodies (which are but adscititious garments of our souls); but we lose every thing, by the loss of our souls which last forever and never perish.

4. The soul is not weakened like the sentient mind, by the loss of the sensible objects of enjoyment, and incessantly employed in action, yet it does nothing by itself.

5. It is one's addictedness to an action that makes it his act, and this even when one is no actor of the same; it is ignorance only that incites the mind to action, and therefore this ignorance is required to be removed from it by all means.

6. The great minded man that is acquainted with the superior knowledge of spirituality, forsakes his tendency to action, and does everything that comes to him without his being the actor thereof.

7. Know thy soul to be without its beginning and end, and undecaying and imperishable in its nature; the ignorant think it perishable, and you must not fall into this sad error like them.

8. The best of men that are blest with spiritual knowledge, do not look the soul in the same light as the ignorant vulgar; who either believe the soulless matter as the soul, or think themselves as incorporate souls by their egoistic vanity.

Arjuna said:—

9. If it is so, O lord of worlds! then I ween that the loss of the body is attended with no loss or gain to the ignorant (because they have nothing to care for an immortal soul like the learned).

10. The lord replied:—so it is, O mighty armed Arjuna! they lose nothing by the loss of the perishable body, but they know that the soul is imperishable, and its loss is the greatest of all losses.

11. How be it, I see no greater mistake of men in this world; than when they say, that they have lost anything or gained something that never belongs to them. It appears like the crying of a barren woman for her child, which she never had, nor is expected to have at any time.

12. That it is axiomatic truth established by the learned, and well known to all men of common sense, though the ignorant may not perceive it verily, that an unreality can not come to reality, nor a reality go to nothing at any time. (This equivalent to the definite propositions, "what is, is; and what is not, is naught; or that, positive can not be the negative, not the negative an affirmative").

13. Now know that to be imperishable, that has spread out this perishable and frail world; and there is no one that can destroy the indestructible (or the entity of the immortal soul).

14. The finite bodies are said to be the abode of the infinite soul, and yet the destruction of the finite and frail, entails no loss upon the infinite and imperishable soul. Know therefore the difference between the two.

15. The soul is a unity without a duality, and there is no possibility of its nihility. (because the unity is certain reality, and duality is a nullity). The eternal and infinite reality of the soul, can never be destroyed with the destruction of the body.

16. Leaving aside the unity and duality, take that which remains, and know that state of tranquillity which is situated between the reality and unreality, to be the state of the transcendental Deity.

Arjuna rejoined:—

17. such being the nature of the soul, then tell me, O lord, what is the cause of this certainty in man that he is dying, and what makes him think, that he is either going to heaven above or to the hell below. (What is the cause of heavenly bliss and the torments of hell).

18. The lord replied:—know Arjuna! There is a living soul dwelling in the body, and composed of the elements of earth, air, water, fire and vacuum, as also of the mind and understanding: (all of which being destructible in their nature, cause the destructibility of the living principle, and its subjection to pain and pleasure in this life and in the next. gloss).

19. The embodied and living soul is led by its desire, as the young of a beast is carried about tied by a rope on its neck; and it dwells in the recess of the body, like a bird in the cage. (Both states of its living and moving about in the body, are as troublesome as they are compulsory to it).

20. Then as the body is worn out and becomes infirm in course of time, the living soul leaves it like the moisture of a dried leaf, and flies to where it is led by its inborn desire. (The difference of desire causes the difference of new births and bodies. gloss).

21. It carries with it the senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, taste, touch and smell from its body, as the breeze wafts the fragrance from the cells of flowers (or as a wayfarer carries his valuables with him).

22. The body is the production of one's desire, and has no other assignable cause to it; it weakens by the weakening of its desire, and being altogether weak and wasted, it becomes extinct in its final absorption in the god-head (because the want of desire and dislike, makes a man to become like his god; or as perfect as god, who has nothing to desire and dislike).

23. The avaricious man, being stanch with his concupiscence, passes through many wombs into many births; like a magician is skilled in leaping up and down in earth and air. (The magician maya, purusha, means also a juggler or athlete who shows his feats in air as an aeronaut).

24. The parting soul carries with her the properties of the senses from the sensible organs of the body; just as the flying breeze bears with him the fragrance of flowers, in his flight through the sky.

25. The body becomes motionless, after the soul has fled from it; just as the leaves and branches of trees, remain unruffled after the winds are still. (i.e. As the breeze shakes the tree, so the vital breath moves the body, and this being stopped, the body becomes quiescent which is called its death).

26. When the body becomes inactive, and insensible to the incision and wounds that are inflicted upon it, it is then called to be dead, or to have become lifeless.

27. As this soul resides in any part of the sky, in its form of the vital air, it beholds the very same form of things manifested before it, as it was wont to desire when living. (The departed soul dwells either in spiritual or elemental sphere of the sky, and views itself and all other things in the same state as they are imprest in it, in their relation to time, place and form. Gloss. This passage will clear Locke's and Parker's question, as to the form which the soul is to have after its resurrection).

28. The soul comes to find all these forms and bodies, to be as unreal as those it has left behind; and so must you reckon all bodies after they are destroyed, unless you be so profoundly asleep as to see and know nothing.

Brahma said:—

29. the lord of creation, has created all beings according to the images, that were impressed in his mind in the beginning. He sees them still to continue and die in the same forms. (So the soul gets its body as it thinks upon, and then lives and dies in the same form).

30. Whatever form or body the soul finds on itself, on its first and instantaneous springing to life; the same is invariably impressed in its consciousness, until its last moment of death. (This fixed impression of the past, produces its reminiscence in the future, which forms and frames the being according to its own model).

31. The pristine desire of a man, is the root of his present manliness, which becomes the cause of his future success. So also the present exertion of one, is able to correct and make up not only his past mistakes and deficits;but also to edify upon his rugged hut of old.

(i.e. that is to improve his dilapidated state and build the fabric of his future fame and fortune).

32. Whatever is pursued with ardent exertion and diligence for a while, the same in particular is gained among all other objects of one's former and future pursuit (which are reckoned under the four predicaments

(Chaturvarga) of wealth and pleasure for this life, and virtue and salvation for the next).

33. Whether a man is exposed on the barren rock of Vindhya, or blown and borne away by the winds, he is yet supported by his manhood;therefore the wise man should never decline to discharge the legal duties, that are required of him at all times.

34. Know the heaven and hell of which you ask, to be creatures of the old prejudices of men; they are the productions of human wish, and exist in the customary bias of the populace.

Arjuna said:—

35. Tell me, O lord of the world! what is that cause, which gave rise to the prejudice of a heaven and hell. (A future state of reward and retribution, is a common belief of all mankind on earth).

36. The Lord replied:—These prejudices are as false as airy dreams, and have their rise from our desire (of future retribution); which waxing strong by our constant habit of thinking them as true, make us believe them as such, as they mislead us to rely on the reality of the unreal world. Therefore we must shun our desires for our real good.

37. The Lord replied:—Ignorance is the source of our desires, as it is the main spring of our error of taking the unself for the true self; it is the knowledge of the self therefore combined with right understanding, that can dispel the error of our desires. (i.e. Ignorance of the nature of a thing, excites our desire for it, as our knowledge of the same, serves to suppress it).

38. You are best acquainted with the self, O Arjuna! and well know the truth also;therefore try to get off your error of yourself and not yourself, as this I and that another, as also of your desires for yourself and other.

Arjuna said:—

39. But I ween that the living soul dies away, with the death of its desires; because the desire is the support of the soul, which must languish and droop down for want of a desire. (So says sir Hamilton: Give me something to do and desire, and so I live or else I pine away and die).

40. Tell me moreover, what thing is it that is subject to future births and deaths, after the living soul perishes with its body at any time or place (or after it has fled from it to some other region).

41. The Lord replied:—Know the wistful soul, O intelligent Arjuna! to be of the form of the desire of the heart, as also of the form that anyone has framed for himself in his imagination. (i.e. The form of individual soul, is according to the figure that one has of himself in his mind and heart).

42. The soul that is self-same with itself, and unaltered in all circumstances; that is never subject to body or any desire on earth, but is freed from all desires by its own discretion, is said to be liberated in this life.

43. Living in this manner (or self-independence), you must always look to and be in search of truth; and being released from the snare of worldly cares, you are said to be liberated in this life.

44. The soul that is not freed from its desires, is said to be pent up as a bird in its cage; and though a man may be very learned, and observant of all his religious rites and duties, yet he is not said to be liberated, as long as he labours in the chains of his desires.

45. The man who sees the train of desires, glimmering in the recess of his heart and mind, is like a purblind man who sees the bespangled train of peacocks tail in the spotless sky. He is said to be liberated whose mind is not bound to the chain of desire, and it is one's release from this chain that is called his liberation in this life and in the next.