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...
Argument:—Narration of the mendicant Jivata, in illustration of the transmigration of the soul in various births, according to the variety of its insatiable Desire.
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There lived a great mendicant at one time, who devoted his life to holy devotion, and passed his days in the observance of the rules of his mendicancy. (The state of mendicancy is the third stage of life of a Brahman, which is devoted to devotion, and supported by begging of the simple subsistence of life. This story applies to all men, who are in some way or other devoted to some profession for acquiring the necessaries of life and the more so, as all men have some ultimate object of desire, which is an obstruction to their Nirvana or final extinction in the Deity. For the lord says in the Gospel, He that loveth anything more than me, is not worthy of me).
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In the intensity of his Samadhi devotion, his mind was purged of all its desires; and it became assimilated to the object of its meditation, as the sea water, is changed to the form of waves. (Samadhi is defined by Patanjali, as the forgetting of one's self in the object of his meditation).
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Once as he was sitting on his seat after termination of his meditation, and was intent upon discharging some sacred functions of his order, there chanced to pass a thought over his clear mind (like the shadow of cloud over the midday sky).
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He looked into the reflection of the thought, that rose of itself in his mind; that he should reflect for his pleasure, upon the various conditions of common people, and the different modes of their life. (the proper study of man is man, and the manner of each rightly).
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All this thought his mind passed from the reflection of himself and his God, to that of another person; and he lost the calm composure of his mind, as when the quiet sea is disturbed by whirlpool or whirl wind. (This desire of the sage disturbed his breast, like the doubt of Parnell's Hermit).
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Then he thought in himself to become an ideal man of his own accord, and became in an instant the imagined person Jivata by name. (Imagination shapes one to what he imagines himself to be).
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Jivata, the ideal man, now roved about like a dreaming person, through the walks of the imaginary city, which he had raised to himself, as a sleeping man, builds his aerial abodes in dream. (So every man thinks himself as some one, and moves about in his air built city).
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He drank his fill at pleasure, as a giddy bee sips the honey from lotus cups; he became plump and hearty with his sports, and enjoyed sound sleep from his want of care.
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He saw himself in the form of a Brahman in his dream, who was pleased with his studies and the discharge of his religious duties; and as he reflected himself as such he was transformed to the same state, as a man is transplanted from one place to another at a thought. (He makes the man, and places him in every state and place).
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The good Brahman who was observant of his daily ritual, fell asleep one day into a deep trance, and dreamt himself doing the duties of the day, as the seed hid in shell, performs inwardly its act of vegetation.
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The same Brahman saw himself changed to a chieftain in his dream, and the same chief ate and drank and slept as any other man in general.
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The chief again thought himself as a king in his dream, who ruled over the earth extending to the horizon; and was beset by all kinds of enjoyments, as a creeper is studded with flowers.
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Once as this prince felt himself at ease, he fell into a sound sleep free from all cares, and saw the future consequences of his actions, as the effect is attached to the cause, or the flowers are the forth-comings of the tree.
15. He saw his soul assuming the form of a heavenly maid, as the pith of a plant puts forth itself in its flowers and fruits, (what is at the bottom, comes out on the top; and what is the root, sprouts forth in the tree).
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As this heavenly maid was lulled to sleep by her weariness and fatigue, she beheld herself turn into a deer, as the calm ocean finds itself disturbed into eddies and waves (by its inner caves and outward winds).
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As this timorous fawn with her fickle eyes, fell into a sound sleep at one time; she beheld herself transformed to a creeping plant (which she likes to browse upon so fondly in her pasture).
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The crooked beasts of the field and the creeping plants of forest, have also their sleep and dream of their own nature; the dreams being caused by what they saw and heard and felt in their waking states.
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This creeper came to be beautified in times, with its beautiful fruits, flowers and leaves, and formed a bower for the seat of the floral goddess of the woods.
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It hid in its heart the wishes that grew in it, in the same manner as the seed conceals in its embryo the germ of the would be tree; and at last saw itself in its inward consciousness, to be full of frailty and failings.
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It had remained long in its sleep and rest, but being disgusted with its drowsy dullness, it thought of being the fleeting bee its constant guest, and found itself to be immediately changed to a fluttering bee (which it had fed with its farinaceous food).
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The bee roved at pleasure over the tender and blossoming creepers in the forest, and let on the petals of blooming lotuses, as a fond lover courts his mistresses.
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It roved about the blossoms, blooming as brightening pearls in the air; and drank the nectarious Juice from the flower cups, as a lover sips the nectar from the rubied lips of the beloved.
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He became enamoured of the lotus of the lake, and sat silent upon its thorny stalk on the water; for such is the fondness of fools, even for what is painful to them.
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The lake was often infested by elephants, who tore and trampled over the beds of lotus bushes; because it is a pleasure to the malignant base, to lay waste the fair works of God. (The black big and bulky elephants, are said to be invidious of the fair and pretty lotuses; hence the elephant is used as symbolical of the devil, the destroyer of all good).
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The fond bee meets the fate of its fondling lotus, and is crushed under the tusk of the elephant, as the rice is ground under the teeth. (Such is the fate of overfondness for the fair).
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The little bee seeing the big body and might of the mighty elephant, took a fancy of being as such; and by his imagining himself as so, he was instantly converted to one of the like kind (not in its person but in the mind). (Thus is a lesson, that no one is content with himself, but wishes to be the envied or desired being).
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At last the elephant fell down into a hollow pit, which was as deep and dry as the dried bed of a gulf; as a man falls into the profound and inane ocean of this world, which is overcast by an impervious darkness around. (The troublesome world is always compared with a turbulent and darksome ocean).
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The elephant was a favourite of the prince for his defeating the forces of his adversaries; and he routed about at random with his giddy might, as the lawless Daitya robbers wander about at night.
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He fell afterwards under the sword of the enemy, and pierced all over his body by their deadly darts; as the haughty egoism of the living body, drops down in the soul under the wound of right reason.
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The dying elephant having been accustomed to see swarms of bees, fluttering over the proboscis of elephants, and sipping the ichor exuding from them, had long cherished the desire of becoming a bee, which he now came to be in reality.
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The bee rambled at large amidst the flowery creepers of of the forest, and resorted again to the bed of lotuses in the lake;because it is hard for fools to get rid of their fond desire, though it is attended with danger and peril.
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At last the sportive bee was trampled down and crushed under the feet of an elephant, and become a goose, by its long association with one in the lake.
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The goose passed through many lives, till it became gander at last, and sported with the geese in the lake.
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Here it came to bear, the name of the gander that served as the vehicle of Brahma, and thenceforth fostered the idea of his being so, as the yolk of an egg fosters a feathered fowl in it.
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As it was fostering this strong desire in itself, it grew old and decayed by disease, as a piece of wood is eaten up by inbred worms; then as he died with his consciousness of being the bird of Brahma, he was born as the great stork of that God in his next birth.
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The stork lived there in the company of the wise, he became enlightened from the views of worldly beings; he continued for ages in his disembodied liberation, and cared for nothing in future. (The soul that rests in the spirit of God, has nothing better to desire).