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...

Arguments said:—

All living souls are occupied with the thought of their present state, forgetful of the past, and altogether heedless of the future.

Vasishtha continued:—

This bird that sported beside the stalk of the lotus seat of Brahma, once went to the city of Rudra with his god on his back, and there beheld the God Rudra face to face. (The inferior Gods waited upon the superior deities).

2. Seeing the God Rudra he thought himself to be so, and the figure of the God was immediately imprest upon his mind, like the reflexion of an outward object in the mirror.

3. Being full of Rudra in himself, he quitted his body of the bird, as the fragrance of a flower forsakes the calyx, as it mixes with the breeze and flies in the open air.

4. He passed his time happily at that place, in the company with the attendants and different classes of the dependant divinities of Rudra.

5. This Rudra being then full of the best knowledge of divinity and spirituality; looked back in his understanding into the passed accounts of his prior lives, that were almost incalculable.

6. Being then gifted with clear sightedness and clairvoyance, he was astonished at the view of naked truths, that appeared to him as sights in a dream, which he recounted to him as follows.

7. O! how wonderful is this over spreading illusion, which is stretched all about us, and fascinates the world by its magic wand; it exhibits the palpable untruth as positive truth, as the dreary desert presents the appearance of limpid waters, in the sun beams spreading over its sterile sands.

8. I well remember my primary state of the pure intellect, and its conversion to the state of the mind; and how it was changed from its supremacy and omniscience, to the bondage of the limited body.

9. It was by its own desire that the living soul assumed to itself a material body, formed and fashioned agreeably to its fancy, like a picture drawn in a painting; and became a mendicant in my person in one of its prior births, when it was unattached to the objects exposed to view all around.

10. The same mendicant sat in his devotion, by controlling the actions of the members of his body, and began to reflect on outward objects, with great pleasure in his mind.

11. He buried all his former thoughts in oblivion, and thought only of the object that he was employed to reflect upon; and this thought so engrossed and worked upon his mind, that it prevented the rise of any other thought in it.

12. The phenomenon which appears in the mind, offers itself solely to the view also (by supplanting the traces of the past); as the brownness of fading autumn, supercedes the vernal verdure of leaves and plants, so the man coming to his maturity, forgets the helpless state of his boyhood, and is thoughtless of his approaching decay and decline.

13. Thus the mendicant became the Brahman Jivata by his fallible and fickle desire, which laid him to wander from one body to another, as little ants enter into the holes of houses and things.

14. Being fond of Brahmahood and reverential to Brahmans in his mind, he became the wished for person in his own body;because the reality and unreality have the power of mutually displacing one another, according to the greater influence of either. (The weaker yields and makes room to the stronger, like the survival of the fittest).

15. The Brahman next obtained the chieftainship, from his strong predilection for the same; just as the tree becomes fruitful by its continuous suction of the moisture of earth. (The common mother of all).

16. Being desirous of dispensing justice, and discharging all legal affairs, the general wished for royalty, and had his wishes fulfilled by this becoming a prince; but as the prince was over fond of his courtesans, he was transformed to a heavenly nymph that he prized above all in his heart.

17. But as the celestial dame prized the tremulous eye sight of the timorous deer, above her heavenly form and station; she was soon metamorphosed to an antelope in the woods, and destined to graze as a miserable beast for her foolish choice.

18. The fawn that was very fond of browzing the tender blades and leaves, became at last the very creeping plant, that had crept into the crevice of her lickerish mind.

19. The creeper being long accustomed to dote on the bee, that used to be in its company; found in its consciousness to be that insect, after the destruction of its vegetable form.

20. Though well aware of its being crushed under the elephant, together with the lotus flower in which it dwelt, yet it was foolish to take the form of the bee, for its pleasure of roving about the world. (So the living soul enters into various births and bodies only to perish with them).

21. Being thus led into a hundred different forms, said he, I am at last become the self-same Rudra; and it is because of the capriciousness of my erratic mind in this changeful world.

22. Thus have I wandered through the variegated paths of life, in this wilderness of the world; and I have roamed in many aerial regions, as if I trod on solid and substantial ground.

23. In some one of my several births under the name of Jivata, and in another I became a great and respectable Brahman, I became quite another person again, and then found myself as a ruler and lord of the earth.

(So every man thinks and acts himself, now as one person and in the stage of his life. Shakespeare).

24. I had been a drake in the lotus-bush; and an elephant in the vales of Vindhya; I then became a stag in the form of my body, and fleetness of my limbs (and in the formation of mind also).

25. After I had deviated at first from my state of godliness, I was still settled in the state of a devotee with devotedness to divine knowledge; and practicing the rites befitting my position (such as listening to holy lectures, meditating on the mysteries of nature and so forth).

26. In this state I passed very many years and ages, and many a day and night and season and century, glided on imperceptibly in their courses over me. (It is said that the sedate and meditative are generally long living men, as we learn in the accounts of the ancient patriarchs, and in those of the yogis and lamas in our own times).

27. But I deviated again and again from my wonted course, and was as often subjected to new births and forms; until at last I was changed to Brahma's vehicles of the hansa—or anser, and this was by virtue of my former good conduct and company.

28. The firm or wonted habit of a living beings, must come out unobstructed by any hindrance whatsoever; and though it may be retarded in many intermediate births for even a millennium; yet it must come and lay hold on the person some time or other. (Habit is second nature, and is inbred in every being;and what is bred in the bone, must run in the blood).

29. It is by accident only, that one has the blessing of some good company in his life; and then his inborn want may be restrained for a time, but it is sure to break out with violence in the end, in utter defiance of every check and rule.

30. But he who betakes himself to good society only, and strives always for his edification in what is good and great, is able to destroy the evil propensities which are inbred in him; because the desire to be good, is what actually makes one so. (Discipline conquers nature).

31. Whatever a man is accustomed to do or think upon constantly, in this life or in the next state of his being; the same appears as a reality to him in his waking state of day dream, as unreality appears as real in the sleeping or night dream of a man. (It is the imagination that figures unrealities in divers forms both in the day as also in the night dreams of men).

32. Now the thoughts that employ our minds, appoint our bodies also to do their wished for works; and as these works are attended with some temporary good as well as evil also; it is better therefore to restrain and repress the rise of those tumultuous thoughts, than cherish them for our pleasure or pain.

33. It is only the thought in our minds, that makes us to take our bodies for ourselves or souls; and that stretches wide this world of unrealities, as the incased seed sprouts forth and spreads itself into a bush. (The thought bears the world in it, as the will brings it to view).

34. The world is but the thought in sight or a visible form of their visible thought, and nothing more in reality besides this phantasm of it, and an illusion of our sight.

35. The illusive appearance of the world, presents itself to our sight, like the variegated hues of the sky, it is therefore by our ignoring of it, that we may be enabled to wipe off those tinges from our minds.

36. It is an unreal appearance, displayed by the supreme Essence (of God or His intelligence);as a real existence at his pleasure only, and can not therefore do any harm to any body.

37. I rise now and then to look into all these varieties in nature, for the sake of my pleasure and curiosity; but I have the true light of reason in me, whereby I discern the one unity quite apart from all varieties.

38. After all these recapitulations, the incarnate Rudra returned to his former state, and reflected on this condition of the mendicant, whose body was now lying as a dead corpse on the barren ground.

39. He awakened the mendicant and raised his prostrate body, by infusing his intelligence into it; when the resuscitated Bhikshu came to understand, that all his wanderings were but hallucinations of his mind.

40. The mendicant finding himself the same with Rudra standing in his presence, as also with the bygone ones that he recollected in his remembrance; was astonished to think how he could be one and so many, though it is no wonder to the intelligent, who well know that one man acts many parts in life.

41. Afterwards both Rudra and the mendicant got up from their seats, and proceeded to the abode of the Jivata, situated in corner of the intellectual sphere (i.e. the mundane world which lies in the divine intellect).

42. They then passed over many Continents, Islands, provinces and districts, until they arrive at the abode of Jivata, where they found him lying down with a sword in hand.

43. They saw Jivata lying asleep and insensible as a dead body, when

Rudra laid aside his bright celestial form, in order to enter into the earthly abode of the deceased. (The Gods are said to assume human shapes in order to mix with mankind).

44. They brought him back to life and intelligence, by imparting to him portion of their spirit and intellect;and thus was this one soul exhibited in the triple forms of Rudra, Jivata and the mendicant.

45. They with all their intelligence, remained ignorant of one another, and they marvelled to look on each other in mute astonishment, as if they were the figures in painting.

46. Then the three went together in their aerial course, to the air built abode of the Brahman; who had erected his baseless fabric in empty air, and which resounded with empty sounds all around. (The open air being the receptacle of sounds, the aerial abodes of celestials are incessantly infested by the sounds and cries of peoples rising upwards from the nether world).

47. They passed through many aerial regions, and barren and populous tracts of air; until they found out at last the heavenly residence of the Brahman.

48. They saw him sleeping in his house; beset by the members of his family about him; while his Brahmani folded her arms about his neck, as if unwilling to part with her deceased husband. (The Brahman in heaven, was seen in the state of his parting life).

49. They awakened his drowsy intelligence, by means of their own intelligence, as a waking man raises a sleeping soul, by means of his own sensibility.

50. Thence they went on in their pleasant journey to the realms of the chief and the prince mentioned before; and these were situated in the bright regions of their intellectual sphere, and illumined by their effulgence of the intellect. (It means to say, that all these journeys, places and persons, were but reveries of the mind, and creations of fancy).

51. Having arrived at that region and that very spot, they observed the haughty chief lying on his lotus like bed.

52. He lay with his gold coloured body, in company with the partner of his bed of golden hue; as the honey sucking bee lies in the lotus cell, enfolded in the embrace of his mate.

53. He was beset by his mistresses, hanging about him, like the tender stalks and tufts of flowers pendent upon a tree; and was encircled by a belt of lighted lamps, as when a golden plate is studded about by brilliant gems.

54. They awakened him shortly by infusing their own spirit and intelligence in his body and mind, and then they sat together marvelling at each other, as the self-same man in so many forms (or the self-same person in so many bodies).

55. They next repaired to the palace of the prince, and after awakening him with their intelligence, they all roamed about the different parts of the world.

56. They came at last to the hansa of Brahma, and being all transformed to that form in their minds (i.e. having come to know the ahamsa I am he or their self-identity); They all became the one Rudra Personality in a hundred persons.

57. Thus the one intellect is represented in different forms and shapes, according to the various inclinations of their minds, like so many figures in a painting. Such is the unity of the deity represented as different personalities, according to the various tendencies of individual minds. (There is the same intellect and soul in all living beings, that differ from one another in their minds only).

58. There a hundred Rudras, who are the forms of the uncovered intellect

(i.e. unclouded by mists of error);and they are acquainted with the truths of all things in the world, and the secrets of all hearts (antaryamin).

59. There are a hundred and some hundreds of Rudras, who are known as very great beings in the world; among whom there are eleven only (Ekadasa Rudras), that are situated in so many worlds (Ekadasa Bhubanas). (The Vedas have thousands and thousands of Rudras in their hymns as to them, as, [Sanskrit: sahashrena sahashrasah ye rudra adhibhumya]).

60. All living beings that are not awakened to reason, are ignorant of the identity of one another; and view them in different and not in the same light; they are not farsighted to see any other world. That which is the most proximate to them.

61. Wise men see the minds of others and all things to rise in their minds, like the wave rising in the sea; but unenlightened minds remain dormant in themselves, like the inert stones and blocks. (Another explanation of it is, that all wise men are of the same mind as Birbal said to Akbar:—Sao Siyane ekmata).

62. As the waves mix with themselves, by the fluidity of their waters; so the minds of wise unite with one another, by the solubility of their understandings, like elastic fluids and liquids. (So says Mrityunjaya:—the oily or serous understanding ([Sanskrit: tailavat vunvih]) readily penetrates into the minds of others).

63. Now in all these multitudes of living beings, that are presented to our sight in this world; We find the one invariable element of the intellect to be diffused in all of them, and making unreal appear as real ones to view.

64. This real but invisible entity of the Divine intellect remains for ever, after all the unreal but visible appearances disappear into nothing; as there remains an empty space or hollow vacuity, after the removal of a thing from its place, and the excavation of the ground by digging it. (This empty vacuum with the chit or Intellect in it, is the universal God of the vacuist Vasishtha).

65. As you can well conceive the idea of existence, of the quintuple elemental principles in nature; so you can comprehend also the notion of the Omnipresence of the Divine intellect, which is the substratum of the elemental principles.

66. As you see various statues and images, carved in stone and woods, and set in the hollows of rocks and trees; so should you see all these figures in the hollow space of the universe, to be situated in the self-same intellect of the Omnipresent Deity.

67. The knowledge of the known and the visible world, in the pure intellect of the unknown and invisible deity, resembles the view of the variegated skies, with their uncaused and insensible figures, in the causeless substratum of ever lasting and all pervading vacuity.

68. The knowledge of the phenomenal is the bondage of the soul, and the ignoring of this conduces to its liberation; do therefore as you like, either towards this or that (i.e. for your liberation and bondage).

69. The cognition and nescience of the world, are the causes of the bondage and liberation of the soul, and these again are productive of the transmigration and final emancipation of the animal spirit. It is by your indifference to them that you can avoid them both, do therefore as you may best choose for yourself. (Here are three things offered to view, namely, the desire of heaven and liberation, and the absence of all desires. [Sanskrit: svargakama mokshakamau nishkamashchatra yah]).

70. What is lost at its disappearance (as our friends and properties), is neither worth seeking or searching after, nor sorrowing for when it is lost and gone from us. That which is gained of itself in our calm and quiet without any anxiety or assiduity on our part, is truly reckoned to be our best gain. (so says the Moha-Mudgura:—Be content with what offers of itself to thee. [Sanskrit: yatvabhase nijakarnmipattam| bittam tena vinodaya chittam|]).

71. That which is no more than our knowledge of it (as the object of our senses and the objective world), is no right knowledge but mere fallacy; the true knowledge is that of the subjective consciousness, which is always to be attended to.

72. As the wave is the agitation of the water, so is this creation but an oscillation of the divine intellect; and this is the only difference between them, that the one is the production of the elements in nature, and the other is that of the divine will.

73. Again the undulation of waves occurs, in conjunction with the existing elements at certain spots and times; but the production of the world is wholly without the junction of the elemental bodies, which were not in existence at its creation. (It means to say, that the world is only an ideal formation of the divine mind).

74. The shining worlds shine with the light of the divine intellect, in which they are situated as the thoughts in its consciousness. It transcends the power of speech to define what it is, and yet it is expressed in the veda in the words that, "It is the supreme soul and perfect felicity" (Siva Paratma).

75. Thus the world is the form of its consciousness in the divine intellect, and they are not different from one another, as words are never separable from their senses. It is said that the world is the undulation of the Divine spirit, and none but the ignorant inveigh against, by saying that the wave and water are two different things. (Kalidasa in the commencement of Raghuvansa, uses the same simile of words and their meanings, to denote the intimate union of Parvati and Siva, which is done to express the inseparability of the world with its maker; corresponding with the well known line of Pope: "whose body nature is, and God the soul").