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 LXIX - Union of the mind with the breath of life

Argument: Willful existence of the attendants of Rudra, and the elevation of yogis after their Demise.

Rama said:—

1. Tell me, O chief of sages, how the Rudras came to be a hundred in their number, and whether the attendants of Rudra, are Rudras also or otherwise.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. The mendicant saw himself in a hundred forms in a hundred dreams, which he dreamt one after another; these I have told you on the whole before, though I have not specially mentioned them to you.

3. All the forms that he saw in the dream, became so many Rudras, and all these hundred Rudras remained as so many attendants on the principal Rudra.

Rama asked said:—

4. But how could the one mind of the mendicant, be divided into a hundred in so many bodies of the Rudras; or was it undivided like a lamp, that lightens a hundred lamps, without any diminution of its own light.

Vasishtha answered said:—

5. Know Rama, that disembodied or spiritual beings of pure natures, are capable of assuming to themselves any form of their fancy, from the aqueous nature of their souls (which readily unite with other liquids). (The Sruti says, "the soul is a fluid"; corresponding with the psychic fluid of Stahl).

6. The soul being omnipresent and all pervading (like the all diffusive psychic fluid); takes upon it any form whatever, and whenever and wherever it likes, by virtue of its intelligence: (which the ignorant spirit is unable to do).

Rama rejoined:—

7. But tell me Sir, why the Lord Rudra or Siva wore the string of human skulls about his neck, daubed his body with ashes, and stark naked; and why he dwelt in funeral ground, and was libidinous in the greatest degree.

Vasishtha replied:—

8. The Gods and perfect beings as the siddhas &c. are not bound down by the laws, which the weak and ignorant men have devised for their own convenience.

9. The ignorant cannot go on without the guidance of law, on account of their ungovernable minds; or else they are subject to every danger and fear, like poor fishes (which are quite helpless, and entirely at the mercy of all voracious animals).

10. Intelligent people are not exposed to those evils in life, as the ignorant people of ungoverned minds and passions, meet with by their restless and vagrant habits.

11. Wise men discharge their business as they occur to them at times, and never undertake to do any thing of their own accord, and are therefore exposed to no danger. (Graha in the text means a shark and calamities also).

12. It was on the impulse of the occasion that the God Vishnu, engaged himself in action, and so did the God with the three eyes (i.e. Siva), as also the God that was born of the lotus (i.e. The great Brahma). (All of them took human forms on them, whenever the Daityas invaded the Brahmans, and never of their own will).

13. The acts of wise men are neither to be praised or blamed nor are they praiseworthy or blameable; because they are never done from private or public motives (but on the expediency of the occasion).

14. As light and heat are the natural properties, of fire and sun shine; so are the actions of Siva and the Gods, ordained as such from the beginning, as the caste customs of the twice born dwijas (Aryans).

15. Though the natures of all mankind are the same, as they are ordained in the beginning; yet the ignorant have created differences among them, by institution of the distinction of castes and customs; and as their institutions are of their own making, they are subjected by them to the evils of future retribution and transmigration. (Men are bound down by their own laws, from which the brute creation is entirely free).

16. I have related to you, Rama! the quadruple reticence of embodied beings, and have not as yet expounded the nature of the silence of disembodied souls (as those of the Gods, siddhas and departed saints).

17. Hear now how men are to obtain this chief good (summum bonum) of theirs, by their knowledge of the intellectual souls in the clear sphere of their own intellect, which is clearer far than the etherial sphere of the sky.

18. It is by the knowledge of all kinds of knowledge, and constant devotion to meditation; and by the study of the numerical philosophy of particulars in the sankhya system, that men became renowned as sankhya yogis or categorical philosopher. (The sankhya is opposed to the Vedanta, in as much as it rises from particulars to general truths).

19. The yoga consists in the meditation of Yogis, of the form of the eternal and undecaying One; by suppression of their breathings, and union with that state, which presents itself to their mind.

20. That unfeigned and undisguised state of felicity and tranquillity, which is desired as the most desirable thing by all, is obtainable by some by means of the sankhya Yoga, and by the jnana Yoga by others.

21. The result of both these forms of Yoga, is the same, and this is known to anybody that has felt the same;because the state arrived at by the one, is alike to that of the other also.

22. And this supreme state is one, in which the actions of the mental faculties and vital breath, are altogether imperceptible; and the network of desires is entirely dispersed.

23. The desire constitutes the mind, which again is the cause of creation; it is therefore by the destruction of both of these, that one becomes motionless and inactive. (Forgets himself to a stone. Pope).

24. The mind forgets its inward soul, and never looks towards it for a moment; it is solely occupied with its body, and looks at the phantom of the body, as a child looks at a ghost. (Thinking it a reality).

25. The mind itself is a false apparition, and an unsubstantial appearance of our mistake; and shows itself as the death of some body in his dream, which is found to be false upon his waking.

26. The world is the production of the mind, else what am I and who is mine or my offspring; it is custom and our education that have caused the bugbears of our bondage and liberation, which are nothing in reality.

27. There is one thing however, on which is based the bias of both systems; that it is the suppression of breath, and the restriction of mind, which form the sum and substance of what they call their liberation.

Rama rejoined:—

28. Now sir, if it is suppression which constitutes the liberation of these men;then I may as well say that all dead men are liberated, as well as all dead animals also.

Vasishtha replied:—

29. Of the three practices of the restriction of the breath, body and mind, I ween the repression of the mind and its thoughts to be the best; because it is easily practicable and I will tell you how it is to be done to our good.

30. When the vital breaths of the liberated souls, quit this mortal frame; it perceives the same in itself, and flies in the shape of a particle in the open sky, and mixes at last with etherial air.

31. The parting soul accompanies with its tanmatras or elementary principles; which comprise the desires of its mind, and which are closely united with breath, and nothing besides.

32. As the vital breath quits one body to enter into another, so it carries with it the desires of the heart, with which it was in the breast of man, as the winds of the air bear the fragrance of flowers. These are reproduced in the future body for its misery only.

33. As a water pot thrown in the sea, does not lose its water, so the vital breath mixing with the etherial air, does not lose the desires of the mind, which it bears with it. They are as closely united with it, as the sun-beams with the sun.

34. The mind cannot be separated from the vital breath (i.e. the desires are inseparable from life), without the aid of the knowledge;and as the bird Titteri cannot be removed from one nest without an other (so the soul never passes from one body without finding and entering into another).

35. Knowledge removes the desires, and the disappearance of desires destroys the mind; this produces the suppression of breath, and thence proceeds the tranquillity of the soul.

36. Knowledge shows us the unreality of things, and the vanity of human desires. Hence know O Rama, that the extinction of desires, brings on the destruction of both the mind and vitality.

37. The mind being with its desires, which form its soul and life, it can no more see the body in which it took so much delight;and then the tranquil soul attains its holiest state.

38. The mind is another name for desire, and this extirpated and wanting, the soul comes to the discrimination of truth, which leads to the knowledge of the supreme.

39. In this manner, O Rama, we came to the end of our erroneous knowledge of the world, as it is by means of our reason, that we come to detect our error of the snake in the rope.

40. Learn this one lesson, that the restraining of the mind and suppression of breath, mean the one and same thing; and if you succeed in restraining the one, you succeed in the restraint of other also. (So it is said, that our thoughts and respirations go together).

41. As the waving of the palm leaved fan being stopped, there is a stop of the ventilation of air in the room; so the respiration of the vital breath being put to a stop, there ensues a total stoppage of the succession of our thoughts. (It is believed that our time is measured by succession of our breath and thoughts ajapas, and the more are they suppressed, the greater is the duration of our life prolonged).

42. The body being destroyed, the breath passes into the vacuous air;where it sees everything according to the desires, which it has wafted along with it, from the cells of the heart and mind.

43. As the living souls find the bodies (of various animals) in which they are embodied, and act according to their different natures; so the departed and disembodied spirits—pranas, see many forms and figures presented before them, according to their several desires. They enter into the same, and act agreeably to the nature of that being.

44. As the fragrance of flowers ceases to be diffused in the air, when the breezes have ceased to blow; so the vital breath, ceases to breathe, when the action of the mind is at a stop. (Hence is the concentration of the mind, to one object only strongly enjoyed in the yoga practice).[1]

45. Hence the course of the thoughts, and respiration of all animals, is known too closely united with one another; as the fragrance is inseparable from the flower, and the oil from the oily seeds.

46. The breath is vacillation of the mind, as the mind is the fluctuation of the breath; and these two go together for ever, as the chariot and its charioteer.

47. These perish together without the assemblage of one another, as the container and the contained are both lost at the loss of either (like that of the fire and its heat). Therefore it is better to lose them for the liberation of the soul, than losing the soul for the sake of the body.

48. Keeping only one object or the unity in view will stop the course of the mind; and the mind being stopped, there will follow as a matter of course, an utter suppression of the breath as its consequence.

49. Investigate well into the truth of the immortality of thy soul, and try to assimilate thyself into the eternal spirit of God; and having absorbed thy mind in the divine mind, be one with the same.

50. Distinguish between thy knowledge and ignorance, and lay hold on what is more expedient for you; settle yourself on what remains after disappearance of both, and live while you live relying on the Intellect alone.

51. Continue to meditate on the existence of all things in one firm and ever existent entity alone, until by your constant habit of thinking so, you find all outward existence disappear into non existence (and present the form of the self-existent only to view).

52. The minds of the abstinent are mortified, with their bodies and vitality, for want of food and enjoyments; and then there remains the consciousness of the transcendent one alone.

53. When the mind is of one even tenor, and is habituated to it by its constant practice; it will put an end to the thought of the endless varieties and particulars, which will naturally disappear of themselves.

54. There is an end of our ignorance and delusion (avidya), as we attempt to the words of wisdom and reason;we gain our best knowledge by learning, but it is by practice alone, that we can have the object of our knowledge.

55. The mirage of the world will cease to exist, after the mind has become calm and quiet in itself; as the darkness of the sky is dispersed, upon disappearance of the raining clouds.

56. Know your mind alone as the cause of your delusion, and strive therefore to weaken its force and action;but you must not Rama! weaken it so much, as to lose the sight of the supreme spirit, which shines as the soul of the mind.

57. When the mind is settled with the supreme soul for a moment, know that to be the mature state of thy mind, and will soon yield the sweets of its ripeness.

58. Whether you have your tranquillity, by the Sankhya or Vedanta Yoga; it is both the same if you can reduce yourself to the supreme soul; and by doing so for a moment, you are no more to be reborn in this nether world.

59. The word divine essence, means the mind devoid of its ignorance; and which like a fried seed is unable to reproduce the arbor of the world, and has no interruption in its meditation of God.

60. The mind that is devoid of ignorance, and freed from its desires, and is settled in its pure essence; comes to see in an instant, a full blaze of light filling the sphere of the firmament in which it rests and which absorbs it quite.

61. The mind is said to be its pure essence, which is insensible of itself, and settled in the supreme soul; it never relapses into the foulness of its nature, as the copper which is mixed with gold, never becomes dirty again.

Footnotes and references:



Swedenborg saw the intimate connection between thought and vital life. He says:—Thought commences with respiration. The reader has before attended to the presence of heaving over the body; now let him feel his thoughts, and he will see that they too heave with the mass. When he entertains a long thought, he draws a long breath, when he thinks quickly, his breath vibrates with rapid alternations; when the tempest of anger shakes his mind, his breath is tumultuous; when his soul is deep and tranquil, so is his respiration;when success inflates him, his lungs are as timid as his concepts. Let him make trial of the accuracy, let him endeavour to think in long stretches, at the same time that he breathes in fits, and he will find that it is impossible;that in this case the chopping will needs mince his thoughts. Now this mind dwells in the brains, and it is the brain, therefore, which spares the varying fortunes of the breathing. It is strange that this correspondence between the states of the brain or mind and the lungs has not been admitted in science, for it holds in every case, at every moment. "He says moreover—Inward thoughts have inward breaths, and purer spiritual thoughts have spiritual breaths hardly mixed with material."

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See Col. Olcott's Yoga Philosophy Page 283.]