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 LXXIV - Account and admonition of bhagiratha

Argument:—Conduct and character of Bhagiratha, his private reflexion and the Instructions of his tutor.

Rama said:—

Please sir, to relate unto me, the wonderful narrative of prince Bhagiratha, how he succeeded to bring down the heavenly stream of Ganga on the earth below.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. The prince Bhagiratha was a personage of eminent virtues, and was distinguished as a crowning mark (Tilaka), over all countries of this terraqueous earth and its seas.

3. All his suitors received their desired boons, even without their asking; and their hearts were as gladdened at the sight of his moon-bright countenance, as were it at the sight of a precious and brilliant gem.

4. His charities were always profusely lavished upon all good people, for their maintenance and supportance; while he carefully collected even straws (for his revenue), and prized them as they were gems unto him. (i.e. He earned as he gave).

5. He was as bright in his person, as the blazing fire without its smoke, and was never weak even when he was tired in the discharge of his duties. He drove away poverty from the abodes of men, as the rising sun dispels the darkness of night from within their houses.

6. He spread all around him the effulgence of his valour, as the burning fire scatters about its sparks; and he burned as the blazing midday sun, among all his hostile bands.

7. Yet he was gentle and soft in the society of wisemen, and cooled their hearts with his cooling speech. He shone amidst the learned, as the moon-stone glistens under the moon light.

8. He decorated the world with its triple cord of the sacrificial thread, by stretching out the three streams of the Ganges, along the three regions of heaven, earth and infernal regions. (Hence Ganga is called the tripathaga or running in the trivium in heaven, earth and hell).

9. He filled the ocean that had been dried up by the sage Agastya, with the waters of Ganges; as the bounteous man fills the greedy beggar with his unbounded bounty.

10. This benefactor of mankind, redeemed his ancestral kinsmen from the infernal region (in which they were accursed by the indignant sage; and led them to the heaven of Brahma, by the passage of the sacred Ganga (which ran through the three worlds of heaven, earth and hell).

11. He overcame by his resolute perseverance, all his manifold obstacles and troubles, in his alternate propitiations of the god Brahma and Siva and the sage Jahnu, for their discharging the course of the stream. (The holy Ganga was first confined in Brahma's water pot, and then restricted in Hara's crown, and lastly locked up under Jahnu's seat, whence the river has the nickname of Jahnavi).

12. Though he was yet in the vigour of his youth, he seemed even then to feel the decay of age, coming fastly upon him, at his incessant thoughts on the miseries of human life.

13. His excogitation of the vanities of the world, produced in him a philosophical apathy to them; and this sang froid or cold heartedness of his in the prime of his youth, was like the shooting forth of a tender sprout on a sudden in a barren desert. (So great was the early abstractedness from the world, prized by the ancient Aryans, that many monarchs are mentioned to have became religious recluses in their youth).

14. The prince thought in his retired moments on the impropriety of his worldly conduct, and made the following reflections, on the daily duties of life in his silent soliloquy.

15. I see the return of day and night, in endless succession after one another; and I find the repetition of the same acts of giving and taking (receipts and disbursements), and lasting the same enjoyments, to have grown tedious and insipid to me. (So it was with Rasselas the prince of Abyssinia, who felt disgusted at the daily rotation of the same pleasures and enjoyments and one unvaried course of life).

16. I think that only to be worth my seeking and doing, which being obtained and done, there is nothing else to desire or do in this transitory life of troubles and cares.

17. Is it not shameful for a sensible being, to be employed in the same circuit of business every day, and is it not laughable to be doing and undoing the same thing, like silly boys day by day?

18. Being thus vexed with the world, and afraid of the consequence of his worldly course, Bhagiratha repaired in silence to the solitary cell of his preceptor Tritala, and bespoke to him in the following manner.

Bhagiratha said:—

19. My Lord! I am entirely tired and disgusted with the long course of my worldly career, which I find to be all hollow and empty within it, and presenting a vast wilderness without.

20. Tell me lord, how can I get over the miseries of this world, and get freed from my fear of death and disease and from the fetters of errors and passions, to which I am so fast enchained. (The Hindu mind is most sensible of the baneful effects of the primeval curse pronounced on man, and the accursedness of his posterity and of this earth for his sake; and is always in eager search of salvation, redemption or liberation from the same by mukti, moksha, and paritrana).

Tritala replied:—

21. It is to be effected by means of the continued evenness of one's disposition (obtained by his quadruple practice of devotion sadhana);the uninterrupted joyousness of his soul (arising from its communion with the Holy spirit); by his knowledge of the knowable true one, and by his self sufficiency in everything (tending to his perfection). (The quadruple devotion consists in one's attendance to holy lectures and in his understanding, reflection and practice of the same lessons, called the sadhana chatushtaya).

22. By these means the man is released from misery, his worldly bonds are relaxed, his doubts are dissipated, and all his actions tend to his well being in both worlds.

23. That which is called the knowable, is the pure soul of the nature of intelligence; it is always present in everything in all places and is eternal—having neither its rising or setting (i.e. its beginning or end). The animating soul of the world, is identified with the supreme and universal soul of God. The vedanta knows no duality of the animal and animating souls.

Bhagiratha rejoined:—

24. I know, O great sage! the pure intelligent soul to be perfectly calm and tranquil, undecaying and devoid of all attributes and qualities;and neither the embodied spirit, nor the animal soul, nor the indwelling principle of material bodies.

25. I cannot understand sir, how I can be that intelligence, when I am so full of errors, or if I be the selfsame soul, why is it not so manifest in me as the pure divine soul itself.

Tritala replied:—

26. It is by means of knowledge only, that the mind can know the truly knowable one in the sphere of one's own intellect, and then the animal soul finding itself as the all-pervading spirit, is released from future birth and transmigration. (The belief of the difference of one's soul from the eternal one, is the cause of his regeneration).

27. It is our unattachment to earthly relations, and unaccompaniment of our wives, children and other domestic concerns, together with the equanimity of our minds, in whatsoever is either advantageous or disadvantageous to us, that serve to widen the sphere of our souls and cause their universality.

28. It is also the union of our souls with the supreme spirit, and our continual communion with God; as also our seclusion from society and remaining in retirement that widen the scope of our souls.

29. It is the continued knowledge of spirituality, and insight into the sense of the unity and identity of God, which are said to constitute our true knowledge; all besides is mere ignorance and false knowledge.

30. It is the abatement of our love and hatred, that is the only remedy for our malady of worldliness; and it is the extinction of our egoistic feelings, that leads to the knowledge of truth.

31. Bhagiratha responded:—Tell me, O reverend sir, how is it possible for any body to get rid of his egoism, which is deep rooted in our constitution, and has grown as big with our bodies as lofty trees on mountain tops.

Tritala replied:—

32. All egoistic feelings subside of themselves under the abandonment of worldly desires, which is to be done by the very great efforts of fortitude, in our exercise of the virtues of self-abnegation and self-command, and by the expansion of our souls to universal benevolence.

33. We are so long subjected to the reign of our egoism, as we have not the courage to break down the painful prison house of shame at our poverty, and the fear at our exposure to the indignity of others. (Poverty is shameful to worldly people, but graceful to holy men).

34. If you can therefore renounce all your worldly possessions and remain unmoved in your mind (although in actual possession of them); you may then get rid of your egoism, and attain to the state of supreme bliss.

35. Bereft of all titular honors, and freed from the fear of falling into poverty (and its consequent indignity);being devoid of every endeavour of rising, and remaining as poor and powerless among invidious enemies; and rather living in contemptible beggary among them, without the egoistic pride of mind and vanity of the body; if you can thus remain in utter destitution of all, you are then greater than the greatest.