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 LXXX - Display of the quintuple elements

Argument:—Description of the five siddhis or modes of consummation.

Vasishtha related:—

Hearing these words of the beauteous lady, her husband had not the wit to dive into the meaning of what she said, or to understand what she meant by her reliance in the soul, but jestingly told to her.

Sikhidvaja said:—

2. How incongruous is thy speech, and how unbecoming it is to thy age, that being but a girl you speak of great things, go on indulging your regal pleasures and sports as you do in your royal state.

3. Leaving all things you live in the meditation of a nothing (i.e. leaving all formal worship, you adore a formless Deity); and if you have all what is real to sense, how is it possible for you to be so graceful with an unreal nothing? (Nothing is nothing, and can effect nothing).

4. Whoso abandons the enjoyments of life, by saying he can do without them; is like an angry man refraining from his food and rest for a while, and then weakens himself in his hunger and restlessness, and can never retain the gracefulness of his person.

5. He who abstains from pleasures and enjoyments, and subsists upon empty air, is as a ghost devoid of a material form and figure, and lives a bodiless shadow in the sky.

6. He that abandons his food and raiment, his bedstead and sleep, and all things besides; and remains devoutly reclined in one soul only, cannot possibly preserve the calmness of his person. (The yogis are emaciated in their bodies, and never look so fresh and plump as the princess).

7. That I am not the body nor bodiless, that I am nothing yet everything; are words so contradictory, that they bespeak no sane understanding.

8. Again the saying, that I do not see what I see, but see something that is quite unseen; is so very inconsistent in itself, that it indicates no sanity of the mind.

9. From these I find thee an ignorant and unsteady lass still, and my frolicsome playmate as before; it is by way of jest that I speak so to you, as you jestingly said these things to me.

10. The prince finished his speech with a loud laughter, and finding it was the noon time of going to bath, he rose up and left the apartment of his lady.

11. At this the princess thought with regret in herself and said, O fie! that the prince has quite misunderstood my meaning, and has not understood what I meant to say by my rest in the spirit, she then turned to her usual duties of the day.

12. Since then the happy princess continued in her silent meditation in her retired seclusion, but passed her time in the company of the prince in the enjoyments of their royal sports and amusements.

13. It came to pass one day, that the self-satisfied princess pondered in her mind, upon the method of flying in the air;and though she was void of every desire in her heart, wished to soar into the sky on an aerial journey.

14. She then retired to a secluded spot, and there continued to contemplate about her aerial journey by abstaining from her food, and shunning the society of her comrades and companions. (During the absence of the prince from home. Gloss).

15. She sat alone in her retirement keeping her body steadily on her seat, and restraining her upheaving breath in the midst of her eye-brows (this is called the Khechari mudra or the posture of aerial journey).

16. Rama asked:—All motions of bodies in this world whether of moving or unmoving things, are seen to take place by means of the action of their bodies and the impulse of their breathing; how is it possible then to rise upwards by restraint of both of them at once?

17. Tell me sir; by what exercise of breathing or the force of oscillation, one attempts the power of volitation; and in consequence of which he is enabled to make his aerial journey (as an aeronaut).

18. Tell me how the adept in spirituality or yoga philosophy, succeeds to attend his consummation in this respect, and what processes he resorts to to obtain this end of his arduous practice.

Vasishtha replied:—

19. There are three ways, Rama, of attaining the end of one's object, namely; the upadeya or effort for obtaining the object of pursuit; second, heya or disdain or detestation of the thing sought for; and the third is upeksha or indifference to the object of desire. (These technical terms answer the words positive, negative and neutrality in western terminology, all which answer the same end; such as the having, not having of and unconcernedness about a thing, are attended with the same result of rest and content to everybody).

20. The first or attainment of the desirable upadeya, is secured by employing the means for its success, the second heya or detestation hates and slights the thing altogether; and the third or indifference is the intermediate way between the two (in which one is equally pleased with its gain or loss. It is a curious dogma, that the positive, negative and the intermediate tend all to the same end).

21. Whatever is pleasable is sought after by all good people, and anything that is contrary to this (i.e. painful), is avoided by every one; and the intermediate one is neither sought nor shunned by any body. (Pleasure is either immediate or mediate, as also that which keeps or wards off pain at present or in future).

22. But no sooner doth the intelligent, learned devotee, come to the knowledge of his soul and become spiritualized in himself, than all these three states vanished from his sight, and he feels them all the same to him.

23. As he comes to see these worlds full with the presence of God, and his intellect takes its delight in this thought, he then remains in the midmost state of indifference or loses sight of that also.

24. All wise men remain in the course of neutrality (knowing that an eternal fate overrules all human endeavours), which the ignorant are in eager pursuit of their objects in vain, but the dispassionate and recluse shun every thing (finding the same satisfaction in having of a thing as in its want). Hear me now tell you the ways to consummation.

25. All success is obtained in course of proper time, place, action and its instruments (called the quadruple instrumentalities to success); and this gladdens the hearts of a person, as the vernal season renovates the earth.

26. Among these four, preference is given to actions, because it is of highest importance in the bringing about of consummation. (The place of success siddhi is a holy spot, its time—a happy conjunction of planets and events, action is the intensity of practice, and its instruments are yoga, yantra, tantra, mantra, japa &c.).

27. There are many instruments of aerostation, such as the use of Gutika pills, application of collyrium, the wielding of sword and the like; but all these are attended with many evils, which are prejudicial to holiness.

28. There are some gems and drugs, as also some mantras or mystic syllables, and likewise some charms and formulas prescribed for this purpose; but these being fully explained, will be found prejudicial to holy yoga. (These magical practices and artifices are violations of the rules of righteousness).

29. The mount Meru and Himalaya, and some sacred spots and holy places, are mentioned as the seats of divine inspiration; but a full description of them, will tend to the violation of holy meditation or yoga. (Because all these places are full of false yogis, who practice many fulsome arts for their gain).

30. Therefore hear me now relate unto you, something regarding the practice of restraining the breath, which is attended with its consequence of consummation; and is related with the narrative of Sikhidvaja, and is the subject of the present discourse. (Here Vasishtha treats of the efficacy of the regulation of breath towards the attaining of consummation for satisfaction of Rama, in disregard of false and artificial practices).

31. It is by driving away all desires from the heart, beside the only object in view, and by contracting all the orifices of the body;as also by keeping the stature, the head and neck erect, that one should attend the practices enjoined by the yoga sastra (namely: fixing the sight on the top of the nose and concentrating it between the eye-brows and the like).

32. Moreover it is by the habit of taking pure food and sitting on clean seats, that one should ponder into the deep sense and sayings of the sastras, and continue in the course of good manners and right conduct in the society of the virtues, by refraining from worldliness and all earthly connections.

33. It is also by refraining from anger and avarice, and abstaining from improper food and enjoyments, that one must be accustomed to constrain his breathings in the course of a long time.

34. The wise man that knows the truth, and has his command over his triple breathings of inspiration, expiration and retention (puraka, rechaka and kumbhaka), has all his actions under his control, as a master has all his servants under his complete subjection. (because breath is life, and the life has command over all the bodily actions, as well as mental operations of a person).

35. Know Rama, that all the well being of a man being under the command of his vital breath; it is equally possible for every one, both to gain his sovereignty on earth, as also to secure his liberation for the future by means of his breath. (So says the proverb, "as long as there is breath, there every hope with it"[Sanskrit: yabat shusah tabat ashah] So in Hindi:—jan hai to Jehan hai i.e. the life is all in all &c. So it is said in regard to the kumbhaka or retentive breath, "repress your breath and you repress all," because every action is done by the repression of the breath).

36. The breath circulates through the inner lung of the breast, which encircles the entrails (antra) of the whole inner frame; it supplies all the arteries with life, and is joined to by all the intestines in the body as if they to that common channel.

37. There is the curved artery resembling the disc at the top of lute, and the eddy of waters in the sea; it likens the curved half of the letter Om, and is situated as a cypher or circlet in the base or lower most gland. (It is called the kundalini or kula kundalini narhi in the original).

38. It is deep seated at the base of the bodies of the Gods and demi Gods, of men and beasts, of fishes and fowls, of insects and worms, and of all aquatic molluscs and animals at large.

39. It continues curved and curbed in the form of a folded snake in winter, until it unfolds its twisted form under the summer heat (or the intestinal heat of its hunger Jatharagni), and lifts its hood likening the disk of the moon. (The moon in the yoga sastra, means the loti-form gland under the upper most crown of the head).

40. It extends from the lower base, and passing through the cavity of the heart, touches the holes between the eye brows; and remains in its continued vibration by the wind of the breath.

41. In the midst of that curvilineal artery (kundalini narhi), there dwells a mighty power like the pith within the soft cell of the plantain tree, which is continually vibrating, like thrilling wires of the Indian lute (or as the pendulum of a machine).

42. This is called the curvilineal artery (kundalini) on account of its curviform shape, and the power residing in it is that prime mobile force, which sets to motion all the parts and powers of the animal body.

43. It is incessantly breathing like hissing of an infuriate snake and with its open mouths, it keeps continually blowing upwards, in order to give force to all the organs.

44. When the vital breath enters into the heart, and is drawn in by the curved Kundalini; it then produces the consciousness of the mind, which is the ground of the seeds of all its faculties.

45. As the Kundalini thrills in the body, in the manner of a bee fluttering over a flower; so doth our consciousness throb in the mind, and has the perception of the nice and delicate sensations. (Such as the lungs and arteries receive the crude food and drink; so doth our consciousness perceive their various tastes and flavour).

46. The Kundalini artery stirs as quickly to grasp its gross objects, as our consciousness is roused at the perception of the object of the finer senses of sight &c. These come in contact with one another, as an instrument lays hold of some material.

47. All the veins in the body are connected with this grand artery, and flow together like so many cellular vessels into the cavity of the heart, where they rise and fall like rivers in the sea. (It shows the concentration of blood in the heart by all the veins and arteries, and its distribution to them in perpetual succession, to have been long known to the sages of India, before its discovery by Harvey in Europe).

48. From the continued rise and fall (or heaving and sinking) of this artery, it is said to be the common root or source of all the sensations and perceptions in the consciousness. (It rises and falls with the inhaling and exhaling breaths up to the pericranium and thence down to the fundament).

49. Rama regained:—How is it sir, that our consciousness coming from the infinite intellect at all times and places, is confined like a minute particle of matter, in the cellular vessel of the curved Kundalini artery, and there it rises and falls by turns.

Vasishtha replied:—

50. It is true, O sinless Rama, that consciousness is the property of the infinite intellect, and is always present in all places and things with the all pervading intellect; yet it is sometimes compressed in the form of a minute atom of matter in material and finite bodies.

51. The consciousness of the infinite intellect, is of course as infinite as infinity itself; but being confined in corporeal bodies, it is fused as a fluid to diffuse over a small space. So the sunshine that lightens the universe, appears to flush over a wall or any circumscribed place. (Such as human consciousness, which is but a flush of the Divine omniscience).

52. In some bodies it is altogether lost, as in mineral substances which are unconscious of their own existence; and in others it is fully developed, as in the Gods and human species; while in some it is imperfectly developed, as in the vegetable creation, and in others it appears in its perverted form, as in the inferior animals. So everything is found to have its consciousness in some form or other.

53. Hear me moreover to explain you, the manner in which consciousness (or other), appears in its various forms and degrees, in the different bodies of animated beings.

54. As all cavities and empty spaces are comprised under the term air, so are all intelligent as well as unintelligent beings comprehended under the general category of the one ever existent intellect, which pervades all things in the manner of vacuum. (Here is another proof of the vacuistic theory of the theosophy of Vasishtha).

55. The same undecaying and unchanging entity of the intellect, is situated some where in the manner of pure consciousness, and elsewhere in the form of the subtile form of the quintuple elements. (i.e. As the simple soul and the gross body or the mundane soul. So says Pope:Whose body nature is, and God the soul).

56. This quintuple element of consciousness is reduplicate into many other quintuples, as a great many lamps are lighted from one lamp; these are the five vital airs, the mind and its five fold faculties of the understanding; the five internal and the five external senses and their five fold organs, together with the five elementary bodies; and all having the principles of their growth, rise and decay, as also their states of waking, dreaming and sleeping ingrained in them.

57. All these quintuples abide in the different bodies of the Gods and mortals, according to their respective natures and inclinations (which are the causes of their past and present and future lives in different forms).

58. Some taking the forms of places, and others of the things situated in them; while some take the forms of minerals, and others of the animals dwelling on earth.

59. Thus is this world the production of the action of the said quintuples, having the principle of intellectual consciousness, presiding over the whole and every part of it.

60. It is the union of these quintuples in gross bodies, that gives them their intelligence; hence we see the mobility of some dull material bodies, as also the immobility of others (as of mineral and vegetable creations).

61. As the wave of the sea is seen to roll in one place, and to be dull and at a lull in another; so is this intellectual power in full force in some bodies, and quite quiescent in others.

62. As the sea is calm and still in one place, and quite boisterous in another; so is the quintuple body either in motion or at rest in different places. (Hence rest and motion are properties of gross bodies and not of the intellectual soul, which is ever quiescent).

63. The quintuple body is mobile by means of the vital airs, and the vital life (jiva) is intelligent by cause of its intelligence; the rocks are devoid of both, but the trees have their sensibility by reason of their being moved by the breath of winds; and such is the nature of the triple creation of animals, minerals and vegetables.

64. Different words are used to denote the different natures of things (or else the same word is used for things of the same kind);thus fire is the general name for heat, and frost is that of coldness in general.

65. (Or if it is not the difference in the disposition of the quintuple elements in bodies, that causes the difference in their natures and names). It is the difference in the desires of the mind, which by being matured in time, dispose the quintuple elements in the forms of their liking.

66. The various desires of the mind, that run in their divers directions, are capable of being collected together by the sapient, and employed in the way of their best advantage and well being.

67. The desires of men tending either to their good or evil, are capable of being roused or suppressed, and employed to their purposes by turns. (The changeful desires always run in their several courses).

68. Man must direct his desires to that way, which promises him the objects of his desires; or else it will be as fruitless, as his throwing the dust at the face of the sky.

69. The great mountains are but heaps of the pentuples, hanging on the tender and slender blade of consciousness, and these moving and unmoving bodies, appear as worms on the tree of knowledge (i.e. before the intelligent mind).

70. There are some beings with their desires lying dormant in them, as the unmoving vegetable and mineral productions of the earth; while there are others with their ever wakeful desires, as the deities, daityas and men.

71. Some are cloyed with their desires, as the worms and insects in the dirt; and others are devoid of their desires as the emancipate yogis, and the heirs of salvation.

72. Now every man is conscious in himself of his having the mind and understanding, and being joined with his hands, feet and other members of his body, formed by the assemblage of the quintuple materials.

73. The inferior animals have other senses, with other members of their bodies; and so the immoveables also have some kind of sensibility, with other sorts of their organs. (The members of brute bodies are, the four feet, horns and tails of quadrupeds; the birds are biped and have their feathers, bills and their tails also; the snakes have their hoods and tails;the worms have their teeth, and the insects their stings &c. And all these they have agreeably to the peculiar desire of their particular natures. Gloss).

74. Thus my good Rama! do these quintuple elements, display themselves in these different forms in the beginning, middle and end of all sensible and insensible and moving and unmoving beings.

75. The slightest desire of any of these, be it as minute as an atom, becomes the seed of aerial trees producing the fruits of future births in the forms of the desired objects. (Every one's desire is the root of his future fate).

76. The organs of sense are the flowers of this tree (of the body), and the sensations of their objects are as the fragrance of those flowers, our wishes are as the bees fluttering about the pistils and filaments of our fickle efforts and exertions.

77. The clear heavens are the hairy tufts, resting on the stalks of the lofty mountains; its leaves are the cerulean clouds of the sky, and the ten sides of the firmament, are as the straggling creepers stretching all about it.

78. All beings now in being, and those coming into existence in future, are innumerable in their number, and are as the fruits of this tree, growing and blooming and falling off by turns.

79. The five seeds of these trees, grow and perish of their own nature and spontaneity, also perish of themselves in their proper time.

80. They become many from their sameness, and come to exhaust their powers after long inertness; and then subside to rest of their own accord like the heaving waves of the ocean.

81. On one side, there swelling as huge surges, and on the other sinking low below the deep, excited by the heat of the dullness on the one hand, and hushed by the coolness of reason on the other (like the puffing and bursting of the waves in the sea).

82. These multitudes of bodies, that are the toys or play things of the quintuple essences, are destined to remain and rove for ever in this world, unless they come under the dominion of reason, and are freed from further transmigration.