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 LXXXIX - The parable of an elephant

Argument:—Freedom of the Incarcerated Elephant; and his falling again into the Pit.

Chudala said:—

1. Hear O holy hermit! another very interesting story of mine, which well applies to your case; as the ruler of a land and to serve to awaken your understandings: (from its present theory).

2. There lived a large elephant in the Vindhya mountains, which was the head and leader of a great number of elephants; and had as clear an understanding in its big and elevated head, as the lofty summit of the mountain was humbled down at the bidding of Agastya—the sage. (Agastya is recorded as the first Aryan emigrant, who crossed the Vindhya and settled in southern India, and civilized the wild mountainous and rude people of Deccan by his wise law and instructions).

3. His two tusks were as strong as the thunderbolts of heaven, and as long and stunning as the far reaching flashes of lightning;they were as destructive as the flames of final desolation (kalpanta), and as piercing as to bore and uproot a mountain.

4. He came to be caught by an iron trap laid by elephant catchers in his way, and was fast held in it as the Vindhya by the Muni's charm;and as the giant Bali was bound in the chains of India. (Vindhya and its people were spell bound by the Agastya sage).

5. The captive and patient elephant was tormented by the iron goad in his proboscis, and suffered the excruciating pains of his torture; like the Tripura giant under the burning fire of Hara. (Siva is called Tripura-hara for his quelling that giant by his fire arms).

6. The elephant lay in this sad plight in the net for three days together, and was thus watched over by his hunter for a distance. (See the paper of elephant catching in the Asiatic Researches).

7. The great suffering of the elephant made him open his mouth widely, and utter a loud scream that growled about like the loud noise of roaring clouds.

8. Then he exerted the force of both his tusks, and succeeded thereby to break asunder the iron bar; as the Titan of old, broke open the bolts at the gate of heaven.

9. The hunter saw the breaking of his hard fetters by the infuriate beast from a distance, as Hara beheld the breaking of the demon Bali (Belos) from his subterranean cell beneath the mountain, in order to invade his heaven on high.

10. The elephant catcher then mounted a tall tala (palm) tree, and leaped from its top in order to fall down on its head; but haplessly he fell down on the ground, as the demon was hurled down to hell by victorious Hara.

11. The hunter missed the head of the huge animal, and fell headlong upon his legs on the ground; as a ripe fruit, is dropped down by the hurrying winds.

12. The great elephant took pity in seeing him falling, and lying prostrate before him; as the mind of the noble, is compassionate on others even in their own piteous state.

13. The noble animal thought in his mind, that it was no valour on his part to trample over the self-fallen; and had thus the magnanimity of sparing the life of his own enemy.

14. He broke only the chains in two pieces, and took his way before him; leaving away all obstacles and barriers, as the rushing waters bear down the strongest bridge.

15. His strength broke the strong net, but his piety spared the life of the weak man; he went off as the sun sets, after dispelling the evening clouds.

16. The hunter rose up from the ground after he saw the elephant had gone away; and he found himself to be as same and sound after his fall as he had been before it; and as the elephant was relieved from his pains, after his liberation from the chains.

17. Notwithstanding with great shock which the man had felt by his fall from the tall palm tree, he felt no hurt with any part of his body; whence I ween, the bodies of scoundrels are fortified against every harm.

18. The wicked gain greater strength by execution of their repeated crimes, as the rainy clouds gather the more by their frequent showers. Thus the hunter went after his fresh excursion.

19. The elephant catcher felt very sorry, at the escape of the elephant and unsuccessfulness of his attempt; as one in dejected mind, is to lose a treasure that has fallen into his hand.

20. He sought about and beat the forest, to find out the hiding elephant amidst the thickets; as the ascending node of Rahu rises in the sky, to lay hold on the moon covered under the clouds.

21. After a long search, he came in sight of the elephant halting under a tree; as when a warrior returns from the battlefield, and breathes the air under a shady arbour.

22. The cunning huntsman collected a great many tools, capable to entrap the elephant at his resting place.

23. He dug a circular ditch round about that place in the forest, as the great creator of the world had stretched the ocean encircling this earth.

24. He then covered the great pit, with green branches and soft leaves of trees; as the season of autumn covers the face of the empty sky with fleecy and flimsy clouds.

25. The elephant roaming at large in the forest, happened to fall down into the pit one day; as the fragment of a rock on the coast, falls headlong on the dried bed of the sea.

26. The big elephant was thus caught in the circular pit, which was as deep as the dreadful depth of the sea; and lay confined in it, as some treasure is shut up in the hollow womb of a chest.

27. Being thus confined at the bottom of that far extending pit, still passes his time in endless trouble and anxiety; like the demon Bali in his dark cave under the grounds.

28. This is the effect of the silly elephants, letting unhurt his cruel hunter who had fallen ere long before him; or else he would not be thus pent up in the pit, if he made an end of him in time.

29. Hence all foolish people that had not foresight to prevent their future mishaps, and provide against their coming mischances by their precautions at present, are surely to be exposed like the calamity as the vindhyan elephant. (Hence all unforeseeing men are designated as gaja murkha or elephantine fools).

30. The elephant was glad with the thought of his freedom from the hunter's chains, and thought no more of any future mishap; which was the sole cause of his being by another mischance, which lay at a long distance from him.

31. Know, O great soul! that there is no bondage of man except his own ignorance; and the jail prisoners are not under such thraldom, as the intellectual servitude of freemen under their errors and prejudice. The enlightenment of the soul and the knowledge of the cosmos as one universal soul, is the greatest freedom of man; while the ignorance of this truth, is the root of the slavery of mankind to the errors of this world.