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 XCI - Interpretation of the parable of the elephant

Argument:—Ignorance which is the cause of worldly desire, flies with loss of wishes.

Chudala continued:—

Hear me, O great prince! now explain to you the meaning of the story of the vindhyan elephant, which will be as useful as it will appear wonderful to you.

2. That elephant of the vindhyan range, is thy very self in this forest; and his two strong tusks are no other than the two virtues of reasoning and resignation, on which you lay your strength. (Viveka and vairagya i.e. reason and resignation are the most potent arms of men).

3. The hunter that was the enemy of the elephant and waylaid him in his free rambles, is the personification of that great ignorance, which hath laid hold of thee for thy misery only.

4. Even the strong is foiled by weak, and lead from one danger to another and from woe to woe; as the strong elephant was led to by the weak huntsman, and as you O mighty prince! are exposed by your imbecile ignorance in this forest.

5. As the mighty elephant was caught in the strong iron chain, so are you held fast in the snare of your desire (of a future reward); which has brought all this calamity on you.

6. The expectation of man is the iron chain, that is stronger and harder and more durable than the other; the iron rusts and wastes away in time, but our expectations rise high and hold us faster.

7. As it was in the hostility of the huntsman, that he marked the elephant by his remaining unseen in his hiding place, so thy ignorance which lurks after thee, marks thee for his prey from a distance.

8. As the elephant broke the bonds of the iron chains of his enemy, so have you broken asunder the ties of your peaceful reign and the bonds of your royalty and enjoyments.

9. It is sometimes possible, O pious prince! to break down the bonds of iron fetters; but is impossible, O holy prince, to put a stop to our growing desires and fond expectations.

10. As the huntsman that had caught the elephant in the trap, fell down himself from on high to the ground;so was thy ignorance also levelled to the ground, seeing thee deprived of thy royalty and all thy former dignity. (The pride and ignorance of a man sinks down with his misfortune).

11. When the man who is disgusted with the world, wants to relinquish his desire of enjoyment, he makes his ignorance tremble in himself, as the demon that dwells on a tree, quakes with fear when the tree is felled.

12. When the self-resigned man, remains devoid of his desire for temporal enjoyments; he bids farewell to his ignorance, which quits him as the demon departs from the fallen tree.

13. A man getting rid of his animal gratifications, demolishes the abode of his ignorance from the mind; as a woodcutter destroys the bird-nests of the tree, which he has sawn or cut down on the ground.

14. You have no doubt put down your ignorance, by your resignation of royalty and resorting to this forest; your mind is of course cast down by it, but it is not yet destroyed by the sword of your resignation. (A cast down or sunken spirit or mind is not really killed, but revives and lives again in time).

15. It rises again and gains renewed strength and minding its former defeat, it has at last over powered on you by confining you in this wilderness; and restraining you in the painful dungeon of your false asceticism.

16. If you can but now kill your fallen ignorance in any way, it will not be able to destroy you at once in your rigorous penance; though it has reduced you to this plight by your abdication of royalty.

17. The ditch that the huntsman had dug to circumvent the elephant, is verily this painful pit of austerity, which thy ignorance has scooped to enthral you in.

18. The many provisions and supplies with which the huntsman had filled the hollow, in order to entice the elephant; are the very many expectations of future reward, which your ignorance presents before you, as the recompense of your penitence.

19. O prince, though you are not the witless elephant (gaja-murkha); yet you are not unlike the same, by your being cast in this forest by your incorrigible ignorance.

20. The ditch of the elephant, was verily filled with the tender plants and leaves for the fodder of the elephant; but your cave is full of rigorous austerities, which no humanity can bear or tolerate.

21. You are still encaged in this prison house of the ascetic's cell, and doomed to undergo all the imaginative torments of your penance and martyrdom. You verily resemble the fallen Bali, that is confined in his subterranean cell.

22. You are no doubt the empty headed elephant, that art fast bound in the chain of false rigours, and incarcerated in this cave of your ignorance; thus I have given the full exposition of the parable of the elephant of Vindhyan mountain, and now glean the best lesson for thyself from this.