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 CXXIV - The story of the stag and the huntsman

Argument: Degradation of the divine soul of man to the state of the animal soul.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Know now that the Lord (Divine soul), stops to take upon itself of the nature of the living or animal soul, as a Brahman (by birth) assumes the character of a vile sudra for some mean purpose, by disregarding the purity of its original nature. (This is the degradation of the lordly and blissful soul, to the state of the sensitive animal soul, by reason of its meaner propensity).

2. There are two kinds of living beings, that come into existence in the beginning of the repeated creations; the one coming into existence without any causality, and are thence called to be causeless or uncaused (such as that is they are not made like pots and the like (ghatadi), by means of the instrumental causality of the potters wheel, stick &c.

3. Thus the soul emanating from the Divine, is subjected to various transmigrations, and becomes many kinds of beings (in succession), according to its previous acts and propensities. (Thus it is the tendency of the soul towards good or evil, that is the cause of its rise and fall or elevation or degradation).

4. All beings emanate originally without any cause, from the source of the divine essence; and then their actions become the secondary cause of continuous transmigrations (until the end of the world). (All souls are bound to their revolutions in repeated births, until their final extinction in the deity on the last day of resurrection, or by their prior liberation by mukti or nirvana).

5. The personal acts of men, are the causes both of their happiness as well as misery; and again the will which is produced by the conscious knowledge of one's self, becomes the cause of the action (i.e. the will proceeding from one's consciousness of himself, is the cause of his action, which again becomes the cause of his pleasure or pain as its result).

6. Now this will or desire of any action or fruition, being likewise the cause of one's bondage to this world, it is to be got rid of for his liberation from it; and this what they call moksha, is no more than our release from the bond of our desire. (Every wish enchains the soul to earth, and drags it along to repeated birth).

7. Be therefore careful to make your choice of what is right and proper, from whatever is wrong and improper; and try betimes to contract your wishes within the narrowest scale.

8. Do not let yourself to be possessor or possest of any thing or person, but give up thinking on anything, beside what remains after the thoughts of all other things. (i.e. Think alone of thine and the supreme soul, which remains in the absence of everything else).

9. Anything to which the senses are addicted at all times, serves to bind the soul the more that it has its zest for the same; as also to unbind and release the mind in proportion to the distaste which it bears to it. (i.e. Love a thing to be enslaved to it, and hate the same to be saved from it).

10. If there is anything which is pleasing to thy soul, know the same as thy binding string to the earth; if on the contrary thou findest nothing to thy liking here, you are then freed from the trammels of all the trifles on earth.

11. Therefore let nothing whatever tempt or beguile thy mind, to anything existent in either the animate or inanimate kind; and regard everything from a mean straw to a great idol as unworthy of thy regard.

12. Think not thyself to be either the doer or giver, or eater or offerer, of whatsoever thou doest or givest, or eatest or offerest in thy holy oblations of the Gods; but art quite aloof from all thy bodily actions, owing to the immaterial nature of thy self or soul.

13. Concern not thyself with thy past acts, or thy cares for future, over which thou hast no command; but discharge well thy present duties, as they are and come to thy hand.

14. All the feelings and passions of men, as their appetites, desires and the rest, are strung together with their hearts; and therefore it is requisite to sever these heart strings with the weapon of a brave and strong heart (because the feelings are fostered in weak hearts and minds only).

15. Now break your sensuous mind by the power of your reasoning mind, and restrain its rage of running into errors; as they break the iron pegs by force of iron hammers (and remove one thing by another of the same kind—similia similibus curantur.)

16. So intelligent men rub out one dirt by another, and remove one poison by another poisonous substance;and so do soldiers oppose one steel by a weapon of the same metal.

17. All living beings have a triple form, composed of the subtile, solid and the imperceptible spiritual bodies; now lay hold and rely on the last, in utter disregard of the two former.

18. The solid or gross body, is composed of the hands, feet and other members and limbs; and subsist in this nether world upon its subsistence of food only.

19. The living being has an intrinsic body also, which is derived from within; and is composed of all its wishes in the world, and is known as the mental or intellectual part of the body.

20. Know the third form to be the transcendental or spiritual body, which assumes all forms, and is the simple intellectual soul; which is without its beginning or end, and without any alteration in its nature.

21. This is the pure turya state, wherein you must remain steadfast as in that of your living liberation;and reject the two others, in which you must place no reliance.

Rama said:—

22. I have understood the three definite states, of waking, dreaming, and sound sleep, as they have been defined to me; but the fourth state of turya is yet left undefined, and I beg you to explain it clearly unto me.

Vasishtha answered said:—

23. It is that state of the mind, in which the feelings of one's egoism and non-egoism, and those of his existence and inexistence are utterly drowned under a total impassibility; and the mind is settled in one invariable and uniform tenor of tranquillity and transparency.

24. It is that state in which the selfish feelings of mine and thine, are altogether wanting; and in which one remains as a mere witness and spectator of the affairs of life. This is the turya state of living liberation. (It is the state of a philosopher who lives to see and philosophise and mix with nothing).

25. This is neither the state of waking, owing to its want of any wish or concern, nor it is the state of sound sleep, which is one of perfect insensibility.

26. It is that calmness in which the wise man sees every thing, to be going on in the world; and it is like the state of insensibility of the ignorant, in which they perceive no stir in the course of the world. (The calmness of the wise like the dullness of others is their turya also).

27. The evenness of the mind after subsidence of every jot of its egotism in it, like the setting of the turbid waters underneath, is the turya state of the insouciance of the soul.

28. Hear me relate to you an instance on this subject, which will confer as clear a light to your enlightened mind, as that of all seeing Gods.

29. It happened once that a huntsman, roaming for his prey in some part of a forest, chanced to see a sage sitting silent in his solitude; and thinking it as something strange, he accosted him saying:—

30. Have you seen, O sage, a wounded stag flying before me this way, with an arrow fixed in its back?

The sage replied:—

31. You ask me, where your stag has fled; but my friend, know that sages like ourselves and living in the forest, are as cool as blocks of stone (and insensible of every occurrence on earth).

32. We want that egoism which enables one, in conducting the transactions of the world; and know my friend, that it is the mind, which conducts all the actions of the senses. (All actions of the organs of senses being under the direction of the mind, as well as all sensible perceptions under its attention).

33. Know that the feeling of my egoism, has been long before dissolved in my mind; and I have no perception whatever of the three states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep. But I rest quiet in my fourth state of impossibility, wherein there is no vision of the visibles.

34. The huntsman heard these words of the sage, but being quite at a loss to comprehend its meaning, he departed to his own way without uttering a word.

35. I tell you therefore, O Rama, there is no other state beyond the fourth or turya quietism; it is that unalterable impassivity of the mind, which is not to be found in any other.

36. The waking, dreaming and sound sleep, are the three palpable conditions of the mind; and these are respectively the dark, quiet and insensible states, in which the mind is situated in this world.

37. The waking state presents us the dark complexion of the mind, for its susceptibility of all the passions and evils of life; and the sleeping state shows us its quiet aspect, for want of its cares and anxieties.

38. The state of sound sleep is one of insensibility, and the state beyond these three bears the feature of death in it. Yet this dead like figure possesses the principle of life in it, which is diligently preserved by yogis from harm and decay.

39. Now Rama, the soul which remains in its quiet rest, after its renunciation of all desire, is said by sages to be in the coma or cool calmness of itself, and the liberated state of the holy and devout yogi on earth.