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 II - Burning of the seeds of action for prevention of their vegetation

Argument:—Concerning the seeds and fruits of action, and the mode of their extirpation by the root.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. Think not of unity or duality, but remain quite calm and quiet in thy spirit and as cold hearted as the dank mud and mire, as the worlds are still with unstirred spirit of the divinity working in them. (This is a lesson of incessant work without any stir and bustle).

2. The mind with its understanding and egoism and all its thoughts, are full of the divine spirit in its diversified forms (vivarta-rupa); and time and its motion and all sound, force and action, together with all modes of existence, are but manifestations of the Divine Essence.

3. The Divine Spirit, being of the form of gelatinous mud (or plastic nature), all things with their forms and colours, and the mind and all its functions also, upon its own mould of endless shapes and types beyond the comprehension of men.

4. It is the Divine Essence which forms its own substance as upon a mould of clay, the patterns and forms and the shapes of all things, together with the measurements of space and time and the position of all the quarters and regions of the earth and heavens; so all things existent or inexistent, are the produce and privation of the formative mud and mould of the Divine Spirit.

5. Do you remain indifferent about the essence of your egoism and selfishness, which is no other than that of the Supreme Spirit; and live unconcerned with everything, like a dumb insect in the bosom of stone. (This is the Vajra-Kita, which perforates the salagram stone in the river Gandak in Bihar). (The dumbness of silent munis was occasioned by their inability to speak with certainty anything regarding the abstruse spiritual subjects).

Rama asked said:—

6. Sir, if the false knowledge of egoism and selfishness, be wanting in the wise and God knowing man, then how comes it, that the dereliction and renunciation of his duties, will entail any guilt or evil upon him, and his full observance of them, is attended with any degree of merit or reward? (This is the main question of the necessity of the observance of duteous and pious acts by the wise, which is after so long mooted by Rama, in continuation of the last subject under discussion).

Vasishtha replied:—

7. I will ask you also one question, O sinless Rama! and you should answer it soon, if you understand well what is rightly meant by the term duty and that of activity.

8. Tell me what is the root of action and how far it extends, and whether it is destructible at last or not, and how it is totally destroyed at the end.

Rama replied:—

9. Why sir, whatever is destructible must come to be destroyed at last, by means of the act of rooting it out at once, and not by the process of lopping the branches or cutting off the tree.

10. The acts of merit and demerit are both to be destroyed, together with their results of good and evil; and this is done by eradicating and extirpating them altogether.

11. Hear me tell you, sir, about the roots of our deeds, by the rooting out of which the trees of our actions are wholly extirpated, and are never to vegetate or grow forth any more.

12. I ween sir, the body of ours to be the tree of our action, and has grown out in the great garden of this world, and is girt with twining creepers of various kinds. (i.e. The members of the body).

13. Our past acts are the seeds of this tree, and our weal and woe are the fruits with which it is fraught; it is verdant with the verdure of youth for a while, and it smiles with its white blossoms of the grey hairs and the pale complexion of old age.

14. Destructive death lurks about this tree of the body every moment, as the light-legged monkey lights upon trees to break them down; it is engulphed in the womb of sleep, as the tree is overwhelmed under the mists of winter, and the flitting dreams are as the falling leaves of trees.

15. Old age is the autumn of life, and the decaying wishes are as the withered leaves of trees, and the wife and members of the family, are as thick as grass in the wilderness of the world.

16. The ruddy palms and soles of the hands and feet, and the other reddish parts of the body (as the tongue and lips), resemble the reddening leaves of this tree; which are continually moving in the air, with the marks of slender lines upon them.

17. The little reddish fingers with their flesh and bones, and covered by the thin skin and moving in the air, are as the tender shoots of the tree of the human body.

18. The soft and shining nails, which are set in rows with their rounded forms and sharpened ends, are like the moon-bright buds of flowers with their painted heads.

19. This tree of the body is the growth of the ripened seed of the past acts of men; and the organs of action are the knotty and crooked roots of this tree.

20. These organs of action are supported by the bony members of the body, and nourished by the sap of human food; they are fostered by our desires, resembling the pith and blood of the body.

21. Again the organs of sense supply those of action with their power of movement, or else the body with the lightness of all its members from head to foot, would not be actuated to action without the sensation of their motion. (Hence a dead or sleeping man having no sensation in him, has not the use or action of his limbs).

22. Though the five organs of sense, grow apart and at great distances from one another, like so many branches of this tree of the body; they are yet actuated by the desire of the heart, which supplies them with their sap.

23. The mind is the great trunk of this tree, which comprehends the three worlds in it, and is swollen with the sap which it derives from them through its five fold organs of sense; as the stem of a tree thrive with the juice it draws by the cellular fibres of its roots.

24. The living soul is the root of the mind, and having the intellect ingrained, it is always busy with its thoughts, which have the same intellect for their root; but the root of all these is the One Great Cause of all.

25. The intellect has the great Brahma, which has no cause of itself;and which having no designation or termination of it, is truth from the purity of its essence.

26. The consciousness of ourselves in our egoism, is the root of all our actions; and the internal thought of our personal entity is the root of our energy, and gives the impulse to all our actions. (Therefore as long as one has the knowledge of his personality, he is prone to action, and without it, every body is utterly inert).

27. It is our percipience, O Sage, which is said to be the source and root of our actions and whenever there is this principle in the mind, it causes the body to grow in the form of the big Sirsapatra. (It is the intellect which is both the living soul as well as its percipience).

28. When this percipience otherwise called consciousness (of the soul), is accompanied with the thoughts (of egoism and personality in the mind), it becomes the seed of action; otherwise mere consciousness of the self is the state of the supreme soul.

29. So also when the intellect is accompanied with its power of intellection, it becomes the source and seed of action; or else it is as calm and quiet as it is the nature of the Supreme soul. (The self-perception and pure intelligence, are attributes of the Divine soul, and not productive of action; but these in company with the operations of the mind, become the causes of the activity of both).

30. Therefore the knowledge of one's personality in his own person, is the cause of his action, and this causality of action, as I have said herein, is quite in conformity with your teachings to me.

Vasishtha said:—

31. Thus Rama, action in the discreet being based on the knowledge of one's personality; it is no way possible to avoid our activity, as long as the mind is situated in the body, and has the knowledge of its personality.

32. Whoever thinks of anything, sees the same both within as well as without himself; and whether it is in reality or not, yet the mind is possessed with chimera of it.

33. Again whoever thinks of nothing, verily escapes from the error of mistaking a chimera for reality; but whether the reality is a falsity, or the falsity of anything is a sober reality, is what we are not going to discuss about at present.

34. It is this thinking principle, which presents the shadow of something within us, and passes under the various designations of will or desire, the mind and its purpose likewise.

35. The mind resides in the bodies of both rational as well as irrational beings, and in both their waking and sleeping states; it is impossible therefore, to get rid of it by any body at any time.

36. It is neither the silence nor inactivity of a living body, that amounts to its refraining from action, so long as the mind is busy with its thoughts; but it is only the unmindfulness of the signification of the word action, that amounts to one's forbearance from acts.

37. It is the freedom of one's volition or choice either to do or not to do anything that is meant to make one's action or otherwise; therefore by avoiding your option in the doing of an act you avoid it altogether;otherwise there is no other means of avoiding the responsibility of the agent for his own acts; (except that they were done under the sense of compulsion and not of free choice. Gloss).

38. Nobody is deemed as the doer of an act, who does not do it by his deliberate choice; and the knowledge of the unreality of the world, leads to the ignoring of all action also. (If nothing is real, then our actions are unreal also).

39. The ignoring of the existence of the world, is what makes the renunciation of it; and the renunciation of all associations and connections, is tantamount to one's liberation from them. The knowledge of the knowable One, comprehends in it the knowledge of all that is to be known. (Because the One is all, and all existence is comprised in that only knowable One).

40. There being no such thing as production, there is no knowledge of anything whatever that is produced; abandon therefore your eagerness to know the knowable forms (of things), and have the knowledge of the only invisible One.

41. But there is no knowing whatever of the nature and actions of the quiescent spirit of Brahma, its action is its intellection only, which evolves itself in the form of an infinite vacuum (showing the shapes of all things as in a mirror).

42. "That utter insensibility is liberation," is well known to the learned as the teaching of the Veda; hence no one is exempted from action, as long as he lives with his sensible body.

43. Those who regard action as their duty, are never released from their subjection to the root (principle) of action; and this root is the consciousness of the concupiscent mind of its own actions. (The desire is the motive of actions, and the consciousness of one's deeds and doings, is the bondage of the soul. Or else a working man is liberated, provided he is devoid of desire and unmindful of his actions).

44. It is impossible, O Rama, to destroy this bodiless consciousness, without the weapon of a good understanding; it lies so very deep in the mind, that it continually nourishes the roots of action.

45. When by our great effort, we can nourish the seed of conscience, why then we should not be able to destroy the keen conscience by the same weapon that is effort.

46. In the same manner, we can destroy also the tree of the world with its roots and branches.

47. That One is only existent, which has no sensation and is no other than of the form of an endless vacuum; it is that unintelligible vacuous form and pure intelligence itself, which is the pith and substance of all existence.