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 XVIII - Description of the universal sphere

Argument:—How material world is framed by intellect, its formation and destruction, one by reminiscence and the other by forgetfulness.

Vasishtha related:—

There is never and nowhere an absolute death or total dissolution of the body together with the mind, soul and egoism;but it is the cessation of the inward imagery of the mind, that is called its quietus.

2. Look at these sights of the Meru and Mandara Mountains, which are born before thy presence; they are not carried to and fro to every body, but are reflected in the minds of all like the flying clouds of autumn in the water of a river.

3. These creations are placed over and above and below and under one another, like the coatings of a plantain tree; and they are either in contact with or detached from one another like clouds in the sky.

Rama said:—

4. Sir, I do not fully comprehend the sound sense of what you say by the words "Look at these flying sights" and therefore I beg to you to explain this clearly unto me.

Vasishtha replied:—

5. Know Rama, that the life contains the mind, and the mind is the container of the worlds within it; as there are various kinds of trees and their several parts, contained in the bosom of a small berry. (And this is meant by one thing being contained within another).

6. After a man is dead, his vital airs fly to and unite with the etherial air; as the liquid water of streams flows to and mixes with the main ocean. (This is by attraction of things of the same kind).

7. The winds of heaven then disperse on all sides, his vital airs together with the imaginary worlds of his life time, which subsisted in the particles of his vital breath.

8. I see the winds of heaven, bearing away the vital airs, together with their contents of the imaginary worlds; and filling the whole space of air with vital breath on all sides.

9. I see the Meru and Mandara Mountains, wafted with the imaginary worlds before me; and you also will observe the same, before the sight of your understanding. (The whole vacuum teeming with life).

10. The etherial airs are full with the vital airs of the dead, which contain the minute particles of mind in them; and these minds again contain the types of the worlds in them, just as the sesame seeds contain the oil in them.

11. As the etherial airs bear the vital airs, which are of the same kind with them (both being airy substances); so are the vital breaths accompanied with particles of the mind (which is equally an airy substance also), these again bear the pictures of the worlds in them, as if they are ingrafted upon them.

12. The same vacuum contains the whole creation and the three worlds with the earth and ocean, all which are borne in it, as the different odors are borne by the winds.

13. All these are seen in the sight of the understanding, and not by the vision of the visual organs; they are the portraiture of our imagination, like the fairy lands we see in our dreams before us.

14. There are many other things, more subtile than the visible atmosphere, and which owing to their existence in our desire or fancy only, are not borne upon the wings of the winds as the former ones. (Though it is said in ordinary speech, that our desires and fancies are borne by our internal humour of vayu or wind).

15. But there are some certain truths, which are derived from the intellect, and are called intellectual principles, which have the power to cause our pleasure and pain, and lead us to heaven or hell (Such as virtue and vice). (These are the immutable principles of right and wrong, abiding in and proceeding from the intellect).

16. Again our desires are as the shadows of cities, floating on the stream of life; and though the current of life is continually gliding away, yet the shadowy desires whether successful or not, ever remain the same. (Lit. are never carried away by the current).

17. The vital breath carries its burden of the world, along with its course to the stillness of endless vacuity; as the breezes bear away the fragrance of flowers, to the dreary desert where they are lost for ever.

18. Though the mind is ever fickle, changeable and forgetful in its nature; yet it never loses the false idea of the world which is inherent in it, as a pot removed to any place and placed in any state, never gets rid of its inner vacuity. (The idea of the world is carried by reminiscence, in every state and stage of the changeful mind).

19. So when the fallacy of the false world has taken possession of the deluded mind, it is alike impossible either to realize or set it at naught, like the form of the formless Brahma.

20. Or if this world is a revolving body, carried about by the force of the winds; yet we have no knowledge of its motion, as when sitting quiet in a boat, though carried afar to the distance of miles by the tide and winds.

21. As men sitting in a boat, have no knowledge of the force which carries the boat forward; so we earthly beings have no idea of the power that is attached to it in its rotatory motion.

22. As a wide extending city, is represented in miniature in a painting at the foot of a column; so is this world contained in the bosom of the minute atom of the mind.

23. A thing however little or insignificant, is taken to be too much and of great importance, by the low and mean; as a handful of paddy is of great value to the little mouse than gems, and a particle of mud to the contemptible frog, than the pearls under the water. (So a particle of the mind is enough for the whole world).

24. Again a trifle is taken as too much, by those who are ignorant of its insignificance; as the learned in the error of their judgement, mistake this visionary world as preparatory to their future happiness or misery. (The world being nothing in reality, cannot lead to anything, to real good or evil).

25. The inward belief of something as real good, and of another as positive evil, is a mistake common to the majority of mankind, and to which the learned also are liable, in their conduct in this world. (The wise man is indifferent to every thing, and neither likes or takes the one, nor hates or rejects the other).

26. As the intelligent and embodied soul, is conscious of every part of the body in which it is confined; so the enlightened living soul—jiva, beholds all the three worlds displayed within itself (as in the God Virat).

27. The unborn and ever lasting God, who is of the form of conscious soul, extending over the infinity of space, has all these worlds, as parts of his all pervading vacuous body.

28. The intelligent and ever living soul (of God) sees the uncreated worlds deeply impressed in itself; as a rod of iron (were it endowed with intelligence), would see the future knives and needles in itself.

29. As a clod of earth, whether endowed with intelligence or not knows the seed which is hidden in it, and which it grows to vegetation afterwards; so doth the ever living soul know the world which is contained in it.

30. As the sensitive or insensitive seed, knows the germ, plant and tree, which it contains within its bosom; so doth the spirit of God, perceive the great arbour of the world conceived in its profoundest womb.

31. As the man having his sight, sees the image of something reflected in a mirror, which the blind man does not; so the wise man sees the world in Brahma, which the ignorant does not perceive (but think the world as distinct from him).

32. The world is nothing except the union of the four categories of time, space, action and substance; and egoism being no way distinct from the predicates of the world, subsists in God who contains the whole in Himself. (God is not predicable by any particular predicate; but is the congeries of all the predicates taken collectively in his nature).

33. Whatever lesson is inculcated to any body by means of a parable, i.e. whatever thing is signified to some one by a comparison, know that the simile relates to some particular property of the compared object and not in all respects. (So the similitude of iron rod given to god in the sruti and this book, regards only its material causality, and not its insensibility with the sensible spirit of God).

34. Whatever is seen to be moving or unmoving here in this world; is the vivarta or expanded body of the living soul, without any alteration in its atomic minuteness. (Nature is the body, and God the soul. Pope).

35. Leaving the intelligence aside (which is wanting in created objects); and taking the force only (which actuates all nature); we find no difference of this physical force from the giver of the force.

36. Again whatever alteration, is produced in the motion or option of any thing or person, at any time or place or in any manner; is all the act of that Divine Intellect.

37. It is the intellect which infuses in the mind the power of its option, volition, imagination and the like; because none of these can spring as a sprout in the mind, which is without intelligence and without an intelligent cause of it.

38. Whatever desires and fancies, rise in the minds of the unenlightened; are not of the nature of the positive will or decree of the Divine Mind, owing to the endless variety and mutuality of human wishes.

39. The desires rising in the minds of the enlightened, are as they were no desires and never had their rise; because.—

40. All thoughts and desires being groundless, they are as false as the idle wishes of boys; for who has ever obtained the objects of his dream? (or that he has beheld in his dream?).

41. Sankalpa with its triple sense of thought, desire and imagination, is impressed by the intellect on the living soul (which is the image of God) from its past reminiscence; and though we have a notion of this ideal soul, yet it is as untrue and unsubstantial as a shadow; but not so the original Intellect, which is both real and substantial.

42. He who is freed from the error of taking the unreal world for real, becomes as free as the god Siva himself; and having got rid of the corporeal body, becomes manifest in his spiritual form.

43. The imagination of the ignorant, whirls about the worlds, as the wind hurls the flying cotton in the air; but they appear to be as unmoved as stones to the wise, who are not led away by their imagination.

44. So there are multitudes of worlds, amidst many other things in the vast womb of vacuum which nobody can count; some of which are united with one another in groups, and others that have no connection with another.

45. The supreme intellect being all in all, manifests itself in endless forms and actions, filling the vast space of infinity, some of which are as transient as rain drops or bubbles in air and water, which quickly burst out and disappear; and others appearing as the great cities (of gods &c.), situated in the heart of the Infinite one.

46. Some of these are as durable as rocks, and others are continually breaking and wearing out; some appearing as bright as with their open eyes, and others as dark as with their closed eyelids; some of these are luminous to sight and others obscured under impenetrable darkness; thus the bosom of the intellect resembling the vast expanse of the ocean, is rolling on with the waves of creation to all eternity.

47. Some though set apart are continually tending towards another; as the waters of distant rivers are running to mix with those of seas and ocean; and as the luminous bodies of heaven, appearing together to brighten its sphere.