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 XXIII - Story of a pious brahman and his nirvana extinction

Argument:—Account of Vasishtha's meeting a hermit named Manki in a desert land; and their mutual conversation with regard to self-resignation and liberation.

Vasishtha said:—

(I have delivered to you my lectures) on dispassionateness, inappetence and resignation of worldly desires; rise therefore and go beyond the material world after the example of one Manki (as related herein—below).

2. There lived once on a time before a Brahman named Manki, who was applauded for his devotion and steadfastness to holy vows.

3. It happened at one time, that I was coming down from the vault of heaven, upon an invitation from your grandfather Aja on some particular occasion.

4. As I then came to wander on the surface of the earth, in order to reach at the realm of your grandsire; I happened to meet before me a vast desert, with the burning sunshine over it.

5. It was a dreary waste without its boundary on any side, filled with burning sands and obscured by grey and flying dust over it; and marked by a few scattered hamlets here and there.

6. The extended waste appeared as the boundless and spotless immensity of Brahma, by its unrestricted vacuity, howling winds, burning heat and light, its seeming water in the sand, and untrodden ground resting in peace.

7. It seemed as delusive as the appearance of avidya or illusion itself;by the deceptive waters of mirage upon the sand, by its dulness and empty space and the mist overhanging on all sides of it.

8. As I was wandering along this hollow and sandy wilderness, I saw a wayfarer sauntering before me and muttering to himself in the travail of his wearisome journey.

9. The Traveller said:—O the powerful sun! That afflicts me with his blazing beams, as much as the company of evil-minded men is for our annoyance.

10. The sunbeams seen to pour down fire on earth, and melt down the pith and marrow of my body and bones; as they have been drying up the leaves and igniting the forest trees (for a conflagration).

11. Therefore it behoves me to repair to yonder hamlet, to allay the weariness of my journey, and recover my strength and spirits for travelling onward. (So it is said:—the shady bower invites the dry, and drives out the cooled).

12. So saying, he was about to proceed towards the village, which was an habitation of the low caste Kiratas. (The kerrhoids of Ptolemy, and the present Kerantes of the Himalayas). When I interrupted him by saying:—

Vasishtha said:—

13. I hail thee, O thou passenger of the sandy desert, and may all be well with thee, that art my fellow traveller on the way, and art so good looking and passionless:—

14. O traveller of the lower earth! who have long lived in the habitations of men, and have not found your rest, how is it now that you expect to have it, in this solitary abode of this mean people?

15. You can have no rest at the abode of the vile people in yonder village, which is mostly peopled by the Pamara villains; thirst is not appeased, but increased by a beverage of briny water. (So it is said:—The unquenchable appetite of the greedy, is never quenched by nourishment, but it nourishes it the more, as the fuel and butter serve to kindle and feed the fire).

16. These huts and hamlets shelter the cowardly cow-herds (Pallava Gopas) under them, and them that are afraid to walk in the paths of men, as the timid deer are averse to rove beyond their own track. (So these solitary swains are as the savage beasts of the forests).

17. They have no stir or agitation of reason, nor any flash of understanding or mental faculties in them; they are not afraid of or averse to base actions, but remain and move on as stone-mills and wheels:—

18. Their manliness consists in the emotions of their passions and affections, and in exhibitions of the signs of their cupidity and aversion, and they delight mostly in actions, that appear pleasant at the time being or present moment. (They are occupied with the present only, being forgetful of the past and careless of the future).

19. As there is no appearance of a body of rainy clouds, over the dry and parched lands of the desert, so there is no shadow of pure and cooling knowledge ever stretched out on the minds of these people. (i.e. They have never come under the benign influence of civilization).

20. Rather dwell in a dark cave as a snake, or remain as a blind worm in the bosom of a stone; or limp about as a lame stag in the barren desert, than mix in company of these village people.

21. These rude rustics resemble the potions of poison, that are mixed with honey; they are sweet to taste for a moment, but prove deadly at last. (Such are the robbers of deserts and woods).

22. Again these villainous villagers are as rude as the rough winds, which are blowing with gusts of dust amidst the shattered huts, built with grassy turfs and tufts of the dried leaves of trees. (The word trina means straw also or a straw built hut).

23. Being thus spoken unto by me, the traveller felt himself as glad, as if he was bathed in ambrosial showers.

24. The passenger said:—Who art thou sir, with thy magnanimous soul, that seemest to me to be full and perfect in thyself, and full of Divine spirit in thy soul. Thou lookest at the bustle of the bustle of the world, as a passer is unconcerned with the commotion of the villages beside his way.

25. Hast thou sir, drunk the ambrosial draught of the gods, that gave thee thy Divine knowledge? and art infused with the spirit of the sovran Virat, that is quite apart from the plenum it fills, and is quite full with its entire voidness (stretches through all, and unmixed with any).

26. I see thy soul to be as void and yet as full as his, and as still and yet as moving as the Divine spirit; it is all and not all what exists, and something yet nothing itself.

27. It is quiet and comely, shining and yet unseen; it is inert and yet full of force and energy, it is inactive with all its activity and action; and such soul is thine. (These antithetic attributes of the Divine soul, are applied objectively to that of Vasishtha in the second person, as they are subjectively put to one's own self in the first person in many other places. Thus in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna assumes to himself the title of Brahma and says "Resort to Me alone" so says the Sufi Mansur "I am the true one" so says Hastamulaka in his celebrated rhapsody. "I am that eternal that is conceived by every one.").

28. Though now journeying on earth, you seem to range far above the skies; you are supportless, though supported on a sound basis (of the body or Brahma). (i.e. The spirit and mind range freely every where, though they appear to be confined within the limits of the body, or to proceed from and rest in the eternal essence of Brahma).

29. Thou art not stretched over the objects, and yet no object subsists without thee; thy pure mind like the beauteous orb of the moon, is full of the nectarious beams of immortality. (The moon is called the lord of medicinal plants, having the virtues of conferring life and health to the body).

30. Thou shinest as the full-moon, without any of her digits or blackish spots in thee; thou art cooling as the moonbeams, and full of ambrosial juice as the disk of that watery planet.

31. I see the existence and non-existence of the world, depend upon thy will, and thy intellect contains in it the revolving world, as the germ of a tree contains within it the would be fruit.

32. Know me sir, as a Brahman sprung from the sage Sandilya's race; my name is Manki, and am bent on visiting places of pilgrimage.

33. I have made very long journeys, and seen many holy places in my peregrinations all about; and have now after long bent my course to revisit my native home. (The toils being over, the traveller returns home, and there to die. Goldsmith).

34. But my mind is so sick of and averse to the world, that I hesitate to return to my home, after having seen the lives of men passing away as flashes of lightening from this world.

35. Deign now sir, to give me a true account of yourself, as the minds of holy men are as deep and clear as limpid lakes.

36. When great men like yourself show their kindness, to one as mean as myself at the first sight of him, his heart is sure to glow with love and gratitude to them, as the lotus buds are blown (by the premature gleams of the rising sun), and are led to be hopeful of their favour towards him.

37. Hence I hope sir, that you will kindly remove the error, which is bred in me by my ignorance of the delusions of this tempting world. (Lit. I believe you are able to do so &c.).

Vasishtha replied:—

38. Know me, O wise man, to be Vasishtha—the sage and saint, and an inhabitant of the etherial region; and am bound to this way, on some errand of the sagely king (Aja by name).

39. I tell you sir, not to be disheartened at your ignorance, as you have already come to the path of wisdom, and very nearly got over the ocean of the world, and arrived at the coast of transcendental knowledge.

40. I see you have come to the possession of the invaluable treasure, of your indifference to worldly matters; for this kind of speech and sentiments, and the sedateness of disposition which you have displayed, can never proceed from a worldling, and bespeak your high-mindedness.

41. Know that as a precious stone is polished, by gentle abrasion of its rubbish; so the mind comes to its reasoning, by the rubbing off of the dross of its prejudice.

42. Tell me what you desire to know, and how you want to abandon the world; it is in my opinion done by practice of what one is taught by his preceptor, or by interrogatories of what he does not know or understand.

43. It is said that whoso has a mind, to go across the doom of future birth or transmigration of his soul, should be possessed of good and pure desires in his mind, and an understanding inclined to reasoning under the direction of his spiritual guide. Such a person is verily entitled to attain to the state, which is free from future sorrow and misery.