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 XXV - Vasishtha's admonition to manki

Argument:—The avarana sakti or all-enfolding power of God is called ignorance, his vikshepa sakti or delusive power is the cause of error, and the combination of both cause the world.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Consciousness (of the objects of perception), their reflection, the desire of having them and their imagination, are the four roots of evil in this world; and though these words are meaningless, yet considerable sense is attached to them (as categories of some schools of false philosophy); as the four sources of knowledge.

2. Know that knowledge (of externals) is their reflection also, which is the seat (or root) of all evils; and all our calamities proceed therefrom, as thickly as vegetation springs out of the vernal juice (or breath of spring).

3. Men garbed in the robes of their desires, walk in the dreary paths of this world, with very many varieties of their actions (both temporal and ritual), as there are circles drawn under circles (i.e. one circle of duty enclosing many others under it).

4. But these aberrations and wanderings over the earth, are at an end to the wise together with their desires; as the moisture of the ground, is dried up and diminishes at the end of the vernal season.

5. Our various desires, are the growers of the very many thorny plants and brambles in the world; as the vernal moisture is the cause of growing the thick clumps of kadali or plantain trees.

6. The world appears as a dark maze to the mind, that is cloyed in the serum of its lickerish appetites; as the ground is shaded under the bushy trees, by the sap supplied by the vernal season.

7. There is nothing in existence except the clear and vacuous intellect, as there is nothing in the boundless sky, beside the hollow vacuity of the air. (This is another passage of the vacuistic theory of Vasishtha).

8. There is no intelligent soul beside this one, and all else is the everlasting reflection of this one alone; This it is which is styled ignorance and error, and the world also.

9. He is seen without being seen, and is lost upon being seen (that is, the Lord is seen in the spirit and not by the visual sight). On looking to it an unreal or evil spirit appears to sight instead of the true and holy spirit, like ghosts and goblins appearing before children. (Whoever wishes to the spirit of God, sees the spirit of the devil only).

10. It is by rejecting all visible sights, the understanding views the one essence of all, and all things dwindle into it, as all the rivers on earth, run and fall into one universal ocean. (The one invisible unity is the essence of multiplicity).

11. As an earthen ware cannot be without its earth; so all intelligent beings, are never devoid of their intelligence or the intellect. (This couplet corroborates the eighth verse, where it is said that, there is nothing except the intellect).

12. Whatever is known by the understanding, is said to be our knowledge;but the understanding has no knowledge of the unknowable, nor want of understanding can have any knowledge, owing to their opposite natures. (Because understanding and knowledge are of the same nature, but understanding and unknowable are contraries, and want of understanding and the knowable are sub-contraries. (The plain meaning is that the understanding knows the knowable and not the unknowable; while want of understanding knows neither the one nor the other).

13. As there is the same relation of knowledge between the looker, his seeing and sight (i.e. the subject, act, and object of seeing); so it is omniscience of Brahma which is the only essence. (Saraikarasyam), all else is as null as an aerial flower (Kha-pushpa) which never exists.

14. Things of the same kind bear an affinity to one another, and readily unite in one (as water with water &c.); so the world being alike to its notion, and all notions being alike to the eternal ideas in the mind of God, the world and the divine mind, are certainly the same thing and no other.

15. If there be no knowledge or notion of wood and stone in us, then they would be the same as the non-existent things of which we have no notion:—(such as the horns of a hare or a flower in the air).

16. When the outward and visible features of things, are so exactly similar to the notions and knowledge of them that we have in our minds; therefore they appear to be no other than our notions or knowledge of them. (Because things agreeing in all respects with one another, must be the same and very thing).

17. All visible appearances in the universe, are only the outstretched reflections of our inner ideas; their fluctuation is as that of the winds, as their motion is as that of the waters in the ocean.

18. All things are mixed up with the omnipresent spirit, as a log of wood is covered over by lac-dye; both of which appear to be mixed together to the unthinking, but both are taken for the one and same thing by the thinking part of mankind; (who believe the spirit to exhibit itself in all shapes Ápna jathaika bhuvana).

19. The idea of reciprocity is unity, and the knowledge of mutuality is union also; such as the interchange of water and milk, and so the correlation of vision and visibles; and not as the union of the wood and lac-dye with one another. (This means unity to consist in the interchangeableness and interdependence of two things as of the spirit and matter, and not as sticking the lac-dye upon wood, but as fire inhering in every particle of the wood, as it is expressed in the aforecited sruti):—

20. The knowledge of one's egoism is his bondage, and that of his unegoism is his emancipation from it; thus one's imprisonment in and enfranchisement from the confines of his body and the world; being both under his subjection, why is it that he should be slack to sit himself at freedom from his perpetual thraldom?

21. Like our sight of two moons in the sky, and our belief of water in the mirage, we believe in the reality of our egoism, which is altogether an unreality. (Lit. We think it present without its presence).

22. The disbelief in one's self or his egoism, removes his meity (mamata) or selfishness also; and it being possible to everyone to get rid of them, how is it that he should be ignorant of it?

23. Why do you maintain your egoism only, to be confined in the cell of your body, like a plum drowned in a cup of water, or like the air confined in a pot? your relation to God is to be no other but like himself and to be one with him, is to have the reciprocal knowledge of yourself in the likeness of God (i.e. to be like the image of God in perfection).

24. It is said that the want of reciprocal knowledge, makes the union of two things into one (i.e. the entire commingling of two things together makes them one); but this is wrong in both ways, because neither doth any dull material thing or any spiritual substance, lose its own form (however mixed up with one or the other).

25. Neither is force converted into inertness (i.e. the spirit never becomes matter), from the indestructibility of their nature, and whenever the spiritual is seen or considered as the material, it becomes a duality, and there is no unity in this view of the two. (Hence there is no union or entire assimilation either of the spirituals or materials).

26. Thus men being under the influence of their desires, and beset by their vanities of various kinds (altogether) are going on downward still, as a stone torn from the head of a cliff, falls from precipice to precipice headlong to the ground.

27. Men are as straws carried here and there by the current of their desire, and whirled about in its eddy; they are overtaken by and overwhelmed in an endless series of difficulties which are impossible for me to enumerate. (The Sanskrit na parjate is the Bengali parajayana).

28. Men being cast like a ball flung from the palm of fate, are hurried onward by their ardent desires till they are hurled headlong into the depth of hell; where being worried and worn out with hell torments, they take other forms and shapes after lapses of long periods (to undergo fresh toils and troubles on earth).