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 XXIX - Sermon on holy meditation

Argument:—Necessity of discharging our social duties, as they occur unto us at any time: and that of conducting our contemplation in solitude.

Vasishtha continued to say:—Remain always to look inwardly in thyself, by being freed from the feelings of passion and desire, continue in the performance of thy actions every where, but reflect always upon the quiet and spotless intellect within thyself.

2. The mind which is as clear as the open sky, and is full of knowledge and settled in the divine intellect; which is ever even and graceful and replete with joy, is said to be highly favoured of heaven and expanded by Brahma.

3. Whether betaken by pain and grief, or exposed to dangers and difficulties, or attended by pleasure or prosperity, in a greater or less degree.

4. In whatever place and in whatsoever state thou art placed, bear with thy afflictions with an unsorrowful heart; and whether thou weepest or criest, or becomest a play of opposite circumstances, be joyous in both for both are meant for thy good.

5. You are delighted in the company of your consorts, and feel joyous at the approach of festivity and prosperity; and it is because you are tempted like ignorant people, by your fond desire of pleasure.

6. Fools that are allured by their greediness of gain, meet with their fate in hazardous exploits and warfare; and it is fit that they should burn with the fire of their desire, like straws consumed in a conflagration.

7. Earn money by honest means and with the circumspection of a crane, in whatever chance presents itself before thee; and do not run in pursuit of gain, like the ignorant rabble.

8. O thou destroyer of thy foes, drive away by force all thy desires as the greatest enemies, and as winds of heaven drive afar the rainless and empty clouds of the sky.

9. Be tolerant, O Rama, towards the ignorant people, that are led away by their desires and deserve thy pity; be reverent of high-minded men, and delighted in thyself by observing the taciturnity of thy speech, and without being misled by thy desires like the ignorant mob.

10. Congratulate with joy and sympathise with sorrow, (whether of thyself or others); pity the sorrows of the poor, and be valiant among the brave.

11. Turn your eyes into your heart, and be always joyous by communing with yourself (or soul); and then whatever you do with a liberal mind, you are not to answer for the same as its agent.

12. By remaining fixed in the meditation of your soul, and by having your eyes always turned within yourself; you shall be invulnerable even at the stroke of a thunderbolt (darted by the hand of Indra). So saith the sruti:—The Gods have no power to hurt the holy. Tasya hana devascha na bhutya ishate.

13. He is said to be master of himself, who is freed from the delusion of desire, and lives retired in the cave of his consciousness; who is attached to his own soul and acts at his own will, and has his delight in his very self. (Because says the sruti—Whoso goes out of himself, loses his very self).

14. No weapon can wound the self-possest man, nor fire can chafe his soul; no moisture can damp the spirit, nor the hot winds can dry it up. (No elemental influence can prevail on the spiritual soul).

15. Lay hold on the firm pillar of your soul, which is unborn or increate, undecaying and immortal; adhere steadfastly to thy soul, as one clings to the prop or column of his house.

16. The world is an arbour, and all things in it are as the flowers of this tree; our knowledge of all things, is as the fragrance of these flowers; but our self-consciousness is the essence of them all; therefore look internally to this inward essence before you mind the externals.

17. All outward affairs, are brought about by their inward reflection in the mind; but it is as hard to bring about a desire into being, as to raise a stone to life.

18. Get rid of your bodily exertions and lull your mind to sleep; be doing all your duties, as a tortoise with its contracted limbs. (i.e. Act with indifference, and without being moved).

19. Manage thine affairs with a half-sleeping and half awakened mind (like a waking sleeper); and do thy outward functions (without the exertion of your mental faculties).

20. As babes are possessed of their innate knowledge, and dumb creatures are endowed with their instinct, without the feeling of any desire rising in them; so they live and act with their minds unattached to anything, and as vacant as the empty air.

21. Remain untroubled and free from care, with entirely sleepy and comatose mind within thyself; a mind devoid of all its functions and quite absorbed in itself, and slightly acting on the members of the body.

22. You may continue to discharge or dispense with your duties altogether, by impairing your mind with knowledge, and resting quietly in your pure consciousness, after it is purged from the stain of appetence.

23. Go on managing your outward affairs in your waking state, as if your faculties were dormant in sleep; and never hanker to have anything, nor let go aught that presents itself to thee.

24. If you are dormant when waking, by your inattention to all about you; so are you awake when sleeping by your trance in the bosom of the Supreme soul; and when you are in the condition of the union of the two, you attain to the state of perfect consummation.

25. Thus by your gradual practice of this habit of insouciance, you reach to that state of unity, which has neither its beginning nor end, and which is beyond all other things.

26. The world is certainly neither a unity nor duality (but is composed of a plurality in its totality, or the one in many A han Bahushaym), leaving therefore the inquiry into its endless varieties, resort to

your Supreme bliss, with a mind as clear as the translucent sphere of empty air.

Rama rejoined:—

27. If it be so, O great sage! (That there is no ego or tu as you say), then tell me, why are we conscious of ourselves, and how are you sitting here under the name of the sage Vasishtha.

Valmiki said:—

28. Being thus interrogated by Rama, Vasishtha the best of speakers, remained silent for a moment, pondering on the answer he should make.

29. This silence of his created some anxiety in the royal audience, and Rama too being perplexed in his mind, repeated his question to the sage and said:—

30. Why sir, are you silent like myself? I see there is no such argument in the world, which sages like yourself are unable to solve and expound:—

Vasishtha replied:—

31. It is not owing to my inability to speak, nor want of argument on my part that made me hold my tongue; but it is the wide scope of your question that withheld me from giving its answer. (Or from answering to it).

32. Rama! There are two kinds of querists, namely, the ignorant inquisitor and the intelligent investigator; and so there are two modes of argumentation also for them respectively: the simple mode for simpletons, and the rational form for intelligent and reasonable men.

33. You had been so long, Rama, ignorant of superior knowledge, and fit to be taught in ordinary equivocal language.

34. But now you have become a connoisseur of superior truth, and found your rest in the state of supreme felicity; and are no longer to benefit by the ambiguous language of common speech.

35. Whenever a good speaker wishes to deliver an eloquent speech, whether it be a long or short one, or relate to some abstruse or spiritual subject (he must satisfy himself first).

36. The ego being the counterpart or privation of all representation, is inexpressible by representative sounds and words; and being beyond the predicates of number and other categories, is not predicable by any of them or other fiction of fancy. It is the totality of all, as light is composed of innumerable particles of ray.

37. It is not right, O Rama, that one who has known the truth (the gnostic), should give an imperfect or defective answer to a question (proposed to him). But what can he do, when no language is perfect or free from defect, as you know it well.

38. It is right, O Rama, that I who know the truth, should declare it as it is to my pupils; and the knower of abstract truth is known to remain as mute as a block of wood, and the soundness of whose mind is hard to sound. (So says the Persian mystic:—He who has known the unknowable, has become unknown to himself and others).

39. It is want of self-cogitation that causes one to speak, (i.e. unsoundness of thought sounds in high sounding words); but they hold their silence who know the Supreme excellence; and this is the best answer that is given thy inquiry into this truth.

40. Every man, O Rama, speaks of himself as he is (or thinks himself to be); but I am only my conscious self, which is unspeakable in its nature, and appertains to the unbespeakable one.

41. How can that thing admit the application of a definite term to give it expression, which is inexpressible by words (and beyond our conception); I cannot therefore express the inexpressible by words. I have already said, all are but fictitious signs: (representative of our certain ideas).

Rama rejoined:—

42. You sir, that disregard every thing that is expressed by words, and regard these as imperfect and defective symbols of their originals; must tell me now, what you mean by your "privation of representation" and what you are your[self].*

* NOTE—The logical term pratiyogi vyach' heda is explained as pratiyogi nirupaka vyavrithi, which means that egoism being an abstract term, does not point out any particular person or thing, and the ego being a discrete word conveys no sense of a concrete noun. Moreover it is indeterminate and signifies no determinate number, nor is it predicated by any of the predicables which is not applicable to it.

Vasishtha replied:—

43. It being so (that there no determinate person expressed by the word egoism); hear me to tell you now, O Rama, that art the best among the enquirers of truth, what thou art and what am I in truth, and what is world in reality.

44. This Ego, my boy, is the empty intellect and imperishable in its nature; it is neither conceivable nor knowable, and is beyond all imagination.

45. I am the clear air of the intellect, and so art thou the empty sky also; the whole world is an entire vacuity, and there is nothing else except an everlasting and infinite vacuum (beom) every where.

46. The soul is identic with pure knowledge, it is free from sensational knowledge, and beyond the conscious knowledge of others. I cannot call it anything otherwise than the self or soul.

47. Yet it is the fashion of disputants in order to maintain their own ground, or for the salvation of their pupils to multiply the egoism of the one soul, and to distribute it into a thousand branches.

48. When a living soul remains calm and quiet notwithstanding the management of its worldly affairs; and is as motionless as a living carcass, it is said to have attained its perfect state.

49. This state of perfection consists in refraining from external exercise and devotion, and persistence in continual meditation; feeling no sensation of pain or pleasure, and being unconscious of one's self-existence, and the co-existence of all others besides.

50. Freedom from egoism and the consciousness of all other existence, brings on the idea of a total inexistence and emptiness, which is altogether beyond thought and meditation. (For none can think of a nothing). All attempt to grasp a nullity, is as vain as a blind man's desire to see a picture.

51. The posture of sitting unmoved as a stone, at the shocks and turn backs (or drakes and ducks) of fortune; is verily the state of nirvana or deathless coma of a sensible being. (The figures of saints are as unmoved as statues).

52. This state of saintly anaesthesia is not marked by others, nor perceived by the saint himself; because the knowing sage shuns the society of men in disgust, and is enlightened with his spiritual knowledge within himself.

53. In this state of spiritual light, the sage loses sight of his egoism and tuism and all others and beholds the only one unity, in which he is extinct and absorbed in pure and unsullied felicity.

54. It is the intellection of the intellect, that is said to be conversant with the intelligibles (or the operation of the subjective soul on the objective); this is the cause of the creation of the world, which is the cause of our bondage and continual woes (in our repeated births and deaths).

55. It is said to be the dormancy or insensibility of intellection, when it is not employed about the intelligible objects; it is then called the supremely calm and quiet state of liberation (both for thought and action); and is free from decay.

56. The soul being in its state of peaceful tranquillity, its ideas of space and time fly from it like clouds in autumn; and then it has no thought of anything else for want of its power of thinking.

57. When the sight of the soul is turned inwards (antar mukha) as in sleep, it sees the world of its desires rising before its consciousness in their aerial forms; but O ye princes, the sight of the soul being directed to the outside (bahir mukha), as in its waking state, it views the inward objects of his desire, presented before its sight in the gross forms of the outer world. (This passage shows the contrariety of the spiritual philosophy to the material; the former maintaining the material world to be a shadow of the ideal, and the latter asserting the intellectual as a representation of the visible world).

58. The mind, understanding and the other faculties, depend upon the consciousness of the soul, and are of the same nature as the intellect;but being considered in their intimate relation with external objects bahir-mukhata, they are represented as grossly material. (In the doctrines of materialist—the sankhya and others).

59. The self-same intellect being spread over our consciousness, of all internal and external feelings and perceptions; it is in vain to differentiate this one and undivided power, by the several names (of spiritual, mental, and bodily faculties).

60. There is nothing which is set apart, from the percipience of the conscious intellect; which is as pure and all-pervading as the empty vacuum, and which is said by the learned to be undefinable by words. (So says the sruti:—No speech can approach to it).

61. Being seen very acutely, the world appears as hazy in the divine essence, as it were something between a reality and unreality; and so dost thou appear to sight, as something real and unreal at the same time. (All things appear as evanescent shadows in the clear mirror of the Divine Mind).

62. So am I the empty air, if can be free from desire; and so also art thou the pure intellect, if thou canst but restrain thy desires.

63. He who is certain of this truth (that he is the intellect), knows himself in reality; but whoso thinks himself as somebody under a certain appellation, is far from knowing the truth. Again anyone remaining in his unreal body, but relying in his intellectuality, is sure to have his tranquillity and salvation. (So the sruti:—Anyone awakened to truth is sure to be saved, whether he is a God, rishi or sage, or a vile man).

64. Man's exercise of the intellectual faculty, ameliorates the love of union with the original intellect by removing the ignorance; as heat of the fire mixes with the primitive heat, when wind ceases to blow.

65. Living beings who are converted to the state of patient trees and stones, by insouciance or insensibility of themselves, are said to have attained their liberation which is free from disturbance, and to be situated in their state of undecayableness.

66. A man having obtained his wisdom by means of his knowledge, is said to have become a muni or sage, but growing an ignoramus owing to his ignorance, he becomes a brute creature, or degraded even lower to some vegetable life.

67. The knowledge that "I am Brahma" (because I am a man) and this other is the world (because it is inanimate) is a gross error proceeding from gross ignorance; but all untruth flies away before investigation, as darkness vanishes before the advance of light.

68. He is wise who with the perception and actions of his outward organs, is simply devoid of his inward desires; who does not think or feel about anything in his mind, and remains quite calm and composed in his outward appearance.

69. The samadhi-trance of a wise man, is as his sound sleep uninfested by a dream; and wherein the visibles are all buried within himself, and when he sees naught but his self or soul.

70. As the blueness of the sky is a false conception of the brain, so the appearance of the world is a fallacy of the silent soul; they are no more than mists of error, that obscure the clear and vacuous sphere of the soul.

71. He is the true sage who though surrounded by the objects of wish, is still undesirous of any; and knows them all as mere unrealities and false vanities.

72. Know, O intelligent Rama, that all objects of desire in this world, are as marvellous as those seen in our imagination, dream and in the magic of jugglers; such also are all the objects of our vision, on which you can place no trust nor reliance.

73. Know also, there is no pain or pleasure, nor any act of merit or demerit (i.e. any moral virtue and vice); nor anything which anybody, owing to the impossibility of there being any agent or patient (i.e. any active or passive agent).

74. The whole (universe) is a vacuum and without any support at all;it appears as a secondary moon in the sky or a city in one's dream or imagination, none of which has its reality in nature.

75. Abide only by the rules of the community, or observe strictly thy mute taciturnity; and by remaining as a block of wood or stone, be absolved in the Supreme.

76. The tranquillity and intellectuality of the Supreme deity, do not admit of any diversity in his nature; and his incorporeality does not admit of the attribution, of a body or any of its parts unto him.

77. There can be no nature whatever, whereof we have any conception, that can be attributed to the pure spirit (which is free from all stain and foulness); and this Divine spirit being inherent in all bodies, there can be no body for its nature ever imputed to him.

78. The existence of consciousness in the uncreated spirit, or in other words, the existence of a self-conscious eternal Intellect, cannot be denied of God; according to sophistry of Atheists; for though our knowledge of recipient and received (i.e. of the container and contained) is very imperfect, yet there is some one at the bottom that [is] ever perfect.

79. O Rama! do you rely in that increate and indestructible Supreme being, which is ever the same and pure, irrefutable and adored by the wise and good; it is the irrefutable (i.e. demonstrable) verity, on which you should quietly depend for your liberation. And though you may eat and drink and play about like all others, yet you must know that all this is nothing.