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 XLV - Continuation of the story of the deerlike mind

Argument:—Description of the happiness, attending upon the access of the mind to the arbour of Godliness.

Vasishtha continued:—

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O destroyer of enemies! the deerlike mind having found its rest in that sacred bower, remains quite pleased with the same, and never thinks of going to any other arbour.

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In course of time, the tree of discriminate knowledge, brings forth its fruits; which ripen gradually with the sweet substance of spiritual knowledge in the inside.

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The deerlike mind sitting under the goodly tree of its meditation, beholds its outstretching branches hanging downward, with loads of the fruits of merit and virtue (meaning its meritoriousness).

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It sees people climbing in this tree, with great persistence and pains; in order to taste these sweet fruits in preference to all others (because merit is preferable to reward).

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Worldly people decline to ascend the foot of the tree of knowledge, but those who have mounted high upon it, never think of ever coming down from the high position which they have attained.

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For he who has ascended on the tree of reason or knowledge, in order to taste its delicious fruits, forgets the relish of his habitual food, and forsakes the bondage of his former deserts, as a snake casts aside his slough or skin.

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The man who has risen to a high station, looks at himself and smiles to think, how miserly he has passed so long a period of his past life.

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Having then mounted on the branch of fellow feeling, and putting down the snake of selfishness under his feet, he seems to reign in himself, as if he were the sole monarch over all.

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As the digits of the moon decrease and disappear in the dark fortnight, so the lotuses of his distress are lost in oblivion; and the iron fetters of his thirst after greed are rubbed out day by day (as he advances in his yoga).

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He heeds not what is unattainable, nor cares about what is not obtained; his mind is as bright as the clear moon light night, and his heart is quite cold, in all its passions and affections.

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He sits poring upon the sages of the scriptures, and meditates in silence in their profound sense; he observes with extensive view the course of nature, from the highest and greatest objects to the mean and minute.

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Looking at the aforesaid septuple ground of his past follies, full with thick forests of poisonous fruits and flowers; he sits smiling looking upon them in derision (for having fled from their infection).

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Having fled from the tree of death, and alighted on that of life, his aspiring mind like a flitting bird, rises by degrees to its higher branches, and there sits delighted as a prince in his elevated station.

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Thence he looks down upon the family and friends, and upon the wealth and property (he has left behind); as if they were the adjuncts of former life, or as visions in his dream.

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He views with coldness his passions and feelings, his fears, hopes, his errors and honors, as actors (dramatis personae, acting their several parts in the drama of his life. (The world is a stage, life a play, and the passions are players in it).

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The course of the world is as that of a rapid river, running onward with its furious and mischievous current; and laughing with its frothy breakers, now swelling highland then sinking at once.

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He does not feel any craving for wealth, wife or friends in his breast, who lives dead to his feelings as an insensible corpse (or forgets himself to a stone).

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His sight is fixed only on that single fruit on high, which is the holy and conscious soul or intellect; and with his sole object in his view, he mounts high on the higher branches of this tree of life.

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He bears in his remembrance, the blessings of the preceding step of his yoga meditation, which is one fraught with the ambrosia of contentment; he remains as content at the loss of his riches, as he felt himself glad at their gain before.

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In the callings of his life, as also to the calls of his private and public interest; he is as displeased and annoyed, as one who is untimely roused from his wholesome sleep.

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As a weary traveller fatigued with his long and tiresome journey, longs for his rest from cessation of his labour; so a man tired with his repeated journey through life by cause of his ignorance, requires his respite in nirvana (or extinction of the trouble and transmigration in this troublesome world).

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As a flame of fire is kindled by the wind of breath and without the help of fuel, so let him kindle the flame of his soul within by the breath of respiration; and be united with the Supreme spirit.

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Let him check per-force his yearning after anything, which falls of itself before his sight; although he is unable to prevent his wistful eye, from falling upon it. (Look on all things, but long after nothing).

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Having attained this great dignity, which confers the fruits of best blessings on man, the devotee arrives to the sixth stage of his devotion, whose glory no language can describe.

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Whenever he happens to meet with some unexpected good, which fortune presents unto him he feels a repugnance to it, as the traveller is loath to trust the mirage in a barren desert.

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The silent sage who is full with divine grace within himself, attains to such a state of ineffable felicity; as the weary and exhausted traveller finds in his sweet sleep, over the bustle of the busy world.

He said:—

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sage having arrived at this stage of his devotion, advances towards this attainment of the fruit of spiritual bliss, as an aerial siddha spirit has on its alighting on the Mount Meru, or a bird of air on its dropping down on the top of a tree.

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Here he forsakes all his thoughts and desires, and becomes as free as the open air and sky; and then he takes and tastes and eats and satiates himself, with his feeding freely upon this fruit.

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It is the leaving off of every object of desire day by day, and living the live long day with perfect composure with one's self; that is termed the attainment of godliness or full perfection in life.

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The means of attaining to this state of perfection, is the doing away with all distinctions and differentiations, and remaining in perfect union and harmony with all and every thing; this state of the mind is said by the learned, to be the assimilation and approximation to the nature of God, who is ever pure and the one and same in all from eternity to eternity.

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One disgusted at his desire of the world and its people, and abandoning his desire of wife and family; and forsaking his desire of acquiring riches, can only find his rest in this blissful state.

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The ultimate union of both the intellect and its true knowledge (i.e. of both the subjective and objective) in the Supreme spirit;serves to melt away all sense of distinction, as the solar heat melts down the frozen snow.

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The nature of one who has known the truth, is not comparable with the state of a bent bow, which becomes straight after it is loosened;but to that of a curvilinear necklace, which retains its curvature, even after it is let loose on the ground. (i.e. The true convert does not slide back, like the back sliding hypocrite).

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As a statue is carved in wood or stone, and stands expect to view in bas-relief therein; so is the world manifest in the great pillar of the Supreme spirit, and is neither an entity nor nullity of itself.

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We cannot form any idea of it in the mind, as to how the material subsists in the immaterial spirit; nor is it proper to entertain the notion, of what is unknowable by our ignorance of the nature of the selfexistent One.

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Whoso is known to have his utmost indifference to the visibles, is capable of knowing the invisible spirit; but the unenlightened soul, is incapable to forsake and forget the visibles (in order to see the spirit).

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The knowledge of the phenomenal is utter ignorance, but that which is never lost to our consciousness is what is meant by samadhana, and our reliance in the same, constitutes what is called samadhi. (This passage has a long explanatory note which is here omitted).

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When the viewer and view (or the subjective and objective), are viewed in the same light of identity, and so relied upon by the mind; it is then called samadhana or the union of both into one, and it is this belief whereupon the yogi places his rest and reliance.

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He who has known truth, finds a distaste in the visibles of his own natures (i.e. is naturally averse to them); and wise men make use of the word phenomenalism for ignorance of truth.

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Fools only feed upon the objects of sense, from their ignorance of truth, but the wise men have a natural distaste for them; for they that have the relish of sweet nectar in them, cannot be disposed to taste the sour gruel or the acrid ale.

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The uncovetous man being content in himself, is quite devoid of the triple desire mentioned before; but the wise man who is not inclined to meditation, is addicted to the increase of his wealth.

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Self-knowledge results from absence of cupidity, and whoso loses his self by his venality, hath neither his self-possession, nor any fixed position to stand upon (but is led on everywhere by his covetousness to the service of others).

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The learned man does not prosper in his meditation, though he may employ all his knowledge to it; because he is divided in himself by his various desires, though he was made as the whole and undivided image of himself (i.e. his maker).

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But the soul which is freed from its desires, comes of itself in the possession of endless bliss, by being dissolved in the source of it in its meditation, as the flying mountains were fixed upon the earth (by having their wings chopped off by the thunder of Indra). (So the fickle mind is fixed, by lopping off its desires).

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As the soul becomes conscious of holy light in itself, it loses the sense of its meditation and is wholly lost in that light; as a drop of clarified butter offered in sacred oblation, is burnt away in the sacrificial fire.

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It is the entire inappetency of sensible objects, which constitutes the peace and quietude of the mind; and he who has accustomed himself to this habit, is entitled to our regard as a venerable and holy divine.

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Verily the man that has gained his proficiency, in the suppression of his appetite for worldly objects; becomes as firm and sedate in his holy meditation, that he is not to be shaken from it, by the joint power of Indra and those of the Gods and demigods. (The greedy are as sacrificial beasts, for the food of Gods and others).

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Resort therefore to the strong and adamantine refuge of meditation, and know that all other meditations beside that of knowledge, is as frail and fragile as straws.

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The word world is used in reference to ignorant people, and the wise are not the subject of its meaning; the difference of the words ignorant and wise, consists in the one's forming the majority of mankind and the other their lords (i.e. Wise men rule over the ignorant mob, who compose the world).

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Let wise men resort to and rest at that place, where all meet in union in one self-shining unity; whether it be on the ground of the understanding of the saintly siddhas, or those of viveki sages. (This is an admonition to every one, for his reliance in one catholic religion of unity, of any nation or country).

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No one has yet been able to ascertain the unity or duality of the real or unreal (i.e. of the spirit and matter) and the way to learn it, is firstly by means of the sastras, and next by association with wise and holy men.

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The third and best means to nirvana is meditation, which is arrived at one after the other; and then it will appear that the immense body of Brahma (i.e. the infinite spirit), takes upon it the name and nature of the living soul.

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The world appears in various forms by the concourse of the like and unlike principles, and becomes divided into eighteen regions, by the omniscience of God that knows the past, and future.

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Both the two things namely knowledge and dislike of the world, are attained by attainment of either of them; and the thoughts of our mind, which fly with the winds in open air, are burnt away by the fire of knowledge.

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The worlds like flying cottons, having fled into the supreme soul, nothing is known where they are flown at last; and the gross ignorance of man is not removed by knowledge, as the dense snow is not to be melted by the fire in a painting.

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Though the world is known to be an unfounded fallacy, yet it is hard to remove this error from the mind; but on the other hand it increases like the knowledge of ignorant men of it, by their ignorance.

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As the knowledge of the ignorant, tends the more to increase their ignorance; so the wise man comes to find the meaninglessness of the knowledge of ignorant people with regard to the world.

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The existence of the three worlds, is known to us only as they are represented in our knowledge of them;they are built in vacuity as aerial cities, and stretched out before us as empty dreams in our sleep.

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The knowledge of the world appears as false, as the conception of fanciful desires in the minds of the wise; for neither the entity of the world nor that of his self-existence, is perceptible in the understanding of the wise man.

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There is only the existence of one supremely bright essence, which shines in our minds; which bears resemblance to pieces of wet or dry wood, in as much as they are moistened or exsiccated by the presence or absence of the divine knowledge.

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To the right understanding the whole world with all its living beings, appears as one with one's self; but men of dull understandings, bear no mutual sympathy to one another. The knowledge of twain, tends to difference and disunion betwixt man and man; but that of oneness unity leads men to fellow-feeling and union.

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The wise man possessing a greater share of wisdom, becomes as one with the Supreme One; and does not take into consideration, the question of the entity or nullity of the world.

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As the man who has arrived at the forth stage of yoga, takes no notice of the waking, dreaming and sleeping states of man; so the reasonable man takes into no account the vain wishes of his heart, and false fancies of his mind.

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Hence the deerlike mind does not choose its annihilation, (or the loss of its entity); for the sake of its liberation, (which is an ideal and negative felicity), and has no reality in it.

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Thus the tree of meditation produces of itself the fruit of knowledge, which is ripened by degrees and in course of time to its lusciousness; and then the deer like mind drinks its sweet juice of divine knowledge to its satiety, and becomes freed from its fetters of earthly desire.

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