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 LXXXVII - The infinity of the world shown in the material body

Argument:—In the preceding chapter the world was shown to consist in thought or a grain of the brain; in this it is demonstrated to be contained in the body or an atom of dust.

Vasishtha continued:—

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Afterwards as I directed my attention to my own body for a while; I saw the undecaying and infinite spirit of God (lit.—the vacuous Intellect, surrounding every part of my material frame).

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Pondering deeply, I saw the world was seated within my heart, and shooting forth therein; as the grains put out their sprouts in a granary, by help of the rain water dropping into it.

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I beheld the formal world, with all its sentient as well as insensitive beings, rising out of the formless heart, resembling the shapeless embryo of the seed (i.e. the plastic nature from the amorphous spirit), by moisture of the ground.

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As the beauty of the visibles appears to view, on one's coming to sense after his sleep; so it is the intellect only which gives sensation to one, who is waking or just risen from his sleep: (and so it was the intellectual wakefulness of Vasishtha and other inspired men, which made them sensible of outward objects, even in the trance of their meditation (Samadhi).

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So there is conception of creation in the self-same soul, ere its formation or bringing into action; and the forms of creations are contained in the vacuum of the heart, and in no other separate vacuity whatever.

Rama rejoined:—

6. Sir, your assertion of the vacuum of the heart, made me take it in the sense of infinite space of vacuity, which contains the whole creation; but please to explain to me more clearly, what you mean by your intellectual vacuum, which you say, is the source of the world. (i.e. whether the heart or mind or infinite space, is the cause and container of the cosmos).

Vasishtha replied:—

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Hear Rama, how I thought myself once in my meditation, as the self-born Swayambhu or the god who is born of himself, in whom subsisted the whole, and there was nothing born but by and from him; and how I believed the unreal as real in my revelry, or as an air-built-castle in my dreaming.

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As I had been looking before, at that sight of the great kalpa-dissolution, with my aeriform spiritual body; I found and felt the other part of my person (i.e. my material frame), was likewise infused with the same sensibility and consciousness. (The body being the counter part or rechauffe of the mind).

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As I looked at it for a while, with my spiritual part; I found it as purely aerial, and endued with a slight consciousness of itself. (So says the Sruti:—In the beginning the spirit became or produced the air with its oscillation).

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The vacuous Intellect found this elastic substance, to be of such a subtile and rarefied nature, as when you see the external objects in your dream, or remember the objects of your dream upon your waking.

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This etherial air, having its primary powers of chit and samvid—intellect and conscience, becomes the intellection and consciousness also; then from its power of reflecting (on its existence in space and time), it takes the name of reflection (chittam). Next from its knowledge of itself as air, it becomes the airy egoism, and then it takes the name of buddhi or understanding, for its knowledge of itself as plastic nature, and forgetfulness of its former spirituality. At last it becomes the mind, from its minding many things that it wills or nils.

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Then from its powers of perception and sensation it becomes the five senses, to which are added their fivefold organs; upon the perversion of the nice mental perceptions to grossness.

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As a man roused from his sound sleep, is subject to flimsy dreams; so the pure soul losing its purity upon its entrance in the gross body, is subjected to the miseries that are concomitant with it.

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Then the infinite world; appearing at once and at the same time (before the view of the mind and outer sight, both in state of dream and on waking); it is said to be an act of spontaneity by some, and that of consecution by others. (Some texts say: God willed and it was (so aikshata, fiatet fit, kunfa kana &c.); while others represent the world to be not the work of a day, but of many consecutive days. (Such as so atapshata—God laboured and rested from his labour).

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I conceived the whole (space and time), in the minutiae of my mind; and being myself as empty air, thought the material world, to be contained in me in the form of intelligence.

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As it is the nature of vacuum, to give rise to the current air; so it is natural to the mind, to assign a form and figure to all its ideas, by the power of its imagination (whence it is called the creative mind, or inventive imagination, that gives a shape to airy nothing).

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Whatever imaginary form, our imagination gives to a thing at first, there is no power in the mind to remove it any more from it.

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Hence I believed myself as a minute atom, although I knew my soul to be beyond all bounds; and because I had the power of thinking, I thought myself as the thinking mind, and no more. (So one knowing himself as the body, at once knows him to be a corporeal being only; as the lion thinking himself as a sheep, bleated and grazed as one of them. So we forget our higher nature).

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Then with my subtile body of pure intelligence, I thought myself as a spark of fire;and by thinking so for a long time, I became at length of the form of a gross body. (The angels are to be of a bright and fiery body (muri and atashi), and the human body to be of a gross and earthy substance (khaki and martya).

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I then felt a desire of seeing all what existed about me, and had the power of sight immediately supplied to my gross body. (Just as a child coming out as blind, deaf and dumb from the embryo, has the powers of seeing and hearing and crying, immediately furnished to it afterwards) (so says Adam in Milton, "As I came to life, I looked at this light and beautiful frame").

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In this manner I felt other desires, and had their corresponding senses and organs given to me; and I will tell you now, O race of Raghu, their names and functions and objects, as they are known amongst you.

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The two holes of my face through which I began to see, are termed the two eyes with their function of sight; and having for their objects the visible phenomena of nature.

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When I see that I call time, and as I see that is called its manner;the place where I see an object is simple vacuity, and the duration of the sight is governed by destiny.

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The place where I am situated, is said to be my location; and when I think or affirm any thing, that I say the present time; and as long I feel the twinkling of my intellect, so long do I know myself as the intellectual cause of my action.

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When I see anything, I have its perception in me; and I have my conviction also, that what I behold with my two eyes, are not empty vacuity, but of a substantial nature.

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The organs wherewith I saw and felt the world in me, are these two eyes—the keys to the visible world; then I felt the desire of hearing, what was going about me, and it was my own soul, which prompted this desire in me. (Sensible perceptions are the natural appetites of the soul, and finding their way through the external organs of sense).

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I then heard a swelling sound, as that of a sonorous conch; and reaching to me through the air, where it is naturally born and through which it passes.

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The organs by which I heard the sound, are these two ears of mine;it is born by the air to ear, and then enters the ear holes with a continuous hissing.

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I then felt in me the desire of feeling, and the organ whereby I came to it, is called the touch or skin.

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Next I came to know the medium, whereby I had the sensation of touch in my body; and found it was the air which conveyed that sense to me (i.e. from the object to the skin).

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As I remained sensible of the property of feeling or touch in me, I felt the desire of taste within myself, and had thereupon the organ of tasting given to me.

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Then my vacuous self, contracted the property of smelling, by the air of its breath, I had thereby the sense of smelling given to me, through the organs of my nostrils. Being thus furnished with all the organs of sense, I found myself to be imperfect still (because none of them could lead me to the knowledge of the truth).

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Being thus confined in the net of my senses, I found my sensual appetite increasing fast in me (and the possession of sensuous perceptions (vidah), tending to no conscientious verity samvidah).

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The bodily sensations of sound, form, taste, touch and smell, are all formless and untrue, and though appear to be actual and true; yet they are really false and untrue.

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As I remained ensnared in the net of my senses, and considered myself a sensible being; I felt my egoism in me, as that with which I am now addressing to you.

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The sense of egoism growing strong and compact, takes the name of the understanding; and this being considered and mature, comes to be designated as the mind.

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Being possessed of my external senses, I pass for a sentient being; and having my spiritual body and soul, I pass as an intellectual being in a vacuous form.

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I am more rare and vacuous than the air itself, and am as the empty void itself; I am devoid of all shapes and figures, and am irrepressible in my nature.

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As I remained at that spot, with this conviction of myself; I found myself endowed with a body, and it was as I took me to be.

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With this belief (of my being an embodied being), I began to utter sounds; and these sounds were as void, as those of man, dreaming himself as flying in the air in his sleep.

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This was the sound of a new born babe, uttering the sacred syllable om at first; and thence it has become the custom to pronounce this word, in the beginning of sacred hymn.

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Then I uttered some words as those of a sleeping person, and these words are called the vyahrites, which are now used in the Gayatri hymn.

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Methought I now became as Brahma, the author and lord of creation;and then with my mental part or mind, I thought of the creation in my imagination.

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Finding myself so as containing the mundane system within me, I thought I was not a created being at all; because I saw the worlds in my own body, and naught besides without it.

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Thus the world being produced, within this mind of mine;I turned to look minutely into it, and found there was nothing in reality, except an empty void.

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So it is with all these worlds that you see, which are mere void, and no other than your imagination of them; and there is no reality whatever, in the existence of this earth and all other things that you see.

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The worlds appear as the waters of the mirage, before the sight and to the knowledge of our consciousness; there is nothing outside the mind, and the mind sees every thing, in the pure vacuity of the divine mind.

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There is no water in the sandy desert, and yet the mind thinks it sees it there; so the deluded sight of our understanding, sees the baseless objects of delusion, in the burning and barren waste of infinite void.

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Thus there is no world in reality in the divine spirit, and yet the erring mind of man, sees it erroneously to be situated therein; it is all owing to the delusion of human understanding, which naturally leads us to groundless errors and fallacies. (Errors in the mind breed errors in thoughts).

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The unreal appears, as the real extended world to the mind; in the same manner as the imaginary utopia appears before it, and as a city is seen in the dream of a sleeping man.

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As one knows nothing of the dream of another sleeping by his side, without being able to penetrate into his mind; while the yogi sees it clearly, by his power of prying into the hearts of others.

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So doth one know this world, who can penetrate into the mundane stone; where it represented as the reflection of some thing in a mirror, which in reality is nothing at all.

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And although the world appears, as an elemental substance to the naked eye; yet when it is observed in its true light, it disappears like the Otaria of the polar region, which is hidden under ever lasting darkness.

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He who views the creation with his spiritual body, and with his eyes of discernment, finds it full of the immaculate spirit of God, which comprehends and pervades throughout the whole.

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The percipient or judicious eye, sees the extinction or absence of the world everywhere; because they have the presence of the Divine Spirit alone before their view, and naught that is not the spirit and therefore nothing.

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Whatever is perceived by the clear-sighted (yogi), by his conclusive reasoning; that transcendent truth is hard to be seen by the triple-eyed Siva, or even by the god Indra with his thousand eyes.

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But as I looked into the vacuity of the sky, replete with its myriads of luminous bodies; so I beheld the earth full with the variety of its productions; and then I began to reflect in myself, that I was the lord of all below (and even as Brahma himself).

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Then thinking myself as the master of the earth, I became amalgamated with the earth as if it were one with myself; and having forsaken my vacuous intellectual body, I thought myself as the sovereign of the whole.

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Believing myself as the support and container of this earth, I penetrated deep into its bowels; and thought all its hidden mines were parts of myself, so I took whatever it contained both below and above it to be selfsame with me.

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Being thus warped in the form of the earth, I became changed to all its forests and woods, which grew as hairs on its body. My bowels were full of jewels and gems, and my back was decorated by many a city and town.

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I was full of villages and valleys, of hills and dales, and of infernal regions and caverns; I thought I was the great mountain chain, and connected the seas and their islands on either side.

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The grassy verdure was the hairy cover of my body, and the scattered hills as pimples on it; and the great mountain tops, were as the crests of my coronet, or as the hundred heads of the infernal snake (Vasuki).

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This earth which was freely enjoined by all living beings, came to be parcelled by men and at last oppressed by belligerent kings, and worsted by their lines of fighting elephants.

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The great mountains of Imaus, Vindhya and Sumeru, had all their tops decorated with the falling streams of Ganges and others, sparkling as their pearly necklaces.

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The caves and forests, the seas and their shores, furnished it with beautiful scenes; and the desert and marsh lands, supplied it with clean linen garments.

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The ancient waters of the deluge, have receded to their basins, and left the pure inland reservoirs, decorated by flowery banks, and perfumed by the odorous dust of falling flowers.

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The earth is ploughed daily by bullocks, and sown in the dewy and cold season; it is heated by the solar heat, and moistened by rain water.

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The wide level land or plain, is its broad breast; the lotus-lakes its eyes, the white and black clouds are its turbans, and the canopy of heaven is its dwelling.

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The great hollow under the polar mountain, forms its wide open mouth; and the breathing of animated nature, makes the breath of its life.

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It is surrounded all about, and filled in its inside, by beings of various kinds; it is peopled by the devas, demons and men on the outside, and inhabited by worms and insects in its inner parts.

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It is infested in the organic poles and cells of its body, by snakes, Asuras and reptiles; and peopled in all its oceans and seas, with aquatic animals of various kinds.

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It is filled in all its various parts with animal, vegetable and mineral substances of infinite varieties; and it is plenteous with provisions for the sustenance of all sorts of beings.

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