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 XCI - Description of igneous, luminous and brilliant objects in nature

Argument:—Vasishtha's Identity of his soul with light, and his observation of it in all lightsome substances.

Vasishtha related:—

1. I then believed myself as identical with light, and beheld its various aspects in the luminous bodies of the sun and moon, in the planets and stars, and in fire and all shining objects.

2. This light has by its own excellence, and it becomes the light of the universe; it is as brilliant as the mighty monarch, before whose all surveying sight, the thievish darkness of night flies at a distance.

3. This light like a good prince, takes upon it the likeness of lamps, and reigns in the hearts of families and houses in a thousand shapes (of chandeliers &c.), to drive off the thievish night, and restore the properties of all before their sight.

4. Being glad to lighten all peoples (worlds), it enkindles the orbs of the sun, moon and stars; who with their rays and beams, dispel afar the shade of night from the face of the skies.

5. It impoverishes the darkness, that bereaves all beings from their view of the beauties of nature, and dispenses the useful light, which brings all to the sight of the visibles.

6. It employs the axe at the root of the nigrescent arbour of night, and adds a purity and price to all things; it is this that gives value to all metals [and] minerals, and makes them so dear to mankind.

7. It shows to view all sorts of colours, as white, red, black and others. It is light that is the cause of colours as the parent is the cause of the progeny.

8. This light is in great favour, with every one upon this earth;wherefore it is protected with great fondness in all houses, as they foster their children in them, by means of earthen walls (in order to preserve them from inclement winds).

9. I beheld a slight light, even in the darkness of the infernal region (i.e. the dismal hell fire); and I saw it partly in the particles of dust, which compose all bodies on the surface of the earth.

10. I saw light, which is the first and best of the works of God, to be eternally present in the abodes of the celestial; and observed it as the lamp of the mansion of this world, which was the great deep of waters and darkness before. ("And darkness reigned over the face of the deep").

11. Light is the mirror of the celestial nymphs of all the quarters of heaven (i.e. it shows and points out the face of the heavens to us); it scatters like the winds the dust of frost from before the face of night, it is the essence of the luminous bodies of the sun, moon and fire, and the cause of the red and bright hue of the face of heaven.

12. It discloses the cornfields to day-light, and ripens their corn, by dispelling darkness from the face of the earth. It washes also the glassy bowl of heaven, and glitters in the dewy waters upon its face.

13. It is by reason of its giving existence to, and bringing to view all things in the world, it is said to be the younger brother, of the transcendent light of divine Intellect. (The gross light is the reflection of holy light).

14. It is the light of the sun, which is the reviver of the lotus bed of the actions of mortals; and which is the life of living beings on earth; it is the source of our sight of the forms of all things, as the intellect is that of all our thoughts and perceptions.

15. Light decorates the face of the sky, with numberless gems of shining stars; and it is the solar light that makes the divisions of days, months, years and seasons in the course of time, and makes them appear as the passing waves in the ocean of eternity.

16. This immense universe bears the appearance of the boundless ocean, wherein the sun and moon are revolving as the rolling waves, over the scum of this muddy earth.

17. Light is the brilliancy of gold, and the colour of all metals; it is the glitter of glass and gems, the flash of lightnings, and the vigour of men in general.

18. It is moon shine in the nocturnal orb, and the glittering of glancing eye lids; it is the brightness of a smiling countenance, and the sweetness of tender and affectionate looks.

19. It gives significancy to the gestures, of the face, arms, eyes and frownings of the eye-brows; and it adds a blush to maiden faces, from the sense of their invincibleness. (Laughter spring from pride).

20. The heat of this light, makes the mighty to spurn the world as a straw, and break the head of the enemy with a slap; and strike the heart of the lion with awe.

21. It is this heat which makes the hardy and bold combatants, engage in mutual fighting with drawn and jangling swords; and clad in armours clanking on their bodies.

22. It gives the gods their antagonism against the demons, and makes the demoniac races also antagonistic to the gods; it gives vigour to all beings, and causes the growth of the vegetable kingdom.

23. All these appeared to me as the mirage in a desert, and I beheld them as phantasms in my mind;and this scene of the world was situated in the womb of vacuum, and I beheld these sceneries, O bright eyed Rama, all these sceneries seem to resemble the appearances of a phantasmagoria to me.

24. I then beheld the glorious sun above, stretching his golden rays to all the ten sides of the universe, and himself flying as the phoenix in the sky; and I saw also this speck of the earth, resembling a villa beset by the walls of its mountains.

25. The sun turned about and lent his beams to the moon, and to the submarine fire beneath the dark blue ocean; and stood himself as the great lamp of the world on the stand of the meridian, to give the light of the day.

26. I saw the moon rising as the face of the sky, with a lake of cooling and sweet nectar in it; the moonlight appearing as the soft and sweet smile of the sable goddess of night, and as the glow of the nightly stars.

27. The moon is the comparison of all beautiful objects in the world, and is the most beloved object at night, of females, and of the blue lotus, and companion of the vesper or evening star.

28. I beheld the twinkling stars likening to the clusters of flowers in the arbour of the skies, and delighting the eyes and faces (of their spectator); and they appeared to me as flocks of butterflies, flying in the fair field of the firmament.

29. I saw many shining gems washed away by the waters, and tossed about by the waving arms of the ocean; *and I saw many jewels also in the hands of jewellers, and balanced by them in their scales. * (Note.—Full many a gem of brightest ray serene, the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear. Gray).]

30. I looked into the submarine fire lying latent in the sea, and the eddies whirling the silvery shrimps in the whirlpools, I saw the golden rays of the sun, shining as filaments of flowers upon the waters, and I saw also the lightnings flashing in the midst of clouds. (There is a play upon the words abdhi and abda which mean the sea, the eddy, the marine fire, the cloud &c.).

31. I witnessed the auspicious sacrificial fire, blazing with ineffable light; and marked its burning flame, splitting and cracking the sacred wood, with a crackling and clattering noise.

32. I saw the lustre of gold and other metals and minerals, and I found also how they are reduced to ashes by the act of calcination, like learned men overpowered by the clownish ignorant.

33. I observed the brightness of pearls, which gave them a place on the breasts of women in the form of necklaces; as also on the necks and chests of men and giants, and of Gandharvas and chiefs of men.

34. I beheld the firefly, with which the beauties adorn their foreheads with bright spots; but which are trod upon on the way by ignorant passers as worthless; hence the value of things depends on their situation and not real worth.

35. I saw the flickering lightning in the unmoving cloud, and the fickle shrimps skimming upon the waters of the calm ocean; I heard also the hoarse noise of whirlpools in the quiet and unsounding main, and marked how restlessness consorted with restive and sedate.

36. Some times I saw the soft petals of flowers, were used as lamps to light the bridal beds in the inner apartments.

37. Being then exhausted as the extinguished lamp, I became as dark as collyrium; and slept silently in my own cell, like a tortoise with its contracted limbs.

38. Being tired with my travel throughout the universe, at the kalpanta end of the world; I remained fixed amidst the dark clouds of heaven, as the elephant of Rudra abides there in company with (his lightning).

39. At the end when the worlds were dissolved, and the waters were absorbed by the submarine fires; I kept myself dancing in the etherial space, which devoid of its waters.

40. Sometimes I was borne on high by the burning fire, with its teeth of the sparks and its flaming arms, and its flying fumes resembling the dishevelled hairs on its head.

41. The conflagration burnt down the straw-built houses before it, and fed upon the animal bodies on its way; and consumed the eight kinds of wood, that are ordained in sacrificial rites.

42. I saw the sparks of fire, emitted by the strokes of hammer, from the red hot iron of blacksmiths, were rising and flying about like golden brickbats, to hit the hammerer.

43. In another place I saw the whole universe, lying invisible for ages in the womb of stony mundane egg.

Rama said:—

44. Tell me sir, how you felt yourself in that state of confinement in the stone; and whether it was a state of pleasure or pain, to you and the rest of beings.

Vasishtha replied:—

45. As when a man falls into sleep with the dulness of his senses, and has yet his airy intellect fully awake in him; so was that outward insensibility filled with intellectual sensibility. (So a man assimilating himself to Brahma, is full of his internal light and felicity).

46. The great Brahma awakens the soul, when the body lies as insensible as the dull earth; so the sleeping man remaining in his torpid state, has his internal soul full with the divine spirit (which fills it with true intellectual delight sachchidananda).

47. Because the earthly or corporeal body of man, is verily a falsity and has no reality in it; it appears as visual phantom to the sight of the spectator, but in reality it is one with unchanged spirit of God.

48. Knowing this certain truth, whoso views these all as an undivided whole; sees the quintessence as one essence, and the subjective and the objective as the same (Lit.:—He does not fall into the blunder of the viewer and the view).

49. I then having assimilated myself to the pure spirit of Brahma, viewed all things in and as Brahma, because there is none beside Brahma, that is or can be or do anything from naught.

50. When I viewed all these visibles as manifestation of the self-same Brahma, then I left myself also situated in the state of divinity of Brahma himself.

51. When on the other hand, I reflected myself as combined with the pentuple material elements; I found myself reduced to my dull nature, and was incapable of my intellectual operation of excogitation, and the conception of my higher nature.

52. I thought myself as asleep, notwithstanding my power of intellection (which lay dormant in me); and being thus overtaken by the conception of my sleepy insensibility, how could I cogitate of anything otherwise; which is of a transcendental nature.

53. He whose soul is awakened by knowledge, loses the sense of his corporeal body, and raises himself to his ativahika or spiritual form, by means of his purer understanding.

54. A man having his sentient and spiritual body, either in the form of a minute particle or larger size as one may wish, remains perfectly liberated from the fetters of his body and his bondage in this world.

55. With his intelligent and spiritual body, a man is enabled to enter into the impenetrable heart of a hard stone, or to rise to heaven above or descend to the regions below.

56. Hence, O Rama, I having then that intelligent and subtile body of mine, did all that I told you, with my essence of infinite understanding.

57. In my entrance into the hard stone, and my passages up and down the high heaven and the nether world, I experienced no difficulty from any side.

58. With my subtile and intelligent body, I passed every where, and felt everything, as I used to do with material body.

59. One going of his own accord in one direction, and wishing to go in another, [he] immediately finds himself even then and there, by means of his spiritual body.

60. Know this spiritual and subtile body, to be no other than your understanding only; and now you can well perceive yourself to be of that imperishable form, by means of your intelligence also.

61. Thinking one's self as the vacuous Intellect, abiding in the sun and all visible objects; the spiritualist comes to know the existence of his self only, and all else that is beside himself as nothing.

62. But how is it possible to view the visible world as inexistent, to which it is answered that it appears as real as the unreal dream to the sleeping person, but vanishes into nothing upon his waking (scholium). Reliance in the inexistent world, is as the belief of the ignorant man in falsehoods; and this reliance is confirmed by habit, although it is not relied upon by others that know the truth.

63. But this reliance is as vain as the vanity of our desires, and the falsity of our aerial castle building; all which are as false as the marks of waves, left on the sea sands; or as the marking of anything with a charcoal, which is neither lasting nor perceptible to any body.

64. We see the woodlands, blooming with full blown flowers and blossoms;but these sights are as deluding, as the sparks of fire, presenting the appearance of a flower garden in fire works.

65. These pyrotechnical works, which are prepared with so much labour; burst on a sudden at the slight touch of fire, and then they are blown away as soon, as the prosperity of sharpers (which is transient).

66. Rama, I beheld the flourish of the world, to be as false and fleeting, as the appearance of light in the particles of dust; all these appearing as so many things of themselves, are in fact no other than the appearances of hills and cities, in the vacuity of the mind in our dreams at sleep.