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 XCIX - A discourse on esoteric or spiritual knowledge

Argument:—The share of the Brute creation in the enjoyments of life, and its varieties in various grades of Beings.

Rama rejoined:—

Verily we (rational beings), have a great many means, for relieving our pains. Such as our reason, the precepts of the sastras, the advices of our friends and the society of the wise and good; beside the applications of mantras and medicines, the giving of charities, performances of religious austerities, going to pilgrimages and resorting to holy places (all [of] which have the efficacy of removing our calamities and rendering us happy).

2. But tell me what is the state of the brute creation such as of the worms and insects, birds and flies, and the other creeping, crawling and bending animals; whether they are not alike susceptible with ourselves of pain and pleasure, and what means they have to remedy their pains and evils.

Vasishtha replied:—

3. All creatures whether animals or vegetables, are destined to partake of the particular enjoyments, which are allotted to their respective shares; and are ever tending towards that end.

4. All living beings from the noble and great to the mean and minute, have their appetites and desires like ourselves; but the difference consists in their lesser or greater proportion in us and themselves. (i.e. Mankind is actuated in a lesser degree by their passions and appetites than their violence in the brute tribes).

5. As the great Virat-like big bodies, are actuated by their passions and feelings, so also the little valyakhilyas or puny tribes of insects, are fed by their self love to pursue their own ends.

6. Behold the supportless fowls of the firmament, flying and falling in the air, are quite content with roving in empty vacuity, without seeking a place for their rest.

7. Look at the incessant endeavours of the little emmet, in search of its food and hoarding its store like ourselves, for the future provision of our families, and never resting content for a moment.

8. There the little mollusks, as minute as atoms of dust, and yet as quick in quest of its food, as when the swift eagle is in pursuit of its prey, in the etherial sphere.

9. As the world passes with us in the thoughts of ourselves, our egoism and meity of this and that; so it goes on with every creature, in its selfish thoughts and cares for its own kind. (Self-love is the prime mover of all living bodies, towards their own good).

10. The lives of filthy worms are spent like ours, in their toil and anxious care for food and provisions, at all places and times of their duration in the world.

11. The vegetable creation is some what more awakened, in their state of existence, than mineral productions, which continue as dead and dormant for ever. But the worms and insects, are as awakened from their dormancy as men, in order to remain restless for ever.

12. Their lives are as miserable as ours, upon this earth of sin and pain, and their death is as desirable as ours, in order to set us free from misery after a short-lived pain.

13. As a man sold and transported to a foreign country, sees all things with wonder that are not his own; so it is with the brute animals, to see all strange things in this earth.

14. All animals find every thing on earth, to be either as painful or pleasant to them, as they are to us also; but they have not the ability like us, to distinguish what is good for them from whatever is noxious to them.

15. Brute animals are dragged by their bridles and nose-strings, as men who are sold as slaves to labour in distant lands, have to bear with all sorts of pains and privation, without being able to communicate or complain of them to any body.

16. The trees and plants and their germs, are liable to similar pains and troubles like us, when our thin-skinned bodies are annoyed by inclement weather, or assailed by gnats and bugs, during the time of our sleep (i.e. The vegetable tribe is equally sensible of pain as the animal in their sleeping state).

17. And as we mortals on earth, have our knowledge of things—padartha-vedana, and the sagacity of forsaking a famine stricken

place for our welfare else where; so it is with the bending brutes and birds, to emigrate from lands of scarcity to those of plenty. (i.e. Brutes are alike discerning as men).

18. The delightsome is equally delectable to all, and the God Indra as well as a worm, are alike inclined towards what is pleasurable to them;and this tendency to pleasure proceeds from their own option of choice. This freedom of choice is not denied to any but is irresistible in all, and he who knows his free will (or self agency), is altogether free and liberated. (The text uses two words viz., Vikshepa or projection of the soul (or inclination), as actuated by Vikalpa or one's free

choice of anything. This passage establishes the doctrine of free choice and self agency of all living beings, against the common belief in an imperious fatality).

19. The pleasure and pain, arising from the passions and feelings, and from enjoyments in life; and torments of diseases and death, are alike to all living beings.

20. Except the knowledge of things, and that of past and future events, as also of the arts of life; all the various kinds of animals, are possest of all other animal faculties and propensities like those of mankind.

21. The drowsy vegetable kingdom, and the dormant mountain and other insensible natures; are fully sensible in themselves, of a vacuous intellectual power whereon they subsist. (They are as the inactive but meditative yogis, who with their external insensibility, are internally conscious of the Divine spirit).

22. But there are some that deny the sensibility of an intellectual spirit, in the dormant and fixed bodies of arbours and mountains; and allow the consciousness of the vacuous intellect, but in a very slight degree, in moving animals and in the majority of living and ignorant part of mankind.

23. The solid state of mountains and the sleepy nature of the vegetable creation, being devoid of the knowledge of a dualism (other than their own natures) have no sense of the existence of the world, except that of a non-entity or mere vacuity.

24. The knowledge of the entity of the world, is accompanied with utter ignorance of its nature or agnosticism; for when we know not ourselves or the subjective, how is it possible for us to know the objective world.

25. The world is situated as ever, in its state of dumb torpidity, like a dull block of wood or stone; it is without its beginning and end, and without an aperture in it, and is as the dreaming wakefulness of a sleeping man.

26. The world exists in the same state, as it did before its creation; and it will continue to go on for ever even as now; because eternity is always the same both before and after.

27. It is neither the subjective nor objective, nor the plenum nor vacuum; nor is it a mute substance nor any thing whatever.

28. Remain thou as thou art, and let me remain as I am; and being exempt from pleasure or pain in our state of vacuity, we find nothing existent nor non-existent herein.

29. Say why you forsake your state of absolute nothingness, and what you get in your visionary city of this world; it is all calm and quiet without, as your vacuous Intellect is serene and clear within you.

30. It is the want of right knowledge, that causes our error of the world; but no sooner do we come to detect this false knowledge of ours, than this error flies away from us.

31. The world being known as a dream, and having no reality in it, it is as vain to place any reliance therein, as to place one's affections [on] the son of a barren woman, or confide in such a one.

32. When the dream of the world is known to be a mere dream or false, even at the time of dreaming it in sleep; what faith or confidence can be relied on it, on one's coming to know its nothingness upon his waking.

33. What is known in the waking state, could not be otherwise in that of sleep; whatever is known in the later hour of coming to its knowledge, the same must have been its previous state also. (i.e. The world is nothing, both in the states of its knowledge as well as ignorance).

34. There are the three times of present, past and future, and our knowledge of these, proceeds from our ignorance of endless duration;which is the only real tranquil and universal substratum of all (and this is the attribute of the ever unchanging One).

35. As the breaking of breakers, by the dashing of waves against one another, does no harm to the waters of the sea; so the molestation or destruction of one body by another, does no injury to the inward soul, which is ever impregnable and also indestructible.

36. It is the vacuous Intellect within us, that gives rise to the erroneous conception of our bodies; wherefore the loss of the body or its false conception, does not affect our intellect and ourselves neither.

37. The waking soul sees the world, situated in the vacuity of Intellect, as it were in its sleep; and this of creation in the mind being devoid of materiality, is very like a dream; (which proceeds from reminiscence only).

38. The ideas (dhi) of material things, are produced in the beginning of creation, from their previous impressions left in the intellect; and the world being but a dream or work of imagination; it is an error of the brain to take it for a reality.

39. The traces of prior dreams and reminiscences (of previous birth), being preserved in the memory or mind;the same things appear and reappear in it (in later births), and represent their aerial shapes as substantial figures (as some pictures appear true to life).

40. This error has taken possession of the mind, in the same manner as the untrue is taken for truth: while the transcendent and clear truth of the omniform soul is rejected as untrue.

41. In reality there is the Divine Intellect only, that has existed for ever; and this being the most certain truth that Brahma is all in all, the doctrine of reminiscence and oblivion goes to nothing.

42. It is sheer ignorance, which is devoid of this spiritual knowledge, and views things in their physical light only; and in this lies the true knowledge, which breaks open the door of ignorance. (i.e. Spiritualism

alone, dispels the gloom of materialism).

43. There remains nothing at last, after expulsion of the error of materiality; except the pure spirit of God, who is both the viewer and the view, or the subjective and objective in himself.

44. As the reflexion of anything falling on a mirror, shows the figure of that thing within itself; so the world shines of itself in the vacuity of the Divine Intellect, and with the reflection of anything else, being ever cast upon it.

45. As the reflexion of a thing, exhibits itself in its bosom, though nobody was to look at it; so the world is shown in the Divine Intellect, though the same is invisible to every one.

46. Whatever is found as true, both by reason and proof, the same must be the certain truth; all else is mere semblance of it; and not being actual can never be true.

47. And though the knowledge of the material world, is proved to be false and untrue, yet it is found to mislead us, as the act of somnambulation does in our sleep and dreaming state.

48. It is the lustre of the Divine Luminary, that casts its reflexion into the Intellect, and emblazons the intellectual sphere supremely bright. Tell me therefore what are we and this pageant of the world, any more than a rechauffe or a print of that archetype.

49. If there is a resuscitation of ourselves after our demise, then what is it that is lost to us; and should there be no regeneration of us after death, then there is a perfect tranquillity of our souls, by our utter extinction, and emancipation from the pains of life and death. Or if we have our liberation by the light of philosophy, then there [is] nothing here, that lends to our woe in any state whatsoever.

50. The ignorant man alone knows the state of the ignorant, wherein the wise are quite ignorant; as the fishes alone know the perilous state of the stag, that is fallen amidst the waves and eddies of the sea.

51. It is the open sphere of the Divine Intellect only, that represents the divers images of I, thou, he and this and that in its hollow space; as a tree shows the sundry forms of its leaves, fruits, flowers &c., in its all producing body or stem.