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...

Argument:—Refutation of the Atheistical doctrine of the materiality of the soul.

Rama rejoined:—

Please to tell me, sir, what are your arguments, for allaying the miseries of this world, against the position (paksha) of others who maintain in that:—

2. A living being is happy so long, as the dread of death (either of himself or others) is out of his view; and that there is no reappearance (revivification) of the dead, that is already reduced to ashes. (Hence there is no happiness either for the living or dead (according to them)).

Vasishtha replied:—

3. Whatever is the certain belief of any body, he finds the same in his consciousness; and that he feels and conceives accordingly, is a truth that is well known to all mankind (that every one thinks according to his belief).

4. As the firmament is firm, quiet and ubiquitous, so also is the ubiquity of the Intellect (i.e. the vacuous intellect is also all-pervading), and are considered to form a duality by the ignorant dualist, while the sapient take them as the one and same thing, from the impossibility of conceiving the co-existence of two things from eternity.

5. It is wrong to suppose the existence of a chaos before creation began, for that would be assigning another (chaotic) cause to the creation when [it] has proceeded from Brahma, who is without a cause and is diffused in his creation.

6. He who does not acknowledge the purport of the Vedas, (that all things are produced from Brahma), and the final great dissolution (when all things are dissolved in and return to him); are known as men without a revelation and religion, and are considered as dead by us (i.e. spiritually dead).

7. Those whose minds are settled in the undisputed belief of the sastras, that all these is Brahma or the varied god himself;are persons with whom we have to hold no discussion or argument.

8. As our consciousness is ever awake in our minds, and without any intermission; so Brahma that constitutes our consciousness, is ever wakeful in us, whether the body lasts or not.

9. If our perceptions are to produce our consciousness, then must man be very miserable indeed; because the sense of a feeling, other [than] that of the ever felicitous state of the soul, is what actually makes us so.

10. Knowing the universe as the splendours of the intellectual vacuum (i.e. in the sphere of the vacuous intellect); you cannot suppose the knowledge of anything, or the feeling of any pleasure or pain, ever to attach or stick to an empty nothing. (i.e. to the vacuous spirit).

11. Hence men who are quite certain and conscious, of the entirety and pure unity of the soul, can never find the feelings of sorrow or grief, to rise in or overwhelm it in any way than the dust of earth rising to the sky, and filling its sphere with foulness. (This passage rests on text of the sruti which says: there is no sorrow or pain to any body who sees the pure unity only).

12. Whether the consciousness of unity, be true or not in all men;yet the common notion of it even in the minds of boys, cannot be discarded as untrue. (i.e. All men may differ in their conceptions respecting

the nature of the Divine soul, but they all agree in the notion of one prime cause of all. See kusumanjali).

13. The body is not the soul nor the living spirit, nor any other thing of which we have any conception; It is the consciousness which is every thing, and the world is as it conceives it to be. (There is nothing beyond our consciousness of it).

14. Whether it is true or not, yet we have the conception of our bodies by means of this; and it gives us conceptions of all things in earth, water and heaven, independent of their material forms, as we see the aerial forms of things in our dreams. (i.e. We are conscious only of the abstract notions of things, and of their substantial properties).

15. Whether our consciousness is a real entity or not, yet it is this power which is called the conscious soul; and whatever is the conviction of this power, the same is received as positive truth by all.

16. The authority of all the sastras, rests upon the proof of consciousness; and the truth which is generally arrived at by all, must be acknowledged as quite certain in my opinion also.

17. Therefore the consciousness of atheists, which is vitiated by their misunderstanding, being purified afterwards by right reasoning, becomes productive of good results likewise (i.e. of producing the fruit of their liberation also).

18. But a perverted conscience or vitiated understanding, is never reproved by any means;either by performance of pious acts at any time or place, or by study of vedas, or by pursuit of other things.

19. Errors of the understanding (avidya) recur to the reprobate as often as they [are] corrected from time to time; say therefore what other means can there be, to preserve our consciousness from fallacy.

20. Self-consciousness is the soul of man, and in proportion to its firmness or weakness, the happiness or misery of man, increases or decreases accordingly. (i.e. The strong minded are always prosperous).

21. If there is a consciousness in men, and such men also who are conscious of the Divine essence in them, and those who are resorted to by the pious, for their liberation from the bonds of the world; then this world would appear as a dead and dumb block of stone, and a dark and dreary desert.

22. The knowledge of nature or gross materialism, which rises in the mind of man, for want of his knowledge of the consciousness of himself, is like the dark ignorance in which one is involved in his sleep.

Rama rejoined:—

23. Tell me Sir, how is that atheist who denies the end of the ten sides of heaven, and disbelieves the destruction of the world; who believe only in what is existent, and have no thought of inexistence (either prior to the creation or after its dissolution).

24. Who does not perceive the perfect wisdom, which is displayed throughout the universe; but sees only whatever is visible, without knowing their destruction (frailty). (The atheists consider the world as eternal).

25. Tell me Sir, what are their arguments, about allaying the evils of the world; and remove my doubts about it, for increase of my knowledge in this important truth.

Vasishtha replied:—

26. I have already given my reply to your query regarding the infidels (that they are not to be spoken to); hear me now to give the reply with regard to your second question touching the salvation of the soul.

27. O best of men Rama! you have spoken in this sense, that the human soul (purusha) is constituted of the intelligence alone (as you think it to be and which is but a flash of the Divine Intellect, and the measure of the objects of consciousness).

28. This intelligence (or intelligent soul) is indestructible, and is not destroyed with the destruction of the body, but is joined with the Divine Intelligence without fail. Or if the body be indestructible (owing to its resurrection after death), then there is no cause of sorrow at its temporary loss.

29. The intelligence is said to be divided into various parts, in the souls of men and different members of their bodies; if so it be, then the intelligence is destroyed with the destruction of individual souls and bodily members also. (Therefore the supremely intelligent soul is beyond these).

30. The self-conscious soul that is liberated in the living state, has no more to return to earth after death; but the consciousness which is not purified by divine knowledge, cannot be exempted from its transmigration to this world.

31. Those again that deny the existence of consciousness, such souls are doomed to the gross ignorance of stones (i.e. to become stony block heads) for this disbelief of theirs.

32. As the knowledge of sensible objects, keeps the mind in utter darkness; so the death of such persons is calculated as their final bliss, because they have [no] more to feel the sensibles nor view the visible world any more (although they are deprived of their spiritual bliss).

33. Men of pure understandings; who have lost the sense of their corporeality, are never to be reborn on earth any more; but those of dull understandings, become as gross corporeal bodies and are involved in impenetrable darkness (i.e. the gloom of ignorance according to the dictum of the sruti).

34. Those intellectual philosophers (vijnana-vadis), who view the world as an aerial city in his dream; to them the world presents its aspect as a phantom and no other. (The world is a day dream, and its sight a delusion. In haman ke didam khab bud).

35. There are some that maintain the stability, and others asserting the frailty of the world and every thing; but what do they gain by these opinions, since the knowledge of either, neither augments the amount of human happiness, nor lessens any quantity of mortal misery (i.e. the misery of mortals).

36. The stability or unstability, of the greatest or least of things, makes no difference in any of them whatever; they are all alike the radiating rays of the intellect, though they appear as extended bodies to the ignorant.

37. Those who assign unlimitedness to the essence of consciousness, and of limitation to that of insensibility; and maintain the permanence of the one and the transience of the other, talk mere nonsense like the babbling of boys.

38. They are the best and most venerable of men, who know the body to be the product of and encompassed by the intellect. And they are the meanest among mankind, who believe the intellect as the produce and offspring of the body; (and these are Kanada and Nyaya philosophers of gross materialism, who believe intelligence as a resultant of the material body).

39. The intellect (personified as Hiranyagarbha or Brahma the Divine spirit), is distributed into the souls of all living beings; and the infinite space of vacuity, is as a net work or curtain, [in] which all animals live, flying within its ample expanse like bodies of gnats and flies, and rising up and sinking below or moving all about, as the shoals of fishes in the interminable ocean. (The Divine Intellect or spirit, is the collection of all specialities).

40. As this universal soul, thinks of creating the various species; so it conceives them within itself, as the seeds conceive the future plants in themselves, and the same are developed afterward.

41. Whatever lives or living beings, it thinks of or conceives in itself; the same spring forth quickly from it, and this truth is known even to boys (from the repeated texts importing the Lord as the fountain of all).

42. As the vapours fly in the air, and as the waters roll in the ocean;and as they form curls and waves of various kinds, so the lives of living beings, are continually floating in the vacuum of the Divine Intellect.

43. As the vacuity of the Intellect, presents the sight of a city to a man in his dream; so the world presents its variegated aspects since its first creation, to the sight of the day dreaming man.

44. There were no co-ordinate causes of material bodies (as earth, water &c.), at the first formation of the world; but it rose spontaneously of itself as the empty sights appearing in our dream.

45. As in a city seen in dream, its houses and their apartments, come to appear gradually to sight; so the dream becomes enlarged and expanded and divided by degrees to our vision.

46. All this creation is but the empty void of the intellect, (or as pictures drawn in empty air); there is no duality or variety in it, but is one even plane of the intellect, like the open sky, without any spot or place attached to it.

47. The moon-light of the Intellect, diffuses its coolness on all sides, and gladdens the souls of all beings; it scatters the beams of intellection all around, and casts its reflexions in the image of the world.

48. The world as it is now visible to us, lies for ever in the mind of God in the same vacuous state, as it was before its creation; and as it is to be reduced to nothing upon its final destruction. It is the twinkling, or the opening and closing of the intellectual eye, that this empty shadow of the world, appears and disappears amidst the universal vacuum of the Divine Mind.

49. Whoever views this world in any light, it appears to him in the same manner (as some thinking it a solid plenum, and others as an empty vacuum). And as it depends upon the Intellect alone, it is exhibited in various forms according to the caprice of its observers.

50. The minds of the intelligent, are as pure as the clear sphere of the summer sky; and the pure hearted and holy people, think themselves as nothing else, beside their intellects or as intellectual beings only.

51. These pious and holy people, are free from ignorance and the faults of society; they share the gifts of fortune, as it falls to them by the common lot of mankind; and they continue in the conduct of their worldly affairs, like some working machine (acting externally and without taking any thing to mind).