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 CIII - Proof of the unity of the deity

Summary: Proof of the unity of the deity amidst the variety of creation. Note: This chapter is a lecture on entity and non-entity; and establishment of the spirituality of the universe.

Argument:—The Unity, Eternity and tranquillity of the Intellect, and the preference of this sastra to others.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. The Intellect which is without its beginning and end, and is the ineffable light and its reflection, and shines for ever serenely bright, is never destroyed or extinguished in any wise.

2. Such is the Intellect and so too the soul, which is indestructible also; for [if] it were destroyed at all at any time; there could neither be the recreation of the world (without a cause), nor any regeneration of human souls (if they were dead upon the death of the former generations of men).

3. All things are subject to change, and have many varieties under them; but not so the Intellect, which is ever immutable, and always perceived to be the same in all individuals.

4. We all feel the coldness of frost, the heat of fire, and sweetness of water; but we have no feeling of any kind regarding the Intellect, except that we know it to be quite clear and pellucid as open air. (The gloss explains it to mean, the unchangeableness of the soul in heat and cold, which affect the bodies and minds of all).

5. If the intellectual soul is destroyed at the destruction of the body, say then why should you lament at its loss, and not rejoice at its annihilation, which [releases] you from the pains of life?

6. The loss of the body entails no loss on the vacuous intellect; because the departed souls of mlechchha savages, are seen to hover over the cemetery by their living friends.

7. Should the soul be synchronous with the duration of the body, then say, why a death body does not move about, while it is yet unrotten and entire.

8. If the seeing of apparitions, be an affection con-natural with the mind; then tell me why a man does not often see the sight of ghosts, except on the occasion of the demise of his friends.

9. Should it be a misconception connate with the mind, to see the apparitions of departed friends; tell me then, why don't you see the ghosts of friends that are dead in a distant country, but of such only as die before your eyes.

10. Hence the Intellect, being the soul of all and everywhere, it is not confined in any place; but it is known to be of the same nature, as every one thinks it to be.

11. It is unconfined and unrestrained any where, and is of the nature of one compact consciousness that is felt by all, and is the cause of our knowledge of all things. (It is of what we have a notion only).

12. There can be no other, which may be supposed as the prime cause of all, at the beginning of creation. Should there be any other that is supposed to be as such, let the doctrinaires now declare it before me.

13. There was nothing uncreated before creation, nor was there anything created in the beginning; the duality that at present, presents itself in the form of the universe, is but a réchauffé or reflection of the unity.

14. The phenomenal is no more than a reflection or copy of the noumenal, and our impression of its being a visible something, is as erroneous as all other false sights, which are mistaken for the true reality. (These errors are the sights of silver in sands, of water in the sandy desert, and of airy castle in the northern skies).

15. It is a wonder of the almighty power, exhibited in the sphere of the Divine Intellect; it is the wakeful understanding that sees these visibles, as one sees the sights in his dream, but never in his ignorance of sound sleep.

16. The wakefulness and insensibility of the understanding, both amount to the same thing; because the difference of the visible world is only verbal and not real; since nothing that is visible to the eye, is substantial in its essential nature. (Hence the perception of the visibles, is alike to their non-perception of them).

17. Whatever was thought and said to be visibles by others, the same was the effect of their error and want of reason; and now if they are disproved by right season, where can you find the visibles any more.

18. Therefore employ your reasoning now, in the investigation of spiritual knowledge; because by your diligent and persevering inquiry in this respect, you will secure to yourself the success in both worlds. (So says the sruti: "By thy constant study of the subject, thou shalt see thy god").

19. Inquiry into spiritual knowledge, will dispel thy ignorance; but thou wilt never be successful in it, without thy constant application to it.

20. Leaving aside all anxieties and their causes, and of every jot and moment of time in the observance of one's sacred vows day by day, and the study of this sacred sastra with due attention, leads him to his welfare in both worlds.

21. Whether one is proficient or not in his spiritual knowledge, he may still improve in it, by his constant communication of it and discussion on the subject with his superiors.

22. Whoso requires this precious treasure (of his knowledge), he must exert for its attainment at the same ratio to be successful in it; or else he must leave off altogether, if he tires in his pursuit.

23. He must also keep himself from the perusal of heretical works, and betake himself to the study of orthodox sastras; and he will then gain his peace of mind by these, as one obtains victory in warfare (so should one fight for the salvation of his soul).

24. The course of the mind, like that of a stream of water, runs both in the channels of wisdom as well as folly; and forms a lake wherever it runs more rapidly, and settles as in its bed.

25. There was never a better sastra than this, nor is any such extant at present, nor is likely to be in vogue in future; there let the student cogitate well its doctrines, for the edification of his understanding.

26. Whoso heeds it well in himself, will find his mind instantly elevated with superior knowledge; and like the effect of a curse or blessing, which comes too late upon its recipient. (The efficacy of wisdom is instantaneous).

27. The knowledge of his sastra, is calculated to do you more good, than you can derive from the tender care of a father or mother; or the efficacy of your pious actions.

28. Know O holy man, this world is the prison-house of thy soul, and its cares as the cholic pain of thy mind; and there is no release nor redress from these, beside the knowledge of thy soul (which is a spark of the supreme).

29. It is the dark illusion of gross ignorance, that hath misled thee to the sense of thy egoism; and it is now by your reflection on the purport of the sastras only, that you can be freed from your deplorable state.

30. The world is a hollow cave, where the horrid hydra of illusion lies in ambush; and feeds on the empty air of vain enjoyments, that appear at first pleasant to taste, but prove to be as fleeting as empty air at last.

31. Pity it is that thy days are flying as fleet as the wind, and thou art insensible of their advents and exits; and while thou art employed in thy dealings, thou art fostering thy death in thy negligence.

32. We all live in death, and our lives are sustained by alternate hopes and fears; until the few days of our life-time terminate in death.

33. The approach of death, is attained with extreme pain and remorse; when the inner parts of the body are separated from the outer, which must be besmeared with dust as with the paste of sandal wood.

34. They are grossly ignorant and erroneous, who purchase their wealth and honour at the expense of their lives; and avoid to gain their permanent bliss by the precepts of the sastras.

35. Why should he bear the feet of his vile enemies on his head (i.e. bow down his head before the meanly great); when he can attain his highest station of divine bliss in the sphere of his intellect, and with little or no pain.

36. Shun ye men, your vanity and ignorance; and to persist in the course of your baseness; and then you will gain by the knowledge of the great soul, your redemption from the tribulations of the world (which is a sea of troubles).

37. Seeing me in this manner, preach to you incessantly by day and night, for the sake of your good only; do you take my advice to turn your souls to the eternal soul, by forsaking the knowledge of your persons for that of your souls.

38. If you neglect to make a remedy today, against the evil of your impending death; say O silly man, what amends can you make for the hour of death, when you are laid in your sickbed.

39. There is no other work except this, for the true knowledge of the soul; and this therefore must be acceptable to you in the same manner, as the sesame seeds are collected, for the sake of getting their oil.

40. This book will enlighten your spiritual knowledge, as a lamp lightens a dark room; drink it deep and it will enliven your soul, keep it by your side, and it will please you as a consort.

41. A man having his knowledge, but untaught in the sastras, has many things unintelligible and doubtful to him; which he will find to be clearly expounded to him in the sweetest language.

42. This is the best narrative among the principle works, which are taken in the light of sastras; it is easily intelligible and delightful, and has nothing new in it, except what is well known in spiritual philosophy.

43. Let a man peruse with delight, the many narrations that are contained herein; and he will undoubtedly find this book, the best of its kind (on account of elaborate disquisition in this abstruse subject).

44. Whatever has not yet appeared in full light, even to Pandits—learned in all the sastras; the same will be found to appear in this book, as they find gold to appear amidst the sand.

45. The authors of sastras are not to be despised at any time or in any country; but the reader should employ his reason and judgement, to dive into the true meaning of the writing.

46. Those who are led by their ignorance or envy, or actuated by their pride and delusion to disregard and slight this sastra out of their want of judgement; are to be regarded as killers of their souls, and unworthy of the company of the wise and good.

47. I know you well Rama and this audience of mine, as well as your capacities to learn, and mine to instruct you; hence it is of my compassion to you that I like to teach you these things, as I am naturally communicative and kindly disposed to my hearers.

48. I find the development of your understandings, and therefore take interest to communicate my knowledge to you; and as I am a man and not a Gandharva or Rakshasa, I bear a fellow feeling towards you all.

49. I see you all as intelligent beings, and pure in your souls also; it is by virtue of these merits in you that I have become so friendly to you.

50. Now my friends, learn betimes to glean the truth of your unfondness for or indifference to every thing you see in this world (because there is nothing which is truly desirable herein).

51. Whoso neglects to remedy his diseases, of death and hell fire in this life; say what will he do to avert them when they are irremediable, and when he goes to a place, where no remedy is to be sought.

52. Until you feel a distaste for everything in this world, so long you cannot find any abatement of your desires in you. (It is better your desires to suppress, than toil and moil along to seek their redress).

53. There is no other means to elevate your soul, than depressing your desires to the lowest ebb (but the more you allow your wishes to grow and flow, the more you bind the soul and sink below).

54. If there be anything here, you think to be good for you; they serve at best but to bind your soul, and then disappear as the horn of a hare. (All tempting good, is as fleeting as a dream).

55. All earthly goods seem to be good, when they are untried and least understood; but the seeming something proves no such thing, or tends to your ruin at last. (All seeming good is positive evil).

56. All worldly existences prove to be nil, by the right reasoning (of Vedanta philosophy; though they are declared as real by Kapila, Kanada and others): but how they are real and what they are, whether self-existent or made, or permanent or temporary, (cannot rightly be known).

57. To say all worldly existences are self-existent, for having no prior cause assigned to them, nor being created in the beginning, would prove all that is existent, to be the increate and ever lasting supreme being itself.

58. There is no causality of sensible bodies, in the Being that is without and beyond the senses (the lord having no organ of sense, nor being perceptible by the senses as all material objects); nor is the mind the cause of sensible objects, (that have the six organs and are perceptible by them); the mind being but the sixth organ only.

59. How can the one unspeakable Lord, be the varied cause of these varieties of things, passing under various denominations. How can the reality have these unrealities in itself, and how can the Infinite Void, contain these finite solid bodies in it?

60. It is the nature of a plastic body to produce a thing of a plasmic from it, as the seeds of fruits bring forth their own kinds only; but how is it possible for an amorphous void, to produce solid forms from its vacuity, or the solid body to issue forth formless mind.

61. How can you expect to derive a solid seed from a void nothing, and therefore it is a deception to think the material world to be produced, from the immaterial and formless void of the vacuous intellect.

62. There are no conditions, of the creator and creation in the supreme being; these states are the fabrications of verbiage, and bespeak the ignorance of their inventors (in the true knowledge of the deity).

63. The want of co-ordinate causes (such as the material and formal causes), as co-existent with the prime and efficient cause; disproves the existence of an active agent and his act of creation; and this truth is evident even to boys.

64. The knowledge of God alone as the sole cause, and yet acknowledging the causality of the earth and other elements; is as absurd as to say that, the sun shines and yet it is dark. (i.e. As light and darkness cannot reign together, so the spirit and matter cannot abide simultaneously from all eternity, which would amount to the belief of a duality).

65. To say that the world is the aggregate of atoms, or an atomic formation, is as absurd as to call a bow made of the horn of a hare. (This is a refutation of the Buddhistic doctrine of the formation of the visible world, from the aggregation of eternal invisible atoms).

66. If the concourse and collocation of the dull, inert and insensible material atoms would form the world; it would of its own accord make a mountainous heap here, and a bottomless deep there in the air (and not a work of such design which must be the product of infinite Intelligence).

67. Again the particles of this earth, and the atoms of air and water, are flying every day in the forms of dust and humidity from house to house and from place to place, and why do they not yet form a new hill or lake any where again? (Why no new world again).

68. The invisible atoms are never to be seen, nor is it known whence, or where and how they are; nor is it possible to form an idea of the formless atoms, to unite together and form a solid mass. (Shapeless simples are indivisible and incohesive. Aphorism). And again it is impossible for the dull and insensible atoms to form any thing.

69. The creation of the world, is never the work of an unintelligent cause; nor is this frail and unreal world ever the work of an intelligent maker also; because none but a fool makes any for nothing.

70. The insensible air which is composed of atoms, and has a motion of its own, is never actuated by reason or sense; nor is it possible to expect the particles of air to act wisely (as they prayed in their hymns to the maruta winds).

71. (What then are these if not composed of atoms?) We are all composed of intellectual soul, and all individuals are made of the vacuous selves; and they all appear to us, as the figures of persons appearing in our dream.

72. Therefore there is nothing that is created, nor is this world in existence; the whole is the clear void of the intellect, and shines with the glare of the Supreme soul in itself.

73. The vacuous universe rests completely in the vacuum of the Intellect, as force (or vibration), fluidity and vacuity, rest respectively in the wind, water and in the open air.

74. The form of the intellectual vacuum, is as that of the airy mind, which passes to distant climes in a moment (and yet holds its seat in the hollowness of the brain); or as that of consciousness which is seated in the hollow of the heart, and is yet conscious of every thing in itself.

75. Such is the vacuous nature of all things, as they are perceived in their intellectual forms only in intellect (which retains their vacuous ideas only on the hollow understanding); and so the world also is an empty idea only imprinted in the intellect.

76. It is the rotatory nature of the Intellect, which exhibits the picture of the universe on its surface; wherefore the world is identic [with] and not otherwise than the vacuous nature of the intellect.

77. Therefore the world is the counter part of the intellectual sphere, and there is no difference in the vacuous nature, of either of them. They are both the same thing presenting but two aspects, as the wind and its undulations are one and the same thing.

78. As a wise man going from one country to another, finds himself to be the same person wherever he goes; and though he sees all the varieties around him, yet he knows himself as the selfsame quiet and unvaried soul every where.

79. The wise man remains in the true nature of the elements, hence the elements never go off from the mind of the wise man.

80. The world is a vacuous sphere of reflections only, resembling a concave reflector; it is a formless void in its nature, and is unimpaired and indestructible in its essence.

81. There is nothing that is born or dies in it, nor any thing which having once come to being, is annihilated ever afterwards any where; it is not apart from the vacuum of the Intellect, and is as void as the inane world itself.

82. The world never is, nor was, nor shall ever be in existence; it is but a silent semblance of the representation passing in the intellectual vacuity of the supreme spirit.

83. The Divine Intellect alone shines forth in its glory, as the mind exhibits its images of cities &c. in dream; in the like manner our minds represent to us the image of world, as day dreams in our waking state.

84. There being no being in the beginning, how could there be the body of anything in existence; there was therefore no corporeality whatever except in the dream of the Divine mind.

85. The supreme Intellect dreams of its self-born (or uncreated) body at first; and we that have sprang from that body, have ever afterwards continued to see dream after dream to no end. (The world is a dream both in the mind of God and men).

86. It is impossible for us with all our efforts, to turn our minds to the great God; because they are not of the nature of the divine intellect, but born in us like carbuncles on the goitre, for our destruction only.

87. The god Brahma is no real personage, but a fictitious name for Hiranyagarbha or totality of souls ([Sanskrit: samashti]), but ever since he is regarded as a personal being, the world is considered as body and He the soul of all.

88. But in truth all is unreal, from the highest empyrean to the lowest pit; and the world is as false and frail as a dream, which rises in vain before the mind, and vanishes in a minute.

89. The world rises in the vacuity of the Intellect, and sets therein as a dream; and when it does not rise in the enlightened intellect, it is as a disappearing from the waking mind, and flying before day light.

90. Although the world is known as false, yet it is perceived and appears as true to us; in the same manner as the false appearances in our dream, appear true to our consciousness at the time of dreaming.

91. As the formless dream presents many forms before the mind; so the formless world assumes many shapes before our sight: and all these are perceived in our consciousness, which is as minute in respect of the infinite space and sky, as an atom of dust is too small in regard to the Meru mountain. (i.e. the minim of our consciousness, contained in the breast, is an imperceptible particle only of sand in it).

92. But how can this consciousness, which is but another name of Brahma, be any what smaller than the sky (when it contains the skies in itself); and how can the vacuous world have any solid form, when it has no formal cause to form it so. (God being a formless being, could not give a form and figure to any thing, and which is therefore ideal only).

93. Where was there any matter or mould, where from this material world was moulded and formed (as we make our houses from the pre-existing mud and clay of the earth); whatever we see in the sphere of waking minds in the day light, is similar to the baseless dreams, which we see in the empty space of our sleeping minds, in the darkness of the night.

94. There is no difference between the waking and sleeping dreams, as there is none between the empty air and the sky; whatever is pictured in the sphere of the intellect, the same is represented as the aerial castle in the dream.

95. As the wind is the same with its undulation, so the rest and vibration of the spirit is both alike, as the air and vacuum is the one and same thing.

96. Hence it is the intellectual sphere only, which represents the picture of the world; the whole is a void and without any support, and splendour of the luminary of the intellect.

97. The whole universe is in a state of perfect rest and tranquillity, and without its rising or setting; it is as a quiet and unwasting block of stone, and ever shining serenely bright.

98. Say therefore whence and what are these existent beings, and how comes this understanding of their existence; where is there a duality or unity, and how came these notions of egoism and distinct personalities.

99. Be ever prompt in your actions and dealings, with an utter indifference to everything, and unconcern about unity or duality; and preserve an even and cool disposition of your inward mind. Remain in the state of nirvana, with your extinguished passions and feelings, and free from disease and anxiety. Be aloof from the visibles, and remain in the manner of a pure Intelligence only.