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 CVIII - Description of the knowledge and ignorance of the soul

Argument:—The Knowledge of the objective continuing with our ignorance of the subjective and the story of the wise prince Vipaschit, attacked by his rude enemies.

Rama rejoined:—

1. [Sanskrit available]
He whose mind is bound by his ignorance, to the bright vividness of visible phenomenal; views the palpable scenes of the noumenal, as mere his idle dreams, and as visionary as empty air.

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Now, O sage, please to tell me again, the nature and manner of this ignorance of the noumenal; and to what extent and how long, does this ignorance of the spiritual bind fast a man.

Vasishtha replied:—

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Know Rama, those that are besotted by their ignorance, think this earth and the elementary bodies, to be as everlasting as they believe Brahma to be. Now O Rama! hear a tale on this subject.

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There is in some corner of the infinite space, another world with its three lokas of the upper and lower regions, in the manner of this terrestrial world.

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There is a piece of land therein, as beautiful as this land of ours;and is called the sama bhumi or level land, where all beings had their free range.

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In a city of that place, there reigned a prince well known for his learning, and who passed his time in the company of the learned men of his court.

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He shone as handsome as a swan in a lake of lotuses, and as bright as the moon among the stars; he was as dignified as the Mount Meru or polar pinnacle among mountains, and he presided over his council as its president.

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The strain of bards, fell short in the recital of his praises, and he was a firm patron of poets and bards, as a mountain is the support of its refugees.

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The prosperity of his valour flourished day by day, and stretched its lustre to all sides of the earth; as the blooming beauty of lotus blossoms, under the early beams of the rising sun, fills the landscape with delight every morning.

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That respectable prince of Brahmanic faith, adored fire as the lord of gods, with his full faith; and did not recognize any other god as equal to him (Because agni is said to be the Brahma or father of the gods).

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He was beset by conquering forces, consisting of horse, elephants and foot soldiers; and was surrounded by his councillors, as the sea is girt by his whirlpools and rolling waters.

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His vast and unflinching forces, were employed in the protection of the four boundaries of his realm; as the four seas serve to gird the earth on all its four sides.

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His capital was as the nave of a wheel, the central point of the whole circle of his kingdom; and he was as invincible a victor of his foes, as the irresistible discus of Vishnu.

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There appeared to him once a shrewd herald, from the eastern borders of his state; who approached to him in haste, and delivered a secret message that was not pleasing unto him.

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Lord! may thy realm be never detached, which is bound fastly by thy arms, as a cow is tied to a tree or post; but hear me relate to you something, which requires your consideration. (The word go—Gr. ge.—Pers. gao—cow, means both the earth and a cow and hence their mutual simile).

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Thy chieftain in the east is snatched away from his post, by the relentless hand of a fever whereupon he seems to have gone to the regions of death, to conquer as it were, the god Yama at thy behest.

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Then as thy chief on the south, proceeded to quell the borderers thereabouts; he was attacked by hostile forces who poured upon him from the east and west, and killed by the enemy.

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Upon his death as the chieftain of the west, proceeded with his army to wrest those provinces (from the hands of the enemy).

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He was met on his way, by the combined forces of the inimical princes of the east and south, who put him to death in his half way journey to the spot.

Vasishtha continued:—

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As he was relating in this wise, another emissary driven by his haste, entered the court-hall with as great a rush, as a current of the deluging flood.

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He represented, saying:—O lord, the general of thy forces on the north, is overpowered by a stronger enemy, and is routed from his post, like an embankment broken down and borne away by the rushing waters.

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Hearing so, the king thought it useless to waste time, and issuing out of his royal apartment, he bade as follows.

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Summon the princes and chiefs and the generals and ministers, to appear here forthwith in their full armour; and lay open the arsenal, and get out the horrible weapons (of destruction).

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Put on your bodies your armours of mail, and set the infantry on foot; number the regiments, and select the best warriors.

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Appoint the leaders of the forces, and send the heralds all around; thus said the king in haste, and such was the royal behest.

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When the warder appeared before him, and lowly bending down his head, he sorrowfully expressed: "Lord, the chieftain of the north is waiting at the gate, and expects like the lotus to come to thy sunlike sight.

The king answered said:—

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Go thou quickly there, and get him to my presence; that I may learn from his report the sterling events of that quarter.

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Thus ordered, the warder introduced the northern chief to the royal presence; where he bent himself down before his royal lord, who beheld the chieftain in the following plight.

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His whole body and every part and member of it, was full of wounds and scars; it breathed hard and spouted out blood, and supported itself with difficulty.

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While he with due obeisance, and faltering breath and voice, and contortion of his limbs, delivered this hasty message to his sovereign.

The chieftain said:—

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My lord, the three other chiefs of the three quarters, with numerous forces under them, have already gone to the realms of Yama (Pluto), in their attempt to conquer death at thy behest (i.e. to encounter the enemies on every side).

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Then the clansmen finding my weakness, to defend thy realms alone on this side, assembled in large numbers, and poured upon me with all their strength.

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I have with great difficulty, very narrowly escaped from them to this palace, all gory and gasping for life as you see; and pray you to punish the rebels, that are not invincible before your might.

Vasishtha continued:—

34. [Sanskrit available]
As the yet alive and wounded chieftain, had been telling his painful story in this manner to the king; there appeared on a sudden another person entering the palace after him, and speaking to the king in the following manner.

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O sovereign of men, the hostile armies of your enemies, likening the shaking leaves of trees, have all beset in great numbers, the skirts of your kingdom, on all its four sides.

36. [Sanskrit available]
The enemy has surrounded our lands, like a chain of rocks all around; and they are blazing all about with their brandishing swords and spears, and with the flashing of their forest-like maces and lances.

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The bodies of their soldiers, with the flying flags and shaking weapons on them, appear as moving chariots upon the ground; while their rolling war cars, seem as sweeping cities all about.

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Their uplifted arms in the air, appear as rising forests of fleshy arbours in the sky; and the resounding phalanx of big elephants, seem as huge bodies of rainy clouds roaring on high.

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The grounds seeming to rise and sink, with the bounding and bending of their snoring horses; give the land an appearance of the sea, sounding hoarsely under the lashing winds.

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The land is moistened and whitened around, by the thickening froth fallen from the mouths of horses; and bears its resemblance to the foaming main, fell with its salt spray all over.

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The groups of armed armaments in the field, resemble the warlike array of clouds in the sky; and likens to the huge surges, rising upon the surface of the sea, troubled by the gusts of the deluge.

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The weapons on their bodies, and their armours and coronets, are shining forth with a flash that equals the flame and fire of thy valour.

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Their battle array, in the forms of circling crocodiles and long stretching whales; resemble the waves of the sea, that toss about these marine animals upon the shore.

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Their lines of the lancers &c., are advancing with one accord against us; and flashing with their furious rage and fire, are uttering and muttering their invectives to us.

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It is for this purpose, that I have come to report these things to my lord, so that you will deign to proceed in battle array to the borders, and drive these insurgents as weeds from the skirts.

46. [Sanskrit available]
Now my lord, I take leave of you, with my bow and arrows and club and sword as I came, and leave the rest to your best discretion.

Vasishtha added:—

47. [Sanskrit available]
Saying so, and binding lowly to his lord, the emissary went out forthwith; as the undulation of the sea disappears, after making a gurgling noise.

48. [Sanskrit available]
Upon this the king with his honorable ministers, his knights and attendants and servants; together with his cavalry and charioteers, the men and women and all the citizens at large were struck with terror; and the sentinels of the palace, trembled with fear, as they shouldered their arms and wielded their weapons, which resembled a forest of trees shaken by a hurricane.

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