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 CXVI - Narration of the speech of crow and cuckoo

Argument. said:—

Description of the battle field, and of the hills and sky, and the story of the foolish crow.

The companions added:—Look lord, the field of battle, stretching to the bordering hills; look upon the heaps of shining weapons, and the scattered forces of elephants, horse, infantry and war chariots.

2. Look at the slain and their slayers, and the combatants attacking their corrivals; and how their dying souls are borne by celestial nymphs in heavenly cars to heaven.

3. The victor finding his adversary worsted in warfare, ought not slay him unjustly, unless he is justified to do so by laws of warfare (as a youth is justified to take unto him no other woman but his legal wife).

4. As health and wealth and prosperity, are good for men when they are rightly gained; so it is right to fight for those by whom one is supported.

5. When one kills his opposing corrival in combat, without violation of the laws of warfare, he is justly styled a heavenly champion, and not one who takes undue advantage of his enemy.

6. Behold there the bold champion brandishing his sword, as if he is swinging a blue lotus in his hand; and casting the dark shadow of the evening dusk on the ground. Such a hero is courted by Laxmi for her spousal.

7. Look at those flourishing weapons, flaming as the flying embers of wild fire, in a mountain forest; or as the dreadful dragons of the sea, dancing on land with hundreds of their flashing hoods and heads.

8. Look at the sky on one side, resembling the sea with its watery clouds, and shining with strings of its stars on another; see how it is covered by dark clouds on one side; and how it is brightened by moon beams on the other.

9. Look at the firmament, ranged by multitudes of revolving planets, resembling the rolling chariots of warriors; and crowded by myriads of moving stars, likening the soldiers in the battle field; and yet it is the error of the ignorant to think it an empty vacuum; an error which is hard for the wise to remove.

10. The sky with its over spreading clouds, its fiery lightnings, its thunder bolts that break down the mountain wings; its starry array, and the battle of gods and demigods that took place in it; is still as inscrutable in his nature, as the solid minds of the wise, whose magnitude no one can measure.

11. O wise man, thou hast been constantly observing before thee, the sun, moon and all the planets and stars in the firmament, together with all the luminous bodies of comets, meteors and lightnings; and yet [it] is astonishing that your ignorance will not let [you] see the Great Narayana in it.

12. Thou dark blue sky, that art brightened by moon-light, dost yet retain thy blackness, like the black spot amidst the lightsome disk of the moon; and such is the wonder with ignorant minds, that with all their enlightenment, they will never get rid of their inward bias and prejudice.

13. Again the clear sky which is full with endless worlds, is never contaminated by their faults, nor ever changed in its essential state; and resembles the vast and pure mind of the wise, which is full with its knowledge of all things, and devoid of all their pollutions.

14. Thou profound sky, that art the receptacle of the most elevated objects of nature, and containest the lofty clouds and trees and summits in thy womb; that art the recipient of the sun, moon and the aerial spirits that move about in thee; art yet inflamed by the flames of the fiery bodies that rise in thee to our great regret, notwithstanding thy greatness, which helps them to spread themselves high in heaven.

15. Thou sky that art replete with pure and transparent light, and great with thy greatness of giving quarters to all the great and elevated objects of nature; but it is greatly to be pitied, that the dark clouds to whom thou givest room to rise under thee, molest us like base upstarts, with pelting their hailstones at random.

16. Again thou dark sky, art the attestor of all lights; as the touchstone is the test of gold; and thou art a void in thy essence, yet thou dost support the substances of stars and planets of clouds and winds and all real existences at large.

17. Thou art the day light at daytime, and the purple red of evening, and turnest black at night; thus devoid of all colour of thyself thou dost exhibit all colours in thee; hence it is impossible even for the learned, to understand aright thy nature and its convertible conditions also.

18. As the helpless man is enabled to achieve his purposes, by means of his patient perseverance; so the inane sky has risen above all, by means of its universal diffusion. (The gloss says that, extension of knowledge, is the cause of elevation).

19. The sun that persists in his wonted course, rises to the vertical point in time; but the unmoving straws and trees, and the dormant hills and places, and stagnant pools and ponds, are ever lying low on the ground.

20. The night invests the sky with a sable garb, and sprinkles over it the fair moonlight like the cooling dust of camphor; with the decoration of stars like clusters of flowers upon it. The day mantles the firmament with bright sun beams, and the seasons serve to cover it in clouds and snows, and in the gaudy attire of vernal flowers. Thus is time ever busy, to decorate the heavenly paths of his lords the sun and moon, the two time keepers by day and night.

21. The firmament like the magnanimous mind, never changes the firmness of its nature; although it is ever assailed by the disturbances of smokes and clouds of dust and darkness, of the rising and setting sun and moon and their dawns and dusks: and of the confluence of stars and combat of gods and demons.

22. The world is an old and decayed mansion, of which the four sides are its walls, the sky its covering roof above and the earth its ground floor below; the hills and mountains are its pillars and columns, and the cities and towns are its rooms and apartments; and all the various classes of animal beings, are as the ants of this abode.

23. Time and action are the occupants of this mansion from age to age, and all its ample space presents the aspect of a smiling garden; it is feared every day to be blown and blasted away, and yet it is a wonder how this frail flower should last so long and for ever more.

24. It is the air methinks, that puts a stop to the greater height or rising of trees and hills;for though it does not actually restrain their growth, yet its influence (pressure from above), like the authority of noble men, puts a check to the rise of aspiring underlings.

25. O fie for that learning, which calls the air as void and vacuity;seeing it to contain millions of worlds in its bosom, and producing and reducing also unnumbered beings in its boundless bosom.

26. We see all things to be born in and to return into the air; and yet we see the madness of men, that reckon the all containing and all pervading air, as something different from God.

27. We see the works of creation, to be continually producing, existing and extinguishing in air, like sparks of fire; I ween this pure and sole air, which is without beginning, middle and end, as the universal source and terminus of all, and no other distinct cause as God.

28. The vacuum is the vast reservoir of the three worlds, and bears in its ample space the innumerable productions of nature; I understand infinite vacuity as the body of the Intellect, and that transcendent being, in which this erroneous conception of the world, has its rise and fall.

29. Therein the woodlands on mountain tops, the solitary forester chants his charming strains amidst his sylvan retreat; and attracts the heart of the lonely passenger, who lifts up his head to listen to the rapturous times.

30. Hearken O Lord, to the sweet music, proceeding from the thick groves on yonder lofty mountain; and emitted with the heart rending strains, of love born Vidyadhara nymphs; and behold the lonely and lovesick passenger, whose lovesick heart being smitten by the sound, has neither the power to proceed forward or recede backward from the spot, or utter a word.

31. I hear a lovelorn Vidyadhara damsel, singing her love ditty amidst the woods of the hill with her heaving sighs and tears flowing profusely from her eyes. She sang saying: "Lord, I well remember the day, when thou ledst me to the recess of the bower, holding my chin and giving kisses on my cheeks with thy smiling face, and now the pleasing remembrance of that gladsome moment, hath left me to deplore its loss for years".

32. I heard her tale, O Lord, thus related to me from the mouth of a forester on the way. He said:—Her former young lover, was cursed by a relentless sage to become an arbour for a dozen of years; and it is since this ill fated change of his, that she has been reclining on that tree, and singing her mournful ditty unto the same.

33. And now observe the wonder, that on my approach the arborescent lover, was released of his sad curse, and shedding a shower of flowers upon her, he changed his form and clasped her unto his arms with his face smiling as his blooming flowers.

34. The tops of hills are decorated with flowers, as the heads of elephants are painted with white dye; the sky is whitened with the stars and falling meteors, as the summit of the mountain is etiolated with hoar-frost and snows.

35. Behold there the beautiful stream of Kaveri, gliding along with shoals of fishes skimming in its waters; to its boisterous waves resounding with the cries of shrill and clamorous cranes; see its banks mantled in vests of flowers, and its shores freely grazed by timid fauns without any fear.

36. Look the Bela rock, which is washed by the billows of Varuna—the god of the sea; its stones shining as gold under the solar rays; and sparkling as the marine fire when they are laved by the waves.

37. Look at the abodes of the Ghosha shepherds at the foot of the mountain, which are continually covered under the shrouding clouds;and behold the beauty of the blossoming palasa and patala trees thereabouts.

38. Look at the plains, whitened by the full-blown whitish flowers; see the mandara tree with twining and flowering creepers; look at the banks crowded by cranes and peacocks; look at those villages and the water falls, resounding as music from the mouths of mountain caves and forests, and redounding to the joy of the happy inhabitants of the valley.

39. Here the buzzing bees are sporting about the new blown petals of plantain flowers; and inspiring fond desire in the breasts of the Pamara foresters; who enjoy a bliss in their rustic pastures and hidden hilly caverns, which I ween, is not attainable by the immortal gods in their garden of Eden. (So says Hafiz:—Thou canst not have in heaven, the blissful fount of Roknabad, nor the flowery groves of Mossella).

40. Behold the black bees sporting and swinging in their cradles of the flowery creepers of the forest; and to the Pulinda forester singing to his beloved, with his eyes fixed upon her face; and mark also the sportive Kirata, forgetting to kill the deer roving beside his lonely cavern.

41. Here the weary traveller is regaled, by the sweet scent of various full blown flowers, and is cooled in his body by the odorous dust, wafted by the breeze from the flowering creepers; while the winds bearing the watery particles of the waves, which lave the vale on all sides, render the spot more delightful than the spotted disc of the moon (i.e. the people have more of coolness here, than the gods have in the moist sphere of the moon).

42. Here the unceasing gliding of waters, and the continued waving of the palm trees; together with the dancing of the blossoming branches, and the undulation of the spreading creepers in the air; the forest of lofty sala trees in the borders, and the hanging clouds over the bordering hills, all combine to add a charm to this village of the vale, not unlike that of the gardens in the orb of the moon.

43. The flashing of lightnings, and the deep roaring of clouds; the merry dance of peacocks and their loud shrieks and screams, and their trailing trains displayed in the air, decorate the valley with a variety of variegated gems.

44. The bright orb of the moon appearing on one side, and the dark clouds rising as huge elephants on the other; serve to embellish the village in the valley, and the hills in the skirts, with a beauty unknown in the heavenly kingdom of Brahma: (which is the empyrean or city of fire only).

45. O! how I long to lodge myself in the mountain grotto, amidst the fragrant arbours of the beauteous Mandana forest, and in the delightsome groves of blooming santanaha blossoms, and where the busy bees are continually fluttering, over the mandara and paribhadra arborets.

46. O, how much are our hearts attracted, by the cries of the tender deer, browzing the verdant and delightsome verdure; and by the blooming blossoms on hills and in dales, as by sight of the cities of mankind.

47. Look on yonder village in the valley, where the waterfall appears as a column of clear chrysolite; and the peacocks are in their merry dance, all about the precipitate cascade.

48. See how the joyous peacocks, and the gaysome creepers, bending down under the burden of their blossoms; are dancing delightfully, beside the purling water of the cataract.

49. I believe the lusty god of desire (Kama or Cupid), sports here at his pleasure, in this village of the valley protected by the hills all around. He is sporting with the handsome harita birds (the green partridges and parrots) in the verdant groves, and beside the crystal lakes, resounding with the sweet warblings of water-fowls.

50. O most prosperous and magnanimous lord, that art the centre of all virtues, and the highest and gravest of men; thou art like the towering mountain, the refuge of mankind from heat, and the cause of their plenty (i.e. the rainy clouds on mountain tops, are the causes of plenteous produce).

51. Thou cloud that bathest in holy waters (i.e. that resist from the waters of seas and rivers); that art exalted above all earthly beings, and choosest to abide in hills and wildernesses like holy hermits, and art taciturn like them, from the pure holiness of thy nature; thou appearest also as fair in the form when thou art emptied (of thy waters) in autumn;all this is good in thee; but say why dost thou rise in thy fulness with flashing lightnings in thy face, and roaring thunders in thy breast, like lucky upstarts of low origin?

52. All good things being misplaced (or out of their proper place), turn to badness; as the water ascending to the clouds, turns to hoar frost and cold ice.

53. O, wonder! that the drops distilled by the clouds, fill the earth with water; and wonder it is that this water supports all beings, and makes the poor grow with plenty (of harvest).

54. Ignorant people are as dogs, in their unsteadiness, impudence, in their impurity and wayfaringness; hence I know not whether the ignorant have derived their nature from dogs or these from them.

55. There are some persons, who notwithstanding all their faults, are yet esteemed for certain qualities in them; as the dogs are taken into favour, on account of their valour, contentedness and faithfulness to their masters. (So are men serviceable to their masters for these virtues in them).

56. We see all worldly people pursuing the course of their worldliness as madmen, and pushing on in the paths of business at the sacrifice of their honor, and likely to tumble down with fatigue. I find them flying to and fro as trifling straws, and know not whether it is of their will or madness or stupidity, that they have made choice of this foolish course.

57. Among brute creatures, the brave lion hears the tremendous thunder claps without shuddering: while the cowardly dog trembles and shuts his eyes with fear at the sound.

58. I believe, O vile dog, that thou hast been taught to bark at thy fellows, and to ramble about in the streets, by some surly and strolling porter or peon (among men).

59. The divine creator, that has ordained varieties in all his works, has made the nasty breed of his daughter Saroma all equal in their filthiness. These are the dogs, that make their kennels or dog holes in dirt, that feed upon filth and carrion and copulate in public places, and carry about an impure body every where. (This is a slur against the progeny of one's daughters, who generally turn to be vicious).

60. "Who is there viler than thee"; says a man to his dog; to which he answered, "the silly man as thee is the vilest of all". There are the best qualities of valour, fidelity and unshaken patience, combined in the canine tribe; and these are hard to be had in human kind, who grovel in the darkness of their ignorance amidst greater impurities and calamities. (The instinctive sagacity of beasts, is a surer safe guard to them, than the boasted reason of man).

61. The dog eats impure things and lives in impurity; he is content with what it gets, feeds upon dead bodies and never hurts the living, and yet men are fond of pelting stones on him every where; thus the dog is made a plaything by men, contrary to the will of God.

62. Looking at the crow flying there upon the offerings, left on that lingam or phallus of Siva on yonder bank; and there appearing to sight to tell its tale to people, saying; "Behold me on high, with all my degrading sin" (of stealing from the altars of deities).

63. Thou croaking crow, that crowest so harshly, and treadest the marshy lake; it is no wonder that thou wouldst vex us with thy cries, that hast put down the sweet buzz of humming bees.

64. We see the greedy rook, devouring ravenously the dirty filth, in preference to the sweet lotus stalk. It is no wonder that some would prefer sour to sweet, from their long and habitual taste of it.

65. A white crow sitting in a bush, of white lotus flowers and their snowy filaments, was taken at first for a hansa or heron, but as it began to pick up worms, it came to be known as a crow.

66. It is difficult to distinguish a crow, sitting in company with a cuckoo, both being of the like sable plumes and feathers; unless the one makes itself known as distinct from the other, by giving out its own vocal sound.

67. The crow sitting on a forest tree, or on a mould of clay or high built building, looks on all sides for its prey; as a nightly thief mounts on a chaitta tree; and sits watching there from the ways of people.

68. It is impossible for a crow, to abide with cranes and storks by the side of a lake, which abounds in lotus flowers, that diffuse their sombre farina all about.

69. For shame that the noisy crow, should have a seat on the soft lotus bed in company with silent swans, and play his disgraceful part and tricks among them. (i.e. It is impudence on the part of the ignorant, to open their mouths, where the learned hold their silence).

70. Thou crow that criest as the hardest saw, say where hast thou left or lost thy former reservedness to-day. Why dost thou brood over the young cuckoo, the sweetness of whose voice thou canst never attain, and whom thou canst not retain as thy young.

71. One seeing a dark crow sitting as a black steg, in a bed of white lotuses, and crowing aloud with delight at that place, said unto him saying:—It is better for thee O clamorous crow to rend ears of those with thy cracking voice, that are not tired with splitting the head of others with their wily verbiage.

72. It is well when the cunning consort with the cunning, as the crow and the crab meeting at a pool; or the rook and the owl joining in an arbour; for the two rogues though seemingly familiar, will not fail to foil one another by their natural enmity (ka ko lu kika).

73. The cuckoo associating with the crow, and resembling him in figure and colour; is distinguished by his sweet notes from the other; as the learned man makes himself known by his speech in the society of the ignorant.

74. The blossoming branch is well able to bear, the spoliation of its flowers by the cuckoo; and will not yet suffer the association of crows and cranes, and cocks and vultures upon its twigs. (i.e. It is possible to bear with an injury from the good, but not to tolerate the society of bad people).

75. How delightfully do people listen to the sweet notes of the cuckoo, which unites the separated lovers together; but who can brook to hearken unto the jarring cries of the crow or hooting of the owl, without disgust.

76. When the sweet notes of the young kokila, serve to ravish the ears of hearers, with the gladsome tidings of the vernal season; there is the grating cry of the crow, immediately obtruding upon their ears, and demanding the melodious cuckoo as its foster child. (It is well known to all here, that young cuckoos are fostered in the nests of crows).

77. Why and what hast thou been cooing so long, O thou tender cuckoo, with so much joy and glee in yonder grove; lo! thy pleasant vernal season is too soon over with its fading flowers, and behold the stern winter approaching fast, to blast the blossoming trees with its icy breath, and bidding thee to hide thy head in thy nest.

78. A separated mistress seeing a sweet kokila, pour forth his notes to the tender blossoms of the vernal season thus address to him saying: "say, O sweet cuckoo! who taught thee to tell, that vernal season is tava tava tua tua, i.e. "for thee and thy enjoyment," this is verily an woeful lie thou tellest me, instead of saying "it is mine and mine"that art enjoying thy companion." (It would better rendering in English to reverse the application of the words mine and thine).

79. The cuckoo sitting silent in an assemblage of crows, appears as one of them in its form and colour of its feathers; and the graceful gait of the cuckoo, makes it known from the rest, as the wise man is marked in the company of fools. It is hence that every body is respected by his inward talents and outward deportment, more than by outer form and feathers.

80. O brother kokila! it is in vain that thou dost coo so sweetly, when there is none to appreciate its value; it is far better therefore, that thou shouldst sit quiet in thy secluded covert under the shady leaves, when these flocks of crows are so loud in their cries; and when it is time for the falling dews, and not of vernal flowers.

81. It is to be wondered, that the young cuckoo forsakes its mother for its fostering crow; which on her part begins to prick it with its bill and claws. As I reflect on these, I find the young cuckoo growing in its form to the likeness of its mother; and hence I conclude, that the nature of a person prevails over his training every where.