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 CXVIII - Description of deer, peacocks, cranes &c

Argument:—This chapter is devoted to the description of some beasts and birds, some fishes and a traveller.

Some companion said:—

1. Behold the crane, which notwithstanding its destitution of all good qualities, has one special instinct of uttering the onomatopoeia signifying the rain.

2. O crane that resemblest the swan in the colour of thy feathers, thou mightest well be taken for a young swan, wert thou but without the rapacity of the king-fisher (mudgu).

3. So there is a line of king-fishers, that are expert in diving amidst deep waters, and catching the fishes in its wide extended beaks, now sitting idle on the shore, and not venturing to dart themselves into the water, for fear of the sharks, floating there with their open mouths and wide stretched jaws.

4. Thus murderers also dart upon men, in the manner of diving king-fishers, and cry out saying, "madgu madguru, this king-fisher is our instructor in killing."

5. Seeing a white heron with its long neck and uplifted head, sitting silently and watching on the shore, the people took it at first for a hansa or hernshaw; but finding it afterward to catch a shrimp from the marsh water, they came to know it as a heron at last.

6. A crane was observed by a woman, to be sitting on the shore like a devotee the live long day, while it was in reality watching for prey, until the evening shade, as the day labourers are wont to do for their bread.

7. Look there, says a wayfaring woman to her companion, how these rustic women are culling the lotuses amidst the frosty lake; if you like you can follow them, but I will fall back from you.

8. Look there, O lord! (says the companion to the king), how that traveller appeases his angry mate, and leads her to the flowery bower of the weedy bush.

9. Look then, O lord, at the dalliance of the lady, and at her smiling face mixed with her frowning looks; and hearken to her speech to her associate.

10. The crane, king-fisher and other rapacious birds, that live together in the same place, are all of the same mind and purpose; but the fool and wise man can never agree, though they abide together in the same society for ever.

11. As the cricket caught under the bill of wood pecker, whistles to his face; so the retribution of our past misdeeds, flies as a flag before us, and unfolds itself unto us (wherever we may happen to go, or chance to be reborn).

12. As long as the cruel crane of fate, keeps clucking upon the tall tree on the shore; so long doth the fearful shrimp (of the living soul), keep itself concealed in the bog (of the body) with its inward trepidation. Hence there is no rest or quiet of the body and soul, until the ultimate quietus of both.

13. The bodies of animals, which are devoured by rapacious beasts and birds, and then disgorged unhurt and entire out of their bowels;resemble I ween to their rising from the lap of sleep, or a state of profound trance.

14. The fear that overtakes the fishes in their native waters, at the sight of rapacious animals, is far greater than those of thunder claps or thunder bolts falling upon them; and this I know from remembrance of my past life of a fish, and cannot be denied by the wise.

15. Behold there the herd of deer before thus reposing in raptures over the bed of flowers, under the shade of trees on the borders of the lake;and look also at the hive of the bees about the new blown flowers of the grove.

16. Look the high minded and lofty headed peacock craving and crying aloud for rain water, to the great god of the clouds and rains; and the god Indra in return pours in floods to fill the whole earth with water; for the greatness of gods looks to the general and individual good.

17. The peacocks like suckling babes, attend on the clouds as their wet nurses; or it may be, that the black peacocks are the offspring of dark clouds (that endears and unites them thus to one another).

18. Lo the wanderer looking with wonder on the eyes of the antelope, and finding their resemblance with those of his dear one at home, remains stupified as statue at the sight of the objects exposed to his view.

19. The peacock instead of drinking water from the ground, snatches by force the snake from underneath; wherefore I am at a loss to know which of these to blame for its malice. (The peacock kills the snake, but this one destroys all living creatures).

20. Why is it that the peacock shuns to drink in the large lake, which is as liberal as the minds of great men; and is content to swallow the drops of rain water, spit out and spirted by the cloud; unless it be for shame of stooping down his head, to drink the water of the lake.

21. See the peacock dancing, with displaying his gaudy train to the clouds; and oscillating their starry plumage in the rain, as if they were the offspring of the rainy season.

22. The rainy dark cloud which was carried by the wind from the bed of ocean, appeared over the forest lake and met with the gleeful dancing peacock below.

23. It is better for thee, O chataka! to pick up the blades of grass for thy food, and drink the water of the fountains, and rest in the shady plantain grove of the forest; than to dwell in the hollow cave of a withered tree in sultry heat, by thy pride of never stooping down for thy subsistence.

24. Think not, O peacock! this cloud to be a sea and the abode of sharks; but know [it] to be a watery cloud, born of the smoke of wild fire, and of the vapours of the mountain and ascending to the sky. (Therefore thou canst not fear to dance before it).

25. The peacock seeing the cloud that was so profuse of rain even in autumn, becoming sometimes so scant of its supply as not even to fill a tank (such as in times of drought), sustains its thirst with patience, in gratitude to the past favours of the cloud; nor does it fain to blame its former supporter for failing, nor deigns to drink any other earthly water like the common people.

26. The peacock that was wont to drink the crystal drops of the clouds, would not now stoop to drink the dirty water of the ditch, though pressed and pinched by drought and thirst; because the sweet remembrance of his past beverage, supports him from fainting, and the expectation of fresh draughts, preserves him from dying.

27. Travellers mitigate the toils of their journey, by mutual conversation on the way; as the ignorant that cannot commune with themselves, communicate their thoughts with others, to beguile the tediousness of their lives.

28. Look there, O lord! to the slender stalks of the lotuses, supporting the burden of the water on the lotus leaves; like yon tender damsels carrying the water pots on their heads.

29. Being asked why they were carrying those of lotus flowers and leaves and for what use; they replied, to make cooling beds for assuaging the fever heat of the love sick wives of travellers from their homes.

30. These impassioned damsels, with their swollen breasts and youthful dalliance, and the motions and gestures of their bodies, served to excite the remembrance of the separated brides, whom the travellers had left behind at their far distant abodes.

31. Ah surely, says a traveller, that dear one of mine, must now be weeping and wailing, or falling down and rolling on the ground, at the sight of yonder dark cloud in the sky in my absence.

32. Lo there the lines of black bees, fluttering on the cups of lotuses, and the little bees giddy with the dulcet liquor of flowers; the gentle breezes are blowing on all sides, and wafting the fragrance of the opening blossoms; while the leaves of trees are dancing to the tunes of the rustling winds.