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 CXXIX - Vipaschit's becoming a stag

Argument:—The fates of the four Vipaschitas, and the transformation of one to a stag.

1. I have heard of the liberation of two Vipaschitas, by grace of Vishnu; and want now to know what became of the two brothers, that have [been] wandering all about.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. One of these two, learnt by long habit to subdue his desires, and by his wandering in many islands, had at last settled in one of them, and obtained his rest in God.

3. Having relinquished the sight, of the outward livery of the world, he saw millions of orbs rolling in the vacuity and is still enrapt with the view.

4. The second one (or other) of them, was released from his personal wanderings, by his continuance in the contiguity of the moon, where his constant association with the stag-like mark on the disc of that luminary, changed his form to that of that animal, which he still retains in his situation upon a hill.

Rama asked said:—

5. How is it sir, that the four persons of Vipaschit, having but one mind, and the same desire and aim in view, could differ so much in their acts, that brought upon them such different results of good and evil?

Vasishtha replied:—

6. The habitual desire of a person, becomes varied according to the various states of his life, in course of time and in different places; it becomes weaker and stronger in degree, though it is never changed in its nature.

7. It is according to circumstances that the selfsame desire or object of a person, is modified in different forms; and whatever of these is greater in its intensity, the very same takes the precedence of others, and comes to pass in a short time.

8. In this divided state of their desires, the four persons of the prince, arrived to four different states in their modes in life; so that two of them were immerged in their ignorance, the third became a deer, and the last gained his liberation at last.

9. The two former have not yet arrived at the end of their nescience, but have being grovelling in darkness by their blindness to the light of truth; which can hardly dispel the darkness, that is continually spread by ignorance.

10. It is only the light of philosophy, that is able to drive the gloom of ignorance; which however deep rooted it is, then flies at a distance, as the shade of night is dispersed before the light of day.

11. Attend now to what this Vipaschit did in the other world, where he was cast on the coast of gold, across the far distant ocean of sweet waters, and which he mistook for the habitable earth.

12. Beyond this he beheld an orb in the vacuity of Brahma, which was as he thought the vacuum of the great Brahma himself.

13. Here he was led by his excellent virtues, amidst the society of the learned; and learning from them the visible world in its true light, he was amalgamated into the state of Brahma himself.

14. No sooner had he arrived at that state, than his ignorance and his body disappeared from him, as the sea in the mirage vanishes before the closer view, and as falsehood flies before truth.

15. Thus I have related to you all the acts of Vipaschit, and about the eternity of ignorance as that of Brahma, because it is coeval with him (because the positive idea of knowledge, is always blended with that of its counterpart or the negative idea of ignorance).

16. See the millions of years, that have been passing in eternity, but the mind by its nature, is quite unmindful of their course and number. (So also is the idea of eternity, of which we have no definite idea).

17. As the knowledge of horses is said to be false, when known, so the knowledge of the world (as a separate existence) is a falsity, but being truly known, it is found to be Brahma himself. (?)

18. There is no difference of avidya or ignorance, from the essence of Brahma; because the one subsists in the other; for Brahma is the perfect Intellect himself that shows the difference in the modes of intellection. (All differences are displayed in the Divine Mind).

19. Another Vipaschit, that was wandering all about in the universal sphere, could not come to the end of his ignorance (avidya), in his course of a millennium.

Rama said:—

20. How was it, sir, that he could not reach to the utmost pole of the universe, nor could he pierce its vault to get out of it? Please explain this fully to me, which you have not yet done.

Vasishtha replied:—

21. When Brahma was born at first in mundane egg, he broke the shell with both his hands, into the upper and lower halves.

22. Hence the upper valve of the shell, rose too far upwards from the lower half; and so the lower valve, descended as far below the upper part.

23. Then there are the circles of earth, water and air, which are supported upon these valves; while there two serve as bases for the support of other spheres.

24. In the midst of these there is the vacuous sky, which is infinite in its extent, and which appears unto us, as the blue vault of heaven.

25. It is not bounded by the circles of earth and water, but is a pure void, and basis of all other spheres that rest upon it.

26. He passed by that way into the infinite void, as the circles of the starry frame revolve amidst the same; in order to examine the extent of ignorance and to obtain his release from it, as he was taught to find.

27. But this avidya or ignorance being coalescent with Brahma, is as infinite as the Deity himself; and there she is as unknowable as God, as yet nobody has been able to know her nature. (God and Nature are both unknowable).

28. Vipaschit continuing to mount afar and higher in the heavens, found the nature of avidya or ignorance to be coextensive with the extent of the worlds, through which he traversed on high.

29. Now see how one of these persons was liberated, and another grazing about as a stag; see the other two fast bound to their former impressions, and constrained to rove about the worlds, which they took for realities in their ignorance.

Rama said:—

30. Tell me kindly, O sage, where and how far and in what sorts of worlds, have these Vipaschitas been still roaming, with getting their intermission.

31. At what distance are those worlds, where they are born over and over again; all this is very strange to me, as they have been related by you.

Vasishtha said:—

32. The worlds to which the two Vipaschitas are carried, and where they have been roving; are quite invisible to me, notwithstanding all my endeavours to look into them. (It is the terra incognita).

33. So the place where the third Vipaschit is roving as a deer, is also in a land which is known to nobody on earth.

34. Rama said: you have [said] sir, that the Vipaschit who is transformed to a deer, has been roving on a hill; tell me therefore, o most intelligent seer, where is that hill situated, and how far is it from here.

Vasishtha answered said:—

35. Hear me tell you, how far off is that world from here, where Vipaschit has entered after passing through the vast vacuity of the supreme spirit; and has been wandering there in his form of a deer.

36. Know it to be somewhere amidst these three worlds, where he has been roving as a stray deer; because this is the vast vacuity of the Divine spirit; in which all these worlds are interspersed at great distances from one another.

Rama rejoined:—

37. How is it consistent, sir, to say with good reason, that Vipaschit was born and dead in this world, and is still roving as a deer in it? (Why did he wander about in infinity, if he were to remain a finite being herein? gloss).

Vasishtha replied:—

38. As the whole must well know all the parts of which it is composed, so do I know every thing every where, which is situated in the all comprehensive soul of God, whereto I have assimilated myself. (Vasishtha means to say, that he knew all in his svanubhava or all knowing mind. gloss).

39. I know the absent (i.e. all things past and future), and all that is destroyed, as well as all forms of things whether small or great, are all interwoven together and exhibited before me, as if they were the production of this earth of ours.

40. Hence all that I have told you, O Rama, regarding the adventures of the prince, was the work of his fancy, and took place in some part of this world, where he lived and died.

41. The Vipaschitas all wandered about the other worlds in empty air, and all this was the work of their imagination, which is unrestricted in its flight through boundless space.

42. One of these has happened to be born here as a deer, and it is in the dale of a mountain, somewhere upon this earth. (It is believed that all mortal souls transmigrate to this again, after their wanderings are over in other spheres).

43. The place where the prince is reborn in his form of a stag, after all his wanderings in other spheres were over; is in this orb of earth, where he is placed on a certain spot by an act of unaccountable chance (kaka taliya).

Rama said:—

44. If it is so, then tell me sir, in what region of this earth, on what hill and in what forest of it, is this stag placed at present.

45. What is he doing now, and how does he nibble the grass in the verdant plain; and how long will it be, before that veteran seer may come to the remembrance of his former state and past actions.

Vasishtha replied:—

46. It is the same stag, which has been presented to you by the ruler of the province of Trigarta; and is kept close in your pleasure garden for your sport.

Valmiki said:—

47. Rama was quite surprised with all the people sitting at the court, upon hearing the sage say so; and ordered his attendant lads in the hall to bring it forthwith before his presence there.

48. Then the brute stag was brought and placed before the open court, when the court-people found it plump and fat, and quite tame and gentle. (Lit.: content with its own state).

49. Its body was spotted all over, as with the stars of heaven; and its eyes were as outstretched as the petals of lotus flowers, and by far more handsome than the eyes of beauteous damsels.

50. It looked with its timorous glances, on the blue sapphires which decorated the court; ran to bite them with its open month, thinking them to be blades of grass.

51. Then as it gazed at the assemblage, with its raised neck, uplifted ears and staring eyes through fear; so they raised their heads, pricked up their ears, and looked upon the animal with their open eyes, for fear of its leaping and jumping upon them.

52. At last the king with all his ministers and courtiers, were all amazed at the sight of the animal, and thought it was all a magic, which they saw before them.

53. The wondering eyes of the assembled people, and the shining gems on the persons of the princes, made the court hall appear, as if it were studded with full blown lotuses all around. (The simile of blooming eyes and blossoming lotuses, is common in all Indian poetry).