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 CXXXVI - Story of the gnat and hunter

Argument:—Explication of the story of the carcass, and the Narrative of Asura and others.

Bhasa said:—

Hear now, O lord of the earth, what I then said to the god of fire, from my seat under the wing of his riding parrot, and the answer which the god made to my query.

2. I said, O lord, of the sacrificial fire and sacrifice, deign to explain unto me the mystery of the carcass, and the accompanying events (of the goddess and her demons).

3. The god [of] fire replied:—Attend, O prince, and I will tell you all of what has happened; and relate to you all about the carcass, as it is well known in all the three worlds (i.e. in the traditions of all people).

4. Know there is an eternal formless and transcendent Intellect, in the form of the boundless and formless vacuity; wherein there are countless worlds, subsisting as minute atoms in endless space.

5. This intellectual void, which contains all and every thing in itself;happened of its own spontaneity, to be conscious of its contents in course of time.

6. I conceived by its innate knowledge, the abstract idea of igneous particles of in itself, just as you find yourself to be in the state of travelling in your dream; by thinking yourself as such in the state of your waking. (One dreams whatever he thinks in himself).

7. It was thus that the Divine Intellect saw the particles of fire, as in the unconscious state of its dream; and as one sees the lotus dust (for any thing,) before him in his imagination.

8. Then as this Intellect reflected on the expansion of these particles, it became itself assimilated with them; and evolved itself in the thought in the shape of powers and organs of sense, in those particles of its body.

9. It then beheld the sensible organs, as receptacles of their particular faculties; and saw the world with all its beings, appearing before it as in its dream; and as we see a city in our dreaming state.

10. There was one among the living by name of Asura, who became haughty and proud of his dignity, he was vain and addicted to vanities, and had no parents nor forefathers of his own.

11. Being elated with giddiness, he entered once into the holy hermitage of a sage, and destroyed and defiled the sacred asylum in his rage.

12. The sage denounced his curse upon him and said "whereas thou hast demolished my abode with thy gigantic figure, be thou now be born as a contemptible gnat, by thy immediate death under my curse."

13. The burning fire created by the rage of the sage, burnt down the Asura to ashes, even at that moment and on the very spot, as the wild fire consumes the woods, and as the submarine fire dries up a channel.

14. Then the Asura became as air, without his form and its supporting body; and his heart and mind became as insensible as in a swoon.

15. His sensibilities fled from him, and became mixed with the etherial air; and were hurled up and down thereabouts, by the course of the flying winds.

16. They existed in the form of the intelligent and airy soul, which was to be the living soul in connection with the body; composed of particles of the undivided elements, of earth, fire, water and air (or the air in motion as distinguished from the vacuous air).

17. The quintessence of five elements being joined with a particle of the intellect, begets a motion of their own accord as the vacuity of the sky, produces the wind by its breath and of its own nature.

18. At last the particle of intellect, is awakened in the airy soul; as the seed developes its germs in connection with the earth, water and air, and in course of time.

19. The understanding (or intellectual part) of the Asura, being fully occupied with the thought of the sage's curse and that of its having the nature of a gnat; brooded over the reflection of the parts of its body, and became the very gnat in its shape.

20. This puny insect which is born by daylight in dirt, and is blown away by the breath of wind, is the short-lived ephemeral of a day.

21. Rama asked:—How can living animals be born from other sources (as dirt &c.), if they are but the creatures of our dream as you said before? So please to tell me, whether they have really their birth; or be anything otherwise.

Vasishtha replied:—

22. Know Rama, all living beings from the great Brahma to the animalcule and vegetable below, have two kinds of birth; the one is that they are all full of Brahma, and the other that they are the creatures of our errors.

23. The false but rooted knowledge of the previous existence of the world, and of all creatures besides, leads to the belief of the regeneration of beings from the reminiscence of the past; and this called the erroneous conceptions of births in the visible world.

24. The other is the viewing of the representation of Brahma, in all things appearing to exist in this non-existent and unreal world; and this called the pantheistic view of the world, and not as a production either by birth or creation of it.

25. Thus the gnat being produced by its delusive knowledge of the world, and its continuance in the same state of blunder; did not allow it to see the one Brahma in all, but led to different views and attempts, as you shall hear just now.

26. It passed half a day of its lifetime in whistling its faint voice, among the humming gnats in the bushes of reeds and long grass; and drank merrily their juice and dews, and sported and flew all about.

27. The next day it kept fluttering over a pool of mud and mire, in company with its female copartner.

28. Being then tired with its swinging, it rested on a blade of grass in some place, where it was trodden over by the foot of a deer, which killed him on the spot, as it was by the fall of a rock upon him.

29. Now as it died by looking [at] the face of a deer, it was reborn in the shape and with the senses of the same (from its reminiscence of them).

30. The deer grazing in the forest, was killed by arrow of an archer;and as he saw the countenance of the huntsman in his dying moment, he came to be born next in the same form.

31. The huntsman roaming in the forest, happened to enter into the hermitage of a hermit, by whom he was reclaimed from his wickedness, and awakened to the light of truth.

32. The muni said:—O erring man! why did you roam so long, afflicting the innocent deer with your arrows; why do [you] not rather protect them, and observe the law of universal benevolence in this transitory world?

33. Life is but a breath of air, and overhung by the clouds of calamities, and is as frail as a drop of falling water; our enjoyments are a series of clouds interspersed by fickle and flickering lightnings;youth is fleeting and its pleasures are as the gliding waters, and the body is as transient as a moment; therefore O my child! attain thy felicity while in this world, and expect thy nirvana-extinction at the end.