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 CXLIII - Ascertainment of nirvana or ultimate extinction

Argument:—Praise of wisdom and Intellectual knowledge, and arguments in support of the Intellectuality of the world.

The sage continued:—The wise man shines in the assembly of the learned, as the sun illumines the assemblage of lotuses, in his investigation of the duties of religion and ceremonial acts, leading to the welfare of men in both worlds.

2. The heavenly felicity which is attained by the learned and wise by means of their spiritual knowledge, is as an ocean of bliss; before which the prosperity of god Indra even, appears to dwindle away as rotten straws amidst the billows.

3. I find no such felicity or prosperity, in the three regions of this earth or heaven above or in the patala below, which is greater or comparable with the blissfulness of learning and wisdom.

4. The learned have as clear a sight of the true state of all things, as the moon-light gives a clear view of the sphere of stars in the cloudless sky.

5. The visible world, soon vanishes from sight, and turns to the invisible Brahma, by the sapience of the wise; as a rosary of cord, appearing at first as a snake, is soon found to be a line upon its inspection.

6. That Brahma—the god is ever situated in his Brahma-hood or godhead is a truth evident by itself; and that it is his nature that gives rise to the terms creation, destruction, body and others. (Gloss: that the words creation &c., appertain to his very nature, and are not distinct from him).

7. He to whom the existence of the world is nil and naught, has no care or concern for acts and duties, which are no more than blank letters to him.

8. It is possible to believe in the production of the material world, from the prior existence of its material cause; but in want of such there can be no world, nor can there be a cause of it, when it is itself null and void.

9. It is only the reflection of Brahma, that takes the names of the earth and all other things; wherefore it is not necessary for these mere reflexions to have any cause at all. (The substance of God, being the cause of the shadow).

10. As the men seen in a dream, have no real cause except the imagination of the dreamer; such are the persons seen in our waking dreams, but mere reflexions of our imaginations, and not the production of their parents.

11. As there is not the causality of the prior acts, for the appearance of persons in human forms in our dream; so neither is there any actual cause for people seen in waking dream, to assume the garb of humanity upon them.

12. Both prior acts as well as desires, are equally false in their causality, of framing living beings in different shapes in their repeated births, just as they are no causes of producing the persons seen in our dreams.

13. Men appear as dreams and their impressions, in the course of their births and deaths; and they are conscious of this state or that as they think themselves either as the one or the other (i.e. we seem to be or not, as we think ourselves to be).

14. People appear to be as they think of their being, from their consciousness of themselves;and they seem to be in the same state in their dream, as they appear in the waking state, both in their intents and actions. (The dreamer and the dreamt do not differ from their waking states).

15. The desires and sensations of the dreaming man, are alike those of the waking, and differing only in the dimness of the former, from the distinctness of the latter. Thus a dreaming man is sensible of deriving the same satisfaction, in obtaining the object of his wish as the waking man; though the one is of a concealed and the other of an overt nature. (Therefore there is no difference between the states).

16. Whenever our pure consciousness of things, shines forth of its own nature in either of its two states of clearness or faintness; it is then the reflexion of the one [that] takes the appellation of waking, and the other is known as the dreaming state.

17. As long as this consciousness continues to glare in any body, since his first creation until his final emancipation, he is said to be a living being, under his repeated births and deaths.

18. The import of the words waking and dreaming, is not at all different from that of consciousness; whose irrepressible reflexion constitutes the essence of both states, as light is the essentiality of luminaries.

19. As heat is the gist of fire, and motion the marrow of the sufflated air or wind; or as the fluidity of water is the pith of the billows, and coolness the quiddity of breeze (so is consciousness the quintessence of both our waking and dreaming states).

20. The whole universe is an unruffled chasm, and an unchanging unreality; and this seeming reality of the world, is even united with its negative sense of nihility.

21. Brahma in its exoteric sense, is both the production as well as the destruction of the world, and equally alike its visible form and its notion also; but being viewed in its esoteric light, it [is] only of the nature of the pure Intellect, and the One alone, that is for ever calm and quiet and undecaying in itself.

22. Whatever thought of causality or effect, passes in the mind of Brahma at any time, the same comes to take place immediately, as men construct their houses as they please in cities.

23. The whole creation abides in the mind of God, as the city you dream of is in your thought; the cause and effect herein, being the same in one case as in the other.

24. The causality and effectuality are both contained in the womb of the dense Intellect; and these are exerted in the same manner in the act of creation of the world, as in that of the construction of thy imaginary castle.

25. The Divine Intellect employs its will, in the causation of its intended creation; as you form the plan for the construction of your projected edifice: Thus the causality and its effect are combined together in the one and same mind.

26. The divine mind develops itself in its own form of the sky, and the world that is for ever situated therein, is then called the creation and lying in the expanse of that sky. (Gloss. The srutis deny the existence of the outer and visible world).

27. The light which the sun of our consciousness, cast upon the imaginary city in the mind; is of its own nature what is signified by the terms causality and its effect. (i.e. Our consciousness is the cause of our knowledge of the world—the false creation of our imagination).

28. The forms in which the mind displayed itself at first, the same continue to exist ever since in the same state; and these are invariably designated by the terms of time, space and the rest.

29. Whatever names are borne by the things, which are exhibited in the vacuity of the Intellect; they are ever after viewed as realities under the designations of some as causes and others as their effect (as the cow is the cause of the production of milk, and the pot is the cause of its reception, and so forth).

30. The creation which was miraculously displayed in its ideal form in the Intellect, consisted at first of mere ideas, which received the name of the (material) world afterwards. (So the sruti: whatever is thought of in the mind at first, receives a name (or a word) for its designation afterwards).

31. This triple world is of a vacuous form, and is situated in the vacuity of the intellect; just as the clear air contains its insufflation inbred in it. (The inherence of vibration inborn in it).

32. As the vapours and clouds covering the face of the sky, give the appearance of blueness to it; so the dizziness of ignorance, misrepresents the clear intellect in the form of the gross world.

33. But on receiving the true reflexion of the spirit in the intellect, by means of intense meditation, the notion of the creation turns to that of non-creation; as the false notion of the snake in the rope, is changed to that of the rope upon its revision.

34. The dead find the future world, as what they used to see in their dream; but that world as well as this, are equally as formless as the vacuum of the Intellect. (Both this world and the next, are situated in the Divine-Mind, and are of the same form as that).

35. The Huntsman said:—Tell me sir, why are men regenerated in new bodies; for their sufferings and enjoyments in future births; and tell me also what are the principal and accompanying causes of our reproduction in this world.

36. If it is on account of the pious or impious acts, which are done in our present destructible bodies, that we are destined to their retributions afterwards; then say why our indestructible souls, should be brought to feel their results in other bodies, which seems to be very absurd to me.

37. The sage replied:—The words piety and impiety, our desires and acts, are words of the same import, and significant of their causality in framing the living soul according to their own stamp; but these are mere suppositions, and neither true causes of the schesis of our souls, nor of the modes of our lives.

38. It is the mind which is situated in the vacuous intellect, and is possest of the power of intellection that imagines in itself the various states of things (and the happiness and miseries of life), and gives names to them accordingly. (So says the sruti:—The sapient seeing the different form and states of things, coin words to designate them and their various modes also).

39. The conscious soul comes to know by means of its intellection, its own body in its vacuous self; and after death it sees the same to exist as in its dream or imagination (i.e. in its ideal form).

40. The knowledge of the dead in regard to the next world, is likewise in the manner of a dream; and though this dreaming state of the soul continues for a long duration, it bears no truth in its nature.

41. If a new body is framed by another person (such as parents or the creator himself), for the re-entrance of deceased spirit into it, then can the new born body have any remembrance of the past, and how can this body be what the dead person had before, and as for his intellect, it is a mere vacuity, and cannot pass from one body into another.

42. Therefore no one that is dead is born again, or is to be reborn afterwards at any time; it is only an idea of the mind, that I was so and am reborn as such; and a vain wish in its vacuity, to be born again [in] some form or other.

43. It is by nature and habitual mode of thinking, that men are impressed with belief of his regeneration, both by popular persuasion and scriptural evidence of a state of future retribution, which is altogether false and fanciful.

44. The soul is an aerial and vacuous substance, giving rise to the phantoms of visibles, in the forms of shadowy dreams in its spacious vacuity; and always views its births and deaths in endless repetitions in this world.

45. It views every particular object, in the illusive net work, which is spread in its ample sphere; and seems to see and act and enjoy everything, without being in the actual enjoyment of any thing.

46. In this manner millions and millions of worlds, are constantly rising before its sight; which appear to be so many visible phenomena in its ignorance; but which when viewed in their proper light, prove to be the display of One all-pervading Brahma only.

47. But none of them ever occupy any space, nor do any one of them ever exist anywhere in reality; but there is that one Brahma that spreads undivided through all, and knows all these [to be] an undivided whole, and yet every one of them forming a world of itself. (The Lord is full and perfect in each and all of these).

48. Now all beings in these worlds, are connected with one another in a common link (of the universal soul of all); they appear as realities to the erroneous sight of people, but being viewed in their true light, they proved to be selfsame with the unborn One.

49. That undecaying One which is known as true reality, to the knower of the knowable (i.e. to him who knows the truth), and what is understood as unreal by the enlightened sage, is believed to be true by the

ignorant. (This is the contrariety between both).

50. The belief that all things every where are realities, because they are all but reflexions of the selfsame One; is enough to reconcile these opposite parties, and to settle in one common faith of universal catholicism (of One, to pan).

51. Or in order to ascertain, whether the world as one views it is real or unreal, let one consult his own consciousness about it, and rely on its verdict, with regard to its reality or otherwise: (because nothing can upset the undeniable conviction of consciousness).

52. Who can doubt the evidence of consciousness, or confute its dictates of this kind or that; or with regard to the difference or identity of things, or their unity or duality.

53. The knowledge of the knowable God; in as much as it is known to us is right, and establishes the identity of the knowable One with his knowledge; but the position that the known or visible world, is identic with the unknown and invisible god, is false and mistaken knowledge (i.e. God is seen in his works, but the works are not the God).

54. Such being the meaning (of this mystery), the knowable One is not distinct from knowledge of Him; but being seated in our finite understanding, is quite unknown to and apart from the ignorant, that have no knowledge of the knowable One.

55. The Knowable One is known to us in proportion to our knowledge of him; but not so to those that are ignorant of Him; as our knowledge increases, so the knowable soul spreads of itself over our souls.

56. Hence the unreal worlds, that appear of themselves as real ones before the eyes of the ignorant, are naught and nothing to my sight.

57. Being rightly understood, all things are but forms of the one intellect, and equally void as itself, and this appears in a thousand shapes to the understanding of gross instincts.

58. As the one intellectual soul assumes many forms to itself as it exhibits in its dreams, and engrosses them all again into one, or the single form of its unity in its sound sleep; so doth the Divine soul appear in one or more forms to our intellects also.

59. Thus our consciousness of God though one and same, yet it appears in various forms according to the various apprehensions of men; and are either vacuous or formal, as our dreams and the works of our imagination.

60. The consciousness of the dreams that we have in the vacuum of our minds, is what take the name of the worlds; but the sound sleep of the mind or its unconsciousness of anything, is called its pralaya or anaesthesia: and this analogy applies equally to them.

61. This substantial totality of existences, are mere perceptions of the mind only; and whatever appears in any manner in the thought in any manner at any time or place, the same seems to present itself in reality before us even then and there.

62. It was the thought alone at first, that manifested itself in the forms of the primary elements of fire and water, and the earth and in the beginning of creation, all which rose in the mind in the manner of dreams and the phantoms of its imagination.

63. Again the inward impressions of these things, that are preserved in the vacuous space of our consciousness;the same unite together of themselves, and exhibit unto us this world, in the form as we view it in our presence.

64. Our consciousness appears unto us, in both its transient as well as permanent states; while in reality it is no temporary thing, but continues with us even at the end of all transitory things, as our transient lives also.

65. Our consciousness accompanies us for ever, wheresoever we remain or go; conceive in yourself for instance as passing on either towards the east or west; you see many things and cities on your way; but can never lose your memory of the past, nor the consciousness of yourself as you proceed onward. (The knowledge which the mind has of its operations, is never effaced from it).

66. Anything that the mind has seen or willed or is long practiced to do or think upon is never effaced from consciousness, unless it be from numbness of the Intellect. (Gloss. So one is never at a loss to realize his wishes, unless he is remiss in his efforts to bring them to effect).

67. You may rove wherever you please, either to the east or west, and you will find your consciousness to continue [the] same, and never changing with the change of your place. (So doth one's consciousness accompany him even after his death).

68. We have seen the man of steady consciousness, attain to the object or state of his wish, by his firm perseverance; while on the contrary the unsteady minded are sure to lose them both: (i.e. his wished for object together with the consciousness of himself).

69. The man of steady consciousness, is possessed of both states whether he goes to the north or south; but the one that is unsteady in himself and to his purpose also, is deprived of both (himself and his object). (Consciousness is joint knowledge of ourselves, in connections with others, so that the mind knows both what it is, as well as what it wills).

70. The man of firm intent that thinks of his being both in heaven and earth, has them both by fixing his mind in one, while his body is placed in the other; as the man thinking of going both to the east and west, may do both by walking one way and thinking of the other. But the man of unsteady purpose is neither for this world or that, nor walks one way or the other (but stands in the middle).

71. By steadfast belief in the One, we find the intellect alone pervading the whole vacuity of space; but this one appears as many and many thousands to the understanding of ignorant sceptics.

72. Be the body destructible because of its materiality, or indestructible by reason of it being the reflexions of the divine intellect; yet it is after all but a mere appearance in the dream of the living soul, whether in this or in the future world. (The indestructible intellect, cannot be the destructible body, because the destruction of this would involve the other to destruction also).

73. That the souls of men do not die with their bodies, is evident from the instances of the ghosts and spirits of the barbarians, that are invoked by wizards, and made to relate the incidents of their past lives.

74. Men in the country of barbarians that have long been dead and burnt down to ashes, are known to reappear before people, and delivering their errands, to have disappeared with their living souls.

75. If it is impossible for departed souls to reappear like the living as the Charvakas say; then let me ask them, why do they not reckon their absent friends as dead also, and unable to return. (This argument maintains the doctrine of spirituality, of the capability of the reappearance of departed spirits from the analogy of the return of absent people to their homes; as Butler proves the rising of the dead at the Resurrection, upon the analogy of our waking from sleep).

76. If the property of action be true of the living, why should it not be equally true of the dead also; upon the analogy of our conception of the idea of the action of the one as well as of the other.

77. The doctrine of the visionary dream of the world, being the established and irrefutable truth of Aryan sastras; it is quite compatible and conformable with the tenet of eternal ideas maintained in Indian philosophy.

78. These worlds are equally as true as well as false to view, as the sight of the appearances in the disc of the moon, which appears as realities to the eyes of beholders, without having any substantiality in them (The lunar spots are considered as mere marks—kalankas though to all appearance they seem as habitable parts—chandra-loka.

79. The subjective world is real, in having all its objects as parts of the true Entity; and the subjective mind is a reality, in its being composed of pure ideas only. The Intellect is true as reflexion only, and so they are all true without having any reality of themselves.

80. All these are immutable and quiet, and lie quiescent in the vacuity of the Divine Intellect; they are irremovable and unconspicuous of themselves, and lie immanent in the Divine soul.

81. It is the steady consciousness, that is conscious of whatever is fixed upon at any time or place; and represents all things whether real or unreal, that is inbred or inherent in it.

82. Let our bodies rise or fall, and our destinies overtake us as they will; let happiness or misery befall on us as they are decreed, they cannot affect the serenity of the indifferent soul.

83. Hence it is of no matter unto us, whether these are realities or otherwise, or whether it may be so and so or not; avoid your desire for any thing, and be wise and at rest after all your wanderings.