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 CLXXII - Establishment of the identity of the deity and the world

Argument:—The world a Pantheon or full with the fullness of God; and our erroneous conception of its materiality.

Vasishtha continued:—

The world is devoid of any material element, as the earth and others; and I ween the first creator to be the Mind only, which is the fruitful tree of desires.

2. The word mind derived from the act of minding, came to be used afterwards as a name for the thinking power, as it was from the whirling of waters, that is got the name of a whirlpool.

3. It is by its connection with the Intellect, that it has its understanding and the other faculties; or else it would [be] as blank as the void of the air, which could have no dust were it not for the earth underlying it.

4. The mind is neither the body nor heart, nor the senses nor desires nor even has it any of these; and though these are commonly attributed to it, yet in its true sense, it is devoid of all properties.

5. How can reminiscence be the cause of reproduction of the world? The former creator or Brahma, being liberated or extinct with the extinction of that world, could not have retained his reminiscence of it; nor could the new creator of the new world, possibly have any remembrance of what he knew not [at] all. (There have been many by gone Brahmas before).

6. The holy and liberated souls, have neither their bodies nor reminiscences any more; nor the passing currents of other rivers, return or whirl back, like the whirlpools of some. (So the sruti:—The liberated souls, return no more to mortality).

7. Or if he have any body at all, owing to the reminiscence of his former state; it must be an unearthly and immaterial body, quite still and rarefied as in imaginary forms. (Such are the spiritual bodies of gods and angels).

8. As our imagination presents to us, a visionary mountain to the mind's eye; such is the air-drawn body of the all engrossing Virat; presented unto us without any earthly form. (Virat is Pantheon).

9. There is therefore no such thing as reminiscence, at any time whatsoever; it is merely built on popular belief, and not upon the reason of wise men. (Because the creator had no remembrance of a prior creation in his first formation of the world).

Rama rejoined:—

10. How do you say sir, that rememberest everything that there was no previous remembrance in the first creator; who must have remembered the creation of a first kalpa or learnt it, O inspired

sage, by his inspiration also. (So says the sruti:—Brahma performed austerities and was inspired by the Lord, see Manu I).

Vasishtha replied:—

11. The pre-existence of reminiscence is possible in the outward or visible world, which admits of cause and effect; but can it be where there is no such world, but a mere vacuum only?

12. There is nothing visible here, from the highest heaven to the lowest pit; if it [were] so a nullity only, then what is its reminiscence and to what use is it?

13. The remembrance of the prior world in its absence, is called its reminiscence; but when there never was nor is any visible world at all, how can you think of its reminiscence; even in fancy?

14. The entire absence of the phenomenals at all times, makes it identic with the invisible Brahma himself;and this being the truth of it, say how can you fancy the reminiscence of anything?

15. Therefore the prime creator, could have no remembrance of a prior existence; nor could he have any bodily form, being of a spiritual form of pure intelligence only.

16. We should remember the past from our present state, that we are mortal beings undergoing repeated transmigrations, and not bring other persons and things to our remembrance, as others think it to mean. (We should remember ourselves only).

17. Reminiscence means the retention of past things, in our remembrance or inward memory; but what can we remember, when there nothing was nor is, nor shall ever be anything?

18. All this stupendous fabric, is the supreme Brahma itself; who remains as immovable as a mountain, and without its beginning, middle or end. What then is the reminiscence or presence of it?

19. The Lord being the universal soul, is the soul or essence of all things; and shines like the lustre of the vacuous Intellect; outwardly he is quite calm, as I may say he is reposing in our remembrance.

20. So the remembrance of the Lord, is as he is seen in the light of nature; hence the habitual meditation of the lord, corresponds with the contemplation of external nature. (Because apart from nature we have no idea of God, unless we think as the Lord of nature. This is called the natural religion, or the worship of God in nature, the ancient vedic religion).

21. Whatever is known to us is nature, and the same is the object of our meditation. Hence the appearance of any thing (in the mind), is called to be its remembrance.

22. And as anything which is absent or inexistent, appears visible (by error) before our sight, like the false appearance of water in the mirage: such is the case with our misleading memory also (which is hence called a treacherous memory).

23. Again any prejudice which is rooted in the minds of men, and appears as right by long habit of thinking it as such; this also passes for memory also (though it is a wrong impression in the mind).

24. Any sudden accident or passing event, that strikes the mind for a moment; pass also under the name of memory; though it may or may not happen any more.

25. Any idea that rises of itself in the mind, becomes so impressed in it, by its being fostered for any length of time; that any other thing bearing resemblance thereto, passes for an object of our memory.

26. Any thing whether obtained or not by any means, passes also for an object of memory; as the ventilation of wind by means of a fan. (It means a negative idea is ever accompanied with its affirmative one in thought and memory).

27. Again whatever occurs in the mind, by parts of the whole subject, is also called its memory (how imperfect so ever it may be); just as any part of the body is called the body also.

28. There are also many chimeras, rising of themselves before the mind, like magic shows appearing before our sight; and if the remembrance of these be called memory, then say what truth or reliance is there in it?

29. Consider then how very imperfect and erroneous, this faculty of memory is to man; and as there is no visible creation at all, its memory therefore is altogether meaningless.

30. Hence then the world being but a display, of the density or volume of the Divine Intellect; it is reflected at present as a visible object in the minds of the ignorant, who have given them the name of memory, which in reality is nothing at all.

31. I cannot tell you about the means of liberation, nor do I know wherein it consists; yet however to clear the doubt of the inquirer, I will relate something about it at present.

32. Until there is an end of the sight of the visibles, and an oblivion of the remembrance of past events; and a cessation of avidya, ignorance and delusion, it is hard to be attained. (i.e. A slave to

this world and errors, is never emancipated in this life—jivan mukta).

33. The ignorant have a belief, in whatever is quite unknown to us; since they can never conceive whatever is imperceptible to their senses (i.e. whose minds never rise beyond sensible objects.)

34. The enlightened are unacquainted with the gross errors, which lurk in the darkness of ignorant minds; as the ever luminous sun, knows nothing of what passes in the gloom of night.

35. Whatever likeness of any thing, ever appears to be impressed in the mirror of the mind; the same being habitual to thought, as any thing studied or stored in the mind, receives the name of reminiscence from its impression in the memory.

36. But these glaring impressions in the imagination, being rubbed out of the mind like the colours of a painting, there remains no more any tinge of the mistaken world therein, as in the clear minds of the learned.

37. The mirage shows the appearance of water in it, which is a mere delusion and never true; so is the dream that shows this creation to view, which is no more in reality than a false vision.

38. It is the vacuous Intellect, which contains the creation in it; and shows its representation in ourselves; thus the world appears in the void of the Intellect only, and not any thing as fallen or detached from it. (It is a picture in the plate of the mind).

39. The supreme soul shows this form in itself, and makes its unreality appear as a reality unto us; and though this form was manifested at the beginning, yet it is no more than the display of an unreality. (i.e. Being seen in God it is real, but without him it is unreal and nothing).

40. Then say, whence and where is this world, with all its pleasant as well as unpleasant things; it is never anything of a plastic form, nor an appearance proceeding from reminiscence.

41. The world having no cause (either material or instrumental), in the beginning, appears as the very form of the supreme, it is to our woe only, that we view its visible form, or search in our memory (for a pristine pattern of it).

42. Both of these views are wrong, and tend to our bondage in the world; but the view of its voidness in the vacuity of the Intellect, is the only means to our release and liberation from it.

43. The view of the apparent world in its vacuous form, and as situated in the vacuity of the Intellect, and its identity with swarupa or selfsame spirit of God, and as undetached in their essence from the divine essence (is the only means of our liberation herein).

44. The view of the situation of the visible bodies, as those of the sun, moon, and mountains &c., in the empty space of the Divine Intellect; like those of the invisible ones, as space, time, and other ideal objects therein, is the only means of our release from the bondage of this world.

45. The view of the selfsame spirit, situated or dwelling in the recess of the Intellect, and identic with its own notion of itself, and bearing resemblance to the nature of the dream, which proceeds from its essence, is the only means of our emancipation from our temporal bondage.

46. How can any earthly or other elemental body, have its place in the spirit of God, which is not of the form of the earth or any other element; it shines of itself and in itself, in and as the quiet void of the Intellect itself.

47. How and from where could the earth and other elements, proceed in the beginning as in the state of our dreaming;unless they were inherent in and coeval with the divine essence, as the many objects of our dream rise from our own nature.

48. These effusions of the spirit, as named afterwards as the earth &c., and deemed as material objects; but say, how could the spiritual emanations or mnemonic effluences, assume such corporal and tangible forms?

49. The world is neither the production of our error, nor is it a representation of our delusion or as a magic show; nor is it the permeation of the spirit as pervading all nature, but it is the very essence of the selfsame deity itself.

50. It is the Divinity Brahma itself that shines in the form of this wondrous world; it is the selfsame unity, which appears so manifest, and yet so very obscure as mysterious unto us. What is visible is only pure light, and that of the serene clearness of open air, which glows and grows dim by turns, by the vicissitudes of the light and shade of creation and destruction. (These as they change are but the varied God. Thomson's "The Seasons").