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 CLXXXVII - Of the living creation

Argument:—Description of nature and destiny, and of creation and its teeming with vitality.

Rama rejoined:—

1. Tell me sir, how can one paramount destiny, guide the fates of these endless chains and varieties of beings; and how can one uniform nature, be the predominant feature of all these various kinds of beings.

2. Say why is the sun so very shining among the myriads of gods, and cause is it that lengthens and shortens, the durations of days and nights (in summer and winter).

Vasishtha replied:—

3. Whatever the Lord has ordained at first of himself (i.e. of his own will and wisdom);the same appearing as the fortuitous formation of chance, is called the very system of the universe.

4. All that is manifested in any manner by omnipotence, is and continues as real in the same manner; because what is made of the pith of divine will and intelligence, can never be unreal; nor is it possible for the manifest and obvious to be evanescent.

5. All that is situated or appears to us in any manner, being composed of the divine intellect, must continue to remain for ever in the same manner; this appearance of creation and its disappearance in its dissolution, are both attributed to the unseen power of its destiny.

6. To say this one is such and that is otherwise, is to attribute them to the manifestation of Brahma as so and so; and these formations of theirs, together with their ultimate dissolution, are called the acts of their destiny.

7. The three states of waking, sleeping and dreaming, appearing to the nature of the soul, are no way separated from it; as the fluidity and motion of water, are not otherwise than properties of the same limpid liquid.

8. As vacuity is the property of air, and warmth of the sunshine, and as odour is the quality of camphor; so the states of waking, sleeping and dreaming, appertain to the very nature of the soul, and are inseparable from it.

9. Creation and dissolution follow one another, in the one and same current of the Divine Intellect; which in its vacuous form, subsists in the vacuous spirit of Brahma.

10. What is believed as creation, is but a momentary flash of the Divine Intellect; and that which is thought to be a kalpa period, is but a transient glare of the same. (A kalpa age is but a fleeting moment in the eternal duration of Brahma).

11. The sky and space and the things and actions, that come to our knowledge at any time; are as mere dreams occurring unto us, by a flash of the glaring nature of the Divine Intellect.

12. The sights of things and the eternal thoughts, and whatever occurs at any time or place; are all presented unto us by our minds, from their formless shapes or ideas in the vacuous intellect of God. (The mind derives the formal images, from their ideals subsisting in the Divine Intellect).

13. Whatever is thus manifested by the mind or designed by it at any time, the same is termed its destiny, which is devoid of any form like the formless air.

14. The uniform state of things for a whole kalpa age, measuring but a moment of Brahma; is what is expressed by the word nature, by natural philosophers that know all nature.

The one soul said:—

15. consciousness or universal intelligence (of God), is diversified into a hundred varieties of living beings; and every portion of this general intelligence, retains the same intellection like its original, without forsaking its nature (Note: As the one element of fire, diversifies itself into many forms of sparks, without losing its properties of heat and burning).

16. The intelligences that appertain to and manifest themselves, in the supreme intelligence of God, do some of them imagine to assume to themselves some embodied forms, in utter ignorance of their intellectual natures.

17. The earth, air, water and fire and vacuum, are severally the receptacles of many properties; but it is the vacuous intellect which is the great repository of these, that appear as dreams hovering all about it.

18. This place contains the vast receptacle, for the reception of all tangible and solid bodies; and this spacious earth with all the population on its surface, is seated in the midst of it.

19. It has a place for the vast body of waters, or the great ocean in it; and affords a seat to the sun—the source of light; it has a space for the course of the winds, and a vacuum containing all the worlds in it.

20. It is the reservoir of the five elements, which are the quintuple principles of our knowledge; and it being thus the container of the quintessence of Brahma, what is seen or anything else before it.

21. The learned call this intelligence as the intellect and omniscience; it is omniform, uniformed and all-pervading, and is perceived by all owing to its greatness and its great magnitude.

22. Brahma the son or offspring of Brahma;is the selfsame Brahma himself; who by expanding his intelligence, has expanded the vacuum under the name of firmament; and as an awning of silk in cloth. (In fact nothing was made by the father but by the son).

23. When delusion rules over the intellect of Brahma and over the subtile and gross matters; then how is it possible for other things, what are but parts of them, to stand good in law.

24. It is simply by his will (and without any external appliance), that this god Brahma stretched the network of the universe, as a spider weaves its web out of itself; it revolves like a disc or wheel in the air, and whirls like a whirlpool in the hollow depth of the intellect, appearing as it were a sensible sphere in the heavens.

25. These spheres present some bodies of great brightness, and others of a lesser light; which there are some scarcely visible to us, and all appearing as figures in a painting.

26. All created objects appear in this manner and those that are not created never appear to view; but they all appear as visions in a dream, to the sight of the learned.

27. The intellect is the selfsame soul, and the Lord of All, and the seeming visibles are all really invisible; they are all evanescent for their want of lasting bodies; and neither are they visible by themselves, nor are they ever perceptible to or seen by us.

28. The vacuous intellect, sees these as its dreams in the great vacuity of the intellect, and this world being no other than a phenomenon of the vacuous intellect, can have no other form than that of mere vacuum.

29. Whatever is manifested by the intellect in any manner, the same is called its form and body; and the countenance of that manifested form for a certain period, is termed its nature or destiny.

30. The first manifestation of the divine intellect, in the form of vacuum and as the vehicle of sound; became afterwards the source of the world, which sprouted forth like a seed, in the great granary of vacuity. (The conveying of sound and the containing of worlds are the nature of vacuum).

31. But the account given of the genesis of the world, and of the creation of things one after the other, are mere fabrication of sages for instruction of the ignorant, and has no basis on truth. (Because no reason can be assigned for the Lord's production of the material world).

32. There is nothing that is ever produced of nothing, nor reduced to nothingness at any time; all this is as quiet and calm as the bosom of a rock, and ever as real as it is unreal. (The world is real in the ideal, but an utter unreality in its materiality).

33. As there existed no separate body before, so there can be no end of it also; all things exist as inseparable infinitesimal with the spirit of God, and can therefore neither rise nor set in it where they are always present.

34. The vacuous world existing in vacuum of the divine spirit, is a pure vacuity or blank only; how is it possible then to rise or set in it, or go beyond it to rise or set elsewhere.

35. What is the world, but a ray of the ever shining gem of divine intellect; before whose omniscience, every thing shines for ever in its own light and nature.

36. The Divine spirit though unknown to all, makes itself some what conceivable to us in our consciousness of it, and in our thinkableness of it, and by means of our reasoning and reflection.

37. We can get some knowledge of it by our reason, as we can draw inferences of future events by means of our reasoning; this knowledge is rarer than that of the subtile element of air, and fainter than our prescience into the future of all things.

38. Then this transcendental essence of the divine spirit, being about to reflect in itself, becomes the thinking principle called the intellect, which is somewhat intelligible to us.

39. Having then the firm conviction of its consciousness in itself, it takes the name of the living soul, which is known by the title of Anima, meaning the supreme spirit or soul.

40. This living soul embodied in itself the nameless avidya or ignorance, which shrouded the atmosphere of its intellect, and superceded the title of the pure intelligence. (The living soul jivatma is involved in ignorance maya, of its original state of Chiddata or the intelligent soul).

41. It is then employed in the thoughts, of its bodily conduct and worldly carrier only; and being forgetful of its spiritual nature, is engaged in the discharge of his temporal functions.

42. Being thus forgetful of its nature of vacuum, which possesses the property of conveying the sound, it becomes prepossessed with the error of taking the future material bodies for real, in lieu of the reality of the intellect.

43. It gets next the motion of its egoism, with the idea of time, in its spiritual body; and then these two run together, in quest of the material elements, which are the seeds for the growth of the forth coming world.

44. Then the thinking power of the living soul, begets the sense of consciousness within itself; and produces therein the conviction of the unreal world, as a positive reality.

45. After this the thinking principle or the mind, bursts out like a seed into a hundred sprouts of its wishes; and then by reflecting on its egoism, thinks as a living being at the very moment.

46. Thus the pure spirit passing under the name of living soul, is entangled in the maze of its erroneous and unreal reality, has been rolling like a heaving wave in the depth of the universal spirit. (All living souls of animate beings, are as bursting bubbles in the ocean of the eternal spirit).

47. The mind by constantly reflecting at first on the vacuous nature of the living soul; is stultified at last to think it as solidified into the nature of animal life or the vital air or breath of life.

48. This being became the source of articulate sounds or words, which were expressive of certain meanings, and significant of things, that were to be created afterwards; and were to be embodied in the wording of the Vedas. (The Lord spake and all things came out at his bidding, which were afterwards stated in the Book of Genesis).

49. From him was to issue forth the would be world, by virtue of the words which he spake to denote the things he meant; the words that he invented were fraught with their meanings, and productive of the things which they expressed.

50. The intellect being employed in this manner (in the thoughts of creation), takes upon it the title of a living being; which being garbed in significant words, was productive of all existent entities. (The volitive principle of the divine intellect, takes the name of the living soul or Brahma the creative agent).

51. It was this self-existent entity that produced the fourteen spheres, which fill the whole space of vacuity; and which give rise to so many worlds that subsist therein.

52. But before this being had the power of his speech, and of the use of his limbs and body, it remained to reflect only on the significations of words, having had his mind alone the only active part of himself. (So the mind alone of a living body, is the only active part of it in its embryonic state, before its attainment of the functions of all its other parts and members.

53. As the air devolopes a seed to a plant, by exhaling on its outer coat, so doth the intellect develope the bodily functions of living beings, by working in its internal parts. (i.e. The mind actuates the action of the body).

54. And as the oscillating intellect or mind, happens to come across the idea of light; it beholds the same appearing to view; as it is conveyed before it by its significant sound (i.e. as meant by the word).

55. Light is only our intellection or notion of it, and nothing without it; as feeling is our consciousness of it, and not the perception derived by means of the touch of anything. (This is theory of Berkeley).

56. So is sound but our consciousness of it, and a subjective conception of our mind; as vacuum is a conception of the vacuous mind, and as the receptacle of sound caused by itself.

57. As in this state of sound it is known to be the product of air in its own vacuity, so everything else is the product of our consciousness, and there nothing as a duality beside it.

58. So the properties of odour and flavour, are as well as the substances of sound and air; and these unrealities seem as real ones, like the dreams that are seen and thought of in our minds.

59. Heat which is the seed or seat of the arbour of light, and evolves itself in the radiance and other luminous bodies; are the forms of the same intellect, that shows itself in all things.

60. So is flavour a mere quality of empty air, is thought of as a reality in every article of our food and drink; and is a mere name without its substance.

61. All other things, which were hereafter to be designated by different names as fragrance &c., are but so many forms of the thoughts and desires existing in the mind of this living being or Brahma.

62. This being had in his mind the seed of all forms and dimensions, from which was to proceed this terrestrial globe, that was to become afterwards the support of all creatures.

63. All things yet unborn, appeared as already born in this divine mind, which was filled with the models of all future existences of every kind; and all these formless beings had their forms afterwards, as it thought and willed them to be (i.e. The ideal became the real at last).

64. These forms appeared to view as by an act of chance, and the organs whereby they came to be seen, were afterwards called by name of eyes, or the visual organs of sight.

65. The organs which gave the perception of sounds, were named the ears;and those which bore the filling of touch to the mind, were called the organs of feeling or [Sanskrit].

66. The organ of perceiving the flavours, was styled the tongue or organ of taste; and that which received the perception of smell, were termed the nose or organ of scent.

67. The living soul being subjected to its corporeal body, has no perception of the distinctions of time and place by means of its bodily organs, which are so imperfect and soulless on the whole. (i.e. He is not thoroughly diffused all over the body, but has its seat in the mind also, which perceives the abstract ideas of time and space and all other abstract natures of things).

68. In this manner are all things but imageries of the soul, and ideals of the intellect, and wholly confined in the soul; they neither appear nor set on the out side of it, but are set as silent engravings in the stony and stiff bosom of the same.