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 CLXXXVIII - Description of the living soul

Argument:—The Living soul is identified with Brahma or the universal soul; its birth is but a fiction of speech; and the erroneous conception of its animal soul and body, is fully exposed herein.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. The fiction of the first rise of the living soul; from the calm and quiet spirit of God as said before, is merely fictitious and not a true one; but was meant to elucidate the nature of the animate soul, as the same with and not distinct from the Supreme soul.

2. In this manner the fiction (of the living soul) means that, this being a part of the supreme soul is verily the same with it. (As the air in the pot or cot, is the same as universal air or vacuum). It is when the subjective soul is employed with the thoughts of the objective, that it is termed the living God or spirit. (Hence the quiescent and creative souls, are but the states or hypostases of the same soul).

3. The inclination of the self-intelligent or subjective soul, towards thinkable objects of thought, garbs it under a great many fictitious names or epithets, which you shall now hear me, O Rama, relate to you in all their varieties.

4. It is called the living soul or jiva, from its power of living and thinking; and from its addictedness towards the thinkables, it is termed the thinking principle and the intellect.

5. It is termed intelligence for its intellection of this thing as that, as well as for its knowledge of what is what; and it is called the mind from its mending, willing and imagining of many things. (The three powers of the mind are here reckoned, as retention, volition and imagination).

6. The reliance in self that, "I am" is what is called egoism; and the principle of percipience called the mind by the vulgar, is when freed from everything, styled the intellect by the wise and those acquainted with the sastras.

7. It is called the aggregate of the octuple principles or totality of existence, when it is combined with all its wishes of creation; and then named as subtile nature, before its production of the substantial world.

8. Being absent from or imperceptible to our perception, it is called the hidden nature; and in this manner many other fictitious names are given to it by way of fiction or fabrication of our imagination. (The word avidya here meant as absent, is elsewhere explained as unknown and as ignorance and illusion also).

9. All these fictitious appellations that I have told thee here, are mere inventions of our fancy, for the one formless and changeless eternal being.

10. In this manner are all these three worlds, but the fairy lands of our dream and the castles of our imagination; they appear as objects made for our enjoyment and bliss, but are in reality an intactible vacuity.

11. So must you know, O best of embodied beings, that this body of yours is of a spiritual or intangible nature; it is the intellectual body formed of the vacuous intellect, which is rarer than the rarified air.

12. It never rises nor sets (i.e. it is neither born nor dies) in this world, but continue with our consciousness of ourselves, until our final liberation from the sense of our personalities. This mental body or mind of ours, is the recipient of the fourteen worlds and all created objects.

13. It is in the extensive regions of our minds, that millions of worlds continue to be created and dissolved in the course of time; and an unnumbered train of created beings, are growing and falling as fruits in it in the long run of time. (The mind and time, contain all things).

14. This intellectual body beholds the world, both inside and outside of it; as the looking glass reflects and refracts, the outward and its inward images both in as well as out of it; and as the open air reflects and shows us the upper skies.

15. The mind must bear these images in its mirror, until its final dissolution with all things at the end of the world; when all minds and bodies and all the world and their contents, are to be incorporated in the great vacuum of the Divine Mind.

16. The compactness of the Divine Mind, which comprehends all images or ideas in itself, imparts them partly in all individual minds, which are but parts of itself, and which are made to think likewise. (This passage maintains the innate ideas derived immediately from God).

17. This spiritual body that was employed in viewing the inborn world in itself; is turned as the form of the Great Brahma by some, and as that of the God Virat by others.

18. Some call him the sanatana or sempiternal, and others give him the name of Narayana or floating on the surface of the waters. Some style him as Isha and by his name as Prajapati—the Lord of creatures (Patriarch).

19. This being chanced to have, his five organs of sense on a sudden, and these were seated in the several parts of his body, when they still retain there seats as before.

20. Then his delusion of the phenomenal, seemed to extend too far and wide, without any appearance of reality therein, all being a vast waste and void. (The noumenal only is the true reality).

21. It was all the appearance of that eternal and transcendental Brahma, and not of the unreal phenomenal which is never real; it is the very Brahma, which is without its beginning and end, and appearing in a light quite unintelligible to us. (Being imperceptible in his person, his reality is hid under the garb of unreality).

22. Our inquiry into the spiritual form of the deity, leads us to take the delusive world as such; just as the longing of the ardent lover after his loved one, leads him to the view of its bloated phantom in his dream (i.e. in our search after the spiritual, we are misled to take the corporeal as such).

23. As we have the blank and formless notion of a pot, presented in the real shape of the pot in our minds; so have we the notions of our bodies and the world also, represented as realities in dreams and imagination.

24. As the dreamed objects of our vacuous minds, seem to be real ones for the time in our sleep; so all these aerial objects in nature, appear as solid substances in the delusion of our dreams by daylight.

25. This spiritual and formless body (of the deity), comes to be gradually perceived in us and by itself also; as we come to see the aerial forms presenting themselves unto us in our dream.

26. It is then embodied in a gross body, composed of flesh and bones, and all its members, and its covering of the skin and hairs; and in this state it thinks (of its carnal appetites and enjoyments).

27. It then reflects on its birth and acts in that body, and upon the duration and end of that body also; and entertains the erroneous ideas of the enjoyments and incidents of its life.

28. It comes to know its subjection to decay, decrepitude and death, and of its wanderings on all sides of the wide sphere of this globe; it gets the knowledge of the knower and known, and also of the beginning, middle and of all acts and things.

29. And thus the primordial spirit, being transformed to the living soul, comes to know the elementary bodies of earth, air, and water &c, and the varieties of created beings and conduct of men and finds itself as contained and confined within the limits of its body and of this earth, after its having been the container of all bodies and space before. (The difference here spoken of, is that of the personal soul of the jiva or living being, and that of the impersonal soul of Brahma—the universal spirit).