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 CXC - Ecstasis or inertness of rama

Argument:—Description of liberation, as heedlessness of the past and future, ignorance of the knowables, and thoughtlessness about the thinkables.

Vasishtha continued:—

Gaining the knowledge of knowables, is called our bondage in this world; but it is our release from the bonds of knowable objects, that is termed our liberation from it.

Rama rejoined:—

2. But how can it be possible, sir, to get our escape from the knowledge of the knowables, and how can our rooted knowledge of things, and our habitual sense of bounden to them, be removed from us.

Vasishtha replied:—

3. It is the perfection of our knowledge, and feeling of it as such, that removes our misjudgment; and then we get our liberation from error, after disappearance of our inborn bias.

Rama rejoined:—

4. Tell me sir, what is that simply uniform feeling, and what is called that complete and perfect knowledge said to be, which releases the living soul entirely, from its fetters of error.

Vasishtha replied:—

5. The soul is full with its subjective knowledge of intuition, and has no need of the objective knowledge of the knowables from without; and perfect knowledge is our inward sense of the same, and not expressible in words.

Rama rejoined:—

6. Tell me sir, whether the knowableness of knowledge, that is whether the internal knowledge of the knowing soul, is the same or separate from itself; and whether the word jnana or knowledge, is taken in its instrumental or abstract sense (i.e. whether it is used to mean the power by means of which we derive our knowledge, or the so derived knowledge itself).

Vasishtha replied:—

7. All perception is knowledge, and this term is denotative of its causality also (as we say, my knowledge is my guide, i.e. the instrumentality of my guidance). Hence there is no difference between knowledge and the known or the knowable, as there is none between the air and its ventilation.

Rama rejoined:—

8. If it be so (that there is no difference between them); then tell me, whence arises the error of difference in our conception of them; the conception of the materiality of the perceptible or objective world, must be as erroneous as that of the horns of a hare, which had never been in esse, nor are likely to be at any time in future.

Vasishtha replied:—

9. The error of the reality of external objects, gives rise to the error of the reality to our knowledge of them also; but there is no inward object of thought, nor of the outward senses, has ever any reality in it.

Rama rejoined:—

10. Tell me, O sage, how can you deny the existence of those objects, which are evident to the senses of mine, thine and all others alike; and which are ever present in their thoughts in the minds of sensible beings.

Vasishtha replied:—

11. It was at the time of the first creation of the world, that the self manifested God Virat, exhibited the outline of the cosmos in a corner of his all-comprehensive mind; but as nothing was produced in reality, there is no possibility of our knowing any as a knowable or real entity.

Rama rejoined:—

12. How can our common sight, of the present, past and future prospects of this world; and our daily perception of things, which are felt by all in general, be regarded as nothing by your teaching. (Common sense can not be controverted by abstruse philosophy).

Vasishtha replied:—

13. Just as the dreamer's vision in sleep, the deer's mistake of water in the mirage in sand, the illusory sight of a moon in the sky, and the prospects of our delusive fancies, do all disappear on right observation; so the false perceptions of worldly things, and the mistaken conceptions of our own entities, are as erroneous as the sights of the false lights in the empty air. (These dissolve as dreams upon waking, and the testimony of one waking man, is enough to disperse the deceptive sights of all dreamers and sleepers).

Rama rejoined:—

14. If our knowledge of I and thou and of this and that, is as false as that of all other things in the womb of the world; why

then were these brought into existence, not left to remain in their ideas in the mind of their creator, as they had existed before his creation of them?

Vasishtha replied:—

15. It is certain that everything springs from its cause, and not otherwise; what then could there be the (material) cause, for the creation of the world therefrom, after the dissolution of everything at the universal destruction?

Rama replied:—

16. Why sir, cannot that being be the cause of recreation, which remains undestroyed and indestructible, after destruction of the prior creation?

Vasishtha replied:—

17. Whatever substance there abides in the cause, the same is evolved in effect also; hence the essence of Brahma being composed of his intellect only, it could not give rise to the material world from itself; as the substance of a pot, cannot produce that of a picture or cloth.

Rama replied:—

18. Why sir, the world existed in its subtile (or ideal) state, in the person (mind) of Brahma (God); from which it issued forth anew and again, after dissolution of the former creation.

Vasishtha said:—

19. Tell me, O intelligence Rama, how could the Lord God (whose nature is composed of pure intelligence), conceive the entity or quintessence of the world in himself, and which like the productive seed, sprang out in the form of the future creation. Say what sort of entity was it.

Rama replied:—

20. It is an entity of Divine intelligence, and is situated in the subjective soul of God in that form. It is neither a vacuous nullity, nor an unreal entity.

Vasishtha said:—

21. If it be so, O mighty armed Rama, that the three worlds are Divine intelligence only; then tell me why bodies formed of pure intelligence (as those of the gods and angels), and those having the intelligent soul in them (as those of human beings), are subject to their birth and death.*

* Note. If the world be a form of Divine knowledge, and subsistent in and subjective to the eternal mind of God; it can then be neither created nor destroyed at any time; but since it is subject to creation and destruction, it can be a part of Divine knowledge. Nor is it an object for want of any cause of its creation. Therefore it is a mere nullity.

Rama said:—

22. If then there has been no creation at all at any time from the beginning; then tell me sir, whence has this fallacy of the existence of the world come to be in vogue.

Vasishtha replied:—

23. The inexistence of cause and effect, proves the nullity of being and not being (i.e. its annihilation also); all this that is thought of to exist, is the thought and thinking of the divine soul, which is the triputi or triple entity of thinker, thinking and the thought together. (i.e. The soul is both the subjective and objective, as also their connecting predicate by itself).

Rama rejoined:—

24. The thinking soul thinks about the implements and the acts, as the looker looks on the objects of his sight; but how can the divine looker be the dull spectacle (and the object the same with the subject); unless you maintain that the objective fuel burns the subjective fire (which is impossible).

Vasishtha replied:—

25. The viewer is not transformed to the view, owing to impossibility of the existence of an objective view; it is the all seeing soul, that shows itself as one solid plenum in itself.

Rama rejoined:—

26. The soul is the pure intellect only, and is without its beginning and end; it thinks only on its eternal and formless thoughts; how then can it present the form and appearance of the visible world.*

* Note.—If the thinkables are the produce of their first creation, then it remains to be said, whence (i.e. from what materials) they were formed.

Vasishtha replied:—

27. The thinkables being all causeless of themselves, have none of them any cause whatsoever; and it is the privation of the thinkables, that bespeaks the liberation of the intellect. (The production of the thinkables, is as impossible as the birth of the offspring of a Barren woman. gloss).

Rama rejoined:—

28. If it is so, then say how and whence have we the thought of our conception of ourselves; and our knowledge of the world, and our sense of motion and the like; (as they are suggested to us by our common sense, and the universal testimony of all people).

Vasishtha replied:—

29. The impossibility of cause, precludes the possibility of any production; how and whence could the thinkables proceed, when all is quite calm and quiet everywhere, and the knowledge of creation is but an error and a delusion.

Rama rejoined:—

30. Here tell us sir, how this error comes to overshadow the unknowable, unthinkable and the immovable being, that is self-manifest and ever untainted and clear by itself (Swaprakasa or Swayamprakasa).

Vasishtha replied:—

31. there is no error or mistake herein, owing to its want of any causation also; our knowledge of egoism and tuism, is drowned altogether in that of one unevanescent Unity.

Rama replied:—

32. O venerable sir, I am so bewildered in the error of my consciousness, that I know not what other question I am here to make; I am not so enlightened as the learned, to argue any more on this point.

Vasishtha replied:—

33. Do not desist, O Rama, from making your inquiries concerning the causality of Brahma; until you are satisfied with the proof of his causelessness, as they test the purity of gold on the stone; and then by knowing this, you will be able to repose yourself, in the blissful state of the supremely Blest.

Rama rejoined:—

34. I grant sir, as you say, that there is no creation for want of its cause, but tell me now whence is this my error of the thinkable and its thought (so rooted in me that I can not get rid of it).

Vasishtha replied:—

35. There is no error in the belief of the uncaused creation, and in its perfect calmness; but it is for want of your habit of thinking it so (and your bias of the reality of the world), that really makes you so restless.

Rama rejoined:—

36. Tell me sir, whence rise this habit as well as the desuetude of this mode of our thinking; and how does our rest proceed from the one, and our disquiet from the other mode of thought.

Vasishtha replied:—

37. Belief in the eternal God, breed no error in that of the eternity of the world; it is the habit of thinking it otherwise, that creates the error of creation. Be you therefore as sound in your mind, as the solid minded sages have been.

Rama rejoined:—

38. Please to tell me sir, in your preaching of these lectures to your audience, what other mode of practice there may be, in our attainment of a quietude like that of the living liberated sages.

Vasishtha replied:—

39. The lesson that we preach, is to know one's self as Brahma and resting in the spirit of Brahma; and this knowledge is sure to release the soul, both from its longing for liberation, as also from its dread of bondage in this world.

Rama rejoined:—

40. This doctrine of yours, by its all negative distinctions of our knowledge of time and space, and of our actions and thing, serves to drive away our consciousness of all existence whatsoever from the mind.

Vasishtha replied:—

41. Yes, because all our objective knowledge, of the distinctions of time and place and of actions and things in our minds; is the effect of our ignorance of the subjectivity of the soul, beside which there is no other substance—before the liberated spirit.

Rama rejoined:—

42. The absence of our knowledge of an intelligent agent, and also of an intelligible object; deprives us altogether of any intelligence at all; the impossibility of the union of the unity and duality together, must preserve our distinct knowledge of the knowing

principle and the known or knowable object. (The transitive verb to know must have an object, and cannot like a neuter or intransitive verb, be confined to or reflect upon its agent. Gloss).

Vasishtha replied:—

43. It is by your act of knowing of God, that you have or get your knowledge of Him; therefore the word is taken in its active sense by you and others (Who have to know a thing before it is known to them). But with us (or sages like ourselves), who are possest of our intuitive knowledge of ourselves as the deity, it is but a self-reflexive verb. (Gloss. Budhi with the ignorant, means knowing;but with the sapient, it means feeling).

Rama rejoined:—

44. But how do you feel your finite selves or egoism, and your limited knowledge, as same with the infinite soul and omniscience of the deity; unless it were to ascribe your imperfections to the transcendental divinity, who is purer than the purest water, and rarer than the rarefied ether.

Vasishtha replied:—

45. It is the feeling of the perfections of the divine soul in ourselves, that we call our egoism; and not the ascription of our imperfect personalities unto him. And here the duality of the living and divine souls, bears resemblance to the unity of the ventilating breeze with the universal and unfluctuating air. [Sanskrit]

46. As the waves of the ocean, have been continually rising and subsiding in it; so the objective thoughts of one's egoism and the world besides, must be always rising and falling in the subjective soul of the supreme being, as well as self-liberated persons (Hence the subjective and objective cannot be the one and same thing).

Vasishtha replied:—

47. If so it be, then say what is the fault, that is so much reprehended in the popular belief of a duality; and in disregarding the creed of the Unity, which is eternal and infinite, full and perfect in itself, quite calm and quiet in its nature, and is termed the transcendent One.

Rama rejoined:—

48. If it be so (that the living soul, is as the breeze or breath of the calm air of Brahma and same with it), then tell me sir, who and what power is it, which conceives the ego, tu and others, which feels and enjoys all as their agent, if the fundamental fallacy of the world be the root of all. (The whole being false, there is nothing as one or an another or as bondage or liberation).

Vasishtha replied:—

49. The knowledge of the reality of the objective or knowable things, is the cause of our bondage (in this world); true knowledge does not recognise their reality, and full intelligence which assumes the forms of (and shows) all things in itself, sees no difference of bondage or liberation before it. (All things are alike in the full light of intelligence).

Rama rejoined:—

50. Intelligence like light, does not show us all things in the same light; it shows us the difference between a pot and a picture, as light shows the white and black to view. Again as the light of our eye sight shows us the different forms of outward objects, so does our intelligence confirm and attest the reality of our visual perceptions.

Vasishtha replied:—

51. All outward objects having no cause of their creation, nor any source of their production, are as incredible as the offspring of a barren woman; and the appearance of their reality which is presented to our sight, is as false as that of silver in a conch-shell or in the glittering sands, and not otherwise. (The phenomenal is a mirage, and deception of sight).

Rama rejoined:—

52. The sight of the miserable world, whether it be true or false, is like the startling apparition in a dream, and attended with pain only for the time; tell me therefore the best means, how to avoid and get rid of this error.

Vasishtha replied:—

53. The world being never the better than a dream, it is the reflection of the idea of its reality, that is the best method of getting rid of the snare of its tempting joys and sorrows.

Rama rejoined:—

54. But how to effect this object, which may redound to our bliss and rest; say how to put an end to the sight of the world, which shows the sights of falsities as realities, in the continuous train of its deluding dreams.

Vasishtha replied:—

55. It is the due consideration of the antecedent and subsequent states of things, which must remove the erroneous impression of their reality; just as the conception of the substantiality of sights seen in our dreams, is eliminated upon reflection of their subsequent disappearance (and bearing no trace of former forms behind).

Rama rejoined:—

56. But how do the rising apparitions of the world, disappear in the depth of our minds, and what do we then come to perceive, after the vestiges of our gross remembrances have faded away? (The mind is never vacant of its thoughts of visible objects).

57. Vasishtha responded:—After the false appearance of the world, has vanished like the faded sight of a city from view; the unconcerned mind of the unconcerned soul, looks upon it as a painting, wholly washed out by the rain (i.e. as a clear blank or vacuity).

58. Rama asked:—What then becomes of the man, after subsidence of the worldly sights and desires from his mind; like the gross looking objects of a dream; and after the mind rests in its state of listless indifference.

Vasishtha replied:—

59. Then the world recedes from his sight, and then this predilection of it, and his desire for its enjoyment depart and die away along with it.

Rama rejoined:—

60. How can this blind and deep rooted predilection, which has accompanied the soul from many previous births, and branched out into multifarious desires, resign its hold of the human heart all at once?

Vasishtha replied:—

61. As the knowledge of truth, serves to disperse the rooted error of the material world from the mind, so the sense of the vanity of human desires, and of the bitterness of their enjoyment, dissipate their seeds at once from the heart (where they can take root no more).

Rama rejoined:—

62. After dissipation of the error of materiality, of the visible spheres of worlds; say, O sage, what is that state of the mind which follows it, and how [is] its peace and tranquillity at last?

Vasishtha replied:—

63. After dissipation of the error of the material world, the mind reverts to its seat in the immaterial soul; where it is released from all its earthly bonds, and finds its rests in the state of an indifferent insoucianceVairagya.

Rama rejoined:—

64. Tell me sir, if the error of the world is as little, as that of a child's idea of sorrow, then what trouble there is for a man to remedy it?

Vasishtha replied:—

65. All our desires, like the fond wishes of boys, being wholly extinct in the mind, there remains no more any cause of any sorrow in it; and this you may well know from the association of desires in all minds.

Rama rejoined:—

66. Tell me sir, what is the mind, and how are we to know its nature and workings; and what good do we derive, by our best investigation of the mental powers and properties.

Vasishtha replied:—

67. The inclination of the intellect towards the intelligibles, is called the mind, for its mending the thinkables only; and the right knowledge of its workings, leads to the extinction of all our worldly desires. (i.e. The thoughts of things, are productive of our desires for them; banish your thoughts, and you get rid of your desires at once).

Rama rejoined:—

68. Tell me sir, how long continues this tendency of the intellect towards the thinkables, and when does the mind come to have its unmindfulness, which causes our coma or anaesthesia of Nirvana.

Vasishtha replied:—

69. There being a total absence of thinkable things, what is then left for the intellect to be intent upon; the mind dwells upon its thoughts only, but the want of thinkable objects, leaves nothing for it to think upon.

Rama rejoined:—

70. How can there be the absence of thinkables, when we have the ideas in store to think and reflect upon; nor is there any one who can deny the existence of ideas, which are ever imprinted in the mind (i.e. the eternal ideas).

Vasishtha replied:—

71. Whatever is the ideal world of the ignorant, has no truth in it and is denied by the learned; and the conception which the sapient have of it, is that of a nameless and formless unity only.

Rama rejoined:—

72. What is that knowledge of this triple world of the ignorant, which has no truth or reality therein; and what is the true knowledge of the wise about it, which is inexpressible in words?

Vasishtha replied:—

73. The knowledge of the ignorant, regarding the duality of the world, is wholly untrue from first to last; but the

true knowledge of the wise, neither recognizes a duality herein; nor acknowledges the production hereof; (but views it in the light of a nullity and void).

Rama rejoined:—

74. Whatever is not produced in the beginning, can not of course exist at any time; but how is it, that this unreal and unapparent nothing, could come to produce in us its conception of a something?

Vasishtha replied:—

75. This causeless and uncaused unreality of the world, appears unto us as a real entity; like the daydream that presents the false sight of the cosmos as a reality in our waking.

Rama rejoined:—

76. The sights that we see in our dreams, and the images that we conceive in our imagination; are but perceptions derived from our impressions of them in our waking state.

Vasishtha replied:—

77. Tell me, O Rama, whether the things that you see in your dream, or conceive in your imagination, are exactly of the same forms, that you see in your waking state.

Rama replied:—

78. The things that we see in our dream, and conceive of in our fancy or imagination; do all of them appear unto us in the same light, as they show themselves to us in our waking state.

79. Vasishtha questioned:—If the impressions of the waking state, come to represent themselves in our dreaming (and if our dreams are alike our waking sights), then tell me Rama! why do you find your house standing entire in the morning, which you beheld to have fallen down in your dream.

80. Rama answered:—I see that the things seen in waking, do not appear the same in dreaming; but tell me sir, why they seem to resemble those that have been seen before.

Vasishtha replied:—

81. It is neither the notion nor idea of anything, that appears as a reality in our minds; but the inherent impression of the world in the soul, that exhibits it to us from first to last.

Rama said:—

82. I find it now, that this world is no better than a dream; but tell me sir, how to remedy our fallacy of its reality, which holds us fast as a goblin.

Vasishtha replied:—

83. Now consider how this dream of the world has come into vogue, and what may be the cause thereof; and knowing that the cause is not different from its effect, view this visible creation in the light of its invisible origin.

Rama said:—

84. But as the mind is the cause of the sights, seen in our dreams in sleep, it must therefore be the same with its creation of this world, which is equally unsubstantial and undecaying as itself. (The world is the permeation of the Divine mind—its maker or pervader).

Vasishtha replied:—

85. So it is, O most intelligent Rama, the world is verily the manas—mens or the mind of God, which is no other than the consolidation of the Divine Intellect or intelligence. Thus the world being situated in the mind, and this in that, it is this mind only that exhibits these dreamlike shows, which originate from it, and have no other source besides.

Rama rejoined:—

86. But why am I not to think the identity of the world with Brahma himself, as there is the identity of the divine mind with him, and that of the mind with the creation. And likewise as the relation of sameness subsists between a component part and its ensemble or the integral whole, as there is between the branch of a tree and the tree itself? (because these are but parts of one undivided whole). But it would be absurd to identify the undivided and formless Brahma, with the divided and formal world.

Vasishtha replied:—

87. It is impossible, O Rama, to identify this frail world with the eternal Brahma, who is increate to identify this perishable, quite calm and quiescent and intact in his nature.

Rama added:—

88. I come to find at last and by a haphazard, my erroneous conception of the world from first to last; as also the error of my attributing the qualities of activity and passivity, to the nature of the transcendent being.

89. Vasishtha concluded with saying:—Now I have fully exposed the erroneous views of the world (entertained both by the wise and ignorant), both by the elegance of my poetical diction, as also by the

enlightening reasonings of the learned; both of which are calculated to remove the mistaken views of the vacuity and delusion of the world, by establishment of the truth of the whole, as being composed of essence of the One sole and Supreme entity.