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 CXCIV - Lecture on the enlightenment of understanding

Argument:—Vasishtha's commendation of Rama's knowledge, and his further questions for his trial and Rama's replies.

Vasishtha said:—

1. Bravo Rama! that you are awakened to light and enlightened in your understanding; and the words you have spoken, are calculated to destroy the darkness of ignorant minds, and rejoice the hearts of wise.

2. These phenomenals that ever appear so very bright to our sight, lose their gloss at our want of desire and disregard of them; it is the knowledge of this truth, that is attended with our peace and tranquillity, and our liberation and inexcitability.

3. All these imaginary sights vanish from our view, at the suppression of our imagination of them; just as the want of ventilation in the winds, reduces them to the level of the one common, and calm still air.

4. The enlightened man remaining unmoved as a stone, or moving quietly in his conduct in life (i.e. who is ever unruffled in his disposition), is verily said to have his clear liberation.

5. Look at yogis like ourselves, O Rama, that having attained this state of liberation, have been cleansed from all our iniquities; and are now set at quiet rest, even in the conduct of our worldly affairs.

6. Know the great gods Brahma, Vishnu and others, to have been situated in this state of quiet and freedom, that they are remaining as pure intelligences, even while discharging the offices of their godship.

7. Do you, O Rama, attain the enlightenment of holy sages, and remain as still as a stone like ourselves.

Rama replied:—

8. I see this world as a formless void, situated in the infinite vacuity of Brahma; it is an uncreated and unsubstantial nihility, and with all its visibility, it is an invisible nothing.

9. It is as the appearance of water in the mirage, and as a whirlpool in the ocean; its glare is as glitter of gold in the dust, and of sands in the sandy shores of seas in sunshine.

Vasishtha said:—

10. Rama! if you have become so enlightened and intelligent, then I will tell you more for the edification of your understanding; and put some questions for your answer to them, in order to remove my doubts regarding them.

11. Tell me, how can the world be a nullity, when it shines so very brightly all about and above our heads; and how can all these things [be inexistent], which are so resplendent to sight, and always perceptible to our senses.

Rama replied:—

12. The world was never created in the beginning, nor was anything ever produced at any time, it is therefore as nil as the offspring of an unprolific woman and a creation of our imagination only.

13. It is true that there is no result without its cause, or that nothing comes from nothing, but can [it] be the cause of the world when it is a nullity, and a production of our error only.

14. The immutable and everlasting deity, cannot be the creator, without changing itself to a finite form; how can [it] therefore be there a cause of this frail and finite form?

15. It is the unknown and nameless Brahma, that shows himself as the cause of the world, which having proceeded from him is his very self, nor does the word world bear any other sense at all (nor it can be made to bear any other sense).

16. The first intelligence named as the God Brahma, rises from and abides for a little while, that unknown and nameless category of the universal spirit, as the conscious soul and having a spiritual body. (This is called the jivatma or the living soul with a personal body of it).

17. It then comes to see on a sudden, the luminaries of the sun and moon and the heavenly hosts, rising in the infinity of the Divine Mind, and thinks a small moment as a long year as its reverie of a dream. (The Morning and evening of the creation of Brahma, occupying many a year of mortals).

18. It then perceived the ideas of space and time, together with those of their divisions and motions also; and the whole universe appearing to its sight, in the vast immensity of vacuity: (of the Divine Mind).

19. Upon the completion of the false world in this manner, its false contriver the soi-disant Brahma, was employed in wandering all over the world as his creation.

20. So the living soul of every body, being deluded by its mistaken conception of the world as a positive reality, traverses up and down and all about it, in its repeated wanderings amidst its false utopia.

21. And though the events of life, takes place according to the wishes of the soul; yet these are mere accidents of chance; and it is a mistake to think them as permanent result of fixed laws.

22. Because it is as wrong to suppose the substantiality of the world, and the permanency of the events; as to grant the birth of a child born of a barren woman, and the feeding of it with the powder of the pulverized air.

23. Nothing can be positively affirmed or denied, regarding the existence of the world; except that whatever it is, it is no other than the diffusion of the all pervasive spirit of the Eternal one.

24. The world is as clear as the transparent atmosphere, and as solid as the density of a rock; it is as mute and still as a stone, and quite indestructible in its nature.

25. The world is originally ideal, from the ideas of the eternal mind;and then it is spiritual, from the pervasion of the all pervading spirit of Virat; it is thus a mere void, appearing as a solid body to us.

26. Thus Brahma being the great vacuum and its fulness, where is any other thing as the world in it, the whole is a dead calm as quietus, and a void devoid of its beginning and end (i.e. a round sphere).

27. As the waves have been ever heaving and diving, in the bosom of the waters of the deep; and as the waves are not distinct from those waters, so the worlds rolling in the breast of the vacuous Brahma, are no other than the selfsame essence of Brahma himself.

28. The few that are versed in their superior or esoteric, as well as in the inferior or exoteric knowledge; live as long as they live and then dive at last in this Supreme, as drops of water mix into the sea.

29. The exoteric (or phenomenal) world, abides in the esoteric (or the noumenal) Brahma; and is of the same transcendent nature as the Divine Mind; for it is never possible for the gross, changeful and transitional nature, to subsist in the pure, unchanged and quiet state of the deity.

30. For who that knows the nature of dream as false, and that of mirage as a fallacy can ever believe them as realities; so any one that knows the visible Nature to be of the nature of Brahma, can ever take it for dull and gross material substance. (Nature being one with its God, is equally of a spiritual nature).

31. The enlightened sage, that has the esoteric knowledge of the world, and reflects it in its spiritual sense; cannot be misled to view it in its gross (material) light, as the holy man that tastes ambrosia, is never inclined to drink the impure liquor of wine.

32. He who remains in his Nirvana meditation, by reverting his view from the sight of the visibles, to the excogitation of his self; and represses his mind from the thoughts of thinkables, he is verily seated in the tranquillity of Supreme spirit.

Vasishtha said:—

33. If the visible creation is situated in brahma:—their cause and origin, as the germ or sprout of a plant is seated in its producing seed; how then can you ignore the substantiality or distinction of either of them from their originating source the seed or God (who is said in the sruti, as the seed of the arbour of the world,—sansaramahirupavija &c.).

Rama replied:—

34. The germ does seem to be seated or situated in the seed (as a separate or different substance); but as it is produced from the essence of the seed, it appears to be the same substance with itself. (Were it not so, the germ would become another plant than that of the seed).

35. If the world as it appears to us is inherent in Brahma, then it must be of the same essence and nature as Brahma's; and these being eternal and imperishable in Brahma, needs have the world to be so also (and not of the seed and sprout, or the begetter and begotten).

36. We have neither seen nor ever heard, that any finite, formal or perishable, has ever proceeded from an infinite, formless and imperishable cause (therefore this world is not as it appears to us).

37. It is impossible for a formless thing, to remain in any form or other whatsoever; as it is never possible for an atom, to contain a mountain in its bosom.

38. It is the voice of an idiot only who says, that the stupendous world with its gigantic form, abides in the formless abyss of Brahma; as bright gems are contained in the hollow of a box or basket. (The basket has a base to support any thing, whereas the vacuity of Brahma has no basis at all).

39. It does not befit any body to say that, the transcendence and tranquillity of God, supports the material and moving world upon it; nor that a corporeal body (the corpus mundi), is an imperishable thing (as the divine spirit).

40. Our perception of the world having a form, is no proof of its reality; because there is no truth whatever in the many curious forms, that present themselves before us in our dreams. (This is a refutation of the Buddhists' reliableness in perception).

41. It is an unprecedented dream, that presents us the sight of the world, of which we had no innate or preconceived idea in us; while our usual dreams are commonly known, to be the reproduced representations, of our former impressions and perceptions, and the results of our past remembrances of things &c.

42. It is not a day dream as some would have it to be, because the night dreams disappear in the day time; but how does a dreamer of his own funeral at night, come to see himself alive upon his waking in the day? (This continuous sight of the world day by day, is not comparable to a transient dream by day or night, but a permanent one in the person of the Great God himself).

43. Others again maintain that, no bodiless things can appear in our dream, since we dream of certain bodies only; but this tenet has no truth in it, since we often dream of, as well as see the apparitions of bodiless ghosts both by day and night.

44. Therefore the world is not as false as a dream, but an impression settled like a dream in our very conscious soul; it is the formless deity, that manifests itself in the various forms of this world, to our understandings.

45. As our intellect remains alone and in itself, in the forms and other things, appearing as dreams unto us in our sleep; so doth Brahma remain solely in himself in the form of the world we see: for God being wholly free and apart from all, can not have any accompaniment with him.

46. There is nothing that is either coexistent or inexistent in him (that is what can be either affirmed or denied of him); because we have no concept or conception of him ourselves, nor do we [have] any notion or idea we are to form of him.

47. What is this nameless thing, that we can not know in our understanding; it is known in our consciousness (i.e. we are conscious of it), but it is in esse or non-esse, we know nothing of (this world).

48. It is an inexistence appearing as existent, as also an existence seeming to be unexistent; all things are quite manifest in it at all times and in all forms (but how and whence they are is quite unknown).

49. It is the development of Brahma in Brahma, as the sky is evolved in vacuity; for nothing can be found to fill the vacuum of Brahma, except Brahma himself (or his own essence).

50. There I, my seeing and my sight of the world, is all mere fallacy;it is the calm and quiet extension of the Divine intellect only, that fills the infinite vacuity of his own spirit, and naught beside.

51. As the aerial castle of our imagination, has no building nor reality in it; so is this world but a calm and quiet vacuity, and unfailing vacant ideality.

52. It is a boundless space full with the essence of the Supreme spirit, it is without its beginning and end, wholly inscrutable in its nature, and quite calm and quiet in its aspect.

53. I have known my own state also, to be without its birth and death, and as calm and quiet, as that of the unborn and immortal Brahma himself; and I have come to know myself (i.e. my soul) also, to be as formless and undefinable, as the Supreme soul or spirit.

54. I have now given expression, to all that I find to be impressed in my consciousness; just as whatever is contained in the seed, the same comes to sprout forth out of it.

55. I know only the knowledge that I bear in my consciousness, and nothing about the unity or duality (of the creation and creator);because the question of unity and duality rises only from imagination (of the one or other).

56. All these knowing and living liberated men, that have been liberated from the burthen of life by their knowledge of truth; are sitting silent here, and devoid of all their earthly cares, like the empty air in the infinite vacuity.

57. All their efforts of mixing with the busy bustle of the world, are here at an end; and they are sitting here as quiet and silent as yon mute and motionless picture on the wall, medalling on the bright regions in their minds.

58. They are as still as the statues engraven in a rock, or as people described in fancy tales, to dwell in the aerial city built by Sambara in air (i.e. as the inhabitants dwelling in the Elysian of Plato, or in the utopia of Sir Thomas Moore); or as the airy figures in our dream.

59. This world is verily a phantom appearing in our dream of the creation; it is a structure without its base, and a figure intangible to our touch. Where then is its reality? (Its tangibleness is a deception of our sense).

60. The world appears as a positive reality to the blinded ignorant, but it [is] found to be a negative nullity by the keen-sighted sage;who sees it in the light of Brahma and a manifestation of himself, and as still as the calm air, reposing in the quiet vacuity of that transcendent spirit.

61. All these existences, with their moving and unmoving beings, and ourselves also, are mere void and vacant nullities, in the knowledge of the discerning and philosophic mind.

62. I am void and so are you too, and the world beside but mere blanks; the intellect is a void also, and by having all several voids in itself, it forms the immense intellectual vacuum, which is the sole object of our adoration (being as infinite and eternal, as well as all pervading and containing all as the supreme spirit).

63. Being thus seated with my knowledge of the infinite vacuity of Brahma, I take thee also, O thou best of biped beings, as indistinct from the knowable One, who is one and same with the all comprehending vacuum, and so make my obeisance to thee.

64. It is from the all comprehensiveness (i.e. omniscience) of the vacuous intellect, that this world rises and sets in it by turns; it is as clear as the transparent air, and has no other cause of it but the undulation of the same.

65. This hypostasis of Brahma is beyond all other existences, and above the reach of all sastras, it is by attaining to this state of transcendentalism, that one becomes as pure and superfine as empty air.

66. There is nothing as myself, my feet and hands, or this pot or aught else that I bear, as any material existence; all is air and empty and inane as air, and knowing this, let us turn ourselves to our airy intellects only. (i.e. I think ourselves as intellectual and spiritual beings only, in utter disregard of our bodies and earthly things).

67. You have shewn me sir, the nullity of the world and the vanity of all worldly things; and the truth of this doctrine is evident in the light of our spiritual knowledge, in defiance of the sophistry of our opponents.

68. The sophist that discomfits the silent sage with his sophistry, can never expect to see the light of spiritual knowledge to gleam upon him (spirituality is got by silent meditation and not by wrangling).

69. The Being that is beyond our perception and conception, and without any designation or indication; can be only known in our consciousness of him, and not by any kind of reasoning or argumentation.

70. The Being that is without any attribute, or sight or symbol of his nature, is purely vacuous and entirely inconceivable by us, save by means of our spiritual light of him.