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 CXCV - Story of a wood-cutter and his gem

Argument:—Illustration of the efficacy of knowledge derived from Books and Preceptors. In the story of the Wood-cutter, and his obtaining a precious Gem.

Valmiki relates said:—

1. After the lotus-eyed Rama, had said these words, he fell into a trance and remained silent, with his mind reposing in the state of supreme bliss. (The ecstatic state of rapture and transport of the devout).

2. He felt himself supremely blest at his repose in the Supreme spirit, and then awaking after a while from his holy trance, he wistfully asked his sagely preceptor, saying:—

Rama said:—

3. O Venerable sir, that art the dispeller of my doubts, as the clear autumn is the scatterer of dark clouds; that the doubt which had so long rankled in my breast, has at last quite set at rest.

4. I find this knowledge of mine to be the best and greatest of all, and capable of saving me from the boisterous ocean of this world; it transcends all other doctrines, which are mere verbiage to ensnare the heedless minds of men.

5. If all this is certainly the very Brahma, and our consciousness of him; then O Venerable sir, he must be unspeakable and inexpressible in words, even by the most learned and wisest of men.

6. Remaining thus in the meditation of the knowable One, and without any desire in our minds of any earthly good; we are enabled to attain the consciousness of our highest bliss (The Turiya state), which is unattainable by learning and unutterable in words. (The divine state is only known [to] one's self, but never to be spoken or expressed).

7. How can this certain and invariable state of felicity, be obtained from the dogmas of the sastras; which are at variance with each other, and are employed in the enumeration of their several categories. (The ever varying sastras cannot give us any knowledge of this invariable felicity).

8. We can gain no true knowledge from the tenets of the different sastras, that are [at] best but contradictory of one another; it is therefore in vain to expect any benefit from them, that are [at] best [based] upon mere theories of our pretended leaders.

9. Tell me therefore, O Venerable sir, whether it is of any good to us, to learn the doctrines of the sastras or attend to the teaching of our preceptors (when our true knowledge is derived from within ourselves: i.e. from our intuition, self-consciousness and our personal experiences).

Vasishtha replied:—

10. So it is, O mighty armed Rama, the sastras are not the means to divine knowledge; those being profuse in wordy torrents, and this beyond the reach of words.

11. Yet hear me to tell you, O thou best of Raghu's race, how the dictates of the sastras and the lectures of your preceptors, are of some avail towards the improvement of your understanding.

12. There lived in a certain place some wood-cutters, who had been ever unfortunate and miserable in this lives (or who were miserably poor all their lives). They pined and faded away in their poverty, like the withering trees in summer heat.

13. Excessive poverty made them cover themselves with patched up rags, and they were as emaciated in their despair as the fading lotus flowers for want of their natal water.

14. Being parched by famine, and despairing of their lives; they only thought of the means of filling their bellies.

15. In this state of their distress and despondence, one thought gleamed in their minds;and it was to carry the woods day by day to the town, and to live upon the profits of their sale as fuel.

16. Thus determined they went to the forest to fell down the woods, because any plan that is hit upon in distress, is best to be availed of, for the preservation of life.

17. Thus they continued daily to go to the forest to fell the woods, and fetch them to the town for sale; and to fill their bellies and support their bodies with the sale proceeds thereof.

18. It happened that the skirts of the forest whither they went, were full of woods with hordes of treasures, consisting of gold and precious gems, lying hidden under the trees, and also exposed to view.

19. It then turned out that some of the log-bearers, happened by their good luck to espy the brilliant gems, which they took with them to their homes from the forest.

20. Some saw the valuable sandalwood trees, and others beheld beautiful flowers in some place; some found fruit trees somewhere, all which they took and sold for their food and livelihood.

21. Some men of dull understanding, slighted all these goods; and kept collecting the blocks of wood, which they bore to the way side of the forest, and there sold at trifling prices. (Nothing is valued at home unless it is taken to a distance).

22. Among all these wood men, who were employed in common in collection of woods, some of them happened by their good luck, to find some precious gems there, which set them at ease for every care.

23. Thus amongst all of these that had been toiling and moiling in the same field of labour; now it happened to obtain their desired boon the Philosopher's gem. (That converts all things to gold, and is desired by all but found by few).

24. Now they having obtained the desirable gem, which bestowed upon them all the blessings of affluence and prosperity; they became pre-eminently happy with their fortune, and remained quite content in the very woods.

25. So the seekers and sellers of worthless wooden blocks, being gainers of the all bounteous gem of their heart's desire (Chintamani); remained happily with themselves, as the gods dwelling together in harmony in the Elysian field.

26. Thus the Kir woodmen, having obtained their best gains of what forms the pith and gist of every good in the main, remained in quiet and quite content in themselves, and passed their days without any fear or grief, in the enjoyment of their everlasting equanimity and felicity.

27. This world is compared to the wilderness, and all its busy people are as the day-labouring Kiri foresters, daily toiling and moiling in their hard work, for their help of daily bread. Some amongst them are happy to find the precious treasure of true knowledge, which gives them the real bliss of life and lasting peace of mind.