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 CXCVI - On the excellence of learning

Argument:—Study of the sastras whether for temporal ends or ultimate bliss tends mainly to the edification of the Mind.

Rama said:—

1. Do thou, O greatest of sages, deign to give me the best treasures of knowledge, as the wood-cutter obtained their precious treasures of the Philosopher's stones, and whereby I may attain to the full, perfect and indubitable knowledge of all things.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. The woodmen that I have mentioned bear allusion to all mankind in general and their great poverty that I have described, refers to the extreme ignorance of men which is the cause of all their woe (three fold miseries—tritapas of the body, mind and soul, or of this world and the next. Gloss).

3. The great forest which is said to be the place of their residence, is the vast wilderness of knowledge, which the human kind have to traverse under the guidance of their preceptors and the sastras; and their labour in felling and selling the wood for their daily food, is the hard struggle of human kind in their life time for their simple fare and supportance.

4. The unavaricious men that are unemployed in business, and are yet desirous of the enjoyments of life; are the persons that devote themselves to the acquisition of learning. (Such is the literary body of students and scholars).

5. And those people also, who pursue their callings for the provisions of life, and are dependents [on] others for their supportance; become successful in the acquirement of learning in their minds, by their practice of the precepts and studious habits.

6. As the wood-cutters, who sought for the worthless wood at first, got the very valuable gems at last; so men prosecuting their studies for a paltry maintenance and self supportance, succeed to gain divine knowledge at the end. (Secular knowledge often leads to the spiritual).

7. There are some sceptics who say by way of derision, what is the good to be derived from poring upon books? but these have been found to have turned to true believers at last. (Those who came to deride, returned believers at the end and confessed the truth).

8. Worldly men devoted to the objects of their fruition in life, and acquainted with the objects of mental and spiritual truths; coming distrustfully to listen to the doctrines of the sastras, have become fully convinced of their truths at last.

9. Men are led away to many ways by the different tenets of the sastras, and by direction of their various desires and inclinations; but they come to meet at last in the same path of glory, as the gemming forest of the woodmen.

10. He who is not inclined to the injury of others, but goes on in his own beaten course; is called the upright man, and it is his judgement which is sought and followed by every one.

11. But men ignorant of truth, are dubious of the result of righteous conduct, in earning their livelihood; and are doubtful also of the benefit, which is derived from the study of the sastras. (Hence they fall to misconduct and neglect their studies also, in order to earn their bread by foul means).

12. But men persisting in their righteousness, gain both their livelihood and liberation at once; as the honest woodmen obtained their wood as well as the gems together, and in the same place.

13. Among these some succeeded to get the sandal woods, and some to gain the precious gems, while others met with some common metals, and a great number of them, found the wood of the forest trees only. (So are our lots differently cast among different individuals, according to our respective deserts).

14. Some of us gain the objects of our desire, and some acquire riches or deeds of virtue and merit; others obtain their liberation; and attain their proficiency in the sastras.

15. Know, O Rama, that the sastras deal only with instructions for the acquirement of the triple blessings of our livelihood, riches and virtue; but they give no direction for our knowing the supreme One, who is inexpressible in words. (Because no word nor thought can ever approach to the unknowable One).

16. The words and their significations (which are used in the sastras), serve only to express the intelligible objects which are signified by them, as the seasons denote the seasonal fruits and flowers which they bear; but the knowledge of the supreme being, is derived from one's intuition, and is felt in our consciousness alone.

17. Divine knowledge is said in the sastras, to transcend the knowledge of all other things; and the transparency of the Divine person, surpasses the brightness of all objects, as the beauty of the female body excels the lustre of the brightest gems. (The personal grace of females, transcends the beauty of all their decorations).

18. The transcendental knowledge of the Deity, is not to be derived from the doctrine of the sastras, nor from the teachings of our preceptors; it cannot be had by means of our gifts and charities; nor by divine service and religious observances, can we ever know the unknowable One.

19. These and other acts and rites, are falsely said to be the causes of divine knowledge, which can never be attained by them; now attend to me, O Rama, and I will tell you the way to your rest in the Supreme soul.

20. The study of the sastras, serves of course to purify the mind from vulgar errors and prejudices; but [it] is the want of desire or aversion to worldly enjoyments, that makes the mind look within itself, wherein it sees clearly the image of God shining in it.

21. This sastra stablishes right understanding in lieu of ignorance, and this right reasoning serves to drive away all gross errors from the mind at once.

22. The sastra or learning serves principally to cleanse the mirror of the mind, from its dross of errors at first, and then it purifies the person of its possessor, by the force of its doctrines. (So the sastra has the power of purifying both the body and mind of the learned man).

23. As the rising sun casts his image spontaneously, on the dark bosom of the ocean; so doth the luminary of sastra or learning, shed of its own accord the bright light of truth, in the minds of ignorant.

24. As the sun enlightens all objects, by his presence before them; so doth the light of learning illume the dark understandings of the illiterate, by its benign appearance therein.

25. In this manner there is an intimate relation, between the learning derived from the sastra, and the mind of the man that is desirous of his liberation; in as much as the sastra alone affords the knowledge of the otherwise unknowable One to our minds.

26. As the sight of the sun and the ocean, shows us the blue waters of the one, turning to a bright expanse by the rays of the other; so the instance of the sastra and its doctrines, shows the enlightenment of human intellect by means of the other.

27. As boys in their play with pebbles, rub them against one another in the water, and have their hands cleansed of dirt by abrasion of the stones; so the discussion of the sastras, clears the minds of the disputants of their errors, by refutation of discordant opinions.

28. So also do learned men, by their confutation of repugnant doctrines, clear their minds of doubtful questions; and become perfected in forming right principles, and ascertaining the truth from falsehood.

29. The sastras distil with sweetness of the holy texts, and infuse the sweet balm of true knowledge into the mind; they are as profuse of dulcitude, as the sugarcane exudes with its saccharine juice, which is so delectable to taste.

30. As the rays of sunlight falling on the walls of houses, become perceptible to us, by means of our visual organs; so the light of spiritual knowledge, pierces into the souls of men, by means of our hearing the sastras through the medium of our ears.

31. Learning acquired for the acquisition of the triple good of this world, namely virtue, wealth and the objects of our desire; is no learning at all without the knowledge of the sastras leading to our liberation. Much learning both in theory and practice, is worth nothing without the salvation of our souls.

32. That is the best learning, which gives us the knowledge of truth; and that is true knowledge, which causes our equanimity in all states of our being; and that is called perfect equanimity, which produces our hypnotism in waking (i.e. whereby we may sleep in insensibility over the waking and tumultuous world).

33. Thus are all these blessings obtained from learning of the sastras, therefore let every one devote himself to the study of the sastras with all diligence.

34. Hence know, O Rama! that it is the study of the sastras, and meditation of their recondite meanings; together with one's attendance on his preceptor, and audience of his lectures and counsels, as well by his equanimity, and observance of his vows and discipline, that he can attain his supreme bliss, in the everlasting God, who is beyond all worldly things, and is the supreme lord God of all.