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 CXCVIII - State of living liberated man

Argument:—The liberated man neither gains nor loses anything, by his observance or neglect of the acts of life; and yet he is enjoined to act in conformity with the prescribed rules of conduct of his society and country.

Rama said:—

1. Tell me sir, why the wise and liberated man is not freed from his subjection to the prescribed rules of conduct, when his soul is beatified with the spiritual light, and his mind is emancipated from all earthly cares.

Vasishtha replied:—

2. The observance and avoidance of all ritual and pious acts, are equal and of no avail to the truly enlightened man; who is indifferent to aught of good or evil to his life (i.e. who is neither solicitous to have anything desirable or leave what is unfavourable to him into the world).

3. There is nothing whatever in this frail world, which may be desirable to the man of right understanding, not aught of positive evil, which deserves the avoidance and abhorrence of the wise man.

4. The wise man derives no positive nor permanent good, by his doing of any act prescribed by custom or usage; nor does he lose anything by his neglect of them; wherefore it is best for him to stand in the middle course, and according to the common rules of society and his country.

5. As long as there is life in the body, it is called a living body and has its motion also; therefore measure your movements according to the breathings of your life, nor accelerate nor slacken them beyond their just measure (i.e. neither outrun thy breath, nor halt in thy course).

6. If it is equal to any one, to walk either by this way or that to his journey's end, yet it is much better for him, to walk by the beaten path, than in a strange and unknown one. (So if it be the same thing to sleep at home or abroad; yet it must be safer and more comfortable to every one to sleep at his own lodge than elsewhere).

7. Whatever actions are done at any time, with meekness and mildness of disposition, and with a placid frankness of the mind, is ever held as perfectly pure and contrite in its nature, and never blameable in anywise.

8. We have seen many wise, learned and farsighted men, to have conducted themselves very honorably and blamelessly in this world, which is full of faults and pitfalls, and beset by traps and snares on every way.

9. Every one is employed with perfect compliance of his mind, in discharging the duties of the particular sphere in which he is placed;some commencing their career in life, in the state of householdership and others ascending gradually to state of living liberation (when they are not exempted from observances of particular duties also).

10. There are many wise and well discerning kings and princes, like yourself and those sitting in this assembly who are vigilantly employed in the ruling of their respective states, without their attachment or tenacity to them, and without their desire of reaping any fruition from them, and by way of the disinterested discharge of duty.

11. There are some that follow the usages, according to the true sense of the Vedas, and take their food from what is left after their daily offerings to the sacrificial fire. (The early Aryans ever fed upon cooked food, after their first offerings to the gods by their mouth of the fire (Agner vaidevanam Mukham).

12. All men belonging to any of the four classes, are employed in the observance of their respective rites and duties, and in the acts of the worship of the gods, and in their meditations with different ends and views (Kamya-karma).

13. Some men of magnanimous minds, and higher aims of future liberation or Moksha, have renounced all their ritual acts karma kanda; and remain inactive as ignorant people, with their spiritual knowledge of the only One.

14. Some are seen to be sitting silent and insensitive, in their posture of deep and unbroken meditation; in dreary and dismal deserts untraversed by the deer and wild beasts; and in distant and lovely solitudes, where no trace of a human being was ever seen even in a dream.

15. Some are found to resort to some sacred place of pilgrimage, and there to perform their acts for future rewards; while others are known to recline in some holy hermitage or sacred shrine of saints, and there to pass their lives in the practice of resignation and indifference and quite unknown to men.

16. Many are seen to leave their own houses, and quit their native countries, in order to avoid the enmity and scorn of their fellow countrymen; and betake themselves to other lands, where they settle as strangers.

17. There are many who being dissatisfied with their families, forsake their company and desert their homes; and rove about as wanderers, from forest to forest, over hills and dales, and cities and towns, without being settled any where.

18. How many are there that travel to the great city of Benares, and to the holy city of Allahabad and visit the holy hills and cities, and the sacred shrine of Badarikasrama (for performance of their acts of righteousness there).

19. How many are seen to resort [to] the holy places at Salagrama, and to the sacred cell in Kalapagrama, how many are on their way to the holy city of Mathura, and the sacred hill at Kalinjar.

20. See the numbers of pilgrims thronging in the woodlands on Mahendra mountains, and upon table lands of Gandhamadana hills; see also the pilgrims on the plains of Dardura hills; as those also upon the level lands of Sahya Mountains.

21. See the pilgrims thronging on the crags of the Vindhyan range, and those dwelling in the hollows of the Malaya Mountains; see them that dwell in the happy groves of Kailasa, and those in the caverns of Rikshavata mounts.

22. In these as well as many other holy places and mounts, you will find a great many hermits and far-sighted devotees dwelling in peace, and wholly devoted to their holy devotion.

23. Those among them that have become sannyasins, are deserters of their prescribed duties, while they that are Brahmacharins, are strict observers of the law and their sacred rites: but those that have the faith of Buddha, are apostates from the holy faith, and fanatics in their practices.

24. Some of these have left their native homes, and others have quitted their natal lands altogether; some have their settled habitations in some place, and others leading their nomadic lives from place to place.

25. Among these, O Rama, that dwell in the sublunar sphere of this globe, as also among them that live at the antipodes, and are known as daityas:—

26. Some are of clear understandings, and well acquainted with the civil laws of their society; some are of enlightened understanding, and others again are acquainted with the past, and have a foresight of the future.

27. Some are of unenlightened understandings, and are always in suspense, and suspicion of their minds; they are addicted to vice, and unable to govern themselves, are always under the government of others.

28. Some there are who are half-enlightened, and proud withal of their knowledge of truth; they break loose from the observance of customary duties, and are not yet the esoteric yogi or spiritualist.

29. Thus among these great multitudes of men, that are wading in the vast ocean of life, every one is striving to get the end, according to his different aim and object.

30. But it is neither one's confining himself at home, or remaining in his native country, nor his betaking him to hermitage or dwelling in some solitary forest; nor the observance of customary duties;nor practice of painful austerities, whereby one may ford over the unfordable gulf of this world.

31. Neither dependence on righteous acts nor the forsaking of them; nor one's employment in the observance of customary usages, or his attainment of great powers, can be of any avail to him, in saving him from the turmoils of the world.

32. It is one's self-control only, that is the means of his salvation (lit., getting over the sea of the world); and the man whose mind is not attached, or tied down to anything in this world, is said to have got or gone over it.

33. It is no matter whether a man does or neglects, the righteous deeds of his religion and society; provided he keeps the contriteness of his mind in both, and is never attached to nor affected by either: such a man is deemed a sage and saved from his return to this nether world.

34. The man that does neither any righteous or unrighteous action in his life, but has his mind fixed in this earth, and attached to earthly objects, is deemed a hypocrite, and destined to revisit this earth in his repeated births.

35. Our minds again are of the nature of nasty flies, which are prone to fly about and pore upon the sores of worldly pleasures; from which it is hard for us to deter them, as it is impossible for us to kill them at once for attainment of our salvation (or, our minds are as surfeited bees, cloyed with the honey of their cells from which they cannot fly away, gloss).

36. It sometime comes to happen and by the good fortune of a person, that his mind turns of itself towards its perfection; and then by a flash of inward light within itself, comes to see the presence of the divine spirit in the very soul.

37. The mind being enlightened by the flash of spiritual light in the soul, becomes enrapt at the sight, and losing all earthly attachment, is unified with the supreme unity.

38. Being unmindful of everything, and conscious of thy entity as a particle of the infinite vacuity, remain perfectly happy with thyself, and in the everlasting felicity of thy soul.

39. Being replete with the knowledge of transcendental truth, and devoid of the faults and frailties of thy nature, have the magnanimity of thy soul, with the equanimity of thy mind and elevation of thy spirit; and thus remain O thou support of Raghu's royal race, without sorrow and fear of death and rebirth, and be as holy as the holy of holies.

40. Know the translucent state of the most Holy Brahma, to be quite clear of all the grossness and foulness of nature, and free from all the qualities and properties that are attributed to Him. He is beyond our conception and above the reach of our thought. He is increate and ever existent of Himself, and manifest in his abode of our intellect. Knowing him then as thyself, remain quite free and dauntless for ever.

41. There is nothing more that can be gleaned, from greater verbosity on this subject; nor is there anything remaining to be communicated to you, for your best instruction in divine knowledge. You are roused, O Rama, to your full knowledge of the essential doctrines of divinity, and you have become cognizant, of whatever is knowable and recondite in nature.

Valmiki says:—

42. After the chief of sages had spoken so far, he saw Rama rapt in his ecstasy and bereft of his mental efforts;and the whole assembly sitting fixed in the one and same tenor of their meditation. They were all entranced in their reveries and musings, in the mysterious nature of the Divinity; as the humming bees ramble over the lotus petals with their soft and silent murmur, and revel upon the sweetness of the honey cups of flowers.