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...
Argument:—Entity of Brahma and non-entity of the world, illustrated in the story of the king of Kushadwipa.
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The uncreated phenomenon of creation, that appears to view, is nothing in reality. It is the transcendental principle of supreme Brahma, that is the only true reality.
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It was on this subject, that I was once asked by some one, to my reply to a certain question of his; which I will now relate to you, O high-minded Rama, for strengthening your understanding to the full knowledge thereof.
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There is the great island of Kushadwipa, surrounded by the seas on all sides; like a watery belt about it, and this land is renowned (for its beauty), all over the three regions of the world.
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There is the city called Ilavati, situated on its north eastern side, and is beset by a colonnade of pillars, gilded all over with gold, and glittering with radiant beams, reaching from earth to the skies.
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There formerly reigned a prince, known by the name of Prajnapti; who ruled on earth as the god Indra in heaven; and to whom this earth or land paid its homage (as the skies do to the regent of heaven).
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It was on one occasion, that I happened to alight at the presence of this prince; as the sun descends on earth on the last day of desolation.
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The prince hailed and adored me with offerings of flowers and presents, made me sit by him with due reverence; then in the course of my conversation with him, he fondly asked me as follows.
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Tell me sir, said he, what becomes of the world after the destruction of all things; and when the causalities of recreation are all extinct and annihilated, in the undefinable vacuum of desolation.
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What then becomes the prime cause of the causation of things, at the recreation of the world; and what are accompanying elements for the reproduction of objects, and how and whence they take their rise.
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What is the world and what was the beginning of its creation; what was the primeval chaos, and whence is this earth? What is the air the support of the seas, and what is hell, which is filled by worms and insects? (i.e. Whence are these varieties from the one source of Brahma?)
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What be the creatures contained in the womb of air (i.e. the celestials), and what are they that are contained in [the] bosom of the mountains (i.e. the demons); what are the elementary bodies and their productions, and how the understanding and its faculties have come to existence?
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Who is the maker of all these, and who is their witness; what is the support of the universe, and what are these that are contained therein? I am quite certain, that the world can never have its ultimate destruction.
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All the Vedas and sastras are opposed to one another, in their different views and interpretations; and every one of them has made a supposition, according to its particular view.
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From our knowledge of the world, we know not whether it is indestructible or an unreality in itself. (i.e. If it is an ideal unreality, it needs have no cause nor is it destructible at all; but should it be a reality and destructible thing, then what must be the cause of the production and destruction thereof? Gloss).
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Again tell me, O thou chief of sages, what is the form and cause of those bodies that are doomed to dwell in hell; after the demise of men on earth, and cremation and destruction of their bodies here.
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What are the accompanying causes of the regeneration of bodies, after their destruction on death? The virtues and vices of departed souls, being both of them formless things, cannot be their accompanying causes, towards the formation of their corporeal frames.
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It is quite an absurd reasoning, that want of matter could possibly produce a material body; just as it is impossible to believe, that there should be an offspring, without the seminal cause of its parents.
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Tell me sir, what else should be the cause, of the production of material bodies (after death); and for want of any such cause, it is improper also, to deny the existence of a future state.
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It is contrary to the dictates of Vedas and sastras, as also to the conviction and common sense of mankind, to deny the future state of our existence. The resurrection of our bodies is as unavoidable as our transportation to a distant land by decree of law, though it be against our wish or will.
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How are beings born and actuated in the course of their lives, by invisible causes which are quite unconnected with them (i.e. by the merit or demerit of the acts of their past lives, which are altogether detached from their present bodies?). Just as the pillars of stone were converted to gold (by word of the Brahman), and without being gilded over by it. Say, sir, how this vast treasure was obtained in a moment by the Brahman. (i.e. What could be the cause of this preternatural event).
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How that to be called a great one, which remains for a moment only? further what necessity is there to frame strict laws for the present to reap harvest in future, when that does not stand good on sound reasoning?
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Tell me sir, how do you reconcile such discordances in the Vedas, which mention the existence of a being and not being in the beginning;and tell us also that, the Not being existed before creation, and then the Being or creation was born of the not being. (The discordant passages are [Sanskrit: asadba idamagra asi utisadajayata] again [Sanskrit: asadeva idamagra asit sadetra somara idamagra asit]).
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How could the primeval nonentity become Brahma, or how could the latter be produced from the former; or if it were the mighty vacuity which gave birth to Brahma, then tell me sir, why there were no other Brahmas also, born of its spacious womb.
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Tell me how the vegetable and other creations, could be produced without their different sources; and how they derived their nature of propagating their kinds, by their own seeds and property.
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Tell me why the life and death of one man, are coeval with those of his friend or adversary; and do people happen to obtain their wishes in their next lives by dying in the holy places of Prayaga &c.
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Should the wishes of men, be crowned with success in their next lives; then tell me sir, why the sky is not filled with myriads of moons, when the worshippers of that luminary, are daily seen to be dying with the expectation, of becoming a brilliant orb like it, in the next state of their existence in heaven.
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Say how can men succeed to their wishes in future, when most of them desire to gain the same object, and it falls to the lot of one of them; just as a maid expected to be wedded by many, is destined to and secured by one man only.
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Again how can a woman be called a wife, who is either unchaste, or leads a life of celibacy even when dwelling in her husband's house?
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Say sir, what is the difference between the blessing and curse, which are pronounced on the Brahman brothers, for their sovereignty over the seven continents on the one hand, and their having no such thing on the other; when they remained thinking themselves as monarchs of the world in their very house.
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The acts of piety consisting of charities, austerities and obsequious ceremonies, which are productive of unknown rewards in the next world, and are of no benefit to their observers on earth; then what is the good derived from them, if they are not attended with any earthly benefit to the earthly body, but to a future body with which no one here has any concern. (Lit. to which none bears any affection).
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Should it be said that the soul of the pious observer, reaps the reward in its future state; this also is impossible because the disembodied soul is incapable of enjoyment; and should it have another body to enjoy hereafter, but of what use is that distant body to the person of the present observer (of the pious acts)?
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Should these acts be accompanied with any reward, either in this life or in the next, they could be known to the actor, but in want of this, their observance appears to be an irreconcilable incongruity.
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These are my doubts (in the sastras and practices of men), which I beg you will kindly remove by your cool and clear reasoning, as the moon-light disperses the evening twilight.
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Now sir, deign to dispel my doubts in my inquiry after transcendental truth, that it may conduce to my good in both worlds;because the company of the righteous, is ever fraught with very great blessings to all people.