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 CCIX - On the consciousness

Summary: On the consciousness or intuitive knowledge of extraneous existences.

Argument:—Reconciliation of the opposite results of virtuous and sinful acts, on one and same person at the same time.

Vasishtha continued saying:—The life of a person is dear and useful to him, as long as he lives and not afterwards; but hear me tell you the good of a man's dying in some holy place, with a wish for future reward in his next life.

2. God has ordained certain virtues and merits to certain places, even from the beginning of his imaginary city of this world (as to all other things at their very beginning).

3. Whatever merit is assigned to any place, the same awaits on the soul of the person, after its release from bondage, by his performance of the acts of piety enjoined by the sastras.

4. Hence any great sin that is committed by any body anywhere, is either partly or wholly effaced by the good act of the person, according to comparative merit of the holy place, or the degree of absolution in the mind of the penitent sinner.

5. In any case of the insignificance of the sin, with regard to the greater sacerdotalism of the place; there the sinner is quite absolved from his guilt, and attains the object of his wish (in his future life).

6. But in case of the equality of the merits of penitence, with the holiness of the place; the penitent man receives two bodies in his next life, that is both a physical body and spiritual soul.

7. Such is the effect of the primeval guilt and merit of mankind, that they are endowed with double bodies, consisting of their physical frames and spiritual souls (the one maculate and the other immaculate) and such the divine soul even from before.

8. The principle is called Brahma in its sense of the whole, and as Brahma—the totality of the living soul jiva; and also as aham or the ego, meaning any living soul in particular; and as he remains in any manner of the whole or part, so he manifests himself in his semblance of the world.

9. The reflexion of purity acquired in some holy place, appears to the penitent soul in the same manner; as it appears in its contrary light to the guilty soul, which is not so absolved from its sin in any holy place. (These different reflexions, present the appearance of heavenly bliss to the soul of one, and that of hell torments to the other, as in their visions of paradise and Styx in dream).

10. The one sees the visions of his own death, and the weeping of his living relatives; and deems himself as a departed ghost to the next world, all alone and without a single soul beside him.

11. He sees also the deaths of his friends there, and thinks also that he hears the wailings of their relations at that place; he sees the chimeras of all these in his phrensy, as a man of deranged humours sees the spectres of bugbears in his delirium.

12. So it happens with great souls also, to see the sights both of good grace and affright, according to the measure of their merit or guilt in this life; and thus thousands of hopeful and hideous shapes, float about in the imaginations of men, owing to the purity and depravity of their natures.

13. The friends of the dying man, lying insensible as a dead body; weep and wail over his corpse, and then take him to the funeral ground for his cremation.

14. But the guiltless man being accompanied by his self-conscious and righteous soul sees the approach of his decrepitude and death, with firmness and without any feeling of sorrow (as if he had no decay nor death).

15. With his present body he sees himself to be a living being; and with his invisible part or inward soul, he sees his conquest over death by the merit of his holy pilgrimage (and the immortality of his soul in the future world).

16. The guiltless man is in fear of his death for a moment only, but is conscious of the indestructibility of his inward soul, as a man clad in mail, is dauntless of the shafts of his unarmoured antagonist. (The pure soul is invulnerable to the shafts of death).

17. In this manner the relatives of the deceased, find his pure soul, to obtain its immortality after his death; and that life and death are indifferent to the virtuous and purified person.

18. The sights of all the three worlds, are equally fallacious both in their tangible and intangible forms; as the vision of one object in a dream, is as false as another in their visionary nature. (The gloss says that, one error succeeds another, in the same way as one lie is followed by another).

19. We have clear conceptions of the fallacies, arising in our minds, both in our dreams and imagination; but the fallacies of our waking dreams by broad daylight, are more obvious and never less conspicuous to our apprehension than either of them (the latter being more general and lasting than the former ones).

20. The king said:—But tell me sir, how virtue and vice, both of which are bodiless things (as being the abstract qualities of our actions), assume to themselves the bodily forms of living beings, in the course of the transmigration of our souls. (Virtuous souls being blessed with human bodies, while vicious spirits are doomed to suffer in various brutish forms).

Vasishtha replied:—

21. There is nothing impossible to the creative power of Brahma, to be produced in the imaginary fabric of this world of his mind; nor is it impracticable to the substantive divine will to give substantial forms to understand things. (The substantive will is called satyasankulpa which brings the inexistent to real existence).

22. There is nothing which is unimaginable, and cannot be produced by the mind of Brahma; as it is with us to have no idea of anything and nothing in being, of which we have no imagination in our finite minds. (Brahma has given forms to all the imaginary ideas of his mind, which we cannot do to our formless and abstract idea of any).

23. A visionary city in the dream and an imaginary castle of fancy, do both present the like ideal form to the mind; and yet both of them are composed of a train of ideas, which appear as real objects for the time being. (So the ideal seems as real for a time).

24. All the numerous thoughts, which lie as a dead and dormant mass, in the states of our deep and sound sleep; appear to us in endless forms in the vision of our dream and waking our imagination and leave their traces in the memory.

25. Who is there that has not had the notion, of the aerial castles of his dream and imagination; and found them not to be composed of our concepts only, in the airy world of our vacuous consciousness.

26. Therefore what thing is there, that is not capable of being produced in this aerial world, which is the production of the airy imagination of the vacuous intellect; and what thing also is substantially produced therefrom? (The creatures of the mind, have mental forms only).

27. Therefore it is this fallacy only, which appears in the form of the visible universe; where there is nothing in real existence or inexistence; but all things appear to be in esse and non esse, in the Nabhas and in the Nubibus of the divine mind.

28. Anything that is perceived in any manner, the same is thought as a manifestation of its Aker in the same manner; and the enlightened seekers of truth, find no impropriety in their belief as such. (These as they change, are but the varied God. Thomson's "The Seasons").

29. Hence when a man is taught by the tenets of his religion, to hope for the enjoyment of flowery banks (lit.—hills), and streams flowing with nectar in paradise (lit.—heaven); it is very probable that he will meet with the same things, in his future life in the next world. (So the Moslem is taught to expect the gratification of all his carnal desires in heaven, as the promised rewards of his holy Koran. The Hindus likewise have bodily delights to expect in their different heavens).

30. Hence the acts that are done in this world by any body, are attended with their like rewards unto him in the next; and there is no inconsistency in this belief, though it appears so to the unbeliever (The adage—as you sow, so shall you reap, holds equally true in every religion with regard to future retribution, as in every case here below).

31. Should there be anything, which may be said to be permanent in this world, it must be ever present in the view of its viewer; let then any man say upon this criterion, which he does not lose the sight of all other things before his eye sight, except the ideas of things in his mind, which are ever present in his knowledge, and never lost sight of in his consciousness.

32. I have given you the analogy of our dreams and thoughts, to prove the essentiality of our notions and ideas; and whereas the worlds appertain to the will and subsists in the mind of omniscience, they are not otherwise than the essence of the Great Brahma Himself.

33. As there is nothing wanting or impossible to be produced, in the aerial castle of your imagination; so there is nothing which does not and cannot exist in the will and mind of the almighty.

34. Whatsoever is thought of in any form, in the Divine Mind, the same remains fixed therein in the very form; and the same appears to be situated in the same nature before our views in its photo or in a scenography.

35. Hence this semblance of the Divine Mind, is perceived only by our internal senses, and not perceptible to the external organs, or to both of these at once; because it is for our minds only to perceive the impressions of the eternal mind, and to impel the internal organs (by their inward efforts), to receive those reflexions.

36. As the lord has willed everything at first, so it lasts with him to the very last of his creation (i.e. from the very beginning of his Sankalpa, to the end of the kalpa epoch); when his will of creating the world anew, gives another form to the state of things in future.

37. The Lord manifests himself as he wills, in the manner of his will, and in the form of another world in every kalpa duration of creation; as the minds of men come to see another world and another state of things in their each successive dream.

38. There is nothing which does not exist, in this worldly city of Divine will, and all that exists therein is naught but the production of the Divine Intellect; therefore this world is to be known, as full of the forms of the productive mind of God.