BOOK 2 – The Aspirant Who Longs for Liberation (Mumukshu Khanda)
This section deals with the preparations required of the person who seeks God and the moral and mental qualities necessary to qualify for the spiritual path. Vasishta states that peace of mind (shanti), contentment (santosha), keeping the company of realized sages (satsanga), and inquiry into the nature of the soul (vichara) are the four sentinels that guard the gates to moksha, or liberation. The belief that one is confined by fate is severely condemned and the person who seeks spiritual development is urged to rely on personal efforts for progress on the spiritual path. The person should not shun action but should learn to be indifferent to its fruits.
One should not be affected by the pleasures and pains that are the inevitable accompaniment of action. The person is advised to keep the company of saints and to study the scriptures (shastras), particularly those dealing with self knowledge (atma vidya).
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Chapter 1 — The Liberation of Shukadeva: His Need for Confirmation
1 After Rama delivered his speech before the assembly, sage Vishwamitra, who sat before Rama, tenderly said, 2 “Rama, you are the best of the most intelligent, and you have nothing more to learn that you have not already come to know by your own observation. 3 You have an understanding clear like a mirror, and your questions serve to polish and reflect your understanding to others. 4 You have a mind like that of Shuka, the son of the great Vyasa, who knowing the knowable by intuition, was yet in need of some teaching to confirm his belief.”
5 Rama said, “How was it that Shuka, son of the great Vyasa, did not at first rest assured of his knowledge of the knowable, but then came to be settled in his belief?”
6 Vishwamitra answered, “Hear me relate to you, Rama, the story of Shukadeva, whose case was exactly like yours. The narration of this story prevents future births.”
7 There is the great Vyasa sitting on his seat of gold by your father’s side, swarthy in his complexion like a coal-black hill, but blazing in brilliance like the burning sun. 8 His son named Shuka was a boy of great learning and wisdom, of a moon-like countenance, with a stature sedate as a sacrificial altar. 9 Like you, he reflected in his mind on the vanity of worldly affairs and became equally indifferent to all its concerns. 10 It was then that this great minded youth was led by his own discriminative understanding to a long inquiry after what was true, which he found at last by his own investigation. 11 Having obtained the highest truth, he was still unsettled in his mind, and could not trust his own knowledge. 12 His mind grew indifferent to its perceptions of the transitory enjoyments of the world, and, like chataka cuckoos, thirsted only after the dew drops of heavenly bliss.
13 Once upon a time the clear sighted Shuka finding his father, sage Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, sitting quietly alone, he reverently asked him,14 “Tell me, O sage, where does this commotion of the world arise, and how can it subside? What is its cause, how far does it extend, and where is its end?”
15 Sage Vyasa, who knew the nature of the soul, being asked this by his son, explained to him clearly all that was to be said. 16 Shuka thought that he already knew all this by his good understanding and therefore did not think much of his father’s instructions. 17 Vyasa, understanding the thoughts of his son, replied that he himself knew no better than his son about the true nature of these things, 18 but there was a king in this land named Janaka who well knew the knowledge of the knowable, and from whom Shuka could learn everything.
19 Being thus directed by his father, Shuka went to the city of Videha at the foot of Mount Sumeru, which city was under the rule of Janaka. 20The door keeper informed the high minded Janaka of his coming, telling him that Shuka the son of Vyasa was waiting at the gate. 21 Janaka who understood that Shuka had come to learn from him, gave no heed to the news but held his silence for seven days afterwards.
22 The king then ordered Shuka to be brought to the outer compound, where he had to remain irritated in spirit for seven more days. 23 Shuka was then commanded to enter the inner apartment, where he continued a week more without seeing the king. 24 Here Janaka entertained the moon-faced Shuka with an abundance of food, perfumes and lusty maidens. 25 But neither those vexations nor these entertainments could affect the tenor of Shuka’s mind, which remained firm as a rock against the blasts of wind. 26 He remained there like the full moon, tranquil in his desires, silent and contented in his mind.
27 King Janaka, having come to know the disposition of Shuka’s mind, had him brought to his presence, where seeing the complacency of his soul, he rose up and bowed down to him. 28 Janaka said, “You have accomplished to the full all your duties in this world, and you have obtained the object of your heart’s desire to its utmost extent. What do you now desire for which you are welcome from me?”
29 Shuka said, “Tell me, my guide, what is the source of all this bustle (of worldly life), and tell me also how it may soon subside.”
30 Vishwamitra said:— Being thus asked by Shuka, Janaka told him the same things that he had learned from the great soul that is his father.31 Shuka then said, “All this I have come to know long before by my own intuition, and then from the speech of my father in answer to my question.32 You sage, who are the most eloquent of all, have spoken to the same effect, and the same is found to be the true meaning of the scriptures. 33That the world is a creation of will and loses itself with the absence of our desires, and that it is an accursed and unsubstantial world after all, are the conclusions arrived at by all sages.”
34 “Now tell me truly, O long armed prince, so that you may set my mind may be set at rest from its wandering all about the world. What do you think this world to be?”
35 Janaka replied, “There is nothing more certain, O sage, than what you know by yourself and have heard from your father. 36 There is but one undivided intelligent spirit known as the Universal Soul and nothing else. It becomes confined by its desires (mental conditioning) and becomes freed by its lack of them.”
37 “You have truly come to the knowledge of the knowable, whereby your great soul has desisted from attachment to objects of enjoyment and vision. 38 You must be a hero to have overcome your desires for the lengthening chain of attractive enjoyments while still in your early youth. What more do you want to hear?”
39 “Even your father, with all his learning in every science and his devotion to austerities, has not arrived to the state of perfection like you. 40 I am a student of Vyasa and you are his son, but by your abandonment of the taste for the enjoyments of life, you are greater than both of us. 41 You have obtained whatever is obtainable by the comprehension of your mind. You take no interest in the outer and visible world, so you are liberated from it and have nothing to doubt.”
42 Being thus advised by the magnanimous Janaka, Shuka remained silent with his mind fixed in the purely supreme object. 43 Being devoid of sorrow and fear, and released from all efforts, exertions and doubts, he went to a peaceful summit of Mount Meru to obtain his final absorption. 44 There he passed ten thousand years in a state of unalterable meditation, until at last he broke his mortal coil, and was extinguished in the Supreme Soul like a lamp without oil. 45 Thus purified from the stain of rebirth by abstention from earthly desires, the great soul Shuka sank into the holy state of the Supreme Spirit (nirvikalpa samadhi), just like a drop of water mixes with the waters or merges into the depth of the ocean.
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Chapter 2 — Vishwamitra’s Speech
1 Vishwamitra said:— Rama, now it is appropriate that you have your mind properly purified from its doubts, as it was done with Shuka, the son of Vyasa.
2 You see, O great sages, how perfectly the knowable is known to Rama, whose good understanding has learnt to feel a distaste for worldly enjoyments as if they were diseases to him. 3 You well know that the fixed principle in the mind of one knowing the knowable is to have an aversion to all the enjoyments of life. 4 The desire of results chains a man to the earth. Knowledge of the frailties here serves to dispel his darkness.
5 Rama knows that curtailing desires is what the wise call liberty, and the attachment of our desires to earthly objects is our confinement here. 6Spiritual knowledge is easily obtainable by most men, but a distaste for (pleasurable) objects is hard to be had. 7 He who fully comprehends a thing is said to know it, and who so knows what is knowable is called a learned man. No earthly enjoyment can be delectable to such high minded men. 8 The mind that has no zest for earthly pleasures, except the glory of disinterested deeds, is said to be liberated even in the present life.
9 As no vegetable grows in a sterile soil, no disinclination to worldliness grows until one comes to know the knowable reality. 10 Hence know that this supporter of Raghu’s race has truly known the knowable, which has made him disgusted with his princely enjoyments. 11 I tell you great sages that whatever Rama has come to know by his intuition requires confirmation by Vasishta for the tranquility of his mind. 12 For his repose, Rama requires only a reliance upon the Unity, just as the beauty of autumn depends upon clear skies.
13 Let the venerable Vasishta reason with the high minded Rama and restore the peace of his mind, 14 for he is the master and family teacher for the whole race of the Raghus. Besides, he is all knowing and all seeing with a clear insight of the three times.
15 Then addressing himself to Vasishta, Vishwamitra said:— Sage, you well remember the instruction given us of old for pacifying our mutual enmity and promoting the welfare of the high minded sages, 16 when our lord the lotus-born Brahma, seated on the tableland of Nishadha Mountain and shaded by sarala trees, delivered his wise lectures to us and the sages. 17 Through that knowledge of liberation, our worldly desires are dispelled like the darkness of night by sunbeams. 18 Now please, O brahmin, communicate that rational knowledge of the knowable to your student Rama, whereby he may gain the peace of his mind.
19 It will not be difficult for you to teach the spotless Rama, whose mirror-like mind is quite clear to take the reflection. 20 The wisdom of the holy, their learning of the scriptures, and the scholarship of the learned are only praiseworthy when they are communicated to a good student and those who are disgusted with the world. 21 But instruction given to one who is neither student nor disgusted with the world becomes as polluted as milk stored in a hide vessel. 22 Again, the instruction given by one devoid of passions and affections, fear and anger, pride and sin, serves to infuse tranquility into the mind.
23 At these words of Vishwamitra, the son of Gadhi, the assembled sages Vyasa, Narada and others honored his speech with exclamations of “bravo”, “well said”, and the like.
24 Then the venerable Vasishta, brilliant like Brahma his father and sitting by the side of the king, spoke in reply. 25 “O sage, I will perform what you have commanded me to do without fail, for who, though mighty, can refuse to perform the requests of the good and wise? 26 I will destroy the mental darkness of Prince Rama and others by the light of knowledge, just like we dispel the gloom of night by the light of a lamp. 27 I well remember the instructions for dispelling the errors of the world that we were given of yore by the lotus-born Brahma on Nishadha Mountain.”
28 Having said so, the high-minded Vasishta made up his mind, as one girds up his loins, to deliver his lecture to Rama in order to dispel his ignorance and show him the state of supreme joy.
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Chapter 3 — Repeated Creations of the World; Repeated Incarnations of the Same Personality
1 Vasishta said, “Rama, I will now expound to you the knowledge that was imparted of old by the lotus-born (Brahma) for the peace of mankind after he created the world.”
2 Rama said, “Sage, I know that you will expound to me the subject of liberation in full length, but first remove my false ideas about the frailty of this world. 3 How was it that the great sage Vyasa, the father and guide of Shuka, with all his omniscience, did not attain disembodied emancipation when his son did?”
4 Vasishta said, “There is no counting the atoms that proceed from the spirit and form the three worlds both before and after the birth of the glorious sun. 5 There is nobody who can even count the millions of orbs that form the three worlds. 6 Nor can anyone calculate what numbers of creation will rise from the ocean of divine existence like endless waves.”
7 Rama said, “It is needless to talk of worlds gone by or yet to come. Speak of the present.”
8 Vasishta said:— This world consists of brute, human and heavenly beings whose lives, when they are said to perish in any part of it, really exist in the same part.
9 The mind is described as ever-fluctuating. In itself, it gives rise to everything in the three worlds. It resides in a void in the form of the heart, and the Uncreated also resides in the empty space of the soul (giving the mind the power to realize the latent ideas of the soul).
10 The millions of beings who are dead, those who are dying and will die hereafter, are all to be reborn here according to the different desires in their minds. 11 The external world appears as a reality, but in truth it is only a creation of our desires. It is an ideal castle in the air, and a magic view spread before us. 12 It is as false as an earthquake in a fit of delirium, like a hobgoblin shown to terrify children, like a string of pearls in the clear sky, and like trees on a bank appear moving to a passenger in a boat. 13 It is an illusion like the phantom of a city in a dream, and as untrue as the imagination of a flower growing in the air.
It is at the point of death and afterwards that the unreality of the world best appears. 14 But this knowledge (of the unreality of the world) becomes darkened upon being reborn on earth, when the shadow of this world again falls on the mirror of his sentient soul. 15 Thus there is a struggle for repeated births and deaths here, and a fancy for the next world after death. 16 After he shuffles off his body, he assumes another and then another form, and thus the world is as unstable as a stool made of plantain leaves and its coatings.
17 The dead have no sensation of the earth and other bodies made of the elements, or of the course of the world, but they fall again to these errors upon being reborn here. 18 There is an interminable ignorance resembling an immense river enveloping the face of creation, and breaking into streamlets of ignorance that are impossible to cross.
19 Divinity like a sea shoots forth in various waves of creation that rise constantly and plentifully one after the other. 20 All beings here are only the waves of this sea. Some are alike to one another in their minds and natures, while others are half alike, and some quite different from the rest.
21 I reckon that sage Vyasa there, on account of his vast knowledge and good looking appearance, is one of thirty-two of these waves. 22 There were twelve possessed of a lesser understanding. They were the patriarchs of men and endued with equal energy. Ten were men of subdued spirits, and the rest were adepts in their family duties.
23 There will be born again other Vyasas and Valmikis, and likewise some other Bhrigus and Angiras, as well as other Pulastyas and others in different forms. 24 All other men, asuras and gods with all their hosts are repeatedly born and destroyed either in their former or different shapes.
25 Like this there are seventy-two treta cycles in a kalpa age of Brahma, some of which have passed by and others to follow. Thus will there be other people like those who have gone by and, as I understand, another Rama and Vasishta like ourselves. 26 There have been ten successive incarnations of this Vyasa who has done such wonderful deeds and is famed for his vast knowledge. 27 Myself and Valmiki have been contemporaries many a time, born in different ages and very many times. 28 We have been together many times, and there were others also like myself, and so was I also born in many forms (in many ages).
29 This Vyasa will be born again eight times hereafter, and he will again write his Mahabharata and the Purana histories. 30 He will finally attain liberation from the body after he has divided the Vedas, described the acts of Bharata’s race (in the Mahabharata), and established the knowledge of Brahman (in the Vedanta). 31 This Vyasa who is devoid of fear and sorrow, and who has become tranquil and emancipate in himself after subduing his mind and discarding the worldly desires, is said to be liberated even in his present lifetime.
32 Those liberated in life may sometimes associate with relatives and estates, his acts and duties, his knowledge and wisdom, and all his exertions, like those of any other men, or he may forsake them all at once. 33 These beings are either reborn a hundred times in some age or never at all (as in the case of divine incarnations), depending on the inscrutable will (maya, or illusion) of God. 34 Souls undergo such changes by repetition, like a bushel of grain that is collected only to be repeatedly sown, then reaped again and again.
35 As the sea heaves its constant surges of different shapes, so all beings are born constantly in various forms in the vast ocean of time. 36 The wise man who is liberated in his lifetime lives with his internal belief (of God) in a state of tranquility, without any doubt in his mind, and quite content with the ambrosia of equanimity.
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Chapter 4 — Results Come from Effort, Not Fate or Chance;
Acts of the Present Life Are Stronger than Those of Previous Lives
1 Vasishta said:— I know, gentle Rama, that liberation of the soul is the same whether in its embodied or disembodied state, just like seawater and its waves are the same liquid substance. 2 Liberation, whether of embodied or disembodied spirits, consists in their detachment from the objects of sense. Hence the soul unattached to sensual gratification is liberated, having no idea of objects of the senses.
3 We see before us the living liberated sage (Vyasa) as an embodied person, yet we have no doubt of the detachment of his inner soul from this body. 4 The difference between embodied and disembodied souls, when they are equally enlightened and liberated, is like that of the seawater in its calm and billowy states. 5 There is no more difference between liberation in the body and without the body than there is between the air in motion and at rest. 6 Liberation, whether with or without the body, produces unselfishness. We have lost our selfishness ever since we have come to the knowledge of an undivided unity.
7 Therefore attend to the true doctrine that I am going to deliver to you, which will be a jewel to your ears as it will dispel the darkness of ignorance. 8 Know, O son of Raghu, that everything in this world is obtainable by our efforts being properly employed.
9 This knowledge — that there is no other way to gain results except but by our efforts — rises like the moon in the human mind and sheds its cooling and delightful influence to the heart. 10 It will become evident that we see the results of our efforts, and that nothing comes from what the dull and mistaken call chance or fate.
11 An effort, when directed according to the counsel and conduct of the good in the exercise of the action of the body and mind, is attended with success. Otherwise it is as vain as the freak of a madman. 12 Thus he who hopes to acquire riches and perseveres in its acquisition surely succeeds in gaining them, or else he stops short midway.
13 It was by means of their efforts that some particular persons have obtained the paramount dominion of Indra over the three worlds. 14 It is by effort that one attains the rank of the lotus-born (Brahma), and some by effort even gain the inner joy of the state of Brahma. 15 It is by virtue of effort that somebody becomes the best among men, even as he who bears the flag of the eagle (Vishnu among the gods). 16 It was by the exertion of one’s efforts that some succeeded to obtain the form of Shiva accompanied by his female power and adorned by the crescent moon as his crest.
17 Know our actions to be of two kinds, namely those of former and present lives. Know that the acts of the present life generally supersede those of the past.
18 Know also that energy joined with constant practice and supported by wisdom and some stimulating force is able to break down Mount Meru and the demerits of acts in men’s former lives. 19 The exertions of a man proceeding from his good efforts and countenanced by the law lead to his success, or else they either go for nothing or turn to his disadvantage.
20 A man laid up in a state of disability is unable to twist his figure to hold a little water in the hollow of his palm to drink. Meanwhile there is another who (by his well-directed efforts) gets possession of seas, islands, mountains and cities for himself, supports all his dependents and relations, and does not think this earth too great for him.
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Chapter 5 — The Necessity of Effort
1 Vasishta said:— Will or inclination, even according to the rules of law and scriptures, is the prime instrument of all action, just as the reflection of light gives various colors to things. 2 If someone uses unlawful acts to attain something that he desires, it becomes as fruitless as the efforts of a madman.
3 Good or evil results depend upon how you try, but according to fatalists, fate and effort are the joint causes of acts. 4 The truth is, human exertions are either lawful or unlawful. The former lead to success and the latter to dangerous consequences. 5 Fortune and effort contend with each other like two rams of unequal strength where the mightier overcomes the other. 6 Therefore man should apply himself diligently and employ his skill and effort in such a way that his today may overcome his tomorrow.
7 When two unequal forces contend with one another like two rams, the stronger force, whether of this or that man, overcomes the other. 8When one incurs a failure or danger even by his lawful efforts, he should know it to be the result of his misapplied efforts. 9 By utmost exertion in the right way, like gnashing his teeth, one can overcome his misfortune and that bad luck that sometimes baffle his efforts.
10 When one finds himself led astray by the demerit of his acts of a former state of existence, he must attempt to subdue them by the greater energy of his present state. 11 One should endeavor to exercise his efforts so much that he may beat down the evils resulting from his bad fortune (or predestination). 12 The evils of bad fortune are undoubtedly removed by the meritorious acts of the present life, just like the bad consequence of an act of yesterday is averted by its remedy of today.
13 Having trampled over an unfavorable fortune by one’s reliance upon his continuous effort, he must attempt to secure to himself every good for his well-being in his present life. 14 Know that tranquility is not to be found through the effortlessness of dull ass-like men. It is the lawful energy of men which is said to secure his welfare in both worlds. 15 One should make his way out of the pit of this world by force of his energy and diligence, just like a lion breaks out from his cage.
16 Every day one must contemplate that his body is subject to corruption, his beastly acts must be kept back, and man-like acts put forward. 17Good efforts are attended by good results just like bad ones are followed by bad consequences. Chance is merely a meaningless word.
18 Do not make your bloom of youth as useless as ashes by sitting idly at home and enjoying the bliss of the harem like a maggot in a wound.19 He who has no reliance on present objects, but depends upon assumptions from the past, is like a man running in fear from his own hands, supposing them to be snakes.
20 It is a pleasure to men of perverted understanding to think of themselves as guided by their fortunes. Prosperity flies far away from such men who depend on their luck. 21 Therefore let a man diligently apply himself first to his reason, and then investigate the works of subtle, hidden spiritual knowledge.
22 Those who do not set their hearts to act according to the dictates of the scriptures, but use other means to make efforts to gain (their ends), are accursed as madmen because their efforts are in vain. 23 But people do not even try to make an effort. They think that effort would be endless, and no amount of effort could make a gem come out of a stone. 24 Know that like all things, there is a limit to both human fate and effort, just like a pot or a picture has a (finite capacity and length). 25 It is by means of good conduct derived from best precepts and the company of the good that one succeeds to his object. A disposition that breaks loose of these is sure to fall to the contrary, to ruin.
26 Again any man who conducts himself in the right course of action will never fail in his attempts at anytime. 27 Some among the best of men had been reduced to misery by their poverty and helplessness. Yet by exertion of their manhood, they have again risen to the eminence of Indra.28 By learning the scriptures well from boyhood, by keeping company with the good, by possession of good qualities, and by diligent application, a man is sure to gain his object.
29 It has been seen, known, heard and experienced that acts are rewarded with success. They are dull-headed who think of obtaining it through fate or luck. 30 If there were no folly of idleness in this world, what man would fail either to be rich or learned? It is because of idleness that this earth is filled to its utmost limit of the sea with indigent and beastly men. 31 After passing his childhood and getting rid of its false and idle playfulness, and when he has attained the age of youthful vigor, let a man apply himself diligently to the company of wise men, and to the cultivation of his understanding by a knowledge of the scriptures and their meanings, and by scanning well his own faults and qualities.
32 Valmiki said:— After sage Vasishta had said all this, the day passed away, and after taking leave of the assembly the sages went to bathe. With the rising beams of the sun dispelling the gloom of night, they joined again.
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Chapter 6 — Fate Is the Result of Former Efforts
1 Vasishta resumed, saying:— Fate is nothing but the result of our actions in former existences. Therefore it is possible to leave it at a distance and extricate oneself by keeping good company and studying moral scriptures. 2 Whatever one attempts to do, he readily meets with its reward. This is the effect of effort. Fate is nothing but the same thing. 3 Men laboring hard are heard to exclaim, “O how painful it is!” Men suffering under fate cry out, “O Hard Is Fate!!!” 4 Thus fate, being nothing but a name for our past actions, it is as easily overcome (by present acts) as a boy (is subdued) by an adult youth. 5 As some bad conduct of yesterday is corrected by proper behavior of the present day, so is past fate is removed by present acts.
6 Carnal minded libertines who make no effort but depend upon the favor of fortune are perverted in their nature and marked for misery. 7 Thus, if acts of courage are capable of averting one’s misfortunes, then it must be acknowledged that such courage which destroys the other is the mightier of the two. 8 Just like two fruit growing on the same branch, one empty within and the other full of juice, so does courage render the fruit of fate empty. 9 Seeing the decay of the best things in the world, we must own the predominant power of the cause of this decay. 10 Like two rams, our fate and efforts are fighting one another. Victory is always on the side of the stronger.
11 In the case of a royal elephant taking up a beggar boy to be made a ruler, its cause is to be attributed more to the vote of countrymen and citizens (than to chance). 12 As a man takes his food and grinds it under his teeth, so is one (depending on fate) crushed by the stronger party relying on his efforts. 13 Thus, more active masters employ inferior servants like clods of earth in any work the masters like. 14 Silly and impotent men seeing the strong thrive by their efforts, whether apparent or unseen, are apt to attribute it to their good luck. 15 The strong efforts of men truly constitute the fortune that governs them, and these two are viewed alike by the wise.
16 In the case of the a beggar boy who is installed into the position of ruling and protecting the people of a kingdom, it is the unanimous concurrence of the law and ministers and of the elephant and of citizens (that is to be taken as the chief cause). 17 Should it be only the royal elephant who elects the beggar boy, then in that case it would be attributed to the boy’s good fortune only.
18 Present acts destroy those of the past life, and those of the past life can destroy the effect of present acts, but the exertions of a man are undoubtedly successful. 19 Of these two powers, that of the present is manifestly superior to the past. Hence it is as possible for the present to overcome the past just like it is for an adult to overcome a boy.
20 As a hail shower lays waste the cultivation of a whole year, so also does predominant fate sometimes overpower the attempts of this life. 21However it does not behoove us to be sorry at the loss of our long earned treasure, for what does it serve to have sorrow for something that is beyond our control? 22 If I have sorrow for what I am powerless to prevent, then I may as well weep all the days of my life because death will not spare me.
23 All our acts are subject to their proper time and place, and to the modes of their operation and combination according to the course of nature. That is why the more diligent are the most successful. 24 Therefore, in order to cross the ocean of this world, we ought to rely upon our efforts and the clarity of our understanding from the help of scriptures and association with the wise.
25 Actions of the past and present lives are the two fruit trees growing in the garden of humanity. Whichever is cultivated the best thrives and bears most fruit. 26 He who is unable to overcome his false fate by his best efforts is no better than an ignorant beast that has no power over its pain or pleasure. 27 He who thinks of going to heaven or hell by the will of the Maker is also a slave to destiny and is no better than a beast. 28 The man of a noble mind who is employed in acts of goodness, breaks off from the errors of the world like a lion from its cage. 29 Those who vainly imagine themselves to be led about by some supernatural power, and so slight their necessary duties, are to be shunned at a distance as the mean and base.
30 There are thousands of acts that are attended with gain or loss to their doers, but it is the duty of man to do what is right whether they be pleasant or painful. 31 He who does not transgress the bounds of law and does not forsake his duties is attended by every blessing abundant as the pearls in the sea.
32 The wise describe courage as devoted diligence in acts leading to one’s object. Being guided by the scriptures leads to his success. 33 An act accompanied by exertion accomplishes one’s object, and the company of the wise and the study of good books serve to raise a man by brightening his understanding. 34 The wise know infinite happiness or a tranquil spirit is the supreme good, and those good works are fit for study which lead to that state.
35 The acts of our former lives constitute what we call our fate (daivam) or destiny and they return to us from the region of the gods for our good in both worlds. 36 We blame a fate that is the creation of the fancy of the ignorant, who by their adoration of such passivity meet their own destruction. 37 One benefits himself always by his activity in both worlds, as the good acts of today gives a grace to those of yesterday. 38 Therefore, whoever applies himself with diligence to his acts, reaps their fruit like that of an amalaki in his palm, which though it is within his grasp, yet it could not be obtained without the cost of some labor.
39 Only the ignorant depart from the beaten path and fall into the error of fatalism. Therefore give up that false faith in an unreal fate, which is a mere creation of the imagination and devoid of any cause or effect. Apply your manly exertions. 40 The fruit of following the scriptures and observing good customs and local usages is long known (to be wholesome), exciting the heart and the exertion of the limbs to action. This is what is called “manly activity.”
41 All wise men, after discussion of the subject of fate and acts, have applied themselves to action by utter rejection of fatality and have accomplished their ends by attendance on the good and the wise. 42 Knowing the efficacy of activity, every one should work on personal effort and attain to his highest perfection by attending to good scriptures and the wise counsels of learned men. 43 Knowing that the bondage of our births is full of pain, let people listen to the wise and strive to exercise their efforts to obtain the true and sweet blessing of tranquility.
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Chapter 7 — On the Necessity of Activity
Vasishta speaking:— 1 Having obtained a body free from disease and a mind free from trouble, one should try to know the knowable to prevent further births. 2 Whoever wants to avert his destiny through action obtains the acme of his wishes both in this world as well as the next. 3 But whoever is averse to diligence and relies on his luck is an enemy to his own soul and sacrifices all his virtues, riches and hopes.
4 The exercise of our faculties of sense and mind as well as of the members of the body are the different modes of our exertions that lead us to success. 5 Our perceptions are the cause of our mental activity, and this triggers the body to action whereby we obtain the fruits of our desire. 6Whatever rule exists in the scriptures (shastras), it is addressed to our acts and never points us to fate. Even children are well aware of this.
7 It was by the exercise of their efforts that Brihaspati became the lord of gods, and Shukra obtained the position of the teacher of the demons. 8There have been many weak, poor and miserable men who have by means of their manly exertions become equal to Indra himself. 9 So also there have been many great men on earth who, after enjoyment of a great many extraordinary things and luxuries here, have become guests in hell for lack of exercising their manly virtues. 10 In this manner all beings have evaded the effects of their various states of want and opulence by means of their own efforts.
11 There are threefold benefits derived from the study of books, from the lectures of a teacher, and from one’s own industry, all of which attend our efforts and not destiny. 12 This is the long and short of all the scriptures (shastras), that diligence preserves our minds from all evils by employing them to whatever is good and right. 13 To apply with diligence to whatever is excellent, not low or mean and not liable to loss or decay, is the lesson of parents and teachers to their sons and pupils.
14 I get the immediate fruit of my labor in proportion to my exertion. Therefore I say that I enjoy the fruit of my labor and not of fortune. 15 Activity gives us success and this is what elevates the intelligent. But men of little understanding in their miserable state rely only in luck.
16 We have visible evidence (of the efficacy) of activity every day, in the examples of men travelling in distant countries (for the sake of gain). 17He who eats becomes satisfied and who does not starves. So he who walks is said to proceed and not one who rests. In like manner, whoever speaks is called a speaker and not the silent man. Thus action makes the man.
18 Wise men escape from great difficulties by means of their efforts, but not so the mistaken fatalist by his fruitless inertia. 19 Whoever acts in any manner gets his reward accordingly, but the inactive man has nothing to expect anywhere. 20 By well directed industry a man reaps the best reward, as he meets with its reverse by his misapplied labor. Think upon this, O Rama, and do as you like.
21 The reward of industry, which a man meets with sooner or later at anytime or place, is said by the wise to be his fortune. 22 No one can see his fortune, nor has anybody ever seen it, nor is there such a thing to be found in any world. It is only the merit of our acts here which they place in another world.
23 A man is born on earth to grow up and decay in his time, and no destiny is seen in the same way in his childhood, youth or old age.
24 Application to diligence and action for the attainment of an object are known by the term “effort” by the wise, whereby all things are accomplished. 25 Going from one place to another, holding a thing in the hand, and the movement of limbs are all the acts of effort and not destiny.
26 There is another kind of propensity which is towards acts productive of evil. This sort of action is likened to the attempt of a madman which yields no good.
27 Men of acute understandings raise themselves to elevation by their association with the virtuous, study of good works, and active employment in duties tending to their own good. 28 The boundless joy arising from equanimity is said to constitute one’s supreme good. This blessing also results from a man’s diligent application to the scriptures. 29 Understanding leads to the knowledge of the scriptures, and the scriptures tend towards our right understanding of things. Just so does the lotus serve to beautify a lake, and the lake lends its grace to the lotus. 30 It is also by virtue of one’s deep study and good company in youth that a man later attains his desirable objects.
31 It was by means of his actions that Vishnu conquered the demons and established the order of the world. It was by this that he created the worlds, none of which could be the work of fate.
32 Now, O lord of Raghu’s race, employ your efforts to the exertion of your manly activities in such a way that you may live unafraid of being bitten by the snake-like people in this tree of the world (crush the malice of your enemies).
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Chapter 8 — Invalidation of Destiny
1 Vasishta continued saying that:— What does “destiny” mean? It has no form, no act, no motion or might. It is only a false notion rooted in the (minds) of the ignorant. 2 “Destiny” is a word that has come into fashion from the idea of karma, the idea of future retribution for one’s past actions and the like. 3 From this, ignorant are led to believe that there is such a thing as destiny, something incapable of explanation, which has led them to a fallacy much like mistaking a rope for a snake.
4 Yesterday’s misdeed is rectified by the following day’s good action. Therefore let this day supersede the past and employ yourself today to action. 5 The perverted understanding that believes in destiny is grounded on false conception. One may as well enter fire with the conviction that it will not burn unless it is so destined. 6 If destiny is the sole cause of everything, then why should a man take actions of bathing and making his offerings, sitting and walking, all of which may be done by his destiny? 7 What then is the need to advise another to do something if destiny is the director of all? Let them all be silent and say nothing to nobody.
8 There is none to be seen on earth who is motionless except the bodies of the dead. If it is action that produces anything, then it is useless to believe in destiny. 9 Nor is there any co-operative power of invisible destiny that is perceptible in the actions of men. Destiny is only a meaningless word.
10 Instruments and hands are two things joined together. Each has its separate action, but if the hand is lacking, nothing can be done by destiny. 11 Whether in the mind and intellect of a (learned) pundit or (illiterate) cowherd, there is no such idea of destiny. Hence it is a mere non-entity. 12 If destiny does not mean agent, it must mean something else. If it is the same thing as agent, why give it a different name (i.e., “destiny”)? If it can be proved to be an imaginary term, why not imagine your effort to be the agent?
13 Immaterial destiny, like a void, has no connection with the material body. If it had form or figure it would be visible. Therefore destiny is nonexistent. 14 If destiny were the mainspring of the movements of all beings in the three worlds, then let all creatures rest at ease (with assurance) that destiny will perform their parts. 15 The belief that we are guided by destiny and do as we are led to do is a deception and an excuse. In fact, there is no such thing as destiny.
16 It is a fool who fancies a destiny to himself and relies upon it to his own disadvantage. The intelligent raise themselves to better states by means of their effort. 17 Say, who is there in this world among the mighty and brave or the intelligent and learned who looks or waits upon destiny?18 Destiny may be said good if it had the power of saving a man from being beheaded whom fortune-tellers had pronounced by their calculation to be long lived. 19 Again, O Raghava, if a fortune-teller predicts that a man will become learned and he does without being taught, then we can believe fortune is true.
20 Mark, O Rama, how the sage Vishwamitra has cast away his destiny and attained the state of Brahma rishi by his own efforts. 21 Look at us and others who have become sages. It was by our industry that we became wanderers in the ethereal regions. 22 Remember, O Rama, how the chiefs of the Danava race discarded their destinies altogether and used their prowess to establish their empires on earth. 23 Look again how the chiefs of the gods have wrested the extensive earth from those demons by their valorous deeds of slaying and harassing them (in battle).
24 See Rama, how people use their own industry to make wicker vessels so handsome that they hold water, all without the aid of any destiny.25 In all our works of giving and receiving, walking, resting and the like, we see no causation by destiny in their completion, just as we see medicines causing healing. 26 Therefore, O Rama, give up this destiny of your mistaken fancy, which in reality is devoid of its cause or effect and is a false and ideal nothing. Give yourself to your best efforts.
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Chapter 9 — Investigation of Acts (Thoughts Are Action; Mind Is Soul)
1 Rama asked, “Will you sage, who is versed in all knowledge, kindly explain the true sense of destiny (daivam) in popular use.”
2 Vasishta replied:— It is a man’s activity and nothing else, O Raghava, that is the cause of all his actions and the recipient of their consequences. Destiny has nothing to do with it. 3 Destiny is a mere imaginary thing that neither exists nor acts nor feels (their effects). It is neither seen nor regarded. 4 Destiny refers to the good or bad results that proceed from action. 5 People label the wished for and unwished for consequences resulting from the good and bad deeds of human activity as destiny. 6 The majority of mankind calls human activity, which is the only cause of some unavoidable future consequence, to be destiny.
7 Truly, O Raghava, destiny, though empty as a void, appears to be real to somebody who thinks it to be an active agent, while others know it to be inactive. 8 Again, destiny is a mere saying uttered by men upon the result of some good or bad effect of their actual efforts, that “it is this which has produced the other.” 9 It is my belief and I know it for certain that destiny is no more than a word uttered by people upon their attainment of the object of their exertions. 10 Destiny is a word of consolation uttered by men to signify the good or evil they encounter and which they call to be the effect of the other.
11 Rama asked, “Sage, how is it that you, who is all wise, now contradict your own assertion that destiny is the result of the stock of our former acts?”
12 Vasishta answered saying:— Well said, O Rama. You know everything. But hear me tell you the whole of it, whereby you will have a firm belief in the nonexistence of destiny.
13 In the end, even all the various desires that men may have entertained in their minds come to be accounted as his deeds. 14 All animals also act according to their desires, doing nothing for which they have no inclination in their natures. 15 As a villager goes to his village and a townsman goes to town, so it is the nature of desire to lead men to their particular acts.
16 The keen and firm resolution with which an act was done in a former state of life, that truly is termed destiny in successive births. 17 Thus the acts of all active beings conform to their natures, and the actions of men are in accordance with their desires. Desire is nothing other than the mind itself, and the mind is the same as the human soul. 18 The mind is the soul and cause of all acts which they call the doings of destiny. Certainly, without the mind there is no destiny. 19 This mind is truly the living soul that acts as it desires and accordingly enjoys the fruit. The same is destiny.
20 Rama, know that the mind, the heart, desire, action and destiny are synonymous terms applied by the virtuous to the unascertainable soul. 21Now whatever the so-named soul undertakes to do continually and with a firm resolution, it obtains the fruit thereof accordingly. 22 O support of Raghu’s race, it is by means of the activity or effort of the soul, and by no other means, that the soul obtains everything. May it lead you to your good only.
23 Rama said, “Being caught in the net of my pre-existent desire, I remain a captive to them and do as they lead me to. Say then, O sage, what else I can do?”
24 Vasishta replied:— So then, O Rama, you can reach your lasting good if you exert your efforts for it. There is no other way.
25 Desires are of two kinds: some lead to good and others to evil. Hence the desires of one’s prior state must have been of one kind or the other. 26 If pure desires guide you now, gradually you will be led by means of your good acts to attain the state of your lasting welfare. 27 But if wrong inclinations tend to lead you to difficulties, of necessity you must try your best to overcome such propensities.
28 Rama, you are wise, perfectly intelligent, and composed of more than just a dull body. Now if you need another’s guidance to waken your intellect, then when is your own intelligence? 29 If you would have someone else enlighten your understanding, then who was the other who illuminated him, and who is the other to illuminate that person also? Therefore, because no one is wholly devoid of understanding, let him improve it himself.
30 The currents of our desires flow between two channels of good and evil. It requires the exertion of our actions to turn them to the right course.31 You who is the mightiest of the mighty must exert the force of your activity to turn your mind away from a direction to the profitless and towards a profitable course. 32 By directing the mind from the wrong to the right way, it will take the right course; and the opposite is true also.
But because the human mind is like a child, it must not be forced. 33 The training of a child is like that of the mind. It is done slowly by gentleness and indulgence, and not by force or hurry.
34 You have already mastered all your good and bad desires by your constant practice. From now on, you have to direct your tendencies to good only. 35 O victorious Rama, when by your pristine habits you have an aptitude to do good, know that it is the result of your good nature. 36 O sinless Rama, at present your desires are lying dormant in your mind. They require some practice to be employed only to the doing of good. 37 If you will not exert yourself now to improve your dormant desires by constant practice, you can never expect to be happy. 38 When doubtful, incline towards what is good, and as you thrive on this you shall have no evil to fear.
39 Whatever one practices, with time he will become perfect, just like studying from childhood makes the learned free from error. 40 When you have good will inside, you must accomplish your purpose by means of your activity and your subjection of the organs of your body. 41 So long as your mind is imperfect and unacquainted with the state of divine truth, you must attend to your teacher, books and reasoning and act according to their directions. 42 Having first finished your acts and known the truth, you must abandon even your meritorious deeds, and all your desires with them.
43 Having known by your good understanding that the virtuous course led by honorable men is truly good, give particular attention to know the nature of God, then forsake even that and remain as silent as an ancient sage (muni).
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Chapter 10 — Brahma Propounds the Knowledge of Liberation to Vasishta
1 Vasishta resumed:—
This thing called destiny is as true as the reality of God. It is the cause of causes and effect of effects.
2 Now attend to my words, depend on your efforts, and intently apply your ever confident mind to the attainment of your chief good. 3 Use your effort to control your misleading senses from pursuing their objects.
4 I will now set out a system for you that contains the essence of the best means for liberation, and which will confer the fruits of your exertions and lead you to your welfare in both worlds. 5 Let those who have great minds forsake their worldly desires in order to avoid future births and attend to these lectures with calm contentment. 6 Weigh well the meanings of previous discussions and those to come, repress your mind from its worldly cares, and compose yourself in calmness in order to inquire after truth. 7 Hear me relate to you, Rama, the way to emancipation which will remove your feelings of pain and pleasure, and which will become the surest means to lead you to supreme happiness. 8 On hearing this lecture on liberation in the company of all those reasonable men, you will know that highest state which is free from pain, and of which there is no end. 9This was spoken of old in a former kalpa age by Brahma abiding in the Supreme Spirit. It is the remover of all anxiety and giver of all comfort to the soul.
10 Rama asked, “Say, O brahmin who is my guide, what cause moved Brahma himself to reveal this knowledge of old, and how did you obtain it?”
11 Vasishta replied:— The Supreme Soul of infinite manifestations exists by itself. It passes through and supports the whole in the form of void and understanding and as light to all living beings. 12 From Him who remains the same (unaltered being) in his rest and motion, the great Vishnu was born, like a moving wave on the quiet waters of the sea. 13 Then Brahma was produced from the lotus of his heart, having Mount Meru for its seed, the points of the compass for its petals, and the stars for its pistils.
14 He, being beset by gods and sages acquainted with the Vedas and their meanings, created all the worlds and all minds with their various thoughts. 15 Then he created groups of men in the Bharata division (India) and in a corner of Jambudwipa (Asia) and subjected them to all manner of diseases and afflictions. 16 They are also troubled by the possession and desire of many things and their subjection to dangers and diseases. Here all species of created beings are subject to a variety of tribulations and afflictions. 17 The lord and creator of worlds, seeing the misery of these people, felt compassion for them like a father for his children. 18 Then, for a moment he pondered within himself, with intensity of thought and for the good of all creatures, how to end the misery of these beings who were subjected to death and despair.
19 With this thought the lord god Brahma himself established the rules of austerity, piety, charity, veracity and pilgrimage. 20 Having established these, the lord and creator again thought within himself: how to make an end of the many miseries of the men he had created. 21 He thought upon self-extinction as the supreme bliss, obtainable only through knowledge of God, and whereby man might be exempted from repeated births and deaths. 22 It was divine knowledge, he thought, that was the only means by which men could crossing the ocean of this world. Austerity, charity and pilgrimage were no means to it. 23 With this he said, “I will immediately make a new and sure bridge for the salvation of men and for their liberation from pain.”
24 Having thought so, Lord Brahma sitting on the lotus meditated in his mind and produced me from himself. 25 Being thus produced, I immediately stood in the presence of my ancestor, like a wave rising from the sea leans towards it. 26 Holding a pitcher in one hand and prayer beads made of seeds in the other, I bowed down to the god who held a water-pot in one hand and prayer beads in the other. He addressed me like this.
27 “Come my son,” he said, then holding me with his hand, he made me sit on the northern petal of his lotus of truth that shone as brightly as the moon amid silvery clouds. 28 Wearing the skin of an antelope and with the voice of a gander addressing a stork, my father Brahma spoke to me who was similarly dressed. 29 He said “For a moment I will overpower your fickle-mindedness under a mist of unconsciousness, like a dark cloud obscures the moon.”
30 It was under this curse that I lost my reason and forgot everything, even the clear idea I had of God. 31 I became as helpless as one out of his wits, and came to be afflicted with distress and sorrow like an indigent person. 32 “Ah, how sorrowful is this world,” said I. “How did evil come to dwell in it?” With these thoughts I remained in silence.
33 Then he my father spoke to me saying, “Ah my son, why are you so afflicted? Ask me for a remedy for your affliction and you shall become happy.”
34 Then, seated as I was on the gold-colored leaflet of the lotus, I asked the lord creator of all peoples about the medicine for worldly sorrows.35 “How, my lord,” I asked, “did this world come to be so full of misery, and how can people be rid of it? This is what I ask of you.”
36 I then learnt the most holy wisdom that my father Brahma gave me. Following his advice, I became quite composed. 37 Then, seeing me knowing the knowable and restored to my own natural state, the creator of the world and revealer of all causes said, 38 “My son, I had turned you to insanity by an illusion in order to make you inquire into the essence of true knowledge for the welfare of mankind. 39 Now you are released from the curse of illusion and you have arrived to your highest state of understanding. You have become as one soul (with the Supreme) and as pure as gold. 40 Now shut your heart against the world and proceed to the surface of the earth, to the land of Bharata, for the good of mankind. 41 There employ yourself to ceremonial duties to the best of your knowledge and advise others on how to properly conduct rituals. 42 But those who are disgusted (with the world) in their hearts, and are rational with their elevated understandings, are to be counseled with the esoteric knowledge that confers true joy.”
43 Being thus appointed by him who was born in the lotus, I continue to abide here throughout the succession of beings. 44 I have no duty to perform here but live my life free from all cares. I always do my acts with a mind as tranquil as if it were in a state of sleep. I do my works with the body, but I do nothing here with my soul (which is fixed in God).
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Chapter 11 — On the Qualifications of Student and Teacher; the Four Guards at the Door of Liberation
1 Vasishta continued:— I have fully related to you about the descent of knowledge on earth, the reason for my birth, and the intention of lotus-born Brahma. 2 Now Rama, as you are eager to learn transcendental knowledge, and as you are so anxious for it in your mind, it must be the effect of your pristine merit.
3 Rama said, “Sage, how was it that the supreme lord felt a desire to send down knowledge on earth after his creation (and not with it)?”
4 Vasishta replied:— Brahma in his own nature is the same as the Supreme Brahman. He is born in Him like a wave is born of the waters of the deep. 5 This great lord saw the imperfection of his creation and saw its whole course in times past, present and future. 6 He saw the decay of ceremonial rites after the end of the age of truth (the golden age) and other ages and considering the error in which men were to fall, he felt pity for them. 7 Then the lord thought of giving me true knowledge and sent me to earth to dispel the ignorance of mankind.
8 Like me, he has sent other great sages here, like Sanat Kumara, Narada and many others also. 9 He has sent them all to redeem mankind from the chains of its ignorance through a series of good acts and through their progress in divine knowledge. 10 At the end of the past golden age, these great sages saw the gradual decay on earth of the holy rituals. 11 They created rulers at various places on earth in order to regulate the course of duties and observe proper limits. 12 They made many works on traditional law and sacrificial rules to be observed on earth, and appropriate provision for the accomplishment of religious and temporal duties (in the smritis). 13 But with time, all these duties became slack in their conduct, and men have no thought other than seeking their daily maintenance.
14 Every day disputes arise among landowners on account of their estates and properties, and people are subjected to various penalties in large numbers. 15 Under such conditions, it is not possible to govern without states fighting each other, resulting in rulers and subjects inevitably being reduced to wretchedness. 16 In order to remove the impotence (of such princes) and lead them to a comprehensive view of things, we have prescribed many excellent precepts of knowledge to them. 17 This spiritual knowledge was first given to princes, but afterwards it came to be known under the title of royal science (raja vidhya, kingly science). 18 This royal science is of a hidden, esoteric nature. It is also the best kind of spiritual knowledge. Many kings have been set beyond the reach of calamity by knowledge of this science. 19 It is after many such fair-famed princes had gone by that your mighty self was begotten by the present King Dasharata.
20 O slayer of your enemies, I find a very agreeable and holy kind of apathy growing spontaneously in your most clear understanding. 21 There is another kind of cold-heartedness, O Rama, caused in the minds of the virtuous and reasonable men which is called casual detachment. 22 But your unprecedented and astonishing apathy, produced without any cause and only by your reason, is called by the wise to be real detachment.
23 Seeing the harmfulness of worldly things, what man will not grow adverse to them? The greatest displeasure is that which rises in the mind from one’s own judgment. 24 They are reckoned as great and wise men whose detachment springs without cause (of detestation to the world) and whose minds are clear. 25 It is as graceful to see a person whose mind with good discrimination feels a disgust from its own judgment as it is to see a young bridegroom adorned with garlands of flowers. 26 They are esteemed as the best of men who, after judicious consideration of worldly troubles, apply themselves to detachment. 27 It must be by one’s repeated and judicious examination of inner and outer illusions that he should forcibly withdraw himself from them.
28 Who is there at the mournful sight of a funeral event who does not feel an aversion to worldliness? However, it is aversion born of itself that is highly commendable. 29 I see that you are sincerely indifferent and reaching the acme of true greatness. You are worthy of the best knowledge as is the moist earth of receiving seeds. 30 It is by the grace of the lord God and Supreme Spirit that a lucky understanding like yours naturally inclines to reason.
31 It is by performance of ritual duties and observance of prescribed rules that the demerits of former births are expunged. 32 Upon removing former demerits, understanding turns of itself to become aware of spiritual matters, like the simultaneous flight of a crow towards a falling coconut.33 But those devoted only to ritual acts are like people plunged in an eddy in which they whirl up and down until they come to perceive the state of supreme (joy). 34 Seeing this (illusory) state of the world, a man must shake off the delusion of his worldly-mindedness, just as the elephant breaks loose from his chains.
35 It is too intricate, O Rama, to understand the course of this boundless world. Not even the greatest of embodied beings can know it without true knowledge. 36 Know, O support of Raghu’s race, that men of great understanding have passed over the un-fordable ocean of the world by means of the raft of their knowledge and reason.
37 Now, with attention and steadiness of mind, hear this rational knowledge for your deliverance from the flood of this world. 38 Without the remedy of right reason, the unceasing excitement of the senses and the fears and miseries of the world will continually disturb the mind. 39 There is nothing other than rational knowledge that can enable holy men to endure the afflictions of the opposite extremes of heat and cold and wind and rain. 40 The constant cares and miseries which befall to men at every step sometimes serve to torment the ignorant mind like a flame of fire burns straw. 41 But the troubles of this world cannot afflict a wise man who knows the knowable and discerns all things; just as it is impossible for the flame of fire to burn wood drenched by rain.
42 A man knowing the truth is like a firm oak tree that no whirlwind of disease or distress raised by the hot winds of this desert of the world has the power to upset. 43 An intelligent man who has a mind to know the truth must diligently serve his wise teacher with loving regard. 44 What a well-minded teacher says in response to any question must be carefully preserved in the mind, like a piece of fine muslin receives dye.
45 O best of the eloquent, you must not receive instruction from one unacquainted with truth. Whoever asks such a person anything is the greatest of fools. 46 He is the basest of men who does not carefully attend to the words of the truth-telling teacher who is asked about anything. 47He is the best inquirer who seeks answers from a person who demonstrates by his actions whether he knows the knowable or not. 48 A person who asks boyish questions without determining the teacher’s qualifications is reckoned a vile inquirer incapable of knowing great things.
49 When asked, a wise man will reply to him who is able to comprehend the former and later propositions, and who is possessed of a good understanding, but he should make no answer to a vile brutish being. 50 The teacher who gives his lecture without examining the capacity of the inquirer to grasp his meaning is pronounced unwise by the learned.
51 O delight of Raghu’s race! Our meeting is very congenial. We are well adapted to each other. You as inquirer are an admirer of virtue and I the speaker am well acquainted. 52 You who understand the meaning of words should well consider everything that I tell you and take them to heart. 53 You are truly great and disgusted with the world, and you know the truth among mankind. Whatever is spoken to you must be impressed in your mind like red dye on muslin. 54 By your attention to what I say and your discrimination of spiritual matters, you can make your understanding receive my instruction like waters reflect sunlight. 55 Receive all that I say and store them diligently in your mind; or else it is useless to ask me anything.
56 The mind, O Rama, is as fickle as an ape in the forest. Correct it carefully and attend to spiritual instruction. 57 Always keep yourself from the injudicious and ignorant and those addicted to the company of wicked people, and honor the virtuous. 58 It is by association with good people that we can gain the wisdom that resembles a tree yielding fruits of enjoyment and liberation.
59 It is said there are four guards who keep watch at the gate of liberation (moksha), namely: peace (equanimity, self-control), judgment (spirit of inquiry), contentment, and company of the good. 60 All these, or three or two of them, are to be attended with care because they shall open the door leading to the abode of liberation. 61 At least one of them is to be sought with diligence, even at the expense of one’s life. Because by securing one of these a man can reconcile and gain all four .
62 The wise man is a receptacle of all scriptures, of all knowledge and austerity, and is a gem on earth, just like the sun is the receptacle of light. 63 The dull understanding of a senseless man becomes as stiff as a block, and like water freezing as hard as stone.
64 Your good nature and good qualities, O Rama, and the counsels of the learned in the scriptures, have made you sit here with a heart blooming like a lotus towards the rising sun. 65Your ears lifted to hear these wise lectures have enabled you to repress your thoughts; as the music of the lute attracts the mind of the deer. 66Now secure, O Rama, the treasures of peace and good nature by your practice of detachment of which there is no decay. 67 Your knowledge of the attainment of liberation will be increased by your attending to the scriptures and the society of good men, and also by your practice of austerity and self subjection. 68 You must know that the sure remedy against ignorance is the study of divine knowledge with a clear understanding.
69 Know this world is a poisonous plant and a seat of dangers. It infects the ignorant at all times, unless one will take the pains to dispel his darkness. 70 Greed accompanied by ignorance moves within the heart in a serpentine course, by turns expanding and contracting it like a blacksmith’s bellows. 71 The true light of things dawns only in the minds of the wise, just as the gentle moon appears only in a clear and cloudless sky. 72 He is truly called a man who can judge (the truth) by the major and minor propositions, whose mind is expanded and filled with brilliant ingenuity.
73 Rama, the clear wisdom of your mind makes you shine like the full moon dispelling the darkness of the cloudless sky by her cooling and translucent beams.
• • •
Chapter 12 — The Greatness of True Knowledge
1 Vasishta said:— Rama, I honor you as one of a perfect mind. You know what to ask and you understand what is spoken to you. Therefore I will continue speaking to you respectfully.
2 Be still, keep your mind fixed in yourself, and attend to knowledge. Be free of pride and passions and incline yourself to pure truth. 3 You are possessed of all the qualities of an enquirer, and I those of the speaker, in as much as there are gems in the ocean. 4 My son, you have gained the detachment that is closely related to reason, like the humidity of the moonstone correlates to gentle moonbeams. 5 Rama, your long and early practiced pure virtues and good qualities have raised your fame, like the long stretching white fibers of the stalk exalt the spotless lotus. 6 Now hear the words I tell you Rama, for you alone are fit to receive them, as only the moon is able to open the kumuda lotus petals.
7 Whatever business or investigation someone undertakes, it must be brought to a happy conclusion that tends towards his peace and tranquility. 8 If men of good understanding did not have the solace of philosophy, what rational being could dare bear the misery that ignorance brings in this world? 9 All the faculties of the mind are absorbed in contemplation of the Supreme, like solar heat dissolves the rocks of boundary mountains at the end of the world.
10 Rama, the intolerable stomach cramping pain caused by this venomous world is healed only by yoga meditation, just like the poison of a snakebite is removed by garuda incantations. 11 One obtains the capacity for yoga by discussing the scriptures in the company of good people, which alone can provide us with the great charm of spiritual knowledge.
12 It must be recognized that we lessen our sorrows by acting with reason. Therefore reasonable men are never to be disregarded. 13 A reasoning man gets released from his worldly sickness. He quits his frame which is full of diseases just like a snake casts off his time-worn skin. He looks with a placid mind and calm composure upon the magic scenes of the world. Hence a fully wise man is not subject to the misery of the imperfectly wise.
14 The rough and uneven pleasure of the world (samsara) is a disease that stings like a snake. It cuts men like a sword and pierces them like a spear. It binds them tightly like a rope, and burns them like fire. It blindfolds their understanding like the darkness of the night. It makes them as prostrate and dull as a slab of stone. It destroys one’s prudence and lowers his position. It casts men into the pit of error and torments them with greed. Thus there is almost no kind of trouble which does not happen to worldly minded men.
15 Worldliness is as dangerous a disease as cholera which, unless it is healed in time, is sure to trouble its patient with the torments of hell: 16like eating stones; wounded by swords and spears; pelted by stones; burnt by fire; numbed by frost; dislocated limbs; body smeared with blood like sandalwood paste; bored by worms like worm-eaten trees; body pierced by pikes, broomsticks and the fiery shafts and bolts continually falling in battle; toil and drudgery under the sun; the cold wetness of work in a summer fountain house; dumb and deaf without rest or sleep; and, finally, suffering decapitation. 17 With thousands of such intolerable tortures of worldly life, no one should remain negligent of his release from this state but ought to think that only his reflection on scriptures can produce his real good.
18 Rama, look upon this assembly of great sages, rishis, brahmins and princes who have fortified themselves by the armor of wisdom and are liable to no pain or grief, yet they are engaged in the arduous affairs of this world with minds as placid as yours. 19 Moreover, there are many of the best of men who with their spiritual light and pure understanding reside in this world like the gods Hari (Vishnu), Hara (Shiva) and Brahma above all concerns and fluctuating desires of life.
20 The journey of this world is delightful to one who, after the removal of his errors and dispersion of the cloud of his ignorance, has come to the knowledge of truth. 21 When serenity of the mind and calm repose of the heart are secured, all the senses are subjected to peace and everything is viewed in an equal light, and this knowledge of the truth gives delight to our journey in this world.
22 Know also that this body of ours is the car, these organs are its horses, our breaths are the winds blowing upon it, and the mind is the driver who feels the delight of driving. The minute, subtle soul is the rider who is conscious of wandering about the world. Knowledge of this truth makes our earthly journey a pleasant one.
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Chapter 13 — On Equanimity (Peace & Tranquility of Mind), the
Vasishta speaking:— 1 Intelligent men who have seen the spirit fix their sight upon it and wander about in the world as persons of great and elevated souls. 2 They do not grieve, nor do they wish or ask for anything of good or evil (in this world). They do their works with detachment. 3Those who rely on themselves remain quiet, unaffected by good or evil and acting their parts with a calm serenity. They take no concern for what is harmful or delectable to them. 4 They are alike indifferent to coming or not coming, going or not going, doing or not doing, and speaking or not speaking. 5 After having come to know their God (as the author of all good), whatever acts or sights may appear pleasant or disgusting to others cease to affect them in any way.
6 The mind having rid its desires feels a sweet composure associated with bliss that is like moonlight descending from the heavenly orb all about. 7 By being unmindful of worldly affairs and regardless of all its excitements, the soul is filled with a joy resembling the ambrosial waters in the moon. 8 He who ceases to act his magical parts (in this playground of the earth) and desists from following his inclinations and childish pranks, shines forth in his spiritual light. 9 Such are the powers gained from spiritual knowledge, and by no other means whatever.
10 Therefore should a man should employ his reasoning powers during life to try to seek and know and adore the Supreme Soul. 11 It is the agreement of one’s belief with the teachings of the scriptures and his instructor, joined with his constant meditation, that can give him a full view of the Supreme Spirit. 12 The fool slighting the scriptures and their instructions and disregarding the counsels of great men is exposed to difficulties and dangers from which he can have no release. 13 There is no disease or poison, no trouble or affliction so painful to one in this earth as the ignorance one breeds in himself.
14 Those whose intellects are purified a little will find this work to be of greater effect to dispel their ignorance than any other scripture. 15Everyone who is a friend to good sayings and good sense should diligently attend to this scripture with its beautiful examples, pleasing lessons and lack of inconsistencies.
16 Lack of dignity, inextricable difficulties, and baseness and degeneracy are all the offspring of ignorance, just like thorns are the offshoots of the prickly ketaki plant. 17 It is far better, O Rama, to rove about a begging with a pot in hand to the homes of vile chandalas than to lead a life deadened by ignorance. 18 Rather dwell in dark dismal cells, within dry dreary wells, in the hollows of trees, or remain like solitary blind worms than labor under the miseries of ignorance.
19 A man receiving the light leading to his liberation will never fall into the darkness of error or gloom of death. 20 As long as the clear light of reason does not shine upon the mind like the sun, so long will the chilly frost of poverty continue to contract the lotus of humanity. 21 To liberate oneself from the miseries of the world, one must know the true nature of the soul, both from his teacher and the evidence of the scriptures, and also from friends like ourselves.
22 Try, O Rama, to imitate those who are liberated in their lifetime, who are free to roam about like the gods Hari, Hara and others, and like the holy sages among brahmins. 23 Here (on earth) our miseries are as endless as atoms, and our happiness is as small as a drop of water on a piece of straw. Therefore do not fix your sight upon that little happiness which is beset by misery. 24 Let an intelligent man diligently apply himself to attain that state of endless happiness which is free from pain and constitutes his highest completion. 25 They are reckoned the best of men and deserving of completion whose minds are free from the fever (of worldly cares) and attached to the transcendental state.
26 Those base minded mortals who are satisfied with their enjoyments, eating and drinking, and the pleasures of their worldly possessions, are reckoned as stark blind frogs. 27 Those attached to the company of imposters and wicked men, or addicted to the practice of evil deeds, who are enemies in the guise of friendship, or those given up to gluttony, 28 all such foolish men of mistaken and stupid minds fall into the hardest of hardships, to the misery of miseries, to the horror of horrors, and to the hell of hells. 29 Happiness and misery destroy and succeed each other by turns. They are as fleeting as flashes of lightning. Hence it is impossible to be happy forever.
30 Those great souls who are indifferent and well judging like yourself are known as the most honorable of men, worthy of both temporal enjoyments and spiritual emancipation. 31 By reliance upon right reasoning joined with a habit of remaining dispassionate, men are able to overcome the dark and dangerous torrents of this world. 32 No man of reason who well knows how the illusions of the world derange understanding should allow himself to sleep amid these illusions. 33 Whoever remains neglectful in his worldliness is like a man negligently sleeping on a grassy bed when his house is on fire.
34 A state reached without return, attained so there is no more cause for sorrow, undoubtedly is attainable only by divine knowledge, and that is a certain truth. 35 Even if such a future state did not exist, there would be no harm to believe in it. But if such a state exists, belief in it will save you from the ocean of this world (samsara).
36 Whenever a man is inclined to think on the means of his salvation, he is sure to soon be entitled to his liberation. 37 The undecaying, unerring and fearless state of tranquility is nowhere to be had in the three worlds without union (with the Supreme). 38 Having gained that best of gains, no one is liable to the pain from which no wealth, friend or relation can save. 39 Neither the actions of one’s hands and feet in his offerings and pilgrimage to distant lands, nor the bodily pains of asceticism, nor his refuge in a holy place can serve his salvation. 40 It is only by means of one’s best exertions and the fixing of his mind to one object, and also by the subjection of his desires, that one may arrive at the ultimate state (of bliss). 41 So it is that by means of discrimination, reasoning and ultimate ascertainment of truth, a man may avoid the snares of misery and attain his best state.
42 One sitting at ease and meditating within himself attains the blissful state free from sorrow and future birth. 43 All holy men are known to be beyond the bounds of frail pleasures. They reckon their best serenity to be their ultimate bliss. 44 They have given up all thoughts of humanity and heaven, which are as devoid of true joy as a mirage is void of water. 45 Therefore should one think of subduing his mind and resort to peace and contentment as the means. These joined with an unbounded composure produce true happiness.
46 It is not to be had by sitting, or going up and down, or by wandering, or by prostrating (before the altar). It is not to be acquired by rakshasa demons, deities or ignorant men. 47 That ultimate joy is born of and obtainable from peace of mind. It is fruit from the blossom of peace of the high tree of reason.
48 Those engaged in worldliness without mixing in it are like the all-illumining sun and are known as the best of men. 49 The mind at peace and rest, clear and free from errors, and without any attempt or desire neither forsakes nor wishes for the world.
50 Hear me tell you about the orders of the guards (equanimity, inquiry, contentment, and good company) at the gate of salvation. If you know these orders, you are allowed to enter.
51 Thirsting after pleasure is a state of protracted disease, and this world is full of mirage. Only equanimity can cool this dryness like the moistening beams of the moon. 52 It is peacefulness that leads to all good and is reckoned the best state of being. Quiet is joy. It is peace and prevents error. 53 The man who lives content with his quiet and a calm clarity of his soul, with a mind filled with detachment, makes friends of his enemies. 54 Those whose minds are adorned with the moonlight of peacefulness feel within a flux of beams of purity rising in them like the whitish waves of the Milky Ocean.
55 Those holy men who have the lotus-like flower of peacefulness growing in the lotus-shaped receptacle of their hearts are said to have a secondary heart like the two hearts of the god Hari (holding Brahma in one of them). 56 They whose untainted faces shine like the moon with the luster of peacefulness are to be honored as the luminaries of their families. Others, seeing the charming beauty of their appearance, honor them as ravishers of the senses.
57 Whatever is beautiful in the three worlds, and whatever may be imperial prosperity and grandeur, nothing in them can afford a happiness equal to that of peacefulness. 58 Whatever the misery, anxiety or intolerable difficulty, they are all lost in a tranquil mind, like darkness in the sun. 59The mind of no living being is so delighted with moonbeams as that of the peaceful man from his heart-felt joy. 60 The virtuous man who is calm and quiet and friendly to all living beings feels the benign influence of highest truths appearing of themselves in his mind.
61 Just like all children, whether good or bad, have a strict faith in their mother, so all beings here rely upon a man of an even disposition. 62 A refreshing drink of ambrosia or the kind embrace of prosperity cannot give such gratification to the soul as one’s inner satisfaction of the mind.
63 Whether afflicted by disease or disaster, or dragged by the rope of greed, bear yourself up, O Rama, by the composure of your mind. 64Whatever you do and eat with the calm coolness of your mind, all that is far sweeter to the soul than anything sweet to taste. 65 The mind that is overpowered by the ambrosial flavor of peacefulness and desists from activity may have the body lacerated, but it will heal shortly.
66 No imp, demon or enemy, and no tiger or snake ever annoys a peaceful man. 67 He who has his mind and body well guarded by the invulnerable armor of meekness can never be pierced by the shafts of adversity. He remains like the thunder-stone that is impenetrable by arrows.
68 The king seated in his palace is not so graceful to see as a quiet peaceful man who is graced by his calm and clarity of understanding. 69There is nothing in life so delightful to see as the satisfaction one feels at the sight of a contented and peaceful man. 70 Only he who lives a holy life with his gentle and peaceful conduct is said to be truly living in this world. 71 A sober minded, meek and honest man pleases everyone by all that he does. It is as if he captivates all beings to himself.
72 He is called the meek who neither feels pleasure nor pain at the sight, touch, sound or taste of anything good or bad. 73 He who is indifferent to all objects and neither leaves nor longs for anything, but keeps his senses and appetites under control, is called a saint. 74 Whoever knows all things, both internally and externally, with a clear understanding, and who attends and looks to his own concerns, is truly said to be a saint. 75 He whose mind remains as calm as moonbeams at the approach of either feast or violence, and even at the moment of death, is said to be a saint. 76Who, though present, neither rejoices nor murmurs at anything but remains as if he were absent from it, and conducts himself as quietly as if he were fast asleep, such a person is called a saint.
77 He whose complaisant look casts a graceful nectar-like radiance on all around him is said to be a saint. 78 Who feels a cool calmness within himself and is not disturbed or immersed in any state of life, and who though a layman is not worldly minded, such a man is termed a saint. 79 He who does not take the difficulties of life to his mind, however long or great they may be, or who does not think his body to be himself, is known to be a saint. 80 The man of the world who has a mind clear as the sky and is not tainted (by worldliness) is said to be a saint.
81 The quiet man with tranquility of mind shines forth among sages and ascetics, among priests and princes, and among the mighty and learned. 82 Great and meritorious men whose minds are attached to peacefulness feel a rest arising in their souls like cooling moonbeams. 83 Peacefulness is the greatest of all the many virtues and the best decoration of courage. It shines resplendent among all dangers and difficulties.
84 O Rama, seek your perfection in the way in which high-minded men have sought and attained their perfect states, by holding fast onto peacefulness as an imperishable virtue, preserved by the respectable, and never to be lost or stolen.
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Chapter 14 — On Rational Inquiry, the Necessity of Inquiry & Clear
Vasishta speaking:— 1 It must be the duty of one whose understanding is cleared and purified by a knowledge of the scriptures to argue constantly with a guide who knows how to reason correctly. 2 Understanding, when sharpened by reasoning, comes to see transcendence. The only best medicine for the chronic disease of worldliness is reasoning (the second gate-keeper). 3 The world is like a forest of troubles, sprouting endless desires which, being once felled under the saw of reason, will germinate no more.
4 O wise Rama, our understandings are shrouded under unconsciousness at the loss of our friends, at times of danger, and even of quiet. Only reason is our companion. 5 There is no expedient for the learned and wise except reason. It is by means of reason that the minds of good people can avoid evil and secure their good. 6 All our strength and understanding, our valor and renown, and the ends of our actions, result from our reasoning with the intelligent.
7 Reason is the lamp to show us right and wrong and the instrument with which we accomplish our desires. By reliance on right reason, one easily crosses over the wide ocean of the world. 8 Pure reasoning, like a strong lion, tears asunder the elephants of great error which ravage the lotus beds of the mind. 9 If ignorant men have at anytime attained a better state in life, it was all owing to the light of the lamp of their reasoning.
10 Know, O Raghava, that dominion and fair prosperity, together with our enjoyments and eternal salvation, are all only fruits of the celestial, wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of reasoning. 11 The minds of great men, expanded by reasoning, are never liable to be immersed under the currents of calamity (but float above them) like gourds upon water. 12 Those who conduct themselves with their intellects shining forth with reason become the recipients of its most liberal gifts. 13 Lack of reason is like the thorny and sour karanja plant sprouting forth with blossoms of sorrow, growing in the lakes of ignorant minds in order to shut out their hopes and prospects.
14 O Raghava, shake off the lethargy caused by your neglect of reasoning. This torpor darkens your vision as if by the black, eye-liner collyrium powder and maddens your mind as if by the drunkenness of wine. 15 The man of right judgment is not liable to fall into the long and dangerous maze of error, but remains as a blaze of light amidst the gloom (of ignorance). 16 The reasoning faculties shine like a bed of lotuses in the limpid lake of the mind. Whoever has such a reasoning mind exalts his head as high as the Himalayan heights.
17 A man having a dull mind and incapable of reasoning with the sharpness of a flash of lightening is like a child who sees false apparitions about him. 18 Rama, you must shun and keep base, unreasonable men at a distance. They grow as plump as a sugar cane to cause sorrow. They resemble the spring season that grows fresh weeds of evil. 19 Whatever misdeeds, misconducts and mishaps present themselves to man, they all result from his lack of the light of reason, and they lay hold of him like ghosts appearing in the dark. 20 O support of Raghu’s race, shun the unreasonable man at a distance. He is like a solitary wild tree that comes to no good use.
21 A mind filled with reason and devoid of the impatience that attends worldly desires feels the light of transcendent quietism shining in the soul with the full luster of the moon. 22 When the light of reason shines in any person, it imparts the coolness and good grace of moonbeams to all things around him. 23 The reasoning power of man accompanied with the flag of divine knowledge and the silvery fan of good understanding shines like moonlight in the darkness of night. 24 Men with the good grace of their reason throw a sun-like radiance on all sides about them and dispel the gloom of worldliness.
25 Reasoning serves to destroy the false apparitions of errors which present themselves to the minds of children like ghosts in the night sky. 26All things in the world appear charming, but they are only unrealities. They are like clods of earth that are broken by the hammering stone of reason. 27 Men torment themselves with the false imaginations of their own minds. Only reason can drive away this deeply rooted apparition from the mind.
28 Know that the fruit of the high tree of reason is the even, unobstructed, interminable and independent happiness called perfect detachment (kaivalya). 29 Through reason and its evident influence on the deprivation of (physical) gratifications, there rises an unshaken and exalted disinterestedness in the mind, like the cooling beams of the moon. 30 When a saint has reached his perfection by means of the elixir of judgment seated in his mind, he neither desires for more nor leaves (what he has). 31 A mind relying on that state of equanimity and perceiving the clear light has neither its fall nor elevation, but enjoys its inward expansion like that of vacuum forever.
32 One unconcerned with the world neither gives nor receives anything, nor feels himself elated or depressed at any event, but views everything as an indifferent spectator. 33 He is neither numbingly cold nor does he dwell on anything internally or externally. He is not inactive or merged in activity. 34 He slights the loss of anything and lives content with what he has. He is neither depressed nor elevated, but remains as full as the sea.
35 It is in this manner that the high-aspiring, great souls who are yogis conduct themselves in this world, with their fullness (of joy) and living as liberated in this life. 36 These saintly sages, having lived as long as they like, abandon it at last, and gain their perfect detachment and eternal unity (kaivalya).
37 A wise man should intently consider within who he is, who he belongs to, what is his family, by whom he is surrounded, and think on the remedy (of his worldliness). 38 It is a king, O Rama, who well knows the difficult and doubtful state of the business, and his success or failure depends solely on his right judgment and on nothing else. 39 It is the sayings and information established by the Vedas and the Vedanta that form the grounds of our evidence, and these are to be ascertained by our reason as by the help of a lamp in the gloom of night.
40 The bright eyesight of reason, even when it has to view things at a distance, is neither blinded by darkness nor dimmed by the full blaze of daylight. 41 He who is blind to reason is like one born blind. A demented man is an object of universal pity, but a man with a reasoning soul is said to be possessed of divine eyesight and becomes victorious in all things. 42 The miraculous power of reason is acknowledged to be a divine attribute and an instrument to highest joy. Therefore it is not to be lost sight of, even for a moment.
43 A man graced by reason is loved even by the great, just as the delicious and ripe mango fruit is delicious to all. 44 Men with their minds illuminated by the light of reason are like travelers acquainted with their way. They are not liable to pitfalls of constant danger and misery. 45Neither a sick man nor one beset by a hundred evils wails as bitterly as an ignorant man whose soul is deprived of reason. 46 Rather leap like a frog in mud, or creep like a worm in the dirt, or lie like a snake in a dark hole or crawl on the ground than walk like a man devoid of reason.
47 Therefore get rid of unreasonableness which is the home of all your dangers, is condemned by the wise, and is the end of all your disasters.48 Great men must always be in full possession of their reasoning, because those unsupported by their reason are liable to fall into the pits of darkness. 49 Let everyone keep his soul under the control of his own reason and by this means deliver the deer of his mind from falling into the mirage of this world.
50 It is the province of reasoning to consider logically that it is in one’s own self that the evil known as worldliness had its rise. 51 The thick mist of error is only for the continued misery of man, and it prevails on the stony minds of those who are demented by the loss of reason. 52 Even the wise who hold fast to the truth and forsake all untruth in this world are unable to discern their true nature without the aid of reason. 53 It is by means of reason that one comes to the knowledge of truth, and by means of truth that he gets peace of mind, and it is tranquility of mind that dispels the misery of men.
54 Now Rama, take delight in such acts as may be productive of utility to the world, and whereby you may arrive to perfection. Weigh all things with the clear eye of reason, which will make you blessed forever.
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Chapter 15 — On Contentment
1 Vasishta continued:— Contentment (the third gate-keeper) is the chief good. Contentment is called (true) enjoyment, and the contented man, O destroyer of enemies, gets the best repose. 2 Those who are happy with their prosperity of contentment and possess the calm repose of their souls are like holy saints. They think a kingdom no better than a bit of rotten straw.
3 Whoever retains a contented mind amidst all the affairs of the world is never disturbed or dejected in adverse circumstances, O Rama. 4 The saints who are satisfied with the ambrosial drink of contentment consider the greatest wealth and enjoyments to be only poison. 5 Even the waves of liquid nectar fail to afford that pleasure which the sweetest taste of contentment, the healer of all evils, gives to its owner.
6 Abandonment of unfruitful desires, and calmness in those desires that are obtained, feeling no pain and having no sense of pleasure, constitute what is called contentment here below. 7 Until the mind can enjoy contentment rising of itself spontaneously in the soul, troubles will continue to grow like briars and brambles in a bog. 8 The mind cooled by calm contentment and purified by the light of philosophy is always in its full bloom like a lotus under sunbeams.
9 An ungoverned mind, subject to desires and devoid of contentment, does not receive the light of knowledge, like a soiled mirror takes no reflection of the face. 10 A man whose mind is always bright with the sunshine of contentment does not shrivel like a lotus in the dark night of ignorance. 11 A man devoid of diseases and anxieties, whose mind is content though he be thoroughly poor, enjoys the happiness of a supreme ruler. 12 He is called contented who does not long after what he does not possess, who enjoys what he has in its right manner, and who is always graceful in his manners. 13 There is a beauty that shines in the face of one whose mind has the satisfaction of contentment. His face has a fullness of magnanimity and a purity of thoughts like that of the Milky Ocean.
14 Let a man rely on his manly efforts and entertain self control within himself to abandon his craving for things. 15 He whose mind is full with the ambrosia of contentment and a calm and cool understanding acquires a perpetual composure within himself, like cooling moonbeams. 16 All great fortunes wait upon him whose mind is strengthened by contentment, as if they were servants attending a king. 17 One remaining content and composed in himself quells all his anxieties and cares, like the rains settle the dust of the earth.
18 Rama, a man shines by the contentment of his mind and the purity of his conduct, like the cooling and spotless moon when she is full. 19 No one receives so much delight from his accumulation of wealth as he derives from the sight of the beautiful placid countenance (of a contented person). 20 Know, O delight of Raghu’s race, that the gods and the sages honor most those best of men who are decorated with grace of equanimity.
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Chapter 16 — On the Company of the Virtuous and Good Conduct
1 Vasishta resumed saying:— Know, O highly intelligent Rama, that the company of the virtuous (the fourth gate-keeper) is everywhere of the greatest benefit to men for their crossing over the ocean of the world (samsara). 2 It is the tree of virtuous company (satsanga) that produces the fresh blossom of discrimination which, being cherished by men with great souls, yields its fruit of prosperity. 3 The society of the learned makes solitude appear as company, and the evil of death as good as a festivity, and converts a difficulty to ease.
4 The society of the virtuous wards off all disasters which, like the frost, invade the lotus beds of our hearts. The society of the virtuous baffles the icy breath of ignorance. 5 Know that the society of the virtuous is the best way to improve understanding, destroy the tree of ignorance, and remove all our mental diseases. 6 The society of the virtuous produces the light of reason, which is as charmingly fair as a cluster of flowers after being washed by rainwater. 7 The influence of virtuous company teaches us the best way of living, which is never impaired or obstructed by anything and is ever full in itself.
8 Let no man ever keep himself from the association of the virtuous, even though he is involved in utmost distress and cast in irremediable circumstances. 9 The society of the virtuous lends a light to the right path. It destroys a man’s internal darkness by the rays of the sun of knowledge. 10 Whoever has bathed in the cold, clear stream of good company does not need the merit derived from acts of charity, pilgrimage, austerity or sacrifice. 11 Of what use is austerity or pilgrimage to one who has the society of virtuous men and whose life is free from passions, sins, doubts and knots (of scruples in the heart)?
12 Blessed are the peaceful in their minds who people regard with as much devotion as poor men dote fondly upon gems and jewels. 13 An intelligent mind with its gracefulness derived from good company always shines like the goddess of riches in the company of fairy nymphs. 14Therefore that blessed man who never abstains from the company of the holy is renowned as having attained the crown of clear understanding. 15Hence all uncompromising believers, holy men and those who are revered by people are to be served by all means for crossing over the ocean of the world.
16 The company of the saints is like rainwater that extinguishes the flames of hell. Surely those who neglect the company of the saints serve as dry fuel to hell-fire. 17 The medicine of holy association serves to allay entirely all the afflictions consequent to poverty and death and all tribulations of worldly affairs.
18 Contentment, society of the virtuous, the practice of reasoning, and remaining undisturbed comprise the means for mankind to cross over the ocean of the world. 19 Contentment is reckoned to be the best gain, good company the right course, reasoning the true knowledge, and remaining undisturbed the highest bliss. 20 These are the four surest means to break off the shackles of the world, and whoever is practiced in these has surely passed over the false waters of terrestrial sea.
21 Learn, O best of the intelligent, that the practice of any one of these pure virtues leads to a habit of all four. 22 Every one of these separately is a leader to the others. Therefore apply yourself diligently to one of these for your success in getting them all.
23 Association with the good, contentment, right reasoning, and good judgment, joined with peace and tranquility, serve as cargo-ships in the ocean of the world. 24 All prosperity attends on him who is possessed of reason, contentment, peacefulness and the habit of keeping good company, like the fruit of the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree. 25 The man possessed of reasoning, contentment, tranquility and a proclivity to keep good company is attended by every grace, as all the digits unite in the full moon. 26 The happy mind filled with contentment, quietness, reasoning power, and a tendency towards good company meets with prosperity and success, much like kings guided by good ministers.
27 Therefore, O delight of Raghu’s race, bravely govern your mind and always diligently practice some one of these virtues. 28 Exert your best courage to subdue your elephantine mind. Know that until you have mastered one of these cardinal virtues, you can make no progress. 29 It must be, O Rama, that you must set your heart to work by the exertion of your courage and the gnashing of your teeth in order to succeed in meritorious deeds. 30 For whether you be a god, yaksha nature spirit, man, or tree, you cannot, O long-armed Rama, have a better course until you master one of these qualities.
31 As soon as one of these virtues is strengthened and made fruitful in you, it will serve to weaken the force of the faults of your uncontrollable mind. 32 The cultivation of virtues leads to their full growth and the suppression of vice, but the fostering of vice will lead to the increase of vices and the suppression of good qualities.
33 The mind is a wilderness of errors in which the stream of our desires flows with full force between its two banks of good and evil where we hold our stand. 34 It bears away and throws a man on the bank which he strives to reach by his own efforts. Therefore O Rama, do as you like to reach either shore. 35 Now with all the exertion of your manly force, try by degrees to turn the course of your desires towards the happy shore in the forest of your mind. Know, O high-minded Rama, that one’s own disposition is like a rapid current that must not be permitted to bear him away (to the perilous coast).
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Chapter 17 — On the Contents of the Yoga
1 Thus, O progeny of Raghu, a reasoning soul is worthy of attending to the words of wisdom, just as a prince (is inclined to listen) to a discourse on polity. 2 A clear and high-minded man who has renounced the company of stupid folks is capable of fair reasoning, just like the clear sky has the capacity of receiving moonlight. 3 You who are replete with the entire grace of such quality should now attend to the words that I say to remove the errors of your mind. 4 Only he whose tree of merit is bending down with its load of fruit will be interested to hear these words for the sake of his salvation. 5 It is only the noble minded, and not the base, who are receptacles of grand and holy sermons conferring the knowledge of their future state.
6 This collection of thirty-two thousand couplets (slokas, verses of two lines each) is judged to contain the essence of the means to liberation and to confer the final annihilation (of our being). 7 As a lamp presents its light to every waking man, so does this work effect the ultimate enlightenment of every person whether he would like it or not. 8 One’s knowledge of this work, whether by his own perusal or hearing about it from others’ repetition, tends to the immediate obliteration of his errors and to the increase of his delight, as if done by the holy river of heaven (Ganges). 9As the fallacy of mistaking a rope for a snake is removed by examining it, so the fallacy of the reality of the world is removed by reading and studying this work, which gives peace to one who is vexed and tired of the world.
10 It contains six books all filled with sentences full of reason, each distinct from the other in its import. It has many couplets containing chosen examples on all subjects.
11 The first book (Vairagya Prakaranam, Chapter on Detachment) treats of detachment and causes the growth of apathy (in the mind) like a tree growing in desert soil. 12 It contains one thousand five hundred stanzas which, being well considered in the mind, must impart a purity like the luster of a gem after it is polished.
13 The next book (Mumukshu Vyavahara Prakaranam, Chapter Concerning the Qualities of the Aspirant for Liberation) dwells on the conduct of one longing after his liberation, and contains a thousand couplets arranged in judicious order. 14 It describes the nature of men desiring their liberation.
Then follows the third book (Utpatti Prakaranam, Chapter on Creation) on the creation of the world, filled with stories and examples. 15 It has seven thousand couplets teaching sound philosophy about the spectator and spectacle of the world in the forms of “I” and “you”, designated the ego and non-ego. 16 It contains a description of how the world was produced from its state of non-existence. A diligent attention to this chapter will convey a full knowledge of this world to the mind of the listener.
17 This ego and non-ego, and this vast expanse with all the worlds, space and mountains, are to be seen as having no form or foundation as there are no such things. 18 There are no elements such as the earth and others. They exist only as the fabrications of our minds. They are like phantoms appearing in a dream, or like castles in the air. 19-20 They resemble hills moving on the shore to one passing in a boat, or like hobgoblins appearing to an unsound mind. Such is the appearance of the world which has no seed, source or origin of its own.
21 It is like the impression of a tale in the mind, or the sight of a chain of pearls in the sky, or taking a bracelet for its gold, or a wave for the water. 22 Creation is just like the blue of the sky, always apparent to sight, charming to behold, yet never real, there being no color in it. 23 Thus whatever unreal wonders appear to us in our dreams or in the sky, they are only like a fire in a picture that only seems to be burning and has no fire in it.
24 The word jagat (all that moves, the universe) is appropriately applied to the transitory world, which passes like the sea with its heaving waves, appearing as a dancing chain of lotus flowers. 25 It is (as false) as imagining a body of water from the sound of geese, and as useless as a withered forest in autumn when leaves and fruit fall off and the trees yield neither shade nor luscious nutriment. 26 It is full of delirious cravings like men at the point of death, and is as dark as caverns in the mountains. Hence the efforts of men are only acts of their frenzy.
27 It is better to dwell in the clear sky of the autumn harvest of philosophy, after the frost of ignorance has subsided, than to view this world which is no more than an image on a post or a picture on a wall. 28 Know all conscious and unconscious things are made of dust.
Next follows the fourth book on Existence (Sthiti Prakaranam). 29 It contains three thousand couplets full of explanations and stories showing the existence of the world to be a form of the essence of the spectator ego. 30 It describes how the spectator (ego) manifests as the spectacle (non-ego), and how the ten-sided sphere of the garden of the world manifests both as subjective and objective (at the same time). 31 It has thus arrived at its development which is said to be everlasting.
Next follows the fifth book on peacefulness (Upashanti Prakaranam) consisting of five thousand couplets. 32 The fifth is styled the book on holiness, containing a series of excellent lectures and demonstrating the false conception of the world, as “I”, “you” and “he” (as distinct existences). 33 The suppression of this error forms the subject of this book. Hearing this chapter on peacefulness serves to put an end to our reincarnations in this world.
34 After suppression of the train of errors, there still remain slight vestiges of it, to a hundredth part, just as a picture of soldiers gives us some faint idea of soldiers. 35 Aiming at the object of another person is as vain as looking at the beauty of an imaginary city, or sitting in expectation of an unattainable object. It is like noisily fighting for something in sleep. 36 It is as vain as a man whose desires are not subdued, bursting into a roaring like that of the loud and tremendous thunder-claps. It is like building a city on the model of effaced impressions from a dream. 37 It is as vain as an imaginary city, with gardens, flowers and fruit growing in it. It is like a sterile woman bragging of the valorous deeds of her unborn and imaginary sons. 38 It is like a painter about to draw the chart of an imaginary city on the ground who has forgotten to sketch a plan beforehand. 39 It is as vain as expecting evergreen foliage and fruit in all seasons, and the breeze of an arbor that has not grown or a future ornamental garden, pleasant with the sweets of spring.
40 Then follows the sixth book entitled annihilation (Nirvana Prakaranam), which is as clear as the waters of a river after its waves have subsided. 41 It contains the remaining number of couplets (i.e., the remaining 14,500 couplets of the 32,000 total that is the entire work). Knowledge of these verses is pregnant with great meaning. Their understanding leads to the chief good of utter extinction and pacification of desires. 42 The intellect that is separated from all its objects presents the manifestation of the soul, full of intelligence and free from all impurity. It is enveloped in the sheath of infinite void and is wholly pure and devoid of worldly errors.
43 Having finished its journey through the world and performed its duties here, the soul assumes a calmness like that of the unbreakably hard column of the sky reflecting the images of the tumultuous world (without changing itself). 44 It rejoices exceedingly at being delivered from the innumerable snares of the world, and it becomes as light as air by being freed from its desire of looking after endless objects. 45 The soul that takes no notice of any cause or effect or doing, or what is to be avoided or accepted, is said to be disembodied though encumbered with a body, and to become unworldly in its worldly state.
46 An intelligent soul is compared to a solid rock, compact and without any gap in it. It is the sun of intelligence which enlightens all people and dispels the darkness of ignorance. 47 An ordinary soul, though so very luminous, has become grossly darkened by being confined to the vile fooleries of the world and wasted by the malady of its cravings. 48 When freed from the imaginary monster of its egoism, a soul becomes incorporeal, even in its embodied state, and beholds the whole world as if it were placed on the point of one of a multitude of hairs, or like a bee sitting on a flower upon Sumeru Mountain. 49 An intelligent and empty soul contains and beholds in its sphere a thousand glories of the world, shining in each atom, as it was in a mirror.
50 It is not even possible for thousands of Vishnus, Shivas and Brahmas to equal the great minded sage in the extent of his comprehensive soul because the liberated have their chief good stretched to a far greater limit than any.
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Chapter 18 — The Effect of the Yoga Vasishta; Its Similes & Examples
1 Vasishta said:— The previous parts of this work, as already related, give rise to understanding like seeds sown in a good field never fail to produce a good harvest.
2 Even human compositions are acceptable when they instruct good sense because men are always required to abide by reason. Otherwise, the Vedas should be renounced as unreliable. 3 Words that conform to reason are to be received even if spoken by children. Otherwise they are to be rejected as straw even if they are pronounced by the lotus-born Brahma himself.
4 Whoever drinks from a well because it was dug by his ancestors, but who rejects the holy water of the Ganges even when placed before him, is an incorrigible simpleton.
5 As early dawn is invariably accompanied by light, so is good judgment an inevitable attendant on the perusal of this work. 6 Whether these lessons are heard from the mouth of the learned or well studied by oneself, they gradually will make their impressions upon the mind by constant reflection on their sense. 7 They will first furnish a variety of Sanskrit expressions, and then spread before him a series of holy and judicious maxims, like so many ornamental vines that decorate a hall. 8 They will produce a cleverness joined with such qualifications and greatness as to engage the good grace of gods and kings.
9 They are called intelligent who know the cause and effect of things. They are likened to a torch-bearer who is clear sighted in the darkness of the night. 10 All false and covetous thoughts become weaker by degrees, just as the sky is cleared of mist at the approach of autumn.
11 Your thoughts require only the guidance of reason, as every action needs be duly performed to make it successful. 12 The intellect becomes as clear as a great lake in autumn and it gets its calmness like that of the sea after its churning by Mandara Mountain. 13 Like the flame of a chandelier cleansed of its soot and dispelling the shroud of darkness, refined intellect distinguishes things and shines forth in full brightness.
14 The evils of penury and poverty cannot overpower those whose strong sight can discern the evils of their opposites (wealth and riches), just like no dart can pierce the mortal parts of a soldier clad in full armor. 15 No worldly fears can daunt the heart of a wise man, however near they may approach him, just as no arrow can pierce a huge solid stone. 16 Such doubts as “whether it is destiny or our own merit that is the cause of our births and actions” are removed, just as darkness is dispelled by daylight.
17 There is a calm tranquility attending the wise at all times and in all conditions. So also does the light of reason, like solar rays, follow the dark night of error. 18 A man of right judgment has a soul as deep as the ocean and as firm as a mountain, and a cool serenity always shines within him like that of moonlight.
19 He who arrives slowly at what is called “living-liberation,” who remains calm amid the endless turmoil, and who is quite aloof from common talk 20 has a mind that is calm and cool at everything. It is pure and full of heavenly light, shining serenely like moonlit night in autumn. 21 When the sun of reason illuminates the cloudless region of the mind, no ominous comet of evil can make its appearance. 22 All desires are at rest with the elevated. They are pure with the steady and indifferent to the inert, like a body of light clouds in autumn.
23 The slanders of envious ill-wishers are put out of mind (by the wise), just like the frolics of night demons disappear at the approach of day. 24A mind fixed on the firm basis of virtue and placed under the burden of patience is not to be shaken by accidents but remains like a plant in a painting. 25 A knowing man does not fall into the pitfalls that lie all about in the affairs of this world. Who that knows the way will walk into a ditch?26 The minds of the wise are as delighted in acting in accordance with the instructions of good books and the examples of the virtuous as chaste women are fond of keeping themselves within their inner apartments.
27 The detached philosopher views each of the innumerable millions of atoms that compose this universe in the light of it being a world. 28 The man whose mind is purified by a knowledge of the precepts of liberation neither regrets nor rejoices at the loss or gain of the objects of enjoyment.29 Men of unfettered minds look upon the appearance and disappearance of every atomic world as the fluctuating wave of the sea. 30 They neither grieve at unwished-for occurrences nor pine for their wished-for chances. Knowing well all accidents are the consequences of their actions, they remain as unconscious as trees.
31 These holy men appear just like ordinary people. Their minds remain unconquered and they live upon what they get, whether they receive any manner of welcome or unwelcome. 32 They having understood the whole of this scripture, and having read and considered it well, hold their silence like a curse or blessing (which is never uttered by saints).
33 This scripture is easy to be understood and it is ornamented with figures of speech. It is a poem full of flavors and embellished with beautiful similes. 34 One who has a slight knowledge of words and their meanings may be self taught in it, but he who does not understand the meanings well should learn from a pundit. 35 After hearing, thinking and understanding this work, one has no more need to practice austerities or meditation or repeating mantras or performing other rites. A man requires nothing else in this world for the attainment of his liberation. 36 By deep study of this work and its repeated perusal, a man attains an uncommon scholarship and the purification of his soul.
37 The ego and the non-ego, that is, the viewer and the viewed, are both only imaginary monsters of the imagination. Only their annihilation leads to the vision of the soul. 38 The error of the reality of ego and the perceptible world will vanish away like visions in a dream, for who that knows the falsehood of dreams will fall into the error (of taking them for truth)? 39 As an imaginary palace gives no joy or grief to anyone, the false conception of the world is the same.
40 Just like nobody is afraid of a painting of a serpent, to one who knows, the sight of a living serpent neither terrifies nor pleases. 41 Our knowledge of a picture removes our fear of a painted serpent. Our conviction of the unreality of the world must disperse our mistake of a snake’s existence.
42 Even the plucking of a flower or tearing of its leaflet requires a little effort, but no exertion whatever is required to gain the blessed state. 43Plucking or pulling off a flower involves an action of the body, but with yoga there is no physical action. You only have to fix your mind. 44 It can be practiced with ease by anyone sitting in his easy seat and fed with his usual food who is not addicted to gross pleasures or breaching the rules of good conduct. 45 You can derive happiness from your own observations at any place and time, as you can from your association with the good whenever it is available. This is an optional rule.
46 These are the means of gaining a knowledge of the highest wisdom, conferring peace in this world, and saving us from the pain of being reborn in the womb. 47 Those who are afraid of this course and are addicted to the vicious pleasures of the world are to be reckoned as too base, no better than feces and worms in their mother’s bowels.
48 Attend now, Rama, to what I am going to say in another way with regard to advancing in knowledge and improving one’s understanding. 49Hear now a new method in which this scripture is learned, and its true sense interpreted to people by means of its exposition.
50 A simile or example serves to explain the unapparent meaning of a passage by illustration with something that is well known and which may be useful to help understanding. 51 It is hard to understand a meaning without an example, just as it is useless to have a lamp-stand at home without setting a lamp on it at night. 52 The similes and examples I have used to make you understand are all derived from some cause or other, but they lead to knowledge of the uncaused Brahma. 53 Whenever comparisons and compared objects are used to express cause and effect, they apply to all cases except Brahma (who is without a cause).
54 The examples that explain the nature of Brahma are to be taken in their partial sense. 55 The examples given to explain divine nature are to be understood as referring to a world seen in a dream. 56 In such cases, no material example can apply to the incorporeal Brahma, and no optional and ambiguous expression can give a definite idea of him.
57 Those who find fault with examples of an imperfect or contradictory nature cannot blame our comparison of the appearance of the world to a vision in dream.
58 Earlier and later developments of this non-entity (the world) are considered to exist in the present moment. Waking and dreaming states are known from our boyhood. 59 The comparison of the existence of the world with the dreaming state is exact in all instances because our desires, thoughts, pleasures and displeasures, and all other acts are the same in both states. 60 This work and all others composed by other authors on the means of salvation have pursued the same plan in their explanation of the knowable. 61 The resemblance of the world to a dream is found also in the scriptures and the Vedanta. It is not to be explained in a word, but requires a continued course of lectures. 62 Such writings also cite comparisons of the world to the images in a dream or an imaginary paradise of the mind in preference to other similes.
63 Whenever a causality is shown by a simile of something which is no cause, there the simile is applied in some particular and not all its general attributes. 64 The partial similarity of this comparison with some property of the compared object is unhesitatingly acknowledged by the learned in all their illustrations.
65 When the light of the senses is compared with a lamp, the reference is to brightness only and not its stand, holder, oil or wick. 66 The compared object is to be understood in its capacity of admitting a partial comparison, as in the instance of sense and light. The simile consists in the brightness of both. 67 When the knowledge of a knowable thing is derived from some particular property of the comparison, it is the subject of a suitable simile in order to understand the sense of some great saying. 68 We must not overshadow our intellect by bad logic, or set at nothing our common sense by an unholy skepticism.
69 We have by our reasoning well weighed the verbosity of our opinionative adversaries and never set aside the holy sayings of the Vedas, even when they are at variance with the opinions of our families. 70 O Rama, we have stored in our minds the truths resulting from the unanimous voice of all the scriptures, whereby it will be evident that we have attained the object of our belief, apart from the fabricated systems of heretical scriptures.
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Chapter 19 — Interpretation of Comparisons in the Yoga Vasishta
1 It is the similarity of some particular property that constitutes a simile. A complete similarity between the comparison and the compared object destroys their difference. 2 From the knowledge of parables follows an awareness of the one soul that is discussed in the scriptures (Vedanta). The peace that attends reflection on the holy word is called extinction (nirvana).
3 Therefore it is useless to talk of either complete or partial agreement between example and the exemplar. It is enough for the purpose of the comparison to comprehend the meaning of the holy word in some way or other. 4 Know your peace to be the chief good and be diligent to secure it. When you have food to eat, it is useless to talk about how you came by it. 5 A cause is compared with something that has no cause at all, and a comparison is given to express its partial agreement in some respect with the compared object.
6 We must not be so absorbed in the pleasures of the world as to be devoid of all sense, like some blind frogs that generate and grow fat amidst rocks. 7 Be attentive to these parables and learn your best state from them. For their internal peace, all reasonable men should abide by the lessons of religious works, by the teachings of the scriptures, by the rules of humanity, prudence and spiritual knowledge, and by the continued practice of acts of religious merit. 9 Let the wise continue their inquiries until they obtain their internal peace and until they arrive at the fourth stage (turiya) of joy known by its name of indestructible tranquility. 10 Whoever has attained this fourth state of tranquil joy, whether he is alive or not, or a house-holder or an ascetic, has really passed beyond the limits of the ocean of the world. 11 Such a man remains steady at his place like the calm sea undisturbed by Mandara Mountain, whether he has performed his duties according to the scriptures and codes of ethics or not.
12 When there is a partial agreement of the comparison with the nature of the compared object, it is to be considered maturely for the well understanding of the point in question and not to be made a matter of controversy. 13 From every form of argument you are to understand the intelligible. The confused disputant is blind both to right and false reasoning.
14 The notion of self (soul or God) is self-evident within the consciousness of the mind. Anyone who prattles meaninglessly about this truth is said to be defective in his understanding. 15 It is partly by pride and partly by their doubts that the ignorant are led to argue about their perceptions, and thereby they obscure the region of their inner understanding, just like clouds obscure the clear sky.
16 The evidence of perception forms the fountain-head of all sorts of proofs, just like the sea is the mainspring of all its waters. It is this alone which is used in this place, as you shall learn below. 17 The wise say that substance of all sensations is super-conscious apprehension, and it is truly their right concept which is meant by their perception. 18 Thus the notion, knowledge and certainty of things as derived from words are called the triple perception of the living soul.
19 This soul is consciousness. The ego with its cognition of the objects as manifested to us is called a category (i.e., dualist; viz. samvid,samvitti and padartha) 20 Consciousness manifests in the form of the passing world by the multiplicity of acts and the shifts of its volition and choices, just like water exhibits itself in the shapes of waves and bubbles. 21 It was not caused before, then it developed itself as the cause of everything in its act of creation at the beginning of creation, and it became perceptible by itself. 22 Causation is a product of the discrimination of the living soul, previously in a state of non-existence, until it became manifest as existent in the form of the material world.
23 Reason says that the same being that destroys the body also produced it of itself and manifests itself in its transcendental magnitude (of intelligence). 24 When a man, through the exercise of his reason, comes to know the soul, he finds before him the presence of the indescribable being. 25 The mind being free from desire, the organs of sense are relieved from their action and the soul becomes devoid of the results of its past actions. 26 The mind being set at ease and freed from its desires, the organs of action are restrained from their acts, like an engine stopped in its motion.
27 Sensuousness is reckoned as the cause that puts the machinery of the mind to work, just as a rope tied to a log and fastened about the neck of a ram propels him to fight. 28 The sight of external objects and the purposes of the internal mind set all men at play, just like the inner force of air puts wind in motion.
29 All spiritual knowledge is holy wherever it is found in anyone. It adds a luster to the body and mind like that of the expanded region of the sky. 30 He sees the appearances of all visible objects and maintains his own position among them. He views the spirit in the same light in which it presents itself in any place. 31 Wherever the Universal Soul appears itself in any light, it remains there and then in the same form in which it exhibits itself to us. 32 The Universal Soul being alike in all, the looker and the object seen are both the same being. The looker and the looked being one, their appearance as otherwise is all unreal.
33 Hence the world is without a cause. All existence is evidently Brahma himself, the perceptible cause of all. Hence perception is the basis of evidence, and inference and others as analogy and verbal testimony are only parts of it.
34 Now let the worshippers of fate who apply the term “destiny” to all their efforts cast off their false faith and let the brave exert their courage to attain their highest state. 35 Continue, O Rama, to consider the true and lucid doctrines of successive teachers until you can arrive at a clear conception of the infinitely Supreme Being in your own mind.
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Chapter 20 — On Wisdom & Good Conduct
1 It is reasoning in the company of the respectable that leads most efficiently to the improvement of the understanding, and then to the making of a great man who has all the characteristics of greatness. 2 Whatever man excels in any quality, that distinguishes him. Therefore learn and improve your understanding from him.
3 True greatness consists in quietness and other virtues. Without a knowledge of this it is impossible, O Rama, to be successful in anything. 4Learning produces quiet and other qualities and increases the virtues of good people. All this is praised because of their good effects on the mind, just like the rain is praised for growing new sprouts. 5 The qualities of quietude and other virtues serve to increase the best knowledge, just like a sacrifice with rice serves to produce blissful rains for the harvest. 6 As learning produces the qualities of quiet and the like, so do these qualities give rise to learning. Thus they serve to grow each other, just as lake and lotuses contribute to their mutual benefit. 7 Learning is produced by right conduct as good conduct results from learning. Thus wisdom and morality are natural helps to one another.
8 An intelligent man who is possessed of quietude, meekness and good conduct, should practice wisdom and follow the ways of good people.9 Unless one practices wisdom and good conduct in an equal degree, he will never be successful in either of them. 10 Both of these should be joined together like the song united with percussion, or like the farmer and his wife sowing seeds and driving away the birds. 11 It is by practice of wisdom and right conduct that good people are enabled to acquire both in an equal degree.
12 I have already expounded to you, O Rama, the rule of good conduct. Now I will explain to you fully the way of gaining learning.
13 Learning leads to fame, long life and the acquisition of the object of your exertion. Therefore the intelligent should learn the good sciences from those who have studied and mastered them. 14 By hearing (these lectures) with a clear understanding, you will surely attain the state of perfection, just like dirty water is purified by infusion of kata fruit.
15 A sage who has known the knowable has his mind drawn imperceptibly to the state of bliss. Once known and felt, the impression of that highest state of unbounded joy is hard to loose at anytime.
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YOGA VASISHTA MAHA RAMAYANA
BOOKII – LONGING FOR LIBERATION-MUMUKSHU KHANDA