5. Yoga Vashisht, Creation Of The Universe

Shiva and Parvati

by Vashista and Singh Grewal

Chapter 4 | Chapter 6

And the Rishi Vashisht, preceptor of the Divine Ram, went on:

"The poison plant of the world's illusion springs from the mind entangled in sensuous enjoyment. But it is through mind alone, that the ills of mind can be cured and eradicated. Those who live in this world without attachment to worldly objects, like a duck in a pond, are the true conquerors of the mind. For what are they—but vermin—those who cling to the objects of the senses, and taste not of the fruit of renunciation? One ought to rid the mind of all thoughts of ego, and fix it on the Soul Supreme, according to the teachings of the Vedas (Four books of Wisdom), to attain complete bliss and harmony in life.

"Even as one thorn removes another thorn, so the higher mind of a man, will remove the impurities from the lower mind of man. To cleanse the mind of its defilements and desires is the first step on the high road to salvation, trodden by the great Saint and Sages.

"When the mind that wavers and flickers like a flame in the wind, is steadied and made one-pointed, as it were, through desirelessness, then alone is the Real Truth that sustains the Universe made manifest in all its refulgent majesty. May you tread this Sacred and Ancient Path (Yoga), O Ram, and by knowing the true nature of your own self, and freeing your mind from all worldly entanglements, attain to the highest bliss of salvation. May your mind, freed from hankerings and longings for the objects of the world, be merged in God-Consciousness. Past, present and future become as one, to he who has controlled his mind, and conquered his worldly desires. When all the shining tinsel of the world becomes a mere nothing. then alone is mind conquered. These thoughts of attachment and possession,—that this is mine, that is thine, etc., belong to the realm of the lower mind. When all such lower thoughts of differentiation are lost, and the Atma, One behind all, is recognized, then alone the sorrows of the world cease to exist. May you, O Ram, attain to that Divine State. When the mind is fully controlled and the desires arising from it are destroyed, then alone comes surcease from pains and afflictions that torment humanity. When the baser passions of the mind are slain, then one attains perfect peace, and becomes, as it were, the fountain head of peace in the world for the salvation of suffering humanity.

"By meditating on the heart, spiritual Wisdom awakens, all doubts vanish, and the mind is contented. This mind of ours, is susceptible to all kinds of influences, hankering after worldly pleasures, and this is the greatest obstacle in the path of salvation. Control your. mind with the thought that these worldly objects are the merest tinsel compared to the liberation which is a veritable treasure-trove of all bliss and happiness. Then will you be freed from all worldly thoughts of possession and differentiation, arising from an overgrown ego.

The Divine State of liberation, where one is freed from the cycle of birth and death, confers untold bliss, and is everlasting like the Eternal One Himself.

"It is indeed hard to find in this world, a mind really free from the snare of the senses. To control this ever-fluctuating mind and make it one-pointed is the aim of all meditation, and is the theme of all discourses on metaphysics. Constant meditation on the One Unchanging Reality of the Universe, which is God, the Self Supreme. The mind takes on the qualities it meditates upon. For that reason the wise keep within strict control, those tendencies of the mind which incline it toward the baser objects, and in the end attain the Bliss of complete freedom, liberation, or Nirvana.

"The moment desires and distractions crop up in the mind, they should be weeded out. The destruction of sensuous desires is akin to the destruction of ignorance. Desirelessness leads to the peace of salvation. Constant effort is necessary to attain such bliss. With the realization of the Supreme and Sustaining Reality of the Universe, one sees that all worldly objects are false and unreal to the core,—mere illusions, nothing else, like bubbles on the deep."

Prince Ram asked: "Tell us, O Saint, how one can destroy ignorance?"

Rishi Vashisht, the Preceptor, replied; "Through ignorance it is, O Ram, that the Atma, which is eternal, is forced to go though the cycle of births and deaths. To conceive of the illusion, which besets the embodied soul as real, is ignorance, and a barrier to seeing true reality. A man, free from births and deaths, and realizing the all-refulgent reality of the Universe, perceives that desires are a creation of Maya. Extinction of lower desires is the extinction of ignorance."

Prince Ram asked his preceptor, the Holy Vashisht: "All visible objects of name and form, O Lord, you say are illusions, and that illusion is destroyed by meditation on the true reality of the Atma. Pray, what is this thing called Atma?"

Rishi Vashisht replied: "It is the Wisdom of the Brahman1 (God), who has no visible form. All things of the world, perceived through our senses, contain the essence of Brahman, such as growth, mind, birth and death, which are illusory, not real. Brahman alone is true and self-existent, the Creator and Upholder of the Universe. Out of that Supreme Soul, which is Eternal, Immortal, and Absolute, arose the intelligence that governs the Universe. This Atmic Jnan is the Absolute Self shining every where.

"From the Brahman arise different forces and powers like waves and currents in the ocean. To realize Oneself as Brahman is the goal; but to know the soul as distinct from the body is to know the truth and be free from ignorance. It is only the fancy of fools, that gives illusion the garb of reality. The wise have pierced the veil of illusion by the shafts of their Jnan (Wisdom). Know then, this body, this wealth, these kith and kin are not real. Atma alone is real and eternal. Perform actions in this world without being absorbed by them."

Sri Ram then said: "How marvelous it is that illusion, which is unreal, should cause so much pain and suffering in the world, and that which appears so solid and concrete should be but a manifestation of Maya. O Master, I cannot believe this Universe really came out of the unreality. How do you account for the pains of King Lavana?"

Saint Vashisht answered: "King Lavana was not bound by the results of his actions, as he performed them without attachment, and with complete indifference to the outcome. One morning while sitting in solitude, the King fell into a profound reverie and thought of performing mentally the Raj-suya Vajna, as performed by his powerful ancestor Harish Chandra. He thought of all the accessories to the Sacrifice, and in imagination offered oblations to the gods, and went through all the details of the sacrifice. When he awoke from his reverie, it was night-fall. It is a rule that whoever performs the Royal Sacrifice, must undergo great pain and suffering. So the King of the gods, Indra, sent a celestial messenger to inflict suffering on King Lavana. The mendicant, who appeared before the King, and put him into a trance in which he suffered cruelly, was none other than Indra's messenger. This I discovered by my ascetic powers. So you will see from this episode, that actions performed even mentally have far-reaching consequences.

The story of King Lavana is as follows: A mendicant came to the Court of King Lavana and besought him to witness has powers. On the King consenting, the mendicant waved a peacock feather before the King's face, and immediately the King sank into unconsciousness, while his body writhed fearfully. When some time later the King recovered consciousness, his minister asked him what he had experienced. The King replied "I felt dizzy when the mendicant waved the fan. Then I saw a horse coming toward me. On the mendicant's suggestion I rode the horse and was carried away to a dense forest, where I fell from the horse and felt very thirsty. While I lay dying of thirst, I saw a young woman pass my way with a pitcher of water. I asked for water, but the girl refused, saying that she was low-born and could not give water to the King unless he married her and promised to live with her folks. In my extremity, I consented. I married the girl, but found it very hard to live with her folks, who were no better than barbarians. I moved up on the hill top and built a house. There I lived with the girl for eight years, and we had two sons. Then there was a severe draught, and as a result, terrible famine. People died by the hundreds and thousands for want of food. I started, with my wife and sons, for some other land. On the way, my wife died from fatigue and exhaustion and my sons cried for food. Unable to see them suffer, I killed myself. Just at this point I recovered consciousness." So said the King, and all present marvelled at the strangeness of the dream. They looked around for the ascetic but he was nowhere to be found.—by the Author.

"O Ram," continued the Rishi Vashisht, "I will speak to you of the nature of Jnan and Ajnana—Wisdom and Ignorance. Each of these is seven-fold in character. Wisdom enables men to perceive the true reality of the Universe and thereby obtain salvation; whereas, ignorance, by regarding the physical body as the real "I", leads to bondage.

"Now, the difference between a seer and one who is denied spiritual vision. The seers are those who have conquered illusions, and have awakened to a realization of the true reality of the Universe. The ignorant slaves of illusion. Shallow human intelligence causes doubts and disbeliefs and leads men astray. This is but delusion. Wisdom leaves no room for doubts or disbeliefs. To the man who has attained true Wisdom, the human soul and the Supreme Soul becomes One.

"The seven states of ignorance are Bindu-jagrat, Jagrat, Maha-jagrat, Swapnajagrat, Swapuna, Sushupti, Bindu-jagrat is the primary state of partial perception. In the second state the individual begins to perceive the difference of mine, thine and his. In the third state the man begins to have some conception of the relationship between man and the Universe. In the fourth state the mind realizes its supremacy over matter. The fifth state is really the dream state. In the sixth state the individual recalls to mind things long past. In the seventh state the individual realizes the futility of all his previous states, fraught with pain and suffering.

"There are likewise seven states of Wisdom, although any number of divisions and subdivisions can be made. These seven states of Wisdom lead to Nirvana. They are Subeccha or right desire, Vicharan or contemplation, Tanumansi, the state in which the mind is alert, Satwapatti or the generation of the serenity of the mind, Asansakti or detachment of the mind from worldly things, Padarth Bhavana, the perception of the truth and reality, and Turya or light. These states free the seeker from delusion, and lead gradually to complete Nirvana or salvation and to the end of pain and suffering. Subhecha or right desire is of course the longing and desire for spiritual enlightenment. Vicharana is defined as meditation or contemplation of the things of spirit and mind, contemplation of the Divinity that pervades the Universe, and the realization of the Godhead, These two states lead to the third stage of keen intellectual perception, which naturally leads to the real truth or divine philosophy. Atma Jnan (Wisdom of the self) brings about emancipation from the thraldom of worldly things. This state confers ineffable bliss and enlightenment on the seeker. By logical sequence in that state of advancement, the student realizes his relationship with the Divine, and his relationship with the Universe. here he sees, knows and understands all. Then the last state of complete enlightenment and mastery is reached, when the very presence of the man radiates spiritual light. Such a soul is free from the cycle of birth and death. He is called Jivan-mukta (bodily emancipated). These souls are free indeed. Free front worldly longings and desires, pleasure, pair, success, failure, praise, blame, profit, loss, victory and defeat are as one to them. They have attained salvation by the continued discipline of their mind, by unceasing effort in the realm of divine philosophy.

"Rising by degrees from one spiritual stage of enlightenment to another, until having passed through the seven stages, you attain liberation. Those who have subjected their mind and acquired true perception of the Divine within, are truly great, worthy of every respect, and adoration. Others have to go through innumerable births and deaths. One desire leading to another, thus the wheels of Maya move on, and the soul is bound more and more, until true awakening comes, and the man starts on the path of enlightenment. This path begins with the desire for spiritual light, and attains completion with acquirement of that light, by means of the seven stages described above. Such a one realizes Brahman and becomes one with Brahman, the first Cause of the Universe, the Source of Ineffable Bliss, the Ocean of Power, the Sun of Spiritual Illumination, Immortal, Untreated, All-pervading, All-seeing, All-knowing, All-powerful, Supreme Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the Universe."

Rishi Vashisht continued: "O Ram, I will narrate further the story of King Lavana to illustrate the working of the Maya. On recovering consciousness, the King was seized with a great longing to visit the strange country he had dreamed of, so he started for the Vindhya mountains. and in due time reached the impenetrable forest that cover its slopes.

He wandered about hither and thither unlit he reached the North, where he came upon a settlement of the very people he had dreamed about. And wonder of wonders, these people were actually suffering from famine and in a miserable plight. The King and his courtiers saw an old woman bewailing the loss of her children, who had died during the famine. As they listened to her lament, they discovered with much surprise that the old woman was weeping for the girl whom the King had married in his dream, by whom he had two sons, and who had died while on the way to a land of plenty. Greatly moved by the incident, the King pacified the old woman, giving she and her tribesmen food and clothing, and conducting them to his kingdom. He then sought an explanation of the mystery, at the feet of the learned. After due discipline, meditation, and study he attained the Bliss of Nirvana. It is thus, O Ram, O Ram, that illusion works and gives the unreal, the appearance of the real."

Ram asked: "How was it, O Master, that what the King saw in his dream actually came to pass?"

Muni Vashisht replied: "You will better understand this incident by the story of Gandhi, which I will narrate for your benefit later on. What happened in this case was not really true, only a conjurer's trick played by Indra's messenger on the consciousness of the King and those aborigines on the Vindhya Mountains. The King experienced in his unconscious state, and the tribesmen saw in their conscious state, that was all. But that is how illusion works, tricking us into believing as real that which is not, piercing the veil of illusion, O Ram, by the shining shaft of Jnan (Wisdom of the self). May you attain that state of bliss, my son, in which the human soul becomes one with the Divine—the state of complete Nirvana. May you realize the Divinity within you, and know it to be the same that brought the world into being and pervades and sustains it. Conquer, O Ram, by ceaseless meditation, the ignorance of illusion, and attain the One Omnipotent and Omniscient God, from whom the world evolved, and in whom it resolves itself."

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Suggestions for Further Reading

1. The original text used the word "Brahma". It has been changed to Brahman in this edition at Hinduwebsite.com as per the beliefs of Vedanta school of Hinduism