Yogavaasishta is a remarkable Advaitic text in many ways. It is at once a theoretical text and a practical Manual. It combines the abstruse Vedantic concepts of Non-duality with simple doable tips and presents them in an engrossing manner. Sage Vasishta often uses the technique of bringing home the most intricate philosophical point through a fictitious tale crafted on the spot with imaginary characters representing with high fidelity the point to be illustrated in an unforgettable manner. One such story is of Kadamba Daasura**. It tells us about the untenability of the perceived world. Daasura is shown to be living on the last tender leaf of the topmost branch of a Kadamba tree (Anthocephelus – Latin name: Adina cordifolia) where sustenance for any being, leave alone a human, is impossible. Sage Vasishta intends to impress on us that the sustenance of a world (which we take to be real and functioning) to be equally impossible.
Daasura teaches his son that the world is a creature of the ‘thought’ that thinks it. Intent on ending the world, the son who is hardly in his early teens enquires what is thought and how thought itself originates and what are the means of annihilating the thoughts. Daasura’s response to these questions is very profound and a summary is presented below.
[Extracts from Sarga 54, Chapter IV – Sustenance, Yogavaasishta.]
“There is Supreme Self. It is infinite. The ‘existence’ principle – the Beingness in everything in this world – is Its real form. Its essential nature is Consciousness. Another name for this is Chit (Pure Knowledge). Still another name is Drik.
“If we refer to Consciousness as the Seer, the world is the ‘seen’ (drisya). If we call Consciousness as Pure Knowledge (Chit), the world is what is ‘known’ (chetya). Drik – Drisya and Chit – Chetya are word pairs that are linked. Drik is not truly related to Drisya. In the same way, we may say that Chit is not related to Chetya. Though unrelated, Chit inclines to go towards Chetya. That tendency to go is “thought – sankalpa.” This is the seedling stage for thought process. That is the way thought originates.
“Pure Knowledge is Real. Chetya is unreal. If Knowledge tends towards Chetya, it means Reality is tending towards unreality. What comes out as a result will be unreal, but not Real. So thought has to be unreal only and never real. The seedling of thought when it grows and swells brings out the “you-me”, “we-they”, “this-that” differences and thereby manifests the whole world. Hence, the entire world is unreal!
“Please be aware: every thought is untrue. Do not think of anything hereafter. Do not ruminate over the past. This is the best course for eradicating thought.
“To say, ‘I will not think any more’ is also a thought. This is referred to as “nullifying thought (asankalpana sankalpa).” This can wipe out all other thoughts and also obliterate itself.
“There is also a slightly different method. You have a mind. That which thinks is mind. Think without a break on the truth of Self in your mind. This can also eliminate the mind.
“There is yet another method to stop thoughts. Think of the world as an illusion. So far you have been thinking that the world is real and it exists. Hence it settled down as if it is rock solid. It is creating all sorts of problems for you. Now start thinking strongly that it is all unreal. That’s all; it will be unreal!!
“Why go that far! Understand clearly through scriptural words, through logic and through experience that the world is unreal. That’s enough! Attachments and hatred will diminish in you. The intensities of happiness and sorrow will reduce. The world becomes totally unreal!”
Son of Daasura: “Master! If mind is the one creating and wiping out the whole world, why does the mind not carve out the world in a manner convenient to it? Does any one think of a fantasy that hurts oneself?”
Daasura: “Why not? People with a fickle mind do that! Does not a monkey in the forest stick its leg into a clutter of branches and become crippled ? Your mind is covered with the impressions of past deeds. It is like a fuzzy mirror. By its very nature, it is resident on the substratum Consciousness (adhistana chaitanya). But what’s the use? Under the influence of the muck gathered, the connection to the Consciousness modifies into a vibration which appears as visible objective world, and infects the mind with a new taint of capriciousness. That’s why your mind behaves like the proverbial monkey in the jungle and hurts itself.
“The plaque on a copper pot will go away by polishing. The plaque on the mind will go away by the exercise of purging the thoughts. This is not all that difficult a job! After all you are not trying to get rid of something that is really there. What you are doing is to get rid of something that is not really there, but appears to be there! Can any non-existing thing stick for long? Hence, strive hard for the annihilation of thought.”
** Daasura is pronounced as : ‘D’ as th in the; ‘aa’ as a in far; ‘su’ as soo in soon; ‘ra’ as ra in raw