It requires no design or desire on the part of an actor to act his part, whereto he is led by the tenor of his prior propensities (of past lives); as a potter’s wheel is propelled by the pristine momentum, without requiring the application of continued force for its whirling motion. So O sinless Rama! mind our actions to be under the direction of our previous impressions, and not under the exertion of our present efforts.

Should Rama act in accordance with his previous impressions or the exertions of his present efforts?

From verse 7.1.9 of Yoga Vasistha.
English translation by Vihari-Lala Mitra (1891)

  • 1
    It is not an instruction to Rama, but a request for Rama to guide us into acting from our past knowledge, and not be distracted by the immediacy of a situation. Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 12:09
  • 1
    I was about to vote to close this as off-topic, but refrained from doing so, because I see that the balance of the existing votes would result in the question being migrated to ELL, where it would, I fear, cause a great deal of confusion.
    – jsw29
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 19:14
  • Probably should be migrated to Hinduism.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 22:11
  • If you are interested only in understanding the passage (rather than analysing the use of English language that it exemplifies), you should consult another translation.
    – jsw29
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


This hangs on the meaning of mind. In this context it is a verb. When prefixed by the exclamatory “O Rama” (a vocative), it becomes a command or request.

To mind = to remember a piece of information when you are making a decision or thinking about a matter

Cambridge dictionary

Vocative. The imperative is often used with a vocative. This is where you mention a person’s name or some other way of identifying the person to whom a command or request is being addressed.

Collins dictionary David, come here!

Hence, the bold prose is a request to Rama to recognise that our actions are directed by previous experience and not by our present circumstance.

Edited. Comments persuade me that there is an ambiguity here.

It has been argued that Rama is a god (this is additional context) and that Rama may not be commanded. However, it is often the cases that gods are prayed to (=requested rather than commanded) in terms of command. For example, in Christianity we have "Lead us not into temptation". That being so, my interpretation stands.

The argued alternative is that "mind our actions ..." = "please influence us to ...", which seems an odd sort of request - to ignore the present in favour of the past.

  • 1
    To mind is not used here in the sense captured by the quoted definition, but in the sense of to take care of (as in 'minding the children').
    – jsw29
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 19:20
  • @jsw29 I think not. Rama is not requested to look after anything; he is requested to "keep something in mind" . I stand by my interpretation.
    – Anton
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 19:31
  • I am with @jsw29 here. Rama is a god, and you don't tell a god what to do, but pray that this perfect god (O sinless Rama) will look after you, and keep you mindful of what you know you should do, and not be distracted: dharma. Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 21:45
  • I see your points and have tried to accommodate them in my edit.
    – Anton
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 21:57
  • The last sentence of the edit shows that you have not understood the text at all. The point is that the past, with Rama's help, will get you through the present time in the right way. Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 22:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.