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Yoga Vasishta Pages


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Shivabalayogi & Yoga Vasishta

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The Underlying Story

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The Historical Vasishta

Organization of the Book

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Humor in Yoga Vasishta

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Endless Possibilities

Some Stories from Yoga Vasishta

The Underlying Story
of Yoga Vasishta

The spiritual treatise attributed to the sage Valmiki, Yoga Vasishta, is about Rama awakening to God realization through the spiritual power and guidance of Sage Vasishta.  That guidance consisted of reasoning and discrimination, a path of yoga often referred to as jnana yoga — the path of discrimination.  Rama asks questions and Vasishta gives answers over a twenty-two day period.  In the process, Vasishta imparts yogic powers and Rama, himself a divine avatar, is able to understand his own true nature.  Vasishtha awakens Rama.

The subject of the book is a lesson by itself.  This is Rama the avatar and incarnation of the god Vishnu.  Rama himself is worshipped as God by many in India.  Yoga Vasishta teaches us that even gods forget their true nature when they incarnate and they require a God-realized master to wake them up.

It is a very long book, about 32,000 slokas or verses of two lines each.  Twenty-two times in the book, Valmiki relates that the grand assembly listening to the discourse retired for the evening.  The twenty-third day was one of confirmation and celebration, so Vasishta’s discourses, sermons and stories extended over twenty-two days.  At a comfortable spoken pace of 120 words a minute, that works out to about five to six hours of constant dialogue each day.

Most of us would be ecstatic (no pun intended) to attain God-realization in only twenty-two days.  But again, Vasishta was the perfect teacher and Rama was the perfect student.

The book itself states that simply reading it can evoke enlightenment.  “Whoever hears and attends to these discourses of Rama and Vasishta is sure to be relieved in every state of life and be united with [God] after his release.” (VIA.128.109)  (Citations are to Book, Chapter, and sloka.)

“Reading this Vasishta Maharamayana is sure to produce the knowledge of self-liberation in its reader, even during his lifetime in this world.”  (VIB.95.25)

“There was never a better scripture than this, nor is any like this now in existence or likely to be in fashion in the future. . . . This is the best among the principal works of the scriptures.  It is easily intelligible and delightful.  There is nothing new here, only what is well known in spiritual philosophy.  Let a man read the many stories contained in this book with delight.  He undoubtedly will find this book the best of its kind.”  (VIB.103.25, 42-43)

Yet among Vasishta’s (or Valmiki’s) praise for the book, it also recognizes that it may not be to everyone’s taste.  “Should this scripture prove distasteful, owing to it being the composition of a holy sage, then the student may consult the sacred scriptures to perfect his spiritual knowledge.”  (VIB.175.76)

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