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RAMA & YOGA VASHISTA

The Mind alone is the Creator of the world; the Mind alone is the Supreme Person.
-Yoga Vasistha

The Genesis

Yoga Vasistha, also known as Vasistha’s Yoga, is a Hindu spiritual text traditionally attributed to Valmiki.. “Yoga Vasistha” is one of the most popular and influential ancient Hindu texts. The earliest work in Sanskrit on Vedanta of the highest order is the Vasishtha Maha Ramayana or Yoga Vasishta. This monumental work lucidly epitomizes the deep Universal Spiritual Principles of excellent Sanatana Dharama . It is really a vast store of wisdom. he name is derived from the sage Vasishtha. Though the book is called Yoga Vasishtha, it treats of Jnana only. Practical Yoga is dealt with in two stories. The word “Yoga” is used in the title of this work in its generic sense. It is known by the name Jnana Vasishtham also. When the right time comes, one is blessed to hear about any scripture and a right Master to lead one to their ultimate goal.This scripture teaches us the art of self realization.

About Rama

Rama is considered as Vishnu’s perfect incarnation. He is considered purushottama, meaning the “ideal and supreme personality.” Sage Vasistha named Kausalya’s son Sri Rama, since He had the power of attraction in Him. Ramayathi Ithi Ramah (that which attracts is the principle of Rama). The name “Rama” was given to Him according to His birth star. His form was highly brilliant and resplendent. As per the tradition, Vasishtha wrote the name Rama on rice.
Born as the eldest son to king Dasaratha, Rama was considered a superior soul as he was said to possess exceptional qualities. He had three brothers: Bharata, Laksmana and Shatrughna. He married Sita, the daughter of King Janaka. Sita was the avatar of Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu. Rama went into exile along with his wife to keep up his father’s promise to Kaikeyi, one of the queens of King Dasaratha. He assumed the throne on his return from exile. Rama is believed to belong to the treta yuga, which is the second out of the four ages of mankind.
Metaphysically, Rama symbolises the cosmic and universal spirit.

About Yoga Vasishtha

In the text, Yoga Vasishtha, the great sage Vasishtha talks to Rama, the prince of Ayodhya thus...
Rama is depressed and questions about the purpose of life.
The story goes like this. Vishwamitra comes to claim the boys to take them to the forest to fight the rakshasas (demons) who were disturbing the rituals. Dasharatha had promised Vishwamitra that he would send the boys but he was worried for them. He said, “Why do you want to take Rama, he is just a boy, only 16 years old. How can he fight the rakshasas”. Vasishtha intervenes on behalf of Vishwamitra, “O King, you cannot say this as you have made a promise. If you promise something and don’t keep it, who will keep a promise in this country”?

Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the Name of Rama. Constant repetition of this sweet Name gives one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, one should contemplate on the Name of Rama incessantly.

Rama is sent for. The attendant, who goes to fetch him, comes back and says, “Sir, I don’t know what to tell Rama, he looks so sad..., he had gone to the Himalayas and after his return, he wants to know what life around him is about. He’s not eating or drinking and he’s not interested in the dancing girls.
So, Vasishtha has a conversation with him. Rama opens the dialogue in Yoga Vasishtha saying, “What is the purpose of life? Why should I fight the rakshasas? We are born and we die in pain and suffering. Is this life?” Vasishtha begins to teach him. This is Yoga Vasishtha, the ‘yoga’ is used in the title, not because it’s some kind of a practice, but it is a kind of an inquiry. Like in the Bhagavad Gita, all the 18 chapters have Yoga in their titles.
So yoga is a mode by which you try to find the truth, therefore, Yoga Vasishtha.

The Structure of yoga Vasishtha

It is divided into six books comprised of more than 29,000 scriptures that contain a dialogue between and stories of Vasistha, a Hindu sage, and Rama, the seventh incarnation of the Hindu god, Vishnu.

The sixth book of the “Yoga Vasistha” contains portions on yoga practice as well as describes the state of enlightenment and bliss.

In the text, Rama is dissatisfied with the state of the world and is seeking knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment.

Within the six books of scripture, the stories told by Vasistha in his dialogue with Rama unfold major yogic and Hindu philosophical and religious themes, including:

  • Human suffering and the nature of life
  • Desire for freedom from human suffering
  • Liberation from the nature of life and human suffering comes from spiritually living
  • Efforts required to live a spiritual life
  • Theories of existence, including creativity and free will
  • The role of meditation in spiritual liberation for practitioners
  • The bliss of enlightenment

The Yoga Vasishtha contains a system of ancient philosophical thought unique in its kind.The Yoga Vasishtha deals with the subject of effecting union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul amidst all the trials and tribulations of life. It prescribes various directions for the union of the Jivatman and Paramatman.

It is, in essence, a conversation between Vasistha and Prince Rama, that between a great, enlightened sage and a seeker of liberation. The text discusses Consciousness, Cosmology, Nature Of The Universe And Consciousness, The Ultimate Dissolution Of Body, The Liberation Of The Soul And The Non-Dual Nature Of Existence. Those who practise Atma Chintana / Vedantic meditation based on the principles elucidated in it, will find a priceless treasure in Yoga Vasishta. He who studies the book with great interest and one-pointedness of mind cannot go without attaining Self-realisation. The practical hints on Sadhana are unique in this excellent teachings. Even the most worldly-minded man will become dispassionate and will attain peace of mind, solace and consolation.

Vasishtha, the great sage, taught the principles of Vedanta to his royal pupil, Sri Rama, the victor of Ravana and hero of the epic, Ramayana. He narrated beautiful and interesting stories to illustrate the principles.