Yoga Vasistha

Yoga Vasistha is a spiritual instruction given to Rama by sage Vasistha. After settling down as King of Ayodhya Lord Rama is disgusted with the prospect of continuing his worldly duties. He approaches the sage seeking knowledge and the means to shed his mortal coil. The six books of the Yoga Vasishta chronicle the progressive states which Rama undergoes in his search for enlightenment and finally in shedding his mortal coil.

By Madhuri Y

YOGA Vasistha is believed to have been written by sage Valmiki. It is also known as Maha Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasistha Ramayana and Jnanavasistha. Translated into Persian in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is based on Advaita Vedanta, that is, there exists one reality and one God.

The Yoga Vasistha comprises six books:
1. Vairagya Prakaranam is about Rama’s frustration with life and suffering, and states the need for dispassion.
2. Mumukshuvayahara Prakaranam describes the nature of people who seek liberation.
3. Utpatti Prakaranam speaks of the birth of all creation and the birth of spiritual inclination in Lord Rama.
4. Sthiti Prakaranam speaks of existence, the nature of the world and of Advaita or non-duality. It also speaks of free will and of the human creative power.
5. Upashama Prakaranam speaks of meditation, patience, the feeling of oneness and its power to liberate a person.
6. Nirvana Prakaranam speaks of freedom and liberation and of an enlightened Rama.

How Kacha Attains Liberation

VASISTHA narrates the story of muni Kacha who is the son of Brihaspati. One day, Kacha approaches his father and seeks the path of enlightenment and the means to separate prana from mundane cares.
Brihaspati tells him that the ocean of births can be crossed only by renouncing everything. Kacha retires to the forest to meditate. At the end of eight years, when Brihaspati visits him, Kacha asks him why despite renouncing everything, his mental pain has not subsided.
Advising him that he should give up everything, Brihaspati departs. Kacha now gives up even the bark of trees worn as clothes and all other essentials. After some years, he visits his father, prostrates and asks why he is unable to get peace of mind even though he has renounced everything.
Brihaspati responds that mastery over mind leads to renunciation. It is only then that Kacha can free himself of all pain.
Kacha understands that so far, he has been inquiring into what the mind is and had not been able to come to a conclusion. He finally understands that any effort to separate the body from the mind is useless because they themselves are different from one another. Even this understanding does not resolve his doubt regarding the mind. Once again, he seeks Brihaspati’s advice.
The guru tells him that wise people understand that the mind is nothing but ahankara, or the ‘I’. ‘I’ creates impurities in soul.
Kacha recognises that it is difficult to avoid the idea of ‘I’ and asks his father how it can be broken.
Brihaspati replies that the only principle is of the non-dual, the endless, the supreme jnana. He advises Kacha to meditate upon this steadiness and that he can free himself of all pain and attain true calmness. Ahankara is unreal and hence, when such effort is made, it perishes. It cannot grow in an atmosphere where one meditates upon the eternal. Kacha can then be free from the differentiations of I and He. He blesses Kacha with the ability to remain in supreme reality.
Kacha, after abandoning the idea of ‘I’ is able to meditate upon the supreme reality. He turns into a jivanmukta or one without vikalpas with nothing that could trouble his mind.
Vasistha has led Rama to a desireless state and finally to emancipation.