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Yog Vashishth starts with a few stories within stories and ends in a dialog between Rishi Vashishth and Shree Raam. When Raam, after finishing his studies at the age of 16 yrs, He was sent on a pilgrimage to Kaashee, Gayaa etc (the educational tour we call it). Upon His return to Ayodhyaa, sage Vashishth asked Him the reason for His sadness, Raam replied that He saw every were only sadness and there was no happiness in this world. The dialogue went far and Vashishth Jee then taught Raam the A-Dwait philosophy and that philosophy came to be known as Yog Vashishth; this work is much bigger than Raamaayan. This is the foremost of A-Dwait texts, after Ved, which are in existence to day.
Yog Vashishth is also called Yog Vashishth Raamaayan, Mahaa Raamaayan and Gyaan Vashishth also. It is an extensive philosophical poem which might have been composed during the 8th century AD. Although the tradition assigns it to Vaalmeeki, the authorship is still unknown. It is an extremely popular work which has influenced several later works such as Annapoornaa Upanishad, Mahopanishad, Maanasollaas of Sureshwar and Jeevanmukti Vivek of Vidyaaranya. It contains stories within stories and ends with a long dialogue between sage Vashishth and Shree Raam.
Yog Vashishth is indeed special. It is surprising that most Hindu are not aware of this great work. The original work, 'Brihat Yog Vashishth' contains 36,000 Granth (1 Granth = 32 syllables). There is a smaller version also, 'Laghu Yog Vashishth' containing 6,000 Granth. All these are from the original and others are clipped. The translation of Laghu Yog Vashishth is available in many Indian languages from ancient times, including Tamil and Malayalam. A recent (1896) English translation is by K Narayanaswami Iyer, The Adyar Library and Research Centre publication, The Theosophical Society. It is a book worth of study and possession. A reprint should be still available.
--There is a great stress on the self effort (Paurush). Praanaayaam or control
of the life force is also dealt with as Praan is essentially in the form of a
Yog Vashishth advises the aspirant to study the right kind of scriptures and cleanse the mind by getting rid of Raag (intense love), Dwesh (jealousy), Tamas, Krodh, Mad and Matsar. The most important point to be noted in Yog Vashishth is that the Yog Vashishth emphasizes upon a joint operation of Karm and Gyaan to reach the goal. Great emphasis is laid on Vaasanaa Kshaya (to destroy desires) and Mano Naash with the help of Tattwa Gyaan.
There are several interesting stories also in this work. It is said that it is only the Vaasanaa which brings the soul back to other lives and hence obsequies or Shraaddh are not of much use. Worship of the self through Bodh (understanding ), Saamya (calmness of mind), Maitree (friendliness to all), Karunaa (compassion), Mudit (delight), Upekshaa (indifference towards evil doers) are advocated. Moorti Poojaa is considered as a Baal Kreedaa or child's play.
On the whole, Yog Vashishth challenges the intellect with its uncompromising
logic and it is exhilarating by beautiful poetry.
Introduction to Yog Vashishth
Yog Vashishth is also called Yog Vashishth Raamaayan, Mahaa Raamaayan and Gyaan Vashishth also. It is an extensive philosophical poem which might have been composed during the 8th century AD. Although the tradition assigns it to Vaalmeeki, but its authorship is still unknown. It is an extremely popular work which has influenced several later works such as Annapoornaa Upanishad, Mahopanishad, Maanasollaas of Sureshwar and Jeevan Mukti Vivek of Vidyaaranya. It contains stories within stories and ends with a long dialogue between the sage Vashishth and Shree Raam.
Seven stages of spiritual progress are described. These are (1) Pratham Bhoomikaa, (2) Vichaaran (3) Asang Bhaavanaa (4) Vilaapanee, (5) Shuddh Samvit Maayaa Aanand Roop, (6) Sushuptaa Sadrishya Stithi and (7) Turiyaateet.
Yog Vashishth advises the aspirant to study the right kind of scriptures and cleanse the mind by getting rid of Raag (intensive love), Dwesh, Tamas, Krodh, Mad and Matsar. The most important point to be noted is that the Yag Vashishth emphasizes a joint operation of Karm and Gyaan to reach the goal. This is however against the concept taught by Shankar who considers that Gyaan alone leads to Jeevan Mukti. Great emphasis is laid on Vaasanaa Kshaya and Manonaash with the help of Tattwa Gyaan. There are several interesting stories also in the work.
Yog Vashishth does not attempt to reject any system of thought, but takes the view that every viewpoint incorporates perception of reality in certain conditions, and every doctrine expresses that perception and concludes that ultimately the end of every religious and spiritual quest is the same. The point here is that the approach to life responsible for spiritual progress should not be abandoned in search of high ideals as it would not be beneficial to do so. Yog Vashishth tries to lead the seeker whatever may be his level to the goal of human life.
Yog Vashishth expounds subtle spiritual truths by illustrating them through ingenious stories. Vashishth instructed Raam for understanding the ultimate nature of reality, knowing which Raam became a Jeevan Mukt, like a lotus floating on water. The discourse between Raam and Vashishth forms the subject matter of the Yog Vashishth. It has been implied that liberation (Moksh) is not attainable solely by knowledge (Gyaan) or by action (Karm) and both must be combined in coordination like the two wings of a bird. So, the synthesis of the Karm and jGyaan is the main theme of Yog Vashishth. Moksh signifies the advent of a higher consciousness in man and transforms his egocentric activity into action unhindered by desire and attachment.
What is aspired here is a means of living the life of a Jeevan Mukt as the ultimate end of human existence. However, a Jeevan Mukt is not averse to the world of everyday affairs. He however, participates in it without getting involved in any way. He preserves the unity in diversity in his life.
Yog Vashishth introduces philosophical truths to the common people who are Adhikaar is (persons with the requisite qualifications) to such knowledge. It penetrates the consciousness by grabbing the attention through effective stories. It would be very useful to all of us to read something from this great work.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 06/28/13