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What Is Yoga Vasistha? - The Essence of Yoga Vasistha

Yoga Vasishta is an important Vedanta text. It is narrated in the style of the Puranas and its content is philosophy. Yoga Vasishta, also referred as Yoga Vasistha Maharamayana, is ascribed to sage Valmiki and consists of 32,000 slokas.

In the Yoga Vasistha, Sage Vasishta answers the queries of Lord Ram. The questions raised by Lord Ram pertain to problems like life and death, human suffering, desire, happiness etc.

Yoga Vasishta is divided into six sections
  1. Dispassion
  2. Aspiration
  3. Origin
  4. Existence
  5. Quiescence
  6. Liberation
Through numerous stories, each section elucidates the truths of Vedanta.

There is also a smaller version of Yoga Vasistha called the ‘Laghu Yoga Vasistha.’ It contains 6000 verses and is an abridgement of the original.

The Essence of Yoga Vasistha

Here are 20 key points that encapsulate the essence of Yoga Vasistha:

Non-Duality (Advaita): The text emphasizes the non-dual nature of reality, asserting that all manifestations are expressions of the same underlying consciousness.

Illusion of the World (Maya): It delves into the concept of Maya, the illusory nature of the material world, which veils the true nature of reality.

The Mind's Power: Yoga Vasistha highlights the power of the mind to shape one's perception of reality and experience of life.

Transcending Suffering: It offers insights into overcoming suffering and achieving lasting peace through self-realization and detachment.

Role of the Guru: The importance of a spiritual teacher or guru in guiding one towards self-realization is emphasized throughout the text.

The Four States of Consciousness: It discusses the four states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and turiya (the transcendental state beyond waking consciousness).

Detachment (Vairagya): Yoga Vasistha teaches the necessity of detachment from worldly attachments and desires for spiritual progress.

Karma and Destiny: It explores the concepts of karma (action) and destiny, elucidating how they shape one's life experiences.

The Play of Consciousness: The text describes the universe as a manifestation of the play of consciousness, with everything existing within the mind of the divine.

Freedom from Rebirth (Moksha): Yoga Vasistha elucidates the path to liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death through self-realization.

Renunciation and Action: It reconciles the paths of renunciation (sannyasa) and action (karma yoga), emphasizing the importance of performing one's duties without attachment.

The Eternal Now: It teaches the significance of living in the present moment, as all experiences unfold within the eternal now.

The Nature of Time: Yoga Vasistha delves into the nature of time, asserting that it is an illusion created by the mind.

The Mind-Body Connection: It explores the intimate connection between the mind and the body, emphasizing the need for mental purity for spiritual progress.

The Divine Play (Lila): The text portrays the universe as the divine play of consciousness, wherein all experiences are ultimately unreal.

The Path of Self-Inquiry: Yoga Vasistha advocates for self-inquiry (atma vichara) as the means to realize one's true nature beyond the limitations of the ego.

Unity in Diversity: It teaches that despite the apparent diversity of the world, there is ultimately unity underlying all existence.

The Nature of Consciousness: The text explores the nature of consciousness itself, asserting that it is the substratum of all phenomena.

The Power of Meditation: Yoga Vasistha extols the practice of meditation as a means to quiet the mind and realize one's true nature.

The Bliss of Self-Realization: Ultimately, the essence of Yoga Vasistha lies in the attainment of supreme bliss through the realization of the self as identical with the ultimate reality, Brahman.