Yoga Vasishta - reading

ubhabhyäm eva paksabhyam yatha khe paksinah gatih
tathai 'va jninn karmabhyam jayate paramam padam (7)

SUTİKSNA, the sage, asked the sage Agastya:
O sage, kindly enlighten me on this problem of liberation
which one of the two is conducive to liberation, work or knowledge?

AGASTYA replied:
Verily, birds are able to fly with their two wings: even so both work and know ledge together lead to the supreme goal of liberation. Not indeed work alone nor indeed knowledge alone can lead to liberation: but, both of them together form the means to liberation. Listen: I shall narrate to you a legend in answer to your question.

There once lived a holy man by name Karunya who was the son of Agni-vesya. Having mastered the holy scriptures and understood their purport, the young man became apathetic to life. Seeing this, Agnivesya demanded why Karunya had abandoned the due performance of his daily duties. To which Karunya replied: "Do not the scriptures declare on the one hand that one should fulfil scriptural injunctions till the end of one's life, and on the other that immortality can be realised only by the abandonment of all action? Caught between these two doctrines, what shall I do, O my guru and father?" Having said this, the young man remained silent

My son, listen: I shall narrate to you an ancient legend. Duly consider its moral and then do as you please. Once upon a time, a celestial nymph named Surucǐ was seated on a peak in the Himalaya, when she saw a messenger of Indra the king of gods fly past. Questioned by her, he informed her of his mission which was as follows:

"A royal sage by name Aristanemi entrusted his kingdom to his son and was engaged in breath-taking austerities in Gandhamadana hill. Seeing this, Indra asked me to approach him with a bevy of nymphs and escort the royal sage to heaven. The royal sage however wanted to know the merits and the demerits of heaven. I replied In heaven, the best, the middling and the least among pious mortals receive appro- priate rewards, and once the fruits of their respective merits have been exhausted they return to the world of mortals. The royal sage refused to accept Indra's invi tation to heaven. Indra once again sent me to the royal sage with the request that he should seek the counsel of the sage Välmiki before turning the offer down."

The royal sage was then introduced to the sage Valmiki. He asked Välmiki,
"What is the best way to rid oneself of birth and death?" In reply, Välmıki narrated
to him the dialogue between Rama and Vasistha


He Is qualified to study this scripture (the dialogue between Rama and Vasishta)
who feels 'I am bound, I should be liberated', who is neither totally ignorant
enlightened. He who deliberates on the means of liberation propounded in this
scripture in the form of stories surely attains liberation from th- repetitive history
nor (of birth and death)

I had composed the story of Rama earlier and I had imparted it to my beloved
disciple Bharadväja. Once when he went to the Mount Meru, Bharadväja narrated
it to Brahmã, the creator. Highly pleased with this, the latter granted a boon to

Bharadväja sought a boon that 'all human beings may be freed from
unhappiness' and begged of Brahma to find the best way to achieve this.
Brahma said to Bharadväja: "Go to the sage Valmiki and pray to him to continue
to narrate the noble story of Rama in such a way that the listener may be freed from
the darkness of nescience." Not content with that, Brahmã accompanied by the
sage Bharadvaja arrived at my hermitage

After receiving due worship at my hands Brahma said to me: "O sage, your
story of Räama should be the raft with which men will cross the ocean of samsära
(repetitive history). Hence, continue its narration and bring it to a successful
completion. Having said this, the Creator instantly disappeared from the scene.
As if puzzled by the abrupt command of Brahmã, I requested the sage Bharad-
vāja to explain to me what Brahma had just said. Bharadvāja repeated Brahma's
words: "Brahma would like you to reveal the story of Rama in such a manner that
it would enable all to go beyond sorrow. 1, too, pray to you, O sage: kindly tell me
in detail, how Rama, Laksmana and the other brothers freed themselves from

I then revealed to Bharadväja the secret of the liberation of Rama, Laksmana
and the other brothers, as also their parents and members of the royal court
And, I said to Bharadväja: "My son, if you, too, live like them you will also be freea
from sorrow here and now."


VALMIKI continued
This world-appearance ls a confuslon, even as the blueness of the sky is an
epial luslon. 1 thlnk It ls better not to let the mind dwell on It, but to ignore it.
Neither fiwedom from sorrow not realisation of one's real nature is possible as long
as the conviction does not arise in one that the world-appearance is unreal. And
this conviction arises when one studies this scripture with diligence. It is then that
one arrives at the firm conviction that the objective world is a confusion of the real
with the unreal. If one does not thus study this scripture, true knowledge does not
arise in him even in millions of years.

Moksa or liberation is the total abandonment of all vasană or mental condition-
ing, without the least reserve. Mental conditioning is of two types the pure and
the impure. The impure is the cause of birth; the pure liberates one from birth. The
impure is of the nature of nescience and ego-sense; these are the seeds, as it were,
for the tree of re-birth. On the other hand, when these seeds are abandoned, the
meatal conditioning that merely sustains the body, is of a pure nature. Such mental
conditioning exists even in those who have been liberated while living: it does not
lead to re-birth as it is sustained only by past momentum and not by present moti

I shall now narrate to you how Rama lived an enlightened life of a liberated
sage: knowing this you will be freed from. all misunderstanding concerning old age
and death.

Upon his return from the hermitage of his preceptor, Rama dwelt in his father's
palace sporting in various ways. Desirous of touring the whole country and visiting
the holy places of pilgrimage, Rama sought the presence of his father and asked
to be permitted to undertake such a pilgrimage. The king chose an auspicious day
for the commencement of this pilgrimage; and on that day, after receiving the
affectionate blessings of the elders of the family, Rama departed.

Rama toured the whole country from the Himalaya downwards, along with his
brothers. He then returned to the capital to the delight of the people of the country.

kopam vlşäda kalanäinis vitatah en hara
na 'lpena karanavadena vahanti santal
sargenn sarhhrtijavena vina Jugatyän
bhütäni bhüpa na mahänti vikiravantl (5/15)

VALMIKI continued
Upon entering the palace Räma devoutly bowed to his father, the sage Vasn
tha and other elders and holy men. The whole of the city of Ayodhya put on a festine
appearance for eight days, to celebrate the return of Räma from the piligrimage
For some time Rama lived in the palace duly performing his daily duties. Ho
ever, very soon a profound change came over him. He grew thin and emaciated
pale and weak. The king Dasaratha was worried over this sudden and unaccountable
change in his beloved son's appearance and behaviour. Whenever he questioned
Rama concerning his health, the latter replied that there was nothing wrong. When
Daśaratha asked Rama, "Beloved son, what is worrying you?" Rama politely replied.
"Nothing, father" and remained silent

Inevitably Dasaratha turned to the sage Vasistha for the answers. The sage
enigmatically answered: "Surely, there is some reason why Rama behaves in this
manner. Even as in this world no great changes take place before the coming into
being of their cause, viz., the cosmic elements; changes like anger, despondency
and joy do not manifest in the behavicur of noble ones without proper cause."
Dasaratha did not wish to probe further.

Soon after this, there arrived at the palace the sage Viśvamitra of world renown.
When the king was informed of the holy visit, he rushed forward to greet him.
Welcome, welcome, O holy sage! Your arrival at my humble abode makes me
happy. It is as welcome to me as vision to a blind man, rain to parched earth, son
to a barren woman, resurrection of a dead man, recovery of lost wealth. O sage.
what may I do for you? Pray, whatever be the wish with which you have come to me.
consider that wish already fulfilled. You are my worshipful deity. I shall do thy

kale kale prthng brahman bhürl virya vlbhütayay
bhütesv nbhyudayam yänti praliyante cn kalatah (h/29)

VALMIKI continued
Visvamitra was delighted to hear Daśaratha's words and proceeded to reveal
his mission. He said to the king:
O king, I need your assistance in the fulfilment of a religious rite undertaken
by me. Whenever I undertake a religious rite, the demons who are the followers of
Khara and Dūşana invade the holy place and desecrate it. Under the vows of the
religious rite, I am unable to curse them.

You can help me. Your son Rama can easily deal with these demons. And. in
return for this help, I shall confer manifold blessings upon him which will bring you
unexcelled glory. Do not let your attachment to your son overpower your devotion
to duty. In this world the noble ones do not consider any gift beyond their means.
The moment you say yes, that very moment I consider that the demons are
dead. For, I know who Rãma is; even so does the sage Vasistha and the other holy
ones in this court. Let there be no procrastination, O king: send Rāma with me
without delay

Hearing this highly unwelcome request, the king remained stunned and silent
for a while and then replied: "O sage, Rāma is not even sixteen years old and is,
therefore, not qualified to wage a war. He has not even seen a combat, except what
goes on in the inner apartment of the palace. Command me to accompany you
command my vast army to accompany you to exterminate the demons. But I can
not part with Rama. Is it not natural for all living beings to love their young: do not
even wise men engage themselves in extraordinary activities for the love of their
children; and do not people abandon their happiness, their consorts and wealth
rather than their children? No, I cannot part with Räma.

I have heard of the might demon Rävana. Is he the one that causes disturbance
to your religious rite? In that case, nothing can be done to help you, for I know that
even the gods are powerless against him. Time and again, such powerful beings
are born on this earth; and in time they leave the stage of this world."
Viśvamitra was angry. Seeing this, the sage Vasistha intervened and persuaded
the king not to back out on his promise, but to send Räma with Viśvamitra. O king
it is unworthy of you to go back on your promise. A king should be an exemplar of
righteous conduct. Rama is safe in the care of Viśvamitra, who is extremely power-
ful and w ho has numerous invincible missiles."

RAMA continued
So refleting on the pitiable fate of living beings thus fallen into the dreadful
pit of somow. T am filled with grief. My mind is confused, I shudder, and at every
step I am afraid. I have given up everything but I hnve not established myself In
sNdom; hence I sm partly eaught and partly freed. 1 am like a tree that has been
cut but not severed from its root. I wish to restrain my mind but do not have the
wisdom to do so,

Hence, pray tell me: what is that condition or state in which one does not
experience any grief? How can one who is involved in the world and its activities
as I am. reach the supreme state of peace and bliss? What is that attitude that
enables one not to be influenced by various kinds of activities and experiences?
Pray tell me: how do you people who are enlightened live in this world? How can
the mind be freed from lust and made to view the world both as one's own self and
also as no more valuable than a blade of grass? The biography of which great one
shall we study in order to learn the path of wisdom? How should one live in this
world? Holy sir, instruct me in that wisdom which will enable my otherwise rest-
less mind to be steady like a mountain. You are an enlightened being: instruct me
so that I may never again be sunk in grief

Obviously this world is full of pain and death; how does it become a source of
joy. without befuddling one's heart? The mind is obviously full of impurities; how
can it be cleansed and with what cleanser prescribed by what great sage? How
should one live here so as not to fall a victim to the twin currents of love-and-hate?
Obviously there is a secret that enables one to remain unaffected by the grief and
suffering in this world even as mercury is not affected when it is thrown into the
fire. What is that secret? What is the secret that counteracts the habit of the mind
that is spread out in the form of this universe?

Who are those heroes who have freed themselves from delusion? And what
methods did they adopt to free themselves. If you consider that I am neither fit nor
capable of understanding this, I shall fast unto death.

Having said so, Räma remained silent


O Rama, you are indeed the foremost among the wise, and there is really nothing
further for you to know. However, your knowledge needs confirmation, even as th
self-knowledge of Suka needed confirmation from Janaka before Suka could fined
the peace that passeth understanding

Just like you, Suka also arrived at the truth concerning existence after deep
contemplation of the evanescence of this world. Yet because it was self-acquired
knowledge, he could not positively affirm to himself 'This is the truth'. He had of
ourse arrived at the state of extreme and supreme dispassion

One day. this Suka approuched his father Vedavyäsa and asked him: "Sir, how
did this diversity of world-creation come into being: and how will it come to an end?"
Vedavyass gave a detailed answer to this question: but Suka thought All this I knew
already: what is new in this" and was not impressed. Vedavyasa also sensed this
and hence he said to Suka: "My son, I do not know anything more than this; but there
is the royal sage Janaka on earth who knows more than this. Kindly approach him

Suka thereupon came to Janaka's palace. Informed by the palace guards of the
young Suka's arrival, Janaka ignored him for a week while Suka patiently waited
outside. The next week Janaka had Suka brought into the palace and waited upon
by dancers and musicians. Suka was unmoved by this, too. After this, Suka was
ushered into the royal presence, and Janaka said: "You know the truth; what else
shall I tell you now. This diversity arises on account of mental modifications and it
will cease when they cease." Thus when his self-knowledge had been confirmed
Suka attained peace and remained in nirvikalpa samadhi

Like Suka, Rama too has gained the highest wisdom. The surest sign of a man
of the highest wisdom is that he is unattracted by the pleasures of the world, for in
him even the subtle tendencies have ceased. When these tendencies are strong
there is bondage; when they have ceased, there is liberation. He is truly a liberated
e who by nature is not swayed by sense pleasure, without the motivation of fame
or other incentives. And I pray that the sage Vasistha should so instruct Rama that
he will be confirmed in his wisdom and we, too, may be inspired

I shall surely accede to your request. And, O Rāma, I shall now impart to you
the wisdom which was revealed to me by the divine creator Brahmā, himself. O
Rama, countless have been the universes that have come into being and that have
been dissolved. In fact, even the countless universes that exist at this moment are
impossible to conceive of. All this can immediately be realised in one's own heart
for these universes are the creations of the desires that arise in the heart, like
castles built in the air. Neither the world of matter nor the modes of creation are
truly real; yet the living and the dead think and feel they are real. Ignorance of this
truth keeps up the appearance
VASISTHA * continued:`
II:7, 8
O Rama*, one should, with a body free from illness and mind free from distress, pursue selfknowledge
so that he is not born again here. Such selfeffort
has a
threefold root and therefore threefold fruit—an inner awakening in the intelligence, a decision in the mind and the physical action.
is based on these three—knowledge of scriptures, instructions of the preceptor and one's own effort. Fate (or divine dispensation) does not enter here.
Hence, he who desires salvation should divert the impure mind to pure endeavor by persistent effort —this is the very essence of all scriptures. The Holy ones
emphasise: persistently tread the path that leads to the eternal good. And the wise seeker knows: the fruit of my endeavors will be commensurate with the intensity of
my selfeffort
and neither fate nor a god can ordain it otherwise. Indeed, such selfeffort
alone is responsible for whatever man gets here; when he is sunk in
unhappiness, to console him people suggest that it is his fate. This is obvious: one goes abroad, one appeases one's hunger, by undertaking a journey and by eating
food—not on account of a fate. No one has seen such a fate or a god, but everyone has experienced how an action (good or evil) leads to a result (good or evil).
Hence, right from one's childhood one should endeavor to promote one's true good (salvation) by a keen intelligent study of the scriptures, by having the company of
the holy ones and by right selfeffort.
Fate or divine dispensation is merely a convention which has come to be regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this god or fate is truly the
ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action (even like bathing, speaking or giving), and whom should one teach at all? No. In this world, except

a corpse, everything is active and such activity yields its appropriate result. No one has ever realised the existence of a fate or divine dispensation.

The eternal is not attained by rites and rituals, by pilgrimages nor by wealth; it is to be attained only by the conquest of one's mind, by the cultivation of wisdom. Hence
everyone—gods, demons, demigods or men should constantly seek (whether one is walking, falling or sitting) the conquest of the mind and selfcontrol
which are the
fruits of wisdom.
When the mind is at peace, pure, tranquil, free from delusion or hallucination, untangled and free from cravings, it does not long for anything nor does it reject anything.
This is selfcontrol
or conquest of mind—one of the four gatekeepers
to liberation which I mentioned earlier.
All that is good and auspicious flows from selfcontrol.
All evil is dispelled by selfcontrol.
No gain, no pleasure in this world or in heaven is comparable to the delight
of selfcontrol.
The delight one experiences in the presence of the selfcontrolled
is incomparable. Everyone spontaneously trusts him. None (not even demons and
goblins) hates him.
O Rama *, is the best remedy for all physical and mental ills. When there is selfcontrol,
even the food you eat tastes better, else it tastes bitter. He who
wears the armour of selfcontrol
is not harmed by sorrow.
He who even while hearing, touching, seeing, smelling and tasting what is regarded as pleasant and unpleasant, is neither elated nor depressed—he is selfcontrolled.
He who looks upon all beings with equal vision, having brought under control the sensations of pleasure and pain, is selfcontrolled.
He who, though living amongst all
is unaffected by them, neither feels elated nor hates, even as one is during sleep—he is selfcontrolled.
VASISTHA* continued:
Enquiry (the second gatekeeper
to liberation) should be undertaken by an intelligence that has been purified by a close study of the scripture, and this enquiry should
be unbroken. By such enquiry the intelligence becomes keen and is able to realise the supreme; hence enquiry alone is the best remedy for the longlasting
known as samsara*.
The wise man regards strength, intellect, efficiency and timely action as the fruits of enquiry. Indeed kingdom, prosperity, enjoyment, as well as final liberation, are all
the fruits of enquiry. The spirit of enquiry protects one from the calamities that befall the unthinking fool. When the mind has been rendered dull by the
absence of enquiry, even the cool rays of the moon turn into deadly weapons, and the childish imagination throws up a goblin in every dark spot. Hence, the nonenquiring
fool is really a storehouse of sorrow. It is the absence of enquiry that gives rise to actions that are harmful to oneself and to others, and to numerous
psychosomatic illnesses. Therefore, one should avoid the company of such unthinking people.
They in whom the spirit of enquiry is ever awake illumine the world, enlighten all who come into contact with them, dispel the ghosts created by an ignorant mind, and
realise the falsity of sensepleasures
and their objects. O Rama *, in the light of enquiry there is realisation of the eternal and unchanging reality; this is the supreme.
With it one does not long for any other gain nor does one spurnanything.
He is free from delusion, attachment; he is not inactive nor does he get drowned in action; he
lives and functions in this world and at the end of a natural lifespan
he reaches the blissful state of total freedom.
The eye of spiritual enquiry does not lose its sight even in the midst of all activities; he who does not have this eye is indeed to be pitied. It is better to be born as a frog
in the mud, a worm in dung, a snake in a hole, but not to be without this eye. What is enquiry? To enquire thus: "Who am I? How has this evil of samsara* (repetitive
history) come into being?" is true enquiry. Knowledge of truth arises from such enquiry; from such knowledge there follows tranquility in oneself; and then there arises
the supreme peace that passeth understanding and the ending of all sorrow.
(Vicara* or enquiry is not reasoning nor analysis: it is directly looking into oneself.)
VASISTHA* continued:
Contentment is another gatekeeper
to liberation. He who has quaffed the nectar of contentment does not relish craving for sensepleasures;
no delight in this world is
as sweet as contentment which destroys all sins.
What is contentment? To renounce all craving for what is not obtained unsought and to be satisfied with what comes unsought, without being elated or depressed even
by them—this is contentment. As long as one is not satisfied in the self, he will be subjected to sorrow. With the rise of contentment the purity of one's heart blooms.
The contented man who possesses nothing owns the world.
Satsanga* (company of the wise, holy and enlightened persons) is yet another gatekeeper
to liberation. Satsanga* enlarges one's intelligence, destroys one's
ignorance and one's psychological distress. Whatever be the cost, however difficult it may be, whatever obstacles
may stand in its way, satsanga * should never be neglected. For, satsanga* alone is one's light on the path of life. Satsanga* is indeed superior to all other forms of
religious practice like charity, austerity, pilgrimage and the performance of religious rites.
One should by every means in one's power adore and serve the holy men who have realised the truth and in whose heart the darkness of ignorance has been dispelled.
They who, on the other hand, treat such holy men disrespectfully, surely invite great suffering.
These four—contentment, satsanga* (company of wise men), the spirit of enquiry, and selfcontrol—
are the four surest means by which they who are drowning in this
ocean of samsara* (repetitive history) can be saved. Contentment is the supreme gain. Satsanga* is the best companion to the destination. The spirit of enquiry itself is
the greatest wisdom. And, selfcontrol
is supreme happiness. If you are unable to resort to all these four, then practise one: by the diligent practice of one of these, the
others will also be found in you. The highest wisdom will seek you of its own accord. Until you tame the wild elephant of your mind with the help of these noble
qualities, you cannot have progress towards the supreme, even if you become a god, demigod
or a tree. Therefore, O Rama*, strive by all means to cultivate these
noble qualities.
He who is endowed with the qualities that I have enumerated thus far is qualified to listen to what I am about to reveal. You are indeed such a qualified person, O
Rama*. Only he would wish to hear this who is ripe for liberation. But this revelation is capable of leading one to liberation even if one does not desire it, as a light is
capable of illumining the eyes of even the sleeping person. As when the truth that a rope is a rope is seen and the fear generated by the misunderstanding that it is a
snake disappears, the study of this scripture frees one from sorrow, born of samsara*.

He who listens to and reflects upon the exposition of this scripture enjoys unfathomable wisdom, firm conviction and unperturbable coolness of spirit. Soon he
becomes a liberated sage whose glory is indescribable.

O Rama *, when a truth that has not been personally experienced is expounded, one does not grasp it except with the help of an illustration. Such illustrations have
been used in this scripture with a definite purpose and a limited intention. They are not to be taken literally, nor is their significance to be stretched beyond the intention.
When the scripture is thus studied, the world appears to be a dreamvision.
These indeed are the purpose and the purport of the illustrations. Let no one of perverted
intellect misinterpret the illustrations given in this scripture.

Parables have only one purpose: to enable the listener to arrive at the truth. The realisation of truth is so vital that any reasonable method used is justified, though the
parables themselves may be fictitious. The parables themselves are only partly applicable to the truth thus illustrated, and only that part is to be grasped and the rest
ignored. Study and understanding of the scriptures with the help of illustrations and of a qualified teacher are necessary only till one realises the truth.

O Rama *, till such time as this wisdom arises directly in you, take recourse to the knowledge transmitted by the great teachers. When you receive such knowledge
from the great teachers, your behaviour will mirror theirs; and when thus you grow in their virtuous qualities, your wisdom will unfold within you. Wisdom and
emulation of the noble behaviour of holy ones thrive on each other!

The Stroy of LILA

(Supreme Yoga of Swami Venkatesananda - here is the link)
Please read
Pages 44-62

Cheat-sheet reading 
Pages 44-47, 50
Lila visits the hermitage of the Sage who had passed away 8 days ago. She interacts with the children of the sage She then decides to visit the city where her husband king Padma is ruling as king Vidurtha
Page 53
Lila encounters an exact replica of herself, namely Lila-II who is the queen of King Vidurtha
Page 55
Lila - II rises up to the sky, meets her daughter and they both enter the palace where King Padma's body lays, covered with flowers. Lila-I and Saraswathi follow them.
Page 61-62

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