14 krishnaarchana april 2023 The great epic Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki deals with the story of Sri Rama who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sri Rama, Bharatha, Lakshman, Shatrughnan were the sons of King Dasaratha of the Kingdom of Ayodhya. The epic details the life of Sri Rama from his birth to his time as a king, how Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana spent their time in exile in the forest for 14 years, how an army of monkeys (Vanara Sena) built a bridge to Sri Lanka to cross the sea to rescue Devi Sita from the clutches of King Ravana and his victorious journey back to Ayodhya. Yoga Vasishta contains the teachings of Sage Vasishtha to Sri Rama as compiled by Sage Valmiki. Sage Vasishtha got the knowledge of Brahman from his father Lord Brahma. As a child, Sri Rama was restless observing the world and the lives of humans. Even though he was the Avatara of MahaVishnu in his human form he needed direction and guidance. And as a teacher Sage Vasishtha provided the required spiritual guidance and mentorship to Sri Rama. Upon completion of the study, Sri Rama reached a yogic stage or Atma sakshathkara with Brahma Jnana. In Section 7 Vasishtha tells Rama: Bahi: krithrima samrambho Hridi samrambha varjitha Kartha Bahir akartha anthar Loke Vihara Raghava. Vasishta in this verse asks Rama to do his kingly duties the yogic way, in a detached manner, without giving in to the feelings of enjoyment or pain, like a river which may look turbulent outside but has a calm flow underneath. This was the philosophy of the great rulers like Janaka. When Rama was advised he will be made King the next day, he was not over joyous. The next day itself he was advised he has to live in the forest for the next 14 years. He did not get agitated or fight against the injustice. He understood that what is destined to happen will happen, there is no way it can be averted. On the other hand, his brother Lakshmana was agitated and wanted to fight for the injustice. Sri Rama calmed him and directed him towards the yogic way of acceptance. Whether he is a King or is in the forest the attitude of Rama does not change because of the Atma Sakshathkara he achieved due to the coaching of Sage Vasishta. Whatever is destined to happen will happen. Nature is executing its plans just like in a play. In Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan Krishna says (Chapter 18 verse 61) “Bhramayan sarvabhoothani yanthraroodani mayaya”. God is playing a game just like a machine rotates its wheel in a Circus. Essence of the Yoga Vasishtha Vasishtha, master of the Self, responds with splendid tales and direct insights. Cutting through all frills and fancies, Vasishtha gets to the heart of the matter. The Self or Atma only Is, all else is ignorance and illusion- Maya. Stories within stories within stories, makes this text unique. The complex structure of storytelling combined with the highest philosophical truths leaves the readers’ minds inspired. The truth then presents itself in its raw form, absolute, unadulterated and pure. Thus, it is said even the reading of this text would help the sadhaka (practitioner) reach the state of enlightenment. The Yoga Vasishtha is not just a philosophical text of the ordinary kind. It appears to have been written with the purpose of creating a firm conviction in the mind of the reader by repeating the same idea in various ways and using stories and rich poetical inferences. It is estimated that this text was re-discovered around seventh or eighth century A.D. There is a strong resemblance to the Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya but there is no cross reference of Yoga Vasishtha by Adi Sankara. There is a common thread of philosophy across the Vedas and it imparts the highest knowledge of Atman and Brahmam. However Adi Sankaracharya popularized Advaita philosophy and worked across various sections of people in his life span of 32 years to spread the philosophy and get acceptance across borders overcoming the challenges from religions like Budhism and Jainism in India. Yoga Vasishta is not considered as part of the Prasthana thraya which is considered as the basis of Hinduism. Prasthana Thraya consists of Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. Sri Sankaracharya has written commentary on all three, but did not mention Yoga Vasishta, So though Ramayana is popular as FEATURE By Devan Pillai Yoga Vasishtha