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A painting from the Yoga Vasistha manuscript, 1602

Yoga Vasistha (योग-वासिष्ठ), also known as Vasistha's Yoga, was narrated by sage Vasistha, one of the teachers of Rama, and written by Valmiki. As the name suggests, "Yoga" means union - with the Truth, and "Vasistha" was the sage who has imparted this knowledge.

The book has been dated between the 5th and 14th Century A.D.[1]

Presented as the discourse of the great sage Vasistha to prince Rama when he is in a state of dispassion at a young age, it is the longest text in Sanskrit, after Mahabharat and Ramayana and an important text of Yoga as well as Advaita Vedanta [2]. It is a religious text that is used to help newcomers understand the Hindu philosophy. The book consists of around thirty thousand slokas as well as numerous short stories and anecdotes used to help simplify the content.

Some other names of this text are: Maha-Ramayana, Arsha-Ramayana, Vasishtha-Ramayana[3] and Vashita Geeta.


About Yoga Vasistha

It is said that this book alone can lead to spiritual liberation. The conversation between Sage Vasistha and Prince Rama is of that between a great enlightened sage and a seeker who is about to reach completeness. This is amongst those rare conversations which directly leads to Truth.

This scripture provides several understandings, scientific ideas, philosophies, and explains about consciousness, creation of the world, the multiple universes in this world, our perception of world, dissolution of the world and the liberation of this soul, the non-dual approach to this creation.

Just as the blue sky is an optical illusion this entire world and the creation is but such an optical illusion. When the illusion ends in the mind, the world and its miseries too end. The self is the seer of all, the self is the perceiver of all and the self is the experiencer of all. And that self is only one. There is no two, there is no subject, seer and the object. It is all one.

Another oft repeated verse in the text is that of Kakathaliya (coincidence). The story of how a crow alights on a coconut tree and that very moment the ripe coconut falls on the ground. The two events are apparently related, yet the crow never intended the coconut to fall nor did the coconut fall because the crow sat on the tree. The intellect mistakes the two events as related, though in reality they are not.

All of creation is the play of consciousness. As an unenlightened person may have a desire for action, and then perceives themselves doing action, the two are unrelated as the crow and the coconut. Consciousness is the actor, the action, the process and the witness of action.

The book is divided into 6 parts:

  1. Dispassion
  2. Qualifications of a seeker
  3. Creation
  4. Existence
  5. Dissolution
  6. Liberation

Philosophy and origin

Part of a series on
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Yoga Vasistha

Some scholars are of the view that Yoga Vasistha is a synthesis of the Upanishadic Brahman, Vijñavāda of Buddhism and the Śaiva Trika philosophy of Kashmir. The philosophy behind the Yoga Vasistha is that in truth there is only Brahman or God.


Yoga Vasistha is considered one of the most important scriptures of the Vedantic philosophy. [4]

In the late sixteenth century A.D. Nizam al-Din Panipati translated the Yoga Vasistha into Persian (Jug-Basisht). The book became popular in Persia among intellectuals with Indo-Persian interests since then.[5]


Prince Rama returns from touring the country and becomes utterly disillusioned after experiencing the apparent reality of the world. This worries his father, King Dasaratha. The King expresses his concern to Sage Vasistha, upon his arrival. Sage Vasistha consoles the king by telling him that Rama's dispassion (vairagya) is a sign that the prince is now ready for spiritual enlightenment. He says that Rama has begun understanding profound spiritual truths, which is the cause of his confusion and he just needs confirmation. Sage Vasistha asks king Dasaratha to summon Rama. Then, in the court of king Dasaratha, the sage begins the discourse to Rama which lasts for several days. The answer to Rama's questions forms the entire scripture that is Yoga Vasistha.

English translation

Yoga Vasistha was originally written in Sanskrit. It was translated to English by Swami Jyotirmayananda[1], Swami Venkatesananda, Vidvan Bulusu Venkateswaraulu, and Vihari Lal Mitra. K. Naryanaswami Aiyer translated the famous condensation Laghu-Yoga-Vasistha.


"The great remedy for the long lasting disease of samsara is the enquiry, 'Who am I?, to whom does this samsara belong?,' which entirely cures it."

"Nothing whatsoever is born or dies anywhere at any time. It is Brahman alone appearing illusorily in the form of the world."

"O Rama, there is no intellect, no nescience, no mind and no individual soul (jiva). They are all imagined in Brahman."

"That consciousness which is the witness of the rise and fall of all beings, know that to be the immortal state of supreme bliss."

See also


  1. ^ Christopher Chapple, The concise Yoga Vāsiṣṭha By Venkatesananda, 1985, pp. ix-x
  2. ^ Yoga
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, pp 4638, By various, Published by Sahitya Akademi, 1992, ISBN 8126012218, 9788126012213
  4. ^ The Himalayan Masters: A Living Tradition, pp 37, By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Contributor Irene Petryszak, Edition: illustrated, revised, Published by Himalayan Institute Press, 2002, ISBN 0893892270, 9780893892272
  5. ^ Juan R.I. Cole in Iran and the surrounding world by Nikki R. Keddie, Rudolph P. Matthee, 2002, pp. 22-23


English translations of Yoga Vasistha

1) Complete translation
Vālmīki (1891). The Yoga-Vásishtha-Mahárámáyana of Válmiki. trans. Vihārilāla Mitra. Calcutta: Bonnerjee and Co. pp. 3,650 pages. OCLC 6953699.  
Vālmīki (1999). The Yoga-Vásishtha-Mahárámáyana of Válmiki. trans. Vihārilāla Mitra. Delhi: Low Price Publications.  
Vālmīki (2000). The Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha of Vālmīki. trans. Vihārilāla Mitra. Delhi: Parimal Publications. OCLC 53149153.   Sanskrit text with English translation.
This complete translation is currently being prepared for publication in the public domain at the Project Gutenberg/Distributed Proofreaders:
A preliminary version (after proofreading round 1 and partly 2) is available at:
2) Abbreviated versions
Jyotir Maya Nanda, Swami: Yoga Vasistha. Vol. 1-5. Yoga Research Foundation, Miami 1977.
Venkatesananda, Swami (1993). Vasiṣṭha's Yoga. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 768 pages. ISBN 0585068011. OCLC 43475324.   Abbreviated to about one-third of the original work.
Venkatesananda, Swami (1984). The Concise Yoga Vāsiṣṭha. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 430 pages. ISBN 0873959558. OCLC 11044869.   A shorter version of the above.
Vālmīki (1896). Yoga-Vâsishta: Laghu, the Smaller. trans. K Nārāyaṇaswāmi Aiyar. Madras: Thompson and Co. p. 346 pages. OCLC 989105.  
Abhinanda, Pandita (2003). The Yoga Vasishta [Abridged Version]. trans. K.N. Subramanian. Chennai: Sura Books. p. 588 pages.  
Vālmīki (1930). Yoga Vashisht or Heaven Found. trans. Rishi Singh Gherwal. Santa Barbara, USA: Author. p. 185 pages.  
3) Ongoing translation at Google Groups - This ongoing translation into modern English also includes materials for students of the Sanskrit original. The Sanskrit text [in Devanagari and Romanization] includes literal translations; and extracts from the Commentaries; and other analyses of the text. The first two books are now [2009] complete and can be viewed/downloaded from New Cantos are published once or twice a week. Positive and negative feedback are equally welcome.

External links


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