Yoga Vasistha

Vasistha and Arundhati. Discourse of Vasishta to Rama begins the text.[1]

Yoga Vasistha (Sanskrit: योग-वासिष्ठ, IAST: Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha) is a philosophical text attributed to Valmiki, although the real author is unknown.[2] The complete text contains over 29,000 verses.[2] The short version of the text is called Laghu Yogavasistha and contains 6,000 verses.[3] The text is structured as a discourse of sage Vasistha to Prince Rama. The text consists of six books.[4] The first book presents Rama's frustration with the nature of life, human suffering and disdain for the world.[4] The second describes, through the character of Rama, the desire for liberation and the nature of those who seek such liberation.[4] The third and fourth books assert that liberation comes through a spiritual life, one that requires self-effort, and present cosmology and metaphysical theories of existence embedded in stories.[4] These two books are known for emphasizing free will and human creative power.[4][5] The fifth book discusses meditation and its powers in liberating the individual, while the last book describes the state of an enlightened and blissful Rama.[4]

Yoga Vasistha teachings are structured as stories and fables,[6] with a philosophical foundation similar to those found in Advaita Vedanta,[7] is particularly associated with drsti-srsti subschool of Advaita which holds that the "whole world of things is the object of mind".[8] The text is notable for expounding the principles of Maya and Brahman, as well as the principles of non-duality,[9] and its discussion of Yoga.[10][11] The short form of the text was translated into Persian by the 15th-century.[2]

Yoga Vasistha is famous as one of the historically popular and influential texts of Hinduism.[2][12] Other names of this text are Maha-Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasiṣṭha Ramayana,[13] Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha.[9]

Nomenclature

The name Vasistha in the title of the text refers to Rishi Vasistha.[14] The term Yoga in the text refers to the underlying Yogic theme in its stories and dialogues, and the term is used in a generic sense to include all forms of yoga in the pursuit of liberation, in the style of Bhagavad Gita.[14]

The long version of the text is called Brihat Yoga Vasistha, wherein Brihat means "great or large". The short version of the text is called Laghu Yoga Vasishta, wherein Laghu means "short or small".[14] The longer version is also referred to simply as Yoga Vasistha and by numerous other names such as Vasiṣṭha Ramayana.[13][9]