Vasishtha was one of the famous Vedic sages of Hinduism. He is one of the seven great Rishis of India. Vasishtha is considered the main author of the 7th Mandala (books) of the Rigveda, being mentioned both he and his family in the 4th book of Rigvedic verse, as well as in many other Vedic texts. His ideas were particularly influential, being appointed the first master of the Vedanta School of Hindu Philosophy by Adi Shankara.
The Vedic writings of Yoga Vasistha, Vasishtha Samhita, as well as some versions of Agni Purana and Vishnu Purana are also attributed to him. The wise Vasishta is the subject of numerous mythologies, such as the fact that he was in possession of the divine cow Kamadhenu and her child Nandini, who conferred special powers on those who owned them. He is also famous in Hindu mythologies for his legendary conflicts with the sage Visvamitra.
Yoga Vasistha is a text from the syncretic medieval era that presents the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. The work is written in the form of a dialogue between Vashistha and Prince Rama in which it talks about the fame of the Ramayana, the nature of life, human suffering, about choices, free will, human creative power and spiritual liberation.
The teachings of Yoga Vasistha are structured as stories and fables with a philosophical basis similar to that found in Advaita Vedanta. The text is also notable in terms of Yoga’s principles. According to Christopher Chapple, professor of index studies specializing in Yoga and Indian religions, the philosophy of Yoga Vasistha can be summed up as follows: “Human effort can be used to improve itself and that there is no external fate imposed by the gods.” This is one of the longest Hindu texts in Sanskrit after the Mahabharata and an important text by Yoga. It is made up of numerous stories and anecdotes used to illustrate his ideas and message. The text shows the influence of the Advaita Vedanta school and the school of Shivaism Trika. As for Hindu mythology, the conversation in Yoga Vasishta is chronologically placed before the Ramayana.
Traditional belief says that reading this book leads to spiritual liberation.
Yoga Vasistha is a philosophical text attributed to Valmiki (another name of Vasishta), but the author of the truth is unknown. The full text contains over 29,000 verses. The short version of the text is called Laghu Yogavasistha and contains 6,000 verses. The century exactly when its writing ended is unknown, but it is estimated that it is between the sixth century and the fourteenth century, but it is likely that a version of the text will exist until the end of the first millennium.
The text contains six books: the first book presents Rama’s frustration with the nature of life, human suffering, and contempt for the world. The second book describes, through Rama’s character, the desire for liberation and the nature of those who seek such a liberation . The third and fourth books state that liberation comes from a spiritual life, one that requires one’s own efforts, and present cosmology and metaphysical theories of existence embedded in mythical stories. These two books are known for emphasizing free will and human creative power. The fifth book discusses meditation and its powers in liberating the individual, while the last book describes the state of an illuminated and happy Frame introducing the notion of samadhi.
The teachings of Yoga Vasistha are structured in the form of stories and fables, with a philosophical basis similar to that of Advaita Vedanta, its philosophy is especially associated with drsti-srsti a sub branch of Advaita teaching which claims that “the whole phenomenal world is the object of the mind”. The text is notable for exposing the principles of Maya – cosmic illusion and Brahman – the principle of absolute consciousness, as well as the principles of non-duality and discussions about Yoga. The short version of the text was translated into Persian in the fifteenth century and into English it was first translated in 1896.
Yoga Vasistha is known as one of the highly popular and influential historical texts of Hinduism that has had a significant impact on Indian philosophy and culture and which has made its contribution to the definition of some basic spiritual concepts in yoga Other names under which this text is known are Maha-Ramayana, Arsha Ramayana, Vasiṣṭha Ramayana, Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha.
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