The supremely delightful beauty of the Yoga Vasistha

9 posts in this topic

My recommended translation (Venkatesananda) of this classic advaita vedanta text

It's not just profoundly wise instruction from the heart of an enlightened master, it is also full of amazing stories and metaphors. The sheer magnificence and magnitude of the ancient Indian conception of reality is just damn cool and mind-blowing.

Just one example that I came across a second ago and that I wanted to share. It is actually a king's response to the questions of a vampire (!) about the ultimate nature of reality:

"This universe was once enveloped by a series of coverings, even as a fruit is enveloped by its skin. There was a branch on which there were thousands of such fruits. There is a tree with thousands of such branches, a forest with thousands of such trees, a hill with thousands of such forests, a country with thousands of such hills, a continent with thousands of such countries, a sphere with thousands of such continents, an ocean with thousands of such spheres, a being with thousands of such oceans within him and a supreme person who wears thousands of such beings as a garland. There is a sun in whose rays thousands of such supreme persons are found: that sun illumines all. That sun is the sun of consciousness, O Vampire!"

Website/book/one-on-one spiritual guidance: Sifting to the Truth: A New Map to the Self

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another great passage, though this time from a translation that is not supposed to be great. But it's the only full English translation, whereas the Venkatesananda is abridged... this passage deals with how to live every moment... and it's a doozy:


Erase from your mind the memory of all you have felt or unfelt, and remain silent and secluded like a block after forgetting all things whatsoever. 8 Continue your practice of continuous action with an utter forgetfulness of the past, because your habit of activity is enough to conduct you through all the actions of your life, as it is the habit of a half-sleeping baby to move its limbs.

9 It requires no design or desire on the part of an actor to act the part to which he is led by the course of his prior propensities, just as a potter’s wheel is propelled by its original momentum without requiring the application of continued force for its whirling motion. So, O sinless Rama, consider our actions to be directed by our previous impressions and not our present efforts.

10 Hence renunciation has become the pleasant tendency of your mind, without its inclination to the gratification of its desires. The leanings of men to particular pursuits are directed by the current of their previous inclinations. The predisposition of the mind is said to be the cause of the formation of the character and fortune of a man in his present state, which runs like a stream in its habitual course and carries all men like straw floating along with its currents.

11 I say that lack of desire is our supreme bliss and supreme good. I am proclaiming this with a loud voice and lifted arms, and yet nobody will listen to me. Why is it that none would perceive it as such? 12 The wonderful power of illusion makes men neglect their reason and throw away the richest jewel of their mind from the chest of their breast in which it is deposited. 13 The best way to renunciation is to ignore and deny phenomena, which is what I want you to do. Know that your disavowal of all is of the greatest reward to you, as you will be able to experience for yourself.

14 Sitting silently with calm content will lead you to that blissful state before which your possession of an empire will seem insignificant and only serves to increase your desire for more. 15 As the feet of a traveler are in continuous motion until he reaches his destination, so the body and mind of the covetous are in continuous agitation until his renunciation gives him rest.

16 Forget and forsake your expectation of reward for the result of your actions. Allow yourself to be carried onward by the current of your fortune without taking anything to your mind, like a sleeping man unconsciously carried on by his dreams. 17 Stir yourself to action as it occurs to you without any purpose or desire and without feeling any pain or pleasure. Let the current of the business conduct you onward like the current of a stream carries a bit of straw in its course. 18 Take no pleasure or pain to your heart from the work in which you are employed, but remain unconscious of both, like a wooden machine working for others. 19 Remain insensitive to pleasure or pain in your body and mind and all the sense organs, like sapless trees and plants in winter when they bear their bare trunks without sensitivity in their limbs.

20 Let the sun of your good understanding suck up the consciousness of your six external senses, just as sunshine dries up the moisture of winter plants. Continue to work with the members of your body like an engine is set to work. 21 Restrain your intellectual pleasures from their inclination to sensual gratifications, and retain your spiritual joy in yourself to support your life, just as the ground carefully retains the roots of trees in winter for their growth in spring season.

22 It is the same whether or not you continually gratify the cravings of your senses. They will continue unsatisfied in spite of all your supplies. The vanities of the world will profit you nothing. 23 If you move about continually like a running stream, or like the continuous shaking of water in a hydraulic engine, free from every desire and craving of your mind, then you are said to advance towards your endless bliss. 24 Know this as a transcendent truth, capable of preventing all your future reincarnations in this world: that you become accustomed to the free agency of all your actions without being dragged to them by your desires. 25 Pursue your business as it occurs to you without any desire or purpose of your own towards its object. Continue to turn about your callings, just like a potter’s wheel revolves round its fulcrum. 26 Think neither of the object of your action nor its reward, but know them to be equally alike whether you refrain from action or do it without desire for its result.

27 But what is the use of many words when it can be expressed in brief? The desire for results is the bondage of your soul. Renouncing your desire for results is filled with perfect freedom.



Edited by winterknight

Website/book/one-on-one spiritual guidance: Sifting to the Truth: A New Map to the Self

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Instead of intellectualizing spirituality, Shivabalayogi encouraged people to practice meditation.  Instead of giving discourses, he gave actual experiences.  However, he placed a great value on the Yoga Vasishta and over four decades, he often recommended the book to devotees.


Swamiji said that everything that humanity needs to know and everything a person could possibly want to know is in the Yoga Vasistha.  It contains everything from politics to gambling to knowing how to deceive.  There is no need to read any other book.  Swamiji advised that we should not try to read it all.  Instead, we should focus on a subject area in which we are interested.  Swamiji has read the entire book in both Sanskrit and Telugu three times and he said that he understands it all.

Enjoy, uploaded a copy below

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, winterknight said:

It's not very good, but it is more complete than Venkatesananda.

The book is immense. You are not really going to get a proper translation. 

With things like this I find it best to read as many translations i can get my hand on  side by side. That way you get to read the passage several times also you tend to get a better understanding when comparing. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now