Yogavashishta on Jeevanmukti

Yogavasishta is “the most wonderful of books” according to Swami Rama Thirtha.  Whoever reads it, according to him, will not fail to reach the highest.

It explains the doctrine of Advaita through a series of legends. It is also called Vaasistha Ramayan because the great Sage Vasishta initiated Sri Rama into the lore of enlightenment which originally came forth from Chaturmukha Brahma for the purpose of installation of peace in the world.  It was calculated to help Sri Rama to get mental peace. It is said that ultimately Valmiki included the same theme in his book at the behest of Brahma. The recording was done by Bharadwaja.

In “Jeevanmukti Viveka”, the author Sri Vidyaranya has  used several points of interest from Yogavasishta. As in Bhagavad Gita, jnanayoga and other yogas are given the pride of place.  For this reason, it has also acquired the name of ‘Jnanayoga Tarangini’.  The concepts of Jeevatma, Paramatma and Universe and the methods of unfettering oneself from the shackles of samsara or freedom from bondage are explained in a lucid way.

The purity of mind is a factor which is emphasized.  World exists because of the mind or of mental comprehension of the world.  Referring to the laya of the mind, Yogavasishta says that if the clouds (including those which bog the mind) disperse, the sky (the infinite sky of the mind) lights up with the convergence of the brilliant Sun as part of inner experience.

Three steps to God realization are stressed by Yogavasishta:-

  • Truth about unity in contradistinction to diversity and full faith in non-duality.
  • Control of Prana Vayu in balance and harmony (to sustain the body till at least the dawn of the day of enlightenment), and
  • Preservation of the equanimity of mind and arresting its wayward movement, to reach mental peace.

The Jeevanmukta who has knowledge or experience of the Atman will be interested in nothing but will carry on life like a monarch who surveys all! He is not attracted by anything.  He hates none.  Rather, he transcends all objects of attraction.  So he cannot be really irritated or disturbed by the people nor does he irritate or disturb them.

Yogavasishta contains the exemplary episode of the Indian womanhood at its best viz; of Choodala as a Jeevanmukta and her consort Shikhidhwaja.

Viswamitra says that the exposition of Vasishta on the knowledge of the Self is equivalent to a thousand dips in the holy waters of River Ganges.  Sri Rama admits he got the worthiest of attainments through Vasishta’s teachings.  Saluting Vasishta, Sri Ananda Bodendra, a commentator of repute, asserts that one who drinks the nectarine words of Yogavasishta will find even “amrita”, the immortal elixir of life tasteless!

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