YOGA VAASISHTHAM
is such a great, glorious and extraordinary text that anybody who comes
under its influence will undergo a metamorphosis which will make his life
supremely joyous and blissful.  It deals
essentially with Jnaana, spiritual knowledge.  Three paths to realisation of the Ultimate
Reality,  Karma Yoga ( path of selfless
action),  Bhakti Yoga (path of
devotion)  and  Jnana Yoga (path of knowldege) are generally
recognised.   The emphasis in Yoga
Vaishtha  is  on Jnaana 
aided by  selfless action without
the sense of doership as a means to purifying 
the mind, an essential pre-requisite on the spiritual path.   The word ‘Yoga’ in Yoga VasishYha  is used in the  generic sense of spiritual practices.  ‘Vaasishtham’ means orignating from sage
Vasishtha who imparts this knowledge to youthful Rama  who had developed extreme aversion to all
worldly duties and things after 
pondering over their futility and evanescence.   
The Authorship of this work is ascribed to Maharshi
Valmiki,  the Aadi Kavi (the very first
poet), who wrote Ramayana.  While the
Ramayana  has captured the heart of the
masses not many are familiar with Yoga Vaasishtha  except 
a few who are treading the spiritual path adopting the Path of
The work consists of six Sections or
Prakaranas.  They are :
Vairagya Prakarna  on indifference to worldly things.
Mumukshu Prakarana on longing after
Utpatti Prakarana on Origin
Sthiti Prakarana  on Sustenance
Upasama Prkarana on Quiescence
Nirvana on the ultimate divine merger
The following selection of verses is from
Nirvana Prakarana on   Sapta
Bhoomikas,  the seven stages which all
spiritual aspirants on the path of Self-Realisation have to pass through.  
                   SAPTA BHOOMIKA
4 TO 7
भूमिकात्रितयाभ्यासादज्ञाने क्षयमागते।
सम्यग्ज्ञानोदये चित्ते पूर्णचन्द्रोदयोपमे ॥५८॥ 
By practising the first
three bhoomikas  subhechcha,
Vicharana and Asamsanga ignorance will completely dissipate.   Then jnaana  will dawn and settle itself firmly in the mind
like the rising of the full moon.
निर्विभागमनाद्यन्ते योगिनो युक्तचेतसः।
समं सर्वं प्रपश्यन्ति चतुर्थीं भूमिकां गता: ॥५९॥
By repeated samadhi,
when they will start seeing the whole manifest phenomena as nothing but the
expression of Brahman, which is indivisible
and without a beginning
or end, they would be entering the fourth Bhoomika.         
अद्वैते स्थैर्यमायाते द्वैते प्रशममागते।
पश्यन्ति स्वप्नवल्लोकं चतुर्थीं भूमिकामिताः ॥६०॥
Those who are established in the fourth Bhoomika will
have perfect Advaita (non-dual) vision. 
The perception of Dvaita (duality) will not be there.  They then see the world as in the dream.
भूमिकात्रितयं जाग्रच्चतुर्थी स्वप्न उच्यते।
चित्तं तु शरदभ्रांशविलायं प्रविलीयते ॥६१॥
The first three bhoomikas  can be classified as coming under jagrat,
wakeful consciousness, while the fourth is similar to the dream.  In the later stage of the fourth bhoomika,
the mind will perish like a cloud in the sarat season, autumnal days.
सत्तावशेष एवास्ते पञ्चमीं भूमिकां गतः।
जगद्विकल्पो नोदेति चित्तस्यात्र विलापनात् ॥६२॥
When the mind remains in the transcendental state
alone, the sadhaka is said to have reached the fifth stage. With the total
dissolution of the mind, the world delusion will not arise in him.
पञ्चमीं भूमिकामेत्य सुषुप्तपदनामिकाम्।
शान्ताशेषविशेषांशस्तिष्ठत्यद्वैतमात्रके ॥६३॥
Having reached the fifth
stage, which can be called sushupti, deep sleep, unmovingly will he
remain established in the blissful state of Advaita experience.  All notions of duality and multiplicity would
completely vanish.  Either awake, or in
Samadhi, the jnaani would ever be in the transcendental
State.  This is the state of Sahaja Samadhi.
मुदितोऽन्तः प्रबोधवान्।
एवास्ते पञ्चमीं भूमिकां गतः ॥६४॥
the fifth stage, he will be free from all the toils and tribulations arising on
account of the feeling of duality.  He
will be always blissful and awakened within. 
As regards the reactions of the mind, such as sukha and dukkha,
 he will be completely oblivious to
them as in deep slumber.
तिष्ठन् बहिर्वृत्तिपरोऽपि सन्।
नित्यं निद्रालुरिव लक्ष्यते ॥६५॥
dwelling by introversion, in the pure consciousness, he will yet be active,
like any other man. He will be always peaceful and appear as though asleep (due
to the mind’s non-reaction and poise).
कुर्वन्नभ्यासमेतस्यां भूमिकायां विवासनः।
षष्ठीं तुर्याभिधामन्यां क्रमात्पतति भूमिकाम् ॥६६॥
When he practises the fifth bhoomika, bereft of
all vasanas, he will gradually fall into the sixth state called Tureeya.
पर प्रयुक्तेन चिरं 
पदार्थाभावनी नाम षष्ठी संजायते गतिः ॥६७॥
jnaani in the sixth bhoomika can be brought down  to the level of body-consciousness only if
other people make efforts.  That state is
one where the material world is seldom cognised, if at all, for short periods,
now and then, as ripples (thoughts) arise on the Pure Consciousness of samadhi.  He may be like a day dreamer, often with eyes
open, but the eyes will not see. There will not be much of external
consciousness in him. Even if he is beaten, he will not be able to recognise
यत्रानासन्नसद्रूपो नाहं नाप्यनहंकृतिः।
केवलं क्षीणमनन आस्ते द्वैतैक्यनिर्गतः ॥६८॥   .  
that state, the jnaani  cannot fix
whether he is embodied or otherwise; he will be without the ‘I’ notion, yet
acting, simply without  thoughts, beyond
the notions of duality and oneness.
निर्ग्रन्थिः शान्तसंदेहो  जीवन्मुक्तो विभावनः ।
अनिर्वाणोऽपि निर्वाणश्चित्रदीप इव स्थितः ॥६९॥
this state, unaffected by the knot of ahamkara and free from all doubts,
he is indeed a  Jeevanmukta (for
the jeevabhava  has gone).
Although he would not have attained Nirvana state – Videha Mukti –  he is all the same having Nirvana  for he does not any more cognise his body. His
body will be like that of lamp in a picture, with just the appearance but with
none of its other features.
अन्तःशून्यो बहिःशून्यः शून्यकुंभ इवाम्बरे।
अन्तः पूर्णो बहिः पूर्णो पूर्णकुंभ इवार्णवे॥७०॥
is empty within and without, like a pot held in the air; he is also full within
 and full without, like a pot immersed in
the ocean.
किंचिदैवेष संपन्नस्त्वथैवैष न किंचन।
षष्ठ्यां भूम्यामसौ स्थित्वा सप्तमीं भूमिमाप्नुयात् ॥७१॥
possesses nothing, yet he possesses everything. Remaining in the sixth stage
for a while, he slips into the seventh Bhoomika.
विदेहमुक्तता तूक्ता सप्तमी योगभूमिका।
अगम्या वचसां शान्ता सा सीमा भवभूमिषु॥७२॥
say that the seventh janaana bhoomikaa is Videha Mukti. It is the
last frontier of the realm of Jnaana
It is pure peace and cannot be explained by the power of speech.  Words cannot describe that state of sublime
quiescence.  That is the ultimate stage –
there is nothing more beyond that.
कैश्चित्सा शिव इत्युक्ता कैश्चित् ब्रह्मेत्युदाहृता।
कैश्चिद्विष्णुरिति प्रोक्ता कैश्चिच्छून्यमितिस्मृता ॥७३॥
अर्थ इत्युदिता कैश्चित्कैश्चित्काल इति स्मृता।
कैश्चित्प्रकृतिपुंभागविभाग इति भाविता ॥७४॥
experiencing that state, some call  it
Siva, some people say it is Para Brahma, some people say it is Vishnu; and yet
some say it is Soonya – Nothingness. 
Some people say it is Pure Energy, some say it is unconditioned Time;
and some say it is Prakruti and Purusha
The Ultimate Reality cannot be explained by words, but still people call
It by different names
अन्यैरप्यन्यथा नानाभेदैरात्मविकल्पितैः।
नित्यमव्यपदेश्यापि कथंचित् व्यपदिश्यते॥७५॥
having this realisation, some start thinking about it in different manners, according
to their capacities.  Although it cannot
be explained by anybody at any time, still they would be trying to explain it
सप्तैता भूमिका प्रोक्ता मया तव रघूद्वह।
आसामभ्यासयोगेन न दुःखमनुभूयते ॥७६॥
Rama, I have explained to you the seven stages for your practice. If you do
this abhyasa, you will surely go beyond misery.   

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