Yoga Vasistha
Yoga Vasistha (also known as Vasistha's Yoga) is a Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 spiritual text traditionally attributed to Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

. It recounts a discourse of the sage Vasistha
Vashist in the seventh, i.e the present Manvantara, and the Rajpurohit / Rajguru of the Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty. He was the mānasaputra of Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners...

 to a young Prince Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, during a period when the latter is in a dejected state. The contents of Vasistha's teaching to Rama is associated with Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

, the illusory nature
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

 of the manifest world and the principle of non-duality
Nondualism is a term used to denote affinity, or unity, rather than duality or separateness or multiplicity. In reference to the universe it may be used to denote the idea that things appear distinct while not being separate. The term "nondual" can refer to a belief, condition, theory, practice,...

. The book has been dated between the 11th and 14th century AD) and is generally regarded as one of the longest texts in Sanskrit (after the Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

) and an important text of Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

. The book consists of about 32,000 shloka
A ' is a category of verse line developed from the Vedic Anuṣṭubh. It is the basis for Indian Epic verse, and may be considered the Indian verse form par excellence, occurring, as it does, far more frequently than any other meter in classical Sanskrit poetry. The Mahabharata and Ramayana, for...

s (lines), including numerous short stories and anecdotes used to help illustrate its content. In terms of Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, the conversation in the Yoga Vasishta takes place chronologically before the Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...


Other names of this text are Mahā-Rāmāyana, ārsha Rāmāyana, Vasiṣṭha Rāmāyana, Yogavasistha-Ramayana and Jnanavasistha.

Text origin and evolution

The Yoga Vasistha is a syncretic
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 work, containing elements of Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

, Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

, Saiva Siddhanta and Mahayana Buddhism. The oldest available manuscript (the Moksopaya
The Mokṣopāya or Mokṣopāyaśāstra is a Sanskrit philosophical text on salvation for non-ascetics , written on the Pradyumna hill in Śrīnagar in the 10th century AD. It has the form of a public sermon and claims human authorship and contains about 30,000 śloka's...

or Moksopaya Shastra) is a philosophical text on salvation (moksa-upaya: "means to release"), written on the Pradyumna hill in Srinagar
Srinagar is the summer seasonal capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated in Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus. It is one of the largest cities in India not to have a Hindu majority. The city is famous for its gardens, lakes and houseboats...

 in the 10th century AD. This text was expanded and Vedanticized from the 11th to the 14th century AD – resulting in the present text, which was influenced by the Saivite Trika
Trika, a concept of Kashmir Shaivism, refers to the 3 goddesses Parā, Parāparā and Aparā which are named in the Mālinivijayottata-tantra, a Bhairava Tantra.This gives Kashmir Saivism its other name, Trika.-Śiva, Śakti and :...

 school. This version contains about 32,000 verses; an abridged version by Abhinanda of Kashmir (son of Jayanta Bhatta
Jayanta Bhatta
Jayanta Bhatta was a Kashmiri poet and philosopher of Nyaya school of Indian philosophy. In his philosophical treatise Nyayamanjari and drama Agamadambara, Jayanta mentioned about the king Shankaravarman as his contemporary...

) is known as the Laghu ("Little") Yogavasistha and contains 6,000 verses. Recent research has shown that in this version frame stories
Frame story
A frame story is a literary technique that sometimes serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, whereby an introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories...

 have been introduced, emphasis on Rama Bhakti has been added, the meaning of certain passages is reversed, all Buddhist terminology is deleted and the "public sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

" mode has been changed to Vasistha's instructions to Rama.

Since 1999, the Moksopaya Project (supervised by professor Walter Slaje at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany) has been working on a critical edition of the Moksopaya
The Mokṣopāya or Mokṣopāyaśāstra is a Sanskrit philosophical text on salvation for non-ascetics , written on the Pradyumna hill in Śrīnagar in the 10th century AD. It has the form of a public sermon and claims human authorship and contains about 30,000 śloka's...



Prince Rama returns from touring the country, and becomes utterly disillusioned after experiencing the apparent reality of the world. This worries his father, King Dasaratha
Dasharatha was a king of Ayodhya of the Ikshvaku dynasty whose life story is narrated principally in the Hindu epic Ramayana...

, who expresses his concern to Sage Vasistha upon Rama's arrival. Sage Vasistha consoles the king by telling him that Rama's dis-passion (vairagya
Vairāgya is a Sanskrit term used in Hindu philosophy that roughly translates as dispassion, detachment, or renunciation, in particular renunciation from the pains and pleasures in the material world...

) is a sign that the prince is now ready for spiritual enlightenment. He says that Rama has begun understanding profound spiritual truths, which is the cause of his confusion; he needs confirmation. Sage Vasistha asks the king to summon Rama. Then, in King Dasaratha's court, the sage begins his discourse to Rama (which lasts several days). The answer to Rama's questions forms the entire scripture that is Yoga Vasistha.


The traditional belief is that reading this book leads to spiritual liberation. The conversation between Vasistha and Prince Rama is that between a great, enlightened sage and a seeker who is about to reach wholeness. This is said to be among those rare conversations which directly leads to Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...


The scripture provides understanding, scientific ideas and philosophy; it explains consciousness, the creation of the world, the multiple universes in this world, our perception of the world, its ultimate dissolution, the liberation
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

 of the soul
Ātman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

 and the non-dual approach to creation.

An oft-repeated verse in the text is that relating to Kakathaliya, ("coincidence
A coincidence is an event notable for its occurring in conjunction with other conditions, e.g. another event. As such, a coincidence occurs when something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens under conditions named, but not under a defined relationship...

"). The story is that a crow alights on a palm tree, and that very moment the ripe palm fruit falls on the ground. The two events are apparently related, yet the crow never intended the palm fruit to fall; nor did the palm fruit fall because the crow sat on the tree. The intellect mistakes the two events as causally
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

 related, though in reality they are not.


Yoga Vasistha is divided into six parts: dis-passion, qualifications of the seeker, creation, existence, dissolution and liberation. It sums up the spiritual process in the seven Bhoomikas:
  1. Śubhecchā (longing for the Truth): The yogi (or sādhaka) rightly distinguishes between permanent and impermanent; cultivates dislike for worldly pleasures; acquires mastery over his physical and mental organism; and feels a deep yearning to be free from Saṃsāra.
  2. Vicāraṇa (right inquiry): The yogi has pondered over what he or she has read and heard, and has realized it in his or her life.
  3. Tanumānasa (attenuation – or thinning out – of mental activities): The mind abandons the many, and remains fixed on the One.
  4. Sattvāpatti (attainment of sattva
    In Hindu philosophy, sattva is the most rarefied of the three gunas in Samkhya, sāttvika "pure", rājasika "dim", and tāmasika "dark". Importantly, no value judgement is entailed as all guna are indivisible and mutually qualifying...

    , "reality"): The Yogi, at this stage, is called Brahmavid ("knower of Brahman"). In the previous four stages, the yogi is subject to sañcita, Prārabdha and Āgamī forms of karma. He or she has been practicing Samprajñāta Samādhi (contemplation), in which the consciousness of duality still exists.
  5. Asaṃsakti (unaffected by anything): The yogi (now called Brahmavidvara) performs his or her necessary duties, without a sense of involvement.
  6. Parārthabhāvanī (sees Brahman everywhere): External things do not appear to exist to the yogi (now called Brahmavidvarīyas), and tasks are performed only at the prompting of others. Sañcita and Āgamī karma are now destroyed; only a small amount of Prārabdha karma remains.
  7. Turīya (perpetual samādhi): The yogi is known as Brahmavidvariṣṭha and does not perform activities, either by his will or the promptings of others. The body drops off approximately three days after entering this stage.


Yoga Vasistha is considered one of the most important scriptures of the Vedantic philosophy.


The following traditional Sanskrit commentaries on the Yoga Vasistha are extent
  • Vāsiṣṭha-rāmāyaṇa-candrikā by Advayāraṇya (son of Narahari)
  • Tātparya prakāśa by ānanda Bodhendra Sarasvatī
  • Bhāṣya by Gaṅgādharendra
  • Pada candrikā by Mādhava Sarasvatī


Originally written in Sanskrit, the Yoga Vasistha has been translated into most Indian languages, and the stories are told to children in various forms.

During the Moghul Dynasty the text was translated into Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 several times, as ordered by Akbar, Jahangir
Jahangir was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 until his death. The name Jahangir is from Persian جهانگیر,meaning "Conqueror of the World"...

 and Darah Shikuh. One of these translations was undertaken by Nizam al-Din Panipati in the late sixteenth century AD. The translation, known as the Jug-Basisht, has since became popular in Persia among intellectuals interested in Indo-Persian culture
Indo-Persian culture
"Indo-Persian culture" refers to those Persian aspects that have been integrated into or absorbed into the culture of the Indian subcontinent, and in particular, into North India and modern-day Pakistan....


Yoga Vasistha was translated into English by Swami Jyotirmayananda
Swami Jyotirmayananda
H. H. Swami Jyotirmayananda is a prominent Indian teacher of Vedanta, spiritual Hindu philosophy, and author of over 40 books on Vedanta, Yoga and several other topics. He was a disciple of the late Swami Sivananda, and served as a religious professor at Vedanta Forest Academy, at the Sivananda...

, Swami Venkatesananda
Swami Venkatesananda
Swami Venkatesananda , known previously as Parthsarathy, was a disciple of Swami Sivananda Saraswati...

, Vidvan Bulusu Venkateswaraulu and Vihari Lal Mitra. K. Naryanaswami Aiyer translated the well-known abridged version, Laghu-Yoga-Vasistha. In 2009, Swami Tejomayananda's Yoga Vasistha Sara Sangrah was published by the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust. In this version the Laghu-Yoga-Vasistha has been condensed to 86 verses, arranged into seven chapters.

English translations

1) Complete translation Sanskrit text with English translation.
  • This complete translation is currently being prepared for publication in the public domain at the Project Gutenberg/Distributed Proofreaders: A preliminary version is available at:

2) Abbreviated versions
  • Jyotirmayananda, Swami: Yoga Vasistha. Vol. 1–5. Yoga Research Foundation, Miami 1977. Abbreviated to about one-third of the original work. A shorter version of the above.

Telugu translations

Complete translation
  • Vasishtha Rama Samvaadam, Sri Yeleswarapu Hanuma Ramakrishna. Vol. 1–4, Audio CD for Vol 1.


"The great remedy for the long-lasting disease of samsara is the enquiry, 'Who am I? To whom does this samsara belong?', which entirely cures it."

"Nothing whatsoever is born or dies anywhere at any time. It is Brahman alone, appearing in the form of the world."

"O Rama, there is no intellect, no consciousness, no mind and no individual soul (jiva). They are all imagined in Brahman."

"That consciousness which is the witness of the rise and fall of all beings – know that to be the immortal state of supreme bliss."

"Knowledge of truth, Lord, is the fire that burns up all hopes and desires as if they are dried blades of grass. That is what is known by the word samadhi – not simply remaining silent."

External links

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