Translated by Swami Venkatesananda
Publisher: The Chiltern Yoga Trust (Australia) ISBN 0 9590690 0 3
The Yoga Vasishtha is one of the most noble spiritual works ever written. Translating such an epic work is not easy, but Swami Venkatesananda, a disciple of the late great Swami Shivananda, has done these teachings justice. He is lucid and devotional in his rendition.
The Gurus of this book use the stories of seekers’ lives as a teaching device. Stories cleverly avoid confronting disciples directly. They soften the teachings and the students’ responsibility is to intuit the message the guru is trying to convey. Each story unfolds as a drama of anger, fear, sorrow, vengeance and suffering but also the means to overcome them.
We begin with a question from one sage to another, ‘O Sage, kindly enlighten me on this problem of liberation—which one of the two is conducive to liberation, work or knowledge?’
The sage Agastya replies, ‘Verily birds are able to fly with their two wings: even so both work and knowledge together lead to the supreme goal of liberation.’
Agastya reminds the questioner of an incident where a King refused an invitation to enter heaven. Perplexed by his refusal Indra, the Lord of heaven, sent him to Valmiki, the narrator of most of this wonderful book, for advice.
Thus the story within a story continues when Valmiki, a great renunciant and guru, tells how the sage Vasishtha helped Lord Ram overcome the despair and sorrow inherent in life, to attain liberation.
These are some of the most beautiful yogic teachings available. They communicate the intelligence, energy and love of the Self and inspire meditation.