THE LAGHU YOGA VASISTHA is a popular text on Advaita Vedanta, Puranic in form and philosophical in content. It is also known by other names like Arsa Ramayana, Jnana Vasistha, Maha Ramayana, Vasistha Ramayana and is ascribed to sage Valmiki himself. The authorship or rather writer ship is attributed to Rishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana who is said to have related the whole of Yoga Vasistha to Rishi Bharadwaja as having occurred between Sri Rama and Rishi Vasistha.
It is a free translation trying to present the ideas contained in the text in a lucid manner using at times the explanations of the Sanskrit commentaries. There are some peculiar traits in the feature of this work as contra distinguished from other spiritual works in the Sanskrit literature.
Yoga Vasistha has chalked out for itself a new and distinct path. At first, it enunciates a doctrine in its several bearings and then elucidates it with beautiful stories. Therein it gives also rules of guidance for conduct of life in the daily world, these also finding their illustrations in the stories given out. As in Puranas, we have not to rack our brains over with the slight hints thrown therein and to sometimes give up in despair the problems before us.
K. Narayanaswamy Aiyer, son of Krishnaswami Aiyerr, was born at Kazhukanimattam Village, Tanjavur District, South Indian, in the year 1854. He was the second of four brothers, thereof whom occupied fairly comfortable positions in life. Educated at his village school at Kazhukanimattam and later at the Kumbakonam Town High School and at the Kumbakonam Government Arts College, he was a first grade pleader at Kumbakonam and made a reasonably prosperous living there. He had a son and two daughters. He joined The Theosophical Society during, the presidentship of Col. H. S. Olcott and travelled very widely all over India including far places like Kabul and Srinagar at a time when communications were poorly developed (1905-18), spreading the message of The Theosophical Society. His task was also to help in weaning away Indians from the Christian missionary influence and from an imitative way of life patterned on the West. His rare persuasiveness and lucidity of expression brought good results. His personal life as a real Sannyasin carried profound conviction everywhere. His scholarship in Sanskrit and English and his deep knowledge of his own and western religions earned for him a great measure of contemporary veneration. He died in December 1918 at Pudukkottai on one of his lecture tours. An assiduous writer, his articles regularly appeared in The Theosophist then published from London. He wrote six major books: Hindu God Universal, Thirty Minor Upanishads, Thirty two Vidyas, Puranas in the Light of Modem Science, Yoga: Lower and Higher and a translation of Laghu Yoga Vasistha. A minor work which attracted attention particularly among Western scientists was Prof. Bergson and Hindu Vedanta which appeared in a pamphlet form.
THE YOGA-VASISTHA is a popular text on Advaita Vedanta, Puranic in form and philosophical in content. It is also known by other names like Arsa Ramayana, Jnana Vasistha, Maha Ramayana, Vasistha Ramayana and Vasistha and is ascribed to sage Valmiki himself. It is in the form of replies given by Vasistha to Sri Rama’s queries regarding philosophical problems of life and death, and human suffering, and treats the essentials of Advaita Vedanta. It seems to advocate the dristisristi- vada which holds that the world exists only so long s it is perceived: manodrsyam idam sarvam the whole world of things is the object of the mind.
The Laghu-Yoga-Vasistha is an abridged version of the Toga-Vasistha, compiled by one Abhinanda of Kashmir. For the first three Prakaranas there is a commentary called Vasistha Candrika by AtmanSuka, and for the last three Prakaranas, Mummidi Devaraya wrote the Samsaratarani commentary (both published with the text, Nirnayasagar Press, Bombay, 1888).
This English rendering of the Laghu- Yoga-Vasistha by the late K. Narayanaswamy Aiyer was first published in 1896 (Thomson & Co., Madras) and then in 1914 (Hoe & Co., Madras). It is free translation trying to present the ideas contained in the text in a lucid manner using at times the explanations of the Sanskrit commentaries. The Adyar Library is again bringing this work into print as there has been a demand for it. Some editorial changes have been made. A viographical sketch of the translator has also been included in this edition.
IT is intended to give herein a short introduction to, and an analysis of, Laghu Yoga Vasistha. Of course the analysis cannot be an exhaustive one, as it will have then to run through many pages and form a book of the name of Yoga Vasistha, the larger one going by the name of Brihat Yoga Vasistha is and the smaller one, Laghu Yoga Vasistha. The term Brihat means great, while Laghu signifies small. Vasistha is because of this work emanating from Rishi Vasistha as well be seen later on. Though the book is dubbed with the appellation, Yoga Vasistha, it treats of jnana only though practical Yoga is dealt with in two stories in this work. Even there it says that the pure Raja- Yoga is meant and not Hatha-Yoga. Rather the word Yoga seems to have been used in the title of this work in its generic sense of including Jnana-Yoga and other Yogas as in the Bhagavad Gita.
Of the two above mentioned works, the smaller one is an abridgement of the bigger and contains about 6,000 Granthas, whereas the latter contains 36,000. The commentary of the former has the same number of Granthas as the original whereas that of the latter amounts to 74,000 Granthas which with its original is a lakh on the whole. In the abridge text, almost all the words of the bigger one are reproduced verbatim from the bigger one, the work of the author being generally to clip the bigger of its expansive descriptions and so on; so that in the work before us, we have got the quintessence extracted. This work seems to have been undertaken by one Abhinanda, a great Pandit of Kashmir. The authorship or rather writer ship is attributed to Rishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana who is said to have related the whole of Yoga Vasistha to Rishi Bharadwaja as having occurred between Sri Rama and Rishi Vasistha. But of this, later on. The larger work seems to have been partially translated by a gentleman hailing from Bengal. But this one, though small, it is named, is yet big enough.
This work is, in the words of Madame Blavatsky, ‘meant for the few only’. In the phraseology of this work, it is intended neither for those Ajnanis (or the worldly-minded), who welter in the sea of Samsara without being indifferent to the worldly things nor for those higher spiritual personages who have reached a state of adeptship, so as to be above all advice. Hence it is written in the interests of those who have become indifferent to worldly things and crave for spirituality becoming a potent factor in their daily lives. Fancy a work like The Voice of Silence put into the hands of a worldly person of decidedly materialistic view and he will this work appear to person who has not caught a glimpse even of the higher life and principles. A person of true Vairagya, should he wish to have not only some hints thrown on the nature of cosmos, Manas (mind) and Univeral Spirit from the idealistic standpoint but also some rules of guidance in his daily practical life, towards occult knowledge with the proper illustrations will herein find, in my opinion, a mine of knowledge to be guided by and to cogitate upon.
There are some peculiar traits in the feature of this work as contra distinguished from other spiritual works in the Sanskrit literature. As all know, the Vedas and the Upanishads are so mystic in their nature in many places that their real meaning is not grasped clearly and all persons except true occultists rare to find in this world interpret them in different ways, one holding that the Vedas inculcate nature worship, another putting upon them a diametrically opposed view and so on. Even in the Ten Upanishads, all the metaphysical leaving aside for the present, as impossible, the occult theories have not been worked out in a systematic manner except in the way of some clues vouchsafed thereupon. Taking the Puranas in their dead letter light, our Pandits generally have found them replete with indecent and absurd stories and thrown them into a corner; and hence the nick name of Puranas has been applied, in ordinary usage amongst us, to anything that is a farrago of fictions and absurdities. But for the timely resurrection of them by H.P. Blavatsky with the profound ray of light shed upon them by her, almost all of us should have unanimously buried, by this time, into oblivion all those savouring of Puranas. Even she has not thrown full light on them, as she probably was not privileged so to do. As regard, Itihasas, namely, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, they are considered as so many stories only and as such are much in favor of our orthodox Pandits who do not care to go above worldly things. Vedanta soars high in the region of the Absolute with its theories and words; and our metaphysicians of the old school in India, carrying the notion of the physical world up there, try to solve the problem of the homogeneity or otherwise of the Infinite and are wrangling with one another as our Advaitins, Visishtadvaitins and Dvaitins are doing in their everyday lives, so much so that their arguments end in mental gymnastics only and with nothing practical in their lives. Here a curious instance occurs to me. One day an Advaita Pandit lectured in a certain place about Brahman Reality and argued with great vehemence against his adversary. Next day seeing him, while I was passing by, circumambulate an idol in a temple, I asked him as to whom he was paying respects. The Pandit merely laughed over the affair without an answer. Thus are most of our Pandits, theorizing only with nothing practical about them and soaring into the region of the Absolute without a proper knowledge of the basic foundations of Vedanta.
|INTRODUCTION - Laghu Yoga Vasishta||1-20|
|1. The story of Suka||43|
|1. The Story of Akasaja, The Son Akasa||61|
|2. The Story of Lila||71|
|3. The Story of Karkati||89|
|4. The Story of Aindhavan, The son of Indu or the Moon||100|
|5. The Story of Decietful Indra||102|
|6. The Story of Manas (Mind)||105|
|7. The Story of a Bala (lad)||109|
|8. The Story of a Siddha||111|
|9. The Conclusion of the Utpatti Prakarana||116|
|1. The Story of Sukra. Venus and kata||133|
|2. The Story of Dama, Vyala and kata||140|
|3. The Story of Bheema, Bhasha and Drudha||148|
|4. The Story of Dasura||153|
|5. The Story of kacha||172|
|6. The Conclusion of the Sthithi Prakarana||175|
|1. The Story of King Janaka||179|
|2. The Story of Punnya and Pavan.||186|
|3. The Story of Great Bali||195|
|4. The Story of Prahlada||203|
|5. The story of Gadhi||215|
|6. The story of Uddaalaka||222|
|7. The Story of Suraghu||235|
|8. The Story of Bhasa and Vilasa||243|
|9. The Story of Veethahavya||246|
|10. The Conclusion of Upasanti Prakarana||258|
|1. The Story of Buusunda||271|
|2. The Story of Devapuja (The worship of God)||287|
|3. The Story of Bilwa fruit||298|
|4. The Story Sila, A granite||300|
|5. The Story of Arjuna||302|
|6. The Story of the Hundred Rudras||306|
|7. The Story of Vetala (Goblin)||310|
|8. The Story of Bhageeratha||314|
|9. The Story of Sikhidhwaja||318|
|10. The Story of Kacha||361|
|11. The Story of Mithya Purusha, the Illusory Personage||363|
|12. The Story of Bhringisa||366|
|13. The Story of Ikshwaku||369|
|14. The Story of a Muni and a Hunter||380|
|The Conclusion of Nirvana Prakarana||385-396|