The Underlying Story:
the Enlightenment of Rama
Valmiki’s book, the Yoga Vasishta is about Rama awakening to God realization through the lectures of Sage Vasishta. Rama asks questions and Vasishta gives answers over a twenty-two day period.
This is the same Rama who was an incarnation of God Vishnu and who is worshipped as God by many in India even today. The subject of the book is a lesson by itself. Even gods forget their identity when they incarnate and require a God-realized master to wake them up.
It is a very long book, about 32,000 slokas or verses of two lines each. V. L. Mitra’s English translation is about a million words. By comparison, the King James Bible is about three-quarters of that. Valmiki relates that the assembly broke for the evening twenty-two times. The last day was one of confirmation and celebration, so Vasishta’s discourses, sermons and stories extended over twenty-two days. At a comfortable spoken pace of 120 words a minute, that works out to about five to six hours of constant dialogue each day.
Most of us would be ecstatic (no pun intended) to attain God realization in only twenty-two days.
The book itself states that simply reading it can evoke enlightenment. “Whoever hears and attends to these discourses of Rama and Vasishta is sure to be relieved in every state of life and be united with [God] after his release.” (VIA.128.109) (Citations are to Book, Chapter, and verse.)
“Reading this Vasishta Maharamayana is sure to produce the knowledge of self-liberation in its reader, even during his lifetime in this world.” (VIB.95.25)
“There was never a better scriptures than this, nor is any like this now in existence or likely to be in fashion in the future. . . . This is the best among the principal works of the scriptures. It is easily intelligible and delightful. There is nothing new here, only what is well known in spiritual philosophy. Let a man read the many stories contained in this book with delight. He undoubtedly will find this book the best of its kind.” (VIB.103.25, 42-43)
Yet among Vasishta’s or Valmiki’s praise for the book, it also recognizes that it may not be to everyone’s taste. “Should this scripture prove distasteful, owing to it being the composition of a holy sage, then the student may consult the sacred scriptures to perfect his spiritual knowledge.” (VIB.175.76)