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Shivabalayogi & Yoga Vasistha

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Yoga Vasistha Maharamayana

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Shivabalayogi & Yoga Vasistha

English Translations

The Underlying Story

Timeless & Historical

The Organization of the Book

Similes & Metaphors

The Essence

Stories in Yoga Vasistha

Nirvana & Living Liberated

Personal Effort

Surplus Sections

Humor in Yoga Vasistha

Narrow Attitudes Fellow Feelings

Words & Terminology

Endless Possibilities

Yoga Vasistha Stories

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Shivabalayogi & Yoga Vasistha

Shivabalayogi often described himself as a practical yogi.  Instead of intellectualizing spirituality, he encouraged people to practice meditation.  Instead of giving discourses, he gave actual experiences.  However, he placed a great value on Yoga Vasistha and over four decades, he often recommended the book to devotees.

As early as around 1958 or 1959, before he finished his twelve-year tapas, Shivabalayogi recommended the book to two devotees, Rumale Chennebasaiah and M. G. Kabbe, who would meditate in Swamiji’s presence in the evening and mornings.  Kabbe told me they spent the days in nearby Draksharama, resting, taking food and reading the Yoga Vasistha.

Gen. Hanut Singh met Shivabalayogi in Dehradun and was quickly drawn into the regular practice of meditation.  He had questions about his experiences and the spiritual path and talked with Swamiji about them. Swamiji’s answers became material for the biography that Gen. Hanut assembled, Spiritual Ministration, first published in 1981.  In that book, Gen. Hanut quotes Swamiji, “Read the Yoga Vasistha.  Swamiji’s philosophy is fully expounded in that scripture.”  Its chapter on “Mission and Upadesa [Spiritual Guidance]” includes a short synopsis of the Yoga Vasistha, ending with the encouragement:  “Those who wish to know more about the profound teachings embodied in this Scripture, particularly with a view to gaining a better understanding of Sri Swamiji’s Teachings, would do well to make a more detailed study of the ‘Yoga Vasistha.’ ”

In the United States almost two decades later, we read Spiritual Ministration and learned about the connection between Shivabalayogi and Yoga Vasistha.  But our curiosity about the book was also aroused by Swamiji himself.  For example, Swamiji told devotees about his consecration of the Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara temple in Bangalore and how his consecration of the idol to God Brahma, the Creator, removed a curse by Shiva.  When asked about Brahma, he said, “You should read the history of Brahma.”  He was asked whether there was any particular book that he recommended.  “Yes, the Yoga Vasistha.”

We had conversations with Swamiji about atom bombs.  He would warn us of the dangers of nuclear war and how one of the reasons he completed tapas was to use the powers to prevent such a war from breaking out.  “This is not the first time people have made atomic bombs.  This happened many thousands of years ago and many millions of years ago. If you study history you will come to understand.  If you read the Yoga Vasistha you will come to know about that.”

On another occasion, Shivabalayogi was asked about avatars.  “Read the Yoga Vasistha,” he said, “and you will learn how yogis make avatars and how Rama acquired his powers from yogis.”  Swamiji revealed that he had incarnated during each major avatar of God Vishnu, which occurs every five thousand years.  The last such avatar was Krishna, and the one before that was Rama.  Swamiji added that he was a witness to the events described in Yoga Vasistha when Sage Vasistha gave spiritual instruction to the young Rama.

Even in the United States, we knew that Shivabalayogi discouraged intellectualizing about spirituality, so for Swamiji to recommend any spiritual book really stood out.  He said that Yoga Vasistha, unlike other scriptures, preserves the original teachings of a yogi.  He mentioned it often enough that many of us began to think that Shivabalayogi was the Sage Vasistha.

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