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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana


Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana

 “The Yoga Vasishta is 32,000 slokas.  When Rama was eight years old, he asked many questions of his guru Vasishta.  Rama asked his guru 32,000 questions, and the answers are the Yoga Vasishta.”
“Now all Swamiji’s devotees are asking him questions and these questions and answers will also become a book.”
Read about Shivabalayogi and the Yoga Vasishta at the Yoga Vasishta pages of the Shivabalayogi Writer’s Corner website.
You can read Jay Mazo's edit of this translation of the entire Yoga Vasishta online, or download it, over a million words, HERE.

Review a sample COMPARISON of the original Mitra translation and its revision.

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

“Read the Yoga Vasishta.  Swamiji’s philosophy is fully expounded in that scripture.”
Project Gutenburg made electronic versions of the complete 1891 translation of Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana by V. L. Mitra available to the public.  Mitra’s translation is the only complete English translation of this work which is considered the finest exposition of Advaita (Non-Dual) philosophy. It is long since out of print.

Mitra knew Sanskrit and read the commentaries.  He was also an excellent scholar in Western spiritual poetry and literature.  Those who do not read Sanskrit can only give second hand evaluations, but his translation may reflect the poetical qualities in which the Sanskrit of Yoga Vasishta was written.  Indian scriptures were first meant to be heard and only in later ages to be read.

Some criticize Mitra for taking liberties and paraphrasing and amplifying the text he ought to have been translating, and some of his rendering was simply misleading.  For example, Mitra misleadingly translates samadhi as hypnosis or trance.  Those familar with Sankrit can complain that Mitra’s Bengali background affected his Sanskrit spelling.  English language and style has evolved since 1891 and Mitra’s syle was archaic even for the late 19th Century.  Perhaps Mitra intended to give this scripture the patina of the King James Bible by using archaic forms like “thee” and “thou”.  In any event, it makes for a difficult read of what already is a challenging book.

The original Sanskrit dates back to early medieval Indian history, and its subject matter arguably millennia before that.  Jay Mazo revised the text to delete the Project Gutenberg notes and formatting, Mitra’s obvious gloss (including numerous parallel references to academic and various religious texts) and the archaic second person “thee” and “thou” and attendant verb tenses.  The rest he left alone, but the clean-up work Jay did was considerable and carefully done.

Even after Jay’s edit, Mitra’s English, even his punctuation, was frustratingly opaque and obscured the subject matter.  Tom Palotas did two more rounds of edits to make the original translation more readable and understandable.  This edit is now available for those interested.

Review a sample COMPARISON of the original Mitra translation and its revision.
Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana of Valmiki
is printed in the U.S.A. on demand through
773 pages.  Hard cover bound.
Published in 2012.    ISBN 978-0-9760783-2-6

Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana

“Read the Yoga Vasishta,” Swamiji would say.  “Swamiji’s philosophy is fully expounded in that scripture.”  

The Yoga Vasishta, he said, is the only book about the teachings of a yogi in which the original is preserved
Shivabalayogi explained that the Yoga Vasishta was written down by Sage Valmiki.  
The book includes Vasishta’s description of his own life story, everything about himself — experiences and present and past lives, all as recorded by Valmiki.

The book consists of 32,000 slokas (verses of two lines each) spoken by Vasishta.  By comparison, Krishna spoke only eighteen slokas on the occasion that has become memorialized in the Bhagavad Gita.  Mitra’s English translation, almost a million words, is about a third longer than the entire King James Bible.

Swamiji said that everything that humanity needs to know and everything a person could possibly want to know is in the Yoga Vasishta.  It contains everything from politics to gambling to knowing how to deceive.  There is no need to read any other book.  Swamiji advised that we should not try to read it all.  Instead, we should focus on a subject area in which we are interested.  Swamiji has read the entire book in both Sanskrit and Telugu three times and he said that he understands it all.

A devotee once asked whether Swamiji had any special connection with the Yoga Vasishta because he refers to it so often.  Swamiji responded meditate and you will know the answer.  He added that he was around when the events described in the book took place.  Rama was eight years old at the time, explained Swamiji.
Summaries of the Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana

Those interested in the Yoga Vasishta should read the summary in the Yoga Vasishta Maharamayana page of the Shivabalayogi Writer's Corner website.

The summary written by Gen. Hanut Singh in his book, Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj, Life & Spiritual Ministration, originally published in 1981, republished in 1981, is reproduced in full in this website.  For the section on the Yoga Vasishta, click HERE.

Jay Mazo’s edit is available online and for download at The Inner Guide website.

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