- Commentary By Swami
TEJOMAYANANDA IntroductionThe background of Yoga Vasistha In the Rāmayana-s (story of Sri Rāma) written by Tulsidas-ji, Vālmiki-ji, Vyāsa-ji, etc., neither the details about the teaching of Väsiştha-ji to Sri Rāma nor the circumstances that led to the dialogue are elaborated upon. Both of these are expounded in Yoga Vāsiştha. Upon graduation from the gurukula (residential school where both the spiritual and secular knowledges were taught), Śri Rāma along with his brothers Lākṣmaṇa, Bharata and Satrughna, some friends and Brahmin-s, visited various holy places all over India. On his return Sri Rāma became very withdrawn. He did not participate in any sports, nor entertainment like music, dance or drama, nor in merry making with friends. He preferred to be alone and did not even speak much. His brothers too became affected by his mood. His father, King Dasaratha was worried. He wondered, “What has come over my cheerful and enthusiastic son?” He tried his best to bring Sri Rāma out of this mood but did not succeed. At around the same time, Sage Viśvāmitra was staying in Siddhāśrama, near present day Patna. He was unsuccessfully trying to perform a yajña (sacrificial rite). Demons disturbed the proceedings by throwing unholy materials over the sacrificial site. Having heard that the Lord had incarnated in Ayodhyā as the son of King Dasaratha, he went towards Ayodhyā to seek His help in completing the yajña. Upon reaching Ayodhya, he was worshipfully received by King Dasaratha. Dasaratha said, “I am overjoyed to see you. I feel blessed by your presence. Please tell me what brings you here. I shall immediately fulfill your wish. Sage Visvāmitra explained his predicament and requested the king to permit Sri Rama and Laksmana to come along and protect the yajña. Dasaratha being very attached to Sri Rama, was shocked and said, “Please ask for anything other than Sri Rāma. After all, he is too young and delicate to fight those terrible monsters.” Visvāmitra was angry that Dasaratha was now hesitating in fulfilling his promise and was about to leave in a huff. Sage Vasistha advised Daśaratha not to anger Viśvāmitra and assured him that no harm would come to Sri Rāma in the care of Viśvāmitra. Sri Rāma was called to the court and instructed to go with Viśvāmitra. Sri Rāma, otherwise a very obedient son, refused to comply on this occasion. Describing his own state of mind, Sri Rāma refused to act when in such confusion. He said, “During my travels I saw that everyone is suffering — the rich, the poor, young and old. Everything in the world is perishing. There is nothing permanent. All pleasures are pithless and pain-ridden. Man is proud of his possessions and runs day and night after fleeting objects. I see no purpose to life. Who am I? What is the nature of the world? What is the purpose of human existence? I refuse to do anything till I get answers to these questions. My mind is unprepared to make any decisions or undertake any actions.”
Om. Swami Tejomayananda.