Preceptors of Advaita

by T. M. P. Mahadevan | 1968 | 179,170 words | ISBN-13: 9788185208510

The Advaita tradition traces its inspiration to God Himself — as Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa or as Sadā-Śiva. The supreme Lord revealed the wisdom of Advaita to Brahma, the Creator, who in turn imparted it to Vasiṣṭha....

1. Vasiṣṭha



K. S. Ramaswami Sastri
B.A., B.L.

Vasiṣṭha is one of the supreme seers, sages and saints of India. In the course of uttering the Gāyatrī-mantra day after day, the names of seven sages (Atri, Bhrigu, Kutsa, Vasiṣṭha, Gautama, Kāśyapa, and Angirasa) are repeated everyday. In Vālmīki’s world-famous epic poem Rāmāyaṇa (the 19th sarga or chapter in the Bāla-kāṇḍa) the sage Viśvāmitra goes to King Daśaratha of Ayodhyā to ask him to send Rāma with him to protect from destruction by demons the sacrifice that was going to be performed by him. King Daśaratha was unwilling to do so because Rāma was young. Thereupon Viśvāmitra tells him:

aham vedmī mahātmānam rāmam satya-parākramam
vasiṣṭho’pi mahātejāḥ ye chānye tapasi sthiṭāḥ

(I know Rāma to be high-souled and of true prowess. The sage of spiritual radiance — Vasiṣṭha — and others who excel in tapas, i.e., spiritual austerity, also know him to be so.)

Even then the king was unwilling to send Rāma with Viśvāmitra But Vasiṣṭha advised the king to grant Viśvāmitra’s request, and thereupon King. Daśaratha sent Rāma and Lakṣ-mana with Viśvāmitra. Vasiṣṭha was the purohita (spiritual adviser) of the king of sūryavamśa, i.e. the solar dynasty. Viśvāmitra taught them two potent mantras — Bala and Atibalā — which enabled them to conquer hunger and thirst and perform miraculous acts. Viśvāmitra performed his projected sacrifice unhindered, as Rāma and Lakṣmana protected it from all attackers.

After Rāma and Lakṣmana returned from the island of Laṅkā after destroying Rāvaṇa and his rule over the universe, Vasiṣṭha was one of the eight sages who crowned Rāma as the king of Ayodhyā.

vasisṭho vāmadevaścha jābāliratha kāśyapaḥ
kātiyāyano suyajñaśca gautamo vijayas taṭhā
abhyashiñchan nara-vyāghram prasannena sugandhinā
salilena sahasrākṣam vasavo vāsavam yathā

(Vālmīki RāmāyaṇaYuddha-kāṇḍa, sarga 131, Verses 61, 62).

(Vasiṣṭha, Vāmadeva, Jābāli, Kāśyapa, Kātyāyana, Suyajña, Gautama and Vijaya performed the coronation of Rāma with limpid and fragrant water, as Vasus crowned Indra as the King of all the worlds).

Such a consummating coronation of Śrī Rāma by Vasiṣṭha was supplemented and perfected by another coronation, i.e. the gift of spiritual knowledge to Rāma as described in the great work Yoga-vāśiṣṭha which is as great in merit in its way as Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa and is much bigger in size than Vālmīki Ramāyaṇa, Adapting a well-known Sanskrit verse about Vālmīki Ramāyaṇa, we may say about Vasiṣṭha’s work:

vasiṣṭha giri saṃbhūtā, rāma sāgara gāminī
punātu bhuvanam puṇyā rāmāyaṇa-mahānadī

The first part of the work deals with vairāgya (freedom from desire), Mumukṣutva (desire for spiritual liberation), utpatti (creation), sthiti (preservation) and upaśama (dissolution). The second part of the work consists of two sections, viz. Pūrvārdha and Uttharārdha (the first part and second part) which deal in great detail with nirvāṇa (annihilation of individuality and achievement and spiritual experience of universality and divinity).

I shall quote in conclusion from Yoga-vāsiṣṭha a few verses which combine wonderful beauty and divine sublimity.

evam sarvamidam viśvam paramātmaiva kevalam
brahmaiva parākāśam esa devaḥ parah sṃritaḥ
tadetad pūjanam śreyaḥ tasmāt sarvam avāpyate
tadaiva sargabhūḥ sarvam idam tasminnavasthitam
akṛtrimam anādyantam advitīyam akhaṇḍitam
abahissādhanāsādhyam sukham tasmād avāpyate

(The whole universe is one with Paramātmā, i.e. the Universal Lord. Brahman is known as Parākāśa, i.e. the Supreme Sky. Worshipping Him is beneficial. From Him comes everything. He is the Creator of everything. All things rest in Him. He is not the Creation. He is without beginning and end. He has no peer. He is undivided and indivisible and full. He is not created by an agency outside Him. We get all bliss from Him).

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: