What is the Yoga vasishta?
The meaning of the word “yoga” is explained by a sage named Vasishta. This text its believed to be a part of the great Indian epic Ramayana , just as the Bhagavad –Gita is part of the great epic Mahabharata. The text is very long, with around 35 000 Sanskrit verses (slokas). Some people argue that it was previously 65000 verses long, and was later reduced to 35 000. As a comparison, the Bhagavad Gita is 700 verses long and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is composed of 195 sutras. The whole text is set in the form of questions asked by great god Rama to his teacher the great sage Vasishta. This text is concerned with all fields of knowledge, beyond yoga and Vedanta. Even the recent scientific discovery of a god particle is mentioned under the name of Chaithaynya kan.
Science in yoga vasishta
A babaji from Germany has been coming for seven years to visit swami Premananda and listen to Yoga Vasishta discourses. When asked why he is interested in this text rather than other scriptures he says that Yoga Vasishta is full of quantum physics and the theory of perception and many major recent scientific discoveries. Yoga Vasishta always takes the viewpoint of universal consciousness. It dives deep into the core of each and every atom in the body and in the universe. So this text is untouched by any religion, nationality or any type of spiritual practice - it does not promote any sect, culture, sages or any type of yogis but is completely filled with the knowledge about the deepest core of universe from where all the creation starts . The questions asked by a man called Rama are very advanced questions relevant beyond time and space, as are also the answers. The Yoga Vasishta is especially useful today for people who want to control and stabilize the mind.
The study of this scripture makes one expand the awareness beyond any limitations like caste, religion or country. This text teaches us to keep a universal consciousness always in the brain at the same time performing daily duties with body in a perfect manner. By understanding Vedanta one will not get trapped in worldly problems. By attaching fully with day to day dealing we suffer by thinking that we are bodies. Yoga vasishta and other scriptures in eastern philosophy repeatedly insist that we are a part of cosmic consciousness and the body is only a tool to live – to be attached to the body and to bodily things is the cause of suffering. It is said in theVedas that thinking that I am body is a great sin and understanding g that I am not the body is the greatest wisdom.
Yoga Vasishta gives out this single truth repeatedly throughout its 35000 verses. As swami Premananda has been dealing with this scripture since 1961, it is a great privilege to sit and listen to him. It will also be very easy to follow for a beginner. Thus Yoga Vasishta classes form a major part of this ashram for any spiritual aspirant, whether he is an Indian or a western person.
"Freedom means not to disturb others"
Most of the people who come to ashram ask swami Premananda to give them some work or service. Swami says you are completely free in this ashram and nobody will tell you to do this or that. This is one of the main features of this ashram where everybody is independent and equal. But some people misunderstand this advice and they just lie in this ashram without doing any type of service or karmayoga or contribution. This can gradually create frustration in this person’s mind and he or she becomes a disturbance to others naturally. Swamiji explains the meaning of freedom very nicely.
"Your freedom ends where my nose begins"
This is an international statement. To say that I am free does not mean I can do anything . Everybody has this freedom so my doings should not disturb other’s freedom. Freedom not means to sit idly. Freedom means to offer with all your heart the help that is needed at the right time.
In most of the ashrams in India the authority will call you from your room in the morning and give many suggestions of karmayoga or work from 8 am to 6 pm. However Swami Premananda gives complete freedom to all of those coming in to ashram, be they wealthy or beggars, spiritual seekers or monks.
Swamiji will not even say anything if you do not attend daily chanting and classes, if you are only eating and sleeping, nor even if you are fasting. According to swami Premananda this is your decision but it should help you in your progress and it should not disturb other people’s daily routine. This is a very deep subject. We often think freedom means to sit idly, but it means to do the right things at the right time. I am free to do anything but I cannot play music very loudly in my room because this music would disturb other people in their houses.
Experience of one of spiritual seeker
In 2009 I observed a silence for six months. I asked Swami Premananda to give me a place to stay for silence. And I wrote down on paper that I could do up to 6 hours of karmayoga instead of giving money. He told me to stay and do my practice (sadhana). I lived for six months in silence and swami Premananda supported me with food and shelter. They never asked any service of me, but every week asked if I had any difficulty to solve. This is was a strange experience for me as most ashrams would give spiritual seekers up to 15 hours of karma yoga in the name of free enlightenment. Still today we can see many persons staying in the ashram, doing spiritual practices only, like japa or silence or chanting or meditating. Swami Premananda never disturbs them and will not allow anyone to interfere with them. This is one of the important features in the ashram of swamiji.
For anybody who is wishing to hold a spiritual retreat or yoga workshop, our ashram has a beautiful Yoga Hall and a Satsang Hall. We have accommodation and food facilities. If you have certain dietary requirements you are welcome to bring your cook and have use of a separate kitchen. Please contact Swami Premananda at least 3 months prior to booking via email or telephone to ensure the availability of the Ashram.