Brahman-rishi Vasistha as Lord Rama’s guru

On seeing his beings suffer on earth, Lord Brahma creates Rishi Vasistha from his thought with an intention to provide everyone with a path through which sorrow can be entirely eliminated.1 As soon as Vasistha, endowed with a kamandal 2 and a rudraksha necklace, is born from Brahma’s “inexpressible maya” just like a “wave is created from a wave,” Brahma curses his son with momentary ajnana (ignorance) so that he can experience what sorrow in worldly beings is like and ask Brahma for its remedy out of curiosity. Unsurprisingly, Vasistha inquires how he got entrapped in a sorrowful world and how he could get himself released from it. Lord Brahma responds to Vasistha’s inquiry through lectures on spiritual knowledge, and Vasistha again becomes a knower of the Self. He is then instructed to transfer this knowledge about advaita to individual souls on earth.

What does Vasistha gain by liberating numerous beings from darkness? A Brahman-rishi, who experiences oneness with Brahman, never attains anything. Still, he is later blessed with the best disciple a guru can meet — Lord Rama, lectures to whom have been documented for us as the Yogavasistha.

In the Ramacharitamanasa, where love of God outshines knowledge, when Vasistha is offered the position as the family priest of the solar dynasty, he refuses at once for he is overqualified and considers family priesthood a lowly job. But when Lord Brahma informs him that the Supreme Soul will eventually incarnate in this family as a human, he gladly accepts the job, for it promises him the ultimate result of spiritual living: a darshan of Sri Rama. And during the Lord’s divine play on earth, Vasistha, in spite of being fully realized and Rama’s guru, requests Sri Rama to bless him with his never-ending bhakti.

[1] source: the Yogavasistha
[2] kamandal is a pot filled with holy water

Goddess Kali: The One beyond thought

Kali, the Goddess with the shine of a blue lotus, is the Energy of Shiva. She is the form of Brahman for which birth, aging, death, and regeneration – are merely dance steps.

If I got this right, the Yoga Vasishtha holds that the universe in Kali’s body resembles a reflection in a mirror; it is illusory and yet true for the one who believes it to be true. If this sounds too complicated, we can reread it in even simpler words: “Kali is everything.” To memorize this should be easy but to understand its depth may again take most of us more than a lifetime and a darshan, like the one Ramakrishna Paramhansa experienced.

Luckily, for the common person, there is even a simpler option: to admit that we know nothing about Her. In line with this feel, many devotees standing in front of Her idol are often heard saying, “Mother, we do not understand much, but we are in Your refuge. Could you please take care of us?” The good part about this popular feel is its honesty, for admitting our inability to know Her may be, at times, much closer to Brahman than believing that we in the process of understanding the Great Illusion. No matter which approach we choose to worship Her, the intellectual or the emotional, it is important to be true, especially when we are communicating with Someone beyond thought…and time.

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