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Riassunto: Of all the relationships possible on earth, that rare and timely combination known as guru/shishya, spiritual teacher and sincere disciple, transcends them all. And scarcely has that most intimate of connections been so well-documented as in the sweet and sacred friendship between Lord Vasishtha and the youthful Avatar, Sri Ramachandra.
 
Yoga Vasishtha, an ancient and beloved scripture, details a lesser known period of Sri Ram's youth not discussed in the traditional Ramayana. We meet a young Ramachandra struggling to awaken from the veil of maya, to pierce the shrouded domain of intellectual knowledge. He has seen the nature of Reality and cannot be fooled by the ephemeral attractions of conventional life. Yet, he fails to feel the peace and freedom such knowledge should bring. Stultified, Ramachandra turns to the great sage, Vasishtha, preceptor of his royal father's court, who then plunges him and all present into a spell-binding transmission of stories intent on exorcizing the subtle layers of illusion and confusion that inhabit the mind.
 
In A Quintessential Yoga Vasishtha, Babaji Bob Kindler offers a concentrated selection of these astonishing, esoteric stories, retold in a rich, contemporary style. The philosophical nature of Vasishtha's teachings are clarified via expanded dialog and detailed charts.

Dall'autore: The illumined Indian rishi, Valmiki, is one of those ancient but timeless figures who has bequeathed humanity both a substantial amount of scriptural works and some edifying personal historical information as well. Known mainly for the endearing and sagacious epic, the Ramayana, and for the stately meter in which its nectar-like slokas were fashioned and flow, we also have it on good authority that the superlative work, Yoga Vasishtha, is to his credit as well. This distinctive scripture enjoys a unique level of respect and stature among Vedic-based spiritual literature, and though somewhat recondite to the overall population of the day, has nevertheless attained both a wide following and a popular acclaim among those who adhere doggedly to the sempiternal Truth and Its incomparable and salubrious atmosphere.

The philosophical stance of Yoga Vasishtha is generally nondual in nature, resting securely upon the profound principles, inalienable axioms, and inestimable edifices of the Advaita Vedanta darshana. The original Yoga Vasishtha, entitled the Brhad-Yoga-Vasishtha, is said to have 36,000 verses, the full bulk of which have never been translated into English. A condensed version, the Laghu-Yoga-Vasishtha, was formulated by a great Kashmiri pundit named Abhinanda, and is said to contain 6,000 verses. The scripture, though Advaitic in nature, is itself Puranic in form, in as much as the teachings are all given via stories told to the young Prince Ram by Rishi Vasishtha, and at a time when the divinely chosen youth was facing subtly difficult mental and spiritual considerations.

The version of Yoga Vasishtha which I offer here is a quintessentialized rendering. By the term, "quintessential," I mean a further distillation of the work in order to bring out the very core of the teachings, and in a way more easily accessible to interested parties of today. This humble effort is dedicated devoutly to the ultimate Guru, Sri Ramakrishna and to all those who have discovered Him.

The precious Paramahamsa, in a story of his own, stated that, by boiling a mixture of raw sugar over and over again, one finally ends up with a confection that is both tasty and refined for perfect digestion. This story describes well my process and purpose for rendering just nineteen of the stories found in Pundit Abhinanda's already shortened version for philosophical digestion.

To aid in this assimilation process, I have carefully crafted some 24 charts or "story boards" and included them in these pages. These will assist the reader in more fully comprehending the sometimes abstruse meanings of the stories. 

This new version of Yoga Vasishtha is accompanied by some imaginative cultural overlays in the form of descriptive encounters between Ram and Vasishtha, and to that end, I have taken some artistic literary license. In other words, I have attempted to enrich the stories by adding descriptions of daily scenes from earthly life, village life, temple life, and palace life in order to make the scripture even more vibrant. It is my fervent wish that this version of a classic and much loved scripture will be well-received and widely read by all interested and aspiring beings, its engaging stories conferring their incomparable Jnana-wisdom upon all seekers after Truth and spiritual Light.
 
Babaji Bob Kindler
Hawaiian Islands
May 9, 2008 (Shankara's birthday)

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