Updated: Jul 30, 2018
To establish the rule of law Lord Brahma created seven sages who were shining with the brightness of the sun. Among those sages was Vasishta. He is the author of the seventh book of Rigveda and he was called as the first sage of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy by Adi Shankara. He was the spiritual guide for King Ram. Their conversations became the Yoga Vasistha, one of the main yoga philosophy and mythology texts. The Yoga Vasistha teaches about jivanmukta, the state of the soul who is liberated while living. Jiva is the individual soul, expressed through the different aspects of human life; and mukti means liberation. He conquered desire, anger, miserliness, jealously and pride. Vashishta had the belief that the divine and individual efforts were very necessary for achieving anything in this world. According to him, the habit of laziness is actually a disease that is responsible to bring unhappiness in a man’s life. He encouraged truthfulness, devotion, optimism, family life, sharing one's prosperity with other members of society, among other cultural values.
Before Vishvamitra was a sage he was a king. On one of his military journeys he stopped at the hermitage of the Sage Vasistha. Vishvamitra wanted Nandini, the magical Cow gifted to Vasistha earlier, however for good reasons Vasistha refused to give it to him. This is how their story started... Vishvamitra decided to challenge Vasistha to a battle over the cow. King Vishvamitra was very strong, but couldn't win over Vasistha’s mystical powers. Realizing this, Vishvamitra gave up the battle and decided to become a sage himself through the practice of yoga. Despite of being on the yoga path he was known for his bad temper and could be easily distracted by women. He ended up diminishing his own powers in doing so. With time he realized his errors and became a sage, embodying those qualities necessary in a sage: patience, forgiveness and compassion. Even Vasistha came to respect him.
What are the two poses symbolising for us?
Vasisthasana requires strength and focus to get in and maintain the pose. It is definitely not for those feeling lazy. While the other planes of the body are strongly engaged we get to do both the sides, with that experience both aspects of ourselves, discovering how we relate to our left and right, physically, mentally and emotionally. Vasisthasana, just like the sage it was named after represents: strength, focus, and looking at things from every aspects to know the truth.
Vishvamitrasana requires even more strength and flexibility, more dedication and preparation. Vasistha was “born” as a sage however Vishvamitra needed to become one. His ups and downs on the path to become a sage represents the difficulties we face during our spiritual journey, no wonder Vishvamitrasana is one of the most advanced asanas.
When practising yoga first master Vasisthasana then attempt Vishvamitrasana. To be able to handle the ups and downs you need strength, focus and clarity (which automatically invites the required flexibility).