THE MAN WHO FORGOT HE WAS GOD - A Story from the Yoga Vasistha - India
Retold by Sydney Solis

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Working With the Story
Asana
Meditation and Relaxation

There was once a monk who was devoted to meditation and obtained the power to materialize his thoughts. One day, he grew tired of his practice. Still having his mind totally concentrated, he decided to imagine what happens to ordinary people, and so he imagined that he was a man named Jivata. This dream-being Jivata lived for a long time in a dream world build-of dream objects until one day he drank too much and fell into a heavy sleep in which he dreamed he was a Brahmin who read all day long and had much knowledge.


The Brahmin one day fell asleep after a long day of reading and dreamed that he was a prince; the prince fell asleep one day after a heavy meal and dreamed that he was a powerful king. The king, having gorged himself on every royal desire, fell asleep and dreamed himself as a celestial nymph. The nymph also fell into a deep sleep one day and dreamed herself as a doe who fell asleep and dreamed she was a creeping vine. The vine saw inside its own heart a bee, and it became a bee, which began to drink the nectar in the flowers on the vine.

One night, an elephant plucked the vine along with the bee and crushed it in its mouth. However, the bee, having seen and contemplated the elephant, became an elephant. The elephant was captured by a king, saw a swarm of bees in a hive and remembered its past life.  It became a bee again and began to drink the nectar of the flowers in vines again. The bee once again became a vine, which was trampled by an elephant. But the vine had remembered seeing swans in a nearby lake and it became a swan.  It became the swan on which the God Brahma, the Creator, rides.

One day the swan remembered that it once beheld the God Rudra, the God of storms, and in its heart realized, “I am Rudra.” He became Rudra, living in Rudra’s palace and as Rudra he had special powers that could see every one of his former experiences. He realized he’d been roaming in this illusion of 100 creation cycles and decided to retrace the chain of imaginary transformations and restore their underlying unity.

He went to the place where the monk was sleeping and woke him up; the monk saw Rudra as his own self and realized that he had been mistaken to think he was Jivata. Then Rudra and the monk found Jivata asleep and woke him up, and realized that the three were actually one. Amazed at this mystery, the three went to the palace to wake up the intelligence of the Brahmin, and then they went to the king, and to the nymph, and to the doe, to the vine and to the bee, until they reached the swan and everyone was awakened. They were happy, realizing that they were all part of Rudra.

             Then Rudra said, “Now go back to your own places and enjoy yourselves there for a while and then come back to me. And at the end of this world cycle, all of us, the bands of creatures who are part of me, will go to the final resting place. And they all went back, but after a while they will wear out their bodies and unite again in the world of Rudra.

Sources:
Parabola Magazine, Wendy Doniger, Wake up calls, Some Ancient Hindu Myths
Spring 2005 volume 30 No. 1
Venkatesesananda, Swami, The Concise Yoga Vasistha, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984

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WORKING WITH THE STORY
 Contemplate this story during asana practice, meditation or relaxation.

Ask children, how is our life like a dream? There is a Chinese story about a man who said he dreamt last night he was a butterfly. But, he thought, how did he know that he was not now a butterfly dreaming that he is a man? What is reality? As we go through life, things change form, but we stay the same, as eternity present in duality, time and space. Through yoga, we can remember that we are, like Rudra, the divine.

How do our thoughts create our reality? Beings, animals and objects in the story were thinking about something before they died and changed form. Do we get what we think about? If we focus on something long enough, through desire and effort, we can materialize things. Ask children what things, such as friends, toys, etc. they have wanted very much in the past and got them. How long did it take to get the item? Was it exactly like what we wanted?

How can we "wake up" in this lifetime and realize that we are more than the dream-like, yet real, world around us and remember our divine self?

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ASANA Sing the song, using boat pose, navasana, row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
Use your hands out to the side as the oars and row!

\boat poseBoat Pose, Navasana

 

Ask children to come up with their own yoga poses to put with the characters in the story. What would the monk be? The elephant, swan and king?
They can be the obvious, such as eagle pose, for a bird such as the swan, but anything goes! Have kids take on the essence of the character no matter
what pose they choose.

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MEDITATION AND RELAXATION
During relaxation or meditation, call out the images in the story, such as monk, Brahmin, elephant, bee, king, swan, etc.

Guide children to pick a character and "be" the character, really feel themselves in the part. What do they do? What do they want? What do they don't want? Where do they go?

Afterwards have children draw pictures of the images and tell about the picture from the story, or any other story they may make up.

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