Engaged Emancipation

Mind, Morals, and Make-Believe in the Mokṣopāya (Yogavāsiṣṭha)

Edited by Christopher Key Chapple & Arindam Chakrabarti

Subjects: Religion, Asian Studies, Hindu Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Yoga
Paperback : 9781438458663, 325 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438458670, 325 pages, December 2015

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Table of contents


I. Flimsy Fixity: Reality Shifts

1. Radical Transformation in the Yogavāsiṣṭha: A Phenomenological Interpretation
Matthew MacKenzie

2. Ākāśa and Jīva in the Story of Līlā
Bruno Lo Turco

3. The Concept of Ābhāsa in the Yogavāsiṣṭha
Sthaneshwar Timalsina

4. Is This a Dream? A Critique of Mok̉ṣopāya’s Take on Experience, Objecthood, and the “External” World
Arindam Chakrabarti

5. The Existence of an Endless Number of Worlds: Jagadānantya in Mok̉ṣopāya and the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
Garth Bregman

6. Vasiṣṭha and Borges: In Quest of Postmodern Enlightenment
Sthaneshwar Timalsina

II. Human Agency and World Creation

7. Attitude of the Yogavāsiṣṭha toward Human Endeavor
Pranati Ghosal

8. A Fabulous Rationality: Poetry, Reason, and Action in the Yogavāsiṣṭha
Roddam Narasimha

9. Ethics and Psychology of the Yogavāsiṣṭha in the Upaśama Prakaraṇa
Christopher Key Chapple

10. Dreams, Fictions, and the Quest for Morality in the Yogavāsiṣṭha
Menaha Ganesathasan

11. A Horrid Treehouse or a Charming City? Yogavāsiṣṭha (Mok̉ṣopāya) on Spiritual Culture of the Body
Arindam Chakrabarti

III. Engaged Emancipation

12. Embodied Liberation (Jīvanmukti) in the Yogavāsiṣṭha
Andrew Fort

13. Liberation into Nature: Vasiṣṭha’s Embrace of the Great Elements
Christopher Key Chapple


A wide-ranging analysis of the Mokṣopāya, the Indian literary classic that teaches through storytelling how to enjoy an active, successful, worldly life in a spiritually enlightened way.


In the Mokṣopāya (also known as the Yogavāsiṣṭha), an eleventh-century Sanskrit poetic text, the great Vedic philosopher Vasiṣṭha counsels his young protégé Lord Rāma about the ways of the world through sixty-four stories designed to bring Rāma from ignorance to wisdom. Much beloved, this work reflects the philosophy of Kashmir Śaivism. Precisely because all worldly pursuits are dreamlike and fiction-like, the human soul must first come to an experience of non-dualistic, mind-only metaphysics, and after attaining this wisdom, promote moral activism. Engaged Emancipation is a wide-ranging consideration of this work and the philosophical and spiritual questions it addresses by philosophers, Sanskritists, and scholars of religion, literature, and science. Contributors allow readers to walk with Rāma as his melancholy and angst transform into connectivity, peace, and spiritual equipoise.

Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University. He is the author or editor of many books, including Yoga and the Luminous: Patañjali's Spiritual Path to Freedom and Reconciling Yogas: Haribhadra's Collection of Views on Yoga, both also published by SUNY Press. Arindam Chakrabarti is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His books include Mahābhārata Now: Narration, Aesthetics, Ethics (coedited with Sibaji Bandyopadhyay).