Ashtavakra Gita

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Average: 5 (4 votes)

How about some Ashtavakra Gita? Makes for a good read if you enjoy having mind provoked and observed through contradiction and un-contradiction, truth and un-truth.


Some think that something exists, and others that nothing does. Rare is the man who does not think either, and is thereby free from distraction. 18.42

Those of weak intelligence think of themselves as pure nonduality, but because of their delusion do not really know this, and so remain unfulfilled all their lives. 18.43

The mind of the man seeking liberation can find no resting place within, but the mind of the liberated man is always free from desire by the very fact of being without a resting place. 18.44

Seeing the tigers of the senses, the frightened refuge-seekers at once enter the cave in search of cessation of thought and one-pointedness. 18.45

Seeing the desireless lion, the elephants of the senses silently run away, or, if that is impossible, serve him like courtiers. 18.46

The man who is free from doubts and whose mind is free does not bother about means of liberation. Whether seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting, he lives at ease. 18.47

He whose mind is pure and undistracted from just hearing of the Truth does not see anything to do or anything to avoid or even a cause for indifference. 18.48

The upright person does whatever presents itself to be done, good or bad, for his actions are like those of a child. 18.49

By inner freedom one attains happiness, by inner freedom one reaches the Supreme, by inner freedom one comes to absence of thought, by inner freedom to the Ultimate State. 18.50

When one sees oneself as neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, then all mind waves come to an end. 18.51

The spontaneous unassuming behaviour of the wise is noteworthy, but not the deliberate purposeful stillness of the fool. 18.52

The wise who are rid of imagination, unbound and with unfettered awareness, may enjoy themselves in the midst of many goods, or alternatively go off to mountain caves. 18.53

There is no attachment in the heart of a wise man whether he sees or pays homage to a learned brahmin, a celestial being, a holy place, a woman, a king or a friend. 18.54

A yogi is not in the least put out even when humiliated by the ridicule of servants, sons, wives, grandchildren, or other relatives. 18.55

Even when pleased he is not pleased, not suffering even when in pain. Only those like him can know the wonderful state of such a man. 18.56

It is the feeling that there is something that needs to be achieved which is samsara. The wise who are of the form of emptiness, formless, unchanging, and spotless see nothing of the sort. 18.57

Even when doing nothing the fool is agitated by restlessness, while a skillful man remains undisturbed even when doing what there is to do. 18.58

Happy he stands, happy he sits, happy sleeps, and happy he comes and goes. Happy he speaks and happy he eats. This is the life of a man at peace. 18.59

He who of his very nature feels no unhappiness in his daily life like worldly people, remains undisturbed like a great lake, cleared of defilement. 18.60

Even abstention from action has the effect of action in a fool, while even the action of the wise man brings the fruits of inaction. 18.61

A fool often shows aversion towards his belongings, but for him whose attachment to the body has dropped away, there is neither attachment nor aversion. 18.62

The mind of the fool is always caught in thinking or not thinking, but the wise man's is of the nature of no thought because he thinks what is appropriate. 18.63

For the seer who behaves like a child, without desire in all actions,there is no attachment for such a pure one even in the work he does. 18.64

Blessed is he who knows himself and is the same in all states, with a mind free from craving whether he is seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting. 18.65


Have fun picking a translation.


Ashtavakra said:

Knowing yourself as truly one and indestructible, how could a wise man possessing self-knowledge like you feel any pleasure in acquiring wealth? 3.1

Truly, when one does not know oneself, one takes pleasure in the objects of mistaken perception, just as greed arises for the mistaken silver in one who does not know mother of pearl for what it is. 3.2

All this wells up like waves in the sea. Recognising, "I am That," why run around like someone in need? 3.3

After hearing of oneself as pure consciousness and the supremely beautiful, is one to go on lusting after sordid sexual objects? 3.4

When the sage has realised that he himself is in all beings, and all beings are in him, it is astonishing that the sense of individuality should be able to continue. 3.5

It is astonishing that a man who has reached the supreme nondual state and is intent on the benefits of liberation should still be subject to lust and in bondage to sexual activity. 3.6

It is astonishing that one already very debilitated, and knowing very well that its arousal is the enemy of knowledge, should still hanker after sensuality, even when approaching his last days. 3.7

It is astonishing that one who is unattached to the things of this world or the next, who discriminates between the permanent and the impermanent, and who longs for liberation, should still be afraid of liberation. 3.8

Whether feted or tormented, the wise man is always aware of his supreme self-nature and is neither pleased nor disappointed. 3.9

The great-souled person sees even his own body in action as if it were someone else's, so how should he be disturbed by praise or blame? 3.10

B-friend's picture

Source of my own amusement

I added the second excerpt because it makes me laugh at being contradictory since it prods at some recent discussion here. I'd much rather find text that encourages me to go get laid. LOL

B-friend | Sat, 11/21/2009 - 20:28
tiru's picture


This is a remarkable text. No bullshit or assumptions posed as facts. Thank you!

What is Ashtavakra Gita exactly?

tiru | Sun, 11/22/2009 - 08:44
erez's picture

Yes, rare text indeed

The Ashtavakra Gita or the Song of Ashtavakra, also known as Ashtavakra Samhita is an Advaita Vedanta scripture which documents a dialogue between the Perfect Master Ashtavakra and Janaka, the King of Mithila. It presents the traditional teachings of Advaita Vedanta with unique clarity and power.

The text was known, appreciated and quoted by Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda, as well as by Ramana Maharshi and Osho.

erez | Sun, 11/22/2009 - 09:06
B-friend's picture

Remarkable ..Agree

Took this from the introduction of Bart Marshall's translation.

"The Ashtavakra Gita is an ancient spiritual document of great purity and power. Pure, because it is relentlessly one-pointed. Every word is aimed at triggering Self-realization--no suggestions for self-improvement, no rules for moral behavior, no practical wisdom for daily life. Powerful, because the mere reading—or repeated reading--of it can be enough to send a ripe mind reeling
into Truth.

Little is known about the Ashtavakra Gita. Ashtavakra is a name that appears in Indian lore, but almost certainly he did not write it. The author, likely an anonymous sage, merely uses the characters of Ashtavakra and King Janaka
to set up a classic dialogue between guru and disciple. It quickly becomes a guru-guru dialogue, however, because after the first salvo of wisdom from Ashtavakra, Janaka realizes his true Self, and from then on they get into an
advaitic jam session of the highest sort."


And this from Thomas Byrom's--

"Awareness. Pure awareness. The clear space, the sky, the heart of awareness.

Ashtavakra's words begin after almost everything else has been said. They barely touch the page. They are often on the point of vanishing. They are the first melting of the snow, high in the mountains, a clear stream flowing over smooth and shining pebbles. Theirs is the radiance of the winter sky above Trishul, Kailash, Annapurna. My satguru, Neem Karoli Baba, called the Ashtavakra Gita 'the purest of scriptures'. All its beauty is in the transparency, its enraptured and flawless purity.

It is written as a dialogue between King Janaka, the father of Sita, and his guru, Ashtavakra. But this is just a literary device, unsupported by any internal drama, and I have done away with it in my version. The Gita has only one voice, Ashtavakra's, a voice of singular compassion and uncompromised clarity.

He is not concerned to argue. This is not speculative philosophy. It is a kind of knowledge. Ashtavakra speaks as a man who has already found his way and now wishes to share it. His song is a direct and practical transcript of experience, a radical account of ineffable truths.

He speaks, moreover, in a language that is for all its modesty physical and direct. He is not abstract, though some translations, laboring to render his special terms faithfully, make him sound difficult, even abstruse.

On the contrary, Ashtavakra is very simple."

B-friend | Mon, 11/23/2009 - 22:53
B-friend's picture

Marshall's Play by Play

>>>Chapter 1: It all starts when King Janaka asks the sage Ashtavakra how he can attain Knowledge, detachment, liberation. Ashtavakra tells him.

Chapter 2: It works! Upon hearing Ashtavakra’s words Janaka realizes his True Nature. Enraptured, he describes the joy and wonder of his new state.

Chapter 3: Ashtavakra is delighted for Janaka but sees inconsistencies. He fires off a series of confrontational verses about attachment to worldly pleasure.

Chapter 4: Janaka asserts that the Lord of the Universe can do as he pleases.

Chapter 5: Ashtavakra does not disagree, but in a terse four verses points to the next step—dissolution.

Chapter 6: Janaka says “I know that already,” matching him in style and number of verses.

Chapter 7: Unable to leave it at that, however, Janaka goes on to further describe his enlightened state.

Chapter 8: Still hearing too much “I” in Janaka’s language, Ashtavakra instructs him in the subtleties of attachment and bondage.

Chapter 9: Ashtavakra continues to describe the way of true detachment.

Chapter 10: Ashtavakra hammers away at the folly of desire—no matter how elevated or subtle.

Chapter 11: Ashtavakra further describes the state of desirelessness to which he points.

Chapter 12: Janaka replies by describing the state of timeless stillness in which he now finds himself.

Chapter 13: Janaka, having been instructed by Ashtavakra in Chapter One to “be happy,” reports that he indeed is.

Chapter 14: Janaka then summarizes his exalted state with calm indifference.

Chapter 15: Impressed but not through teaching, Ashtavakra relentlessly points to the vast emptiness of Self.

Chapter 16: Ashtavakra attacks the futility of effort and knowing.

Chapter 17: Ashtavakra describes the nature of one who is truly free.

Chapter 18: Finally, Ashtavakra hits him with everything he’s got—100 verses of pure non-duality. If this doesn’t do it, nothing will.

Chapter 19: It works! Janaka no longer describes his enlightened state, but can speak only in questions revealing absence.

Chapter 20: In a final flurry of questions pointing only at their own meaninglessness, Janaka burns off the last vestiges of personhood and enters dissolution. He ends with: “No more can be said.”

Ashtavakra smiles, nods approvingly, and says no more.<<<

B-friend | Mon, 11/23/2009 - 23:20