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Astavakra Gita

Astavakra Gita

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Published by dyagram
The Ashtavakra Gita, or the Ashtavakra Samhita as it is sometimes called, is a very ancient Sanskrit text. Nothing seems to be known about the author, though tradition ascribes it to the sage Ashtavakra; hence the name.


There is little doubt though that it is very old, probably dating back to the days of the classic Vedanta period. The Sanskrit style and the doctrine expressed would seem to warrant this assessment.

The work was known, appreciated, and quoted by Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda,as well as by Ramana Maharshi, while Radhakrishnan always refers to it with great respect. Apart from that the work speaks for itself.

It presents the traditional teachings of Advaita Vedanta with a clarity and power very rarely matched.

The translation here is by John Richards, and is presented to the public domain with his affection. The work has been a constant inspiration in his life for many years. May it be so for many others.

The Ashtavakra Gita, or the Ashtavakra Samhita as it is sometimes called, is a very ancient Sanskrit text. Nothing seems to be known about the author, though tradition ascribes it to the sage Ashtavakra; hence the name.


There is little doubt though that it is very old, probably dating back to the days of the classic Vedanta period. The Sanskrit style and the doctrine expressed would seem to warrant this assessment.

The work was known, appreciated, and quoted by Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda,as well as by Ramana Maharshi, while Radhakrishnan always refers to it with great respect. Apart from that the work speaks for itself.

It presents the traditional teachings of Advaita Vedanta with a clarity and power very rarely matched.

The translation here is by John Richards, and is presented to the public domain with his affection. The work has been a constant inspiration in his life for many years. May it be so for many others.

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Published by: dyagram on Jan 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/01/2012

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ASTAVAKRA GITA
Translation by John Richards Introduction by Bon
Introduction:Once upon a time there was a student of thescriptures who could not support his family. Hewould work hard all day every day and then readaloud the holy language of sacred verses late into thenight. His wife, round of belly with their comingchild, would sit beside him in the dim room, listeningas her weary beloved chanted the ancient words.One late night in her eighth month a voice frominside her belly said to the father: “Sir, please beattentive - you are mispronouncing that verse.” Tiredand short-tempered, without thinking why he wouldfeel so enraged at being corrected by an unborn child,the father cursed the voice - and because the father had built up merit, his curse took hold: the child was born deformed, with eight crooks in his body. Thatchild was called Ashtavakra, a name which means‘eight bends’. Everyone who saw him laughed inderision.That crippled child was an enlightened master whotook birth in this family to reveal in simple words theessence of mystical experience. Janaka, king of theknown world, father of the bride of God, Sita,daughter of the earth, that very King Janaka became
 
this crippled boy’s disciple. The book based on thatevent is called The Song of the Eightfold Cripple, or Ashtavakra Gita.Asthavakra was not keen on accepting students, andso had few. When King Janaka came to hear of thewisdom of the crippled child he approached the boyas a humble student, not a commanding king. The boy accepted the king instantly as his disciple.This caused some talk in the sangham. "Ah,Ashtavakra does have favorites after all, he acceptedthe king without any of the trials he had all of usface!" This grumbling became a quiet force, andAshtavakra knew of it.One day the King was late and so the boy delayed hisdiscourse. The moment the king arrived, Ashtavakraspoke: ‘This day I have had a vision, the capital citywill erupt in terrible fires and earthquakes - all therewill die. Those who have loved ones or valuablesthere must hurry now if they wish to save anything!’All the monks left. As the dust settled, only the boyand the king were sitting. The boy said softly, ‘Greatking, is there nothing you would save?‘ Janakareplied, "My lord and my friend, you are my onlytreasure". The cripple nodded and softly said, "Wellthen if I am indeed your treasure, mount your horsenow and go and gather my students back to me, tellthem I have been mistaken, the capital city is in nodanger. Take your horse, and go". Rising to do as
 
 bidden, the King put his foot into the stirrup, and ashe swung up over the saddle, realization dawned inhis mind. He swallowed, looked about him at thisnew earth, heard new birds singing for the first time,and then looked at the cripple at his feet. The twolooked at one another, and then the king left to findthe other students. Once back, the other studentsgrumbled at being sent about here and there onfoolish errands. One or two however did soonunderstand why the master had chosen the king as astudent in his own way. This is what was said thatday, as all sat about and heard these words of nectarine wisdom.I1. Janaka said: How is knowledge to be acquired?How is liberation to be attained? And how isdispassion to be reached? Tell me this, sir.2. Ashtavakra said: If you are seeking liberation, mydearest one, shun the objects of the senses like poison. Draught the nectar of tolerance, sincerity,compassion, contentment and truthfulness.3. You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether.For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness, the witness of these five.4. If only you will remain resting in consciousness,seeing yourself as distinct from the body, then evennow you will become happy, peaceful and free from bonds.

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