ašTAvakra gītā

First published on May 9, 2012 on AncientIndians – Satya Samhita

1.1 to 1.12 : Your true nature and freedom

aSTAvakra gIta or aSTAvakra samhita is a treatise on advaita – the conversation is between rAja janaka, the vidEha king and young aSTAvakra.

Janaka asks Ashtavakra how a person can attain
1. gnyAna
2. mukti &
3. vairAgyam.

Ashtavakra says, Sire,
1. Avoid Perceptions fed by the senses like poison.
2. Regard forgiveness, sincerity, compassion, satisfaction as Nectar.

He says,
3. You are not the earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air nor space
4. You are the Witness of all these, and your form is cit.
(cit is always translated into english as consciousness and I will use that word till a better one strikes me, hopefully soon. We have previously studied that manas is that part of your mind that engages with the senses, dhI is that part that thinks, buddhi  is that part that is taught or has learnt, smrti is that part that remembers. cit is the part of your mind that is conscious and possesses sankalpa or will. ahankAra is the feeling of I-ness often linked to the body-mind.)

Ashtavakra said,
5. You can be instantly free if you seperate your identity from the dEha (body) and remain in the cit.
– that means your manas must disengage from the dEha and engage with the cit.

And you are free at once!!

Many people reject this instant freedom.

They want to be bound to whatever their favorite illusion is.

Ashtavakra said,
6. You are not a brahmin or of any other varNa, nor are you from any As’rama, nor are you even visible.
7. You are without attachment, without form, the witness of the universe. Be happy! (sukhI).

He said,
8. dharma and adharma, sukha and duhkha are of the manas not of you.
9. you are not the karta (doer) nor the bhOkta (enjoyer), you are the ever free.
10. Your bondage is this – you perceive that the draSTa (seer) is something else.
You don’t see yourself as the draSTa, but as the body-mind-doer-enjoyer etc.
11. You who have been bitten by the great black  serpent of I-ness, drink this nectar – I am not the kartA, and be happy.
12. Know yourself as the ultra-pure knower (vis’uddha bOdha).
13. You are the supreme Ananda (bliss), the knower wherein this made-up universe is super-imposed, like a snake on a rope.
14. The popular saying that – one who considers himself free is free and one who considers himself bound is bound – is true.
15. The self is the witness, the Lord, the perfect, the One, the free, the conscious, the non-doer, the detached, the untouched peaceful one. The illusion is that it belongs to samsAra.

1.13-1.20 : You cannot meditate your way to advaita! Knowledge is the only way.

First published on May 10, 2012 on Ancient Indians – Satya Samhita

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Be free of the idea that you are your appearance, and your internal and external ideas of yourself.
  2. Regard yourself as the कूटस्थ, one who stands in the middle, the knower (bOdha), the अद्वैत (advaita) the peerless One without a second, the only one.
  3. Oh child! You are bound by the अभिमान, the love/regard for your body, destroy that bond with the sword of knowledge.
  4. You are unattached, without actions, self-luminous, without stain.
  5. Your fault is that you sit in samAdhi (a state of meditation, where you feel one with the one that is above).

Ashtavakra teaches us that meditation enhances the feeling of dvaita – us and God and it is counter-productive. It implies that you are bound and bound shall you stay. Since it has been said forever – “you are free of you think you are free and bound if you think you are bound”. Thus we see that patanjali does not subscribe to aSTAvakra’s teaching. According to patanjali, you have to practice the eight part yOga system to even approach samAdhi of which there are many kinds – the temporary, the mind-destroying and the natural.

I-this-mind is very clear that Ashtavakra’s way is correct, and patanjali’s way is risky somewhat. That means I-this-mind prefers gnyAna to yOga. The mind must be taught and illumined through study and thinking and not destroyed, just as the body must be maintained well through nutrition, hygiene and exercise.

Ashtavakra said,

  1. By you is this universe expanded, you pervade this universe, your form is that of the pure knower, do not attain a lower cit.
  2. Be – With no expectations, with no changes, with no vehemence (निर्भर, nirbhara), with a cool disposition of mind, with a deeply knowledgeable mind, with no disturbance, with a liking only for the cit (cin-mAtra-vAsana).
  3. Know that, the one with form is anRta (a lie, अनृत, without Rta (rythym, right)).
  4. That which is formless is निश्चल, nis’cala, unvarying.
  5. With this teaching there is no possibility of coming into being again (re-birth).
  6. Just as the same form is seen outside and reflected inside a mirror, the same paramEs’vara is seen inside and outside this body.
  7. Just as the one space (vyOma) which is everywhere is inside and outside a pot, the constant, boundless brahman is in all beings (sarvabhUtagaNE).

2.1 – 2.14 : ahO aham, namO mahyam : Wonderful I! Salutations (namah) to me!

First published on May 11, 2012 on Ancient Indians – Satya Samhita

rAjA janaka learned from aSTAvakra that the true nature of his Self was the paramEs’vara.

Janaka said,

  1. I am the stainless, peaceful knower, beyond prakRti. All this time, I was decieved by mOha (illusion/fascination).
  2. I illuminate the universe as I illuminate this single body. Either the whole universe is mine or nothing at all is!
  3. Now, having renounced the universe with this body, through some skill, the supreme Self (paramAtma) is seen by me.
  4. As waves, foam and bubbles are not different from water, this universe that emanates from the Self is not different from it.
  5. On analysis, cloth is thread alone and similarly considered the universe is the Self only.
  6. As the sugar prepared from sugarcane juice is pervaded by it, thus this universe created in me is pervaded by me.
  7. The world is apparent from the ignorance of the Self and is not apparent from the knowledge of the  Self. From ignorance, the rope appears like a snake, from knowing that it’s a rope, the snake disappears.
  8. My real form is that of light, I am not other than light. Thus when the universe radiates light, it is I who shine.
  9. As silver appears in the mother-of-pearl, as a snake appears in a rope and as sun-beams appear in water, this विकल्पित manifold, universe appears in me.

Janaka is pointing out that universe as we perceive it is an error in perception. When we see a snake in a rope on the ground, we are super-imposing wrong knowledge on the data. In the case of reflected sun-beams, we know the sun is not “in the water” as it appears but it is in the sky and it is a mere reflection.

The important point here is that all we have in our head is interpretations of the data stream that our senses dump continuously in our brain. These interpretations depend on what we have learned so far through teaching, thinking and observation.

Now, you may accept this teaching of aSTAvakra and re-look at the universe as Janaka is doing. Everything that is out-there according to you is really your interpretation of  a sensory stream., and is actually in your head.

  • That is not how it really looks. If you were looking at blips on a radar in a submarine, you know that the real submarine does not look like a blip.
  • There might be energies/smells/etc beyond our five senses, that we cannot detect in this submarine called the human body that we are sitting in, with our sensory instruments like radars and periscopes etc.  eg tigers can only see black and white and dogs can hear and smell way more than we can.
  • The entire universe that we have re-constructed, based on our senses (limited in number and range) is a limited model in our own heads. Though it does look pretty good! There is a pretty tree with yellow flowers outside my window.

Janaka said,

  1. This universe that has emanated from me attains its ‘laya’ (rythym, dissolution) in me, as a pot in clay, a bracelet in gold and a wave in water.
  2. Wonderful I! Salutations (namah) to me! There is no destruction to me. I stand even when the world is destroyed from brahma to the clump of grass!
  3. Wonderful I! Salutations (namah) to me! I alone, though having a body, having neither gone nor come anywhere, I pervade the universe!
  4. Wonderful I! Salutations (namah) to me! There is no dakSa (skilled one) like myself. I bear this universe without touching it with my body!
  5. Wonderful I! Salutations (namah) to me! I who have nothing at all, Or who has everything within the reach of mind and speech!

2.15 – 2.25 : Misery is rooted in duality, there is neither bondage nor freedom, the worlds are created by the cit

First Published on in Ancient Indians – Satya Samhita

Janaka said,

  1. ज्ञान, knowledge, ज्ञेय, that which is to be known and ज्ञात the knower, this triad does not exist in reality. I am that stainless One in whom this triad appears out of ignorance.
  2. Aho! The misery rooted in द्वैत (duality). There is no other medicine for this. Everything that is seen is मृषा, false. I am the one अमल रस, pure essence, चित् consciousness.
  3. I am only the Knower. But by my lack of knowledge an उपाधि, a substitute,  had been कल्पित created/postulated/admitted. I stay in an unwavering (निर्विकल्प) state by always reflecting thus.

kalpa is an idea or a possibility. It can be creation. kalpanA can be imagination or fiction. kalpita is that which is thought of.

vikalpa is an alternate idea or possibility. nirvikalpa is the absence of such an alternative.

If you recall this article : yOga : Samadhi: The Height of Divine Consciousness — Sri Chinmoy, you will recall savikalpa samAdhi, nirvikalpa samAdhi and sahaja samAdhi. In savikalpa samadhi, an alternative can be admitted in the mind – this is thus called a temporary samAdhi. In nirvikalpa samAdhi there is no alternate idea, only a steady idea of one-ness. nirvikalpa samAdhi as attained through yOga, may cause a loss of memory etc and give many siddhIs or powers.

But Janaka, attained nirvikalpa samAdhi through just reflecting on the idea that he was a bOdha, a knower and that the body-mind thing he had accepted so far was an upAdhi. His mind is intact, though he knows that he is not his mind!

Janaka said,

  1. There is no bondage for me, nor mOkSa.
  2. This illusion of mOkSa and bandha is now set at rest, since it has no support.
  3. Aho! this universe that exists in me, in reality does not exist in me.
  4. This universe along with my body is nothing, that is certain.
  5. The self is pure cit, so where is the kalpanA now?
  6. The body, svarga and naraka (heaven and hell), bandha and mOkSa and fear are all only imagination, therefore what kArya (work) exists for me whose Self is the cit (consciousness).
  7. Aho! even in a crowd of people, dvaita (duality) cannot be seen by me. It has become (संवृत्त) like a forest, what enjoyment (रति) is to be done?
  8. I am not the body, nor have I a body, I am not the jIva (life, finite self), I am the cit. This was my bondage, the desire to live.

brahmagnyAnIs (knowers of the brahman) have difficulty in getting attached to things! I manage to get involved in movies and dreams even when I know they are false, but I can break away from the movie or dream, as soon as I remember that it is not real. Somewhat similarly, when I look at this beautiful universe, I get involved and everything is real and yet when I choose to – I can step away and the illusions, fears and everything falls away. It is like the child’s willingness to play a pretend-game or make-believe.

Janaka said,

  1. Aho! There is a limitless ocean in me. There is a wind of my cit (cittavAta). This creates a variety of worlds with their tumultous activities (vicitra-bhuvana-kallOla).
  2. When this wind of my cit becomes peaceful, the boat called the world (jagatpOta) is destroyed, unluckily for the trader called the jIva (life, finite self).
  3. How surprising it is, that in me, these waves of jIvAs, rise, play, enter and get destroyed all of their own nature!

3.1- 3.14 : Ashtavakra expresses surprise at Janaka’s Involvement even after Realisation

aSTAvakra said :

  1. How can you,  an intelligent knower of the self have any interest in the acquisition of wealth, having known the true essence of the One Indestructible Self?
  2. Aho! Since you don’t know your Self, you have a liking for viSaya-bhrama-gOcara, the field of illusory perceptions. Just as greed arises from the illusion of silver in mother-of-pearl, due to ignorance.
  3. Why run around like a weak person, having understood, “I am that, in which the universe appears like waves in a sea”.
  4. Also, having heard about the extremely beautiful and pure caitanya (state of cit – the conscious part of your mind), a person attains dirtiness on being deeply attached to that which is near (उपस्थ).
  5. It is surprising. A मुनि (muni), who knows his Self is in all beings and all beings are in his Self, follows mamatvam, mine-ness!
  6. It is surprising. A person who is in the state of parama-advaita (ultimate oneness), persevering in the goal of mOkSa, is under the control of kAma, and made imperfect by kElisikSA, the study of play.
  7. It is surprising. An extremely weak person, approaching his last days has desires, even having become certain that the desire that has sprung is a bad friend of gnyAna (knowledge).
  8. It is surprising. A person who has no interest in इहामुत्र, this world or the next, who knows the difference between what is eternal and what is not eternal, who desires mOkSa, is scared of mOkSa itself.
  9. A धीर, an intelligent person, sees the Self alone always and does not become pleased when fed and angry when tormented.
  10. One of great ideals, sees his moving body as another’s body. How will he be disturbed by praise or blame?
  11. How can one of steady intelligence (dhIradhI), who regards this universe as illusion and has lost all curiosity about it, even fear approaching death?
  12. Who can be compared with that great person (mahAtma), who is satisfied by the knowledge of the Self, who is untouched even by the desire of nairAs’ya, नैराश्य, desire-less-ness.
  13. Why would a dhIradhI see something as to be grasped and something as to be given up, when he knows that in its real essence, it is nothing.
  14. One who has given up his passions/attachments (कषाय, kaSaya), who is free from the dvandvas (pairs – like good-bad, happiness-sadness, etc), who has no wishes treats events that happen on their own as experiences, neither for sorrow nor for happiness.

Just as s’uka (Suka, the son of Vyasa, शुक महर्षि) questioned rAjA janaka’s involvement in kingly life even after attaining gnyAna, aSTAvakra too is challenging Janaka to explain how he can be a ज्ञानिन् and still participate in the illusory world.

4.1 – 4.6 : The difference between samsAra as a play of a knower and a burden of the deluded.

Janaka said,

  1. How can you compare an intelligent, knower of the Self, playing the game of experience (bhOgaleela), with the deluded samsAravAheekAs – porters of samsAra (the world as per jeevasRSTi – individual view – not as it really is – the Is’varasRSTi)?
  2. Aho! The yOgIs do not feel elated even on attaining that state that the weak (deenAh) s’akra (indra) and other dEvatAs hanker after.

Kunda Devi said that in the vEdAs, Indra is parabrahma sUcI or indicates the parabrahman. However here he is presented as the more luminous among the luminaries invoked by vEda mantrAs, seeking even a higher status. There is ambient talk that even the dEvatAs have to be born as humans to achieve tat-padam. All we need to take from this is that Janaka holds the state of gnyAnam higher than the state of luminaries.

Janaka said,

  1. As the sky is untouched by smoke, though it looks as if it were in contact with it, a knower of the ‘tat’ is not internally touched by sin and virtue.

Janaka said,

  1. Who can stop a great person who sees the universe as his self from acting spontaneously (यदृच्छ)?
  2. Only a knower has the capacity to renounce desire and aversion of the four kinds of beings (भूतग्राम) from brahmA to a clump of grass. (आब्रह्म-स्तम्ब).
  3. There is hardly anyone who knows the Self as the Master of the universe (jagadees’vara -जगदीश्वर). He who know that does. He has no fear anywhere.

5.1 to 5.4 : evam eva layam vraja : In this way attain लय

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A Note on The words laya and vraja :

  • The word laya, लय is translated in many, many ways.
  • Laya – is born from the Sanskrit root ‘Li’. ’Li’ – means – cling, stick to, adhere; recline on, settle on, lie; disappear, dissolve.
  • s’iva is the pra(towards)-लय kartA.
  • In music, laya means speed or tempo.

The very heart-beat of music is Laya. Rhythm in Carnatic music is accorded a very high status as is evident from the Sanskrit maxim, “Layah pita”, meaning, Rhythm is the Father.

Tala and Laya 
“Tala is often confused with Laya. Laya refers to the inherent rhythm in anything. Irrespective of whether it is demonstrated or not, it is always present. This can be better illustrated with an example. We know that the sun, the planets and other heavenly bodies are moving objects. Even as our earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, these bodies have their own fixed movements and speeds. Even a microscopic disturbance in that speed may lead to disasters of huge proportions. So laya can be explained as the primordial orderliness of movements. Expression of laya in an organised fashion through fixed time cycles is known as Tala. Thus it serves as the structured rhythmic meter to measure musical time-intervals. Tala in Carnatic music is usually expressed physically by the musician through accented beats and unaccented finger counts or a wave of the hand. In other words, Tala is but a mere scale taken for the sake of convenience.” Source

व्रज is also a very interesting word with a multitude of meanings. Wandering or moving is the greatest sense of the word. So the phrase layam vraja – can refer to attaining a rythym. Not just any rythym, but the rythym of the universe, at which time there is a feeling of dissolving.

aSTAvakra said ,

  1. Oh Pure One! You are not attached to anything. What do you wish to renounce?
  2. sanghAta-vilaya must be done. The ‘ group’ must be dissolved. Here sanghAta refers to the association of the body, mind and Atman. In this way only, layam vraja!
  3. As bubbles arise in the ocean, the universe arises in you. Thus knowing the Single Self – evam eva layam vraja.
  4. In your pure Self, the universe does not exist on account of being insubstantial, even though it is in front of your eyes. It is like the snake perceived in a rope. In this way only layam vraja!
  5. Be the same in life and death, comfort and sorrow, hope and despair, be complete. In this way only layam vraja!

As a dancer is taught the rhythm of dancing, from whence springs its beauty, a truth seeker – Rta arthI – is taught the rhythm of the universe.Instead of dancing/wandering to the rhythm of your own body mind, you are taught to dance to the rhythm of the universe – the laya. Isn’t it interesting that s’iva is natarAja and that kRSna could charm all of nature with his flute? There is a deep connection between music, dance, laya and pralaya.

6.1 – 6.4 : I am in all beings as they are all in me.

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Janaka said : 

  • I am endless like AkAs’a (sky).
  • This moving world (jagat) with its tendencies to action (prAkRta) is like a pot.
  • This is gnyAna (knowledge), thus there is neither renounciation (tyAga) , grasping (graha) nor  laya of this world. (see लय)
  • I am like that large water mass (the ocean). The world [प्रपञ्च, prapanca, that which tends to the five (tattvAs – earth, fire etc)] is like (संनिभ) a wave (वीचि).
  • This is gnyAna (knowledge), thus there is neither renounciation (tyAga) , grasping (graha) nor  laya of this world. (see लय).
  • I look like that mother-of-pearl (शुक्ति) and v’isvakalpana, the concept of the universe, is like silver. [There is no silver in the mother-of-pearl, the to see silver in a mother-of-pearl is a mistake in perception].
  • This is gnyAna (knowledge), thus there is neither renounciation (tyAga) , grasping (graha) nor  laya of this world. (see लय).
  • I am in all beings as they are all in me.
  • This is gnyAna (knowledge), thus there is neither renounciation (tyAga) , grasping (graha) nor  laya of this world. (see लय).

Notes : 

7.1 – 7.5 : Unreal universe, eternal, pure self.

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Janaka said :

  1. The boat of the universe moves hither and thither by its own wind, the endless ocean that I am. There is no intolerance in me.
  2. May the wave of the universe rise and fall of its own in the endless ocean that I am. There is neither my growth nor decay.
  3. There is the vikalpana, the imagination of the universe in the endless ocean that I am. I stay in this extremely tranquil, formless Self.
  4. The self is not in the bhAva (perception). nah bhAvah = nO bhAvah = our perceptions in that which is endless and pure.
  5. Thus disinterested and detached and peaceful, only that I am, I stay!
  6. aho! I am cit, only! The world is like a magic show ( a trap of indra’s – indrajAla). Therefore where/how can there be my thought of rejection and acceptance?

Janaka says that the Self is greater than the universe which is nothing more than a wave, a boat or a magic show.

He says we neither need accept nor reject something that is so trivial and illusory.

8.1 – 8.4 : “I” is bondage : Neither Accept nor Renounce

Posted on  by Satya Sarada Kandula

Ashtavakra (aSTAvakra) (Story From mahabharata)

aSTAvakra said :

  1. There is a bond (bandha) whenever the cit (roughly translated as consciousness in english, and identified as the Self in advaita), wants, thinks (worries), accepts, gives up, delights or is angry.
  2. There is mukti (freedom) whenever the cit does not want, think (worry), accept, give up, delight or get angry.
  3. There is bandha when the cit is interested in anything it perceives, there is mOkSa when the cit is disintrested in everything it percieves.
  4. When there is no “I” there is mOkSa (freedom) and when there is  ”I” there is bandhana (bondage). Thinking thus don’t grasp (gRhANA) nor give up anything.

Notes :

aSTAvakra is telling us that the cit can ‘take an interest’ and thus bind itself!

9.1 – 9.8 : Reason! Renounce! Be calm!

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aSTAvakra said :

  1. When and for whom do dualities and duties end (kRtAkRtE s’Anta) ?
  2. Knowing this become an avratI – one who is free from obligations.

Note :

  • vrAta is a word used today for all special pUjAs like vinAyaka vrata, varalakSmI vrata and so on that we do in s’rAvaNa mAsa. avratI can also mean one who is free from obligations. Generally vratAs are done for a purpose. 
  • It is also my personal observation that duties and obligations are endless. You cannot fulfil All your obligations before you let go. If you want to renounce, today is as good as any time in the future. Most of us hang on to this duty to others/society because of our I-ness or ahankAra.
  • I also checked this point with my father today. He says it is a myth and a huge blunder to think that we are doing anything for anyone or for society. Whatever we do, we do for ourselves and because we feel like it. Others will find a way to survive and thrive.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Be calm  and intent on renouncing. (nirvEda and tyAgapara).
  2. Sire! Who is lucky enough, to have observed others, and given up his desire for life, his appetite and his curiosity?
  3. He becomes peaceful, having determined that all this is transient, without substance, blameworthy, worthy of rejection  polluted by tApatraya – three kinds of heat (trouble).

Note :

  • aSTAvakra recommends tyAga or renunciation unlike janaka who sees that there is neither need to renounce nor grasp. tApatraya refers to threefold miseries as caused by our own body-mind, other beings and natural causes.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. At what time or age do dualities not exist for men? A person attains siddhi, who neglects all these and deals with what the moment presents. (yathA-prApta-vartI).

Note :

s’ankaracArya says – yat labhasE nija karma upAttam – what you get as generated by your own (previous) karma – vittam tEna vinOdaya cittam – delight yourself by that wealth. Don’t go hankering after more.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Having seen the diverse views (matAs) of mahaRSIs, yOgis and sAdhUs, which person will not become peaceful and unagitated?
  2. Is he not a guru who having perceived the form of consciousness (caitanyasya mUrtiparignyAnam) crosses the flow through various states of existence (saMsRti), by निर्वेद, समता and युक्ति.

Note :

  • I have previously explained why every teacher is not a guru. A guru, by definition must have attained the highest state. caitanya is a state of cit. A person is called caitanya if he has touched or stays in that state of cit or pure consciousness – untouched by samsAra mala (the dirt of samsAra). mUrti is form, body, personification and so on. A person who understands what caitanya really means (as opposed to kalpana or imagination about it), crosses saMsRti.
  • The root sR सृ, means to flow. सृति  or sRti is the flow itself or the path. The prefix sam – makes something good. saMsRti and samsAra can refer to the same thing. The general flow of things. (Some people translate this as transmigration – rebirths etc).
  • If you do caitanyasya mUrti parignyAna, then you cross saMsRti. And how do you do this?
  • Through yukti – clear logical reasoning.
  • Through samatA – treating things the same, being even-tempered.
  • Through nirvEda – through not-feeling OR through not-knowledge. vEda has many meanings of which one is feeling. nirvEda can be unagitated or without vEda!

aSTAvakra said :

  1. See the diverse beings in terms of just their elements, that very moment you will be free of bonds and  will stay in your own form (svarUpastha).
  2. vAsanAs alone are samsAra. (vAsanAs can be ideas, desires, perceptions, longings, imaginations etc)
  3. Therefore free yourself from the lot.
  4. From the giving up of vAsanAs, is renunciation. Now is sthiti (stable state), wherever you are.

Note :

  • One of the reasons why physicists (nobel-prize winners and all) have so much attraction for upanishadic philosophy is that they see things in terms of their constituent elements.
  • While a lot of people like to attack ‘desires’ and choose to translate vAsanAs as desires, I think the root ‘idea’ or ‘perceptions’ is more real. kRSNa said that desires spring from attachments which spring from continuously thinking about viSayAs (perceptions).
  • I think it seriously helps not to be attached to one’s own sense-perceptions of things because that is not how they ‘really are’.

10.1 : For mOkSa, give up dharma, artha and kAma

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aSTAvakra said :

  1. Give up the enemy kAma (desire), and artha (wealth, purpose, meaning) which is filled with anartha. And also give up dharma which is the cause of these two. And disregard them everywhere.

Note : 

  • Hindus in general give importance to 4 puruSArthAs or 4 goals of humans. These being desire, wealth, righteousness and freedom or liberation.
  • In the gRhastha As’rama – householder stage – you pursue the first three with your spouse.
  • The fourth – freedom is a personal goal, that your prepare for in the vAnaprastha As’rama (forest dwelling As’rama) and achieve in sannyAsa As’rama.
  • When you want (kAma) to do good (dharma) -> you want (kAma) – money (artha) to do it with!
  • So dharma can be the cause of and result of kAma and artha.
  • In vAnaprastha As’rama you can give advice if asked but you have no more duties to society. Only to your Self. Your guru is your guide.
  • In sannyAsa you have no duties to society at all.
  • cANakya was quite firm that no one could become a sannyAsi till his duties to his elders were taken care of. 
  • as’Oka preached care for elders from his rock edicts.
  • If the younger members of the family do not take care of elders, the burden on the state increases. (And the state does not like burdens!) I think the problem may have increased after the time of  gautama buddha, when the young were inspired to join the sangha in youth.
  • swAmI vivEkAnanda created an order of sannyAsins that serve the society.
  • In terms of cakrAs you hang on to dharma and you are at 4th or anAhata cakra (air tattva). At the 5th or vis’uddha cakra – you still crave solitude, learning and scripture interpreting. Only in the 6th or gnyAna cakra do you experience some advaita and go beyond ‘dharma’ and ‘learning’.

10.2-10.4 : Desire is bondage

Posted on July 4, 2012 

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Look at friends, lands, treasuries, wives, relatives and wealth of relatives (inheritances?), as a dream or magic (indrjAla) lasting 3 days or 5.
  2. Know that samsAra exists wherever there is thirst (desire). Take refuge in firm vairAgya and be one who is free from desire and happy!
  3. The nature of bondage is desire. Destruction of that is called mOkSa.
  4. From detachment to bhava (what is) is contentment obtained again and again.

10.5 : Whence this thirst of knowledge of the unreal universe?

Posted on  

aSTAvakra said :

  1. You are One.
  2. You are cEtana. (consciousness, the illumined one).
  3. You are pure.
  4. avidyA (That which is not knowledge) is nothing.
  5. The universe is jaDa. (inert, dull, devoid if unintelligent) and is asat (non-existent).
  6. What is this desire of yours to know?

10.6-10.8 : Enough of artha, kAma and sukRta karma! There is no peace in the I-view of the world!

Posted on  by Satya Sarada Kandula

aSTAvakra said :

  1. You have lost kingdoms, sons, wives, bodies and comforts, birth after birth, even though you took an interest in them.
  2. Enough of artha, kAma and sukRta karma (purpose/wealth, desire and good deeds done well). You mind did not find peace in this dreary forest of samsAra (The I-view of the world).
  3. You have worked for many janmAs with your body, mind and speech. At least now cease this karma which gives sorrow and fatigue.

11.1-11.8 : Prosperity and Hardships come from daiva. Relax! Be Goal-Less!


aSTAvakra said :

  1. One who is sure that being, changing and not being are from svabhAva (one’s own being/nature) easily becomes free from sorrow and undisturbed.
  2. One who is sure that Is’vara (the Master) is the निर्माता, producer/creator of all and that there is nothing else here, who is free desires and calm is not attached to anything.

(Is’A vAsyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyAm jagat  / tena tyaktEna bhunjIthA mA grudhah kasya svid dhanam. / : Isa Vasya Upanishad)

aSTAvakra said :

  1. One who is sure that times of difficulty and prosperity are from daiva (fate), who is content with all his senses stable in himself, neither desires nor grieves.
  2. One who is sure that happiness and sorrow, birth and death are  from daiva (fate), can’t see any goals, is free from fatigue, is not affected (lipyatE) even though he acts.
  3. One who is sure that sorrow comes from worry and nothing else here, is free from that worry, and is happy and peaceful and without sensation in everything.
  4. One who is sure, “I am not the body and I have no body, I am the knower (bODha)” attains kailvalya and does not worry about what is done and what is not.

kaivalya is the state of kEvala (Eka), only (One)!

aSTAvakra said :

  1. One who is sure “I am everything from brahma to a blade of grass”, without imaginings, clean and peaceful is not bothered (engaged/thrilled) by what he gets and what he does not get.
  2. One who is sure that this universe full of wonders is nothing at all, without attachments (nirvAsana) finds peace like nothing (is) and becomes sphUrtimAtra (only inspiration/consciousness).

12 : Rejection of karma also comes from ignorance (agnyaana – not knowing)!

janaka said :

  1. Earlier I was intolerant of physical action (kAyakRtya), then of elaborate speeches. Now I am intolerant even of thoughts. Thence I abide thus only.
  2. The Self is not something that can be seen and I am not interested in sounds and other sensations. So  without distraction and with only One foremost in my heart, I abide thus only.
  3. samAdhi (the highest state of yOga) requires vyavahAra (व्यवहार-conduct/behaviour/effort), that has to attained by those who are distracted (with ideas of self etc). Seeing that this is the rule, I abide thus only.

Note :

People who are extensively socialized into ideas of  me and you and others and duty and right and wrong and good and bad, have been heavily trained to be useful to samAja (society). We are soaked to the gills in samsAra. We therefore defer to practices like aSTAnga yOga which lead us to samAdhi in an effort to clear our heads, become ‘asocial’ beings, cleansed of samsAra. rAjA janaka did not require all this. He wasn’t interested in the offerings of the senses or in activity of mind, body and speech. His heart was focused only on the self and he stayed like that. This is true sannyAsa!

janaka said :

  1. Oh Brahman! Because there is nothing to accept or reject, there is neither joy nor sorrow, I abide thus.
  2. As’rama and anAs’rama (the prescribed four stages of life), dhyAna (paying attention),  the acceptance and rejection of citta (regulation) – Considering these to be vikalpa (false notions) – I abide thus only.
  3. Just as ignorance is the cause of observing (doing) karma (karma anuSTAnam), so also ignorance is the cause of not observing (doing) karma. Knowing this fully well, I abide thus only.
  • Some of the ancient indian philosophies were against doing karma as enjoined in the vEdAs. (The karmakAnDa of the vEdAs is explained in Jaimini’s pUrva mImAmsa school.) 
  • Some of them clearly were for doing karma. 
    • Some were for doing karma to get what you needed – sons, wealth, victory, knowledge, prosperity, rains and all ‘good things’.
    • Some were for doing karma for the sake of karma alone and not wishing for anything in return – ie renouncing karmaphala.
    • janaka said that Actively Electing to do vEdOkta karma or Rejecting to do it – both spring from ignorance.
      • My guruji’s guriji (padmanAbha AitAL nee’ anAkAma mAra) was a great vEdic scholar and practioner. He believed that everyone must do karma as perfectly and as simply as possible. He was for total simplicity and low cost but exact conformance to kalpa. He was also very fond of aSTAvakra gIta as vivEkAnanda was. As he progressed through his practice he realised that however hard one tried one could not do perfect karma – in practice some dOSAs (flaw) would sneak into it though someone’s agency or the other. He took sannyAsa towards the end of his life. kundA dEvI has also told me that she is contemplating formal sannyAsa at some point in the future.

janaka said :

  1. Thinking about the unthinkable is a form of thought itself. (Since thought is an activity of the brain, it is a body function). Therefore having given up that bhAvana, idea I abide thus only.
  2. A person who does thus is fulfilled. A person who is like this by nature is fulfilled.

Chapter 13 : I am happy as I am!

Posted on July 19, 2012

Janaka said :

  1. svAsthya – the state of being in one Self comes from the fact that nothing else in fact exists (akincanabhavam). This state is hard to get even in kaupInatva – the state of giving up everything and having only in a loin cloth. Therefore, there I have given up ‘giving up etc’ and I am happy as I am.
  2. In some places there is distress to the body and in some places to the tongue and in some to the mind. Having given up that, I comfortably stay in puruSArtha ( the purpose of the puruSa or divinity).
  3. Nothing ever is really done. Thinking thus, whatever comes my way, I do that and live happily.
  4. yOgins who stay in the body (not in the Self) have conditions of what to do, what not to do etc. I am happy as I am, free from the ideas of samYoga and ayOga (good union and non-union).
  5. By moving, standing still or sleeping, there is neither artha nor anartha for me. (meaning/purpose/wealth or the lack there of). Therefore I am happy as I am even as I stand, stay or sleep.
  6. Sleeping causes me no harm and striving brings me no achievement. Having given up loss and enthusiasm, I am happy as I am!
  7. I am happy as I am giving up the idea of s’ubha and as’ubha (auspicious and inauspicious) because I have repeatedly observed the principles and form of happiness (sukha) in things/beings.

When I was younger I observed that by dharma or karmaphala you are forced to do what has to be done by you. You are welcome to do charity or have your purse picked – OR you are welcome to do your homework or have elders sit on your head and make you do it. The easier option is to do it the first time. Then I found that the more you do easily the more you are made to do. karma is never ending. I learned that the more difficult you make it for others to use you as their tool, the less they try to use you for. For this you must become immune to the stick they are waving at you – disapproval, punishment, witholding rewards and recognition and so on. Once you no longer care for what people can do for you or to you, you become free of their control. You might still observe yourself being nice to people for reasons that are internal to you – but it won’t be out of fear or greed. It maybe out of (misplaced) compassion or genuine love or some inner compulsion. I observe that it makes very little difference to the fates of others. I started feeling that I was like sort of  a ghost – doing things that had no effect on/or for others. I still do things – cleaning, cooking, writing, listening, talking, chanting, sleeping, dreaming etc., since it is clear that things concerned with me only get done if I do them.

14 : Those who have no doubts internally and look like deluded persons.

Posted on July 20, 2012

Janaka said :

  1. A person who is a s’Unyacitta (nothing-consciousness) by nature, may carelessly (unintentionally) regard that things exist. He is definitely one whose memories are destroyed (kSINasamsmarah).  Like a sleeping knower (nidrita bOdhita).

Once some people achieve the state of knowing, they don’t really think about what’s going on as real.

However they have previous memories and react from those. (A bit like old people who rarely learn knew things and react often from past experience. They can’t learn or remember new stuff anymore unless they try very hard.) A stage comes when they forget the past as well – since it is an illusion and unreal.

Whereas old brains forget and lose the ability to learn because of bio-chemistry, gnyAnIs lose their memory and don’t pay attention to samsAra because the I-view of the world is illusory and not real. gnyAnIs gain a Is’vara-view of the world.

Another example is that of an absent-minded scientist – though (s)he may learn and remember nothing about what is ‘going on’ in her/his life – (s)he may be well aware of what is ‘going on’ at say a quantum or a cosmic level.

One brilliant old sanksrit scholar I knew took advantage of his failing senses and memory to turn even more firmly inwards. He said that is the reason why body-mind facilities fail in old age – so that people can turn to the divine. Some white ladies take advantage of the body-changes in middle age to turn to yOga and spirituality.

Janaka says that even if a knower behaves like the illusory world is real, it does not mean he is ignorant, its more like he is dreaming. You “know” that you can’t walk on water or fly and yet you may happily dream of these. It does not mean you are ignorant, it just means your brain is tossing up some images as it unwinds.

Janaka said :

  1. Where be wealth and friends and thieves called perceptions, Where be s’AstrAs (texts) and vignyAna (knowledge), when my sensation has fallen away.
  2. I am not anxious for liberation as I know the sAkSi puruSa (the divine witness), the supreme Self and I’svara (Master). I am indifferent to bandhamOkSa (bondage and liberation)
  3. Those who have no doubts internally and look like deluded persons doing whatever they like, their conditions are  known only to those like them.

15.1-15.8 : The Self is God (bhagavAn)!

July 27, 2012

aSTAvakra said,

  1. A person of sattvabuddhi (whose learned knowledge is based on Reality), achieves his purpose through a teaching given in any manner (yathA tatha buddhimAn). Others though curious about knowledge throughout their life are deluded.
  2. Freedom is a distaste for sensations. Attachment to matters reported by the senses is bondage. This is knowledge. Now do as you please.
  3. This knowledge is shunned by those who wish to consume (enjoy) the world, because it converts a conscious, great achiever and orator into a silent, inert and apathetic person.
  4. You are not the body and it is not yours. You are neither the bhOktA (consumer), nor doer. You are cidrUpa (of the form of cit), the eternal witness, expecting nothing, move about happily (comfortably).
  5. Attachment and Aversion are dharmAs of the manas. The manas is never yours. You are without kalpa (projection). Your self is knowledge. You are unchanging, move about happily (comfortably).
  6. Know that your Self is in all beings and all beings in your Self, without I-ness and My-ness, you be happy!
  7. You are that in which this expansion (universe, vis’vam), manifests like waves in an ocean, there is no doubt. Oh, cinmUrti, one whose form is cit-consciousness, be free from anxiety.
  8. Oh revered one, have faith, have faith! Don’t be under illusion here. You are beyond prakRti – prakRTEh parah. Your Self is the bhagavAn, whose form is knowledge!

It gets harder and harder to write this series.

I know that among the vEdAntins only the advaitins will relate to this.

Even among the advaitins most people talk as if knowledge is ‘unrealisable in this birth’. This because inspite of repetitions they firmly identify themselves and others with the body and its physical and mental activities, as well as their relationships with each other.

And yet, there is one special reader for whom I continue to write this. One that I know about today. There may be others in the future.

All of us have one Self! It is cit – the consciousness. It is unchanging. It is bhagavAn, the dispenser of fortunes. Our bodies, minds, and actions (including thoughts) are all prakRti. prakRti has been translated wildly as nature because that is its meaning in today’s languages. But it literally means – the tendency towards doing.

The universe that our senses are reporting about are waves in our own cit. 

My senses report  lights and sounds and tastes and smells and touch-es. This  mind makes up a universe out of all these. It likes the ‘pretty, clean, sweet sounding and sweet smelling, soft and silky bits’. It is likely to have its preferences. But this my-manas is not mine, nor is that your-manas mine. They are just a lot of neural activities. Given the different inputs they get, two manas-es will not agree about a lot of things. But they always try to convince each other!

Your Self and My Self, are the one and the same. You and I are One, the bhagavAn, the cit, the knowledge, the witness, the unchanging reality. We identify with different bits of prakRti and according to this gIta, that is a mistake. The We-I-Self does nothing, consumes nothing!

15.9-15.20 : There is only One!

aSTAvakra said :

Notes :

वेष्टि means waist cloth (gaavanc’a in telugu). samvEStitah is a person who is properly covered by a vESti.   guNa means rope and guNa means quality. In much Indian Philosophy, prAkRTi is the manifested universe and puruSa is the consciousness. There are 3 guNAs in prakRti – sat (existence), rajas (illumination) and tamas (darkness). These three are considered bonds that bind us. aSTAvakra said :

  1. The body is clothed – samvESTitah –  by guNAs. It comes, stays and goes. (It is born, lives and dies). But the self neither comes, stays nor goes. Why worry? (You-I-They-the Self neither takes birth, lives nor dies – Why worry?)
  2. Let the body stay till the end of the kalpa (a day of brahma) or let it go today only. Where is the vRddhi – prosperity or hAni-harm to you who are of the form of pure consciousness?
  3. In you, who are the endless great ocean, let the wave of the universe (wave of expansion – vis’vavIci) rise and subside of its own nature – svabhAva. There is no vRddhi – growth or kSati-destruction to you.
  4. Oh revered one! you are cinmAtrarUpa (of the form of cit-consciousness). Why the idea of the rejectable and the acceptable.
  5. In you, the One, unchangeable, peaceful, pure, AkAs’a of cit (space/ether/sky of consciousness), where is the janma (birth), where is the karma, and where is the ahankAra (I-ness)?
  6. Do bracelets, amulets and anklets appear different from gold (of which they are made)? Thus you alone radiate from whatever you perceive!
  7. Realise that the Self is all. Having given up the distinctions that “I am this”, “I am not this”, without sankalpa (intentions/wishes), be happy!
  8. The vis’va (universe/expansion), is from your ignorance. There is no samsArI (one of the world ) or asamsArI (one not of this world). From paramArtha (the understanding of the ultimate), you alone exist!

Notes : 

  • The Us-they-I-You-manifest-unmanifest is all one. Everything is the Self. There is nothing else at all. It is my Self I see radiating from all that I perceive. I see my Self, everywhere and in everything.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. One who realises that the universe is merely an illusion (bhrAntimAtram) and nothing else, thinks this is nothing and becomes peaceful, desireless and sphUrtimAtra (just स्फूर्ति – throbbing/manifestation).
  2. There is only One in this ocean of being. There is neither mOksa nor bandha (freedom nor bondage). Be कृतकृत्य, one who has accomplished his purpose and be happy (sukham cara)!
  3. Oh cinmaya! (One consisting of pure cit)! do not distress your citta (चित्त, mind) with sankalpa and vikalpa, right and wrong conceptions. Having become calm, stay peacefully in your Self – the embodiment of Ananda.
  4. Give up dhyAna (paying attention) everywhere. Dob’t hold (dhAra) anything in your heart. You are the free Self. What will you do having deliberated? (विमृश्य)!

16.1 – 16.5 : Only a person who is so disinterested in activity that even blinking is a pain, can be truly happy.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Revered one! Speak or hear the many scriptures (s’AstrAs) over and over again. But your svAsthya (staying in your Self) is not possible unless your forget them all.

This is also true in every field. You must first be guided by the texts of that field be it physics or music and then break away (forget everything) and come up with your own truth. (Think of relativity theory or hamsageethe movie or kautilya arthasastra). Many people ignore previous studies and give their own theories and many people  stick with the texts and venture nothing new. 

aSTAvakra said :

  1. Whether you do bhOga (enjoyment), karma (work) or samAdhi (anxiety-quietening), oh knowledgeable one, your citta yearns for (is brightened by – rOcayiSyati) that which is beyond purpose (artha) and in which all desires are cast out.
  2. Everyone is saddened by effort. But no one knows this.. Only by this teaching do the fortunate attain nivRtti. (vRtti (वृत्ति) : pravRtti (प्रवृत्ति) : nivRtti (निवृत्ति) : in tantra yOga)

The bhagavad gita says : in chapter 14 : Rajas is passion by nature. It is the source of desire and attachment. It binds the embodied person through attachment to Karma (action). Convsersely, greed, enterprise, activity, restlessness, and desire indicate the dominance of Rajas. The result of rAjasik action is pain (sorrow).

Do you think that you can correlate rAjasik behaviour with some cakrAs?

aSTAvakra said :

  1. AlasyadhurINah – of the master idler, who suffers even in the activity closing and opening of eyelids, of him there is sukham – comfort, not anyone else.

Only a person who is so disinterested in activity that even blinking is a pain, can be truly happy. 16-4.

aSTAvakra said :

  1. When the manas is freed from the dvandvAs (pairs) such as this has been done, this is yet to be done, then it becomes indifferent (nirapEkSa) to the puruSArthAs (goals) such as dharma(that which is to be borne), kAma(desire) and artha (purpose).