Ramaraju Mahanthi
Thank You For Everything.

Ashtavakra

Many thousands of years ago, there was a great master named Ashtavakra. He was one of the greatest sages on this planet who caused a huge spiritual movement at that time. The name “ Ashtavakra ” means “ one with eight different types of deformities in his body. ” This was because of a curse from his father.


When Ashtavakra was in his mother’s womb, various teachings were expounded to him by his father, Kahola, who was himself a famed scholar and sage. In his fetal state, Ashtavakra received all this and before he was born, when he was still in his mother’s womb, he gained tremendous mastery over the various dimensions of the Self. One day, in the process of transmitting the teachings, Kahola made a mistake. Ashtavakra, the unborn child, said “ hum ” from his mother’s womb. He was indicating that it was a mistake and that what Kahola was saying was not right. Unfortunately, his father lost his temper and cursed the child to be born with eight types of deformities. So the child was born physically deformed – his feet, hands, knees, chest and neck were bent.


When Ashtavakra was still a very young man, he once accompanied his father to a great debate that had been organized by the ruler of the land, King Janaka. Janaka was a truly phenomenal man of great intensity. Though he was a king, he was a true seeker. He was burning to get enlightened. His longing for enlightenment was so strong that before he encountered Ashtavakra, he gathered in his court everyone in the whole land who could be of spiritual value. He welcomed them, treated them well, gave them the necessary sustenance, and supported them because he was hoping that somehow he would get enlightened.


Every day, he finished his temporal duties as quickly as he could and spent hours listening to these people, conducting debates and discussions to somehow know which is the way to enlightenment. Different scholars who had mastered different traditions of spiritual scriptures would sit together and start off great intellectual debates which would run for days, weeks and months. They used to be marathon debates; and usually, the winner of the debate would receive a great reward. They would receive a great deal of money or be appointed to some high position in the kingdom. These were not ordinary people. He had gathered good ones, but no one could give him enlightenment.


Kahola was invited to one such debate and he went accompanied by Ashtavakra. The debate began and a great argument was underway between the best scholars there. Many intellectual questions were raised and the intricacies of the scriptures were being discussed, when Ashtavakra stood up and said, “ All this is empty talk. None of these people knows anything of the Self. They are all talking about it, but not one person here including my father knows anything about the Self. ”


King Janaka looked at Ashtavakra – this young boy with a twisted-out body speaking like this – and said “ Can you substantiate what you just said ? Otherwise you will lose even that crippled body of yours. ”


Ashtavakra replied, “ Yes I can. ”


“ Then what is it that you can offer ? ” asked Janaka.


Ashtavakra said, “ If you want to receive this, you must be willing to follow my word to the limit. Only then I can offer this to you. If you are willing to just do what I ask you to do, I will see that you know yourself. ”


Janaka appreciated this straightforwardness and said “ Yes. You tell me anything, I will do it. ” He was not simply saying that. He really meant it.


Ashtavakra said, “ I live in the forest. Come there and we will see what to do. ” And he left.


After a few days, Janaka went in search of Ashtavakra in the forest. When a king goes anywhere, he always goes with his guard of soldiers and ministers. Janaka set off into the forest with his retinue. But when they entered the forest, the jungle kept getting denser and denser. Gradually, after many hours of searching, Janaka got separated from the rest of the group and lost his way. As he was wandering around in the forest searching for a way out, all of a sudden he came upon Ashtavakra sitting under a tree.


When he saw Ashtavakra, Janaka began to dismount from the horse. He was on one stirrup and his other leg was up in the air when Ashtavakra said, “ Stop. Stop right there. ” Janaka just stopped in that absolutely uncomfortable position – hanging onto the horse, with one leg up in the air.


He just stood there in that absolutely awkward position. We don’t know for how long. Some legends say for many years, some say it was just a moment. The chronological time does not matter. He stood in that position long enough. Long enough can be just one moment. Because of that absoluteness of him following the instruction – just stopping there, where he has to be – he became a fully realized being.


Once Janaka became enlightened, he got off his horse and fell at Ashtavakra’s feet. He said to Ashtavakra,     “ What am I going to do with my kingdom and my palace – these things are not important to me anymore. I just want to sit at your feet. Please let me stay with you in your ashram in the forest. ”


But Ashtavakra replied, “ Now that you have attained, your life is no more about your likes and dislikes. Your life is no more about your needs because you have none actually. Your people deserve an enlightened king. You must stay as their king. ”


Reluctantly, Janaka stayed back in his palace and governed his kingdom with great wisdom.


Janaka was a true blessing to his people because he was a fully enlightened master, but he functioned as a king. In India, many sages and saints were once kings and emperors who willingly and voluntarily gave away everything they had and walked as beggars, with great dignity. There have been many like this – Gautama Buddha, Mahavira – but an enlightened king was a rare being. Janaka remained a king but as often as possible, whenever his regal responsibilities gave him some time, he would visit Ashtavakra in his ashram.


At the ashram, Ashtavakra had gathered a few monks who were being taught by him. These monks slowly began to resent Janaka because whenever he came, Ashtavakra went out of his way and spent a lot of time with the king because they had such a good rapport with each other. The moment Janaka came, both of them lit up. With the monks whom Ashtavakra was teaching, he did not light up the same way. There was something between Janaka and Ashtavakra, which was resented by the monks.


The monks would whisper to each other, “ Why has our Guru sold out to a man like that ? It looks like our Guru is getting corrupted. This man is a king. He lives in a palace. He has got so many wives and so many children. He has so much wealth. Look at the way he walks. He walks like a king. And look at the way he is dressed. Look at the ornaments he wears. What is spiritual about him that our Guru should even pay attention to this man? We are here totally dedicated to our spiritual process. We have come here as monks but he is just ignoring us. ”


Ashtavakra knew that this feeling was growing among his monks. So one day he arranged for something to happen. He was sitting and speaking to the monks in a hall and king Janaka was also present. As the discourse was going on, a soldier came barging into the room, bowed down to Janaka but not to Ashtavakra, and said,    “ Oh king, the palace is on fire! Everything is burning. The whole kingdom is in disarray. ”


Janaka got up and just yelled at the soldier, “ Get out of here! How dare you come and disturb the sathsang and how dare you bow down to me and not to my Guru! Just get out of here! ” The soldier fled from the room. Janaka sat back down and Ashtavakra continued to speak.


A few days later, Ashtavakra set up something else. All of them were once again seated in the hall and Ashtavakra was giving a discourse. Right in the middle of the discourse, a helper in the ashram came running into the hall and said, “ The monkeys have taken the clothes off the clothes-line and are playing havoc with the monks’ garments. ”


All the monks immediately got up and ran to save their clothes. They did not want the monkeys to tamper with them. But when they got to the clothes-drying area, there were no monkeys and their loin cloths were still hanging on the clothes-line. They realized what had happened. They hung their heads down and walked back.


Then as a part of the discourse Ashtavakra said, “ Look at this. This man is a king. A few days ago his palace was burning. His whole kingdom was in turmoil. Wealth at its peak was burning, but his concern was that his soldier disturbed the sathsang. That was his concern. You are monks. You have nothing. You don’t have a palace, you don’t have a wife, you don’t have children, you have got nothing. But when the monkeys came and picked up your clothing, you ran. Most people would not use your clothing even as mop cloths. That is the kind of clothing you wear. But for that loin cloth, without even paying attention to what I was saying, you just ran out to save those worthless pieces of cloth. Where is your renunciation? He is the true renunciate. He is a king but he is a renunciate. You are monks. You are using things that other people discard, but there is no renunciation in you. This is where you are. That is where he is.”


One’s progress within oneself has nothing to do with what a person does on the outside, what is most important is, what a person is doing within him or herself. What you are doing with the outside world is just social; you conduct yourself as it is suitable for the situation in which you exist. It has social relevance but no existential or spiritual relevance. How you are within yourself is all that matters.

Ashtavakra Gita

The Ashtavakra Gita is a short treatise ascribed to the great sage Ashtavakra. It was composed before the common era, most likely between 500-400 BC. Though some claim it was written later, either in the eighth century by a follower of Shankara, or as late as the fourteenth century during a resurgence of Shankara's teaching. It is written as a dialogue between King Janaka, the father of Sita, and his guru, Ashtavakra. The Ashtavakra Gita elucidates the meaning of the Supreme Reality, Brahman, the self and Atman (Self, soul) and Maya ("an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem").

1. Instruction on Self-Realization — All-pervading Witness 

2. Joy of Self-realization — the Infinite Self Beyond Nature 

3. Test of Self-Realization — Self in All and All in the Self 

4. Glorification of Self-realization — Knower of the Self 

5. Four Ways to Dissolution of Consciousness 

6. The Higher Knowledge — Irrelevance of Dissolution 

7. Self-Realization — Tranquil & Boundless Ocean of the Self 

8. Bondage and Liberation 

9. Detachment — Indifference 

10. Quietude — Dispassion 

11. Wisdom — Self as Pure and Radiant Intelligence 

12. Abiding in the Self — Ascent of Contemplation 

13. Happiness — Transcendent Bliss 

14. Tranquility — Dissolution of the Mind 

15. Knowledge of the Self — Unborn Brahman 

16. Special Instruction — Forget Everything 

17. The True Knower — Absolute Aloneness of the Self 

18. Peace — Way of Samadhi 

19. Repose in the Self — Majesty of the Self 

20. Liberation-in-Life — Transcendence of the Self

 1. Instruction on Self-Realization — All-pervading Witness 


O Master, Tell me how to find Detachment, wisdom, and freedom! (1.1) 


Child, If you wish to be free, Shun the poison of the senses. Seek the nectar of truth, Of love and forgiveness, Simplicity and happiness. (1.2) 


Earth, fire and water, The wind and the sky – You are none of these. If you wish to be free, Know you are the Self, The witness of all these, The heart of awareness. (1.3) 


Set your body aside. Sit in your own awareness. You will at once be happy, Forever still, Forever free. (1.4) 


You have no caste. No duties bind you. Formless and free, Beyond the reach of the senses, The witness of all things. So be happy! (1.5) 


Right or wrong, Joy and sorrow, These are of the mind only. They are not yours. It is not really you Who acts or enjoys. You are everywhere, Forever free. (1.6) 


Forever and truly free, The single witness of all things. But if you see yourself as separate, Then you are bound. (1.7) 


"I do this. I do that.” The big black snake of selfishness Has bitten you! “I do nothing.” This is the nectar of faith, So drink and be happy! (1.8) 


Know you are one, Pure awareness. With the fire of this conviction, Burn down the forest of ignorance. Free yourself from sorrow, And be happy. (1.9) 


Be happy! For you are joy, unbounded joy. You are awareness itself. Just as a coil of rope Is mistaken for a snake, So you are mistaken for the world. (1.10) 


If you think you are free, You are free. If you think you are bound, You are bound. For the saying is true: You are what you think. (1.11) 


The Self looks like the world. But this is just an illusion. The Self is everywhere. One. Still. Free. Perfect. The witness of all things, Awareness Without action, clinging or desire. (1.12) 


Meditate on the Self. One without two, Exalted awareness. Give up the illusion Of the separate self. Give up the feeling, Within or without, That you are this or that. (1.13) 


My child, Because you think you are the body, For a long time you have been bound. Know you are pure awareness. With this knowledge as your sword Cut through your chains. And be happy! (1.14) 


For you are already free, Without action or flaw, Luminous and bright. You are bound Only by the habit of meditation. (1.15) 


Your nature is pure awareness. You are flowing in all things, And all things are flowing in you. But beware The narrowness of the mind! (1.16) 


You are always the same, Unfathomable awareness, Limitless and free, Serene and unperturbed. Desire only your own awareness. (1.17) 


Whatever takes form is false. Only the formless endures. When you understand The truth of this teaching, You will not be born again. (1.18) 


For God is infinite, Within the body and without, Like a mirror, And the image in a mirror. (1.19)


As the air is everywhere, Flowing around a pot And filling it, So God is everywhere, Filling all things And flowing through them forever. (1.20)

 2. Joy of Self-realization — the Infinite Self Beyond Nature 

Yesterday I lived bewildered, In illusion. But now I am awake, Flawless and serene, Beyond the world. (2.1) 


From my light The body and the world arise. So all things are mine, Or nothing is. (2.2) 


Now I have given up The body and the world, I have a special gift. I see the infinite Self. (2.3)

 

As a wave, Seething and foaming, Is only water So all creation, Streaming out of the Self, Is only the Self. (2.4)


 Consider a piece of cloth. It is only threads! So all creation, When you look closely, Is only the Self. (2.5)

 

Like the sugar In the juice of the sugarcane, I am the sweetness In everything I have made. (2.6)

 

When the Self is unknown The world arises, Not when it is known. But you mistake The rope for the snake. When you see the rope, The snake vanishes. (2.7) 


My nature is light, Nothing but light. When the world arises I alone am shining. (2.8)

 

When the world arises in me, It is just an illusion: Water shimmering in the sun, A vein of silver in mother-of-pearl, A serpent in a strand of rope. (2.9) 


From me the world streams out And in me it dissolves, As a bracelet melts into gold, A pot crumbles into clay, A wave subsides into water. (2.10) 


I adore myself. How wonderful I am! I can never die. The whole world may perish, From Brahma to a blade of grass, But I am still here. (2.11) 


Indeed how wonderful! I adore myself. For I have taken form But I am still one. Neither coming or going, Yet I am still everywhere. (2.12) 


How wonderful, And how great my powers! For I am without form, Yet till the end of time I uphold the universe. (2.13) 


Wonderful! For nothing is mine, Yet it is all mine, Whatever is thought or spoken. (2.14) 


I am not the knower, Nor the known, Nor the knowing. These three are not real. They only seem to be When I am not known. For I am flawless. (2.15) 


Two from one! This is the root of suffering. Only perceive That I am one without two, Pure awareness, pure joy, And all the world is false. There is no other remedy! (2.16) 


Through ignorance I once imagined I was bound. But I am pure awareness. I live beyond all distinctions, In unbroken meditation. (2.17) 


Indeed, I am neither bound nor free. An end to illusion! It is all groundless. For the whole of creation, Though it rests in me, Is without foundation. (2.18) 


The body is nothing. The world is nothing. When you understand this fully, How can they be invented? For the Self is pure awareness, Nothing less. (2.19) 


The body is false, And so are its fears, Heaven and hell, freedom and bondage. It is all invention. What can they matter to me? I am awareness itself. (2.20) 


I see only one. Many men, One wilderness. Then to what may I cling ? (2.21) 


I am not the body. Nor is the body mine. I am not separate. I am awareness itself, Bound only by my thirst for life. (2.22) 


I am the infinite ocean. When thoughts spring up, The wind freshens, and like waves A thousand worlds arise. (2.23) 


But when the wind falls, The trader sinks with his ship. On the boundless ocean of my being He founders, And all the worlds with him. (2.24) 


But O how wonderful! I am the unbounded deep In whom all living things Naturally arise, Rush against each other playfully, And then subside. (2.25)

3. Test of Self-Realization — Self in All and All in the Self 


You know the Self, By nature one Without end. You know the Self, And you are serene. How can you still desire riches? (3.1) 


When from ignorance You see silver in mother-of-pearl, Greed arises. From ignorance of the Self Desire arises For the world where the senses whirl. (3.2) 


Knowing yourself as That In which the worlds rise and fall Like waves in the ocean, Why do you run about so wretchedly? (3.3) 


For have you not heard? You are pure awareness, And your beauty is infinite! So why let lust mislead you? (3.4)


The man who is wise Knows himself in all things And all things in himself. Yet how strange! He still says, "This is mine.” (3.5) 


Determined to be free, He abides in the oneness Beyond all things. Yet how strange! Indulging in passion, he weakens, And lust overwhelms him. (3.6) 


Feeble with age, Still he is filled with desire, When without doubt he knows That lust is the enemy of awareness. Indeed how strange! (3.7) 


He longs to be free. . . He has no care for this world Or the next, And he knows what is passing Or forever. And yet how strange! He is still afraid of freedom. (3.8) 


But he who is truly wise Always sees the absolute Self. Celebrated, he is not delighted. Spumed, he is not angry. (3.9) 


Pure of heart, He watches his own actions As if they were another's. How can praise or blame disturb him? (3.10) 


With clear and steady insight He sees this world is a mirage, And he no longer wonders about it. How can he fear the approach of death? (3.11) 


Pure of heart, He desires nothing, Even in despair. He is content In the knowledge of the Self. With whom may I compare him? (3.12) 


With clear and steady insight He knows that whatever he sees Is by its very nature nothing. How can he prefer one thing to another? (3.13) 


He is beyond all duality. Free from desire, He has driven from his mind All longing for the world. Come what may, Joy or sorrow, Nothing moves him. (3.14)

 4. Glorification of Self-realization — Knower of the Self 


The wise man knows the Self, And he plays the game of life. But the fool lives in the world Like a beast of burden. (4.1) 


The true seeker feels no elation Even in that exalted state Which Indra and all the gods Unhappily long for. (4.2)


 He understands the nature of things. His heart is not smudged By right or wrong, As the sky is not smudged by smoke. (4.3) 


He is pure of heart, He knows the whole world is only the Self. So who can stop him From doing as he wishes? (4.4) 


Of the four kinds of being, From Brahma to a blade of grass, Only the wise man is strong enough To give up desire and aversion. (4.5) 


How rare he is! Knowing he is the Self, He acts accordingly And is never fearful. For he knows he is the Self, One without two, The Lord of all creation. (4.6)

  5. Four Ways to Dissolution of Consciousness


You are pure. Nothing touches you. What is there to renounce? Let it all go, The body and the mind. Let yourself dissolve. (5.1) 


Like bubbles in the sea, All the worlds arise in you. Know you are the Self. Know you are one. Let yourself dissolve. (5.2) 


You see the world. But like the snake in the rope, It is not really there. You are pure. Let yourself dissolve. (5.3) 


You are one and the same In joy and sorrow, Hope and despair, Life and death. You are already fulfilled. Let yourself dissolve. (5.4)

 6. The Higher Knowledge — Irrelevance of Dissolution 


I am boundless space. The world is a clay pot. This is the truth. There is nothing to accept, Nothing to reject, Nothing to dissolve. (6.1) 


I am the ocean. All the worlds are like waves. This is the truth. Nothing to hold on to, Nothing to let go of, Nothing to dissolve. (6.2) 


I am the mother-of-pearl. The world is a vein of silver, An illusion! This is the truth. Nothing to grasp, Nothing to spurn, Nothing to dissolve. (6.3) 


I am in all beings. All beings are in me. This is the whole truth. Nothing to embrace, Nothing to relinquish, Nothing to dissolve. (6.4)

 7. Self-Realization — Tranquil & Boundless Ocean of the Self


I am the boundless ocean. This way and that, The wind, blowing where it will, Drives the ship of the world. But I am not shaken. (7.1) 


I am the unbounded deep In whom the waves of all the worlds Naturally rise and fall. But I do not rise or fall. (7.2) 


I am the infinite deep In whom all the worlds Appear to rise. Beyond all form, Forever still. Even so am I. (7.3) 


I am not in the world. The world is not in me. I am pure. I am unbounded. Free from attachment, Free from desire, Still. Even so am I. (7.4) 


O how wonderful! I am awareness itself, No less. The world is a magic show! But in me There is nothing to embrace, And nothing to turn away. (7.5)

 8. Bondage and Liberation 


The mind desires this, And grieves for that. It embraces one thing, And spurns another. Now it feels anger, Now happiness. In this way you are bound. (8.1) 


But when the mind desires nothing And grieves for nothing, When it is without joy or anger And, grasping nothing, Turns nothing away. . . Then you are free. (8.2) 


When the mind is attracted To anything it senses, You are bound. When there is no attraction, You are free. (8.3)


Where there is no I, You are free. Where there is I, You are bound. Consider this. It is easy. Embrace nothing, Turn nothing away. (8.4)

 9. Detachment — Indifference 


Seeing to this, Neglecting that, Setting one thing against another. . . Who is free of such cares? When will they ever end? Consider. Without passion, With dispassion, Let go. (9.1) 


My child, Rare is he, and blessed, Who observes the ways of men And gives up the desire For pleasure and knowledge, For life itself. (9.2) 


Nothing lasts. Nothing is real. It is all suffering, Threefold affliction! It is all beneath contempt. Know this. Give it up. Be still. (9.3) 


When will men ever stop Setting one thing against another? Let go of all contraries. Whatever comes, be happy And so fulfill yourself. (9.4) 


Masters, saints, seekers: They all say different things. Whoever knows this, With dispassion becomes quiet. (9.5) 


The true master considers well. With dispassion He sees all things are the same. He comes to understand The nature of things, The essence of awareness. He will not be born again. (9.6) 


In the shifting elements See only their pure form. Rest in your own nature. Set yourself free. The world is just a set of false impressions. Give them up. Give up the illusion. Give up the world. And live freely. (9.7)

 10. Quietude — Dispassion 


Striving and craving, For pleasure or prosperity, These are your enemies, Springing up to destroy you From the presumptions of virtue. Let them all go. Hold on to nothing. (10.1) 


Every good fortune, Wives, friends, houses, lands, All these gifts and riches. . . They are a dream, A juggling act, A traveling show! A few days, and they are gone. (10.2) 


Consider. Wherever there is desire, There is the world. With resolute dispassion Free yourself from desire, And find happiness. (10.3) 


Desire binds you, Nothing else. Destroy it, and you are free. Turn from the world. Fulfill yourself, And find lasting happiness. (10.4) 


You are one. You are pure awareness. The world is not real. It is cold and lifeless. Nor is ignorance real. So what can you wish to know? (10.5) 


Life after life you indulged In different forms, Different pleasures, Sons and kingdoms and wives. Only to lose them all. . . (10.6) 


Enough of the pursuit of pleasure, Enough of wealth and righteous deeds! In the dark forest of the world What peace of mind can they bring you? (10.7) 


How you have toiled, Life after life, Pressing into painful labor Your body and your mind and your words. It is time to stop. Now! (10.8)

 11. Wisdom — Self as Pure and Radiant Intelligence 


All things arise, Suffer change, And pass away. This is their nature. When you know this, Nothing perturbs you, Nothing hurts you. You become still. It is easy. (11.1) 


God made all things. There is only God. When you know this, Desire melts away. Clinging to nothing, You become still. (11.2) 


Sooner or later, Fortune or misfortune May befall you. When you know this, You desire nothing, You grieve for nothing. Subduing the senses, You are happy. (11.3) 


Whatever you do Brings joy or sorrow, Life or death. When you know this, You may act freely, Without attachment. For what is there to accomplish? (11.4) 


All sorrow comes from fear. From nothing else. When you know this, You become free of it, And desire melts away. You become happy And still. (11.5)


"I am not the body, Nor is the body mine. I am awareness itself” When you know this, You have no thought For what you have done Or left undone. You become one, Perfect and indivisible. (11.6) 


“I am in all things, From Brahma to a blade of grass.” When you know this, You have no thought For success or failure Or the mind's inconstancy. You are pure. You are still. (11.7) 


The world with all its wonders Is nothing. When you know this, Desire melts away. For you are awareness itself. When you know in your heart That there is nothing, You are still. (11.8)

 12. Abiding in the Self — Ascent of Contemplation 


First I gave up action, Then idle words, And lastly thought itself. Now I am here. (12.1) 


Ridding my mind of distraction, single-pointed, I shut out sound and all the senses, And I am here. (12.2) 


Meditation is needed Only when the mind is distracted By false imagining. Knowing this, I am here. (12.3) 


Without joy or sorrow, Grasping nothing, spuming nothing, O Master, I am here. (12.4) 


What do I care If I observe or neglect The four stages of life? Meditation, Controlling the mind, These are mere distractions! Now I am here. (12.5) 


Doing, or not doing, Both come from not knowing. Knowing this fully, I am here. (12.6) 


Thinking Of what is beyond thinking Is still thinking. I gave up thinking, And I am here. (12.7) 


Whoever fulfills this Fulfills his own nature And is indeed fulfilled. (12.8)

 13. Happiness — Transcendent Bliss 


Even if you have nothing, It is hard to find that contentment Which comes from renunciation. I accept nothing. I reject nothing. And I am happy. (13.1) 


The body trembles, The tongue falters, The mind is weary. Forsaking them all, I pursue my purpose happily. (13.2) 


Knowing I do nothing, I do whatever comes my way, And I am happy. (13.3) 


Bound to his body, The seeker insists on striving Or on sitting still. But I no longer suppose The body is mine, Or is not mine. And I am happy. (13.4) 


Sleeping, sitting, walking, Nothing good or bad befalls me. I sleep, I sit, I walk, And I am happy. (13.5) 


Struggling or at rest, Nothing is won or lost. I have forsaken the joy of winning And the sorrow of losing. And I am happy. (13.6) 


For pleasures come and go. How often I have watched their inconstancy! But I have forsaken good and bad, And now I am happy. (13.7)

 14. Tranquility — Dissolution of the Mind 


By nature my mind is empty. Even in sleep, I am awake. I think of things without thinking. All my impressions of the world Have dissolved. (14.1) 


My desires have melted away. So what do I care for money Or the thieving senses, For friends or knowledge or holy books? (14.2) 


Liberation, Bondage, What are they to me? What do I care for freedom? For I have known God, The infinite Self, The witness of all things. (14.3) 


Without, a fool. Within, free of thought. I do as I please, And only those like me Understand my ways. (14.4)

 15. Knowledge of the Self — Unborn Brahman 


The man who is pure of heart Is bound to fulfill himself In whatever way he is taught. A worldly man seeks all his life, But is still bewildered. (15.1) 


Detached from the senses, You are free. Attached, you are bound. When this is understood, You may live as you please. (15.2) 


When this is understood, The man who is bright and busy And full of fine words Falls silent. He does nothing. He is still. No wonder Those who wish to enjoy the world Shun this understanding! (15.3) 


You are not your body. Your body is not you. You are not the doer. You are not the enjoyer. You are pure awareness, The witness of all things. You are without expectation, Free. Wherever you go, Be happy! (15.4) 


Desire and aversion are of the mind. The mind is never yours. You are free of its turmoil. You are awareness itself, Never changing. Wherever you go, Be happy. (15.5) 


For see! The Self is in all beings, And all beings are in the Self. Know you are free, Free of "I," Free of "mine.” Be happy. (15.6) 


In you the worlds arise Like waves in the sea. It is true! You are awareness itself. So free yourself From the fever of the world. (15.7) 


Have faith, my Child, have faith. Do not be bewildered. For you are beyond all things, The heart of all knowing. You are the Self. You are God. (15.8) 


The body is confined By its natural properties. It comes, It lingers awhile, It goes. But the Self neither comes nor goes. So why grieve for the body? (15.9) 


If the body lasted till the end of time,  Or vanished today, What would you win or lose? You are pure awareness. (15.10) 


You are the endless sea In whom all the worlds like waves Naturally rise and fall. You have nothing to win, Nothing to lose. (15.11) 


Child, You are pure awareness, Nothing less. You and the world are one. So who are you to think You can hold on to it, Or let it go? How could you! (15.12) 


You are the clear space of awareness, Pure and still, In whom there is no birth, No activity, No "I." You are one and the same. You cannot change or die. (15.13) 


You are in whatever you see. You alone. Just as bracelets and bangles And dancing anklets Are all of the same gold. (15.14) 


"I am not this.” “I am He.” Give up such distinctions. Know that everything is the Self. Rid yourself of all purpose. And be happy. (15.15) 


The world only arises from ignorance. You alone are real. There is no one, Not even God, Separate from yourself. (15.16) 


You are pure awareness. The world is an illusion, Nothing more. When you understand this fully, Desire falls away. You find peace. For indeed! There is nothing. (15.17) 


In the ocean of being There is only one. There was and there will be Only one. You are already fulfilled. How can you be bound or free? Wherever you go, Be happy. (15.18) 


Never upset your mind With yes and no. Be quiet. You are awareness itself. Live in the happiness Of your own nature, Which is happiness itself. (15.19) 


What is the use of thinking? Once and for all, Give up meditation. Hold nothing in your mind. You are the Self, And you are free. (15.20)

 16. Special Instruction — Forget Everything 


My child, You may read or discuss scripture As much as you like. But until you forget everything, You will never live in your heart. (16.1) 


You are wise. You play and work and meditate. But still your mind desires That which is beyond everything, Where all desires vanish. (16.2) 

Striving is the root of sorrow. But who understands this? Only when you are blessed With the understanding of this teaching Will you find freedom. (16.3) 


Who is lazier than the master? He has trouble even blinking! But only he is happy. No one else! (16.4) 


Seeing to this, Neglecting that. . . But when the mind stops setting one thing against another, It no longer craves pleasure. It no longer cares for wealth Or religious duties or salvation. (16.5) 


Craving the pleasures of the senses, You suffer attachment. Disdaining them, You learn detachment. But if you desire nothing, And disdain nothing, Neither attachment nor detachment bind you. (16.6) 


When you live without discrimination, Desire arises. When desire persists, Feelings of preference arise, Of liking and disliking. They are the root and branches of the world. (16.7) 


From activity, desire. From renunciation, aversion. But the man of wisdom is a child. He never sets one thing against another. It is true! He is a child. (16.8) 


If you desire the world, You may try to renounce it In order to escape sorrow. Instead, renounce desire! Then you will be free of sorrow, And the world will not trouble you. (16.9) 


If you desire liberation, But you still say "mine,” If you feel you are the body, You are not a wise man or seeker. You are simply a man who suffers. (16.10) 


Let Hari teach you   Or Brahma, born of the lotus, Or Shiva himself! Unless you forget everything, You will never live in your heart. (16.11)

 17. The True Knower — Absolute Aloneness of the Self 

The man who is happy and pure And likes his own company Gathers the fruit of his practice And the fruit of wisdom. (17.1) 


The man who knows the truth Is never unhappy in the world. For he alone fills the universe. (17.2) 


Just as the elephant loves The leaves of the sallaki tree, But not the neem tree, So the man who loves himself Always spurns the senses. (17.3)


It is hard to find A man who has no desire For what he has not tasted, Or who tastes the world And is untouched. (17.4) 


Here in the world Some crave pleasure, Some seek freedom. But it is hard to find A man who wants neither. He is a great soul. (17.5) 


It is hard to find A man who has an open mind, Who neither seeks nor shuns Wealth or pleasure, Duty or liberation, Life or death. . . (17.6) 


He does not want the world to end. He does not mind if it lasts. Whatever befalls him, He lives in happiness. For he is truly blessed. (17.7) 


Now that he understands, He is fulfilled. His mind is drawn within, And he is fulfilled. He sees and he hears, He touches and smells and tastes, And he is happy. (17.8) 


Whatever he does is without purpose.  His senses have been stilled. His eyes are empty. He is without desire or aversion. For him the waters of the world Have all dried up! (17.9)


He is not asleep. He is not awake. He never closes his eyes Or opens them. Wherever he is, He is beyond everything. He is free. (17.10) 


And the man who is free Always lives in his heart. His heart is always pure. Whatever happens, He is free of all desires. (17.11) 


Whatever he sees or hears or touches, Whatever he smells or tastes, Whatever he acquires, He is free. Free from striving, And from stillness. For indeed he is a great soul. (17.12) 


Without blame or praise, Anger or rejoicing. He gives nothing. He takes nothing. He wants nothing, Nothing at all. (17.13) 


And whoever draws near him, A woman full of passion Or Death Himself, He is not shaken. He stays in his heart. He is free indeed! (17.14) 


It is all the same to him. Man or woman, Good fortune or bad, Happiness or sorrow. It makes no difference. He is serene. (17.15) 


The world no longer holds him. He has gone beyond The bounds of human nature. Without compassion Or the wish to harm, Without pride or humility. Nothing disturbs him. Nothing surprises him. (17.16) 


Because he is free, He neither craves nor disdains The things of the world. He takes them as they come. His mind is always detached. (17.17) 


His mind is empty. He is not concerned with meditation, Or the absence of it, Or the struggle between good and evil. He is beyond all, Alone. (17.18) 


No "I," No ’’mine.” He knows there is nothing. All his inner desires have melted away. Whatever he does, He does nothing. (17.19) 


His mind has stopped working! It has simply melted away. . . And with it, Dreams and delusions and dullness. And for what he has become, There is no name. (17.20)

 18. Peace — Way of Samadhi 

Love your true Self, Which is naturally happy And peaceful and bright! Awaken to your own nature, And all delusion melts like a dream. (18.1) 


How much pleasure you take In acquiring worldly goods! But to find happiness You must give them all up. (18.2) 


The sorrows of duty, Like the heat of the sun, Have scorched your heart. But let stillness fall on you With its sweet and cooling showers, And you will find happiness. (18.3) 


For the world is nothing. It is only an idea. But the essence of what is And of what is not Can never fail. (18.4) 


The Self is always the same, Already fulfilled, Without flaw or choice or striving. Close at hand, But boundless. (18.5) 


When the Self is known, All illusions vanish. The veil falls, And you see clearly. Your sorrows are dispelled. (18.6) 


For the Self is free And lives forever. Everything else is imagination, Nothing more! Because he understands this, The master acts like a child. (18.7) 


When you know you are God And that what is and what is not Are both imaginary, And you are at last free of desire, Then what is there left To know or to say or to do? (18.8) 


For the Self is everything. When the seeker knows this, He falls silent. He no longer thinks, "I am this, I am not that.” Such thoughts melt away. (18.9) 


He is still. Without pleasure or pain, Distraction or concentration, Learning or ignorance. (18.10) 


His nature is free of conditions. Win or lose, It makes no difference to him. Alone in the forest or out in the world, A god in heaven or a simple beggar, It makes no difference! (18.11) 


He is free of duality. Wealth or pleasure, Duty or discrimination Mean nothing to him. What does he care What is accomplished or neglected? (18.12) 


Finding freedom in this life, The seeker takes nothing to heart, Neither duty nor desire. He has nothing to do But to live out his life. (18.13) 


The master lives beyond the boundaries of desire. Delusion or the world, Meditation on the truth, Liberation itself— What are they to him? (18.14) 


You see the world And you try to dissolve it. But the master has no need to. He is without desire. For though he sees, He sees nothing. (18.15) 


When you have seen God You meditate on Him, Saying to yourself, "I am He.” But when you are without thought And you understand there is only one, Without a second, On whom can you meditate? (18.16) 


When you are distracted, You practice concentration. But the master is undistracted. He has nothing to fulfill. What is there left for him to accomplish? (18.17) 


He acts like an ordinary man. But inside he is quite different. He sees no imperfection in himself, Nor distraction, Nor any need for meditation. (18.18) 


He is awake, Fulfilled, Free from desire. He neither is nor is not. He looks busy, But he does nothing. (18.19) 


Striving or still, He is never troubled. He does whatever comes his way, And he is happy. (18.20) 


He has no desires. He has cast off his chains. He walks on air. He is free, Tumbling like a leaf in the wind, From life to life. (18.21) 


He has gone beyond the world, Beyond joy and sorrow. His mind is always cool. He lives as if he had no body. (18.22) 


His mind is cool and pure. He delights in the Self. There is nothing he wishes to renounce. He misses nothing. (18.23) 


His mind is naturally empty. He does as he pleases. He is not an ordinary man. Honor and dishonor mean nothing to him. (18.24) 


"The body does this, not I.” "My nature is purity." With these thoughts, Whatever he does, He does nothing. (18.25) 


But he pretends not to know. He finds freedom in this life, But he acts like an ordinary man. Yet he is not a fool. Happy and bright, He thrives in the world. (18.26)


Weary of the vagaries of the mind, He is at last composed. He does not know or think, Or hear or see. (18.27) 


Undistracted, He does not meditate. Unbound, He does not seek freedom. He sees the world, But knows it is an illusion. He lives like God. (18.28) 


Even when he is still, The selfish man is busy. Even when he is busy, The selfless man is still. (18.29) 


He is free. His mind is unmoved By trouble or pleasure. Free from action, desire or doubt, He is still, and he shines! (18.30) 


His mind does not strive To meditate or to act. It acts or meditates without purpose. (18.31) 


When a fool hears the truth, He is muddled. When a wise man hears it, He goes within. He may look like a fool, But he is not muddled. (18.32) 


The fool practices concentration And control of the mind. But the master is like a man asleep. He rests in himself And finds nothing more to do. (18.33) 


Striving or still, The fool never finds peace. But the master finds it Just by knowing how things are. (18.34) 


In this world Men try all kinds of paths. But they overlook the Self, The Beloved. Awake and pure, Flawless and full, Beyond the world. (18.35) 


The fool will never find freedom By practicing concentration. But the master never fails. Just by knowing how things are, He is free and constant. (18.36) 


Because the fool wants to become God, He never finds him. The master is already God, Without ever wishing to be. (18.37) 


The fool has no foundation. Fretting to be free, He only keeps the world spinning. But the master cuts at its root, The root of all suffering. (18.38) 


Because the fool looks for peace, He never finds it. But the master is always at peace, Because he understands how things are. (18.39) 


If a man looks to the world, How can he see himself? The master is never distracted by this or that. He sees himself, The Self that never changes. (18.40) 


The fool tries to control his mind. How can he ever succeed? Mastery always comes naturally To the man who is wise And who loves himself. (18.41) 


One man believes in existence, Another says, "There is nothing!” Rare is the man who believes in neither. He is free from confusion. (18.42) 


The fool may know that the Self Is pure and indivisible. But because of his folly, He never finds it. He suffers all his life. (18.43) 


The mind of a man who longs to be free Stumbles without support. But the mind of a man who is already free Stands on its own. It is empty of passion. (18.44) 


The senses are tigers. When a timid man catches sight of them, He runs for safety to the nearest cave, To practice control and meditation. (18.45) 


But a man without desires is a lion. When the senses see him, It is they who take flight! They run away like elephants, As quietly as they can. And if they cannot escape, They serve him like slaves. (18.46) 


A man who has no doubts And whose mind is one with the Self No longer looks for ways to find freedom. He lives happily in the world, Seeing and hearing, Touching and smelling and tasting. (18.47) 


Just by hearing the truth He becomes spacious And his awareness pure. He is indifferent To striving or stillness. He is indifferent To his own indifference. (18.48) 


The master is like a child. He does freely whatever comes his way, Good or bad. (18.49) 


By standing on his own A man finds happiness. By standing on his own A man finds freedom. By standing on his own He goes beyond the world. By standing on his own He finds the end of the way. (18.50) 


When a man realizes He is neither the doer nor the enjoyer, The ripples of his mind are stilled. (18.51) 


The master's way is unfettered And free of guile. He shines. But for the fool There is no peace. His thoughts are full of desire. (18.52) 


The master is free of his mind, And his mind is free. In this freedom he plays. He has a wonderful time! Or he withdraws And lives in a mountain cave. (18.53) 


If the master encounters A king or a woman Or someone he dearly loves, He is without desire. And when he honors A god or a holy place Or a man versed in the scriptures, There is no longing in his heart. (18.54) 


None at all! He is unperturbed Even when his servants despise him, Or his wives, sons, and grandsons mock him. Even when his whole family makes fun of him, He is undismayed. (18.55) 


For him there is no pain in pain, No pleasure in pleasure. Only those who are like him Can know his exaltation. (18.56) 


He has no form. His form is emptiness. He is constant and pure. He has no sense of duty, Which only binds men to the world. (18.57) 


The master fulfills his duties And is always untroubled. The fool does nothing And is always troubled and distracted. (18.58) 


The master goes about his business With perfect equanimity. He is happy when he sits, Happy when he talks and eats, Happy asleep, Happy coming and going. (18.59) 


Because he knows his own nature, He does what he has to without feeling ruffled Like ordinary people. Smooth and shining, Like the surface of a vast lake. His sorrows are at an end. (18.60) 


The fool is busy Even when he is still. Even when he is busy The master gathers the fruits of stillness. (18.61) 


The fool often spurns his possessions. The master is no longer attached to his body. So how can he feel attraction or aversion? (18.62) 


The awareness of the fool is always limited By thinking, or by trying not to think. The awareness of the man who lives within, Though he may be busy thinking, Is beyond even awareness itself. (18.63) 


The master is like a child. All his actions are without motive. He is pure. Whatever he does, he is detached. (18.64) 


He is blessed. He understands the nature of the Self. His mind is no longer thirsty. He is the same under all conditions, Whatever he sees or hears, Or smells or touches or tastes. (18.65) 


The master is like the sky. He never changes. What does the world matter to him, Or its reflection? What does he care about seeking, Or the end of seeking? (18.66) 


He is ever the same. The victory is his. He has conquered the world. He is the embodiment Of his own perfect essence, By nature one with the infinite. (18.67) 


What more is there to say? He knows the truth. He has no desire for pleasure or liberation. At all times, in all places, He is free from passion. (18.68) 


He has given up the duality of the world Which arises with the mind And is nothing more than a name. He is pure awareness. What is there left for him to do? (18.69) 


The man who is pure knows for certain That nothing really exists; It is all the work of illusion. He sees what cannot be seen. His nature is peace. (18.70) 


He does not see the world of appearances. So what do rules matter to him, Or dispassion, renunciation, and self-control? His form is pure and shining light. (18.71) 


He does not see the world. So what does he care for joy or sorrow, Bondage or liberation? He is infinite and shining. (18.72) 


Before the awakening of understanding The illusion of the world prevails. But the master is free of passion. He has no "I," He has no "mine,” And he shines! (18.73) 


He sees that the Self never suffers or dies. So what does he care for knowledge Or the world? Or the feeling "I am the body,” ”The body is mine”? (18.74) 


The moment a fool gives up concentration And his other spiritual practices, He falls prey to fancies and desires. (18.75) 


Even after hearing the truth, The fool clings to his folly. He tries hard to look calm and composed, But inside he is full of cravings. (18.76) 


When the truth is understood, Work falls away. Though in the eyes of others The master may seem to work, In reality he has no occasion To say or to do anything. (18.77) 


He has no fear. He is always the same. He has nothing to lose. For him there is no darkness, There is no light. There is nothing at all. (18.78) 


He has no being of his own. His nature cannot be described. What is patience to him, Or discrimination or fearlessness? (18.79) 


In the eyes of the master There is nothing at all. There is no heaven. There is no hell. There is no such thing as liberation in life. What more is there to say? (18.80) 


Nothing he hopes to win, Nothing he fears to lose. His mind is cool and drenched with nectar. (18.81) 


Free from desire, He neither praises the peaceful Nor blames the wicked. The same in joy and sorrow, He is always happy. He sees there is nothing to do. (18.82) 


He does not hate the world. He does not seek the Self. He is free from joy and sorrow. He is not alive, And he is not dead. (18.83) 


He is not attached to his family. Free from the desire of the senses, He does not care about his body. The master expects nothing, And he shines. (18.84) 


Whatever befalls him, He is always happy. He wanders where he will. And wherever he finds himself When the sun sets, There he lies down to rest. (18.85) 


He does not care if the body lives or dies. He is so firmly set in his own being, He rises above the round of birth and death. (18.86) 


He is full of joy. Attached to nothing, Free from possessions, He stands on his own. His doubts dispelled, He wanders where he will, Never setting one thing against another. (18.87) 


The master shines. He never says "mine.” Gold, stone, earth— They are all the same to him. He is not bound by sloth, Nor consumed by his own activity. He has severed the knots which bind his heart. (18.88) 


Who can compare with him? Indifferent to everything, He is happy and he is free. There is not the least desire in his heart. (18.89) 


Only the man without desire Sees without seeing, Speaks without speaking, Knows without knowing. (18.90) 


In his view of things Good and evil have melted away. A king or a beggar, Whoever is free from desire shines! (18.91) 


He is utterly without guile. He has found his way. He is simplicity itself. He cares nothing for restraint, Or abandon. He has no interest in finding the truth. (18.92) 


He has no desires. He rests happily in the Self. His sorrows are over. How can anyone tell what he feels inside? (18.93) 


Even when he is sound asleep, He is not asleep. Even when he is dreaming, He does not dream. Even when he is awake, He is not awake. Step by step, Whatever befalls him, He is happy. (18.94) 


He thinks without thinking. He feels without feeling. He is intelligent, But he has no mind. He has personality, But with no thought for himself. (18.95) 


He is not happy, Nor is he sad. He is not detached, Nor is he bound. He is not free, Nor does he seek freedom. He is not this. He is not that. (18.96) 


Amid distractions, He is undistracted. In meditation, He does not meditate. Foolish, He is not a fool. Knowing everything, He knows nothing. (18.97) 


He always lives within. He is everywhere the same. Action or duty are nothing to him. Because he is free from desire, He never worries about what he has done Or has not done. (18.98) 


Blame does not disturb him, Nor does praise delight him. He neither rejoices in life, Nor fears death. (18.99) 


His mind is calm. Never seeking the solitude of the forest, Nor running from the crowd. Always and everywhere, He is one and the same. (18.100)

 19. Repose in the Self — Majesty of the Self 

With the pincers of truth I have plucked From the dark corners of my heart The thorn of many judgments. (19.1) 


I sit in my own splendor. Wealth or pleasure, Duty or discrimination, Duality or nonduality, What are they to me? (19.2) 


What is yesterday, Tomorrow, Or today? What is space, Or eternity? I sit in my own radiance. (19.3) 


What is the Self, Or the not-Self? What is thinking, Or not thinking? What is good or evil? I sit in my own splendor. (19.4) 


I sit in my own radiance, And I have no fear. Waking, Dreaming, Sleeping, What are they to me? Or even ecstasy? (19.5) 


What is far or near, Outside or inside, Gross or subtle? I sit in my own splendor. (19.6) 


Dissolving the mind, Or the highest meditation, The world and all its works, Life or death, What are they to me? I sit in my own radiance. (19.7) 


Why talk of wisdom, The three ends of life, Or oneness? Why talk of these! Now I live in my heart. (19.8)

 20. Liberation-in-Life — Transcendence of the Self

I am fulfilled. The elements of nature, The body and the senses, What are they to me? Or the mind? What is emptiness or despair? (20.1) 


What are holy books, Or knowledge of the Self, Or the mind, Even when it is free of the senses? Or happiness, Or freedom from desire? I am always One without two. (20.2) 


Knowledge or ignorance, Freedom or bondage, What are they? What is "I," Or "mine,” Or "this”? Or the form of the true Self? (20.3) 


I am always one. What do I care for freedom In life or in death, Or for my present karma? (20.4) 


I am always Without I. So where is the one Who acts or enjoys? And what is the rising Or the vanishing of thought? What is the invisible world, Or the visible? (20.5) 


In my heart I am one. What is this world? Who seeks freedom, Or wisdom or oneness? Who is bound or free? (20.6) 


In my heart I am one. What is creation, Or dissolution? What is seeking, And the end of seeking? Who is the seeker? What has he found? (20.7) 


I am forever pure. What do I care who knows, What is known, Or how it is known? What do I care for knowledge? What do I care what is, Or what is not? (20.8) 


I am forever still. What are joy or sorrow, Distraction or concentration, Understanding or delusion? (20.9) 


I am always without thought. What is happiness or grief? What is here and now, Or beyond? (20.10) 


I am forever pure. What is illusion, Or the world? What is the little soul, Or God himself? (20.11) 


One without two, I am always the same. I sit in my heart. (20.12) 


What need is there For striving or stillness? What is freedom or bondage? What are holy books or teachings? What is the purpose of life? Who is the disciple, And who is the master? (20.13) 


For I have no bounds. I am Shiva. Nothing arises in me, In whom nothing is single, Nothing is double. Nothing is, Nothing is not. What more is there to say?

Story Courtesy : https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/wisdom/audio/the-story-of-ashtavakra-and-janaka

Chapter Courtesy : http://yogananda.com.au/upa/Ashtavakra_gita/Ashtavakra_Gita00.html#top

Image Courtesy : wikipedia