ASHTAVAKRA GITA/GEETAAstavakra Geeta has the description of the dialogue between Astavakra and the king Janak on the nature of soul, reality and bondage. The Astavakra Geeta insists on complete unreality of external world and absolute oneness of existence. It is an ancient spiritual document of great purity and power. It presents the traditional teaching of advaita vedant. The Astavakra Geeta begins with the questions asked by King Janaka- 1. How can knowledge be acquired ? 2. How can liberation be attained ? 3. How is renunciation (non attachment) possible ?
Astavakra gives the answers to these question in the Astavakra Geeta .Here under are given the English translation of some of the Selected verses ( shlokas) -
Chapter 1- Verse number-6
Astavakra says to Janaka, "O, Vibho , virtue and vice, pleasure and pain are connected with the mind and they are not for you. You are neither the doer nor the reaper of the actions. So you are always free.
Astavakra says that virtue and vice ( right and wrong), pleasure and pain are all purely related to mind. They are not for the one who is learned and has the knowledge of self. A learned person does not think that he is the doer or has done something nor does he think that he is the reaper or the receiver of the consequences. On the contrary due to arrogance ignorant person takes himself for the doer and the reaper of the action. Only because of this thinking and ego the person feels ( experiences) pleasure and pain.
If he gives up the feeling of being doer and reaper (receiver) he can be free from the feeling of virtue and vice, pleasure and pain. As a result of it he will always be free and enjoy the things as they are without being happy and unhappy.
Chapter- 1. Verse-8
" I am the doer" , thinking so, is like bitten by the great black snake of egoism. " " I am not the doer, " drink the nectar of such type of belief and become happy.
Astavakra says that arrogance is like a great black snake. Due to this arrogance a person treats himself different from the Supreme soul. This difference is the root cause of his feeling of virtue and vice, pleasure and pain. To be happy a person must have the thinking that he is not different from Supreme soul. But he is the part of the whole.
This universe is going on according to the specific rules of nature. Nothing is under the control of a man, neither the birth nor the death. Only due to the ignorance he considers himself to be the doer. He must have the thinking that he is not doer. This belief is like nectar, drink this nectar and be happy.
Chapter 1- Verse 9.
" I am the one pure understanding ( knowledge)" , burn down the dense forest of ignorance with the fire of this pure knowledge. Be free from distress (disappointment) and be happy.
Explanation- Astavakra says that darkness is the absence of light. In the same way ignorance is the absence of knowledge. As soon as knowledge prevails, the ignorance vanishes. A man can be happy and free from disappointment only when he attains knowledge. A man has expectations due to ignorance and when his expectations are not fulfilled , he gets distressed. The man himself is responsible for it. He must burn down the forest of his ignorance with the fire of knowledge. By doing so he can be free from disappointment and be happy.
Chapter 9- Verse - 4
Which is the time and age when dualism does not exist for man. The man who ignores this dual and is contented with the things whatever he gets, attains perfection.
In Present, past or future, the situation of dualism always exists. The two situations of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, Life and death, profit and loss, peace and war always exist. They can never be removed nor can they be continued ( kept continuously ). A person tries either to keep these conditions continued or to remove them. In this effort he has to under go the situation of sorrows, loss and unrest (unquietness). So according to Ashtravakra the person who treats (considers) and accept both the situations as divine, is learned in the real sense. So by ignoring this dual and being satisfied with what he has, a person can be happy and attains full perfection.
Chapter -10 Verse-3
Wherever there is the desire, there is the world. Establish yourself firm dispassion, (apply this mature dispassion), be free from desires and be happy.
Man is desire (craving) stricken. He pines for what is not. He wants to get (acquire) more and more. He always makes efforts to get his desires fulfilled. But his desire of getting more and more , never satisfies. So he feels distressed. A man cannot be satisfied with material possessions. Even after getting much more, he feels ( finds) scarcity of something or the other. So it is proper for a man to apply mature dispassion, be free of material desires and be happy.
Chapter-11 Verse- 2
God is the creator of all and no one else. Who knows it with definiteness is free from all desires. That person becomes still and free from all desires.
God has created all the things of this world. Nothing is separate from God. Everything is the part of Almighty. They are only the extension of God. The person who knows it , can become still. He is free from all types of expectations and desires. So he is unattached. Such type of person knows it certainly that God is the creator of all the things and what he has got and what he has lost they all belong to God, ( only that person ) attains happiness.
The person who knows for certain that adversity and success come in their own turn from fate, becomes contented and his senses are under his control. He neither desires ( longs) nor grieves.
No event occurs in accordance with the liking or not liking of a person nor does the event remains unoccured. Every event occurs at the fixed time according to the rules of the nature. Ashtavakra says that fortune and misfortune, adversity or success come in their own turn in obedience to destiny. Nothing can happen against God's will. The person who knows it with definiteness is free from the feeling of arrogance and does not regard himself the doer of any thing, is learned and is contented under all circumstances. He does not long for what he has or for what he has not got , nor does he grieve for what he has lost. There is no tension and unrest in his life.
Just as performance of an action is due to ignorance , so is the case with the abandonment of the action.
Knowing this fact well I am free from doing and not doing.
Action begins with life and continues till death. So action is the inseparable part of life. But the action is done with the feeling of doership and arrogance is ignorance. In the same way if there arises the feeling of doership ( doerness) and arrogance while abandoning the action, it is also ignorance.
So a learned person must be free from the feeling of doership and arrogance while doing as well as not doing the action.
A passionate person wants to leave (renounce) this world so as to avoid pain. But the dispassionate person is free from pain and feels no distress even in this world.
A passionate person wants to renounce this world to avoid pain. According to him this world is full of sorrows (griefs). So this world must be renounced so as to avoid the troubles of this world. But according to Astavakra all the things of this world are not the cause of sorrow. The real cause of sorrow is desire and passion. If a person renounces the life of a householder and begins to leave in a forest as an ascetic even then he cannot get peace. Giving up the worldly desires and having the desire for salvation is also the cause of sorrow. But only the dispassionate person who is attached to nothing, is free from pain and feels no distress in this world even enjoying the worldly things or material possessions. Pleasure and pain are connected with the mental state of person and they are not connected with possessions.
A learned person is neither happy nor unhappy, he is neither attached nor detached. He is neither liberated nor does he want liberation. He is neither some body nor nothing.
A person who has knowledge is always balanced in his thinking, in his behaviour etc. He is free from duality. He is contented under all the situations. He takes pleasure and pain equally. He is neither happy nor unhappy. He is neither liberated nor does he want liberation. He is neither attached nor detached. He does not consider himself great nor does he consider himself nothing or neglected. He is satisfied with what he has and is not dissatisfied with what he does not have. Only such type of person is learned and has knowledge in the right sense.
A liberated person is pleased when he is praised , and is not annoyed when he is blamed or reproached. He is not afraid of death nor does he rejoice in life.
A learned person is not arrogant. So he takes all the events normally which happen in his life. They cannot have good ( favourable) or bad (adverse) effect on him. A liberated person is not pleased when he is praised or commended. He is also not annoyed when he is blamed or reproached. He is neither rejoices in life nor fears death. He is always the same whether it is the question of pleasure or pain , life or death , praise or reproach. For a learned person soul is important , not the body.