Part 1 of 2
Asshtavakra Gita (also known as Ashtavakra Samhita) is a conversation between King Janaka and sage Ashtavakra. Vakra means crooked. Ashtavakra’s body was crooked since birth because of a curse from his father. The Gita has 298 verses in twenty chapters. Chapter 18 has a maximum number of 100 verses. As Janaka is a jnAni student (he is known as Janakavideha) the conversation is of the highest order and most of the verses are declarations of bare non-dual truths from the Absolute standpoint. There is no recourse to reason and explanation. It is tailor-made for a seeker who has got reasonable success in shravan (listening) and manan (contemplation) and has crossed the intellectual threshold and his heart is ready to throb. The verses can be used for nidhidhyAsana (vedantic meditation). With this view, 40 verses are selected with meaning and presented here. One can as well make another set of different verses.
Note: 1.2 means verse 2 in chapter 1
जनक उवाच –
कथं ज्ञानमवाप्नोति, कथं मुक्तिर्भविष्यति।
वैराग्य च कथं प्राप्तमेतद ब्रूहि मम प्रभो॥1.1॥
kathaṃ jñānamavāpnoti kathaṃ muktirbhaviṣyati;
vairāgyaṃ ca kathaṃ prāptametadbrūhi mama prabho.
Janaka asks the sage Ashtavakra. How is knowledge acquired, how is liberation attained and how is renunciation possible? Please tell me all this; O great one. Continue reading
Verse 3.42 of the Bhagavad Gita says that the sense organs are superior to the gross body, the mind is superior to the sense organs, the intellect is superior to the mind and the Atma is superior to the intellect. Superiority also refers to subtlety. Our interest is in the mind, the intellect and finally in the Atma. There are five fundamental elements called panchabhutas. They are space, air, earth, water and fire. The subtle body is made of panchbhutas in their primary or nascent forms. When the panchabhutas undergo a process of compounding among themselves, the gross or physical body emerges. The mind and the intellect belong to the category of subtle body, i.e., made of the five elements in primary form. The Atma is beyond the panchabhutas because It is not a thing or physical entity.
We all know that we are a conscious entity. We also feel so. We are also certain that consciousness is different from the gross body. However we are not so sure whether the consciousness is different from the mind because consciousness ordinarily gets mixed up with the mind. Vedanta says that the consciousness is different from the mind. It is based on the axiom that the subject (observer) is different from the object (observed). This is Seer-Seen discrimination (Drg Drisya Viveka). Continue reading