Ashtavakra Gita, the Gospel of self-effacement

Knowledge of The Self
This section is significant in  the entire Ashtavakra Gita as it delineates in unequivocal terms The One Ultimate  Reality, the Self as the ‘One Self in all existence and all existence in One  Self.’ All that falls under the cause and effect system of the mind is nothing  but the Self, misapprehended as the illusory world of names and forms. Here,  the nature of Brahman is brought out for a direct and immediate apprehension of  all the seekers. It says that distaste for sense-objects is liberation and  passion for sense-objects is bondage; such is the nature of true knowledge.  Mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation. Peaceful mind leads one to  liberation.

Passions and aversions are the  qualities of the mind. The mind is never yours. You are pure intelligence  itself, free from all fluctuations, and changeless. In you the universe  manifests itself like the waves in the ocean. Be you free from the turbulence  of the mind. The body composed of the constituents of nature comes and goes  away. The Self neither comes nor goes.

This universe is nothing  different from you. Therefore how can the ideas of acceptance and rejection  arise in you? From where will there be birth, activity and the ego-sense in  you? Totally give up the attitude of ‘I am this” and ‘I am not that.’ Consider  all is the Self and be desire less and happy.

It is through your ignorance  alone that the universe appears to exist. In reality you are the One, other  than you there is no individual self (Jiva) or Supreme Self (Atman). This  section is concluded by a revolutionary advice that to give up meditation  through meditation is the highest meditation. The meditator has become the meditated!  Man has stepped into the Throne of God!

Special Instructions for Self Abidance
The unique State of Liberation is  to end all our perceptions of the world and destroy all our desires for  sense-objects in the Knowledge of the Self. Although many try in this venture  only a few succeed in Self-abidance. Ashtavakra gives here the explanation for  such failures and provides us with effective tips to correct our ways to avoid  pit-falls on the path to our Spiritual Goal Divine.

His guidance is solely based on  his theory that he does not recognize the existence of anything as God or the  universe or the ego other than the One Transcendental Self. In this Absolute  state there are no objects or thoughts and all our perceptions are mere  imaginations of a confused mind. Therefore he says:
 1. You may read any number of scriptures, you may become extraordinarily proficient in their contents, may give any number of eloquent ectures on them yet you have only understood their word meanings and not the Truth that is indicated by them until you realize the State of Peaceful Self where there is no plurality (swasthyam).
 2. although with no success. This continuous yearning of human mind implies our basic urge to realize our real nature which is nothing but Bliss. This is the explanation why no man is satisfied with what one already possesses. Man is never satisfied until he discovers his Real Nature beyond all objects of pleasure i.e. beyond all activities, passions and desires and beyond all pluralities.
 3. One who covets sensual objects is called sensual while the one who does not covet is called ‘not-sensual’. But the one who does not accept or reject sensual objects is neither sensual nor ‘not-sensual’. He is the wise man free from the pairs of opposites, like a child, and indeed is well established in the Self. The one who is attached to the world wants to renounce the world to avoid miseries. But the one who does not have any attachment is free from all sorrows and miseries even while living in the world.
 4. Until and unless one’s ego is completely obliterated even Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara happen to be the teachers they cannot help him to abide in the Self.

True Knower
 Now the nature of the Man-of-  Wisdom or the True Knower is discussed. Such a Realized Person is the one who
1. Enjoys being alone as he is the whole universe  and there is nothing other than he.
2. Is never miserable in the world for the whole  world is filled by him alone.
3. Sense-objects lose all charm to him.
4. All his actions do not leave any impressions on  him because he does not identify with anything due to absence of the feeling of ‘I’ or ‘Mine’.
5. Goes beyond enjoyment and liberation.
6. Has neither attraction for nor aversion to duty,  worldly prosperity, desire and liberation as well as life and death.
7. Is interested in neither dissolution nor  continuance of the universe.
8. Although externally he may look and behave like  a man of the world, internally he is ever free and never identifies himself  with the objects of the senses.
9. His look is vacant, his actions are purposeless  and his senses are inoperative.
10.He is practically dead to the world but ever  conscious of the Self pervading the universe.
11.He is not perturbed when facing a beautiful  woman or confronted with imminent death.
12.He sees the same everywhere, sees no difference  between happiness and misery, man and woman as well as prosperity and  adversity.
13.He has neither compassion nor coldness, neither  humility nor insolence.
14.He neither craves nor abhors sense objects and  experiences them with a detached mind as they come.
15.He has conflict of contemplation and  non-contemplation, good and evil. He abides in the state of Absoluteness.
16.Devoid of the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’, knowing  for certain that nothing is and with all his inner desires set at rest, the  true man of Knowledge does not act though he may be acting.

A man of wisdom has his mind  completely purged of all delusion, inertia etc. that obstruct the vision of the  Reality. In such a state all the modifications of the mind cease to operate and  it is as good as destroyed. Then the final realization rips open, of which no  description is possible but has to be experienced.

It may be observed that this is  also the description of a Stitha Prajna as given in the concluding  portion of the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita and a definition of a Yogi  as given in the Samadhi Pada of Patanjali Yoga Sutras. We find that most  of the ideas and concepts discussed in the Ashtavaka Gita are also elaborately  treated in the Yoga Vasishtha also.

Ashtavakra ends his Gita with  numerous self-dismissive questions, all of them highly rhetorical, spread over  more than one hundred verses.

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