Ashtavakra Gita


(Wandering in the Forest –

The Ashtavakra Gita was written around the same time as the Bhagavad Gita (about 2500 years ago). They are fairly different in approach. The Ashtavakra Gita is about radical non-dualism – Advaita Vedanta – as the Upanishads are, and the scriptures of Kashmiri Shaivism. Relevant materials in this area here are Vijnana Bhairava Tantra and Vasishta’s Yoga, for example. Different to this is the Bhagavad Gita, which is all about a personal God – and not about the denial of the world at all, which Georg Feuerstein says is the true spirit of the oldest Vedas – the Cosmic Order (”rta”) ”is one of a strong, healthy and innocent delight in the overflowing richness of nature.”. In contrast to the Bhagavad Gita, where God is represented by the beautiful Krishna, who can be approached with loving, personal worship, gifts of flowers and so forth, ”the path which the upanishadic sages adopted was one of progressive negation…By uncovering gradually the impermanence of the many, they opened the view to the One….hand in hand with this insight went the practice of renunciation…of all that is impermanent and sorrowful…the Gita contrasts (this) cool, lofty transcendentalism with a tangible, vivifying Theism.”(Georg Feuerstein – Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita).

Having said all that, and despite loving the Bhagavad Gita, I find the spare beauty and Zen wisdom of the Advaitic texts inspiring and truthful. Somehow, maybe, we don’t have to make the choice between Impersonal and Personal ……. Maybe they can work together, like the Sun and Moon……

Here are some extracts from the Ashtavakra Gita…

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

If you wish to be free,
Shun the poison of the senses.

Seek the nectar of truth,
Of love and forgiveness,
Simplicity and happiness.

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.

If you think you are free,
You are free.

If you think you are bound,
You are bound.

My child,
Because you think you are the body,
For a long time you have been bound.

Know you are pure awareness.

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

As a wave,
Seething and foaming,
Is only water

So all creation,
Streaming out of the Self,
Is only the Self.

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.

Indeed how wonderful!
I adore myself.

For I have taken form
But I am still one.

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

For have you not heard?

You are pure awareness,
And your beauty is infinite!

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.

You are pure.

Nothing touches you.
What is there to renounce?

Let it all go,
The body and the mind.

Let yourself dissolve.

Like bubbles in the sea,
All the worlds arise in you.

I am in all beings.
All beings are in me.

This is the whole truth.

Nothing to embrace,
Nothing to relinquish,
Nothing to dissolve.

….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.

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?

How you have toiled,
Life after life,
Pressing into painful labor
Your body and your mind and your words.

It is time to stop.


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.

What are they to me?

What do I care for freedom?

For I have known God,
The infinite Self,
The witness of all things.

Without, a fool.
Within, free of thought.

I do as I please,
And only those like me
Understand my ways.

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,

Wherever you go,
Be happy!

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.

Who is lazier than the master?
He has trouble even blinking!

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.

Love your true Self,
Which is naturally happy
And peaceful and bright!

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?

Because the fool wants to become God,
He never finds him.

The master is already God,
Without ever wishing to be.

Mastery always comes naturally
To the man who is wise
And who loves himself.

One man believes in existence,
Another says, “There is nothing!”

Rare is the man who believes in neither.

He is infinite and shining.

He has no “I,”
He has no “mine,”
And he shines!

The master expects nothing,
And he shines.

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.


(Art by Nobuaki Suzuki)




Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

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