Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ashtavakra Gita - a classical Advaita Vedanta scripture

If you happen to celebrate January 1st as the new year, Happy New Year to you!

Today's post is a bit different, not a playlist, but an audio book at the end.

Today you will find links to a writing I just learned about this morning, the Ashtavakra Gita. Gita means song (which I sometimes take to mean poem or other writing that may/may not be set to actual music), and Ashtavakra is a Sage who taught King Janaka about Oneness.

Here is a bit of background from Wikipedia:

Identification of Ashtavakra

"Ashtavakra is probably identical to the holy sage with the same name who appears in Mahabharata, though the connection is not clearly stated in any of the texts. Mukherjee identifies Janaka as the father of Sita and disciple of the sage Yajnavalkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Janaka is also depicted as a king who has attained perfection in the Bhagavad Gita (III,20,25).


Janaka debating with Ashtavakra. Art from the epic Ashtavakra (2010).
"Ashtavakra Gita is a dialogue between Ashtavakra and Janaka on the nature of soul, reality and bondage. It offers a radical version of non-dualistic philosophy. The Gita insists on complete unreality of external world and absolute oneness of existence. It does not mention any morality or duties, and therefore is seen by commentators as 'godless'. It also dismisses names and forms as unreal and a sign of ignorance.
In a conversation between Janaka and Ashtavakra, pertaining to the deformity of his crooked body, Ashtavakra explains that the size of a Temple is not affected by how it is shaped, and the shape of his own body does not affect himself (or Atman). The ignorant man's vision is shrouded by names and forms but a wise man sees only himself: "

There are a  number of resources listed at the end of the article. I liked these two in particular: 

Ashtavakra Gita in Devanagari with English translation side by side

 John Richards translation in pdf format


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