The Ashtavakra Gita or the Song of Ashtavakra, also known
as The Song of the Eightfold Cripple, the Ashtavakra Gita or
the Ashtavakra Samhita scripture which documents a dialogue
between the Perfect Master Ashtavakra and Janaka, the King
There are 298 stanzas of the Gita dwelling on various
aspects of liberation, have no reference to God.
Ashtavakra’s discourse is divided into 20 chapters, which
deal with detachment, quietude, wisdom, happiness,
tranquillity, self-knowledge, peace, self-repose and
Part I – Part
II – Part
You are not bound by anything. What does a pure person
like you need to renounce? Putting the complex organism to
rest, you can go to your rest.
5.1 All this arises out of you, like a bubble out of the
sea. Knowing yourself like this to be but one, you can go to
5.2 In spite of being in front of your eyes, all this,
being insubstantial, does not exist in you, spotless as you
are. It is an appearance like the snake in a rope, so you
can go to your rest.
5.3 Equal in pain and in pleasure, equal in hope and in
disappointment, equal in life and in death, and complete as
you are, you can go to your rest.
5.4 Ashtavakra said I am infinite like space, and the
natural world is like a jar. To know this is knowledge, and
then there is neither renunciation, acceptance or cessation
6.1 I am like the ocean, and the multiplicity of objects
is comparable to a wave. To know this is knowledge, and here
there is neither renunciation, acceptance or cessation of
6.2 I am like the mother of pearl, and the imagined world
is like the silver. To know this is knowledge, and here
there is neither renunciation, acceptance or cessation of
6.3 Alternatively, I am in all beings, and all beings are
in me. To know this is knowledge, and here there is neither
renunciation, acceptance or cessation of it. Janaka said It
is in the infinite ocean of myself that the world ark
wanders here and there, driven by its own wind. I am not
upset by that.
7.1 Let the world wave of its own nature rise or vanish
in the infinite ocean of myself. There is no increase or
diminution to me from it.
7.2 It is in the infinite ocean of myself that the
imagination called the world takes place. I am supremely
peaceful and formless, and as such I remain.
7.3 My true nature is not contained in objects, nor does
any object exist in it, for it is infinite and spotless. So
it is unattached, desireless and at peace, and as such I
7.4 Truly I am but pure consciousness, and the world is
like a conjuror’s show, so how could I imagine there is
anything here to take up or reject ?
7.5 Ashtavakra said Bondage is when the mind longs for
something, grieves about something, rejects something, holds
on to something, is pleased about something or displeased
8.1 Liberation is when the mind does not long for
anything, grieve about anything, reject anything, or hold on
to anything, and is not pleased about anything or displeased
8.2 Bondage is when the mind is tangled in one of the
senses, and liberation is when the mind is not tangled in
any of the senses.
8.3 When there is no `me’, that is liberation, and when
there is me there is bondage. Considering this earnestly, I
do not hold on and do not reject.
8.4 Ashtavakra said Knowing when the dualism of things
done and undone has been put to rest, or the person for whom
they occur has been cognised, then you can here and now go
beyond renunciation and obligations by indifference to such
9.1 Rare indeed, my dearest, is the lucky person whose
observation of the world’s behaviour has led to the
extinction of the thirst for living, for pleasure and for
9.2 All this is impermanent and spoilt by the three sorts
of pain. Recognising it to be insubstantial, contemptible
and only fit for indifference, one attains peace.
9.3 When was that age or time of life when the dualism of
extremes did not exist for people? Abandoning them, a person
happy to take whatever comes suddenly realises
9.4 Who does not end up with indifference to such things
and attain peace when he has seen the differences of
opinions among the great sages, saints and yogis?
9.5 Is he not a guru who, endowed with dispassion and
equanimity, achieves full knowledge of the nature of
consciousness, and so leads others out of samsara?
9.6 If you would just see the transformations of the
elements as nothing more than the elements, then 18
you would immediately be freed from all bonds and
established in your own nature.
9.7 One’s inclinations are samsara. Knowing this, abandon
them. The renunciation of them is the renunciation of it.
Now you can remain as you are.
9.8 Ashtavakra said Abandoning desire, the enemy, along
with gain, itself so full of loss, and the good deeds which
are the cause of the other two – I practice indifference to
10.1 I look on such things as friends, land, money,
property, wife, and bequests as nothing but as a dream or a
three or five-day conjuror’s show.
10.2 Wherever a desire occurs, I see samsara in it.
Establishing myself in firm dispassion, I be free of passion
10.3 The essential nature of bondage is nothing other
than desire, and its elimination is known as liberation. It
is simply by not being attached to changing things that the
everlasting joy of attainment is reached.
10.4 You are one, conscious and pure, while all this is
just inert non-being. Ignorance itself is nothing, so what
need have you of desire to understand?
10.5 Kingdoms, children, wives, bodies, pleasures – these
have all been lost to you life after life, attached to them
though you were.
10.6 Enough of wealth, sensuality and good deeds. In the
forest of samsara the mind has never found satisfaction in
10.7 How many births have you not done hard and painful
labour with body, mind and speech. Now at last stop!
10.8 Ashtavakra said Unmoved and undistressed, realising
now that being, non-being and transformation are of the very
nature of things, one easily finds peace.
11.1 At peace, having shed all desires within, and
realising that nothing exists here but the Lord, the Creator
of all things, one is no longer attached to anything.
11.2 Realising that misfortune and fortune come in their
turn from fate, one is contented, one’s senses under
control, and one does not like or dislike.
11.3 Realising that pleasure and pain, birth and death
are from fate, and that one’s desires cannot be achieved,
one remains inactive, and even when acting does not get
11.4 Realising that suffering arises from nothing other
than thinking, dropping all desires one rids oneself of it,
and is happy and at peace everywhere.
11.5 Realising `I am not the body, nor is the body mine;
I am awareness,’ one attains the supreme state and no longer
fritters over things done or undone.
11.6 Realising, `It is just me, from Brahma down to the
last blade of grass,’ one becomes free from uncertainty,
pure, at peace and unconcerned about what has been attained
11.7 Realising that all this varied and wonderful world
is nothing, one becomes pure receptivity, free 22
from inclinations, and as if nothing existed, one finds
11.8 Janaka said First of all I was averse to physical
activity, then to lengthy speech, and finally to thinking
itself, which is why I am now established.
12.1 In the absence of delight in sound and the other
senses, and by the fact that I myself am not an object of
the senses, my mind is focused and free from distraction –
which is why I am now established.
12.2 Owing to the distraction of such things as wrong
identification, one is driven to strive for mental
stillness. Recognising this pattern I am now
12.3 By relinquishing the sense of rejection and
acceptance, and with pleasure and disappointment ceasing
today, so Brahmin, I am now established.
12.4 Life in a community, then going beyond such a state,
meditation and the elimination of mind-made objects – by
means of these I have seen my error, and I am now
12.5 Just as the performance of actions is due to
ignorance, so their abandonment is too. By fully recognising
this truth, I am now established.
12.6 Trying to think the unthinkable is unnatural to
thought. Abandoning such a practice therefore, I am now
12.7 He who has achieved this has achieved the goal of
life. He who is of such a nature has done what has to be
12.8 Janaka said The inner freedom of having nothing is
hard to achieve, even with just a loin-cloth, but I live as
I please abandoning both renunciation and acquisition.
13.1 Sometimes one experiences distress because of one’s
body, sometimes because of one’s tongue, and sometimes
because of one’s mind. Abandoning all of these in the goal
of being human I live as I please.
13.2 Recognising that in reality no action is ever
committed, I live as I please, just attending what presents
itself to be done.
13.3 Mystics who identify themselves with bodies are
insistent on fulfilling and avoiding certain actions, but I
live as I please abandoning attachment and rejection.
13.4 No benefit or loss comes to me by standing, walking
or lying down, so consequently I live as I please whether
standing, walking or sleeping.
13.5 I lose nothing by sleeping and gain nothing by
effort, so consequently I live as I please, abandoning loss
13.6 Frequently observing the drawbacks of such things as
pleasant objects, I live as I please, abandoning the
pleasant and unpleasant.
13.7 Janaka said He who by nature is empty-minded, and
who thinks of things only unintentionally, is freed from
deliberate remembering, like one awakened from a dream.
14.1 As my desire has been eliminated, I have no wealth,
friends, robbers, senses, scriptures or knowledge.
14.2 Realising my supreme self-nature in the Person of
the Witness, the Lord, and the state of desirelessness in
bondage or liberation, I feel no inclination for
14.3 The various states of one who is empty of
uncertainty within, and who outwardly wanders about as he
pleases, like a madman, can only be known by someone in the
14.4 Ashtavakra said While a person of pure intelligence
may achieve the goal by the most casual of instructions,
another may seek knowledge all one’s life and still remain
15.1 Liberation is indifference to the objects of the
senses. Bondage is love of the senses. This is knowledge.
Now do as you please.
15.2 This awareness of the truth makes an eloquent,
clever and energetic person dumb, stupid and lazy, so it is
avoided by those whose aim is enjoyment or praise.
15.3 You are not the body, nor is the body yours, nor are
you the doer of actions nor the reaper of their
consequences. You are eternally pure consciousness the
witness, in need of nothing – so live happily.
15.4 Desire and anger are objects of the mind, but the
mind is not yours, nor ever has been. You are choiceless
awareness itself, unchanging – so live happily.
15.5 Recognising oneself in all beings, and all beings in
oneself, be happy, free from the sense of responsibility and
free from preoccupation with me.
15.6 Your nature is the consciousness, in which the whole
world wells up, like waves in the sea. That is 28
what you are, without any doubt, so be free of
15.7 Have faith, my dearest, have faith. Don’t let
yourself be deluded in this. You are yourself the Lord,
whose property is knowledge- you are beyond natural
15.8 The body invested with the senses stands still and
comes and goes. You yourself neither come nor go, so why
bother about them?
15.9 Let the body last to the end of the Age, or let it
come to an end right now. What have you, who consist of pure
consciousness, gained or lost?
15.10 Let the world-wave rise or subside according to its
own nature in you, the great ocean. It is no gain or loss to
15.11 My dearest, you consist of pure consciousness, and
the world is not separate from you. So who is to accept or
reject it, and how, and why?
15.12 How can there be either birth, karma or
responsibility in that one unchanging, peaceful, unblemished
and infinite consciousness which is you?
15.13 Whatever you see, it is you alone manifest in it.
How could bracelets, armlets and anklets be different from
15.14 Giving up such distinctions as `That is what I am,’
and `I am not That’, recognise that Everything is Self, and
be, without distinction, and be happy.
15.15 It is through your ignorance that all this exists.
In reality you alone exist. Apart from you there is no one
within or beyond samsara.
15.16 Knowing that all this is an illusion, one becomes
free of desire, pure receptivity and at peace, as if nothing
15.17 Only one thing has existed, exists and will exist
in the ocean of being. You have no bondage or liberation.
Live happily and fulfilled.
15.18 Being pure consciousness, do not disturb your mind
with thoughts of for/against. Be at peace and remain happily
in yourself, the essence of joy.
15.19 Give up meditation completely and cling to nothing
in your mind. You are free in your very nature, so what will
you achieve by conceiving?
15.20 30 Ashtavakra said My dearest, you may
recite or listen to countless scriptures, but you will not
be established within until you can forget everything.
16.1 You may, as a learned man, indulge in wealth,
activity and meditation, but your mind will still long for
that which is the cessation of desire, beyond all goals.
16.2 Everyone is in pain because of their own effort, but
no one realises it. By just this very instruction, the lucky
one attains tranquillity.
16.3 Happiness belongs to no one but that supremely lazy
person for whom even opening and closing one’s eyes is a
16.4 When the mind is freed from such pairs of opposites
as `I have done this,’ and `I have not done that,’ it
becomes indifferent to merit, wealth, sensuality and
16.5 One person is abstemious and is averse to the
senses, another is greedy and attached to them, but he who
is free from both taking and rejecting is neither abstemious
16.6 So long as desire, which is the state of lacking
discrimination, remains, the sense of revulsion and
attraction will remain; that is the root and branch of
16.7 Desire springs from usage, and aversion from
abstention, but the wise person is free from the pairs
31 of opposites like a child, and becomes established.
16.8 The passionate person wants to be rid of samsara so
as to avoid pain, but the dispassionate person is without
pain and feels no distress even in it.
16.9 One who is proud about even liberation or one’s own
body, and feels them one’s own, is neither a seer or a
mystic. Such a person is still just a sufferer.
16.10 If even Shiva, Vishnu or the lotus-born Brahma were
your instructor, until you have forgotten everything you
cannot be established within.
16.11 Ashtavakra said He who is content, with purified
senses, and always enjoys solitude, has gained the fruit of
knowledge and the fruit of the practice of union too.
17.1 The knower of truth is never distressed in this
world, for the whole round world is full of himself
17.2 None of the senses please a person who has found
satisfaction within, just as grape leaves do not please the
elephant that likes mango leaves.
17.3 The person who is not attached to the things he has
enjoyed, and does not hanker after the things he has not
enjoyed, such a person is hard to find.
17.4 Those who desire pleasure and those who desire
liberation are both bound in samsara; the greatsouled person
who desires neither pleasure nor liberation is rare
17.5 It is only the noble minded who is free from
attraction or repulsion to religion, wealth, sensuality, and
life and death too.
17.6 Such a one feels no desire for the elimination of
all this, nor anger at its continuing, so the lucky person
lives happily with whatever sustenance presents itself.
17.7 Thus fulfilled through this knowledge, contented,
the thinking-mind emptied, one lives happily just seeing
when seeing, just hearing when hearing, just feeling when
feeling, just smelling when smelling and just tasting when
17.8 In one for whom the ocean of samsara has dried up,
there is neither attachment or aversion. Such a one’s gaze
is vacant, behaviour purposeless, and senses never
17.9 Surely the supreme state is everywhere for the
liberated mind. Such a one is neither awake or asleep, and
neither opens or closes the eyes.
17.10 The liberated one is resplendent everywhere, free
from all desires. Everywhere such a one appears
self-possessed and pure of heart.
17.11 Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting,
speaking and walking about, the great-souled person who is
freed from trying to achieve or avoid anything is free
17.12 The liberated person is free from desires
everywhere. Such a one neither blames, praises, rejoices, is
disappointed, gives nor takes.
17.13 When a great souled one is unperturbed in mind and
self-possessed at either the sight of a mate eager with
desire, or at fast-approaching death, that one is truly
17.14 There is no distinction between pleasure and pain,
man and woman, success and failure for the wise person who
looks on everything as equal.
17.15 There is no aggression or compassion, no pride or
humility, no wonder or confusion for the person whose days
of running about are over.
17.16 The liberated person is not averse to the senses
and nor is he attached to them. He enjoys himself 34
continually with an unattached mind in both achievement and
17.17 One established in the absolute state with an empty
mind does not know the alternatives of inner stillness and
lack of inner stillness, and of good and evil.
17.18 Free of me and mine and of a sense of
responsibility, aware that nothing exists, with all desires
extinguished within, a person does not act even in
17.19 One whose thinking mind is dissolved achieves the
indescribable state and is free from the mental display of
delusion, dream and ignorance.
17.20 Ashtavakra said Praise be to that by the awareness
of which delusion itself becomes dream-like, to that which
is pure happiness, peace and light.
18.1 One may get all sorts of pleasure by the acquisition
of various objects of enjoyment, but one cannot be happy
except by the renunciation of everything.
18.2 How can there be happiness, for one who has been
burnt inside by the blistering sun of the pain of things
that need doing, without the rain of the nectar of
18.3 This existence is just imagination. It is nothing in
reality, but there is no non-being for natures that know how
to distinguish being from not being.
18.4 The realm of one’s self is not far away, and nor can
it be achieved by the addition of limitations to its nature.
It is unimaginable, effortless, unchanging and spotless.
18.5 By the simple elimination of delusion and the
recognition of one’s true nature, those whose vision is
unclouded live, free from sorrow.
18.6 Knowing everything as just imagination, and oneself
as eternally free, how should the wise person behave like a
18.7 Knowing oneself to be God and being and nonbeing
just imagination, what should the person free from desire
learn, say or do?
18.8 Considerations like `I am this’ or `I am not this’
are finished for the mystic who has gone silent realising
`Everything is myself’.
18.9 For the mystic who has found peace, there is no
distraction or one-pointedness, no higher knowledge or
ignorance, no pleasure and no pain.
18.10 The dominion of heaven or beggary, gain or loss,
life in society or in the forest, these make no difference
to a mystic whose nature is free from distinctions.
18.11 There is no religion, wealth, sensuality or
discrimination for a mystic free from the pairs of opposites
such as `I have done this’ and `I have not done that.’
18.12 There is nothing needing to be done, or any
attachment in one’s heart for the mystic liberated while
still alive. Things are so for the life-time.
18.13 There is no delusion, world, meditation on That, or
liberation for the pacified great soul. All these things are
just the realm of imagination.
18.14 Whoever sees all this may well make out it doesn’t
exist, but what is the desireless one to do, eh? Even in
seeing, one does not see it.
18.15 He by whom the Supreme Brahman is seen may think
`Ah I am Brahma,’ but what is he to think who is without
thought, and who sees no duality.
18.16 He by whom inner distraction is seen may put an end
to it, but the noble one is not distracted. When there is
nothing to achieve what is he to do?
Part I – Part
II – Part