Ashtavakra Gita

In the “(ext)WisdomReading”: group, we’re beginning the Ashtavakra Gita, one of my favorite of the world’s Scriptures despite the fact that it’s relatively little-known.

Here’s a except from a recent post I made there:

The challenge with ??Ashtavakra?? is probably in being able to take it literally enough. It is nonduality, completely and totally uncompromised, presented plainly, in every verse. God is all that is, forms are part of _maya_, “the magic show.” ??Ash??. considers the world false, and [unlike the Bhagavad Gita] has no use for war, caste, or anything that divides the One:

v.2b Seek the nectar of truth,
of love and forgiveness,
of simplicity and happiness.

v.5a: You have no caste
No duties bind you.

To people who haven’t had an experience of nonduality, Ashtavakra’s use of the word “you” might require a little explanation. At times, ??Ash??. addresses the egoic self, the familiar self, the “you” you think you are, as in v. 1-6b. At other times, “you” is “the Self,” the One being that really is, no matter how many bodies and minds there seem to be, as in v.6c:

You are everywhere,
forever free.

It’s not hard to tell the difference. ??Ash??. constantly contrasts the illusion of forms and the limited “you,” with the boundless Self.

12 is another verse worth remarking upon:

The Self looks like the world
But this is just an illusion.

The Self is everywhere.


That’s an interesting departure from the usual pictures given to explain pantheism and “panentheism”:/spirituality/biblical-panentheism/. Panentheists sometimes say that the world is the “Body of God.” This would give some real substance 🙂 to the physical universe. ??Ash??, of course, doesn’t, and says that God “looks like” the world but that even that is illusion. ??Ash??. says the Self is Everywhere not “everything” because from his viewpoint, there are no “things.”

Remember, you’re welcome to join us.

2 thoughts on “Ashtavakra Gita

  1. So here we are almost to the same point we were with yesterday’s post, “Self is everywhere.”

    I know we all catch glimpses of “Self everywhere”, we just may not be able to narrow in on it as such, define it as being “Self” or able to articulate the awareness. We are much more content to “feel free”, or experience the sensation that seems to take one’s self out of one’s body for a split second.

    I subscribe to the notion that none of this is unique- it’s all rather ordinary: this way of being, seeing, experiencing- even ‘enlightenment’. All going on, to be experienced now (and being experienced now- THIS IS IT!) rather than to be caught hold of, to be learned, to be initiated into.

    I love the notion of there being no “things.” I really get this, experience this as well. One organism whose being is everything (seen & unseen)…each of us is this. In this we can rest.

    Awesome post!

  2. I like Isaiah’s comment.

    I printed it; on the backs of some marked-up plans, elevations, daylight and ventilation schedules; scraps of work. I’m working on reading it. My word, the density. But I’m reading. (Be amazed.)


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