Ashtavakra Samhita

aka Ashtavakra Gita, Astavakra Gita, Ashtavakra Geeta

"The Ashtavakra Samhita, or Ashtavakra Gita as it is sometimes called, is a short treatise on Advaita Vedanta, ascribed to the great sage Ashtavakra. Very little definite is known about Ashtavakra. His work does not in any way enlighten us or give any clue to his identity. It is presented as a dialogue between him and Janaka. But is this Janaka the same as is met with in the Ramayana of Valmiki and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad? Nor is it certain that our author is the same Ashtavakra as that of the Mahabharata. But most probably they are identical; for they all exhibit the same profound knowledge of Brahman...

The present work is not a philosophical treatise in the technical sense of the term. It does not care to call in aid the intellectual resources, which are the only stock-in-trade of all philosophical dissertations. We find in it on the contrary an unfoldment of the ultimate Truth, which is the final objective of philosophy, but which for ever eludes its grasp. Philosophy and even Vedanta qua philosophy can only produce an intellectual conviction, which falls far short of the direct realization of the Truth, for which the spiritual aspirant must undergo a course of Sadhana under the guidance and supervision of the Guru, who has himself gone through the grind and envisaged the Truth face to face."

- Swami Nityaswarupananda

"Ashtavakra Gita (known also as Ashtavakra Samhita) is a unique treatise on the Non-dualistic (Advaita) philosophy which guarantees to transport a seeker instantaneously by a direct path from time to eternity, from the relative to the Absolute and from bondage to liberation (MUKTI). There is no pre-requisite, no rituals no control of breath (Pranayama) or thoughts, no Japa or chanting of sacred syllables and not even any meditation or contemplation. It is all an effortless quantum flight to the ultimate goal (MOKSHA). One second, you are here on what you consider as the terra firma of the phenomenal world and the next you find yourself in a summit of timelessness and bliss, where both the world and yourself are dissolved into nothingness. “When 'I' ceased to exist, there was liberation and so long as 'I' existed, there was only bondage.” Ashtavakra does not lay down any pre-condition or prior qualification. He accepts his clients on an 'as is where is' basis. There is neither any cultivation of particular qualities nor any renunciation of existing conditioning. It is just Being and no becoming. “How and where can anyone think of acceptance or rejection?” “His mind neither renounces nor accepts; neither rejoices nor gets angry”. The entire process seems to be revolutionary and contradictory to all accepted norms of traditional Sadhana...

Ashtavakra Gita is a conversation with the melody of music (in the form of a song) between Ashtavakra, a great Self-realised saint of Mahabharata fame and King Janaka — a philosopher king, famous for his lack of body-consciousness (Videha). While Bhagavad Gita has lent itself to several interpretations and its meanings have been twisted and distorted by many commentators, both ancient and modern, Ashtavakra Gita is so simple and emphatically direct that it is impossible to misinterpret the text and very few have ventured to translate it and add any commentaries. This is a text which cannot be understood through intellectual brilliance or by mere scholarship. It can only be understood through the heart, by an intuitive spiritual experience. Out of the total 298 stanzas almost each one of them is an independent Bliss-capsule, self-sufficient and capable of taking one to the ultimate destination by itself."

- Swami Shantananda

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