Ashtavakra Gita. One of the great spiritual texts of ancient India. Liberation is the priority…

Ashtavakra Gita (the Song of Ashtavkra) constitutes one of the most profound texts of ancient India.

This classical Advaita text focusses on a dialogue of  the sage, Ashtavakra,  with King Janaka of Mithila, the father of Sita.

Saints and sages, including Sankara, Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna, loved the priority given to a liberation, unbound to name and form.

This text constitutes short 20 chapters. Well worth a meditative read through. Then again. And again. Until the Truth of what it speaks runs deep into the being.

Yes, the words in places are certainly different from the Buddha-Dharma. That is hair-splitting, a formation of an unnecessary duality.

The Buddha steered away from the language of ‘I’ and ‘Self’ so that the ego (Sanskrit ahamkara – I = aham  and kara = making actions, namely I-making activities) had nothing to grasp onto.

Other liberated sages embraced ‘I’ and ‘Self’ while showing the emptiness of ego, the small, mundane self that believes in divisiveness. I and the Self serves like a Dewdrop and the Ocean – both share the taste of water.

The translation of Atman as Self is not helpful for the individually self-obsessed mind. Atman carries the sense of inseparability.

  • Can the water in the wave be separate from the Ocean?
  • Can the cloud be separated from the Sky?
  • Can a human being exist separate from the environment?
  • Is there the capacity to embrace separation and non-separation?

Translated with care and precision by Bart Marshall, a former US soldier in Vietnam, the Ashtavakra Gita has verses worthy of reflection and meditation for insight and realisation.

In a short introduction, Marshall tells of his painful war experience and the way it changed his life.

To read a brief account of the war experience of Marshall and his translation of the discourse, go to:

Here are two sample verses


Right and wrong,
pleasure and pain
exist in mind only
They are not your concern.
You neither do, nor enjoy.
You are free.
It is strange in a sage who has realized
Self in All and All in Self
this sense of ownership  should continue.

 May all beings find nothing worth clinging to

May all beings live with indivisible love

May all beings know an unbound life

 PS Thanks to Rick in Totnes
for providing a Pdf of this translation

  • There is a new translation on Kindle by anonymous, called “Beyond The Word – A translation of Astavakra Samhita”. It’s very good.

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