Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ashtavakra Gita : Part 1 -- The Story of Ashtavakra

This is the version of the story, I had read, in a Hindi book named "Ashtavakra Gita". Book was published by "Randhir book sales, Haridwar".The translator/author of the book is/was "Nandlal dashora". It might not tally with other uploads on web.

Legend has it that Ashtavakra argued from his mother's womb with his father. His father was teaching Veda to his pregnant wife, and the yet to be born child reportedly exclaimed, that Vedas dont contain any truth. Well even in our times we find precocious children, but this is uber-precocious...isnt it? May be child had heard Pink Floyd, who knows :-)

So the father, enraged, curses his son, to be born deformed.(father son rivalry is historic you see, fathers cant take it when it comes from sons!)

That's what the name means, Ashta(eight)+vakra(deformed/bent/curved/etc.) So the boy now, has all his eight body parts, deformed. Actually 8 here means whole body(more on that some other time).

All this happened during the reign of King Janaka. Now, Janaka calls for a conclave of all seers/brahmins/bla bla bla, to discuss, what in those times was the holy grail of human intellectual adventure. By this, I mean, asking the question, "What is Brahman". It so happened, that Ashtavakra's father also attended the gathering and defeated all but one scholar. Learning this, Ashtavakra, still a child, takes it upon himself to come to his father's rescue.(when will fathers learn, and accept that their sons are smarter than they are ;-) )

When the gathering saw the deformed child, it seems they laughed and mocked at him. Ashtavakra called all of them "Chamar". Gentlemen, the word 'chamar' was an abuse in those days too! Anyway, the young boy promptly defended, his pejorative remark by arguing that the assembly failed to notice the transcendental formless, caught as it was, in the "apparent-to-the-eye" form, which by all Adhyatmic means is Unreal :). Now isnt that justification enough for being called Chamar ? It is, or it was, in those days :).

Janaka, impressed, made him sit on his throne and took Brahmopadesha from him.

Later as many of you know, Janaka, gave upadesha to Vyasa's son Shukadeva, which is another legendary story, but some other time.

So Ashtavakra gita is that discourse, between the young-enlightened-boy Ashtavakra, and the thirsty-for-enlightenment Emperor, Janaka. Needles to say, as per the book, Janaka gets his realization, very soon i.e. in the first few slokas. Rest of the book, hence, is then about two enlightened souls pontificating on the 'Reality'.

It would sound trite, but my good friend had once pointed out that Patanjali in his YS, mentions about, "Samadhi by Aushadhi". This then means, Patanjali was the first, exponent of what we today know call LSD. :)

I will post some slokas, which i enjoyed, in the next post.


Anonymous said...


thewellbeingclinic said...

Super Cool comparison with today's world ..