Ashtavakra, the young mystic sage

Wednesday September 13, 2017

5:42 pm

Ashtavakra is a sage who was born deformed with eight bends on his body. At only 14 years of age, his wisdom excelled many sages of his time. He was named after his deformity, “Asktavakra”, which means “The Eight-Curved”.


When he was in his mother’s womb he heard his father reciting mantras incorrectly. Upon recognizing them, the infant in the womb corrected his father. His father became so insulted and angry, and he cursed the boy in the womb. As a result, Ashtavakra was born deformed. It symbolizes that Ashtavakra tells the truth with no fear, even if it is difficult to digest. He remained uncompromising and upfront throughout his life and was only concerned about the message he wanted to pass on, although he was cursed for his bluntness many times. He was born enlightened and attained pure consciousness, hence his words were always direct and forthright.


His philosophical discourse with King Janaka is called Ashtavakra Gita or The Song of Ashtavakra, which is considered as the metaphysical teaching on liberation and absolute truth. It is presented in the form of questions and answers, as dialogues between a guru and his disciple on the nature of soul, reality and bondage. What is special about Ashtavakra Gita is that it negates all the traditional practice of spirituality and does not mention morality or duties. Ashtavakra Gita teaches a person to transform himself from the relative to the absolute, from bondage to liberation, without any rituals or practices. It shows how one can effortlessly journey into the ultimate goal of liberation.

Ashtavakra Gita is considered as the essence of non-dualistic philosophy, and it explains the mystery of life and the universe. It touches upon the ever-present, witnessing consciousness which is inherent in every human being. This view on consciousness is unmatched, even during a time when there was no scientific evidence on the subject. Ashtavakra says that the world is only a superimposition of our mind. He also says that enlightenment is nothing but transcending one’s mind and attaining the universal consciousness without clinging to any identity, so that one can reach the state of everlasting joy and realize one’s inherent happiness and bliss. This can all happen in an instant or in a split of seconds. He does not indoctrinate any belief system but rather shows the path of realization which is of self-determined ability to be the witnessing consciousness which is compassionate, positive and responsible. And he shows us the magical world of happiness, which we don’t normally see.


Although his teachings are simple and direct, one cannot easily comprehend the messages of Ashtavakra by mere intellectual brilliance.  His teachings can only be experienced or understood by the heart.


If you wish to be free,
Know you are the Self,
The witness of all these,
The heart of awareness.
Set your body aside.
Sit in your own awareness.
You will at once be happy,
Forever still, Forever free.

You are everywhere,
Forever free.
If you think you are free, You are free.
If you think you are bound, You are bound.
Meditate on the Self.
One without two,
Exalted awareness.