Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter 12

Ashtavakra Gita

Vishnu Bapat

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॥ जनक उवाच ॥
Ch. 12 Sh.1

कायकृत्यासहः पूर्वं ततो वाग्विस्तरासहः ।
अथ चिन्तासहस्तस्माद् एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-१॥
kāyakr̥tyāsahaḥ pūrvaṁ tatō vāgvistarāsahaḥ |
atha cintāsahastasmād ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-1||

कायकृत्य असहः पूर्वम् ततः वाग्विस्तर असहः ।
अथ चिन्ता असहः तस्मात् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-१॥

कायकृत्य (काय-body कृत्य-action)-physical action असहः-intolerant पूर्वम्-at first ततः-then वाग्विस्तर (वाक्-speech विस्तार-extensive) – extensive speech असहः- intolerant अथ-then चिन्ता-thought असहः-intolerant अभवम् – I became तस्मात्-from that, thus एव-indeed अहम्-I आस्थितः- believe, I am occupied, abiding

At first repelled by activity of body, next by long speech, then of any tought itself, thus I abide in the self now.

कायकृत्य असहः पूर्वम् ततः वाग्विस्तर असहः –I became intolerant first by activities of the body. Then I detested extended speech.
अथ चिन्ता असहः तस्मात् एव अहम् आस्थितः- Now after transcending body, speech and mind, I abide in the self.
Janaka expresses here his own experience of abidance in the self. In the beginning like any sadhaka, as prescribed the scriptures he disciplined his body or employed ‘dama’. First, he started with action by the body, speech and mind. He became completely detached. His mind having turned away from deed, word and thought which all belong to the relative plane. Discipline begins with gross body and ultimately ends in subtle body. From the mouth of janaka, the realized soul, we hear the gradual progress one makes as mentioned in Tattva Bodha. Here is the shloka.

शमो दमो उपरतिस्तितीक्षा श्र्द्धा समाधानं चेति ।।
What is the inner wealth starting with Shama? They are the control on the mind, control of senses, and withdrawal of the mind, endurance, faith and absorption of the mind.

काय कृत्य असहः वाक् विस्तार असहः तस्मात् अहम् आस्थितः
Swami Chinmayanada writes:
“Religious activities like yajnya, puja and so on and dedicated secular activities like social work, political work and so on, are the methods by which physical activities are divinized. Similarly, singing the glories of the Lord, reading the scriptures, repeating the holy name of the lord as japa, are the accepted methods by which speech can be disciplined towards spiritual path. Again, thoughts which are generally running out into the world of sense objects, when turned to contemplate upon the Lord of the universe, constiture the thought discipline.
“When a student having disciplined the body, speech and mind, practices meditation for long, he slowly climbs into higher scales of meditation. He gradually discovers that even these prayers, indulgence of the body for public good, study of scriptures are all distractions for him in his higher flights into subtler meditation”.
That is the reason royal saint janaka became intolerant of these active steps of spiritual growth. His only passion was realization. Ultimately, he came to be centred in Brahman.

Ch. 12 Sh.2
प्रीत्यभावेन शब्दादेरदृश्यत्वेन चात्मनः ।
विक्षेपैकाग्रहृदय एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-२॥
prītyabhāvēna śabdādēradr̥śyatvēna cātmanaḥ |
vikṣēpaikāgrahr̥daya ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-2||

प्रीति अभावेन शब्दादेः अदृश्यत्वेन च आत्मनः ।
विक्षेप एकाग्रहृदय एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-२॥

प्रीति-love, attachment अभावेन-by its absence शब्दादेः-of sound and so on अदृश्यत्वेन-being no object of perception च-and आत्मनः-of the self विक्षेप-free from distraction एकाग्रहृदय (एक-one अग्र-one pointed हृदय-heart, mind)-rendered single pointed एवम्-thus एव-only अहम्- Iआस्थितः- abide

Having no satisfaction in sound and other sense -objects, and even the self being unperceived by sense faculties, I am always free at heart both by distraction and one pointedness. It is thus alone that I abide in the self.
प्रीति अभावेन शब्दादेः–For want of atisfaction (attachment), I have no love to sound and other sense objects. अदृश्यत्वेन च आत्मनः विक्षेप एकाग्रहृदय एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः and the self being imperceivable, I have my mind freed from distraction and rendered it single pointed. Thus, I am here abiding in truth.
शब्दादेः प्रीतिअभावेन –By the lack of my love towards sound and other sense objects. There are five sense objects. शब्द (sound), स्पर्श (touch), रूप (florm) रस (taste) and गन्ध (smell). ​ The senses give information about the nature of the object to the mind through their respective sense organs. But they have a limitation. They can cognize only the material objects but not self. The senses are responsible for our clinging and craving and thereby keep us bound to the mortal world. Since they are subject to gunas, they are not perfect and therefpore not reliable to discern the truths of the world or the nature of our existence. They are chiefly responsible for our suffering, illusion and mistaken identity. For this reason, I have lost my love for the sense objects.
So, I am always free at my heart. Since I have lost interest in any other objects and sadhanas, I have made my mind one pointed. Thus, I abide in the self.

Ch. 12 Sh.3

समाध्यासादिविक्षिप्तौ व्यवहारः समाधये ।
एवं विलोक्य नियमं एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-३॥ ।
samādhyāsādivikṣiptau vyavahāraḥ samādhayē |
ēvaṁ vilōkya niyamaṁ ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-3|| |

समाध्यास आदि विक्षिप्तौ व्यवहारः समाधये ।
एवम् विलोक्य नियमम् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थिथः
समाध्यास-superimposition आदि-and so on विक्षिप्तौ-in destraction व्यवहारः-activity, transaction समाधये- for absorption, samadhi एवम्-thus विलोक्य-viewing नियमम्-rule एवम्-thus एव-indeed अहम्-I आस्थिथः-aide in myself

Effort is required to be made for samadhi (concentration) of mind only when here is distraction and superimposition of the mind with illusion. Seeing this to be a rule, I verily, abide in the self.

समाध्यास आदि विक्षिप्तौ व्यवहारः समाधये –When the mind is distracted with illusory super-imposition (अध्यास) it needs to be absorbed in Samadhi. The body, mind and ego and sense objects are the illusory projections made by the mind. When the mind is enchanted by these illusions, it is not available for contemplation. This causes distraction and ignorance. Such a man requires concentration to focus on the self during meditation.
समाधये means for absorption or union with God. The union of one who has mastered Samadhi is never disturbed. The states of waking, dreaming, or sleeping are, therefore, not hindrances. The seeker remains continuously conscious that he is atman and not the body. So, the idea of the body, mind and ego ceases to be a hindrance.
एवम् विलोक्य नियमम् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थिथः –Considering this as a general guidance to practitionrs, who are in ignorance, I rejected meditation and and thus therefore do I abide in the self. Such acts of concentration in Samadhi become meaningless to one who is already established in the absolute state of the self. The rule prescribing concentration does not apply to him.

Ch. 12 Sh.4

हेयोपादेयविरहाद् एवं हर्षविषादयोः ।
अभावादद्य हे ब्रह्मन्न् एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-४॥
hēyōpādēyavirahād ēvaṁ harṣaviṣādayōḥ |
abhāvādadya hē brahmann ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-4||

हेय उपादेय विरहात् एवम् हर्ष विषादयोः ।
अभावात् अद्य हे ब्रह्मन्न् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-४॥
हेय-to be avoided उपादेय-to be accepted विरहात्-abandonment, desertion of एवम्-thus हर्ष-excitement विषादयोः-dejection अभावात्-in their absence अद्य-now हे-Oh ब्रह्मन्-Brahman एवम्-thus एव-only अहम्-I आस्थितः-abide inmy self

Oh! Brahman, I do not find anything to be avoided or accepted. I have neither joy nor sorrow. Thus, therefore I abide in Brahman.

हेय उपादेय विरहात् एवम् हर्ष विषादयोः अभावात् – Being devoid of the sense of ‘rejectable’ and ‘acceptable’, having no joy or sorrow. To a normal man good or favourable is acceptable and bad or unfavourable is rejectable. This happens beause we identify ourselves with the body and mind whih create distinctions. “The yogi reaches a stage where nothing is for him to accept or to reject. He comes to dwell in the self which illumines both the concept of good and bad”. –Swami Chinmayananda
अद्य हे ब्रह्मन्न् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः –right now am here established in the pure infinite consciousness. Janaka addresses Ashtavakra, his Guru as Brahman or Lord God. He expresses his gratitude as also expresses his awareness as Brahman everywhere.

Ch. 12 Sh.5

आश्रमानाश्रमं ध्यानं चित्तस्वीकृतवर्जनम् ।
विकल्पं मम वीक्ष्यैतैरेवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-५॥
āśramānāśramaṁ dhyānaṁ cittasvīkr̥tavarjanam |
vikalpaṁ mama vīkṣyaitairēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-5||

आश्रमम् अनाश्रमम् ध्यानम् चित्त स्वीक्रुत वर्जनम् ।
विकल्पम् मम वीक्ष्य एतैः एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-५॥

आश्रमम् (आश्रम-ashrama अनाश्रमम्-no ashrama)-one of the four stages of life or without any such stage ध्यानम्- meditation चित्तस्वीकृतवर्जनम् (चित्त-mind स्वीक्रुत – what is accepted by the mind वर्जनम्- renunciation) – renunciation of what is accepted by mind विकल्पम्-distraction मम-my वीक्ष्य-having seen एतैः-by these एवम्-thus एव-indeed अहम्-I आस्थितः-abide

The four stages of life or without such stages, meditation, and renunciation of the objects which are accepted or rejected by the mind are nothing but distractions; and so, I dropped them all. Thus, verily I abide in the self.

आश्रमम् अनाश्रमम् ध्यानम् चित्त स्वीक्रुत वर्जनम् –I have dropped the practice of आश्रम and अनाश्रमम्, meditation and rejection of the objects of the mind. Ashrama refers to traditional four stages of life prescribed by the scriptures with graded duties and style of living. These are: ब्रह्मचर्य (student life), गृहस्त life of a house-holder, वानप्रस्थ (hermit’s life) and renunciant (सन्यास​). Ashtavaka says that these stages or no stages are encumbrances to me. Ashtavakra has sreached a stage which is technically callaed अतिवर्णाश्रमी or trans-ashrama.
Similarly, meditation which is a key for absorption of the mind in the self is also a distraction (विकल्पम्) to me. Why such an important tool is called a distraction? Janaka has reached the ultimate state where he has no connection with the body and mind. When there is no connection with the body and mind where is the question of sense objects which are a product of the mind? So, meditation is also a distraction for me. The purpose of the meditation is to leash the mind from moving waywards and fix into the object of meditation. When there is no mind there is not question of amadhi of the mind.
विकल्पम् मम वीक्ष्य एतैः एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः – The self is beyond all the four stages of life, the bondages of the body and mind. It is beyond the stages of life. Since I stay centred in the Brahaman I do not see any need for these preliminary practices. So, I have dropped them all.

Ch. 12 Sh.6

कर्मानुष्ठानमज्ञानाद् यथैवोपरमस्तथा ।
बुध्वा सम्यगिदं तत्त्वं एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-६॥
karmānuṣṭhānamajñānād yathaivōparamastathā |
budhvā samyagidaṁ tattvaṁ ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-6||

कर्म अनुष्ठानम् अज्ञानात् यथा एव उपरमः तथा एव।
बुध्वा सम्यक् इदम् तत्त्वम् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-६॥

कर्म- actions अनुष्ठानम्- undertaking अज्ञानात्-from ignorance यथा-just as एव-indeed उपरमः-cessation तथा एव-so also बुध्वा-knowing सम्यक्-fully well इदम्-this तत्त्वम्-principle, truth एवम्-thus एव-only अहम्-I आस्थितः-abide in myself.

Abstention from action is as much the outcome of ignorance as undertaking of an action to achieve desired objects. Knowing this truth fully well, I abide indeed in myself.

कर्म अनुष्ठानम् अज्ञानात् यथा एव उपरमः अज्ञानात् –Doing an action or not doing an action both arise from ignorance. Commission and omission of an action is a judgement of mind (intellect). Since mind is a product of ignorance its judgment cannot be anything other than ignorance.
कर्म अनुष्ठानम् अज्ञानात् भवति । कर्म उपरमः च अज्ञानात् भवति ॥
Threre are three types of karma namely नित्य कर्म, नैमित्तिक कर्म, and निशिद्ध कर्म​. These are prescribed by the scriptures to subjugate the ego who arrogates all the actions to himself.
बुध्वा सम्यक् इदम् तत्त्वम् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः –I know this. And I am here abiding in mhyself.

Ch. 12 Sh.7

अचिंत्यं चिंत्यमानोऽपि चिन्तारूपं भजत्यसौ ।
त्यक्त्वा तद्भावनं तस्माद् एवमेवाहमास्थितः ॥ १२-७॥
aciṁtyaṁ ciṁtyamānō:’pi cintārūpaṁ bhajatyasau |
tyaktvā tadbhāvanaṁ tasmād ēvamēvāhamāsthitaḥ || 12-7||

अचिंत्यम् चिंत्यमानः अपि चिन्तारूपम् भजति असौ त्यक्त्वा तत् भावनम् तस्मात् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः ॥ १२-७॥

अचिंत्यम्-the unthinkable, that cannot be thought of चिंत्यमानः-thinking of अपि-even चिन्तारूपम् (चिन्ता-thought रूपम्-form) – some form of thought must be involved भजति-participates असौ-one त्यक्त्वा-giving up तत्-that भावनम्-mode of thought तस्मात्-therefore एवम्-thus एव-indeed अहम्-I आस्थितः-abide in myself

For thinking of unthinkable One, some form of thought must be involved. So, I choose no thought and remain here in my own self.

अचिंत्यम् चिंत्यमानः अपि चिन्तारूपम् भजति असौ –Brahman is called अचिंत्यम् or that cannot be thought of. The mind cognizes an object perceived by the senses. Brahman is not an object. He is the subject. He gives light or capacity to the senses to perceive an object. So, he is called अचिंत्यम् or that cannot be thought of. Ashtavakra is explaining here that thought is in the domain of non-self. If you are thinking about him it becomes a thought again in the domain of non-self.
त्यक्त्वा तत् भावनम् तस्मात् एवम् एव अहम् आस्थितः –I have given up the thought of Brahman because of the reason explained in the first line. So here I am established in the self, without indulging in any thought or ashrama.
Swami Chinmayanada rushes to add. “In the early stages of sadhana this method of अचिंत्य चिंतन​ is extremely valid since the restlessness of the mind, duality and ignorance gets quietened.

Ch. 12 Sh.8

एवमेव कृतं येन स कृतार्थो भवेदसौ ।
एवमेव स्वभावो यः स कृतार्थो भवेदसौ ॥ १२-८॥
ēvamēva kr̥taṁ yēna sa kr̥tārthō bhavēdasau |
ēvamēva svabhāvō yaḥ sa kr̥tārthō bhavēdasau || 12-8||

एवम् एव क्रुतम् येन सः कृतार्थः भवेत् असौ एवम् एव स्वभावः यः सः कृतार्थः भवेत् असौ ॥ १२-८॥
एवम्-thus एव-indeed क्रुतम्-done, accomplished येन-by whom सः-he कृतार्थः (कृत-accomplished अर्थः-aim)- fulfilled भवेत्-becomes असौ-he the man एव-indeed एवम् स्वभावः-by such nature यः-who सः-he कृतार्थः -accomplished भवेत्-becomes असौ- he

Blessed is the man who has done what needs to be done. Blessed is the man who has reached the absolute state natural to him.

एवम् एव क्रुतम् येन सः कृतार्थः भवेत् असौ –whoever has accomplished what needs to be done and has arrived at what was sought.
एवम् एव स्वभावः यः सः कृतार्थः भवेत् असौ –Blessed is the man who has realized the self through sadhana beyond all actions, body, mind and speech. The absolute state rached by him spontaneously, without effort is natural to him (स्वभावः).