Ashtavakra Gita – Chapter 5

Ashtavakra Gita

Vishnu Bapat

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The path of laya-yoga

॥ अष्टावक्र उवाच ॥

Four ways to self-realization
This chapter describes four different ways for the realization of abslolute self. The first verse speaks of being asanga, unattached. The second describes looking upon the universe as the same reality as the self because there is only one Atman. The third verse considers the phenomenal universe as illusory and the fourth remaining unaffected by the universe.

Ch. 5 Sh.1

न ते सङ्गोऽस्ति केनापि किं शुद्धस्त्यक्तुमिच्छसि ।
संघातविलयं कुर्वन्नेवमेव लयं व्रज ॥ ५-१॥
na tē saṅgō:’sti kēnāpi kiṁ śuddhastyaktumicchasi |
saṁghātavilayaṁ kurvannēvamēva layaṁ vraja || 5-1||

न ते सङ्गः अस्ति केन अपि किम् शुद्धः त्यक्तुम् इच्छसि संघातविलयम् कुर्वन् ऎवम् ऎव लयम् व्रज

na tē saṅgaḥ asti kēna api kim śuddhaḥ tyaktum icchasi saṁghātavilayam kurvan evam eva layam vraja

ते-your सङ्गः-contact न-not अस्ति-is केन-with anything अपि-at all किम्-what शुद्धः-pure you are त्यक्तुम्-to renounce इच्छसि- you are wishing संघात विलयम् (संघात-collection, aggregate of body, mind, inelelct, senses etc विलयम्-dissolution) -dissolution of body complex कुर्वन्-effecting ऎवम्-thus ऎव-indeed लयम्-the state of dissolution व्रज-attain

Ashtavakra said, “What do you want to renounce when you are not associated with anything at all? Ending your worldly attachments, in this way you can attain the final dissolution.”

न ते सङ्गः अस्ति केन अपि किम् शुद्धः त्यक्तुम् इच्छसि संघातविलयम् कुर्वन् ऎवम् ऎव लयम् व्रज

न ते सङ्गः अस्ति केन अपि –You have no association with anything. This is the first way of dissolution of mind. Our association and attachment with the material world is due to our identification with the body and its appendages including mind, intellect, the senses etc. The moment we destroy this identification, we shall merge in the absolute. We have to keep ourselves reminding that we are free, unattached and independent. Since I have transcended the self, nothing belongs to me here.
त्वम् शुद्धः असि किम् त्यक्तुम् इच्छसि –You are pure and immaculate. What do you want to renounce?
संघातविलयम् कुर्वन् ऎवम् ऎव लयम् व्रज- dissolve the body, mind, intellect complex and enter the state of dissolution. संघात, भूतसंघ,
These words are used to indicate the phenominal world of OET. संघात विलयम् means dissolve or absorb the material objects into the mind. Dissolution means ending the all thoughts of egoism, desires, attachment, aversion, and delusion. You cannot reach the pure consciousness with the baggage of sanghata.
In the state of laya the mind becomes empty of all things, your thought and action do not produce any consequence in you. This is freedom or moksha.

This chapter describes four ways in which one can achieve dissolution (laya). The first method is described here. The Sanskrit world laya has multiple meanings. It can mean union or fusion, dissolution, destruction or extinction, or deep concentration, mental absorption or unconditional devotion. All these are synonymous with the state of liberation or the methods to achieve liberation. In a simple sense, dissolution means, dissolving or ending all impurities and formations such as egoism, attachments and delusion. Dissolution is not the end. It is the means to achieve liberation. When dissolution is complete in

Ch. 5 Sh.2

उदेति भवतो विश्वं वारिधेरिव बुद्बुदः ।
इति ज्ञात्वैकमात्मानं एवमेव लयं व्रज ॥ ५-२॥
udēti bhavatō viśvaṁ vāridhēriva budbudaḥ |
iti jñātvaikamātmānaṁ ēvamēva layaṁ vraja || 5-2||

उदेति भवतः विश्वम् वारिधेः इव बुद्बुदः इति ज्ञात्वा एकम् आत्मानम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज
udēti bhavataḥ viśvam vāridhēḥ iva budbudaḥ iti jñātvā ēkam ātmānam ēvam ēva layam vraja

उदेति-arises भवतः-from you विश्वम- the universe वारिधेः-from the sea इव-like बुद्बुदः-bubbles इति-thus ज्ञात्वा-having known एकम्-one आत्मानम्-self एवम्-in this way एव-indeed लयम्-dissolution व्रज-enter

From you arises all the world, like bubbles rising out from the sea. Accordingly know all the manifest world as just one and thus get merged there in your own reality.

उदेति भवतः विश्वम् वारिधेः इव बुद्बुदः इति ज्ञात्वा एकम् आत्मानम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज
In the previous verse, Ashtavakra suggested the first method to achieve liberation or the state of dissolution (laya). He said संघातविलयम् कुर्वन् ऎवम् ऎव लयम् व्रज. He stated that one should strive for liberation by overcoming attachments to body, mind and intellect and objects of enjoyment. Jayaram says, the practice of detachment is the first requirement in any spiritual practice. You can practice detachment by knowing that desire and attachment are traps that permanently bind you to samsara. You can practice vairagya by counselling the mind that you are associating with the right things and going away from wrong things. Avoiding raga (passion) and dwesha (loathing) are prerequisite for vairagya. In this verse 5:2 Ashtavakra states the second method of laya or dissolution. This method also leads to same result of detachment. In the second method he says the world is is not what you think.It is just an illusion or projection like bubbles arising in the ocean. It is a punctured ballon.
Suppose you are associated with a Guru for a very long time and impressed with his sweet talk and followed his advice. All of a sudden you find that he is an imposter with criminal record. The court puts him, to jail. You feel betrayed and frustrated. Logically, the same should happen when you realize someday that the world is not what it appears to be, and it is just an illusion or a projection or like a bubble which arises from the surface of an ocean. That one realization can transform you from a worldy man to a viragi. That does not happen suddenly. The change comes slowly with your conviction and practice of sadhanas.

उदेति भवतः विश्वम् वारिधेः इव बुद्बुदः- From you arises all the world, like bubbles rising out from the sea.

इति ज्ञात्वा एकम् आत्मानम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज and thus get merged there in your own reality.

By firmly implanting the idea that you are an eternal soul, and the world is a mere projection or an illusion on your mind, you will gradually draw your mind and senses into yourself, developing a distaste for the world and worldly things, and enter the deeper states of mental absorption or dissolution.

Ch. 5 Sh.3

प्रत्यक्षमप्यवस्तुत्वाद् विश्वं नास्त्यमले त्वयि ।
रज्जुसर्प इव व्यक्तं एवमेव लयं व्रज ॥ ५-३॥

pratyakṣamapyavastutvād viśvaṁ nāstyamalē tvayi |
rajjusarpa iva vyaktaṁ ēvamēva layaṁ vraja || 5-3||

प्रत्यक्षम् अपि अवस्तुत्वादत् विश्वम् न अस्ति अमले त्वयि रज्जुसर्पः इव व्यक्तम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज
pratyakṣam api avastutvādat viśvam na asti amalē tvayi rajjusarpaḥ iva vyaktam ēvam ēva layam vraja

प्रत्यक्षम्- perceived अपि-although अवस्तुत्वात्-an account of being unreal विश्वम्-the universe न-not अस्ति-is present अमले-pure त्वयि-in you रज्जुसर्पः (रज्जु- the rope सर्पः-snake )-the snake in the rope इव- like व्यक्तम्-manifested एवम्-thus एव- verily लयम्-dissolution व्रज- attain

The world we see does not really exist, even though it is pesent to the senses. The world does not exist in you because you are pure and uncontaminated. It is produced from illusion like a rope mistakenly appearing as a serpent. With this conviction you can obtain final dissolution.

प्रत्यक्षम् अपि अवस्तुत्वादत् विश्वम् न अस्ति अमले त्वयि रज्जुसर्पः इव व्यक्तम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज
The Third Way to Liberation: Dissolution through Discernment
प्रत्यक्षम् अपि अवस्तुत्वादत् विश्वम् न अस्ति
Although the world is directly perceptible to us it is an illusion because it has no real existence. It appears real to us just as rope appears as snake to us in a dim light. Accoding to advaita the only reality is Brahman. The rest is unreal or illusion. Similarly the world appears in Brahman just as a snake appears on the rope. World is an effect and Brahman is the cause. We see only the effect by sense organs and consider it as real. We cannot see the transcendental Brahman. So we see the world as independent reality. We consider ourseves as ndependent reality separate from the world. So our individuality becomes the seer and the world an object.
Why is it important for us bother about this distinction? How is it going to help us? Without this knowledge we remain in the cycle of birth and death, engaged in desire, duality, attraction and repulsion getting more into the quagmire of karma.
The withdrawl or detachment is necessary for you to stabilize your mind and draw into the conmeplation of self.
न अस्ति अमले त्वयि the world does not exst in you. The world exists in your thoughts and perceptions but not in you, the pure self.
रज्जुसर्पः इव व्यक्तम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज

Jayram says: If you want to dissolve your association with the world and overcome your likes and dislikes about it, faith in the metaphysical truths of the scriptures is the only option and support left to you. You cannot rely upon reason or perceptual reality because they belong to the domian of the mind rather than the Self. You must rely upon the words of the scriptures or of your teacher and treat the world with the same distrust and indifference just as you would treat any false relationship in your life. Seeing the world as unreal, treating the mind and body as separate and distinct from yourself, you must dissolve all your attachments and involvement with them, and abide in the contemplation of Self to experience the ultimate reality of the Self.

Ch. 5 Sh.4

समदुःखसुखः पूर्ण आशानैराश्ययोः समः ।
समजीवितमृत्युः सन्नेवमेव लयं व्रज ॥ ५-४॥
samaduḥkhasukhaḥ pūrṇa āśānairāśyayōḥ samaḥ |
samajīvitamr̥tyuḥ sannēvamēva layaṁ vraja || 5-4||

समदुःखसुखः पूर्णः आशा नैराश्ययोः समः समजीवितमृत्युः सन् ऎवम् एव लयम् व्रज
samaduḥkhasukhaḥ pūrṇaḥ āśā nairāśyayōḥ samaḥ samajīvitamr̥tyuḥ san evam ēva layam vraja

समदुःखसुखः (सम-same दुःखः-pain सुखः-pleasure)-one in whom pain and leasure are the same पूर्णः-complete, perfect आशा-in hope नैराश्ययोः-in disappointment समः-same समजीवितमृत्युः (सम-same जीवित-in life मृत्युः-in death)- to whom life and death are the same सन्-being ऎवम्- thus एव verily- त्वम् -you लयम्-the state of dissolution व्रज-attain

Equal in pain and pleasure, completely fulfilled, equal in hope and despair, and in life and death. Only thus, as perfect being, may you come to be dissolved.

The fourth way to liberation: Cultivating sameness and equanimity
So far four ways of final dissolution of laya (लय) are explained. They are interrelated although they may be practiced as independent method. The four methods are:
1. You are a pure self and abide in it fully and unconditionally. न ते सङ्गः अस्ति त्वम् शुद्धः, संघातविलयम् कुरु, ऎवम् ऎव लयम् व्रज . This method is useful to overcome the attachment to your mind
and body or name and form. You are often attached to your caste, your ashrama, nation, group etc. संघात is the agglomeration of identities.
Realize that you are none of the above but eternal self. You are beyond them and free from impermanence, aging, death and modificatios. It will change your perspective upon life, possessions, ownership and relationships.
2. Second one is to know that you create your own world of perception like bubbles are created out from the ocean. Know that all the manifest world is just only one and merge into your reality. उदेति भवतः विश्वम् वारिधेः इव बुद्बुदः इति ज्ञात्वा एकम् आत्मानम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज

3.  Third one is to realize that the world is unreal and it does not exist in you. Eventhough you may become involved with it, and develop attachment with it, this knowledge will help you to cultivate discernment and stay on the good side of life. रज्जुसर्पः इव व्यक्तम् एवम् एव लयम् व्रज
4.  Fourth, overcome the dualities of life such as pain and pleasure and become equal to everything. It means you stop fighting, judging, and choosing and let life happen and teach its own wisdom. समदुःखसुखः पूर्णः आशा नैराश्ययोः ऎवम् एव लयम् व्रज. Ashtavakra is the most appropriate solution in this regard. By becoming indifferent or equal to the world, one can stabilize the mind in the Self and become absorbed in it. Problems arise when we lack the will or courage to observe the world and people without judgment.

What is लय ?

Jayaram says: What does “laya” or dissolution mean? What is dissolved and where? Nothing can be dissolved in the pure consciousness of the soul. You can neither add anything to it nor take away anything from it. As the Upanishads declare, the Self is always complete and perfect (purnam). Here, the dissolution refers to the dissolution of the impurities and the formations that reside in us. They belong to the domain of Nature and we usually identify them as Tattvas such as the elements, organs, the senses, the mind, the ego, intelligence.
One should also include in it all the formations, projections and modifications which may arise from them such as desires, egoism, attachments, feelings, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, attraction and aversion, and so on. They all arise in our consciousness during our interaction with the world and in our search for happiness and fulfillment through desire-ridden actions. They are largely responsible for our suffering. We must resolve all these, if we ever want to attain liberation.
Our bodies are but formations around our pure souls. The tattvas which constitute the body do not dissolve until death. When we are alive, we cannot get rid them. However, we can cultivate indifference to them by abiding in the Self and accepting it as our true identity.
All afflictions and mental disturbances arise because we are conditioned to grow fond of our names and forms or physical identities and their related aspects such as caste, race, gender, nationality and so on. They are but extensions of your ego, which help you establish relationships and find comfort and security in your personal and social life. They facilitate your survival and success in worldly life, but become an obstacle when you turn to spirituality. A seeker of liberation should discard his physical identity and all associate aspects to remain absorbed in his essential pure self.
A self-realized yogi transcends his physical self and all related aspects. He would be indifferent to his worldly name and fame, past achievements, family, caste, linguistic identity, religion or nationality, nor does he support a particular political party, ism or ideology, however good it may be, for he is equal to all, and does not take sides. Even if he does, it is for greater good and without selfish or egoistic motive. For him, the body is a temporary formation, or as the Bhagavadgita affirms a mere cloth which the soul wears in each birth, to be discarded at the time of death. The body is still important. Even if you cultivate detachment from it, you should still treat it with love and compassion because it is your bhagavata, your loyal and dedicated servant, your Nandi, the bull.
With regard to the mind and its modifications, a yogi cultivates sameness towards all so that he is not hurt when he does not have things, nor does he feel overjoyed when he has them. It does not mean that yogis are depressed people. Perhaps they enjoy life better than us because they are not subject to the usual mental turbulence to which we are frequently prone. There is a particular word in Sanskrit, “mudita,” which is often associated with God. It is the subdued joy, happiness or the contentment of a complete being who is satisfied in himself and does not look to others to fulfill himself.
You cannot control the world, but you can control yourself and your responses and attitude towards it. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your interpretation or perception of it. You can be internally happy and satisfied in yourself, even when there is ample reason to be unhappy or depressed. It is a choice, which you can make, if you have the will and the inner strength.
By controlling what you can and becoming indifferent to the rest, you can empower yourself to be impervious to the dualities of life. Sameness (samatvam) therefore is important. With that, you become free from the ebb and flow of life. You become a sthitha-prajna, the stable minded, awakened soul. One can cultivate it by exercising one’s will and controlling one’s mind and body, or by refusing to be physically, mentally or emotionally swayed by whatever happens.
In worldly life
These principles and practices are useful even if you are not aiming for liberation. If you are not intent upon becoming a full-fledged sanyasi, you can still practice them as a householder or worldly person, with one foot in spirituality. Here are a few ways to accomplish it.
You are what you think and identify with. We all identify our names and forms with something or the other, a cause, ideology, nation, caste, race, religion, region, etc. If you think you are a good person, you will be so, and vice versa. In this, your thoughts and desires play an important role. Knowing this, you can identify with the best in you and live according to your highest ideals and best vision. Practice your religion or dharma, but avoid fanaticism and egoistic involvement with it.
Examine your life and see how much of your thinking and behavior is shaped by the world, friends and family. See how much time you spend trying to impress others or live according to their expectations to win their approval and acceptance. Are you truly free? How can you take control of your life and learn to think freely and critically to express your independence, creativity and individuality?
Judgment is an aspect of the ego. Identity is also an aspect of it. What we need is not discrimination but discernment without judgment. The ego plays many tricks upon us. If you understand how it manipulates you even in matters of religious and spiritual practice or your relationship with God or a guru, you will become less judgmental and critical in your thinking and attitude.