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Ashtavakra Gita - Sloka 1.1 and 1.2


Ashta-vakra gIta has been a source for advaita philosophies.  When I read ashta-vakra gIta, my reading was, more than philosophies, it was all about blunt truths. 

At the core ashta-vakra gita talks about 'Cit-Atmana'.  That everything rises from 'Cit' of Atman. 'Iam' not the body. 'Iam' not the life in the body.  I am just a 'cit'. There are various explanations that derive from this,  philosophizing around this.

I wanted to share my reading in this series. Given all that I am into it, it may not be continuous, but would try to share 2 or 3 stanzas every post, over a period of time.

aSTa-vakra - The eight crooked senses

There are several stories around aSTavakra.  I am not going to go into them. Suffice that aSTavakra propounded this 'gIta' and hence it is aSTavakra gIta.

According to me, aSTa-vakra are the 'eight senses' with which we, the human beings,  interact with external environment.  Due to interaction with external environment through these eight senses, we create all our perceptions.  These eight senses are the aSTA-vakra, the eight crooks or eight-retards, because they create the 'I' in us.

Without these eight crooks we interact with nothing. In fact the 'I' disappears if these eight crooks are gone.

These eight senses are
1. Sight
2. Hearing/Speech
3. Smell
4. Taste
5. Touch
6.  Vestibular (Co-ordination of our body movement in external space)
7.  Proprioception (Co-ordination between the body parts)
8.  Introception (Hunger, thirst, excretion and such internal senses)

These eight senses enable us to interact with environment including other matter and biological forms, there by creating all our perceptions. 

The aSTa-vakra gita teaches us how to overcome these eight crooks or eight sensory perceptions and understand the reality.

Sloka 1.1 and 1.2

Janaka says

kathaṁ jñānamavāpnoti kathaṁ muktir bhaviṣyati
vairāgyaṁ ca kathaṁ prāptaṁ etad brūhi mama prabho

How do we obtain jnAna (Knowledge/wisdom)..? How will we become muktir (free from desires/worries)..?

And how we arrive at vairagyam (indifferent to pulls and pressures)..? My lord please tell me all these

Ashtavakra says

muktiṁ icchasi cettāta viṣayān viṣavat tyaja
kṣamārjava dayā toṣa satyaṁ pīyūṣavad bhaja

If seeking mukti, dear (tAta), give up the senses (of interaction/enjoyment) like poison.
accept ksama (Patience), arjava (Sincerity/Candidness), daya (Kindness), toSa (Contentment), Satyam (Truthfulness) as nectar.


The characteristics of Patience, kindness, contentment, being truthful are always there in the nature of matter and beings. But they get poisoned by the interactions with external world that happens through our senses. The very nature of sense interactions is to invoke hate, love, affinity, ideologies, bondage etc in us and ‘poison’ the basic nature.

It is because of the sense interactions, we lose ‘nectar characteristics’ like Patience (Ksama), Frankness/Candidness/Sincerity (arjava), Kindness (dayA), Contentment (toSa) and Truthfulness (Satyam).

  • Being patient and Candid/sincere are necessity for gaining more and more knowledge (jnAna).
  • Being kind and contended are needed to be free from desires (mukti).
  • Being Truthful is needed to be indifferent from pulls and pressures (vairagya).

Hence the characteristics of Ksama (Patience), arjva (sincerity/candidness), dayA (kindness), toSa (Contentment) and Satyam (Truthfulness)  have to be accepted like ‘nectar'.
More to come..