The Essence of the Ashtavakra Gita

The Essence of the Ashtavakra Gita

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Item Code: NAC744
Author: Ramesh S. Balsekar
Publisher: Zen Publications, Mumbai
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8188071285
Pages: 80
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
Weight 130 gm
Back of the Book

Ashtavakra Says:

You are not the body which is composed of the five elements. You are that Consciousness which has provided the inert body with the sentience that makes the senses function in regard to their objects. It is sentience which makes the psychosomatic apparatus work as a unit.

Anticipating the query from his intelligent disciple, the guru tells him further, “You” are not the physical organism but Consciousness which works not as someone in charge of the operations of the physical organism but merely as the witness of the operations.

You have wrongly identified yourself as the individual, as the doer of all actions that take place through the physical organism, and thereby unnecessarily assume the responsibility for the actions which take place, and thus assume the bondage from which you are seeking liberation.

The witness cannot be the doer, and you are therefore not the doer. With this understanding, you can detach yourself from the wrong identification with the body. And when you do this, you will automatically assume your true position as the witness and remain relaxed (because there is not the tension of responsibility for the actions) in Consciousness, as Consciousness.

The state of being disidentified from the body is the state of witnessing (when the individual “me” is not present). And this state of detached witnessing is indeed the state of liberation. This is what the Self-realized guru means when he says that when you remain relaxed in Consciousness (without identification with the body), the state of liberation is sudden and immediate.

The words “remain relaxed in Consciousness” form the very basis of the Ashtavakra teaching.


A clearly seen feature of Eastern scriptures is the recurring repetition of the basic Truth in its different aspects, detailed in different words and with different illustrations and examples. The intention is to give a reasonable chance to the disciple with the least intelligence.

In the Ashtavakra Gita also, a considerable amount of repetition is found. One specific advantage of such repetition is that for some mysterious reason, a certain statement will have a sudden impact on a particular person at a particular moment, even though that statement may have been repeated several times earlier. And even for those who have already understood something very clearly, a particular statement made in a particular context often brings out a subtle aspect which had earlier escaped their attention. It is therefore important not to take a repetition lightly as a mere repetition. It is important to remember that when the guru makes a statement, it comes out of his lips spontaneously at that kshana or split-second. For him it is not a repetition, and therefore it has a certain special significance in regard to a particular context or circumstance. It is important to listen to every statement of the guru as a fresh lesson, and not to ignore it as a mere repetition.

Even good music is listened to over and over again, and great sensual pleasure is derived from such music. How much more important it must be to listen to the Truth from the guru’s lips over and over again even thought it is the same Truth!

Indeed, life itself is a rotating repetition. Day in and day out, year in and year out, there is repetition: morning, noon, evening and night; summer, autumn, winter and spring. But each has its own aspects which are rarely similar in every respect to the earlier ones.

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