Monday, August 17, 2015

Preface


Below are eight translations of the last chapter of the Ashtavakra’s Gita by Thomas Byrom, Bart Marshall, Manuel Schoch, John Richards, Ramesh S. Balsekar​, ​Ananda Wood​, ​ Vedic Scriptures, and Hari Prasad Shastri.

From Wikipedia:

The Ashtavakra Gita (Sanskrit in Devanagari: अष्टावक्रगीता; IAST: aṣṭāvakragītā) or the Song of Ashtavakra is a classical Advaita Vedanta scripture. It is written as a dialogue between the sage Ashtavakra and Janaka, king of Mithila.

Radhakamal Mukerjee, an Indian social scientist, dated the book to the period immediately after the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita (c. 500–400 BC). J. L. Brockington, emeritus professor of Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh, places the Ashtavakra Gita much later, supposing it to have been written either in the eighth century CE by a follower of Shankara, or in the fourteenth century during a resurgence of Shankara's teaching. Sri Swami Shantananda Puri suggests that since the book contains the seed of the theory of non-creation Ajata Vada developed later by Gaudapada in Mandookya Karika, this book comes from a period prior to that of Gaudapada and hence prior to Adi Shankara.

Ashtavakra is probably identical to the holy sage with the same name who appears in Mahabharata, though the connection is not clearly stated in any of the texts. Mukherjee identifies Janaka as the father of Sita and disciple of the sage Yajnavalkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Janaka is also depicted as a king who has attained perfection in the Bhagavad Gita.

Ashtavakra Gita is a dialogue between Ashtavakra and Janaka on the nature of soul, reality and bondage. It offers a radical version of non-dualistic philosophy. The Gita insists on the complete unreality of external world and absolute oneness of existence. It does not mention any morality or duties, and therefore is seen by commentators as 'godless'. It also dismisses names and forms as unreal and a sign of ignorance.

In a conversation between Janaka and Ashtavakra, pertaining to the deformity of his crooked body, Ashtavakra explains that the size of a Temple is not affected by how it is shaped, and the shape of his own body does not affect himself (or Atman). The ignorant man's vision is shrouded by names and forms, but a wise man sees only himself:

You are really unbound and action-less, self-illuminating and spotless already. The cause of your bondage is that you are still resorting to stilling the mind. (I.15)

You are unconditioned and changeless, formless and immovable, unfathomable awareness, imperturbable- such consciousness is un-clinging. (I.17)

You are not bound by anything. What does a pure person like you need to renounce? Putting the complex organism to rest, you can go to your rest. (V.1)


The Heart of Awareness by Thomas Byrom


I Am Shiva

1.

I am fulfilled.

The elements of nature,
The body and the senses,
What are they to me?

Or the mind?

What is emptiness or despair?

2.

What are the holy books,
Or knowledge of the Self,
Or the mind,
Even when it is free of the senses?

Or happiness,
Or freedom from desire?

I am always
One without two.

3.

Knowledge or ignorance,
Freedom or bondage,
What are they?

What is “I,”
Or “mine,”
Or “this”?

Or the form of the true Self?

4.

I am always one.

What do I care for freedom
In life or in death,
Or for my present karma?

5.

I am always
Without I.

So where is the one
Who acts or enjoys?

And what is the rising
Or vanishing of thought?

What is the invisible world,
Or the visible?

6.

In my heart, I am one.

What is this world?

Who seeks freedom,
Or wisdom, or oneness?

Who is bound or free?

7.

In my heart I am one.

What is creation,
Or dissolution?

What is seeking,
And the end of seeking?

Who is the seeker?
What has he found?

8.

I am forever pure.

What do I care who knows,
What is known,
Or how it is known?

What do I care for knowledge?

What do I care what is,
Or what is not?

9.

I am forever still.

What are joy or sorrow,
Distraction or concentration,
Understanding or delusion?

10.

I am always without thought.

What is happiness or grief?

What is here and now,
Or beyond?

11.

I am forever pure.

What is illusion,
Or the world?

What is the little soul,
Or God Himself?

12.

One without two,
I am always the same.

I sit in my heart.

13.

What need is there
For striving or stillness?

What is freedom or bondage?
What are holy books or teaching?

What is the purpose of life?

Who is the disciple,
And who is the master?

14.

For I have no bounds.

I am Shiva.

Nothing arises in me,
In whom nothing is single,
Nothing is double.

Nothing is,
Nothing is not.

What more is there to say?


Ashtavakra Gita by Bart Marshall


Liberation-in-Life

Janaka said:

20.1
Where are the elements, the body, the organs, the mind?
Where is the void?
Where is despair?
My nature is transparent clearness.

20.2
Where is scripture?
Where is Self-knowledge?
Where is no-mind?
Where is contentment and freedom from desire?
I am empty of two-ness.

20.3
Where is Knowledge and ignorance?
Where is “I”?
Where is “this”?
Where is “mine”?
Where is bondage and liberation?
Self has no attributes.

20.4
Where is the unfolding of karma?
Where is liberation-in-life,
or even liberation at death?
There is only One.

20.5
Where is the doer or enjoyer?
Where is the origin or end of thought?
Where is direct or reflected knowledge?
There is no person here.

20.6
Where is the world?
Where is the seeker of liberation?
Where is the contemplative?
Where is the man of knowledge?
Where is the soul in bondage?
Where is the liberated soul?
My nature is Unity.

20.7
Where are creation and destruction?
Where is the end and the means?
Where is the seeker?
Where is attainment?
I am One.

20.8
Where is the knower?
Where is knowing?
Where is the known, or knowledge itself?
Where is anything?
Where is nothing?
I am pure Awareness.

20.9
Where is distraction, concentration, knowledge, or delusion?
Where is joy or sorrow?
I am Stillness.

20.10
Where is the relative?
Where the transcendent?
Where is happiness or misery?
I am empty of thought.

20.11
Where is illusion?
Where is existence?
Where is attachment or non-attachment?
Where is person?
Where is God?
I am Awareness.

20.12
Where is activity or inactivity?
Where is liberation or bondage?
I am timeless, indivisible.
I am Self alone.

20.13
Where are principles and scriptures?
Where is the disciple or teacher?
Where is the reason for life?
I am boundless, Absolute.

20.14
Where is existence or non-existence?
Where is Unity or duality?
No-thing emanates from me.
No more can be said.


Bitten by the Black Snake by Manuel Schoch


The Sixth Sutra

You are the clear space of awareness, pure and still, in whom there is no birth, no activity, no I.

You are one and the same, you cannot change or die.

The world only arises from ignorance, you alone are real.

There is no one, not even God, separated from yourself.

You are pure awareness; the world is an illusion, nothing more.

When you understand this fully, desire falls away, you find peace, for indeed there is nothing.

In the ocean of being there is only one, there was and there will be only one.

You are already fulfilled, how can you be bound or free?

Wherever you go, be happy.

Never upset your mind with yes or no.

Be quiet, you are awareness itself.

Live in the happiness of your own nature, which is happiness itself.

What is the use of thinking?

Once and for all, give up meditation, hold nothing in your mind.

You are the self, and you are free.


Ashtavakra Gita by John Richards


Chapter Twenty

Janaka said:

In my unblemished nature there are no elements, no body, no faculties, no mind. There is no void and no despair. 20.1

For me, free from the sense of dualism, there are no scriptures, no self-knowledge, no mind free from an object, no satisfaction and no freedom from desire. 20.2

There is no knowledge or ignorance, no "me," "this," or "mine," no bondage, no liberation, and no property of self-nature. 20.3

For him who is always free from individual characteristics there is no antecedent causal action, no liberation during life, and no fulfillment at death. 20.4

For me, free from individuality, there is no doer and no reaper of the consequences, no cessation of action, no arising of thought, no immediate object, and no idea of results. 20.5

There is no world, no seeker for liberation, no yogi, no seer, no one bound and no one liberated. I remain in my own nondual nature. 20.6

There is no emanation or return, no goal, means, seeker or achievement. I remain in my own nondual nature. 20.7

For me who am forever unblemished, there is no assessor, no standard, nothing to assess, and no assessment. 20.8

For me who am forever actionless, there is no distraction or one-pointedness of mind, no lack of understanding, no stupidity, no joy and no sorrow. 20.9

For me who am always free from deliberations there is neither conventional truth nor absolute truth, no happiness and no suffering. 20.10

For me who am forever pure there is no illusion, no samsara, no attachment or detachment, no living organism, and no God. 20.11

For me who am forever unmovable and indivisible, established in myself, there is no activity or inactivity, no liberation and no bondage. 20.12

For me who am blessed and without limitation, there is no initiation or scripture, no disciple or teacher, and no goal of human life. 20.13

There is no being or non-being, no unity or dualism. What more is there to say? There is nothing outside of me. 20.14


A Duet of One by Ramesh S. Balsekar


Chapter Ten

Janaka says:

Where are the elements, where is the body, where are the organs, and where is the mind?  Where, indeed, is the void, or despair? – for Me who am without the slightest taint by nature?  (285)

Where are the scriptures, and the knowledge of the Self?  Where is the mind detached from the sense objects, and where is contentment?  Where is desirelessness? – for Me who has transcended the duality of opposites?  (286)

Where is the knowledge, and where is ignorance?  Where is I, and where is ‘this is mine’?  Where is bondage, and where is liberation?  How can there be any attribute to my Self-nature?  (287)

Where is prarabdha-karma?  Where is the question of liberation whether in life or at death? – for Me, the ever undifferentiated?  (288)

Where is the doer or the enjoyer, where is the cessation of thought, or the rising of thought?  Where is the question of true perceiving or faulty perceiving? – for Me who am ever impersonal?  (289)

Where is the world, and where is the seeker, where is the question of yoga as knowledge, who is in bondage, or who is liberated? – for  Me who am non-dual by his very nature?  (290)

Where is creation and where is destruction?  What is the end, and what is the means?  Where is the question of seeking or achieving? – for Me abiding in my non-dual nature?  (291)

Where is the ‘knower’, and where the ‘means-to-knowledge’?  Where is the ‘object of knowledge’, and where ‘objective knowledge’?  What is any thing, and what is no thing? – for Me who am ever pure?  (292)

How can there ever be distraction or concentration, knowledge or delusion, joy or sorrow? – for Me who am ever without action?  (293)

Where is the relative or the absolute, happiness or misery? – for Me who am ever beyond any conceptualizations?  (294)

Where is maya, where is samsara, where is attachment or detachment, how can there be any question of jiva or Brahman? – for Me who am ever pure?  (295)

Where is activity or inactivity, where is liberation or bondage? – for Me who am ever immutable, indivisible and established in the Self?  (296)

Where are spiritual instructions or scriptural injunctions?  Where is the disciple, and where is the guru?  Where, indeed, is the question of any duty? – for me, the subjective, potential plenum, free from all limitations?  (297)

Where is the existence or non-existence?  Where is the unicity or duality?  In short, it is needless to say anything more, other than that nothing, indeed, emanates from me.  (298)