WHO IS ASHTAVAKRA? WHY IS ''ASHTAVAKRAGEETA''A MILESTONE FOR EVERY SADHAK?THE
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna celebrates Janaka as a liberated soul and as an example of a karma yogi. Krishna tells Arjuna that by karma yoga, Janaka attained to perfection. Janaka ruled giving up his personal sense of being the worker. He carried on with his work and was not perturbed by the events of the world. Janaka, king of Mithila and father of Ma Sita, is renowned as a Raja rishi, since at heart he is a realised soul. It is held that Janaka used to receive instruction on Vedanta Sastra from Yagnyavalkya, an important sage in the Upanishads whose teachings are valuable. BUT DO YOU KNOW THE NAME OF HIS GURU ?
12 POINTS;--- 1-Many thousands of years ago, there was a great master named Ashtavakra. He was one of the greatest sages on this planet who caused a huge spiritual movement at that time. The name “Ashtavakra” means “one with eight different types of deformities in his body.” This was because of a curse from his father. 2-When Ashtavakra was in his mother’s womb, various teachings were expounded to him by his father, Kahola, who was himself a famed scholar and sage. In his fetal state, Ashtavakra received all this and before he was born, when he was still in his mother’s womb, he gained tremendous mastery over the various dimensions of the Self.
3-One day, in the process of transmitting the teachings, Kahola made a mistake. Ashtavakra, the unborn child, said “hum” from his mother’s womb. He was indicating that it was a mistake and that what Kahola was saying was not right. Unfortunately, his father lost his temper and cursed the child to be born with eight types of deformities. So the child was born physically deformed – his feet, hands, knees, chest and neck were bent. 4-When Ashtavakra was still a very young man, he once accompanied his father to a great debate that had been organized by the ruler of the land, King Janaka. Janaka was a truly phenomenal man of great intensity.
5-Though he was a king, he was a true seeker. He was burning to get enlightened. His longing for enlightenment was so strong that before he encountered Ashtavakra, he gathered in his court everyone in the whole land who could be of spiritual value.
6-He welcomed them, treated them well, gave them the necessary sustenance, and supported them because he was hoping that somehow he would get enlightened. 7-Every day, he finished his temporal duties as quickly as he could and spent hours listening to these people, conducting debates and discussions to somehow know which is the way to enlightenment.
8-Different scholars who had mastered different traditions of spiritual scriptures would sit together and start off great intellectual debates which would run for days, weeks and months. They used to be marathon debates; and usually, the winner of the debate would receive a great reward.
9-They would receive a great deal of money or be appointed to some high position in the kingdom. These were not ordinary people. He had gathered good ones, but no one could give him enlightenment. Kahola was invited to one such debate and he went accompanied by Ashtavakra.
10-The debate began and a great argument was underway between the best scholars there. Many intellectual questions were raised and the intricacies of the scriptures were being discussed, when Ashtavakra stood up and said, “All this is empty talk. None of these people knows anything of the Self. They are all talking about it, but not one person here including my father knows anything about the Self.” 11-King Janaka looked at Ashtavakra – this young boy with a twisted-out body speaking like this – and said “Can you substantiate what you just said? Otherwise you will lose even that crippled body of yours.” Ashtavakra replied, “Yes I can.” 12-“Then what is it that you can offer?” asked Janaka. Ashtavakra said, “If you want to receive this, you must be willing to follow my word to the limit. Only then I can offer this to you. If you are willing to just do what I ask you to do, I will see that you know yourself.” Janaka appreciated this straightforwardness and said “Yes. You tell me anything, I will do it.” He was not simply saying that. He really meant it. Ashtavakra said, “I live in the forest. Come there and we will see what to do.” And he left.
THE STORY OF ASHTAVAKRA ;-
Mahrishi Ashtavakra was born to Rishi Kakola (also known as Kahoda) and Sujata. Kahola was the best student of Mahrishi Uddalaka, who ran a school teaching the Vedas. Kahola (also spelled Kahoda) was one of his best disciples. Uddalaka was so pleased that he had his daughter Sujata married to him. When Sujata got pregnant, she had the desire to beget such a son, who would be spiritual and genius. She started sitting in the classes with Kahola.
One day, when Kahola was reciting some verses and Sujata was sitting near him a strange thing happened. The child in Sujata’s womb heard the recitation of Kahola and pointed out the mistake to his father. This happened eight times. Kahola was annoyed at the arrogance of his would be son. He cursed the fetus that he would be born with eight deformities in his body.
Around this time King Janak was preparing for a Yagya. Sujata asked her husband Kahola to go to the king in the hope that the ceremony will bring money to the family. When Kahoda approached Janak, the king received him respectfully but said with regret that he was unable to perform the Yagya , as Sage, Vandin (also known as Bandhi) debate by who arrived from nowhere had asked him to start the
Yagya only after he is defeated in a the sages participating in the Yagya. His further included a condition that the defeated sages will be drowned. Janak told him that so far he had killed many learned sages." Kahola, however, agreed to enter into a debate with Vandin. He was defeated and drowned in the nearby river. The widowed Sujata heard the news and repented. A few months later she gave birth to a boy who was deformed at eight joints-the two feet, the two knees, the two hands, the chest and the head. He was named Ashtavakra, which means "one having eight bends".
He got his education from his grandfather Uddalaka. Ashtavakra was extremely intelligent and his grandfather loved him and was very proud of him. When Ashtavakra was only twelve, he finished all that he needed to know from his grandfather. He also heard the fate of his father and the Yagya of king Janak which still remained unfinished as no one could defeat Vandin.
One night Ashtavakra ran away from the hermitage and came to king Janak. Looking to his deformed body, the guards were amused. Ashtavakra retorted, "Do not judge a person by his appearance and age, judge him by what he knows. Inform your king that there is a person ready to challenge Vandin." The king came and was surprised to see a small deformed boy. He asked a few questions and was greatly impressed by his knowledge. King Janak soon arranged for the debate with Vandin. When Ashtavakra entered the King’s court, the courtesans laughed at him. Ashtavakra too laughed at
them, which made the king ask him as to why was he laughing. Ashtavakra replied that he had thought that the king’s court would comprise of wise men but he sees cobblers 15 over there, as those, who judge a man by his skin are no better than cobblers. King Janak realized that the young man was not an ordinary person.
In the debate to everyone's surprise Ashtavakara defeated Vandin in no time. They alternately composed six extempore verses on the numbers one to twelve. Vandin was the first to start. Ashtavakra matched him on all counts.Then while Vandin could compose only the first half of a verse on the number thirteen, Ashtavakra completed the verse by composing the second half and thus won the debate. This debate was full of enigmas and latent meanings, which were hidden under the simple counts of the numbers one to thirteen.
Ashtavakra then requested the king to drown his father's killer. Vandin then disclosed his identity. He said, "I am the son of Varuna, the god of water. I came to earth on the request of my father to get the best sages from here to perform his twelve years of Yagya. The only way I could get them to my father was to challenge them in a debate and drown them into water. Now that my father has completed the Yagya, let us go to the river bank and watch the sages walk out of the river."
People rushed to the river bank and watched the sages come out of the river. Kahoda was one of them. He embraced his learned son Ashtavakra. Vandin then asked Ashtavakra to take a dip in the rive.With the blessings of his father, Varuna, Ashtavakra came out of the river as a handsome young man. Janak rewarded Ashtavakra and Kahoda. They went back to their hermitage to be united with the family. Uddalaka, was so happy to see his worthy grandson surpassing all the great sages of his time in knowledge.
There is another story related to Mahrishi Ashtavakra. Maharaja Janak was considered to be one of the renowned Knowers of his time, who had risen above the materialistic desires. He, however, felt that he had traces of his will still left in him, which could be overcome only by taking shelter under a competent Guru (Master). He, therefore, made up his mind and announced that one who can lead him to realization within the duration, in which he mounts the horse, shall be his Master, and if he fails he will be awarded death.
On the destined day Maharaja Janak was ready with a well-decorated horse to mount on and many wise people from all around had gathered to witness the scene. No one, however, dared to come forward. The time was passing and every one was wondering what was going to happen, as the vow taken by Maharaja Janak was very difficult to be fulfilled.
When no one came forward, a little before the Sunset, Mahrishi Ashtavakra’s mother told him to go to Maharaja Janak, fulfill his desire and to rescue all those present from this difficult situation. As desired by his mother Mahrishi Ashtavakra reached the Court of Maharaja Janak. His brilliance shadowed every one including Maharaja Janak. He asked Maharaja Janak to mount the horse. Maharaja Janak, although deeply impressed by him, told him very politely about his vow and that he would not like to subject a child, woman, an old or disabled person to be subjected to death penalty as announced by him.
Mahrishi Ashtavakra on listening to this warning of Maharaja Janak challenged him saying, ‘O Janak, you are surely falling from your position. You are unnecessarily wasting time of every one by showing your cowardice and incapability, besides incurring the risk of not fulfilling your vow. I had heard that Maharaja Janak is a learned person but today in this Court full of wise people you are backing out from your vow. If in the meantime the Sun sets you would not be able to fulfill your vow.’
Maharaja Janak was astonished and bewildered. He proceeded to mount the horse but as he was about to put his foot in the stirrup, Mahrishi Ashtavakra told him, ‘O Janak, you have taken such a harsh vow which has put the lives of saints at risk, but you have not announced the Gurudakshina (a reward presented to the Master as a mark of respect). You should, therefore, first commit the Gurudakshina, which should be matching your vow and also meet with the aspirations of the Master.’
Maharaja Janak felt embarrassed and said, “Kindly tell me what you desire as Gurudakshina. I shall here and now fulfill it.” Mahrishi Ashtavakra replied, “Whatever you claim is yours, you can promise as Gurudakshina. I do not want anything else.”
Maharaja Janak accepted this and immediately offered his kingdom, all belongings and even his family members at the feet of Mahrishi Ashtavakra. Mahrishi Ashtavakra laughed at it and said, “O Janak, you are perhaps joking with me. Do really all these things belong to you. The kingdom, property and wealth, which you claim to be yours, did not these belong to somebody else before you and would not these pass to someone else after you. Your family members, whom you consider to be related to you, are they not related to others. Is it proper for you to deny others of their rights as a result of succumbing to your ego. Do you want to deceive your Master.”
Maharaja Janak was stunned. He started gazing at the feet of Mahrishi Ashtavakra and it looked as if he was pondering over something very deeply. Mahrishi Ashtavakra looking at the condition of Maharaja Janak took pity at him and asked him, ‘Why are you feeling so helpless over this trifle matter. Do not get perturbed. Tell me how and what makes you think that all these things belong to you.’ Maharaja Janak felt something igniting inside by the grace of the Master. He said, “It is the mind of this humble servant of yours through which it accepts and thinks anything belonging to it. O Master if this mind belongs to your humble servant, it offers it at your pious feet.”
Mahrishi Ashtavakra has composed ‘Ashtavakra Gita’, which is a treatise on philosophy.
SELF REALIZATION OF JANAK;---
06 POINTS;--- 1-After a few days, Janaka went in search of Ashtavakra in the forest. When a king goes anywhere, he always goes with his guard of soldiers and ministers. Janaka set off into the forest with his retinue. But when they entered the forest, the jungle kept getting denser and denser.
2-Gradually, after many hours of searching, Janaka got separated from the rest of the group and lost his way. As he was wandering around in the forest searching for a way out, all of a sudden he came upon Ashtavakra sitting under a tree. 3-When he saw Ashtavakra, Janaka began to dismount from the horse. He was on one stirrup and his other leg was up in the air when Ashtavakra said, “Stop. Stop right there.” Janaka just stopped in that absolutely uncomfortable position – hanging onto the horse, with one leg up in the air. 4-He just stood there in that absolutely awkward position. We don’t know for how long. Some legends say for many years, some say it was just a moment. The chronological time does not matter. He stood in that position long enough. Long enough can be just one moment. Because of that absoluteness of him following the instruction – just stopping there, where he has to be – he became a fully realized being. 5-Once Janaka became enlightened, he got off his horse and fell at Ashtavakra’s feet. He said to Ashtavakra, “What am I going to do with my kingdom and my palace – these things are not important to me anymore. I just want to sit at your feet. Please let me stay with you in your ashram in the forest.” 6-But Ashtavakra replied, “Now that you have attained, your life is no more about your likes and dislikes. Your life is no more about your needs because you have none actually. Your people deserve an enlightened king. You must stay as their king.” Reluctantly, Janaka stayed back in his palace and governed his kingdom with great wisdom. AN ENLIGHTENED KING JANAK --THE ONLY EXAMPLE;- Janaka was a true blessing to his people because he was a fully enlightened master, but he functioned as a king. In India, many sages and saints were once kings and emperors who willingly and voluntarily gave away everything they had and walked as beggars, with great dignity. There have been many like this – Gautama Buddha, Mahavira, – but an enlightened king was a rare being. Janaka remained a king but as often as possible, whenever his regal responsibilities gave him some time, he would visit Ashtavakra in his ashram. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENLIGHTENED
JANAK & ABSTEMIOUS( austere )MONK;---
09 POINTS;--- 1-At the ashram, Ashtavakra had gathered a few monks who were being taught by him. These monks slowly began to resent Janaka because whenever he came, Ashtavakra went out of his way and spent a lot of time with the king because they had such a good rapport with each other. 2-The moment Janaka came, both of them lit up. With the monks whom Ashtavakra was teaching, he did not light up the same way. There was something between Janaka and Ashtavakra, which was resented by the monks. 3-The monks would whisper to each other, “Why has our Guru sold out to a man like that? It looks like our Guru is getting corrupted. This man is a king. He lives in a palace. He has got so many wives and so many children. He has so much wealth. Look at the way he walks. He walks like a king. And look at the way he is dressed. Look at the ornaments he wears. What is spiritual about him that our Guru should even pay attention to this man? We are here totally dedicated to our spiritual process. We have come here as monks but he is just ignoring us.” 4-Ashtavakra knew that this feeling was growing among his monks. So one day he arranged for something to happen. He was sitting and speaking to the monks in a hall and king Janaka was also present. As the discourse was going on, a soldier came barging into the room, bowed down to Janaka but not to Ashtavakra, and said, “Oh king, the palace is on fire! Everything is burning. The whole kingdom is in disarray.” 5-Janaka got up and just yelled at the soldier, “Get out of here! How dare you come and disturb the sathsang and how dare you bow down to me and not to my Guru! Just get out of here!” The soldier fled from the room. Janaka sat back down and Ashtavakra continued to speak. 6-A few days later, Ashtavakra set up something else. All of them were once again seated in the hall and Ashtavakra was giving a discourse. Right in the middle of the discourse, a helper in the ashram came running into the hall and said, “The monkeys have taken the clothes off the clothes-line and are playing havoc with the monks’ garments.” 7-All the monks immediately got up and ran to save their clothes. They did not want the monkeys to tamper with them. But when they got to the clothes-drying area, there were no monkeys and their loin cloths were still hanging on the clothes-line. They realized what had happened. They hung their heads down and walked back. 8-Then as a part of the discourse Ashtavakra said, “Look at this. This man is a king. A few days ago his palace was burning. His whole kingdom was in turmoil. Wealth at its peak was burning, but his concern was that his soldier disturbed the sathsang. That was his concern. You are monks. You have nothing. You don’t have a palace, you don’t have a wife, you don’t have children, you have got nothing. But when the monkeys came and picked up your clothing, you ran. Most people would not use your clothing even as mop cloths. That is the kind of clothing you wear. But for that loin cloth, without even paying attention to what I was saying, you just ran out to save those worthless pieces of cloth. Where is your renunciation? He is the true renunciate. He is a king but he is a renunciate. You are monks. You are using things that other people discard, but there is no renunciation in you. This is where you are. That is where he is.” 9-One’s progress within oneself has nothing to do with what a person does on the outside, what is most important is, what a person is doing within him or herself. What you are doing with the outside world is just social; you conduct yourself as it is suitable for the situation in which you exist. It has social relevance but no existential or spiritual relevance. How you are within yourself is all that matters KING JANAKA WAS CALLED ''VIDEHA'..WHAT IS THE REASON ?- Janaka had attained supreme stage of knowledge. He was acting in routine life as 'leaf of lotus plant floating in water' i.e. not attached to any activity for any reason even in the seventh room of his heart. In social life he acted and behaved like a common human / royal king but internally he was always attached to Bhagavan Vishnu and was acting as per His wish and will. He did all activities with his body but was not affected by the result of any activity. THE LITERAL MEANING OF ''VIDEHA'';-- 'VI '= Without or 'sans DEHA = Body He could 'maintain' the awareness that he is not the body! Body was like a 'vehicle' used by him (the pure awareness. Videha , means one who is "without body", which means that one who has transcended Anamaya, Pranamaya and Manomaya Kosha; and has been established in Asmi Vritti i.e. "I am THAT". where there is no "I". After Prakritilaya, one achieves Kaivalya or Moksha, which is beyond Anandmaya Kosha. THE INSTRUCTION GIVEN BY ASHTAVAKRA IS ''ASHTAVAKRAGEETA''or the Song of Ashtavakra is a classical Advaita Vedanta scripture.
The Ashtavakra Samhita documents a dialogue between the sage Ashtavakra and Janaka, Ashtavakra Gita. VIZ... Janaka said: 1-1-How is one to acquire knowledge? How is one to attain liberation? And how is one to reach dispassion? Tell me this, sir. Ashtavakra said: 1-2-If you are seeking liberation, my son, avoid the objects of the senses like poison and cultivate tolerance, sincerity, compassion, contentment, and truthfulness as the antidote. 1-3-You do not consist of any of the elements — earth, water, fire, air, or even ether. To be liberated, know yourself as consisting of consciousness, the witness of these. 1-4-If only you will remain resting in consciousness, seeing yourself as distinct from the body, then even now you will become happy, peaceful and free from bonds. 1-5-You do not belong to the brahmin or any other caste, you are not at any stage, nor are you anything that the eye can see. You are unattached and formless, the witness of everything — so be happy.
NOTE;-IT IS SUGGESTED TO ALL SADHAKS ,TO ANALYZE YOURSELF WITH THE HELP OF 'ASHTAVAKRAGEETA'... .........SHIVOHAM.........