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Ashtavakra Gita - Slokas 2.15 to 2.25


Background

Janaka asks Ashtavakra to tell him the way he can attain jnAna (wisdom/knowledge) and mukti (freedom from worldly bondings).

Ashtavakra tells him it is by developing thought detached from the body, just observing and witnessing this body and all other bodies such that all Universe is considered 'ours'. He also says that Atman manifests as this detached witnessing thought in us.

Janaka understands and responds that our 'self' is distorted by the attachments and with this detached observing thought, the paramatma becomes visible in us (as it is the Atman that manifest as this detached witnessing thought) and thus Atman pervades in all of us.

The knowledge of Atman makes us understand that it is the same Atman that manifests in us (as the detached observing thought), that manifests in every matter and being, as sweetness pervades all things made of sugar, water makes foam or bubble.

Like the knowledge that makes the rope and snake appear to us in the same way also helps us to understand if it is rope or snake, we understand that it is the same Atman in different forms.

The Atman that manifests as detached witnessing thought in us, helps us understand that it is the same Atman in us that manifests in different forms in Universe.

Atman is the detached, witness/observer from which the entire Universe came out. Hence Atman can said to own the entire Universe and also nothing at all as it is a witness/observer only of the material manifestations. Though everything comes out of this Atman and goes back into this Atman, Atman remains only an observer of material manifestations. This observer driving the evolution is a design pattern of the Universe (5).

Our thoughts attached to our body and action is the 'manas'. When manas is clouded by maya (my/mine), the self-perspective, it leads to mAya, which is illusion or self-deception. When we develop the detached, witnessing thought in us, Atman manifests in us as the 'Aham' or the 'Self'. This 'aham' or 'self', the detached witnessing thought is the 'manas-sAksi' which is a manifestation of Atman.

'Creation' and 'Destruction' are dependent on 'self-perspective' (maya) as different beings perceive them differently. We become an expert or person with greatest potential (dakSa) when we defeat the self-perspective (maya) or illusion (mAya), by being an observer of everything. With this detached witnessing thought we own nothing (not even our body), but also own all the Universe as all bodies/material manifestations are 'ours', as Atman manifests as the detached witnessing thought in us.

Janaka continues...

Summary of the Slokas 2.15 to 2.25

Knowledge (information about something/object), object of knowledge, the realization/understanding of this information, these three are not reality. 'aham' (the self, which is the detached observing thought in us) which is devoid of all passions of manas, makes visible the ignorance. At every level as we acquire knowledge and intelligence, there is something more to be known. The witnessing thought devoid of passion makes this ignorance visible.

The difference between reality and perception (dvaitam) is the root-cause of all the suffering. There is no way this difference can be cured. Like a residue that remains off a juice, the detached witnessing thought which is a manifestation of that 'Self' remains apart from all the actions, observes them and this is the only way it can be addressed.

Understanding alone of how the self-perspective/self-deception creates a superficial covering of ignorance on the self, without falsity, always, with no other option stabilizes us.

In me (with the detached observing thought), bondages or liberation don't exist; confusion loses shelter to peace. Oh, the Universe seem to be established by the self-perception. But objects/reality of the Universe are not established by our self-perception.

Bodies/Objects in this Universe are not even an iota true/fixed/permanent. Atma manifests as the 'zuddh' thought (in these bodies) and in which the imagination happens now. The witnessing thought is described as 'zuddh' because it is unadulterated with thoughts and actions of the body and is an independently observing thought.

In the physical body, swarg, narak, bonding, liberation, fear these are all imagination alone. What is 'my action' ..? but that of Atman..? (when Atman manifests as the pure witnessing thought in us).

Because of this witnessing thought in me, unadulterated with thoughts and actions of my body, I understand all bonding, liberation, fear as imagination. I don't see duality, the difference between perception and reality (dvaitam) even when I am surrounded by people like dense forests, which rests or unites my actions with/on the 'self'.

The detached self (aham) is not body, not the life in the body. The self is the thought. This witnessing thought alone is my only bonding which seats the desire for living.

Oh, the ocean of world of living beings rising together swiftly variously is endowed with that self, intelligence, (that) arises in the ocean of thoughts.

Those with self (detached witnessing thought), intelligence arising from thoughts, settle down in this 'boat' of the world of living beings, born of unfortunate life trading/business, which is perishable.

Living beings with the self (detached witnessing thought), intelligence are wonderful (ascarya vicayah) things. They rise, subside, play and merge (between) by their own nature.

Sloka 2.15

jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ tathā jñātā tritayaṁ nāsti vāstavam  
ajñānād bhāti yatredaṁ so'hamasmi niraṁjanaḥ

Knowledge/information content (jnAnam), object of knowledge (jneyam), the realization of the information content or knowledge which is the intelligence (jnAta) all these three (tritiyam) not true in reality (na asti vAstavam). Manifestation/visibility of ajnAna (ajnAnad bhAti) where this (yatra ideam)  that self (sah aham) exists  pure/spotless/devoid of passion (nir-ajjanah)

Knowledge (information about something/object), object of knowledge, the realization/understanding of this information, these three are not reality.  'aham' (the self, which is the detached observing thought in us) which is devoid of all passions of manas, makes visible the ignorance. At every level as we acquire knowledge and intelligence, there is something more to be known. The witnessing thought devoid of passion makes this ignorance visible.

Sloka 2.16

dvaita mūlam aho duḥkhaṁ nānyattasyā'sti bheṣajam
dṛśyam etan mṛṣā sarvaṁ eko'haṁ cidrasomalaḥ

dvaitam is the root (dvaita mulam) it is said (aha) for duhkam (duhkham) nothing else (na anyata) exists as (asti) medicine/cure (bhesajam). Seeing/observing (drsyam) all these (sarvam etat) in vain (mRsa) that One (eka) self (aham)  thought (cit) the residue (mala) of the juice (rasa)

Duality (perception and reality being different) is the reason for all the sufferings and there is no cure or medicine for it.  The One Self (detached) thought, the residue of a juice, sees everything in vain.

Like a residue that remains off a juice, the detached witnessing thought which is a manifestation of that 'Self' remains apart from all the actions, observes them as in vain, as the difference between reality and perception is the root-cause of all the suffering.

Sloka 2.17

bodha mātro'ham ajñānād upādhiḥ kalpito mayā
evaṁ vimṛśato nityaṁ nirvikalpe sthitirmama


Understanding (bodha matra) how the self-perspective/self-deception (maya) creates (kalpita) a superficial covering (upadhih) of ignorance (maya) of the self (aham), without falsity (vimrsata), always (nityam), with no other option (nirvikalpa) stabilizes us (sthithir mama).

Understanding alone of how the self-perspective/self-deception creates a superficial covering of ignorance on the self, without falsity, always, with no other option stabilizes us.

Sloka 2.18


na me bandho'sti mokṣo vā bhrāntiḥ śānto nirāśrayā
aho mayi sthitaṁ viśvaṁ vastuto na mayi sthitam 

In me bondages or liberation don't exist (na me bandho va moksa asti); confusion loses shelter to peace (bhrantih santa nirazraya). Oh (aho), universe is situated in the self (self-perception/deception) (mayi sthitam visvam); objects/reality is not situated in the self-perception/deception (vastuta na mayi sthitam).

In me (with the detached observing thought), bondages or liberation don't exist; confusion loses shelter to peace. Oh, the Universe seem to be established by the self-perception. But objects/reality of the Universe are not established by our self-perception.

Sloka 2.19

sa śarīram idaṁ viśvaṁ na kiṁcid iti niścitam
śuddha cit mātra ātmā ca tat kasmin kalpana adhunā

Bodies/Objects (sa sariram) in this (idam) Universe (visvam) are not even iota (na kimcit) true/fixed/permanent (niscitam).  Atma (atma) the pure thought alone (zudh cit matra) and (ca) that (tat) by what/in which/wherefrom (kasmin) imagination (or creation of imagination) (kaplana) now (adhunA)

Bodies/Objects in this Universe are not even an iota true/fixed/permanent. Atma manifests as the pure thought (in the bodies) in which imagination happens now. The witnessing thought is described as 'zuddh' because it is unadulterated with thoughts and actions of the body and is an independently observing thought.

Sloka 2.20

śarīraṁ svarga narakau bandha mokṣau bhayaṁ tathā
kalpanā mātram evaitat kiṁ me kāryaṁ cid ātmanaḥ

The physical body (sariram), swarg, narak, bonding (bandha), liberation (moksa), fear (bhayam) these (tatha), are imagination (Kalpana) alone (mAtram), what is my action (kim me kAryam) atman is the witnessing thought (cid atmanah)..

In the physical body, swarg, narak, bonding, liberation, fear these are all imagination alone. What is 'my action' ..? but that of Atman..? (when Atman manifests as the pure witnessing thought in us).

Sloka 2.21

aho jana samūhe'pi na dvaitaṁ paśyato mama
araṇyamiva saṁvṛttaṁ kva ratiṁ karavāṇyaham

Oh (aho) even in midst of several people (jana samuhe api), I don't see dvaitam (na dvaitam pasyato mama), surrounded like dense forests (aranyam iva samvrttam), which (kva) rests/unites/gifts (ratim) my actions (karavany) on the detached self (aham).

Because of this witnessing thought in me, unadulterated with thoughts and actions of my body, I understand all bonding, liberation, fear as imagination. I don't see duality, the difference between perception and reality (dvaitam) even when I am surrounded by people like dense forests, which rests or unites my actions with/on the 'self'.

Sloka 2.22

nāhaṁ dehona me deho jīvo nāham ahaṁ hi cit
ayameva hi me bandha āsīdyā jīvite spṛhā

The self (aham) is not made of my body (na aham dehona me), that self is not the life in the body (deho jiva na aham), self is the thought (aham hi cit), this alone (ayam eva) only my bonding (hi me bandha) that seats (Asit) which (ya) the ambition/desire (sprha) for living (jivite)

The detached self (aham) is not body, not the life in the body. The self is the thought. This thought alone is my only bonding which seats the desire for living.

Sloka 2.23

aho bhuvana kallolair vicitrair drāk samutthitam
mayyanaṁ tam ahāṁ bhodhau cittavāte samudyate

oh (aho), the ocean of world of living beings (bhuvana kallolair) rising together (sam uthitam) swiftly (drAk) variously (vicitrair), are by /endowed with (mayya nAm) those detached self (tam aham),  intelligence (bodahu), (that) arises in the ocean (samudyate) of thoughts/thoughtful (cittavate)

oh, the ocean of world of living beings rising together swiftly variously is endowed with that self, intelligence, (that) arises in the ocean of thoughts

Sloka 2.24

mayyanaṁ tam ahāṁbhodhau cittavāte praśāmyati
abhāgyāj jīva vaṇijo jagat poto vinaśvaraḥ

Endowed with/By  (mayya nAm) the self (aham) intelligence (bodhau),  full of thoughts (cittavate) settles down (prazAmyati), born of (ja) unfortunate (abhAgya) life  (jIva) trading/business (vAni), boat of the world (jagat pota) of living beings is ever perishable.

Those with self (detached witnessing thought), intelligence arising from thoughts,  settle down, born of unfortunate life trading/business in this boat of the world of living beings, which is ever perishable.

Sloka 2.25

mayyanan tam ahāṁ bhodhāu āścaryaṁ jīva vīcayaḥ
udyanti ghnanti khelanti praviśanti svabhāvataḥ

Endowed with/ By those (mayya nan) detached self (aham), intelligence (bodhau), life (jiva) is a wonderful (ascarya vicayah) aspect/subject. It  rises (udyanti), subsides (ghnanti), plays (khelanti), enters/merges (pravisanti) by its own nature.

Living beings with the self (detached witnessing thought), intelligence are wonderful (ascarya vicayah) things. They rise, subside, play and merge (between) by their own nature.

Next to come

Chapter 3

-TBT

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