Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 8, Verse 02

Ashtavakra and Janaka

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Index, Verse Index, Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4,

Verse 02

tadaa muktiryadaa chittam na vaamchati na shochati
na munchati na grhnhaati na hrishyati na kupyati


When the mind neither desires nor grieves, neither rejects nor accepts, feels neither joy nor anger, then it is liberation.


The State of Mukta, the Liberated Being

The state of liberation is characterized here. Liberation means freedom from desires, from suffering, from the compulsion to accept or reject and from modifications such as anger and joy. Truly speaking, the state of liberation is your pure and natural state, which you forget because of maya. It is already there in you, waiting to be found again. Through yoga and self-purification, you have to return to it, remember it or rediscover it, as if you have woken up from a long sleep or a self-induced illusion.

Bondage is a state of limitations and conditionalities. This verse lists six conditions which are common to bound beings. When you abide in your pure self, you will be free from all limitations, including the six. In that state, you will naturally be free from desires, suffering, attraction and aversion, and mental modifications, without willful effort. If you experience them, it will be intentional or for a reason as in case of gods such as Shiva.

However, you will not find that supreme state of absolute freedom, nonduality, purity and omnipotence, without austere and resolute effort. To be free from all limitations and afflictions of the mortal body, you have to become absolutely pure and merge into your pure self without any distinction or duality, removing all traces of darkness within you and dissolving in it your ego driven identity and consciousness.

The practice of yoga prepares you for this journey, opening your mind and body to the light of your true self. You succeed in that effort when you wash away the sins of your past and present lives and free yourself from the influence of maya and your lower nature. It is important to abide in the self and remember that you are not a limited individual with a name and form or a mind and body. Your physical self is a mere outer covering. The truth of you is hidden in you, which is why the journey of liberation is always considered an inward journey.

As long as you keep the notion of separation and distinction, you cannot truly be free from desires or duality or dependence. You have to remove the root cause, your desire-ridden ego consciousness, which is filled with maya and which you have to overcome to abide in your natural and limitless state. When you dissolve your limited self in the limitless pure consciousness and merge with the all-pervading supreme reality, you sink into the ocean of pure bliss and reemerge as a divine self, free from desires, suffering, conditionality, and mental instability. Only a liberated being should truly be considered a twice born (dvija). His first birth is the animal birth, and his second, the divine birth as the pure self.

To complete your journey from darkness to light and from death to immortality, you have to dissolve the darkness which surrounds you and veils you from the truth of yourself, removing the obstacles which separate you from your resplendent nature and limit your power to know and to be. Yogis regain their natural state through various means. They cultivate purity and selfless awareness to neutralize their accumulated karma, practicing virtues, rules and restraints with detachment and renunciation, cultivating knowledge and wisdom, stabilizing their minds in contemplative practices and performing selfless actions.

As a part of their self-study (svadhyaya), some withdraw into themselves and observe their own thoughts and actions to gain insight into the causes of bondage and ignorance and their true nature. Through contemplative practices and identification with their pure selves, they let the light of pure consciousness reach them and soak them with momentary bliss. Once an opening is established and the bliss of nonduality and pure consciousness spontaneously arises in them even for a moment, they use it as the starting point and meditate upon it, until the experience becomes frequent and recurring. As they persist in it, their egos are eventually dissolved, and they are permeated by the light of the pure self. As the awakened, pure beings in oneness with the self, they experience nonduality and omniscience as their natural state in all the four states of consciousness namely jagrat (wakeful), dreaming (svapna), deep sleep (susupti) and transcendence (turya).

The state of the self is pure consciousness, which is nondual and filled with radiant energies. A yogi who is absorbed in it is also pure and complete in all respects. He is endowed with unlimited potencies, knowledge and will to engage in creation, preservation and destruction. Although he engages in actions, he is not motivated by any desires but by his omniscient knowledge and his self-willed duty as the upholder of dharma. In that enlightened state of complete and absolute liberation, which is characterized by equanimity and sameness, his actions are guided by his independent will and knowledge, which act in unison as one force. Hence, he does not experience any stirring of desire, weakness, commotion or confusion.

The state which is described here is difficult to attain. Only after innumerable births, one succeeds in it. The paths to reach it are numerous. However, you must abide in whichever path you chose and persist in it until you reach the goal. All paths require rigorous effort and uncompromising discipline, in which one has to renounce desires and worldly attachments and practice sameness and equanimity to cultivate nearness to the self and radiate its qualities and potencies in the subtle and gross bodies.

The all-knowing self is not subject to the dualities and limitations of the ordinary self or the ego consciousness. It is filled with omniscience and illuminated by the purity of the self. When one attains it, one becomes completely free from desires, duality, divisions, and modifications. The consciousness (chitta) of the yogi who is immersed in it is comparable to a placid lake, free from undulating currents and waves. In that state, he remains satisfied within himself, knowing that he is all and the world is but an extension of him only, of which he is the creator, preserver and destroyer.

He neither desires, for he has everything nor grieves, for he is not diminished by any loss. He neither rejects anything because all belongs to him nor accepts anything because he has everything. Since there is none other than him to give or receive, he neither accepts nor rejects. He feels neither joy nor anger nor any other emotion because he keeps his mind and senses under firm control and remains absorbed in himself, filled with infinite bliss.

Usually, in most people this state remains dormant until the end, veiled by ignorance, delusion, egoism, attachments and other impurities. Only a few succeed in overcoming them to find their true self. By definition, a yogi should be free from modifications in all states of consciousness. He should also be free from disturbances and odifications (vrittis) which arise from perception, withdrawal, imagination, sleep and remembrance.

However, we see that sometimes even enlightened masters lose their balance and fall into their lower nature, acting like ordinary beings. Even gods are vulnerable to occasional lapses in their thinking and actions. No one can truly explain why it is so. They may do it on purpose or due to karma or fate. It may also happen when a person attains liberation by chance or fate, before his or her transformation is complete, and a part of the consciousness is still veiled by impurities. In ideal circumstances, a yogi should attain liberation after his complete transformation and purification. If it happens before he reaches that level of perfection, he may experience inconsistency and mental imbalance.

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