Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 9, Verse 06

Ashtavakra and Janaka

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Index, Verse Index, Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4, Verse 5, Verse 6, Verse 7, Verse 8,

Verse 06

kritvaa moortiparijnaanam chaitanyasya na kim guruh
nirvedasamataayuktyaa yastaarayati sa.nsriteh


Is he not a spiritual guru who gains the knowledge of the pure self through dispassionate indifference, sameness and intelligence and overcomes the cycle of births and deaths?


The True Spiritual Guide

The knowledge and guidance for self-realization should come from an enlightened yogi who has attained oneness, not from learning the knowledge which is available in the world. One must seek it from a true guru who himself cultivated sameness and indifference and attained the true knowledge (vidya).

The definition of a true guru is stated here. A self-realized yogi who has stabilized his mind and body and cleansed his intelligence to attain oneness with the Self is qualified to be a true guru. In him the knowledge of the Self shines without external aids. His knowledge is not acquired by learning and study but through inner awakening and persistent spiritual practice.

He is disinterested in the ways of the world or in the knowledge of others, but abides in the knowledge of the self which arises from self-knowing and which is free from the pollutants of the world. Since its source is the indivisible and eternal self itself (murthy parijnanam) it is free from confusion, diversity and division. The knowledge of the self is true knowledge (vidya), in contrast to the ignorance (avidya) which arises from perceptual and intellectual learning and from the study of diverse opinions of seers and sages.

If you truly want to achieve liberation, you have to set aside all learned knowledge which is but worldly knowledge or knowledge of the not-self and focus upon what you learn from your own experience or from your enlightened guru with dispassionate observation and discerning wisdom. It is the ultimate self-study or svadhyaya. The study and recitation of scriptures, which is construed in general usage as svadhyaya, lead to ignorance or lower knowledge (avidya). It will not free you from samsara, the cycle of births and deaths. whereas the true self-study which arises from self-knowing sets you free.

Only light can dispel darkness. Only the knowledge of the self which arises from self-knowing can lead to liberation. No amount of discussion and learning about it from external sources or the mere learned knowledge of the self can do it. If you want to attain liberation, you have to attain the pure knowledge of the self through oneness and lit the interiors of your mind and consciousness with its purity and effulgence. For that, you have to discard all learned, acquired and accumulated knowledge and focus upon knowing the self through renunciation, indifference, intelligence, detachment, etc.

Studying books or learning from others may help you in the initial stages, but you cannot solely depend upon them since they do not have the transformative power. All the learned knowledge which arises externally in the domain of not-self is infused with the deluding power of maya. It includes the intellectual knowledge and spiritual guidance from seers and sages. It is counterproductive since it keeps your mind and senses drawn out and engaged with the world, whereas you can know the self only by withdrawing them from the world and remain focused inwardly upon your pure consciousness.

The saints, seers and gurus who served in the past as spiritual guides and helped others on the path of liberation may have been true gurus and possessed true knowledge. Since the paths to liberation are numerous, their teachings reflect the diversity of approaches and opinions that are available to us to engage in spiritual practice. However, their knowledge is not relevant to you since it is not specific to your particular condition or spiritual growth. What you need is either intuitively known to you through the grace of God or to your guru who through observation and personal interaction can discern the specific guidance which you require for your spiritual progress.

Therefore, to attain true knowledge and dissolve your ignorance, egoism and delusion, you have to renounce all intellectual learning and cultivate indifference to it and to the opinions of spiritual masters and guides. You have to look for specific guidance which suits your specific nature, personality and spiritual aspiration according to your gunas and spiritual evolution. For that, you may either rely upon your own self as your true guide and guru and contemplate upon it or seek guidance and initiation from an adept yogi who has attained the knowledge of the self and is firmly established in nondual consciousness through union with it.

The all-knowing self is the true guide and guru. A self-realized yogi is a pure self, because in him all traces of egoism are dissolved, and his mind and body are suffused with the radiance of pure shaktis and the light of the self. He does not seek personal glory or expect others to put him on a pedestal and worship him. Since he is permanently and inseparably united with pure consciousness and spiritually disinterested and dispassionate, his teaching and guidance are without motive and desire. What flows out of him is but the true light of the self.  He may not have the popularity of the seers and sages or the following of celebrity gurus, but he is invaluable as a guru for those who chose him for their guidance. To find him you must have attained a lot of purity and accumulated meritorious karma.

The nondualistic approach to liberation is simple and straightforward. To see oneness within yourself and outside, you must go beyond the apparent diversity and multiplicity, acknowledging them as the play of maya. You must become established in the indivisible oneness, seeing yourself in all and becoming indifferent to the duality and diversity of the perceptual reality. You have to practice indifference, detachment and sameness towards the not-self, which is the sum of all that which you find in you and outside through your mind and senses. Dissolving the limited consciousness of your ego in the unified consciousness of the self, transcending the duality of subject and object and ignoring the diversity of the visible world, you can break the walls that separate you from the oceanic pure self and the true knowledge which arises from it.

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