Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 9, Verse 08

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 08

vaasanaa eva sansaara iti sarvaa vimuncha taah
tattyaago vaasanaatyaagaatsthitiradya yathaa tathaa


Because of desires only samsara. Knowing this, renounce them all. By renouncing desires, the world is renounced. After that, you are the same everywhere.


The Root of Samsara

Samsara has multiple meanings. It means the world, the cycle of births and deaths, the worldly illusion, the way of the world, passage, worldly life, mundane existence, transmigration of souls, and so on. In short, it refers to the continuation of not-self or the objective reality from one birth to another.

Samsara arises from desires for the things of the world (vishaya vasana). Seeking things and pursuing them out of desires and attachments, you accept the world as real and extend your stay in the world. As the Bhagavadgita states, due to frequent interaction with sense objects one develops attachment. From attachment is born desire and from desire mental instability, delusion, confusion, loss of discernment and thereby loss of freedom. By knowing how to conduct oneself in the world without attraction and aversion, one becomes free from bondage and experiences peace.

Thus, the basis of samsara (the cycle of births and deaths) is desire. Because of desires, beings pass through birth, life and death beings. Due to the deluding influence of maya, they accept their physical selves as true selves and engage in actions to extend themselves into the world. From desire-ridden actions arise karma, which in turn leads to bondage and suffering. The triple gunas namely sattva, rajas and tamas are at the root of desires. They induce desire-ridden actions and bind the beings to the mortal world. Unless they are resolved and suppressed, one cannot be free from desires or from the world.

As long as you seek things and pursue desires, there is no escape from becoming and being, and the duality and suffering which arise from them. Your mind and body are fruit of karma only. When you renounce desires and desire for the fruit of your actions, your actions will not produce karma. Thereby, you escape from bondage.

When you renounce desires, you renounce the world. Why it is so? It is because your desires are essentially desire for the things of the world. Therefore, when you renounce desires, you automatically renounce the world also.  Free from attraction and aversion to the things of the world, you become indifferent to them and to the dualities of life.

When you have no desires and no preference, the world becomes the same everywhere. Accepting things as they are, without preferences and choices, you remain the same everywhere in heat and cold, wealth and poverty, comfort and discomfort, and pain and pleasure.

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