Item Code: IDJ674
by Swami ChinmayanandaPaperback (Edition: 2006)
Central Chinmaya Mission Trust
Language: Sanskrit Text, Transliteration, Word-to-Word Meaning, Translation and Detailed Commentary
Size: 8.3" X 5.3"
Price: $22.50 Shipping Free
In communicating to the seekers the unsurpassing beauty and indefinable perfections of the Absolute, the Upanisads stammer; the Brahma sutras exhaust itself and the Bhagavat Gita hesitates with an excusable shyness. A theme, in dealing with which, even these mighty books of Hinduism are thus, at best, unsatisfactory; we must, in sheer gratitude, admire Astavakra Samhita for the brilliant success it has achieved in communicating, through words, perhaps, more clearly the nature and glory of the Supreme Reality, than by the Prasthana Traya.
The student of this Samhita is himself giving the autobio-data of the liberated in life. We have here in this book a revealing autobiography of the Saint, the Liberated-in-life in King Janaka.
Beyond all assertions and denial, beyond the concepts of bondage and liberation, lies this Realm of the Self, wherein there is neither the individual-ego(jiva), nor is there even the Supreme-Reality (Brahman)!
Back of the Book
"O King, just as the shape of a temple does not affect the akasa (sky), the crookedness of the physical body has no effect on Atma(Soul). A wise man has Atma-dristi i.e. he looks at the Reality behind this manifested world, whereas an ignorant one has Carma-dristi i.e. he gets lost in names and forms" said the young sage, who was expert in Yogavidya as well as established in SelfKnowledge (Atma-Jnana).
Astavakra Gita is a short treatise on Advaita Vedanta, which systematically deals with the mystical experiences of the individual in his flight to the transcendental peace and bliss. The subtle philosophical truths are expounded in the form of a lucid dialogue between te teenager sage Astavakra and his royal disciple, the King-seer Janaka.
To Astavakra, Self knowledge through direct mystical intuition is the only goal to be reached and experienced in the dynamic silence of one's own deepest meditation.
Astavakra Gita also known as Astavakra Samhita is a short treatise on Advaita Vedanta in the Upanisadik style i.e. in the form of a dialogue between Astavakra, the guru and his disciple, the king seer Janaka. This fascinating legend is vividly described in Chapter 132 to 134 in the Vana Parva portion of the epic, Mahabharata where Maharsi Limasa narrates it to Dharmaputra Yudhisthira- the eldest of Pandava princes.
In General Introduction and later in the commentary, it is repeatedly emphasized that Astavakra Gita is meant only for those sadhana and are engaged in meditation. To such committed students and are engaged in meditation. To such committed students alone would this book show light and be a true guide. To the unprepared, unmature students, the subtle thoughts contained in this Gita can be explosively dangerous and result in erasing their faith entirely from the higher Reality.
Astavakra in Samskrta means-asta i.e. eight and vakra is crooked or curbed- with eight crooked(limbs). How he was cursed by his father while still in his mother's womb has already been explained in the General Introduction. As a result of the curse, he developed eight deformities like hunch-backed, hump, knock-knees, bow-legs, flat-footed etc., and was therefore named Astavakra.
How Astavakra reached the court of the king of Videha- Raja Janaka in search of his father has been explained in the Introduction. There is a slightly different version, believed by traditional about the chance meeting of Astavakra- the young sage with King Janaka in search of his father.
Janaka was a benevolent king and to have first hand knowledge of his subjects was on his rounds when he saw the young sage limping steadily. After alighting from his horse, he prostrated before the teenager sage, who was hardly twelve then. The deformities of the young ascetic became more vivid when he moved, and viewed from close the king felt aversion to the curvatures of his anatomy. The young sage who was expert in Yoga-vidya as well as established in self knowledge read the kings mind and addressed him as follows:-
The king was taken aback by such an incise wisdom of the young sage and requested him to grace his palace to which he acceded. Astavakra was, thus, given a place of honour in king's palace; he removed all doubts from Janaka's mind. By defeating Bandi, the royal scholar, he got his father released from his captivity.
In Mahabharata, there is a slightly different version. Astavakra accompanied by his maternal uncle (of his own age) Svetaketu reached Janaka's kingdom to observe Mahayajan being conducted there, as also to search his father. The king was proceeding to Yajnasala and attendants accompanying him were diverting traffic to clear passage for the king.
By his precise knowledge of Sastras, Astavakra pointed out that a brahmana had priority in the right of passage over even the king. On hearing, the king was impressed with the knowledge of the young medicant, and acceded the point and requested him to proceed ahead of him.
Although the Mahayajna was open only to established scholars, the king took him along to the Mahayajna. On learning about his motive of defeating Bandi-the royal scholar, the king tested his knowledge of the Sastras by questioning. With appropriate and precise answers he impressed the king who invited Bandi to engage the young sage in arguments. Astavakra defeated Bandi and thus got his father released.
In the earlier edition, readability was poor in small print. This aspect is taken care of in the revised layout, the credit for which is due to Shri Vishwamitra puri who diligently scrutinized the entire book very minutely to identify misprints, missing words and lines; added diacritical marks; and pursued steadfastly the suggested changes/improvements with the Acarya of Sandipany Mumbai for approval.
Keeping in view the high standing of this book in Vedantik thought, to help readers not knowing Samskrta, transliteration has been added even to references which have been lifted from foot notes to the body of the text.
In this revised edition, diacritical marks are used for Transliteration of Samskrta words in the verses as well as commentary. Non-English words have been italicized. In the 'free translation' section where the entire text is italicized, to distinguish Samskrta words 'normal' fonts are used.
Another important feature of this edition is the addition of transliteration in 'word-for-word meaning' section for the benefit of readers not knowing Devanagari. This will help readers to identify and pronounce the words correctly.
The English plural sign 's' has been added to untranslated Samskrta words after a hyphen (-) to show that it is not elemental to the words e.g. mantras, Vedas Rsis etc. Macrons are used on the last letter e.g. a, i of such words to lengthen the quantity of sound in consonance with the prolonged sound in pronunciation.
To facilitate easy location of a particular verse and/or Chapter distinctive markings are given on the top of each page in the header. On even pages after Page No. appears Name of the book in center, followed by Chapter No. in Roman letters succeeded by versa No. in Roman letter is followed by versa no. after a hyphen (-); then the name of Character in center, followed by page no. at the extreme right.
To be true to the Samskrta text in transliteration, we have used "brahmana" for the first Varna instead of the commonly used word "Brahmin". It need not be confused with the term "Brahman" of the Vedantins.
A key to the transliteration and pronunciation has been added in the beginning, while Alphabetical Index at the end of the book.
|ChapterNo.||Subject Matter||Verses||Page No.|
|Preface to the Revised Edition||i|
|I||Self-Witness in All||1-20||5|
|II||The Marvellous Self||1-25||41|
|III||Self in All-All in Self||1-14||75|
|IV||Glory of Realisation||1-6||91|
|V||Four Methods: Dissolution of Ego||1-4||101|
|VI||The Self Supreme||1-4||109|
|VII||That Tranquil Self||1-5||117|
|VIII||Bondage and Freedom||1-4||125|
|XI||Self as Pure Intelligence||1-8||155|
|XII||How to abide in the Self?||1-8||167|
|XIII||The Bliss-Absolute Reality||1-20||179|
|XV||Brahman- the Absolute Reality||1-20||195|
|XVI||Self-abidance - Instructions||1-11||221|
|XVII||Aloneness of the Self||1-20||239|
|XIX||The Grandeur of the Self||1-8||405|
|XX||The Absolute State||1-14||419|
|Alphabetical Index to slokas||445|