Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 1, Verse 13

Ashtavakra and King Janaka

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V


Index, Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4, Verse 5, Verse 6, Verse 7, Verse 8, Verse 9, Verse 10, Verse 11, Verse 12, Verse 13, Verse 14, Verse 15, Verse 16, Verse 17, Verse 18, Verse 19, Verse 20

Verse 13

kuutastham bodhm advaitam atmaanam paribhaavaya
abhaasho'ham bhramam mukthva bhaavam baahyam athaha antharam


Meditate upon the immutable, non-dual, intelligent Self, having become free from the non-shining ego, delusion, feeling, and the distinction of external and internal.


Meditating upon the Self for Freedom

There are two ideas in this verse. First, you must meditate upon the Self and its essential qualities, and second, you must give up everything else that is not the Self. The Self is immutable (kutastham) even in bound state. It is the most stable point in you. When you become absorbed in it you do not experience any modifications.

Freedom from modification also make you free from the duality of the knower and the known as become absorbed in the object of your contemplation, which in this case is the Self. There Self is nondual (advaitam), meaning there is no distinction of subject or object, or the experience of any duality or division. The Self is also pure intelligence, or all-knowing consciousness (bodham) without any impurity, coloration, or distortion whereby you know things as they are not as a subject but as the essence of them. Since the same Self is present in all, you will not notice any dualty or distinction, unlike your sensory perceptions where you can only see the superficial, distinguishing features. The three qualities attributed to the Self in this verse are absent in your physical personality. Hence, they serve you well to meditate upon the Self and become absorbed in it.

Paribhava is not a simple meditation. It is a mental practice in which you visualize the properties of the object of your contemplation and superimpose them upon yourself to create the feeling of oneness with it. It is not sufficient to contemplate upon the qualities of Self. You must bridge the gap or the feeling of separation by assuming the qualities to know how it will be like to be the real Self. We learned before the importance of thoughts, and how they create your future or your reality. With repeated reflection upon Self, you can slowly manifest your thoughts into reality.

However, to meditate upon the Self you must be free from those aspects, which disturb your concentration by creating modifications. They are the ego, delusion, feelings or states and the distinction of the external and internal. The ego is stated to be non-shining (abhasa) because it has no illumination of its own. It is a reflection of the Self, which is the shining one.  It cannot illumine anything. Hence, it is considered an instrument of ignorance.

Mukthi (liberation) arises when you become free (mukthva) from the impurities of your mind and body, and from your attachments to the world. To be free you have to give up the world and everything that arises in your mind in response to it either as an attraction or aversion or as an illusion. The ego, aham, or the self-sense, is responsible for the attachments you form with the world. It is the false sense, without light (abhasam), and deluded. It creates in you the delusion (bhrama) that it (the ego) is the real Self. Outside it creates the delusion that the world is real.

To find freedom (mukthi) you must be free from both delusions caused by it and focus upon your true Self. For that you must give up the world and false self. In contrast to your ego, your true Self is immutable, without duality, and pure intelligence. It is immutable because even when it is bound to the body, it is not affected by the modifications of Nature.

Duality is caused by the mind and the senses since they need objects to perceive and make sense. The Self is free from it because it is not only free from desires but also beyond the mind and the senses. Paribhavana means repeated meditation. As you meditate upon the Self, you become stabilized in your new identity and let it gradually shine in your mind and reflect its brilliance.

The distinction of outside and inside (bahyam and antharam) arises when you are attached to your body and accept it as the source of your identity. Your body has both physical and mental boundaries which creates the duality and the delusion of internal and external. It is responsible for your feeling of separation. The Self has no boundaries. It is omnipresent. Hence, to become stabilized in it you have to overcome the duality of internal and external.

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