Sage Ashtavakra was son of rishi Kahod and was born with many handicaps but has acquired an important place in Indian ancient history because of his supreme knowledge about universal truths. According to me he is the man who said it all. King Janak who himself had very good knowledge was eager to know it all from this smart teenager, if I can say so. Here are few excerpts from the book by Mr. Bart Marshall. Enjoy and think.

1: Instruction on Self-Realization

Janaka said:



How is Knowledge to be achieved?

Detachment acquired,

Liberation attained?

Ashtavakra said:


To be free,

shun the experiences of the senses

like poison.

Turn your attention to

forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, simplicity, truth.


You are not earth, water, fire or air.

Nor are you space.

Liberation is to know yourself

as Awareness alone—

the Witness of these.


Abide in Awareness

with no illusion of person.

You will be instantly free and at peace.


You have no caste or duties.

You are invisible, unattached, formless.

You are the Witness of all things.

Be happy.


Right and wrong, pleasure and pain,

exist in mind only.

They are not your concern.

You neither do nor enjoy.

You are free.


You are the Solitary Witness

of All That Is,

forever free.

Your only bondage is not seeing This.


The thought: “I am the doer”

is the bite of a poisonous snake.

To know: “I do nothing”

is the wisdom of faith.

Be happy.


A single understanding:

“I am the One Awareness,”

consumes all suffering

in the fire of an instant.

Be happy.


You are unbounded Awareness—

Bliss, Supreme Bliss–

in which the universe appears

like the mirage of a snake in a rope.

Be happy.


It is true what they say:

“You are what you think.”

If you think you are bound you are bound.

If you think you are free you are free.

3.1 & others

Having realized yourself as One,

being serene and indestructible,

why do you want wealth?

Having realized yourself as pure Awareness,

as beautiful beyond description,

how can you remain a slave to lust?

Strange that one abiding in the Absolute,

intent on freedom,

should be vulnerable to lust

and weakened by amorous pastimes.

Strange that one who is unattached

to the things of this world and the next,

who can discriminate between the transient and the timeless,

who yearns for freedom,

should yet fear the dissolution of the body.

Whether acclaimed or tormented

the serene sage abides in the Self.

He is neither gratified nor angered.


Well, at least one can try to understand what “charcha” took place between the king and the wise sage.