Whenever it comes to reading vedic scriptures, we have a preconception that they are difficult to understand. Most of the times it is a solid reason given to escape from reading Adhyathmic literature. But there are times when a person is genuinely interested in understanding the real essence of life. But since the original version of vedic scriptures are written in Sanskrit language, s/he finds it difficult to approach. Now that is when the translations come handy.
Coming to Gita, generally by Gita we mean Bhagavad Gita. But it is believed that there are more than 40 Gitas (I don’t know the exact number) in addition to Bhagavad Gita. In simple terms they are the spiritual wisdom given to different mythological characters during various time span.
About Ashtavakra Gita
Ashtavakra Gita or we could say Song of Ashtavakra is one among the greatest scriptures of Hinduism. It is presented as a conversation between sage Ashtavakra and King Janaka.
Janaka was the king of Mithila. Or to keep it simple, he is Sita’s father in Ramayana. Ashtavakra is believed to be a sage with eight deformities in his body. Once Janaka asked Ashtavakra , “how to gain knowledge? how liberation happens? how to have dispassion?.” Ashtavakra’s answer to these question came to be known as Ashtavakra Gita.
Actually Janaka should only be looked upon as a representative of each and everyone of us. The wisdom was meant for the whole mankind. Ashtavakra Gita answers all the questions of a seeker of ultimate truth. It contains 20 chapters which tells us the whole concept of selflessness and liberation.
When it comes to spiritual books, there is no question of commenting on content of the book. The only thing that matters is how the Author has presented the content for the easy understanding of the reader.
The main highlight of this book is that even the Sanskrit verses are translated to English. This definitely increases the understanding level of the reader. The language used to explain the verses is also very simple. Even after the verses are explained, there arises many doubts in a reader’s mind. Such doubts are also cleared by the Author very beautifully. The commentary is given in ‘doubt-answer’ format.
“Knowledge does not show the God. Knowledge only removes the ignorance about real God.”
At some instances while reading, I felt like, the explanations could have been little elaborated by including day to day situations as examples. That would have helped the reader stick to the content with a better perspective. Also some stories from mythology that relates to the particular situation would have given an added charm to the narration. Because people standing at the lowest level of spirituality requires some kick while listening to these kind of holy preaching.
I personally read Ashtavakra Gita for the first time. As a first time reader some of the concepts which I felt as perfectly explained in the book were;
- Difference between intellect and intelligence (Chapter 1)
- Fear of liberation (Chapter 3)
- Meditation and distraction (Chapter 12)
- How does the mind become pure? (Chapter 15)
- Classification of different kinds of seekers and methods applicable to them to reach the ultimate truth (Chapter 18)
Well, not everyone who reads a spiritual text belong to same category of seekers. Hence, what one reader takes from the book will be entirely different from what another reader understands. May be that’s why we have so many spiritual advises given from time to time in the form of various Gitas.
Every single page of the Ashtavakra Gita is filled with wisdom. And I once again appreciate the simplicity of the narration. Author has tried to keep it as simple as possible. If you are a spiritual seeker at the very beginner level, this version of Ashtavakra Gita is a boon to you.
I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Let me tell you, this book is self published by the Author. But the book was perfect without any typo errors. At least I did not find any.
I highly recommend this to every one.
Here goes the link to purchase the book – AMAZON
(I don’t understand why the paperback is that costly !!!!! But you can go for kindle edition)
Few words about the Author – Harshavardhan Yardi
The Author was previously a software engineer by profession, he left his job in search of God. After 10 years of intense struggle involving many austerities, spiritual practices, hardships and exposure to raw conditions in Himalayas, he understood the truth when he studied original Sanskrit scriptures in a monastery which follows Adi Shankaracharya’s tradition. He has travelled in countries like Russia, Nepal and India where he was invited to deliver satsanga and interactive discourses on Self-Realization and spirituality in General.
To know more about the Author visit his website AJAT SHRISHTI
His next book ‘The other bird‘ is to be released in a few days. It is a memoir of his spiritual journey in Himalayas.
Review by Maya Bhat