By Osho. Also known as Enlightenment: The Only Revolution. Includes extemporaneous partial translation and commentary on the Ashtavakra Gita. Bibliography Anubhavananda, Swami, trans.
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Sadhguru tells us the story of Ashtavakra, an incredible Guru who had a crippled body, and his disciple king Janaka, who was one of the few enlightened kings. Your browser does not support the audio element.
Sadhguru: Many thousands of years ago, there was a great master named Ashtavakra. He was one of the greatest sages on this planet who caused a huge spiritual movement at that time.
One day, in the process of transmitting the teachings, Kahola made a mistake. He was indicating that it was a mistake and that what Kahola was saying was not right. Unfortunately, his father lost his temper and cursed the child to be born with eight types of deformities.
So the child was born physically deformed — his feet, hands, knees, chest and neck were bent. When Ashtavakra was still a very young man, he once accompanied his father to a great debate that had been organized by the ruler of the land, King Janaka. Janaka was a truly phenomenal man of great intensity. Though he was a king, he was a true seeker. He was burning to get enlightened. His longing for enlightenment was so strong that before he encountered Ashtavakra, he gathered in his court everyone in the whole land who could be of spiritual value.
He welcomed them, treated them well, gave them the necessary sustenance, and supported them because he was hoping that somehow he would get enlightened. Every day, he finished his temporal duties as quickly as he could and spent hours listening to these people, conducting debates and discussions to somehow know which is the way to enlightenment. Different scholars who had mastered different traditions of spiritual scriptures would sit together and start off great intellectual debates which would run for days, weeks and months.
They used to be marathon debates; and usually, the winner of the debate would receive a great reward. They would receive a great deal of money or be appointed to some high position in the kingdom. These were not ordinary people. He had gathered good ones, but no one could give him enlightenment. Kahola was invited to one such debate and he went accompanied by Ashtavakra. The debate began and a great argument was underway between the best scholars there.
None of these people knows anything of the Self. They are all talking about it, but not one person here including my father knows anything about the Self. Otherwise you will lose even that crippled body of yours. Only then I can offer this to you. If you are willing to just do what I ask you to do, I will see that you know yourself. You tell me anything, I will do it. He really meant it. Come there and we will see what to do. After a few days, Janaka went in search of Ashtavakra in the forest.
When a king goes anywhere, he always goes with his guard of soldiers and ministers. Janaka set off into the forest with his retinue. But when they entered the forest, the jungle kept getting denser and denser. Gradually, after many hours of searching, Janaka got separated from the rest of the group and lost his way.
As he was wandering around in the forest searching for a way out, all of a sudden he came upon Ashtavakra sitting under a tree. When he saw Ashtavakra, Janaka began to dismount from the horse. Stop right there. He just stood there in that absolutely awkward position.
Some legends say for many years, some say it was just a moment. The chronological time does not matter. He stood in that position long enough. Long enough can be just one moment. Because of that absoluteness of him following the instruction — just stopping there, where he has to be — he became a fully realized being.
I just want to sit at your feet. Please let me stay with you in your ashram in the forest. Your life is no more about your needs because you have none actually. Your people deserve an enlightened king. You must stay as their king. Janaka was a true blessing to his people because he was a fully enlightened master, but he functioned as a king.
In India, many sages and saints were once kings and emperors who willingly and voluntarily gave away everything they had and walked as beggars, with great dignity.
There have been many like this — Gautama Buddha, Mahavira, Bahubali — but an enlightened king was a rare being. Janaka remained a king but as often as possible, whenever his regal responsibilities gave him some time, he would visit Ashtavakra in his ashram.
At the ashram, Ashtavakra had gathered a few monks who were being taught by him. These monks slowly began to resent Janaka because whenever he came, Ashtavakra went out of his way and spent a lot of time with the king because they had such a good rapport with each other. The moment Janaka came, both of them lit up.
With the monks whom Ashtavakra was teaching, he did not light up the same way. There was something between Janaka and Ashtavakra, which was resented by the monks.
It looks like our Guru is getting corrupted. This man is a king. He lives in a palace. He has got so many wives and so many children. He has so much wealth.
Look at the way he walks. He walks like a king. And look at the way he is dressed. Look at the ornaments he wears. What is spiritual about him that our Guru should even pay attention to this man?
We are here totally dedicated to our spiritual process. We have come here as monks but he is just ignoring us. So one day he arranged for something to happen.
He was sitting and speaking to the monks in a hall and king Janaka was also present. Everything is burning. The whole kingdom is in disarray. How dare you come and disturb the sathsang and how dare you bow down to me and not to my Guru! Just get out of here! Janaka sat back down and Ashtavakra continued to speak. A few days later, Ashtavakra set up something else. All of them were once again seated in the hall and Ashtavakra was giving a discourse.
They did not want the monkeys to tamper with them. But when they got to the clothes-drying area, there were no monkeys and their loin cloths were still hanging on the clothes-line. They realized what had happened. They hung their heads down and walked back. A few days ago his palace was burning. His whole kingdom was in turmoil. Wealth at its peak was burning, but his concern was that his soldier disturbed the sathsang.
That was his concern. You are monks. You have nothing. But when the monkeys came and picked up your clothing, you ran. Most people would not use your clothing even as mop cloths. That is the kind of clothing you wear. But for that loin cloth, without even paying attention to what I was saying, you just ran out to save those worthless pieces of cloth. Where is your renunciation?
He is the true renunciate. He is a king but he is a renunciate. You are using things that other people discard, but there is no renunciation in you. This is where you are. That is where he is.
The Story of Ashtavakra and Janaka: Podcast Tuesday