What is the difference between Ashtavakra Gita and Bhagavad Gita? Also, why is Ashtavakra Gita not as famous as Bhagavad Gita?

Ashtavakra Gita is a song sung by a sage called Ashtavakra. This name literally means eight bends in his body. He was physically challenged. And yet he was very intelligent as a child. The ancient Hindu tradition was to have spiritual debates (Shastrartha) between intellectuals. There was a king by the name Janaka. And this king used to have regular spiritual debates among intellectuals in his court. In one such debates Ashtavakra’s father was about to lose, wherein Ashtavakra as a young boy participates in that debate and defeats all the intellectuals there. King Janaka gets impressed and makes Ashtavakra as his Guru.


Ashtavakra Gita is a dialogue between King Janaka and Ashtavakra. It’s a book that tells you all bout yourself - who you are, what you are, what’s your purpose, why are you here, and where will you go from here. It’s basically a book that deals with self-realization (Enlightenment). The point to be noted here is that the one who is asking the questions is a great king of that time. He was also later on called as an enlightened king. And the one who is giving answers as a Guru is a young boy (much younger to the king in his age, but mightier in knowledge and wisdom). And through this dialogue of the Ashtavakra Gita, the king Janaka attains to enlightenment.


Bhagavad Gita literally means a Song of the Divine. It was sung by Krishna in the battle field of Kurukshetra at the request of his dearest friend Arjuna. Here also the same thing. Even the Bhagavad Gita is also dealing with self-knowledge. Knowing who you are is the key. Krishna is telling Arjuna, without knowing yourself you can not do anything. Without knowing yourself there can not be a right action. Firstly, you should do everything to know yourself. And secondly, once you have known yourself, you should do everything to dispel how to know yourself. All other actions in life are secondary and to know oneself is primary. So, Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna dealing with self-knowledge (Enlightenment). The key point to note here is that it is a dialogue between two dearest friends and it is a dialogue between them in a battlefield of Kurukshetra. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks about various paths to this self-knowing depending on the nature of that person. And through this dialogue of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna attains to clarity in his doing and action.

The heart, mind, and body are not three different aspects. The heart, head, and hand are not three different things. The feeling, thinking, and doing are not three different compartments of our being. They are just three manifestations of the same consciousness. And, therefore, a symphony of the three is a precondition for a right action.

Now about being famous and not being famous. There are these two Sanskrit words: Siddhi and Prasiddhi. Sidhi means when I know myself. And Prasiddhi means when the world knows me. Just think. If I do not know myself, and the world knows me, what is the point of this fame? On the other hand, I know myself, but the world does not know me, who cares? If you are a man, you can say balls. And if you are woman, you can say fuck off. The differentiating point is: Are you happy or not? Are you blissful or not? Are you conscious or not? Who cares for being famous or not? Who cares for being rich or poor? So, enlightenment has something to do with our attitude and aptitude and it has nothing to do with other non-essential things.


Krishna and Arjuna, Ashtavakra and Janaka, they all have gone. They are no more with us today. How does it matter to them what we are speaking about them and their work today? What is important is that they all have walked on the path of self-knowledge and attained. And then they have shared their How-To in the form of their songs to reflect upon by us. Now, it is for us to decide whether we can sing and dance in tune with their song and dance. Can we sing their song? Can we dance their dance? The sooner the better. And any kind of comparison may delay and prolong our decision to be on this journey of self-knowledge.

There are these two Sanskrit words: Siddhi and Prasiddhi. Sidhi means when I know myself. And Prasiddhi means when the world knows me. Just think. If I do not know myself, and the world knows me, what is the point of this fame? On the other hand, I know myself, but the world does not know me, who cares? The differentiating point is: Are you happy or not? Are you blissful or not? Are you conscious or not? Who cares for being famous or not? Who cares for being rich or poor?

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