With mind free of thoughts, concentrate on one’s body. Imagine space simultaneously pervading in all directions. One will then become all pervasive.Verse 43, Vigyan Bhairava Tantra
Our true nature is to be unlimited, free, and all pervasive. The body is what binds us. When we believe we are not the body, then we become liberated – we become all pervasive.
The Ashtavakra Gita
The Ashtavakra Gita is one of the most beautiful and enlightening spiritual texts in the world. Its importance has not yet been fully appreciated. Not much is known about Ashtavakra. However, there was an incident in his life when he was only 12 years old that is very significant. It helps explain the next six verses. Ashtavakra was born deformed. Some scholars say he was deformed in eight places. His father was a renowned scholar. He was an upper-caste brahmin, well versed in the Vedas, and other religious texts. King Janak had organized a debate in his court. He offered fabulous prizes to the winner. Scholars were invited from all over the kingdom. The debate was on truth and other religious topics. Ashtavakra’s father defeated several scholars. However, in the final round, he started losing to another scholar. Someone rushed to Ashtavakra and informed him that his father was losing the debate. Ashtavakra immediately went to King Janak’s court.
When Ashtavakra entered the court, the scholars saw him and started laughing. They saw the eight deformities in his body and how ridiculous he looked when he moved, and they could not stop laughing. Amazingly, Ashtavakra started laughing too. King Janak then asked Ashtavakra, “I can see why the scholars are laughing, but I cannot understand why you are laughing.” Ashtavakra replied, “I came here to see a conference of scholars, but instead I see a group of Chamars (cobblers), debating truth.” The court was stunned into silence. Here was a 12-year-old boy, calling these upper caste brahmins and scholars, a group of low caste cobblers. Janak asked Ashtavakra to explain himself. Ashtavakra replied, “These people only see skin. They judge me by my body. They do not look within. It is difficult to find someone more pure and truthful than me. But these people do not see that. They only see the body and not the soul. That is why they are only shoemakers. They work with leather and skin. If a pot is broken, is the air inside the pot also broken? My body is deformed, but I am not. Look within me, you will find someone pure and truthful.” King Janak was extremely impressed by this reply. He said nothing at that moment but sought out Ashtavakra the next day. On meeting Ashtavakra, he immediately asked him three questions – “How does one attain wisdom, detachment, and liberation?” Ashtavakra’s reply is the Ashtavakra Gita. It is impossible to say how much of what reportedly happened in King Janak’s court is true. But it does convey a very important message- we are not our body. This is a message the Ashtavakra Gita makes repeatedly. In fact, on the very first-page verse 4), the Ashtavakra Gita makes a remarkable statement. It says that if we can detach ourselves from our body, and rest in our awareness, we will be free this moment. This moment. Very few texts make this statement. But first, one has to detach oneself from the body. Believe that one is not the body, but awareness. If you can do this now, you will be free this very moment. If you cannot, the next six verses show you how to detach yourself from your body. With a mind free of thoughts, concentrate on one’s body. Imagine space simultaneously pervading in all directions.
How to do this technique
- Sit in a comfortable posture, and close your eyes.
- Focus your awareness on your body.
- Imagine there is no body – only space, pervading in all directions.
- Practice this for upto 30 minutes, or for as long as you are comfortable One will then become all pervasive.