Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Ashtavakra Mean?

Ashtavakra was an ancient Vedic sage who is sometimes credited with being the author of the Hindu text, the "Ashtavakra Gita," and who was the grandson of the revered sage, Aruni. Ashtavakra's name means “crooked in eight places” or “eight bends” and refers to his physical deformity at birth. Legend has it that his father, a great scholar, cursed him while he was still in the womb because the fetal Ashtavakra corrected his recitation of the Vedas.

Ashtavakra is known for explaining the nature of reality to King Janaka and showing him the way to enlightenment.


Yogapedia Explains Ashtavakra

The "Ashtavakra Gita" is written as a conversation between Janaka and Ashtavakra. It explains the path to God-realization and espouses a non-dualistic philosophy that all of existence is oneness and that the external world is unreality. According to this text, reality is the union of the atman, or the self, with the universe. Living in reality, according to Ashtavakra, is effortless and can be instantaneous. There is no need for rituals or such practices as pranayama, chanting or meditation.

In addition to the gita that bears his name, Ashtavakra is mentioned in a number of Hindu texts, including the "Ramayana," the "Mahabharata" and the Puranas.

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