Osho on Enlightened Mystic Ashtavakra
Ashtavakra was born to the famous sage Kahoda, who lived and preached in Bihar
was a child prodigy, well versed in the Vedas and the scriptures even as a child. The name Ashtavakra means “crooked in eight places” referring to his physical deformity since birth. From a very young age, he lived in the hermitage of scholars learning Sanskrit, and understanding the philosophy in the scriptures.
Ashtavakra Samhita, commonly referred to as the Ashtavakra Gita is a collection of his deep philosophical teachings that reflects reality as the union of the atman, or the self, with the universe. Living in reality, according to Ashtavakra, is effortless and can be instantaneous.
Osho says, This is the first thing you need to keep in mind… such crystal clarity, an expression like an open sky with no cloud in sight, you cannot see any forms. Only when you drop all forms, become disidentified with all forms and get connected with the formless, will you be able to comprehend Ashtavakra. If you really want to understand Ashtavakra you will have to descend into the depths of meditation. No commentary, no interpretation will be of any help.
And for meditation Ashtavakra does not ask us to sit and chant “Ram, Ram.” He says that anything you do will not be meditation. How can there be meditation when there is a doer? As long as there is doing, there is illusion. As long as the doer is present, the ego is present. Ashtavakra says becoming a witness is meditation. Then the doer disappears; you remain only as a watcher, nothing but the observer. When you are nothing but the observer then only is there darshan, seeing; then only is there meditation, then only is there wisdom.
YOUR INNER BEAUTY I CAN ONLY FEEL AS FAR AS I HAVE DISCOVERED MYSELF. BUT FOR TEN YEARS, WHENEVER I SEE YOU ENTERING THE AUDITORIUM, THERE IS THIS SURPRISE ABOUT YOUR UNBELIEVABLE OUTER BEAUTY TOO.
OSHO, IS THE OUTER APPEARANCE ALWAYS JUST A REFLECTION OF THE INNER?
Pragito, the outer beauty comes from a different source than the inner. The outer beauty comes from your father and mother: their bodies create your body. But the inner beauty comes from your own growth of consciousness that you are carrying from many lives. In your individuality both are joined, the physical heritage from your father and mother and the spiritual heritage of your own past lives, its consciousness, its bliss, its joy. So it is not absolutely necessary that the outer will be a reflection of the inner, nor will vice versa be true, that the inner will correspond with the outer. But sometimes it happens that your inner beauty is so much, your inner light is so much that it starts radiating from your outer body. Your outer body may not be beautiful, but the light that comes from your sources, your innermost sources of eternal life, will make even a body which is not beautiful in the ordinary sense appear beautiful, radiant.
But vice versa it is never true. Your outer beauty is only skin-deep. It cannot affect your inner beauty. On the contrary the outer beauty becomes a hindrance in search of the inner: you become too identified with the outer. Who is going to look for the inner sources? Most often it happens that the people who are outwardly very beautiful, are inwardly very ugly. Their outer beauty becomes a cover-up to hide themselves behind, and it is experienced by millions of people every day. You fall in love with a woman or a man, because you can see only the outer. And just within a few days you start discovering his inner state; it doesn’t correspond to his outer beauty. On the contrary it is very ugly. For example, Alexander the Great had a very beautiful body but he killed millions of people, just to fulfill his ego that he is the world conqueror. He met one man, Diogenes, when he was on his way to India, who lived naked, the only man in Greece who did, unique in a way. His beauty was tremendous, not just the outer, but the inner radiance was so much and so dazzling that even Alexander had to stop his armies when he was close by in a forest near a river. He stopped the armies and went to see Diogenes alone; alone, because he did not want anybody to know that there exists a man who is far more beautiful than Alexander himself.
It was early morning and Diogenes was taking a sunbath, naked on the riverbank. Alexander could not believe that a beggar … He had nothing, no possessions — even Buddha used to have a begging bowl, but that too Diogenes had thrown away. He was absolutely without any possessions, exactly as he was born, naked. Alexander could not believe his eyes. He had never seen such a beautiful personality and he could see that this beauty was not just on the outer side. Something infiltrated from the inner; a subtle radiation, a subtle aura surrounded him. All around him there was a fragrance, a silence. If the inner becomes beautiful — which is in your hands — the outer will have to mold itself according to the inner. The outer is not essential, it will have to reflect the inner in some way. But the converse is not true at all. You can have plastic surgery, you can have a beautiful face, beautiful eyes, a beautiful nose; you can change your skin; you can change your shape. That is not going to change your being. Inside you will still remain greedy, full of lust, violence, anger, rage, jealousy, with a tremendous will to power. All these things the plastic surgeon can do nothing about. For that you will need a different kind of surgery. It is happening here: you are on the table.
As you become more and more meditative, peaceful, a deep at-onement with existence happens. You fall into the rhythm of the universe. The universe also has its own heartbeat. Your heartbeat, once it starts in rhythm with the universal heartbeat, will have transformed your being from that ugly stage of animality, into authentic humanity.
And even the human is not the end. You can go on searching deeper and there is a place where you transcend humanity and something of the divine enters in you.
Once the divine is there, it is almost like a light in a dark house. The windows will start showing the light; even the cracks in the wall or the roof or the doors will start showing the inner light. The inner is tremendously powerful, the outer is very weak. The inner is eternal, the outer is very temporary. How many years do you remain young? And as youth fades away you start feeling that you are becoming ugly, unless your inner being is also growing with your age. Then even in your old age you will have a beauty that the youth may feel jealous of. Remember, from the inner the change to the outer happens, but I am not making it inevitable. Most often it happens, but sometimes the outer is in such a rotten state that even the inner radiation cannot change it.
There have been cases on record: one very great mystic of India — I have spoken on him for almost half a year continuously. His name was Ashtavakra. And what he has written is tremendously important; each sentence has so many dimensions to be explored, but the man himself was in a very difficult situation. Ashtavakra — the name was given to him, because he was almost like a camel. In eight places he was distorted in the body — one leg was longer, one arm was shorter, his back was bent — in eight places he was distorted. That’s how he was born, with a crippled, distorted body. But even in a crippled and distorted body the soul is as beautiful as in the most beautiful body. He became enlightened, but his body was too rigid to change with his inner change. His eyes started showing something of the beauty, but the whole body was in such a mess.
The story is that the emperor of India in those days was Janak and he was very much interested in philosophical discussions. Each year he used to call a big conference of all the scholars, philosophers, theologians or whoever wanted to participate. It was a championship competition. One very famous philosopher, Yagnavalkya came a little late. The conference had started and he saw standing outside one thousand beautiful cows. Their horns were covered with gold and diamonds. This was going to be the prize for the champion. It was a hot day and the cows were perspiring. He told his disciples, “You take these cows. As far as winning the competition is concerned, I am certain. Why should the cows suffer here? You take them to our place.” They had their own place in the forest. Even Janak could not prevent him, because he knew that he had been the champion continuously for five years, and he would be the champion this time, because there was nobody else who could defeat him. It is not right to take the reward before you have won, but his victory was so certain to everybody that nobody objected. And his disciples took away all the cows.
While Yagnavalkya was discussing, a very unknown scholar was also present in the conference. Ashtavakra was this unknown philosopher’s son. His mother was waiting for her husband to come home. It was getting late and the meal was getting cold. So she sent Ashtavakra to bring his father home, because he could not win the competition. Why should he unnecessarily waste his time? He was a poor scholar and there were great scholars there. Ashtavakra went. There were at least one thousand people in the conference, the highly cultured and sophisticated scholars of the country. As Ashtavakra entered, looking at his distorted body they all started laughing. But Ashtavakra was a man of tremendous integrity. As they started laughing, he laughed even louder. Because of his loud laugh they stopped. They could not believe that he was laughing.
Janak asked him, “I can understand why they are laughing — because of your body; but I cannot understand why you are laughing. And you stopped all their laughing with your laughter.” A single man stopped one thousand people’s laughter.
Ashtavakra said to Janak, “I thought this conference was for scholars and philosophers, but these are all shoemakers. They can understand only the skin. They cannot see the inner, they can only see the outer.”
There was a great silence. What he was saying had a great truth in it. Janak dissolved the conference and said, “Now I would like to inquire of Ashtavakra only. He has defeated you all just by his laughter and his statement that, `You can’t see the inner, you can only see the outer; you are all shoemakers.’ Shoemakers work with the skin of different animals. I dissolve the conference and, Yagnavalka, return those one thousand cows, because you also laughed. And when Ashtavakra laughed, you also stopped!”
It was a very strange situation; it had never happened before. And then began the long inquiry of Janak, the emperor. He asked questions and Ashtavakra answered them. Each answer in itself carried so much meaning and significance. Because his body was in such a bad shape he could not get identified with it. Sometimes blessings come in such disguise. He could not go out, because wherever he went people would laugh, “Look at that man! Have you seen anything uglier than this?” So most of the time he was in the house, meditating, figuring out, “Who am I? Certainly I am not this body, because I can be aware of this body, I can observe this body from within. Certainly that awareness has to be different from the body.” Because of his crippled body he experienced enlightenment. The only barrier is identification with the body. But he could not identify, the body was so ugly. He never looked in a mirror; it would have been such a shock.
But Yagnavalkya had to return those one thousand cows to Ashtavakra’s house. He was young and he defeated one thousand old philosophers, well-versed in the ancient scriptures. It is one of the strangest things in this country that on every book written by any prominent mystic there have been hundreds of commentaries, but nobody has commented before me on Ashtavakra. And he must be at least five thousand years old. For five thousand years nobody has bothered to look into his statements, which are so significant. But his inner enlightenment, his inner understanding could not change his outer appearance. And yet for those who are going deeper into themselves, the outer does not matter. They would have seen even in Ashtavakra tremendous beauty, but it would not have been of the outer circumference, but of the center.
Most often the inner change changes the outer, if the outer is not too rigid. But the outer never changes the inner. You need to have eyes, going deep into people’s beings, which is possible only if you are going inwards yourself. The deeper you go into yourself the deeper you can look into other people’s beings. And then a totally new world opens its doors…
Nobody can do anything about your inner being except you. You are the master of your inner world. And as the inner world becomes silent, naturally your eyes become deeper, with an oceanic depth. As your inner being becomes cloudless your face also becomes cloudless, just an open sky. As your inner being comes to discover the source of your life, the flame of your life, something of that flame starts radiating from every pore of your body. This is the rule.
Ashtavakra is an exception. Exceptions don’t make the rule, they only prove the rule. But it has never happened vice versa before, and I don’t think it can ever happen. We are all trying to be beautiful on the outside: all kinds of make-up, all kinds of things are going on to make your outer beautiful.
I have heard …
A man was catching flies. Finally after two or three hours’ effort he caught four flies. He told his wife, “I have caught four flies: two are male, two are female.”
The wife said, “My God, how did you figure out who is male and who is female?”
He said, “Easy! Two were sitting for almost two hours on the mirror and two were for two hours reading the newspaper!”
We are so much identified with the periphery of our being that we have forgotten that the periphery does not exist in itself. There must be a center inside. And the search for the center is the only religious search — not for God, not for heaven, not for any rewards for your virtues, not to avoid hell and punishment. There is only one authentic religious search and that is to know your innermost being. It is the being of the whole universe. By entering your innermost temple you have entered the real temple. All other temples are false, man-manufactured; all other gods in those temples are false, they are man-manufactured. Only one thing is not man-manufactured and that is your innermost dignity, your innermost grace. That grace starts flooding your outer being too. And that grace transforms not only the inner, but gives a new look to your outer being: an innocence, a serenity, a depth, a peace, a love, and these are all flowers blossoming around you.
Then even your periphery becomes so beautiful, so musical, such a dance of rejoicing …But you should start from the inner.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Sat Chit Anand
Chapter title: Crossianity
5 December 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Daya, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Lalla, Magdalen, Mallibai, Meera, Nanak, Patanjali, Rabiya, Raman Maharishi, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Ashtavakra, Socrates, Teresa, Tilopa, Valmiki, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendor
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom
- Beyond Psychology
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Messiah
- The Tantra Vision