Story of Ashtavakra: Friends, you must have heard the stories of many sages, but today I will tell you the story of such a learned sage whose strength was accepted by everyone. Yes, I am talking about the great scholar Rishi Ashtavakra who shattered the pride of an arrogant Acharya at a very young age.
Story of Ashtavakra: How Ashtavakra broke the pride of Acharya Bandi
Two mendicants, one Ashtavakra (physically disabled, he had to walk with the help of a stick) and one of his companions reach the gate of the hermitage and ask the gatekeeper: –
Gatekeeper we are looking for Acharya Bandi. I have come to challenge them to debate.
(Incidentally, on that day King Janak was also present in that ashram with his courtiers.)
Gatekeeper:– Brahmin sons, you are still children, instead of challenging Acharya Bandi, go to an ashram and get an education!
Two mendicants:– Even a small spark of fire can burn the whole forest to ashes! One does not become wise by growing hair, nor is one great by being old and noble, one who practices knowledge becomes old and great, we are old in knowledge, so let us go inside and let Maharaj Janak and Acharya Bandi come to our arrival. Report!
Maharaj Janak heard this from inside and said to the doorkeeper:- Ashwasen let them come inside.
Taking the help of a stick, Ashtavakra and his companions come inside and as soon as they reach the students studying, everyone starts laughing at his disabled body.
Seeing this, Ashtavakra also starts laughing loudly, seeing Ashtavakra’s laughter everyone becomes silent.
Seeing all this scene, Maharaja Janak asked Ashtavakra:- Brahmin deities, why are you laughing like this seeing the assembly?
Ashtavakra:- (bowing down to Janak) Maharaj, I had come here with the thought that I would come here in Janak’s assembly and challenge Acharya Bandi for a debate among these scholars, but after coming here I felt that he was a fool. I have given the reason for laughing, now you ask your foolish scholars on whom should they laugh?
On me or on the potter (God) who made me?
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Raja Janak:-(Standing with folded hands) Brahmin Kumar forgive me and all of them for this ignorance, but I request that you are not yet old enough to debate with Acharya Bandi, do debate with Acharya Bandi. It is difficult, the one who is defeated by them has to take water samadhi, so you should study more.
Ashtavakra:- Rajan! Guru’s grace is enough for me to debate with Acharya Bandi and what is the fear of death for the one who is immortal. Giving life for a great cause is not death, you present me in front of Acharya Bandi.
Acharya Bandi :– (Standing up) I am Acharya Bandi! (with pride) I am ready to debate with you, but do you accept my condition?
Ashtavakra’s companion: Why are you trying unsuccessfully to frighten us by saying the same thing again and again?
Acharya Bandi:- (Laughing) If you want, both of you can debate with me together!
Ashtavakra:– I am one and I will argue with you only.
Both sit for debate (conch shell sounds)
Acharya Bandi :– What is Prapanch?
Ashtavakra:– Whatever is visible, whatever it is, is Prapancha.
Ashtavakra:– What is the meaning of what is visible?
Acharya Bandi:- What is visible, the subject of the mind and senses, which I know is the visible.
Acharya Bandi:– Who knows the seer? Who sees himself?
Ashtavakra:– There is no need for anyone’s help to see that self, just like the sun does not need a lamp for light, it is self-illuminated.
Ashtavakra:– Where did this world come from?
Acharya Bandi:– This creation came only and only from Him.
Acharya Bandi:– What is the meaning of that?
Ashtavakra:– He is Brahma, He is God, He only creates this world by his illusion, He is the creator, the nurturer, and the creator of this world.
Ashtavakra:– How does Brahma create, nurture and create this world?
Acharya Bandi:– Just as a spider creates its web, wanders in it, then swallows it, in the same way, God creates and nurtures the world.
Acharya Bandi:– What is a living being?
Ashtavakra:- The living being is the soul, it is the impersonal self, but under the influence of ignorance, it considers itself to be the mind and the body, and that is why it experiences this world.
Ashtavakra :- What is Avidya?
Acharya Bandi:– To consider non-soul as soul, to consider viceless as disordered, to consider super-world as truth is ignorance.
Acharya Bandi :- What is Vidya?
Ashtavakra:– Knowledge of self is Vidya. “Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye” That which liberates us from all miseries, pains, bondages, ignorance, competitions, and illusory imaginations is Vidya, that which liberates us from the feeling of duality, from the idea that we are two, from the distinction between you and I, is Vidya, Vidya. Gives vision so that man can recognize his Brahma form.
(All the scholars speak in one voice – Sage Sage Sage…)
Ashtavakra:– What is the process of knowing Brahman?
Acharya Bandi:– There are two ways to know Brahma:- The first way is to know what Brahma is not! Prohibiting that which is not Brahman, Prohibiting all names, qualities, forms, defects, and changeable things, knowing the impersonal.
Second way – Recognizing the truth as it is, it is the form of existence, without it the world does not exist, it was Brahman, it is Brahman, therefore I am Brahman, you are Brahman, we all are Brahman.
That’s why the whole world is Brahman.
(All the scholars speak in one voice – Sage Sage Sage…)
Ashtavakra:– How can Brahma be known?
Acharya Bandi:– Brahma can be known by correct social behavior, spiritual contemplation, listening carefully, considering daily experiences, meditating on conclusions, and going into samadhi.
Acharya Bandi:- What are the symptoms of a Brahma gyani?
Ashtavakra:– If someone claims that he has known Brahman then he does not know Brahman, with knowing Brahman the ego of knowing Brahman vanishes.
Acharya Bandi:– Can it be known through logic?
Ashtavakra:– No but logic can be helpful.
Ashtavakra:– Can he be known by prayer and devotion?
Acharya Bandi:– No but prayer and devotion can be helpful.
Acharya Bandi:– Can it be known by yoga and meditation?
Ashtavakra:– No but yoga and meditation can be helpful.
(There was no visible end to the debate, both were overpowering each other that suddenly the prisoner did not know what to answer to Ashtavakra’s question, he became silent)
Ashtavakra:– Teacher! Answer me, teacher! Answer.
Even on this, when Acharya Bandi remained calm, everyone started praising Ashtavakra. A garland of flowers is worn around his neck.
Maharaja Janak also gets up and garlands him and bows down.
Acharya Bandi:– I accept my defeat, I am ready to take Jal Samadhi.
Ashtavakra:– I have not come to give you Jal Samadhi, Acharya Bandi. You all will remember that due to the pride of Acharya Bandi and this practice, so many innocent scholars have lost their lives. Acharya Bandi remember Acharya Kahod, I am the son of the same Acharya Kahod, today I am victorious and you are defeated. If I want, I can give you water samadhi, but I will not do that, Acharya Bandi. My forgiveness is retribution (crying) I forgive you, Acharya Bandi.
Acharya Bandi:– (crying) You have given me a bigger punishment than taking life, child-wise. I have sinned, I have sinned.
Ashtavakra:– There is no bigger fire than the fire of repentance, Acharya Bandi. Every day the water in this fire should be holy. This will be your atonement, don’t make scripture a weapon.
King! Scripture develops life. Weapon destruction of life. As old as the Himalayas, as old as the Ganges, this is the truth – no one has ever conquered anyone through violence.
Everyone gets up and salutes him and Ashtavakra leaves.
Friends, this real incident of mythological times teaches us to stay away from pride and at the same time it teaches us that even if someone has treated us very badly, our true victory lies in forgiving him and not in punishing him.
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