The enlightened men are of the opinion that even if all the religious literature of the East is destroyed and only one Mahabharata remains, the Eastern knowledge remains. Even if the other pages of the Mahabharata are destroyed and only seven hundred verses of the Gita remain, the summary of Sanatan culture remains. These 700 verses of the Gita contain all the necessary instructions for a seeker who wants to ascend the path of God. Also, the second chapter of the Gita contains its essence.
Out of the 72 verses in this chapter, in the first 10 verses of Arjuna’s fear and infatuation, Krishna has called the superficial detachment in the mind of cowardice and delusion. In the remaining 62 verses, Krishna has laid the foundation of all knowledge.
In a way, the Gita is complete in the second chapter. In this chapter, which is the essence of the Gita, Krishna elaborates on the characteristics of Sankhya, Swadharma, Nishkama Karma Yoga, Samadhi and Samadhistha Purusha. If Arjuna had been as talented as King Janak, he would have listened to Krishna’s teachings and freed himself from fear and infatuation and embarked on a crusade according to the nature and spirit of his Kshatriya religion. Therefore, Krishna had to extend the Gita to 18 chapters. After hearing those 700 verses, Arjuna was ready to fight but there is no proof that he got liberated.
Otherwise, there are also such examples that even with a short conversation with the Guru, the disciple became fully enlightened and liberated. Such examples can be found in the Zen tradition prevalent in countries of the Far East such as Japan, China and Korea. A wonderful example of this is the dialogue between King Janaka of our Mithila region of Nepal and the 12-year-old Brahman Ashtavakra, known as Ashtavakra Samhita or Ashtavakra Mahagita.
The story goes that since birth, Ashtavakra’s body was crooked in eight places. Ashtavakra’s mother Sujata was the daughter of sage Uddalaka, his father Maharishi Kahod was a disciple of Uddalaka.
Once Ashtavakra came to Janaka’s palace looking for his father. King Janaka was engrossed in Brahmacharcha sitting with learned Brahmins. Seeing Kalila Ashtavakra’s crooked body, all the Brahmins sitting in that assembly started laughing. Even Ashtavakra started laughing at them. Seeing this, Janaka was surprised and asked, ‘I can understand that these Brahmins laughed at you, but you should be ashamed, why did you laugh?’ I could not understand this.’ Ashtavakra said, ‘Seeing your lack of understanding, sir.’ Ashtavakra replied, ‘You are debating in the assembly of these Chamars. They can only see my skin and outer appearance but cannot perceive my self and consciousness. I did not see anyone as simple and easy as me in the form of Self and Consciousness. Rajan, will the sky be curved when the fire is crooked? If the water container is crooked, is the nature of the water crooked? When I came to this assembly as a child, they laughed. Does knowledge bloom only after the hair grows? What knowledge can you get from such fools? Hence, I have been laughing.”
Everyone in the palace was shocked. All the courtiers were angry saying that the king was insulted by this uncivilized child, but hearing such clear and fearless words of this child, Sadhu Janak’s heart melted. He immediately got up from the throne and respectfully seated Ashtavakra on his seat, sitting at the feet of the child Ashtavakra as his disciple, respectfully inquired:
Kath Gyanam Wapnoti Kath Muktibhavishyati.
Vairagyan cha katham pratimatdbruhi mam prabho.
O Lord, how is knowledge obtained? How can I attain liberation and dispassion? Please tell me?
Once upon a time, such was the royal tradition of Mithila in which even the kings humbly sat at the feet of the sage and asked their questions. In Mithila, the title of the kings of the Nemi dynasty became Janaka. The Janaka that has been mentioned above was Sita’s father, the 22nd Janaka King Shiradhwaja. All Janakas were ultimately supremely wise, Brahmarishi and freed from the bonds of the senses. That is why they are also called Videh. That is why Sita’s other name remained Videhi. In the same Mithila there were sages like Yajnavalka, Gargi, Lomas, Uddalaka. In the tradition of these Janaka kings, there was a king who saw a hair turn white once while combing his hair, and he immediately became dispassionate. He handed over the throne to the prince and entered the forest as a hermit and made a rule that from now on in the Janaka dynasty, when a single hair of the king grew white, he would have to hand over the kingdom to the prince and become a hermit himself. This recluse tradition of the Mithila court continued till the twentieth dynasty.
Seeing Janaka’s humble but profound curiosity, Ashtavakra gave him a sermon:
If the body is separated, the mind is relaxed.
Happy and peaceful and free from bonds.
If you detach yourself from the body and rest in the soul as consciousness, you will be freed from all kinds of bonds and be happy and peaceful. Here is the emphasis, if you have insight, you can be liberated right now, no sadhana, worship or discipline is needed, only an insight is needed and if this insight is achieved, we can be liberated at this very moment.
Hearing these words of Ashtavakra, Janaka got that insight. He immediately began to express his surprise, “O Lord, as soon as I heard your words, I became enlightened and happy”. “In the same way that this soul has kept my body alive, in the same way I am pervading the entire universe and vibrating in the particle as this soul.”