Raja Janak & Muni Ashtavakra


Raja Janak would frequently hold shastrarths in his court where scholars from all over the world would be invited. He had an undying quest for knowledge, the more he got to know, the greater became his ego, but the one experience that he desired did not come his way…he met countless scholars, but he could not find a Guru.

One day Muni Ashtavakra happened to pass through the kingdom of Mithila. When he heard about shastrarths at Janak’s court, Ashtavakra, born with eight different deformities of the body due to the curse of his father, headed for the King’s palace. As he entered the royal court all the great scholars and other courtiers burst into laughter on seeing his deformed body. Ashtavakra looked around the assembly and said, “I thought I was in the company of wise men, but now I realise that you are all cobblers since you have only recognized my deformed body and not my Self. A cobbler evaluates quality on the basis of skin. I cannot believe that I am in the company of astute scholars who cannot understand that although the river may be crooked, the water never is…”


On hearing these words the king was embarrassed and asked, “Will you give me the gyan of Brahma in the wink of an eye?”

“Indeed I will give you that. But for that you must give me all that you have.”

In the presence of all the pundits, King Janak promptly and ungrudgingly agreed. Ashtavakra then asked Janak to leave his throne and sit in the crowd since the throne belonged to him no more. Janak did as was told. Next the Muni asked Janak to cease all the planning that was happening in Janak’s head for the kingdom was no more his own. He told Janak to drop the awareness of body, since even his body was no more his. Next he asked Janak to leave all thoughts, for even the mind, ego and thoughts were not his anymore. In the sanidhya of Guru, Janak emptied it all…and as he did so, he got the experience he desired.

He bowed in front of the great rishi, who in the wink of an eye gave him the gyan of Brahma and beyond…gurur brahma, gurur vishnu, gurur devo maheshwara, gurur sakshatah para brahma…The Guru alone can burn the desires and ego of the shishya and give him the gyan of what lies beyond.

Ashtavakra returned all that he took from Raja Janak and asked him to take care of them as a custodian mere, for they no longer belonged to him…

Gyan comes to those in a moment who have the courage to give up everything in that moment, as is asked by the Guru.

TIW Bureau

TIW Bureau

2 thoughts on “Raja Janak & Muni Ashtavakra

  1. The Visit of Ashtavakra to the palace of King Janaka is very interesting spiritually enlightening. Thanks for the write up.

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