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4.  Astavakra tests Janaka

 

Astavakra is delighted with Janaka's realization of the ultimate truth. But he wishes to test the extent of Janaka's mental transformation. He challenges Janaka with these words:

Knowing yourself to be the one indestructible self, how is it that you, being steeped in serenity, still feel attached to acquiring wealth?

How quickly greed shows its vicious head when one mistakes a shiny rock laced with fool's gold for the real thing, due to one's ignorance of the unique luster of pure gold! So also a foolish craving for possessions arises in the deluded one, upon seeing the illusory objects of the world, ignorant as he is of the splendor of the eternal self. But you, having known yourself to be that one supreme totality in which the universe appears like waves on the ocean, why do you still run about like a miserable wretch?

After knowing yourself to be pure consciousness and unsurpassingly beautiful, how can you still be attached to sensual objects and allow yourself to be made impure? It is strange that you who are abiding in the supreme non-duality and intent on liberation should still be subject to lust, and allow yourself to continue to be weakened by amorous pastimes! When you know lust to be an enemy of knowledge, when you are approaching your last days with your vitality ebbing away day by day, strange that you should still be eager for sensual enjoyment!

With whom can we compare that great-souled one who is content with self-knowledge and does not even thirst for liberation? Feasted or tormented, the serene man of knowledge sees only the absolute self and remains steeped in peace, never thirsting for sense-gratification or feeling anger. But you who have understood the ultimate truth and who feel indifferent to the actions of even your own body, witnessing it as if it were another's, how can you still be affected by praise or blame?

Once you, the steady-minded one, know the objects of perception to be worthless, how can you still consider one thing acceptable and another unacceptable? When you have given up worldly attachments and purged your mind of all desires, when you are beyond the pairs of opposites and view all experiences with equal indifference, seeing them as mere happenings that arise as a matter of course, how can you still hanker after pleasure or run away from pain?

Realizing this universe to be a mere illusion and having lost your curiosity about it, how can you, who have attained a steady mind, fear the approach of death?

 
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