On Ashtavakra Gita: The real man stands innocently naked, free of all virtues

Acharya Prashant
2 min readJul 19, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Question (Q): Ashtavakra talks about being desireless, dispassionate, and egoless. A wise man is defined to possess all these virtues. But how?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, look at the wordings. You are saying Ashtavakra talks about being Desireless, Dispassionate, and Egoless. Mind these three words. The conclusion being drawn by the questioner is — A wise man is defined to POSSESS all these virtues. Now, when is Ashtavakra saying that?

All that Ashtavakra is saying is that the wise one is desireless, dispassionate, and egoless. When is Ashtavakra saying that the wise man possesses all these virtues?

You can possess something when it is; you cannot possess desire-lessness.

You cannot possess dis-passion.

You cannot possess ego-lessness.

He is talking in negativa. He is saying that the wise man is not all this. And yet the question is that the wise man possesses all these virtues. Is he possessing something or is he non-possessing something?

Listeners (L): Non-possessing.

AP: There is a world of difference in saying that the wise man possesses all this versus that he is non-possessive. He possesses nothing. And these are not virtues.

The wise man is free of the entire concept of the wise and virtue.

So, Ashtavakra will never say that these are virtues. For him, paap and punya are one.

And he will never say that these are the qualities that one must possess. For him, all qualities are one, fake; masks. To divide qualities into gunas and avgunas is your own chemistry. Ashtavakra is saying none of that.

You take on desires, your passion is cultivated by you, ego is your own doing. These are things that you have covered yourself with. The wise man does not have something extra, better, or special to cover himself with. It is just that he is not covered. He is radiant, he is not shrouded, not covered at all.

We have covered ourselves, we are wearing a lot of clothing. A lot of masks.

The wise man is naked. Absolutely naked. He is not covered.

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