Ashtavakra Gita

Translated by John Richards

Translator's Introduction

The Ashtavakra Gita, or the Ashtavakra Samhita as it is sometimes called, is a very ancient Sanskrit text. Nothing seems to be known about the author, though tradition ascribes it to the sage Ashtavakra; hence the name.

There is little doubt though that it is very old, probably dating back to the days of the classic Vedanta period. The Sanskrit style and the doctrine expressed would seem to warrant this assessment.

The work was known, appreciated, and quoted by Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda,as well as by Ramana Maharshi, while Radhakrishnan always refers to it with great respect. Apart from that the work speaks for itself.

It presents the traditional teachings of Advaita Vedanta with a clarity and power very rarely matched.

The translation here is by John Richards, and is presented to the public domain with his affection. The work has been a constant inspiration in his life for many years. May it be so for many others.

John Richards
Stackpole Elidor, UK

With Launch of Charter for Compassion, Karen Armstrong’s Wish Comes True

Delinda C. Hanley

“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.” —Karen Armstrong, Feb. 28, 2008

WHEN RELIGIOUS scholar Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize in 2008 and made her wish, “it took our breath away with its simplicity and power,” Chris Anderson told the crowd assembled to watch the global launch of the “Charter for Compassion” on Nov. 12, 2009 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Anderson is curator for Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED), a non-profit organization “devoted to ideas worth spreading.” Since 1984 TED’s two annual conferences (one held in Long Beach, the other in Oxford) bring together 50 thinkers and doers like Armstrong, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes to an international audience. The TED prize is awarded annually to the three speakers with the best ideas. It includes $100,000 and also grants the winner “One Wish to Change the World.”

The wish made by Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun who has authored more than 20 books on the role of religion in the modern world, including many on Islam, could truly change the world.

The Red Road and the Black Road

Thunder Horse

There are many roads in life, but there are two that are important; the Red Road and the Black Road. They represent good and bad in every one’s life. It’s the two choices people have to make frequently in life. The Red Road is the good way, the good side, and the right choice. It is a road that is difficult with dangers and obstacles that are hard to travel on. The Black Road is the bad way, the bad side, and the wrong choice. The Black Road is wide and easy to travel. The Red Road and the Black Road appear in our lives not as roads but as the personifications of right and wrong, good and bad, light and dark.

The Lakota never were known to accumulate material goods. It was never done in pursuit of wealth; it was done to get around hard times or to help someone who ran short. Generosity has its rewards. The lack of it has its consequences. It was not practical for a nomadic people to accumulate too much because it only meant more to haul when the camp moved, which could be up to three or four times a year. The more you owned, the more you hauled.

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