Gita is a song and they are many in number. There is the Guru Gita, the Anu Gita, the Uttara Gita, Uddhava Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, Ribhu Gita, Moksha Gita... the names are many, but the message is just one — attaining to that supreme state of mind which is the Brahman. You have been following a continuous flow of the messages from the Bhagavad Gita — a conversation between Sri Krishna and Arjuna on life, love, work and wisdom.
We shall now set out on a journey of the Gita Jnana, exploring many other texts titled the Gita and this time around, it shall be Avadhuta Gita. Avadhuta is a person who has transcended this world of name and form and is living with a consciousness that has realised its oneness with the supreme Brahman.
The author of the Avadhuta Gita is Sri Dattatreya, the Adi Yogi and Avadhuta, the chief of all the Nath Yogis. There is an interesting story on the birth of Dattatreya. The Rishi Atri and his Rishi Patni Anasuya were a very devoted and pious couple. Once the sage Narada, the eternal confusion-creator among the Gods, tested the three goddesses Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati. He took a small iron nugget and asked them to fry it and give it to him to eat to satiate his hunger. The Goddesses laughed and said ‘how could an iron ball be fried?’ Narada spoke to them of the greatness of Anasuya and said she could do it. He met Anasuya and asked the same. She took a little water with which she washed her husband’s feet, sprayed it on the iron ball and then fried it. Narada showed it to the three goddesses and also encouraged them to test Anasuya.
The goddesses sent their husbands — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They appeared before Anasuya’s home when Atri Maharishi had gone out and asked for bhiksha or food offering. When she was going to offer them, they stopped her and placed the demand for a Nirvana Bhiksha — special offering without any clothes on. Unfazed, she meditated upon her husband again, sprinkled the water, washed off his feet on the three gods and turned them into babies. She then fed the three babies in the manner they wished her to.
When Atri Maharishi came, she narrated the story. The Gods were pleased and they merged into one and became the child of Atri and Anasuya. This child is Dattatreya — the chief of the yogis and an Avadhuta for whom this universe is the teacher.
While the Bhagavad Gita is on many topics, including the physical body, postures, devotion, action and wisdom and renunciation, besides the supreme truth, the Avadhuta Gita hits straight on the bull’s eye into the truth of being. The Sanskrit is simple and rich in its depth.
The first verse in the first of the eight chapters begins with the Mangalacharanam or invocatory prayer. The verse says that even to have a taste for studying about the non-dual nature of the supreme truth – Advaita, you need to have the seeds sown and sprouted well in the past births. The knowledge of Advaita heals the individual of the great fear of existence in the world of duality arising in the wise beings.