Avadhuta Gita

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Avadhuta Gita (Devanagari: अवधूत गीता, IAST: Avadhūta Gītā) is a Hindu text based on the principles of Advaita Vedanta (nondualism). It has been dated to approximately the 9th or 10th century.[1]

The singer of the Avadhuta Gita is Dattatreya, an Avadhuta, and according to the Nath Sampradaya, the work was heard and transcribed by two of Dattatreya's disciples—Swami and Kartika.[2] Ashokananda (1893–1969) in Katz (2007: p. 47) holds that "[t]he Avadhuta Gita is a text of Vedanta representing extreme Advaita or Nondualism...", that is Advaita Vedanta with an emphasis on "extreme".[3] As such, this text may also be considered a forerunner of Tantric literature as the themes, motif and orientation of this 'song' (Sanskrit: gita) are common to Shaivite Tantras, Buddhist Tantras and Vaishnava Agamas (which are also tantric literature) and ancient Yoga philosophy.

Vivekananda (1863–1902) held the Avadhuta Gita in esteem and he translated aspects of it in the following talk he gave on July 28, 1895, transcribed by his disciple Waldo:

"He who has filled the universe, He who is Self in self, how shall I salute Him!" To know the Atman as my nature is both knowledge and realisation. "I am He, there is not the least doubt of it." "No thought, no word, no deed, creates a bondage for me. I am beyond the senses, I am knowledge and bliss."

There is neither existence nor non-existence, all is Atman. Shake off all ideas of relativity; shake off all superstitions; let caste and birth and Devas and all else vanish. Why talk of being and becoming? Give up talking of dualism and Advaitism! When were you two, that you talk of two or one? The universe is this Holy One and He alone. Talk not of Yoga to make you pure; you are pure by your very nature. None can teach you.[4]


The brief introduction with attendant English translation of the Avadhuta Gita by Ashokananda (1893–1969) from the Sanskrit is reproduced in Katz (2007: p. 48) and Ashokananda with a flair of hyperbole provides an overview of the Avadhuta Gita a song of the "experience of Brahman" which he invests with metaphorical language of 'lifebreath' ("spirited"; "breathes") metonymic of Prana and Vayu and the Air 'process' of the Mahabhuta:

"The Avadhuta Gita is a small book of only eight chapters and is written in spirited Sanskrit verse, which breathes the atmosphere of the highest experience of Brahman. It goes into no philosophical argument to prove oneness of reality, but is content to make the most startling statements, leaving the seeker of truth to imbibe them and be lifted from illusion into the blazing light of Knowledge (jnana)."[3]

Chapter One[edit]

The opening verse of Chapter One 1.1 ventures that the inspiration for the nondual view arises within the mind of the wise due to the divine grace of Ishvara.

The term 'svabhāva' is mentioned in six verses of Chapter One: 1.5, 1.6, 1.44, 1.54, 1.58, 1.76.

[1] The hymn is addressed to 'Īśvarā' (ईश्वरा) 'the controller', 'the Lord'. Shaktipat

Chapter Two[edit]

Shloka 15 and 16 discuss 'contemplation' (Sanskrit: ?). 2.17 binds 'sahaja' to 'amrita' with what Rigopoulos (1998: p. 203) glosses "sahaja amṛitam" 'nectar of naturalness'.[5] Rigopoulos (1998: p. 203) proffers that the Avadhuta Gita 2.26 may be usefully compared to Bhagavad Gita 8.5.[5]


  1. ^ Abhayananda (1992, 2007: p. 10) opines as to the dating of the Avadhuta Gita through its terminology and style and importantly implies that it may be the subject if not product of an oral lineage: "The actual date of authorship of the Avadhut Gita is unknown, but, judging by its terminology and style, it appears to have been written, not in the millennia prior to the Current Era, as legend would have it, but sometime around the 9th or 10th centuries of our Current Era. This does not, of course, preclude the possibility of an oral transmission to that point in time." Swami Abhayananda (1992, 2007). Dattatreya: Song of the Avadhut: An English Translation of the 'Avadhuta Gita' (with Sanskrit Transliteration). Classics of mystical literature series. ISBN 978-0-914557-15-9 (paper), Source: Song of the Avadhut by Dattatreya trl by Swami Abhayananda (accessed: Monday February 22, 2010) p.10
  2. ^ International Nath Order [Wiki] (April 2008). 'Avadhuta Gita'. Source: Avadhuta Gita - International Nath Order (accessed: Tuesday February 9, 2010)
  3. ^ a b Katz, Jerry (2007). One: essential writings on nonduality. Sentient Publications. ISBN 978-1-59181-053-7, ISBN 978-1-59181-053-7. Source: [2] (accessed: Sunday February 7, 2010)
  4. ^ Vivekananda, Swami (n.d.). The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Volume Seven. Source: s:The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 7/Inspired Talks/Sunday, July 28 (accessed: Monday February 15, 2010
  5. ^ a b Rigopoulos, Antonio (1998). Dattātreya: the immortal guru, yogin, and avatāra : a study of the transformative and inclusive character of a multi-faceted Hindu deity. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3695-0. Source: [3] (accessed: Saturday February 6, 2010)

External links[edit]

Sanskrit editions and English translations
Exegetical tradition and commentaries