Sage Ashta Vakra
(sage with eight bends)
There was saint called Udhalaka He was considered to have talked personally to the goddess Saraswathi.. He had a daughter called Sujatha and a son called Swetha Kethu. He also had a disciple called Kahodaka. (also known as Khagodhara) . The disciple learned all that has to be learned from Uddalaka and pleased him very much. Udhalaka then gave his daughter Sujatha in marriage to Kahodaka . Eventually Sujatha became in the family way. While Kahodaka was chanting Vedas sitting beside her , the child in her womb shouted that Kahodaka was committing mistakes in his recitation. Kahodaka became angry and cursed that the child would be born with eight bends, because the mind of the child had bends. After the birth of the child Kahodaka decided to go to the court of king Janaka to earn money by exhibiting his knowledge .At that time king Janaka was performing a Yaga and so Kahodaka was not allowed to meet him . Later he met the king and was asked by him to debate with a scholar in his court called Vandheena(also called Bandhi) . All those who were defeated by Vandheena (Bandhi) were supposed to jump in the sea( some versions say river) and die. Kahodhaka was defeated and died.
Ashtavakra again learned all Vedas in company of Swetha Kethu. Due to his fiery temper , the fact that his father died after being defeated by Vandheena(Bandhi) was hidden by him. But one day Swetha Kethu happened to blurt out the truth. Immediately , with torrential anger Ashta Vakra started towards the court of King Janka. On thei way , king Janaka was travelling in the same road opposite to them. The security people of Janaka asked Ashta Vakra to give way to the king. Then Ashta vakra told them, “Does not your king know that under the laws of dharma , every human being has to give way to the handicapped people?” Janaka heard this and agreed with him and gave way to Ashta Vakra to proceed further. Ashta Vakra reached the court of Janaka and was not allowed to enter inside, saying that he was but a child. He told them that his wisdom should not be decided based on his age. Later when he went in front of Janaka, the courtiers of Janaka laughed at the misshapen boy . Then Ashta Vakra told Janaka that , he was not prepared to debate with mere cobblers. When the king wanted him to explain, Ashta Vakra told him that , he was being judged about his intelligence by his courtiers based on his skin, similar to the cobblers judging an animal . The king was amazed his intelligence but felt great pity on that boy and wanted to test his wisdom by himself before allowing him to debate with Vadheena (Bandhi) . The king and his courtiers were amazed at the knowledge of the boy . The next day Ashta Vakra defeated Vadheena in scholastic argument and wanted Vadheena to jump in the sea and die. Then Vadheena told them that he was the son of God Varuna and was in the earth to recruit sages to perform a Yagna to Varuna. All those defeated by him jumped in the sea and went to the abode of Varuna to perform the Yagna. The Yagna was just over and all of them would return to this world. As per his word Kahodha came back and was reunited with his son. Kahoda felt bad that he has cursed his son. Sage Varuna then made him perfectly all right.
Later Ashta Vakra wanted to marry Suprabha , the daughter of sage Vadanya. But the sage wanted to test him before giving his daughter in marriage to him. He wanted him to go to Kailsa meet Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and further go north and see a very pretty damsel there and come back. Ashta Vakra obeyed him and in kailsa he was first received by Lord Kubhera and the sage stayed along with him for one year. He then went to Kailasa and further proceeded to the north. There he met seven very pretty maidens. Ashta Vakra wanted one of them to stay there and asked the others to go. The lady who stayed there tried to seduce Ashta vakra .He told that he was not interested in her but only interested in marrying Suprabha. The lady then told that she was the goddess of the northern direction called Uthara and blessed him and send him back.Ashta Vakra returned back , married Suprabha.
Ashtavakra and the deva maidens
Once the deva maidens made fun of Ashta Vakra with a body with bends. It seems Ashta Vakra cursed them to become human beings and they were the Gopis of the Brinda van.
Ashta Vakra and Ravana
It seems once Ravana made fun of the form of Ashta Vakra and told him that he would remove all his bends by beating him. When he caught hold of the sage and threw him, the sage cursed Ravana that he would be crushed from head to feet by monkeys.
Ashta Vakra Gita
One of the great philosophical treatises of Hinduism is the instruction about the nature of self given by Ashta Vakra to king Janaka. It is referred as either Ashta Vakra Samhitha or as Ashta Vakra Gita. It is a dialogue between “Ashtavakra and king Janaka on the nature of soul, reality and bondage. It offers an extremely radical version of non-dualistic philosophy. The Gita insists on complete unreality of external world and absolute oneness of existence. It does not mention any morality or duties and therefore, is seen by commentators as 'godless'. It also dismisses names and forms as unreal and a sign of ignorance.
You are really unbound and action-less, self-illuminating and spotless already. The cause of your bondage is that you are still resorting to stilling the mind. (I.15)
You are unconditioned and changeless, formless and immovable, unfathomable awareness, imperturbable- such consciousness is un-clinging. (I.17)
You are not bound by anything. What does a pure person like you need to renounce? Putting the complex organism to rest, you can go to your rest. (V.1)”
The great translation of entire book in to English is available in
There is another story of the origin of sage Ashta Vakra. It seems there was a sage called Asitha. He did thapas to lord Shiva to get a son and got a son called Devala. He was so pretty that Rambha , one of dancers of the court of Indra ,fell in love with him. When he refused her , it seems Rambha cursed him to become one with eight bends. Later he did thapas for six thousand years and Lord Krishna with Radha came before him. Radha was horrified by the ugliness of the sage but it seems Lord Krishna hugged him. This hug made Devala get back his normal form. It seems this Devala married a lady called Yekaparna , who was the daughter of Himavan.