There was a great silence. What he was saying had a great truth in it. Janak dissolved the conference and said, “Now I would like to inquire of Ashtavakra only. He has defeated you all just by his laughter and his statement that, ‘You can’t see the inner, you can only see the outer; you are all shoemakers.’ Shoemakers work with the skin of different animals. I dissolve the conference and, Yagnavalkya, return those one thousand cows, because you also laughed. And when Ashtavakra laughed, you also stopped!”
It was a very strange situation; it had never happened before. And then began the long inquiry of Janak, the emperor. He asked questions and Ashtavakra answered them. Each answer in itself carried so much meaning and significance.
Because his body was in such a bad shape he could not get identified with it. Sometimes blessings come in such disguise. He could not go out, because wherever he went people would laugh, “Look at that man! Have you seen anything uglier than this?”
So most of the time he was in the house, meditating, figuring out, “Who am I? Certainly I am not this body, because I can be aware of this body, I can observe this body from within. Certainly that awareness has to be different from the body.”
Because of his crippled body he experienced enlightenment. The only barrier is identification with the body. But he could not identify, the body was so ugly. He never looked in a mirror; it would have been such a shock.
But Yagnavalkya had to return those one thousand cows to Ashtavakra’s house. He was young and he defeated one thousand old philosophers, well-versed in the ancient scriptures.
It is one of the strangest things in this country that on every book written by any prominent mystic there have been hundreds of commentaries, but nobody has commented before me on Ashtavakra. And he must be at least five thousand years old. For five thousand years nobody has bothered to look into his statements, which are so significant.
But his inner enlightenment, his inner understanding could not change his outer appearance. And yet for those who are going deeper into themselves, the outer does not matter. They would have seen even in Ashtavakra tremendous beauty, but it would not have been of the outer circumference, but of the center.
Most often the inner change changes the outer, if the outer is not too rigid. But the outer never changes the inner.
You need to have eyes, going deep into people’s beings, which is possible only if you are going inwards yourself. The deeper you go into yourself the deeper you can look into other people’s beings. And then a totally new world opens its doors.
Flanagan is on his deathbed and Father Murphy has come to give him the last rites. “Open your eyes,” says the priest. “We have got to save your immortal soul.” Flanagan opens one eye, closes it and tries to doze off. He is having such a nice snooze.
“Come on now!” says Father Murphy. “If you don’t want to confess, at least answer me this: do you renounce the devil and all his works?”