Avadhuta Gita (Devanagari: अवधूत गीता, IAST:Avadhūta Gītā) is a Hindu
text based on the principles of Advaita Vedanta (nondualism). 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. 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". 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.
Nomenclature, orthography and etymology
"Avadhuta Gita" (Devanagari: अवधूत गीता, IAST:Avadhūta Gītā)
'Avadhuta Gita' is also orthographically rendered as 'Avadhoota Gita' in
English as this spelling realizes a natural intuitive approximation of
the phonemes of the Sanskrit.
अव 'ava' (Devanagari: अव):
1. [masculine gender] favour (as per usage in ऋग्-वेद i , 128 , 5)
2. [indeclinable] (as a prefix to verbs and verbal nouns expresses) and
holds the semantic field: off , away , down.
धूत 'dhUta' (Devanagari: धूत):
1. [masculine, feminine and neuter; or adjective] shaken , stirred ,
agitated (सोम = धौत "rinsed" as in the text साम-वेद)
2. fanned , kindled
3. shaken off, removed, destroyed
6. [neutral gender] morality (Buddhist literature)
अव-धूत 'avadhUta' (Devanagari: अवधूत):
1. अव-धूत "shaken off (as evil spirits)" as in the text वाजसनेयि-संहिता
2. removed , shaken away
3. discarded , expelled , excluded
4. disregarded , neglected , rejected
6. shaken , agitated (especially as plants or the dust by the wind),
7. that upon which anything unclean has been shaken out or off
9. one who has shaken, off from themselves worldly feeling and
obligation, a philosopher
10. [neuter gender] rejecting , repudiating
'gItA' (Devanagari: गीता):
1. [masculine, feminine and neuter; or adjective] ( √ गै) sung , chanted
, praised in songs (as in the texts मनु-स्मृति ix; and महाभारत 42)
2. [neuter gender] singing, song as in the texts: वाजसनेयि-संहिता xxx;
तैत्तिरीय-ब्राह्मण iii; शतपथ-ब्राह्मण iii , vi आपस्तम्ब-धर्म-सूत्र
3. [feminine] a song, sacred song or poem, religious doctrines declared
in metrical form by an inspired sage
4. [neuter gender] name of a metre (poetic literature)
Date of work
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."
Vivekananda (1863–1902) held the Avadhuta Gita in esteem and
introduced it to his Western students and he translated aspects of it in
the following talk he gave on July 28, 1895, transcribed by his disciple
"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.
Originally a work of seven chapters, an interpolation, a spurious and
misogynistic eighth chapter may be a later attempt to append sexual
morality to the Nath tradition by an unknown conservative ascetic.
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
"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)."
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.
The hymn is addressed to 'Īśvarā' (ईश्वरा) 'the controller', 'the Lord'.
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'. Rigopoulos (1998: p. 203) proffers that the
Avadhuta Gita 2.26 may be usefully compared to Bhagavad Gita 8.5.
Gita, as class of literature
The Avadhuta Gita text is only one gita amidst a class of Gita
literature; the most well known and the gita having received the most
attention and treatment in English discourse and Western scholarship
even if not the premier example of the class, is unarguably the Bhagavad
 Primary sources: Sanskrit and English translations
* Avadhuta Gita as a Sanskrit text rendered in Devanagari script and
encoded with Unicode font is held at Wikisource: CLICK HERE.
* Avadhuta Gita (Sanskrit) transcribed in ITRANS
* Avadhuta Gita (Sanskrit) in Devanagari, PDF
* Avadhuta Gita (multiple scripts and languages), install legacy fonts
* Avadhuta Gita (Sanskrit only) in Sri Unicode
* A rendering of the Avadhuta Gita into English with attendant
Devanagari for probity encoded in Unicode is available online: CLICK
* 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
Exegetical tradition and commentaries
* Yogiraj Sri Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (composition in Sanskrit); Yoga
Niketan Team (English translation (2006). Avadhuta Gita: Spiritual
Commentary. Kriya Yoga Shrine and Library. [Free PDF downloadable from
online library once an affirmation has been made to respect copyright]
Source: (accessed: Tuesday February 23, 2010)