(‘song of the Avadhūta’)

The Avadhūtagītā is one of the 36 minor philosophical poems composed in imitation of the well-known Bhagavadgītā. It is an independent treatise on Advaita Vedānta and preaches an uncompromising non-dualism. Its authorship is attributed to Avadhūta Dattātreya. Hence it is also called Dattagītā or Datta-gītā-yogaśāstra. It is also titled, though rarely, Vedāntasāra.

This small treatise of 271 verses is divided into 28 chapters. The first chapter deals with the nature of the ātman, which is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent; which has no birth, no death, no bondage and no liberation either. The second deals with the proofs for the same. Duality is born out of ignorance of the real nature of the one Divine. Incidentally, even the great Avadhūta has hinted at the need for a spiritual guide (2.23) in realizing the ātman. The next two chapters deal with the inner nature of the ātman in highly poetical tones. The fifth chapter advises a man to avoid all lamentations, as the ātman is the same in all conditions. The sixth chapter negates all kinds of distinctions whether of caste or family, of senses or their objects, of the mind or the intellect or their activities—because none of these exists when looked at from the standpoint of the ātman. The seventh describes the state of the avadhūta. The eighth gives a definition of the word ‘avadhūta’ by interpreting each of the four syllables (a, va, dhū, ta) of that word.