Ashtavakra was a wise man. He traded spices and goods from Indian main land to regions and nations far and wide. One day he came across a sage in the cold mountain deserts of Pamir who taught him the art of surviving the cold harsh mountains with nothing but just a few herbs between their teeth.
Amazed at this discovery, he decided to meet all wise men that he came across in his travels and imbibe their knowledge. His loyal and rather simple servant, Nityajantu accompanied him wherever he went. Over a period of several years, he met several wise men, peers and fakirs of the Arab desert, wise monks of the far away northern regions, old nomadic tribal men and women of the stony Gobi desert.
He learned with such eagerness and child like joy that nobody could resist from imparting their knowledge to him. Over time he grew much wiser that even kings, badshahs, and ministers were conscious in his presence afraid that if they talked it would expose their ignorance in front of him.
One day he finally decided, as he grew old, to stop traveling. Retire at home and compile all his knowledge for the benefit of future generations. He prepared 28 granths (epics) and 25 treaties of various esoteric knowledge. His fame grew far and wide; people came from all walks of life to seek his advice on all matters. The scope of his knowledge was so encompassing that nobody ever left without sound piece of advice. In the meantime, Nityajantu served his master with true devotion. All his efforts to impart knowledge to the simpleton servant fell apart. He was happy cooking, cleaning and serving his master and decided to know nothing more. Ashtavakra finally gave up all his efforts to teach the servant.
One auspicious day, in his meditation, Ashtavakra levitated beyond the conscious mind’s limitation and had his first true experience of the realization of the Divine. What an ecstatic experience it was! When he came out of his meditation, he experience utter sweetness and beauty of the Divine in every little thing. As he stepped out of the house, he saw Nityajantu, his humble servant, cleaning vegetables for the evening meal. He was wrapped completely in pure bliss of the Divine. He was totally merged with the Divine. To Ashtavakra, he appeared as the child Krishna muttering a Radha bhajan under his breath.
A huge realization dawned upon Ashtavakra as he bowed before his servant. It startled Nityajantu so much that he almost jumped up and all the vegetables fell on the ground. Shocked and confused by his master’s behavior, he requested him never to do this again, saying that a master can never bow before the servant and other such things.
Seeing his response, another realization dawned on Ashtavakra that Nityajantu in all his childlike simplicity, was not even aware of his own awareness of being Divine. He assumed his state of bliss as the normal state of existence , just the way it is with little children. They know the “truth” and yet they don’t know that they know it. What a big realization fell upon Ashtavakra! He traveled all over the world and learned from hundreds of wise men and women while eventually learned one simple truth which his simpleton servant knew just by being.