[Advaita-l] BrahmaGYAna and jIvanmukti - 3 (Non-contradiction with other Vedantic texts)
sjayana at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 18 22:33:55 CST 2006
The previous posting considered the example of YAGYavalkya, who had
attained saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna but not jIvanmukti. He had to
take up vidvatsannyAsa to eliminate his vAsanAs. In this posting,
some of the reasons for such cases will be considered, following the
jIvanmuktiviveka (JMV) of svAmI VidyAraNya (SV). This will
automatically lead to a reconciliation of the JMV with other Vedantic
Definition of jIvanmukti
The JMV defines jIvanmukti in the opening chapter on vAsanAkshaya
atha jIvanmuktisAdhanaM nirUpayAmaH .
tattvaGYAnamanonAshavAsanAkshayaastatsAdhanam.h . ata eva
'jIvanmuktasharIrANAm.h' (laghuyogavAsishhThe 28.116)
ityetasminprastaave vasishhTha Aha -
vAsanAkshayaviGYAnamanonAshA mahAmate .
samakAlaM chirAbhyastA bhavanti phaladAyinaH ..
"Now we will discuss the means to jIvanmukti. The knowledge
of the Truth (tattvaGYAna), the annihilation of the mind
(manonAsha) and the effacement of latent tendencies
(vAsanAkshaya) are the means of jIvanmukti; for this,
at the end of the part known as the upashama prakaraNa,
i.e. the chapter on perfect tranquility of the
VAsishhTha rAmAyaNa, VasishhTha says, while dealing with
the body of the jIvanmuktas:
'Simultaneous practice of the effacement of the latent
tendencies, knowledge, and the annihilation of the mind,
for a long time, O wise (Rama), brings about the result.'
Thus, the JMV refers to the Laghu-yoga-VAsishhTha (LYV) to make the
jIvanmukti = tattvaGYAna + vAsanAkshaya + manonAsha
Now, a doubt may arise - perhaps by 'tattvaGYAna', mere shAstra-GYAna
is meant, and not really saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna. The case of
YAGYavalkya pointed out in the previous posting refutes this
objection and shows that SV takes tattvaGYAna to mean
saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna only. Here are some more quotes to
reinforce this concept :
'idaM sarvam Atmaiva, pratiyamAnaM tu rUparasAdikaM
jaganmAyAmayam na tvetad vastuto.asti' iti nishcayas
tattvaGYAnam . tasyAnutpattau rUparasAdivishhayANAM
sadbhAve sati tadgocarAH chittavR^ittayo na nivArayituM
shakyante yathA prakshipyamANeshhvindhanAdishhu vahnijvAlA
na nivAryate tadvat .
"'All this is verily the Atman, the apparent world beginning
with the form, taste and the like is illusory; it is not
really existent' - such conviction is the knowledge of the
Truth (tattvaGYAna). In the absence of such knowledge, sense
objects such as form, taste etc. continue to exist..."
Therefore, tattvaGYAna is saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna. This point is
sati cha tattvaGYAne, mithyAbhUte jagati naravishhaaNaadaaviva
dhIvR^ittyanudaatmanaH cha dR^ishhTatvena ...
"With knowledge of the Truth (tattvaGYAna), the world becomes
unreal, and no mental modification about this unreal world takes
place, just as a transformation of the form 'horns of a man'
never takes place; further mental transformation is
unnecessary since the Atman is already seen..."
Those acquainted with Sankara's works may find fault with the above
definition of jIvanmukti, for it would imply that even after
saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna, one still does not have mukti. The
reconciliation of SV's viewpoint with that of Sankara's will be taken
up in the subsequent sections of this posting.
The jIvanmukta as the sthitapraGYa
The route to reconciling the JMV with Sankara's works becomes much
clearer when we consider that the JMV also accepts that jIvanmukti as
exactly identical to AtmaGYAna - provided the AtmaGYAna is steady (or
nanu praGYAH sthityutpattibhyAM praagapi saadhanatvena
"It may be asked that as a means to the knowledge of the Truth,
it is necessary to be free from attachment and aversion, etc.
and also after the realization to make it firmly set."
bADham.h; tathApyasti visheshhaH, sa cha
'vidyAsthitaye prAGYe saadhanabhuutAH prayatnanishhpaadyAH .
lakshaNabhuutaastu punaH svabhaavataste sthitAH sthitapraGYe ..
jIvanmuktiritImAM vidantyavasthAM sthitAtmasaMbodhAm.h .
"Indeed so. But there is some distinction, and that has been
pointed out by the author of the shreyomArgaH -
'All that led to the realization are to be brought about by
effort; they are the means. To the sthitapraGYa, they remain
as natural characteristics.
This state of ABIDING SELF-KNOWLEDGE (sthita-Atma-saMbodha)
is called jIvanmukti, wherein all sense of separatedness is
counteracted in consequence of unhindered Self-knowledge.'"
Therefore, according to the JMV:
sthitapraGYa = jIvanmukta
The above will be easily accepted by all traditional advaitins, and
forms the foundation for a reconciliation with Sankara's works.
Two kinds of BrahmaGYAna: sthitaM and asthitaM
The JMV however claims that there is a difference between steady and
unsteady BrahmaGYAna :
bhagavadgItAsu dvitIyAdhyAye sthitapraGYaH paThayate -
arjuna uvAcha -
'sthitapraGYasya kaa bhaashhaa samaadhisthasya keshava .
sthitadhiiH kiM prabhaashheta kimaasiita vrajeta kim.h .. 2.54 ..
praGYA tattvaGYAnam.h . tad.h dvividhaM sthitaM asthitaM cha iti .
"In the second chapter of the Bhagavad GItA the sthitapraGYa
has been mentioned thus:
Arjuna said: 'What is the definition of him who is unsteady
in the supreme knowledge and in profound meditation? O Keshava,
how does he, whose knowledge is steady, speak, sit and walk?'
praGYA means knowledge of Truth (tattvaGYAna) .
That is of two kinds - steady (sthitaM) and unsteady (asthitaM)."
According to the JMV, it is possible for BrahmaGYAna to be both
saMyak and aparoksha, yet asthitaM. The difference between a
BrahmaGYAnI (one who knows Brahman) and a sthitapraGYa (one who is
steady in knowledge of Brahman) is that of subset and superset - i.e.
all sthitapraGYas are BrahmaGYAnIs, but not all BrahmaGYAnIs are
sthitapraGYas (e.g. YAGYavalkya, who can be called a 'GYAnimAtra').
Therefore, vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha are required only to make
steady the knowledge of a GYAnimAtra whose Self-knowledge is
unsteady. When steadiness is attained, the BrahmaGYAnI is a
sthitapraGYa and jIvanmukta.
But why should there be two different kinds of BrahmaGYAna at all?
This is answered in the next section.
Two kinds of disciples: kR^itopAsti and akR^itopAsti
At the very outset of his Brahma sUtra BhAshhya (BSB), Sankara
declares the pre-requisites for an enquiry into Brahman to be a
perfection in sAdhana-chatushhTaya :
tasmAtkimapi vaktavyaM yadanantaraM brahmajiGYAsopadishyata iti .
uchyate - nityAnityavastuvivekaH, ihAmutrArthabhogavirAgaH,
shamadamAdisAdhanasaMpat, mumukshutvaM cha .
teshhu hi satsu prAgapi dharmajiGYAsAyA UrdhvaM cha shakyate
brahmajiGYAsituM GYAtuM cha na viparyaye .
tasmAdathAbdena yathoktasAdhanasaMpattyAnantaryamupadishyate .
"Therefore something has to be pointed out as the prerequisite
after which it is taught that the deliberation on Brahman
can proceed. The answer is: They are discrimination between
the eternal and the non-eternal; dispassion for the enjoyment
of the fruits (of work) here and hereafter; a perfection of
such practices as control of the mind, control of the senses
and organs, etc.; and a hankering for liberation. Granted the
existence of these, Brahman can be deliberated on or known
even before or after an enquiry into virtuous deeds (dharma),
BUT NOT OTHERWISE. Therefore by the word "atha" is ENJOINED THE
SUCCESSION TO A PERFECTION OF THE PRACTICES MENTIONED HERE."
The gravity of the above statments is often overlooked by people who
embark on a study (and practice) of VedAnta, for they imagine
Sankara's works to be merely an intellectual exercise, which anyone
with a sharp intellect can pursue. But Sankara does not impart his
instruction to the student of mediocre qualifications - he is
interested in instructing only those with a PERFECTION in
sAdhana-chatushhTaya. Sankara actually RULES OUT the possibility of a
student deliberating on Brahman with imperfect sAdhana-chatushhTaya.
If such stringent standards were imposed on all of the students on
VedAnta, very few would remain!
This is accepted as a matter of fact by svAmI VidyAraNya in the
sarvapurushhasaadhaaraNaH prauDho rAjamArgaH .
"One should accomplish sAdhanachatushhTaya first, and then
BrahmaGYAna follows - this scheme is the well-known
royal road (rAja mArga) for all people in general."
The rAja mArga mentioned above refers to Sankara's prescribed path to
BrahmaGYAna through the practice of shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana
(SMN), following a perfection in sAdhanachatushhTaya:
Karma Yoga -> sAdhanachatuShTaya -> sannyAsa -> SMN -> AtmaGYAna
The entirety of Sankara's works, including the BSB, is therefore to
be interpreted in the context of AtmaGYAna dawning for a student with
perfect sAdhanachatushhTaya. Hence every single statement in the BSB
is conditional to the student of advanced qualifications, as for
example, the statement about jIvanmukti:
jIvanmukti = BrahmaGYAna
(If the student has prefect qualifications.)
But what if the student does not have perfect sAdhanachatushhTaya -
will his AtmaGYAna also result in jIvanmukti?
In answering this question, the JMV distinguishes between two kinds
of students :
tathA hi - vidyAdhikArI dvividhaH,
"The student entitled to knowledge is of two kinds. One who
has undergone the discipline of worship (kR^itopAsti) and the
other who has not yet done so (akR^itopAsti)."
The discipline of worship is the practice of prescribed VaidIka Karma
along with the upAsana (as mentioned in the Ishopanishhad, for
instance). This is equivalent to the Karma Yoga of the Bhagavad GItA:
Karma Yoga = Karma + upAsana
Practicing Karma and upAsana vigorously strengthens one's
sAdhanachatushhTayasaMpatti. Therefore, the first kind of student of
VedAnta (i.e. kR^itopAsti), has firm sAdhanachatushhTaya. SV declares
his BrahmaGYAna to be the same as jIvanmukti:
tatropAsyasAkshhAtkAraparyantAmupAstiM kR^itvA yadi GYAne
pravarteta tadA vAsanAkshayamanonAshayordR^iDhataratvena
GYAnAdUrdhvaM vidvatsaMnyAsajIvanmuktI svata eva sidhyataH .
tAdR^isha eva SAstrAbhimato mukhyo vidyAdhikArI . tatastaM
prati SAstreshhu sahopanyAsAt svarUpeNa viviktAv api
vidvatsaMnyAsavividishhAsaMnyAsau sa~NkIrNAviva pratibhAsete .
"If one has performed worship (upAsana) till he has had the
vision of his ideal and then attempts at knowledge,
his vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha will be stronger, i.e.,
of superior strength due to which his vidvatsannyAsa
and jIvanmukti will happen, of their own accord, immediately
after knowledge. The scriptures recognize him to be the
best student fit for knowledge. For such students,
vidvatsannyAsa and vividishhAsannyAsa, although
distinctly different, have been mentioned together in the
scriptures, hence they appear to be mixed up."
Thus, there is a good reason why Sankara has not mentioned
vividishhA-sannyAsa and vidvat-sannyAsa separately - because his
students are so advanced (kR^itopAstis) that the two kinds of
sannyAsa "overlap" into each other. For these elite students of
VedAnta, who have performed Karma and upAsana till they have reached
a firm grounding in sAdhanachatushhTaya, VASANAKSHAYA AND MANONASHA
ARE ACCOMPLISHED (TO A LARGE EXTENT) BEFORE AN ENQUIRY INTO BRAHMAN
BEGINS. Hence their BrahmaGYAna is immediately steady, and is the
same as jIvanmukti.
This however is not the case for those who have taken up the study
and practice of VedAnta before performing the prescribed upAsanas
idAnIM tanAstu prAyeNAkR^itopAstaya evautsukyamAtrAt.h
sahasA vidyAyAM pravartante . vAsanAkshayamanonAshau cha
tAtkAlikau saMpAdayanti . tAvatA shravaNamanananididhyAsanAni
nishhpAdyante . taishcha
sAt.h tattvaGYAnaM samyag udeti . uditasya
punarutpattikAraNAbhAvAchcha nAsti tasya shaithilyam .
vAsanAkshayamanonAshau tu dR^iDhAbhyAsAbhAvAdbhogapradena
prArabdhena tadA tadA bAdhyamAnatvAchcha
savAtapradeshadIpavatsahasA nivartete .
"But most modern students, even with no previous practice of
meditation (upAsana), just out of curiosity, suddenly attempt to
attain enlightenment. They accomplish effacement of latent
impressions and the dissolution of the mind for the time being.
And with that also accomplish study, reflection and meditation
(shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana) of VedAnta by repeated and vigorous
practice which in turn leads to the destruction of ignorance,
doubt and opposite ideas and consequently the knowledge of Truth
arises perfectly. In the absence of any counteracting cause of
the knowledge and also in the absence of any cause to make the
destroyed reappear - the knowledge stays settled. But in
the absence of rigorous practice and being influenced from time
to time by the fructifying operative deed (prArabdha karma), the
manonAsha and vAsanAkshaya are extinguished as the lamp by a
Obviously, students of the second kind will have to make effort to
practise vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha AFTER BrahmaGYAna to attain
jIvanmukti. The route that they follow would be:
SMN -> AtmaGYAna -> vidvatsannyAsa -> vAsanAkshaya-manonAsha
Now that the groundwork for SV's ideas is almost complete, the next
section will take up the reconciliation of the JMV with Sankara's
Reconciling the JMV with Sankara's works
The "reconciliation" meant here will NOT be in the sense of:
"This is exactly what Sankara says."
Rather, it will take the form:
"This does not contradict Sankara's works."
The way to reconcile the JMV with Sankara's works should now be
obvious: Sankara accepts only those students with perfect
sAdhanachatushhTaya (kR^itopAsti), while SV includes students with
imperfect sAdhanachatushhTaya also (akR^itopAsti) and explains the
path followed by them in detail. For the former, BrahmaGYAna is
steady and hence the same as jIvanmukti; but not so for the latter,
who have to practice vAsanAkshaya-manonAsha to steady their
It is therefore a completely false notion that:
"Swami Vidyaranya has deviated from Sankara's teachings."
When actually the correct understanding is:
"Swami Vidyaranya is considering THOSE STUDENTS WHO HAVE DEVIATED
from Sankara's prescribed Raja-Marga."
An analogy may be appropriate here. Suppose the Mathematics
department in a certain university offers two classes - Algebra and
Calculus, the pre-requisite for the latter being a passing grade in
the former. The professor of Calculus at this university proudly
states, "All students who take my class via the regular curriculum
will get an A-grade." Now, a student who has not yet taken Algebra
pleads with the professor to be accepted as into the Calculus class.
The professor relents and at the end of the course, the student
secures a B-grade. The student tells the professor, "But you said
that all your students get an A-grade!" To which the professor
responds, "But you missed the clause concerning those 'who take my
class via the regular curriculum'!"
Another analogy - a doctor prescribes some medicine to be taken by a
patient every day, and says, "If you follow this regimen, you will be
cured in a week." The patient fails to take the medicine on the
second and third days, and at the end of a week, complains to the
doctor, "You said I would be cured in a week!" The doctor responds,
"That would have been the case had you followed my advice! Since you
have not, you will have to undergo another drug regimen!"
One doesn't have to look too far or hard to find those who study
VedAnta without perfect qualifications. For this, a little
introspection would suffice. Most of us in this list have not
performed the Karma and upAsana that has been enjoined on us, but
instead have begun studying VedAnta quite prematurely. SV's statement
about "modern students" deviating from Sankara's prescribed
rAja-mArga and taking to VedAnta out of "curiosity" applies very well
to most (all?) of us in this list, if not to all modern students of
VedAnta. Therefore, the relevance of the JMV in the modern context is
Evidence of vidvat-sannyAsa in the scriptures
Since most of the scriptural references to sannyAsa mention it as
preceding (i.e. for the sake of) AtmaGYAna, one might imagine that
vidvat-sannyAsa is nowhere mentioned in the scriptures, and that it
has been "fabricated" by SV. But SV provides a definite reference
from the BR^ihadaaraNyaka upanishhad (BU) that establishes
vidvat-sannyAsa in the Vedic tradition :
kaholabrAhmaNe.api vidvatsaMnyAsa AmnAyate - 'etaM vai tam
AtmAnaM viditvA brAhmaNAH putraishhaNAyAshcha
vittaishhaNAyAshcha lokaishhaNAyAshcha vyutthAyAtha
bhikshAcharyaM charantIti .' [BU 3.5.1]
na chaitadvAkyaM vividishhAsaMnyAsaparamiti sha~NkanIyam.h,
pUrvakAlavAchino 'viditvA' iti ktvApratyayasya brahmavidvAchino
brAhmaNashabdasya cha bAdhaprasa~NgAt.h .
"In the Kahola BrAhmaNa also this vidvat-sannyAsa is
mentioned thus: 'Having realized this very Self,
BrAhmaNas become mendicants, giving up desires for offspring,
wealth and heaven (other worlds) etc.' (BU 3.5.1).
This upanishhadic text should not be considered to refer to
the vividishhA-sannyAsa, because, that will not
agree with the "ktvA" suffix in "viditvA" indicating
the past tense, and the word BrAhmaNa, meaning one who has
known Brahman, the Supreme Self."
The above quote from the BU is a reference to sannyAsa AFTER
Self-realization (because it speaks of BrAhmaNas giving up desires
and becoming bhikshAcharyas AFTER knowing the Self) - i.e.
vidvat-sannyAsa. Hence this kind of sannyAsa DOES have scriptural
sanction, although it is mentioned only rarely.
Treating references to BrahmaGYAna in the scriptures
The most obvious objection to the JMV would come from those who have
studied VedAnta directly from the upanishhadic statements - for it is
easy to find references to BrahmaGYAna being the final goal in the
scriptures, so the thesis that something needs to be accomplished
after BrahmaGYAna seems impossible to defend.
SV's reply to this objection is :
ityatra taireva rAgAdyabhyupagamAt.h . na chAtra
parasparavyAhatiH, sthitapraGYe GYAnimAtre cha vachanadvayasya
"There is no contradiction between these two positions inasmuch
as they can be so arranged as to fit in with a sthitapraGYa and
a simple Knower (GYAnimAtra)."
That is, all scriptural references to BrahmaGYAna = jIvanmukti are to
be read as "steady BrahmaGYAna of the sthitapraGYa", while the
consideration of the JMV includes the "unsteady BrahmaGYAna of the
Thus far, we have considered the JMV's stance on the differences
between BrahmaGYAna and jIvanmukti, and in which cases the
differences occur. The next posting will consider a scriptural
reference that unambiguously states that the two are different - the
Apastamba dharma sUtra 188.8.131.52-16.
 JMV-SM, page 75.
JMV-RG, page 117.
 JMV-SM, pages 80.
JMV-RG, page 119.
 JMV-SM, page 82.
JMV-RG, page 121.
 JMV-SM, pages 51-52.
JMV-RG, page 101.
 JMV-SM, page 43.
JMV-RG, page 95.
 It is to be noted that the JMV refers to the Bhagavad GItA verse
2.54, where praGYA means only saMyak-aparoksha-BrahmaGYAna, and
states, "praGYA tattvaGYAnam.h". Therefore, tattvaGYAna is
 Brahma sUtra 1.1.1. Sankara's commentary available online at
I have followed the English translation of Sankara's commentary by
 JMV-SM, pages 150-151.
JMV-RG, page 159.
 JMV-SM, pages 107-108.
JMV-RG, pages 135-136.
I did an internet search to see if this term has been mentioned
elsewhere, and came across a website that states that madhusUdana
sarasvatI also uses the same terms to distinguish between the two
kinds of students in the advaita siddhi. It would be interesting to
see if this is indeed correct.
TYPES OF MEDITATIONPART ONE
Swami Bhajanananda was the editor of Prabuddha Bharata from 1979
through 1986, and has contributed many articles to various Vedanta
journals. Swami Bhajanananda is an Assistant-Secretary and Trustee of
the Ramakrishna Order. This article was published in the May, 1981
"After practicing upasana for some time it becomes easier to practice
nididhyasana. In fact, Madhusudana Sarasvati in his Advaita Siddhi
classifies aspirants for jnana into two groups: kritopasti (those who
have attained proficiency in upasana) and akritopasti (those who go
directly to inquiry without practicing upasana)."
 JMV-SM, pages 9-10.
JMV-RG, page 75.
 JMV-SM, page 154.
JMV-RG, page 161.
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