[Advaita-l] Avidyalesa and Jivanmukti

Antharyami sathvatha at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 05:28:17 CDT 2010

Hari OM~


Sri Anand Hudli ji, Sri Subramanian ji, Sri Bhaskar ji,


‘baditamapi mithyAjnAnam dvicandrajnAnavat samskAravasAt kancitkAlaM
anuvartate eva’ [B.S.S.Bhasya IV.i.15] – Sankara categorically asserts the
view that by the affliction of the latent impressions the mithya-ajnanam
operates for a period of time even after its sublation. Anubhutisvarupacarya
[14th CE] in his Pratarthavivarana makes a critical point here on the bhasya
where he glosses the term samskAravasat as ‘samskara vyanakti’ as the
product of latent impressions which clearly speaks for Avidya-lesa. Vasana –
Samskara according to Prakatartha-kara is the medium that reveals the
‘latency’ of the Avidya Karya-s to be functional which is due to the
Prarabdha that has already begun to fructify. And it is traditionally
advocated that the remnant avidya that is made operative even after negation
of nescience, it’s viksepa power is not sublated while the avarana aspect
alone gets nullified. Thus samskara connotes the viksepa of avidya which
sustains the body in post realization period as the seer remains in the
state of Jivanmukti. Amalananda’s [13th CE] Kalpataru on the otherhand takes
bhasyakara’s usage of Samskara-vasat equates to ‘parisisTha avidya-lesa’ the
trace of ignorance, which persists as bhrama-anuvrtti – continuance of error
that apparently is the cause for the sustenance of body (dehadharana) as
experienced by Uddalaka and others. Amalanda describes the bhrama as
‘nirUpAdika bhrama’ – the term which has epistemological significance.
Appayya Diksita [16th CE] in Parimala elaborates the notion of nirUpAdhika
bhrama – the remnant avidya that is designated with operative momentum by
the past deed which had begun to fructify its results, renders a unique
state of resultant product, which potentially does not stimulate any further
action and thus leaves the Jivanmukta uninfected  to remain in his pure
state of being stitha-prajna /gunAtIta or Visnubhakta. To the question, how
can the avidya-lesa co-exist in the time of jnanotpatti; since for the
factors are mutually opposed to each other – Dikshitacarya answers this with
an interesting illustration to say: even after one acquires the knowledge of
water  when he sees it first (anabhyasadasayam) he has a simultaneous doubt
regarding the object known. While Appayya Diksita refers Nirupadhika bhrama
kAlpanika – imaginary, Amalanda makes the point clear to remark SopAdhika
bhrama as pramAna siddha. It is pivotal to know the hair splitting
distinction that in the case of SopAdhika bhrama, the limiting adjunct for
the remnant ignorance it its own vrtti – modification that exists when the
single moon is seen as double. In other words double moon is conditioned by
the bhrama-anuvrtti. In the NirupAdhika Bhrama, Dikshitacarya opines that
the same anuvrtti is merely reflexive (abhasa) which is figuratively present
but functionally absent. This point is also reflected in Bhamati where
Vacaspati writes the serpent condition is indeed the cause for fear and
temble (sarpAvaccedo hi bhayakampAdi heturiti). Postulating the question: if
avidya-lesa persist after vidyotpatti,  what is that which annihilates it?
Vacaspati Misra [9th CE] treats this problem to say that the avidya-lesa
automatically expires since the sthitaprajna’s past sadhana reverberates
through vidyotpatti and defends the point that the Jivanmukta is not
subjected to any more sadhana (uttarottara dhyana utkarsena .. niratisayastu
sthitaprajnaH – sa siddha eva – jnanamatrAdanutpAdAt). The same view may be
seen in Brahmananda’s [17th CE] commentary on Madhusudha’s Advaita Siddhi
[16th CE] where the commentator advocates the possibility of Sagunopasana
samskara vrtti for a Jivanmukta. In the Gita bhasya Tippana,
Anubhutisvarupacarya completely endorses Vacaspati’s stand and he writes
‘prArabdha karma sesa-nibandhana bhogasya vidyApi vArayitumashakyatvAt’ –
since even the sustaining factor of the body (that is sustained by vikepa of
avidya-lesa) is not destroyed by the akhandakara vrtti. In the
Nyayaratnadipavali, Anandanubhava [11th CE] chakra-bhramaNa nyAyena – with
the illustration of pot-wheel, explicitly states that the avidya-anuvrtti (=
prAna anuvrtti) is not positive existence (bhava-rupa) which is line with
the view that it’s ontological state is purely kAlpanika from Jivanmukta’s
standpoint since it is no more the material cause (nirUpAdAna) for any
further procreative metempsychic process which is evident due to the fact
that samskAra dhvamsa had already taken place and that its anuvrtti is mere
reverberation. Anandanubhava’s argument that avidya-lesa is not bhava rupa
relates to the reason that bhramana of the wheel after the pot has been
removed does not affect or modify the dimension of pot at any rate and hence
for a Jivanmukta avidya-lesa is immaterial. Citing the Katavalli Sruti
‘vimuktasca vimucyata’ – ‘the liberated in liberated’ [II.ii.1]
Anandanubhava equates Vimukta with Jivanmukti and glosses the term vimucyata
as the state of liberation which is bereft of all conditions of buddhi etc.
Anandagiri’s [12th CE] super-gloss Vedantaviveka on Nyayadipavali follows
Sankara’s line to say ‘vimukta is Jivanmukta and vimucyata as the liberated
who assumes no future body.  Vidyaranya [14th CE] makes a compelling
hermeneutical shift in interpreting the Katha Valli Sruti in his
Vasana-Ksaya Prakarana of Jivanmukti Viveka where he uses the Katha
reference to equate the notion of Jivanmukti and Videhamukti. Here he
advocates that the word videha in the compound ‘videha mukti’ implies
non-occurance of future body alone and not in the literal sense of mukti
after shedding the current body, in which case Jivanmukta is all set to
acquire no future body is equated with Videha mukti; while he justifies the
argument with reference to Laghu Yoga Vasistha [4.97]. Vidyaranya augments
Pancapadika portion in support of this view where Padmapadacarya’s [6th CE]
position is promulgated. Padmapadacarya offers a completely different accent
to the entire problem which in my opinion is relatively unique to the entire
post-Sankara polemics on the issue. According to him, ‘Ignorance alone is
removed by knowledge’ – ‘jnanam ajnanasyaiva nivartakam’ leaving a question
what happens to the body? To which Acarya answers to say : body as the
product of ignorance is ceased in two ways -  either by the presence of
something contrary to its nature or by cessation of the means of it; just as
the “lamp goes out either by the opposing gust or by the cessation of the
material cause such as oil and the wick”. First option is nothing but
knowledge itself which serves no purpose to point here, the cessation of
means is regarded pertinent; in the sense that mean – samagri is two-fold,
active – the prarabdha and the potential – the anarabdha. For the liberated
the anarabsha is annihilated while the prarabdha is under the process of
annihilation by its own fructification. Extending further Vidyaranya
forwards a crisp logical formulation as found in the Pancapadika.
Purvapaksin raises an objection: Logically it may argued that knowledge is
not the cause for the non-commencement of the future body – first due to the
reason since prior absence of commencement of future body is eternally
present ie., the antecedent non-existence (pragabhava) has no beginning,
knowledge cannot be the cause for the non acquirement of future body.
Secondly, by the dissolution of the cause in the form of potential deed
alone the prior non-existence of the beginning of future body is maintained
and not otherwise. [Advaita Ashrama; 1996]. So both cases goes to prove the
irrelevance of knowledge in the salvific process ‘vaiyartha’. Padmapada
defends the logical dilemma with the strength of scriptural testimony –
Katha I.iii.8, that declares ‘yasmat bhuto na jAyate’ – ‘from which he is
not born again’ meaning accomplishing knowledge alone future body is
avoided. Finally on a closing note, I am reminded of my favourite
Paingalopanisad [III.6] describes Jivanmukta as Krta-krtyavAn. Upanisad
Brahmendra [18th CE] in his Dipika defines ‘Jivatmukti’ –
‘sva-atiriktakalana-asanga laksanam Jivanmuktatvam’ -  ‘the state of
Jivanmukti (-ness) is the self-effecting dissociation’ – a static state that
is bereft of counter positivity (nispratiyogika), just as motionless wind as
in Akasa (aspanda pavana) which he conceives as Videhamukti itself.

Navigating through the aforesaid arguments, we may discern the following:

1)      Avidya-lesa is not opposed to Sankara’s position of Jivanmukti

2)      Prarabda is functional but not influential

3)      Jivanmukti and Videhamukti are not conceptually divorced.

With Narayana Smrti,


Ekadasi / 27th Vrishabha / Virodhi Samvatsara

Graduate Student,
Centre for the Study of Religion,
Jackman Humanities Building,
170 St. George Street, floor 3,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8.

607-3400 Keele St.
Toronto, ON
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