[Advaita-l] The Enlightened Eminently Engage in Empirical Endeavors - Part 2
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Mar 3 03:39:36 CST 2010
Here is the second part of the article. I noticed that posting the rest of
the article as Part 2 exceeded the prescribed limit unduly. Hence I am
making a third part too to conclude the article.
EMPIRICAL ENGAGEMENTS BY THE ENLIGHTENED IS AN UNDENIABLE FACT
We have incontrovertible evidence from the following sources for the fact of
the Enlightened (jnani) engaging in the empirical transactions with a
3. Sutra (brahmasutra)
6. Logic (yukti)
7. Experience (anubhava)
We shall consider some instances from these:
· The Taittiriya Upanishad teaches that the Source from which all
these beings have emerged, their ground of sustenance and the abode into
which these lapse in dissolution is Brahman. Brahman is the Creator,
Sustainer and Destroyer of the world. Surely, this is the highest order of
empirical engagement. And this is Brahman’s function. None can question
Brahman’s Enlightened status. Shankara establishes in Brihadaranyaka Up.
1.4.10 where occurs the famous Mahavakya ‘aham Brahma asmi’ that it is
Brahman that ‘acquires’ this realization and thereupon attains the Universal
· In the Vishnu sahasranama, a collection of a thousand names of Lord
Vishnu, there occurs a name ‘Brahmavit’, ‘Knower of Brahman’. Lord Vishnu
is admitted to be the Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the universe.
· Shankara addresses Lord Shiva in the ShivAnanda Lahari as ‘Adi
KuTumbiNe’ meaning ‘Oh Foremost Family-man!’. Surely none can question the
enlightenment of Lord Shiva.
· One might object: These are all mere scriptural statements. Who
has seen the Creator Lord with a BMI? The reply is found in the Bhagavad
Gita. Arjuna had the greatest good fortune of beholding the Lord both in
His individual, localized BMI form and also in His Universal BMI Form. Ch.
11.45,46 are proof for this. Brahman, as Lord Krishna was born from a
womb, grew up eating, played with the cowherdesses, fought wars, was injured
and finally left His mortal body. All this was possible only because He had
a localized, but highly powerful BMI.
· In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there is the AjAtashatru BrAhmaNam
(II.i). AjAtashatru, a Kshatriya, a Jnani, is the King. He is approached
by a Brahmana named BAlAki, a conceited one, priding himself with an assumed
Brahman-Knowledge. He visits the King and offers to teach him Atma vidya
and only ends up as the King AjAtashatru’s disciple. In the course of the
discourse between them AjAtashatru holds Baalaaki by hand and leads him to a
sleeping man for conducting some experiments. This episode in the Upanishad
proves that : the Jnani Ajaatashatru had a body, could be a King engaged in
empirical duties, had a hand, had eyes, ears, a mouth to talk to Baalaaki
and a mind to process the info. received from B and to reply to B. He had
legs to walk to the sleeping man, etc. By implication, this Jnani had a
stomach which he filled now and then to stay alive. He had prAna too, so
that he could be alive.
· In the same Upanishad we have Sage Yajnavalkya, a Jnani who taught
King Janaka who also became a Jnani owing to the teaching. Y was a
householder, was extremely wealthy and had two wives named KatyAyani and
Maitreyi. Some of the finest teachings on Atman emerged from his discourse
with Maitreyi. This episode also proves that a Jnani has a localized BMI
and operates through that equipment. Y and J undoubtedly enlightened ones,
did engage in empirical transactions.
· King Janaka becomes enlightened by the teaching of Y. Y makes the
famous statement: ‘abhayam vai janaka prAptosi’ (O Jananka, you have
attained Fearlessness). Soon after this statement, J replies to Y offering,
nay keeping the entirety of his Kingly possessions at the feet of Y for his
own use. This shows that a Jnani, Janaka, can and will respond to a name
even after realization. He will not turn a deaf ear to names addressed to
him just because of his realization of the All-pervading, nirguNa Brahman as
his very self.
· This also shows that a BMI for a Jnani is not projected by the
ajnanis. Sage Yajnavalkya was Himself a Jnani. He addressed and conversed
with Janaka even after Janaka was enlightened.
· In the Valmiki Ramayana there is an occasion when Rama declares:
‘AtmAnam mAnuSham manye rAmam dasharatAtmajam’ [I regard myself a human
named Rama, the son of Dasharatha ] Despite the Lord declaring Himself, in
all His humility, to be a mere human, with a name and an identity relating
Himself as a son of …., does it in any way affect the Supremely Realized
status of the Lord?
· In the Chandogya Upanishad we have the episode of UddAlaka, a
father, a Jnani, discoursing with Shvetaketu, his son. The famous ‘Tat tvam
asi’ teaching is a result of this discourse. Evidently Uddalaka engaged in
empirical duties and had a localized BMI. Shvetaketu too became a Jnani, as
per the Upanishad.
· In this very Upanishad we have the Narada and Sanatkumara
discourse. Sanatkumara is a Jnani approached by Narada. S, over a long
dialogue gives out the teaching to Narada. Evidently, Sanatkumara had a
BMI, ears, mouth, mind, etc.
· In the Taittiriya Upanishad we have the father VaruNa, a Jnani,
teaching his son Bhrigu, the Self-knowledge. Again, V should have had a
localized BMI, in order to successfully communicate with his son, who
became a Jnani.
· Bhrigu, sings in great joy, the Eureka, in the words ‘Aham annam,
aham annam, aham annam..’ expressing his attainment of Atman
he must have had a mouth, vocal cords, mind, prana, etc. to be alive to give
expression to it after attaining Jnana.
· In the Kathopanishad, the Acharya is none other than Lord Yama, the
Lord of Death. He imparts Self-knowledge to Nachiketas. Yama, the Jnani,
is engaged in the busiest empirical duty, of administering death to the
multitudes of beings! The Upanishad speaks of a dialogue between Yama and
Nachiketas. Initially, Yama, offers the traditional worship to the visitor
Nachiketas, in all humility, by washing Nachiketas’ feet. Yama is asked
to do this by his women folk. In the course of the teaching, in
appreciation of Nachiketas’ sharp intellect, Yama gifts him an ornament of
high value, from what He himself is wearing. All these events show that
Yama, the Enlightened, had a body, hands, eyes, mouth, a virtue-filled mind,
We shall take up the Smriti evidence for the Jnani’s engaging in empirical
· The Gita is replete with the proof of the Jnani having a localized
BMI. For instance, in the 3rd ch. Krishna teaches that a Jnani should not
unsettle the ignorant people who are wedded to karma alone (3.25, 26). He
says the Jnani should be a role-model to the ignorant ones *by devoutly
engaging himself* in the scripturally ordained karma, of course, with the
full realization that he is not the doer.
· In 3.20 He says: Janaka, etc. were engaged in Karma. So you too,
Arjuna, do not give up karma. Shankara comments: The wise (Jnani)
Kshatriyas of old, such as Janaka and Ashvapati tried by action alone to
· In 3.24/25 Shankara comments: Suppose, you or any other man thinks
that he has achieved his ends and has realized the Self, *even he should
work for the welfare of others*, though for himself he may have nothing to
· In 3.22 the Blessed Lord shows Himself as an example. Says He: I
have nothing whatsoever to achieve in the three worlds…. yet I engage in
· In verse 2.55, 56 we have the depiction of a Man of Steady
Knowledge: He has a mind that is not tormented by misery, not elated in joy,
etc. ‘duHkeShu anudvigna manaaH’. This shows that the Enlightened has a
mind. Only when there is the possibility of misery, joy, etc. occurring,
can there be the question of not being affected by them. Another word here
is: manOgatAn kAmAn, that is he rids the mind of all the desires. This also
shows that the Jnani has a mind. And it is a localized one. How do we
assert this? When a Jnani rids his mind of desires, other ajnAni’s do not
experience that their minds are also rid of desires. This is proof of the
localized state of the Jnani’s mind.
· BG 2.61 says that he whose sense organs are controlled is a
sthitaprajna. This shows that the Enlightened one has sense organs,
indriyas. And these are essentially localized. Proof? When his sense
organs are controlled, the other ajnanis who have not done that do not
experience the benefit of calm.
· BG 6.20 uses a word ‘sthira buddhiH’ showing that the Jnani has an
intellect that is firm. This is also essentially localized. Proof? When he
has a firm intellect, the ajnanins who have not a firm intellect do not
experience the Steadiness of Knowledge.
· BG 6.22 says: ‘When having obtained It (the Knowledge of Self), he
thinks no other acquisition superior to It; when, therein established, he is
not moved even by a great pain.’ Shankara comments: Pain: such as may be
caused by a sword-cut, etc. This shows that the Jnani has a physical
A sword-cut can be inflicted only on a physical body. And this is
essentially localized. For, when the Jnani gets a sword-cut, as for example
when Ramana was hit by the thieves, the others around do not experience the
The above instances prove to us that a Jnani has a localized Body, sense
organs, mind and intellect and works in the world without any attachment.
There is the instance of a Jnani, Dharma VyAdha, described in the
Mahabharata. He was a butcher. Certainly, a butcher’s job is an empirical
engagement. He too must have had a physical body, hands to cut the animal
flesh, a mind to sell the meat and take the money, etc. All these must have
been localized ones only. He had parents whom he served with great
devotion. When he was engaged as a butcher, certainly his parents did not
experience that they were also cutting the meat, etc. This shows that that
Jnani’s BMI was localized.
Let us see some instances of the Enlightened one’s empirical engagements as
mentioned in the Brahma sutras:
The sutra ‘yAvadadhikAram avasthitiH…’ (3.3.32) says: For liberated beings
with a mission, there is corporeal existence as long as the mission demands
it. One could read the commentary to get more details.
Sutra 4.1.19 says: ‘But exhausting the other two through experiencing them
one merges in Brahman.’ Shankara says: *That the dualistic vision lasts
before the fall of the body *(for the enlightened person) is because of the
need of exhausting the remaining portion of the prArabdha through
experience. But after death there is no such dualistic vision.
This shows that the enlightened one will continue in the BMI, localized,
experiencing the fruit of the prArabdha. He will continue to experience
duality (although with the firm realization of its unreality) till the fall
of the body. This quote from Shankara also teaches us that the Jnani has the
Unified Vision of the Self and also the dualistic vision to carry on the
empirical engagements. That both these diametrically opposed visions exist
in him without contradicting each other is the beauty of Jivanmukti.
A doubt: Has not Shankara declared in the First chapter of the Brahmasutra
commentary that all duality will end immediately upon the dawn of Brahman
knowledge? Has he forgotten that while making the statement of continuing of
duality for the Jnani till death?
Reply: No. What Shankara has stated in the earlier part of Brahmasutra
commentary is only the conviction that arises in the Jnani’s mind about the
unreality of the dualistic world. This conviction does not mean the
disappearance of duality. Hence, there is no contradiction in Shankara’s
Did Acharya Shankara, admitted to be an Enlightened One, have a localized
We get the answer to this from His own words. In the Taittiriya Upanishad
Bhashyam (II.8) we come across a very rare instance of Shankara referring to
Himself in the first person singular. All over the commentary literature He
refers to Himself, the Advaitin, as ‘we shall refute it, we shall consider
it’ etc. But in this rare instance He says:
//Objection: Because there are many opponents. You are a monist, since you
follow the Vedic ideas, while the dualists are many who are outside the
Vedic pale and who are opposed to you. Therefore I apprehend that you will
not be able to determine.
Reply: *This itself is a blessing for Me that you brand Me as sworn to
monism and faced by many who are wedded to plurality. Therefore I shall
conquer all! And so I begin the discussion.// His original words are even
more striking: ‘Yetad eva Mey svasti ayanam. Ato jEShyAmi sarvAn! Arabhe
What is the proof for Shankara’s BMI to be a localized one? When He said ‘I
shall conquer all’, the others did not experience that same feeling in
their minds: ‘I shall conquer all’. This shows that Shankara’s intellect as
a commentator was subject to Him alone and did not pervade all others in the
universe. In this instance, from His own words we conclude that the Jnani
has an ego too.
Here is another instance, a glaring one, where the Acharya uses the first
न लौकिकैर्गृह्यमाणमुपलभ्य अहं विवेकतोऽर्थनिर्धारणार्थं संक्षेपतो विवरणं
करिष्यामि ।...अतस्दद्विवरणे यत्नः क्रियते मया ।
The above is found in His introduction to the Bhagavadgita Bhaashyam. He
says:' ..I have found that to the laity it appears to teadh diverse and
quite contradictory doctrines. I propose, therefore, to write a brief
commentary with a view to determine its precise meaning. .....Hence an
attempt is made by Me to explain it.' //
(To be continued and concluded in Part 3)
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