kramamukti, brahmaloka, etc

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sat Oct 2 09:04:44 CDT 1999


BSu: brahmasUtra-s
BSuBh: brahmasUtrabhAshhya of sha.nkarabhagavatpAda
Sh: sha.nkara bhagavatpAda


Dear friends,

There has been much discussion regarding kramamukti and jIvanmukti in
the recent past on our list. I do not want to go into a detailed
analysis from sha.nkarabhagavat's texts on both. Rather, I'll
concentrate on kramamukti. Many of our list members have expressed
opinion that such a thing is not possible and that jIvanmukti is
"essential". Luckily both bhagavAn bAdarAyaNa and
have explained in unambiguous terms their opinion on kramamukti.

The first relevant sUtra is:

sAmIpyAttu tadvyapadeshaH 4.3.9

Here Sh raises the pUrvapaxa that there cannot be something called
eternal existence in saguNa brahman. The pUrvapaxin says that texts
which teach about the soul being led to eternal existence must be
nirguNa brahman. sha.nkara replies that things like the soul "going"
"being led" cannot make any sense with respect to supreme brahman,
regarding which there is no coming or going. The supreme brahman is
beyond all these and is "attained" by the removal of bare ignorance.
These passages refer to saguNa brahman only.

However, Sh makes it clear in the following passages that the jIva
has performed the right meditations and karma are led to brahmaloka
from which the jIva does NOT return to the cycle of births. At the end
of the yuga, the jIvas attain realization of brahman and along with
hiraNyagarbha "attain" visHHNoH paramam padam.

It is interesting that the very same theory that there can be only
jIvanmukti has been raised as pUrvapaxa by Sh and refuted in the last
sUtram of BSu 4.4.22:

yaH cha anekadhA mantra-arthavAdAdi pradesheshhu prapa.ncyate - ***te
taM prApya na chandralokAd-iva bhuktabhogA Avartante, kutaH?

What is described in various mantra and arthavAda portions - having
obtained that (namely brahmaloka) they do not return like the enjoyers
of fruits in chandraloka, Why?

After this Sh proceeds to give many scriptural passages in support of
the view that jIvas attaining brahmaloka do NOT return.

Main points:

1. The texts which speak about the soul going to brahman by performing
various meditations refer to saguNa brahman. The supreme brahman is
"attained" by removal of ignorance here and now. The word "attain"
respect to supreme brahman is a manner of speech only, it is really
something to be attained.

2. The performers of right meditations and rituals attain brahmaloka
aishvaryam and all powers of Ishvara except that of creation. They do
NOT return to the cycle of births and deaths. We may call this
kramamukti if we like, I haven't noticed this term being used by Sh.,
although I could be mistaken.

3. At the end of the yuga, these jIvas "attain" enlightenment and
vishhNoH paramam padam along with hiraNyagarbha.

Useful references:

1. BSBh to sUtras 4.2.17-21, 4.3.7-14, 4.3.20-22.
2. IshA upanishhad bhAshhya verses 12-18.
3. Please see "jIvanmuktiviveka of VidyAraNya," edited with English
translation by Pandit S. Subhramanya Sastri and T.R.Srinivasa

Of course, some sarva-tantra-svatantras here have expressed
dissatisfaction with Swami Vidyaranya and think they know everything
about sha.nkara. They can neglect the last reference.

BTW, I am surprised to even see this discussion crop up on our list.
Sometime back someone claimed that souls return from brahmaloka and
firmly refuted it with quotations from the BSBh.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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