Jivanamuktiviveka of Swami Vidyaranya

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Oct 25 20:42:20 CDT 1999

In the past we've had a lot of discussions on the list about jivanmukti,
the idea that one can be liberated in this lifetime.  One of the most
influential works on this topic in our parampara is Jivanamuktiviveka of
Swami Vidyaranya.  Yesterday, on the auspicious occasion of Sharadapurnima
I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy of it.  As I read through it,
i'll post a paraphrase and some notes to the list.

About the author

Who exactly the author was is a little ambiguous. Two of the greatest
luminaries of the 14th Century were Shayanacharya and his son
Madhavacharya. (Actually it is not entirely clear if these were two
seperate people or one.)  They were instrumental in the founding of the
Vijayanagara Empire.  Shayanacharya is the author of the standard
commentaries on the Vedas.  Madhavacharya is the author of many works
including Jaimininyayamala on the Mimamsasutras and Vaiyasikanyayamala on
Vedantasutras and the Vistara commentaries thereon, the
Parasharamadhaviyam, a commentary on the Parasharasmrti and very
influential in Dharmashastra, and one of the Shankaradigvijayas.

One of these, probably Madhavacharya became a sannyasi and Jagadguru
Shankaracharya of the Shrngagiri pitha under the name Vidyaranya.
Together with his Guruji, the previous Jagadguru Swami Bharatitirtha, he
was responsible for many great works.  Foremost is the Panchadashi which
is probably _the_ most influential post-Shankaracharya text on Advaita
Vedanta, commentaries on Brhadaranyakopanishad and some works of
Shankaracharya and Sureshvaracharya, and of course the Jivanamuktiviveka.
Swami Bharatitirtha's predecessor was Swami Vidya (or Vidyashankara)
Tirtha and it is to him this book is dedicated.


After paying respects to his Paramaguru Shri Swami Vidyatirtha, the author
begins by describing two kinds of sannyasa.  The Sannyasa of the vidvisha
or seeker, and the sannyasa of the vidwana or knower.  The first kind is
the case of mukti after death (videhamukti) and the second is the cause of
mukti while still alive (jivanamukti).

Vairagya or detachment is the basis of Sannyasa.  Shruti says "One should
give it [the world] up as soon as one feels detachment."  The various
rules and stages of the sannyasashrama are dealt with in the Puranas and
other Dharmashastras.  The shastras describe foure types of Sannyasis.
Kutichaka, Bahudaka, Hansa, and Paramahansa.  Below these is the person
who renounces the world out of disgust.  I.e. maybe he has lost his child,
or suddenly gone bankrupt etc. [1]

Next higher is the person who thinks "In this life I will not have a wife
and children or amass wealth."  This is the Bahudaka if he moves from
place to place or the Kutichaka if he stays in one place.  Both of them
are tridandis.

Next higher is the person who thinks "As far as I am concerned, this world
with its cycle of births does not exist."[3]  If he believes the result of
such thinking will be brahmaloka, he is a Hansa.  If he believes it will
lead to the final liberation (Moksha) he is a Paramhansa.

The Paramhansa's are again divided into two kinds based on whether they
are Jignasus or Seekers[4] or Jnanis or Knowers[5]

[1] Such a person is a sannyasi only for emotional reasons. Thus this is
called "blunt" vairagya. Maybe later some other emotion will sweep him up
and he will forget about vairagya.  Obviously such a person is not cut out
for mukti.

[2] This is interesting.  I thought Tridandis were sannyasis who had taken
the Vaishnava style of sannyasa?  Apparently here Swamiji is treating them
as Advaitins albeit of an inferior kind.  Although their vairagya is
"sharp" in comparison with the preceding type, they are still relatively
inferior because they are still identifiying with the material body.

[3] This is the "sharpest" kind of vairagya and the only one that reals
deserves to be called vairagya.

[4] i.e. vidvisha sannyasis

[5] i.e. vidvana sannyasis.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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