Forwarded message: Jivanmukti as per Advaita-Vedanta FAQ

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 10 17:54:38 CST 2000

I apologize for my long silence on this list, but I'm happy to know that
much new life has been injected into it recently. There have been many posts
to which I have been thinking of responding, but have had to refrain from
doing so, because of various constraints. This particular post raises some
key points, so I'm responding to it now.

>[Please Cc Ramana.Ranganathan at on any replies because he is not
>subscribed to the list.]

I see that Sri Ramana Ranganathan is now subscribed to the list, so I'm
posting the reply here.

>As per Vidyasankar's Advaita-Vedanta FAQ, Jivanmukti has been stated as :
>Advaita holds that realization of brahman is possible on this earth itself.
>The highly evolved seeker, who approaches vedAntic study with a pure mind,
>and a strong tendency of mumukshutva, is fit to really experience brahman.
>One who has actually realized brahman, is a jIvanmukta - he is liberated
>while still living.

I've tried to put this briefly in the FAQ, as a full discussion of
jIvanmukti can take up entire volumes. For example, there is a recent book
titled "Living Liberation" (published by SUNY, Albany) with a collection of
essays by various scholars, looking at jIvanmukti from the perspective of
various darshanas. I encourage list members to read this if they get the
opportunity, and form their own reactions to the discussions there.

>Is this the view held by Sringeri shankaracharya as well. Because as per

The repeated scriptural statement, brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati - that is the
basis for talking of jIvanmukti. For Advaita Vedanta, it is not a question
of "when" one becomes Brahman after knowing Brahman. Rather, truly "knowing"
Brahman means to know that one has always been the pure, untainted Brahman.
This is the basic view. Further refinements on details are always possible.

>Jivanmukti Viveka of Sri Vidyaranya, Knower of Brahman need not be
>Jivanmukta. To become a Jivanmukta, he has to work towards Manonaasha,
>Vasanaakshaya. For this he may take Vidvat Sannyasa. He also quotes
>Yajnavalkya as an example, where he says Yajnavalkya had knew(realized)
>Brahman during the debate. But he took Sannyasa to work towards Jivanmukti.

I have not read Jivanmuktiviveka yet, so I can't comment in detail about
this. Can you provide verse/translation references? Note that this text
discusses a number of views about jIvanmukti. Among Indian schools of
thought, it is not only advaita vedAnta that accepts the possibility of
jIvanmukti. The school of yoga also accepts it, but this school hardly talks
of the knower of Brahman.

Sankaracharya himself also describes the necessity of some practice towards
quelling the tendencies of the mind, after the rise of proper knowledge. See
for example, the commentary on bRhadAraNyaka 1. 4. 10.

Here, I can only infer, and not talk from personal certitude. Apparently,
the knowledge that one has never been not Brahman can co-exist with the
tendency of the mind towards objects. It is like the case of the man who
sees double because of defective eyesight - even after he knows the truth,
he still continues to see double. Hence, some corrective measure seems to be
called for.

>And also, as per Bhagavadgita(I don't remember the verse), if one leaves
>body by concentrating between the eyebrows etc; then he gets liberated. And
>I suppose only a Knower of Brahman, like say Swami Vivekananda, can do such
>an act during death. But if one is already Jivanmukta, all these acts
>death seem superfluous.

This is verse 8.10 in the Gita. It is a reference to a Yogic practice
closely related to Kundalini Yoga traditions. And you are right, for the
Jivanmukta, such practice during death is superfluous.

>And also if we look at many saints, there definitely seems to two groups,
>saints like Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharishi, Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati
>etc are a class apart ..... being Jivanmuktas. But others realised souls
>have definitely known something ...can call it Brahman ??  And also if we
>thru' some lectures of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati's disciple, Sri Abhinava
>Vidyathirtha, he says "he had Nirvikalpa Samadhi when he was 15  or 20
>years"(I don;'t remember). But definitely he did not become a Jivanmukta,

Aha, here lies the catch. Read further in Swami Abhinava Vidyatirtha's
discourses and dialogues. Our Acharya firmly tells the reader that
nirvikalpa samAdhi is also only an experience. This is where most of the
modern misconceptions about jIvanmukti arise. Realization of Brahman should
not be equated with nirvikalpa samAdhi. Once you give up the assumption that
one can realize Brahman only in nirvikalpa samAdhi, the questions resolve


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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