[Advaita-l] Re: jivanmukti

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 11 11:31:48 CST 2003

N.Seshan wrote:

>i think here the ground becomes a bit tricky. The gradation among
>jivanmuktas is found in the yoga vasistha possibly ,
>neither sankara nor the immediate sisciples mention any such thing, I do 
>know any ref in the Gaudapada karika, is there
>sruti support for the same? if we argue that bcos life is there, the person
>eats bcos he / she is alive, should it be taken that
>there is a desire for living?

There is a technical term for "desire to live". It is called abhiniveSa, and 
is listed as one of the five kleSas (afflictions) in the yogasUtras. 
However, if a person eats just enough to sustain life in the body for as 
long as the body continues to operate, then we cannot interpret that as an 
operative and positive desire for living. As far as vedAnta is concerned, 
the flip side to the issue of jIvanmukti is that there cannot be a "desire 
to die" too. This is because a desire to die arises as much out of an 
identification with the physical body as the desire to live.

>I think the potter's wheel example for the prarabdha remaining in a 
>life is better, that the inertial force
>will tend to die out on its own and no attention need be paid to it. What
>are we trying to prove here? IF a jivan mukta smokes,
>let him that is it...

But if the smoking is the result of an intense physical desire to feel the 
nicotine high, then that is a sign that the person is not yet a jIvanmukta, 
no matter what he or she might claim. If the inertial force dies out on its 
own, then one visible symptom of that should be the dying out of all 
desires, including the desire to smoke, even if that person was a cigarette 
addict in the past.

Tahir Nazir wrote:

> >Freedom is a key to being a jivanmukti. One could then say that person
> >must be free from desire, from hunger, etc. But these realised beings do
> >eat food, why do they consume food if there is no desire? If one can eat
> >food then surely one can smoke 20 cigarettes a day and still be free.

Following such an argument to a logical conclusion, a cocaine/heroine addict 
can continue taking drugs every day; a pathological murderer can still 
commit 20 murders a day and remain free. There is no line that you can draw 
from this perspective.

The tradition clearly lays down guidelines for food consumption. They eat 
just enough of whatever comes their way. As Sankara says in the gItA 
commentary, the realised person eats solid food to fill half his stomach, 
drinks water for a fourth, and leaves the remaining fourth empty. The key is 
moderation and not indulging in either overeating or starving unnecessarily. 
Consumption of food should not be out of desire, but only to sustain life. 
If someone who says he is a jIvanmukta wants to eat only gourmet food 
everyday, and detests offerings of simple food, then that is a sure sign 
that he is lying about his state of jIvanmukti.


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