[Advaita-l] jIvan-mukti in advaita darshana

Ranjeet Sankar thefinalsearch at yahoo.co.uk
Thu May 13 02:13:18 CDT 2004

Namaste Shri Rameshji,

I will try to elucidate further on this issue with some references from
sruti, smriti and sankarabhAshyam-s.

> >You say that jIvanmukti is not salvation in the absolute sense and then
contradict yourself saying that salvation is for the soul and not the body.
> Badisa: There is no contradiction please. According to you, if jeevan
mukta state itself is salvation in absolute sense, then what is the fate of
karma yogis, if annihilated their karma to zero and if they die before
divine experience? More over, it is the soul, not the physical body, that
follows the 8/24 devyan path of Gita (as well as sruti) to reach the Brahma
Lok. At the end of pralaya, these souls will get absolute salvation, as
mentioned in Brahma Sutra, 4.3.10.

There seems to be some misunderstanding here. We are not at all discussing
karma-yoga here. karma-yoga and sA~Nkhya-yoga are two different things.(Ref:
Bh.Gita 2.39, 3.3). The karma-yogi, by doing actions without attachment
becomes fit for the Knowledge of the Self. Those karma-yogi-s who don't
receive the Knowledge of the Self in this birth but whose merits and
demerits have been washed away completely, reach brahmaloka and attain
salvation at the time of praLaya after receiving this Knowledge. This is
krAma-mukti. This is the same for the one who does saguNopAsana. Here, what
we are discussing is only related to the sA~NkhyA-s who follow the path of

> >How is this reconcilable? If salvation is connected only with the soul,
how does it matter whether the body is present or not?
> Badisa: Even though absolute salvation is concerned to the soul, in order
to remove the layers of ignorance (due to accumulation of karmas), the soul
requires human body. This way, the ignorance can be removed by spiritual
sadhana. Without a physical body, it is not possible to do spiritual
sadhana. Therefore, this human body needs to be utilized for divine
realization apart from doing our work.

Ignorance or any *layers of ignorance* (??) is never created due to
accumulation of karma. Action only results in merit and demerit. Ignorance
is natural. and beginingless. And only Knowledge can remove this ignorance.
No amount of spiritual sAdhanA-s without Knowledge will result in the
eradication of ignorance. This is the reason why even in krAma-mukti the
soul who reaches brahmaloka has to get the Knowledge of the Self to attain
liberation. I do agree that a human body needs to be utilised for divine
realisation apart from doing our work.

> Salvation is the realisation of unity of the Self and Brahman. When this
realisation has dawned, there is nothing else to achieve. The presence or
absence of a
body is immaterial.
> Badisa: You did not give any sruti reference for your explanation. Then,
what will happen to the divine experienced soul after the physical body dies
here? Please give sruti references.

Liberation verily is the identity with the Absolute. It is the final
realisation that only the Absolute exist. Since the Absolute is nothing
other than the true nature of the enquirer, it is just the realisation of
one's own true nature through the removal of ignorance. The notion of being
an individual capable of action, seeking liberation, doing spiritual sAdhana
are all in the realm of ignorance. Liberation is the eradication of this

In His introduction to brahmasUtrabhAshya, Sri Sankara bhagavatpAda says
thus -

" All forms of worldly and vedic behaviour that are connected with valid
means of knowledge and objects of knowledge start by taking for granted this
mutual superimposition of the Self and the non-Self, known as nescience
(avidya); and so do all the sriptures dealing with injunction, prohibition
or emancipation.
Thus occurs this superimposition which has neither begining nor end but
flows on eternally, that appears as the manifested universe and its
apprehension, that conjures up agentship and enjoyship, and that is
perceived by all persons. In order to eradicate this source of evil and in
order to acqruire the Knowledge of the Unity of the Self, is begun a
discussion of all the upaniShat-s. We shall show in this discussion about
the nature of the embodied soul, that this is the purport
of all the upaniShat-s. "

So liberation is only the eradication of ignorance. This happens only by the
rise of Knowledge and nothing else. When this knowledge has risen, there is
nothing else to attain. This is a state which can be achieved even while in
the body. After realisation, whether the body is there or not is immaterial.

For this, we have the verse from Br.Up 4-4-6:
athAkAmayamAnaH - yo.akAmo niShkAma AptakAma AtmakAmo na tasya prANA
utkrAmanti brahmaiva sanbrahmApyoti |

[Translation:  But the man who does not desire (never transmigrates). Of him
who is without desires, who is free from desires, the object of whose
desires have been attained, and to whom all objects of desire are but the
Self - the organs do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in
Brahman. ]

Sri Sankara's commentary:
" Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman. Because he has no desires that
cause the limitation of non-brahmanhood, therefore 'being but Brahman, he is
merged in Brahman' *in this very life, not when the body falls*. A man of
realisation, after his death, has no change of condition - something
different from what he was in life, but he is only not connected with other
body. This is what is meant by his becoming 'merged in Brahman'; for if
liberation was a change of condition, it would contradict the unity of the
Self that all the upaniShat-s seek to teach "

To substantiate this, the next verse says,
yadA sarve pramuchyante kAmA ye.asya hRRIadi shritAH |
atha martyo.amRRIto bhavatyatra brahma samashnuta iti || -Br.Up 4-4-7

[ Translation: When all the desires that dwell in this heart are gone, then
he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, and attains Brahman in this very
body. ]

Sri Sankara's commentary:
" And attains Brahman, the identity with Brahman, ie * liberation, living in
this very body*. Hence *liberation does not require such things as going to
some place*. "

Further in Bh.Gita 5-24:
yo.antaHsukho.antarArAmastathAntarjyotireva yaH |
sa yogI brahmanirvANaM brahmabhUto.adhigachChati ||

[ Translation: One who is happy within, whose pleasure is within, and who
has his light only within, that yogi, having become Brahman, attains
absorption in Brahman. ]

Sri Sankara Comments:
" That yogi, who is of this kind, having become Brahman, *even while he is
still alive* attains absorption in Brahman - gets liberation "

It is clear from His words that jIvanmukta doesn't have to wait for anything
after the realisation of the Unity of the Self. His body which is the effect
of the merits and demerits of past lives will continue its course just like
a wheel set in motion. After ignorance has been eradicated by knowledge,
there is no doership on his part. The presence or absence of body is
immaterial to him.

Sri Sankara says in his commentary for Br.Su.Bh 1-1-4:
" Therefore, since being embodied is the result of false notions, it is
proved that the enlightened person is not embodied even while alive. "

> The soul of jIvanmukta doesnt merge with anything upon the death of the
physical body. The *merging*, *becoming* etc. are all just figurative
> Badisa: Sir! who has to say it? On the other hand, if these are your
personal opinions, then they are respectable. If not, then,  I request you
to quote sruti references in your next posting.

Since the jIvanmukta has realised the Unity of the Self, he doesnt have to
merge into something else. The *merging* is essentially meant to show that
he doesnt acquire another body.

Sri Sankara says in his commentary for Br.Su.Bh 1-1-4:
" The phrase 'he dissolves in the Absolute' only means that he does not pass
to any other body. "

Further in Katha Up. 2-2-1:
anuShThAya na shochati vimuktashcha vimuchyate |

[ Translation: Having done spiritual practice, he no longer grieves. Though
already liberated, he acquires final liberation. ]

Sri Sankara comments:
" Though already liberated, he acquires final liberation means that he does
not acquire a body again. "

> In Summary:
> Badisa: Absolute salvation is concerned only with soul. In order to reach
to that state, the ignorance and bondage etc need to be removed on the part
of soul, and if not removed then the soul is caught in samsar, life after
life, meaning that the soul will take upadhi every time.

Ignorance and bondage are not real in the highest sense and it does not
affect the soul in any way. It is just like the case of the rope which is
not affected by the rise and fall of the illusionary snake. Soul is pure,
eternal and is always liberated. No amount of purification is needed for the
soul to get liberated.

On this point Sri Sankara says thus :
" Nor does liberation depend on action in the form of purification.
Purification is brought about either through conferring some new attribute
on the thing to be purified, or else removing a defect. But in the case of
liberation it is not possible to confer a new attribute. For liberation is
the Absolute in its true nature, to which nothing can be superadded. Nor can
there be purification through removal of defetcs. For liberation is the
Absoilute in its true nature, eternally pure and free from defects."
(Br.Su.Bh 1-1-4)

No karma can affect a jIvanmukta who is above all sorts of actions. He has
become Brahman which is above all change, void of any modifications. Neither
merit and demerit and their results, nor time, past, present and future, can
approach him. For him, just like the wheel set in motion, the body will
continue and upon complete fruitification of this effect, it will fall. At
that time, there is no returning back or moving forward. Being nothing but
the Absolute, he merges in the Absolute.

> A human body is required to practise spiritual sadhana. That is the reason
our experienced spiritual masters always emphasize that when we are blessed
with this human body, it  needs to be utilized for divine realization apart
from doing our work. Absolute salvation is resulted by the spiritual sadhana
done by the live physical body. Thus, when the prarabdha karma is zero for a
jeevan mukta, this physical body falls down here on the earth, while this
soul will merge in divine, called absolute salvation (sadhyo mukti). The
state of a jeevan mukta is not an absolute salvation, even though he has
experienced the
divine. See, he is still facing his prarabdha karma, and because of which he
has some delay to achieve absolute salvation. Thus, we have in sruti, "for
> him there is some delay as long as he is not delivered from the physical
body"(Chh. Up. 6.14.2). This delay is for getting absolute. Why this delay
> for a jeevan mukta? Because, he is still facing the prarabdha
karma.Therefore, a physical body is required to annihilate the karma, and to
experience the divine.

As for Ch.Up 6-14-2, it is accepted that from the empirical standpoint a
jIvanmukta is seen affected by a body and there is a delay. But in the
absolute standpoint, there is no delay whatsoever for him. The merits and
demerits of the actions of a jIvanmukta does not affect him in any way.

Sri Sankara comments on this mantra as follows:
" Those actions which have started yielding results, and those by which the
body of the man of Knowledge has been moulded, gets exhaused only through
enjoyment, just like an arrow etc. that has gained momentum after being shot
towards a target, stops only with the exhaustion of its momentum, and *not
because it has no purpose to serve at the time it pierces the target*.
As in the case of an arrow that has been shot, the enjoyment of the results
of actions that have become active is inevitably for the the man of
knowledge, *even though there is no need of his living etc.* "

So the purpose of life in the body is only for the exhaustion of momentum of
the effect which has already started its course. It doesn't purify or has
any other effect on the soul. It doesn't affect the jIvanmukta in any way.
He is already liberated while in this body. If liberation in the absolute
sense is only at the time of death for a jIvanmukta, then it would mean that
for a jivanmukta liberation is death, which is absurd.

To substantiate this point, Sri Sankara concludes the commentary on this
mantra thus :
" And we said that for a knower of Brahman, there can be no action after the
rise of knowledge. You should also remember that. "

Sri Sankara has used this mantra to bring out the logic behind the existance
of the body for a jIvanmukta after the rise of Knowledge. This mantra
doesn't stand to show that jIvanmukti is a step below any other kind of

I do hope that the above points and references is enough to show that these
are not my personal opinions. The understanding you have on the subject
matter is like the one followed in the system of Difference in Identity
propounded by Shri BhAskarAchArya. The below quotes are from Shri
BhAskarAchArya's commentary on Br.Su.

" Liberation is of two kinds. While a person is still alive in the body,
liberation for him means liberation from attachment, aversion and
infatuation, and their offspring such as conceit and the like. After the
death of the body, there is total and final liberation. " - Br.Su.Bh 4-1-14

" There is no escape from experiencing the whole of the portion of merit and
demerit which initaited the body through which liberation is attained. And
one who supports a body inevitably undergoes pleasure and pain. Therefore
whose who say that there can be liberation for one who is yet alive go
beyond the teaching of the veda-s. They also contradict perceived
experience. " - Br.Su.Bh 1-3-20

It would suffice to say that in advaita as propounded by Shri Sankara
BhagavatpAda, jIvanmukti is liberation in the absolute sense. He attains
liberation while in the body itself.

Hari Om

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