[Advaita-l] Questions about mergence

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Apr 5 18:05:02 CDT 2005

On Tue, 5 Apr 2005, Guru Meditation wrote:

> - Is it possible for any knowledgeable devotee here to provide authentic
>   references from ZaGkara's works that describe the "mergence" of jIva
>   and Brahman *after the jIva has left the physical body* and attains
>   full mukti?
> - What is the proper orthodox Advaitin understanding of this "bodiless"
>   mukti where the jIva is completely merged in Brahman?
> - Is there any vestige of individuality left, or is it total and
>   complete mergence?
> References from ZaGkara's works would be appreciated in presenting the
> answers to these points, thank you.
> Regards,
> D. Jay
> P.S. I asked this same question on the "advaitins" yahoogroup and was
> directed to the translation of ZaGkara's Brahma-sUtra bhASya by Swami
> Krishnananda, Adhyaya 4 -
> http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/bs_4/bs_4.html - being told that this
> would answer my question.
> I see from this translation that "avibhAgena dRSTatvAt" is supposedly
> interpreted to mean that the released soul attains a state of
> non-separation from Brahman, yet the successive verses speak of the
> released soul and a discussion about the limitations of their attained
> powers. How do we understand ZaGkara's teaching in terms of mergence,
> what exactly does mergence mean here? The commentary to the successive
> verses give the impression that the mukta retains individuality and has
> all powers of Brahman except the power of creation. Is this so?
> In Thibaut's translation
> (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34006.htm): "Of the released
> soul it is said in /Kh/. Up. VIII, 12, 3 that after it has manifested
> itself in its true nature it moves about playing and rejoicing with
> women, carriages, and so on." This reference is not given in
> Krishnananda's translation.
> What I would like to ask here is that, according to the Advaita-vAda of
> ZaGkara, does the mukta retain individuality upon reaching ("merging")
> in Brahman? Is this the teaching of ZaGkara? Individuality is not
> extinguished as such?

The entirety of Brahmasutra 4.4 deals with your question.  I am not too
fond of Swami Krshnanandas' translation.  Thibauts is more accurate and
there is one by the Ramakrishna mission which is good too.  Here is my

The first adhikarana is a simple statement that by liberation, we do not
mean anything new but the atma realizes its true nature.

saMpadyAvirbhAvaH svenashabdAt | 1 |

Having attained [moksha,] [the true nature] is manifested as indicated by
the word "own".

Because the Vedas say that moksha is the atmas "own nature" it indicates
that it was pre-existing and the atma had only forgotten it due to the
deluding power of maya.

But if liberation is nothing new and in fact was there all along, then
what was wrong with samsara?  Why is the liberated state any
improvement?  This is answered in the second adhikarana which is two sutras

muktaH pratiGYAnAt | 2 |

Liberated based on the thesis.

The whole thesis of the vedas is that the finite and ever-changing
samsara is inferior and liberation is necessary for immortality, complete
knowledge and eternal bliss.

AtmA prakaraNAt | 3 |

The Self based on context.

And from the context, it is obvious that the thing which is being urged to
be liberated is ones own self.

Thus the conclusion is that the highest end urged by the Vedas is
liberation of ones own self from samsara.

now the next adhikarana will consider what is the relationship of the
liberated soul to Brahman which is also described in the Vedas as

avibhAgena draShTtvAt | 4 |

Without seperation as is seen [from the shastras]

It is the testimony of the shastras that the liberated atma and Brahman
are one and indivisible.

Brahman as God (Ishvara) does take part in play (lila) "rejoicing with
women, carriages and so forth" so the atma as God does too.

But Brahman is spoken of as saguna and nirguna.  Which aspect does the
liberated atma take?  The next adhikarana considers the views of three
thinkers on this subject:

brAhmeNa jaiminiH upanyAsAdibhyaH | 5 |

Of [saguna] Brahman says Jaimini due to analogy etc.

Maharshi Jaimini thinks that by Mimamsaka critical techniques such as
upanyasa (analogy) etc. we can show that Brahman as possessing powers such
as omniescence, omnipotence etc. is being put forward as the goal for the
atma who seeks liberation.

chittitanmAtreNa tadAtmakattvAdityaudolomiH | 6 |

of pure consciousness which is its true nature says Audolomi.

Maharshi Audolomi says the true nature of Brahman is nirguna, only pure
consciousness, so that is the goal of the liberated atma.

evamapyupanyAsAt pUrvabhAvAdavirodhaM bAdarAyaNaH | 7 |

and even if the analogy [is accepted] by taking it as prior, there is no
contradiction says Badarayana.

Maharshi Badarayana, the author of the brahmasutras, says that we can
accept both theories without contradiction because we can look at the
subject from two viewpoints.  From the limited viewpoint of the ignorant
(the vyvaharic view) Brahman does appear to have gunas and so does the
atma as brahman.  From the viewpoint of Brahman (the paramarthic view) it
is only pure consciousness and thus so is the atma as Brahman.  So the
question of whether the atma retains individuality or not really depends
on the viewpoint of the person asking the question.

This post has already gotten quite long so I'll stop here and finish up in
another post but I hope this goes towards answering your questions.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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