[Advaita-l] BrahmaGYAna and jIvanmukti - 1 (An Outline)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 30 23:56:56 CST 2006

OM shrI gurubhyo namaH . hariH OM .
OM mahAgaNapataye namaH .

This series will consider the differences between BrahmaGYAna and
jIvanmukti, and explain how there can possibly be differences between
the two in advaita VedAnta, where the goal to salvation is through
wisdom alone. The primary reference text used will be the
jIvanmuktiviveka (JMV) of svamI vidyAraNya (SV). I will post the
series in small installments, and complete the series in about 5

The primary reference book used will be:

* JMV-SM: "Jivan Mukti Viveka" by Swami Moksadananda, published by
the Ramakrishna Math.

I will also occasionally refer to the following dissertation, because
it provides verse numbers, unlike the above book:

* JMV-RG: "The Treatise on Liberation-in-Life, Critical Edition and
Annotated Translation of The Jivanmuktiviveka of Vidyaranya", Ph.D.
Dissertation submitted to the University of Texas at Austin, by
Robert Alan Goodding, 2006. Available online at

First invocatory verse of the JMV:

yasya niHSvasitaM vedAyovedebhyo.akhilaM jagat ..
nirmame tamahaM vande vidyAtIrthamaheshvaram.h ..
"I bow to the Great Lord vidyAtIrtha, who has created the world from
the Vedas, which are his very breath."

Basic Theory in the JMV

The fundamental thesis of the JMV is that:

  jIvanmukti = BrahmaGYAna + vAsanAkshaya + manonAsha

Some find the above thesis difficult to accept because it flies in
the face of "standard advaita VedAnta" that holds:

  jIvanmukti = BrahmaGYAna

Since SV's thesis *appears* to be opposed to the traditional
doctrine, it requires a great deal of explanation. Anyone who has
read Sankara knows that once BrahmaGYAna has dawned, the world
(everything besides Brahman) is sublated, and nothing but Brahman
remains. Hence the doubt naturally arises as to how latent tendencies
(vAsanAs) or the mind (manas) can possibly exist after Brahman is
fully, perfectly, and directly known.

SV's explanation is that there are some *special cases* among persons
who have attained BrahmaGYAna, for whom avidyA still remains
undestroyed. This particularly occurs when the person does not
possess firmness in sAdhana-chatushhTaya, but has attained
BrahmaGYAna. It is possible for such BrahmaGYAna to be samyak
(perfect), and aparoksha (direct), yet adR^iDha (infirm). In order to
render their BrahmaGYAna firm, these persons have to practise
vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha to attain mukti.

Thus, JMV's thesis can also be stated as:

  Firm sAdhana-chatushhTaya   -->  Firm BrahmaGYAna    =   mukti

  Infirm sAdhana-chatushhTaya --> Infirm BrahmaGYAna  =/=  mukti


SV uses different terminology for the two kinds of GYAnIs, depending
on whether or not the GYAnI has firmness in BrahmaGYAna.

  One who has firm BrahmaGYAna: "sthitapraGYa" = "jIvanmukta"

  One who does not have firm BrahmaGYAna: "GYAnimAtra"

Note that "sthitapraGYa" and "jIvanmukta" are synonymous terms,
indicating that firmness in BrahmaGYAna is exactly identical to

Different kinds of sannyAsa

The JMV speaks of two different kinds of sannyAsa:

  vividiShA sannyAsa - taken by one who seeks BrahmaGYAna

  vidvat sannyAsa - taken by one who already has BrahmaGYAna,
                    and now seeks jIvanmukti

SV's recommendation is that a "GYAnimAtra", who has attained
BrahmaGYAna by infirm sAdhana-chatushhTaya, should take up vidvat
sannyAsa, and then practise vAsanAkshaya and manonAsha to attain

The next posting will consider an example of a BrahmaGYAnI who is not
a sthitapraGYa (jIvanmukta) - that of yAGYavalkya from the
BR^ihadaaraNyaka upanishhad.

hariH OM .

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