[Advaita-l] The purport of the mahAbhArata

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 08:05:26 CST 2007


 dear sri sastri-ji,

 Your post on the subject was very enlightening.

 There is a topic which has remained unresolved for me, which is, 'What is
meant by Avatara from the advaita point of view'. How does Avatara compare
with Jivanmukta? I am aware that the avatara is one who has maya under his
control, or he is manifested by his own maya.

 Could this be explained or discussed?




Avatara means incarnation of the Lord. Lord Vishnu is said to have taken
many incarnations according to Srimad Bhagavatam, of which ten are
considered to be the most important. Lord Krishna says in the Gita that
whenever dharma is subjugated by adharma he would incarnate to protect the
good and destroy the evil-minded and to re-establish dharma. From the
advaitic point of view all the incarnations such as Krishna and Rama are
Saguna Brahman, i.e., Brahman associated with Maya.

The Jivanmukta is a jiva who, after many births, has attained Self-knowledge
as a result of his own efforts and the blessing of his guru and God. Once a
Jiva becomes a Jivanmukta he is identical with Brahman, but he continues in
his body till the prArabdha karma which gave rise to the present body is
exhausted. Then his body falls and he is not born again.

Thus Avatara is God descending into the world in a human or some other form
and is Saguna Brahman.

Jivanmukta is a jiva who has given up the notion that he is the body-mind
complex and realized that he is the Atma which is identical with Brahman.
This is not the attainment of a new state. Every jiva is in reality Brahman
even when he thinks of himself as limited by his body and mind. Liberation
is only the removal of this wrong notion.


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