[Advaita-l] j~nAna, aj~nAna and sarvaj~natvam

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Thu Aug 18 12:55:58 CDT 2011


On 12 August 2011 04:00, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>wrote:

> <<The cause of prarabda is past karma. A jivatma who identifies with the
> body is affected by prarabda as it were.>>

My response:

Couldn't post this earlier due to other preoccupations. I read your last 3
mails in this thread and will only say that they are rather offtrack,
perhaps due to some basic misunderstandings.

Earlier in this thread, I had specifically pointed out that when avidyA is
destroyed, pramAtRtvam itself is seen as mithyA. Just as the pramAtA is
mithyA, so are the specifics known or unknown to the pramAtA. In other
words, both visheSha j~nAna and visheSha aj~nAna are rendered "stingless"
for a brahmaj~nAnI because he sees all visheSha-s as mithyA.

A similar logic applies to prArabdha also. prArabdha applies to the jIva and
not to brahman. prArabdha is a consequence of kartRtvam which in turn is a
consequence of avidyA, and so without avidyA there is no prArabdha.
prArabdha-based explanations are given to account for the continuation of
the body-mind of the brahmaj~nAnI, but this is a vyAvahArika explanation
which (therefore) already admits avidyA. For a j~nAnI who sees his jIvatvam
as mithyA, his prArabdha is also mithyA. In fact, he sees himself as a nitya
mukta who was never a kartA in the first place.

For that matter, the distinction between j~nAnI and aj~nAnI is also a
vyAvahArika distinction based on avidyA, and hence mithyA. So when we talk
of one person as a brahmaj~nAnI  and another as an aj~nAnI or saMsArI, we
are already admitting avidyA. And once avidyA is admitted, jIvatvam,
pramAtRtvam and kartRtvam have to be admitted. visheSha j~nAna/aj~nAna as
well as prArabdha will naturally follow. For a brahmaj~nAnI, all these
things including his own status as a brahmaj~nAnI (as distinct from
aj~nAnI-s) are mithyA. The mithyA difference between the mithyA brahmaj~nAnI
and the mithyA aj~nAnI is that the former sees jIvatvam, pramAtRtvam,
kartRtvam, etc as mithyA !!

nirvisheSha brahman (= AtmA) alone is pAramArthika satya. And brahman is
neither pramAtA nor kartA.

Your point on the locus of avidyA is also misleading. avidyA is a factor
brought in to explain vyavahAra, and therefore all of vyavahAra including
jIvatvam and pramAtRtvam are consequences of avidyA. As jIvatvam itself is a
product of avidyA, one cannot say that the jIva is a locus of avidyA.
Sometimes, a statement that to that effect (that the jIva is the locus) may
be made as a temporary teaching, but one has to move beyond that at some
point. Strictly speaking, looking for a locus of avidyA is itself a
consequence of avidyA. In paramArtha, there is no avidyA.

Lastly, it is my observation (may or may not be true in your case) that many
people who emphasize prArabdha (as the explanation for the continuation of
the body-mind of the brahmaj~nAnI) have a certain misunderstanding regarding
the concept of jIvanmukti. In other words, the explanation itself is fine
(provided the paramArtha-vyavahAra distinction is understood) but, *in
certain cases* the reason why this explanation is given is based on a

The misunderstanding stems from the fact that many other traditions have the
view that the event of death *must* occur for mukti to be final. So they
bring this wrong idea to advaita-vedAnta as well, implying that jIvanmukti
is not a final mukti as prArabdha must still be dealt with, and that only
videhamukti, which occurs when prArabdha is exhausted, is final mukti. That
this is a misunderstanding should be obvious from the earlier paragraphs of
this very post.

The brahmaj~nAnI sees himself as nitya mukta, and does not await death to
become a full mukta. The emphasis on jIvanmukti in advaita-vedAnta shows
that the events of birth, life and death are *inconsequential* as far as a
brahmaj~nAnI is concerned. I am mentioning this because in your earlier
post, you had talked about j~nAnI-s performing 'prAyaschitta karma'. It must
be clear that a brahmaj~nAnI has no such need because prArabdha itself is

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