[Advaita-l] Definition of Jnani

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 02:13:34 CDT 2011

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 12:35 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <
rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> The Lord defines a jnani as *nitya yukta eka bhakti:*  (steadfast in one
> pointed devotion). Madhusudana Saraswati names gopis, akrura and yudhistra
> as examples of jnanis in this context. Even in the context of "*vasudevam
> sarvam iti*", Madhusudana says that the jnani *constantly adores *with the
> realization  that every thing and I are Vasudeva, the supreme object of
> love. My understanding of advaitam is the jivan mukta is verily brahman
> itself.  Brahman cannot even be said to know that "I exist" because it is
> very jnanam.* In that state, where is the question of loving or adoring
> because there is none else to love or adore?* Hence my questions, what is
> the definition of jnani as per advaita tradition?


It is quite natural that many who have not undertaken a deep study of the
Acharya's bhashyam are likely to carry ideas about the Advaita Jnani that
are quite contrary to the Advaitic presentation.  'A brahmavit, jnani, is
non-different from Brahman'  does not incapacitate the jnani, who is
essentially a person also, from expressing love, compassion, empathy, etc.
with reference to 'others'.  All these traits are described in the Bh.Gita
and the jnani with these is said to be a 'sthita prajna', ' trigunaateeta',
'bhakta', etc.  Shankaracharya has said in the Brahmasutra bhashya 4.1.19
that the jnani, as long as he is alive, will have 'bheda darshana'.  This
statement of Shankara could come as a shock to some people as their
'kalpana' of a jnani is someone who is endowed with abheda driShTi, which
also Shankara has stressed.  What Shankara means in that sentence is only
that the jnani, who operates with the body-mind-sense organs in the world,
will have the appropriate vision of difference too that is required for
vyavahara.  Otherwise, Shankara Himself could not be capable of
differentiating between the Brahma sutra, the Gita and the Upanishads and
within the upanishads between one and the others and within the Gita between
one chapter and others and between verses and within the Sutras between one
and the other.  All this vyavahara will be possible ONLY if the jnani is
understood to be having the necessary 'bheda driShTi' too, which however, is
not antagonistic with the 'abheda drishTi' that the Advaita jnanam has given

With this background, we can see just a couple of 'definitions' of a jnani
that Shankara has given:

1.  Chandogya Up. 4.9.2:  प्रसन्नेन्द्रियः प्रहसितवदनश्च निश्चिन्तः कृतार्थो
ब्रह्मविद्भवति । //A knower of Brahman is possessed of tranquil organs and a
smiling face; he is without care, and contended.//

2. Taittiriya Up. 2.7 बाह्यानन्दसाधनरहिताः अपि निरीहा निरेषणा ब्राह्मणा
बाह्यरसलाभादिव सानन्दा दृश्यन्ते विद्वांसः, नूनं ब्रह्मैव रसस्तेषाम् ।
//Inasmuch as those BrAhmaNas who have realized Brahman are seen to be as
happy as one is from obtaining an external source of joy - though, in fact,
they do not take help of any external means of happiness, make no effort,
and cherish no desire - , it follows, as a matter of course, that Brahman
is, indeed, the source of their joy and is the spring of their happiness.//

The above are only samples; there are several other sentences from the
Acharya's pen on the jnani.


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