[Advaita-l] The nature of the jiva in Vedanta

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 02:55:46 CDT 2012

The svarUpa of the jiva in the Vedanta systems is presented variously by
these systems.  It would be interesting to know what the jiva's status is
in these systems.

Recently, during a discussion with Swami Sri Vishwanandana Tirtha, a
scholar-sannyAsi of the Madhwa following, he stated that in Dvaita, that
is, the Madhwa system, the jiva is 'nitya baddha'.  This means: the jiva is
'eternally bound'.

Sri Velukkudi Kannan Swami, an exponent of the Vishishtadvaita philosophy,
has said:  'In our srIvaiShNava sampradAya the jiva is 'nitya paratantra'.
This means: the jiva is for ever dependent.

In both the above systems, the jiva, while in samsara, is dependent on
Ishwara and even while in mOksha is bound  by/dependent on Ishwara.  These
systems admit of eternal 'kainkaryam', service, of Ishwara, in VaikunTha by
the mukta jiva-s.   Liberation and bandha/paaratantryam co-exist in these
systems in the state of mokSha.

In the Advaita system the jiva is none other than Brahman and therefore
there is no dependence or bondage for the jiva in moksha.  Liberation is
absolute, without the bandha/pAratantrya attached to it unlike the other
two systems.

There is, however, dependence on Ishwara while in bandha.  This is because
the jiva's karma that keeps him in bondage is dependent on Ishwara for the
karma phala.  Shankara says in the Bhagavadgita commentary 15th chapter

*यस्मात् मदधीनं कर्मिणां कर्मफलं ज्ञानिनां च ज्ञानफलम्, *अतो भक्तियोगेन मां
ये सेवन्ते ते मत्प्रसादात् ज्ञानप्राप्तिक्रमेण गुणातीताः मोक्षं गच्छन्ति ।
किमु वक्तव्यं आत्मनस्तत्त्वमेव सम्यग्विजानन्त इत्यतो भगवान् अर्जुनेन
अपृष्टोऽपि आत्मनस्तत्त्वं विवक्षुरुवाच - ऊर्ध्वमूलमित्यादिना ।

Here one can see that while in bondage the karma phala is dependent on
Ishwara and even the sadhana for attaining Jnana and moksha through jnana,
is dependent on Ishwara.  It might be questioned: Why should jnana phala,
that is moksha, be dependent on Ishwara?  The reason is that moksha is
relative to bandha.  All sadhana takes place in the ajnAna-born bandha
avasthA alone and therefore is subject to the operation of Ishwara-created
rules.  Thus, when a sAdhaka does the required sAdhana for Jnana, if there
are not obstacles, the jnAna arises destroying ajnAna.  In case there are
obstacles, pratibandhaka-s, despite the necessary sAdhana, the jnAna will
not arise.  Once the obstacles are exhausted then the liberating jnAna
arises unobstructed, resulting in moksha.  Thus the entire sAdhana-phala
process is within the domain of Ishwara.  It would be pertinent to note
what Shankara says - तदनुग्रहहेतुकेनैव  च ज्ञानेन मोक्षसिद्धिर्भवितुमर्हति
.  It is by the Jnana that ensues owing to the* grace of Ishwara
alone*that the accomplishment of moksha comes about. [ Brahma sutra


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