Friday, December 13, 2013



Dr. Ch. Durga Prasada Rao
Centre for Consciousness Studies
Dayalbagh Educational Institute
Dayalbagh, AGRA-282005 INDIA.

पूर्णमद: पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते
(Purnam adah purnam idam,
purnat purnam udachyate
Purnasya purnam adaya
Purnam eva avasisyate)

That is full; this is full. The full comes out of the full. Taking the full from the full the full itself remains. (Translation of S. Radhakrishnan). A person who realizes this Truth while alive is a Jivanmukta.

Among the four goals of human life, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, Moksha is considered to be the ultimate as the attainment of which is permanent and gives Supreme Bliss. Moksha, also known as Mukti is of two types, Jivanmukti and Videhamukti. Attainment of the final emancipation during one's life time is Jivanmukti while attainment of the same after death is Videhamukti. The concept of Jivanmukti is a unique feature in Indian Philosophy.

Though the concept of Jivanmukti, 'liberation while living’, appears to be contradictory in terms, it can be attained during one's life time; as false knowledge is the cause of bondage one can become liberated by the removal of the same. In the language of the Upanishads, liberation means अशरीरत्वम् (Ashariratvam) bodiless-ness. The Self, also known as Supreme Consciousness is bodiless and immutable. It is free from limitations of time, space and objects and is the sub-stratal principle of every thing. It is supra – rational. But it appears to be present in the bodies which are impermanent due to the false identification and it becomes सशरीर (Sasharira) I .e., embodied, and appears to be reduced to an Individual Self. Here the bodies present themselves in three different forms - gross, subtle and causal.


As analyzed in the Upanishads, the human frame consists of three bodies and five sheaths. The bodies are 1. Gross 2. Subtle and 3. Causal and sheaths are Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya.

For example the shell of a tamarind corresponds to the Gross body. The pulp represents the subtle body. The seed corresponds to causal body. To explain the same in a scientific way, ice represents the gross body, Water represents the subtle body and H 2 O represents the causal body. (Practice of Vedanta by Sivananda Saraswati- p.47)


The gross body, also known as physical body, is made up of five elements. They are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. It contains the Annamayakosa, the food sheath. It disintegrates into its component parts only after death. This body is the resultant product of our karmas. We experience the existence of this body in waking state. When the karmas are fried up on the dawn of the knowledge of the Supreme Self, we no longer take up any new body.


This is composed of seventeen elements and represents three sheaths viz., the sheath of vital force Pranamayakosa, mind Manomayakosa, and intellect Vijnanamayakosa. The elements constitute five sensory organs such as skin, eye, ear , tongue and nose and five motor organs such as mouth, hand, leg, anus and genital organ and five vital forces viz., Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana and mind and intellect. This body is very subtle and more expansive than physical body. This subtle body, inside the physical body is compared to be a bladder in a foot ball. (Practice of Vedanta by Sivananda saraswati- p 48.) It is the seat of desires and emotions. It is this body that goes to the heaven and hell and comes back after experiencing the fruits of its actions. Death means the separation of this subtle body from the physical body. It is the subtle body that operates in dream state. This body has the capacity to expand and contract. It contracts in small creatures, and expands in big animals. This subtle body will get dissolved only after Videhamukthi. Physical body cannot do any thing without the help of this subtle body.


The causal body is the cause for the two other bodies. It is formed of the ultra-fine mental energies of causal matter and contains the impressions in a seed form. This body accommodates Anandamayakosa and functions in deep sleep. Atman is distinct from these three bodies. So It is neither physical body nor subtle body nor even causal body. It is beyond these three. It is Pure Being, Pure Consciousness and Pure Bliss. But it is misunderstood as the individual self or false self due to the identification of the body and senses which have no independent existence.

This identification is really a mistaken knowledge and this mistaken knowledge is not the outcome of an indescribable matter . This misidentification of the Atman with the body-mind complex is in the experience of every one. This false identification has no beginning or end, but this can be sublimated by the right knowledge of the real self/Atman. Mistaking one thing for the other is the result of not knowing the real nature of that particular thing. Knowing the Atman as the body-mind complex and the body-mind complex as the Atman is a mistaken/false knowledge. We have conceived difference between ourselves and the Supreme Reality owing to this mistaken knowledge only. If this mistaken knowledge is realized as such by the right kind of inquiry it is stultified by the true knowledge which results in self-realization. Then the Atman, which is the core of one's being reveals Himself as Pure Being, Pure Consciousness and Pure Bliss. The stultification of the mistaken knowledge and the birth of the new knowledge of one's true being, the all-pervading Atman, are two events that happen simultaneously on approaching and receiving the instructions from a Guru who is both a Jnani (man of wisdom) and a Tattvadarshi (Seer of the truth). (B. G. IV. 34)

Here the Tejobindu Upanishad summarizes the nature of Jivanmukta as follows.

देहत्रयातिरिक्तोहं शुद्धचैतन्यमस्म्यहम्
ब्रह्माहमिति यस्यान्त: स जीवन्मुक्त उच्यते
Brahmahamiti yasyantah
sa jivnmukta uchyate)

He alone is said to be liberated while alive, who realizes that he is neither gross body, nor subtle body nor causal body but a Pure Being, Pure Consciousness and Pure Bliss.


The statements such as ब्रह्म वेद ब्रह्मैव भवति (Brahmaveda brahmaiva bhavati) which means 'The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman and तस्य तावदॆव चिरं यावन्न विमोक्ष्यॆ अथ संपत्स्ये (Tasya tavadeva chiram yavanna vimokshye atha sampatsye) (Cha.6/14/2.) which also means that the person who is liberated remains here only so long as he is not released from the body and the moment he is relieved from the body he reaches perfection, establishes the concept of Jivanmukti.
Mundakopanishad describes the process of realization of Supreme Reality in a wonderful manner.

भिद्यतॆ हृदयग्रन्थि: छिद्यन्ते सर्वसंशया:
क्षीयन्तॆ चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन् दृष्टॆ परावरे
(Bhidyate hridayagranthih
Chidyante sarvasamsayah
Kshiyante chasya karmani
Tasmin drishte paravare) (2-2-8)

On the realization of the Supreme Reality, which is effect as well as cause itself, the knot of the heart i. e. the identifying factor of the body with the self, is unravel led; all doubts are destroyed; all karmas i. e the latent impressions, are annihilated.

Here one may question that if all actions are annihilated on the realization of Supreme Self, how can the body of a liberated soul sustain? The answer given by Sri Sankaracharya, the exponent of Advaita philosophy, is as follows. Karma i. e. action, good or evil, is of three kinds – Prarabdha, Sanchita and Agami. Prarabdha is a portion of the past karmas to be worked out in the present life. Sanchita is the accumulated karma from previous births. And Aagami Karma is the current Karma, the result of which will fructify in future. On the dawn of the knowledge of the Supreme self, the nescience which leads to the false identification of the spirit with the mind, senses and body vanishes, the knot between the Chit and Achit cut and the accumulated Karma (Sanchita) will be destroyed. The Agami karma will not affect and Prarabdha will be enjoyed and then he will become one with the Ultimate Reality. To explain such a condition Sri Sankaracharya gives an analogy. Although living, he does not bear the notion of “I” or “Mine” with reference to the gross and the subtle bodies and their characteristics as before. Just as a snake towards the skin it has sloughed off upon an ant hill even so the Jivanmukta does not have any sense of belonging towards the body in which he continues to live for some time.

He, in order to further support his argument, says that as a potter's wheel goes on revolving, after the vessel that it was forming is completed', so the body, which was necessary till the attainment of true knowledge, may continue to exist even after the rise of knowledge.

Muktika Upanishad describes this state as the state of Jivanmukti. And according to it the saints by whom the Atmajnana is attained live till their fruit-yielding actions (prarabdha karmas) are exhausted.
This Jivanmukti state can be achieved by any true seeker under the guidance of a living guru. The statement आचार्यवान् पुरुषो वेद( chandogya Upanishad, 6-14-2) Acharyavan purusho veda ( Person who has a living Guru attains knowledge) supports this view.


The nature of pure consciousness is to some extent revealed to us by the statements and activities of those jivanmuktas. Though the bliss, experienced by them is one and the same, their activities are different, and the difference constitutes the goal and mission of their life. Vidyaranya in his Jivanmuktiviveka avers that they can be categorized into innumerable types depending upon their nature, status achieved, priorities decided and activities, both worldly and spiritual, taken up to accomplish. And while discussing the characteristics of Jivanmuktas, he describes seven stages.

  1. The first stage of cognition is called 'auspicious will'. It consists of the right desire to cross the ocean of Samsara i. e., the cycle of births and deaths and the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman through Satsang (company of holy people). Satsang is an essential first step without which liberation is not possible. Sankara also speaks of the importance of Satsang by saying that Satsang leads to detachment; detachment leads to non delusion; and non-delusion leads to steadiness of mind which ultimately leads to liberation.

सत्संगत्वे निस्संगत्वं निस्संगत्वे निर्मोहत्वम्
निर्मोहत्वे निश्चलतत्त्वं निश्चलतत्त्वे जीवन्मुक्ति:(भजगोविन्दस्तोत्रम्)

  1. The second stage is called 'discrimination'. In this stage, he starts inquiring into the nature of Ultimate Reality and also this world. The desire to know the reality through the study of scriptures, association with the holy men and observance of non-attachment, are the hall marks of the sadhaka in this stage of discrimination. “Who am I? How can I cross this ocean of phenomenal existence? What is to be my fate? which of the means should I adopt? Oh God ! Save me by describing the way to put an end to the misery of this relative existence” will be his constant prayer.
  1. The third stage is called 'attenuate-mindedness'. When the attachment to sense-objects becomes attenuated by the exercise of auspicious will and discrimination, he is called attenuated-minded. In this stage he knows the nature of the Ultimate Reality namely the Brahman, not experientially but indirectly through intellect by analyzing the differences between Consciousness and Awareness. Awareness is primordial. It is the original state, beginning less, endless, uncaused, without parts, without change . Consciousness is, on contact a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without Awareness, but there can be Awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to the content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeable while Awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.

These three stages are the only means to the indirect knowledge of Brahman and are not included in the knowledge proper, in as much as the sense of reality of the variety is not dissolved in these three stages. For this reason they are supposed to constitute the waking state of Jivanmukta. The reality is perceived by him like the world in the waking state.

IV. In the fourth stage, all the vasanas (impressions) of the sadhaka are uprooted. He realizes Brahman directly. The experiential knowledge of the Brahman that he now possesses is incontrovertible and beyond a shadow of doubt. He then experiences the direct and undifferentiated awareness of oneness of the Supreme self and the Individual self – Brahman and Atman. Study of and reflection on the Vedanta texts and guidance of a competent Guru form the firm foundation for such a supreme realization. This stage is called the stage of enlightenment and it is the natural consequence of the previous three stages. He experiences the nature of Brahman, the material cause of the world, pure existence in essence, and only the reality without a second. The yogi in this stage becomes aware of the unreality of the superimposed names and forms of Brahman, which are expressed by the word 'world'. The world appears to him as a dream. He is called Brahmavit. This is considered to be his dream state.

V. Gradually he enters into the fifth stage where he always remains unattached to the objects of the world. He is called Brahmavidvara. In this stage the yogi rises from super-conscious concentration himself and he is called the superior knower of Brahman. This stage is his sleep state. When this stage is reached all differences are resolved and the Yogi abides in the absolute unity.
  1. After attaining perfection in this stage the aspirant gradually reaches the sixth stage, namely the state of deep sleep. In this state the aspirant without any thought of being or not-being, ego or not-ego, and with no notion of unity or variety, remains free from mentation as pure existence only. He comes out now and then either out of his own free will or on the request of others. Though sleeping he is awake, and though awake, he is asleep. He remains empty within and without , like the empty jar left in the open space; he is full within and without, like the water-filled jar submerged in the ocean.

अन्त: शून्य: बहि:शून्य:
शून्यकुम्भ इवाम्बरे
अन्त: पूर्णो बहि:पूर्ण:
पूर्ण: कुम्भ इवार्णवे ( लघुयोगवासिष्टम् -४३/७९)

(antah shunyah bahis shunysh
shunya kumbha ivambare
antah purno bahih purnah
purnakumbha ivarnave)
A person in this stage is called Brahmavidvariyan.

He then enters into the seventh and the final stage, and internally renounces all actions and does not desire anything for himself. He always possesses an inward eye, even though he may be perceiving all things with his external eyes and using his limbs in all possible ways.

This state is called Turiya. He is now known as Brahmavidvarishtha. In Turiya there is double consciousness. In this stage the Jnani identifies himself with Brahman but he is conscious of his Sakshi (witness) state also in Jagrat and swapna. When the knower is separate from the known, the witness stands alone. When the knower and the known become one, the witness merges in them. Here in this stage he becomes the supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness he is awareness; in relation to the universe he is pure being.

At this stage, he comes out, on his own volition to grace the world. He does not wait for the future, nor remains in the present nor remembers the past. He is full of bliss and happiness, and therefore appears to ordinary eyes to be like any ordinary happy man; but in reality, though he may be doing all kinds of things, he does not delude himself into believing that he is an active agent. He is ever content without riches. Being helpless he is very powerful. Not enjoying the senses he is eternally satisfied. The Atman is his wealth, power and everything. Though, he appears to be doing, he is inactive, though experiencing the fruits of his past actions, he remains untouched; though possessed of a body, he is not identified with it; though limited, he is omnipresent. Since he is not identified with the body, mind and senses, pleasure or pain or good or evil does not affect him. A person who attains this stage alone can work for the salvation of the entire creation but none else.


  1. A Treasure of Mystic Terms, John Davidson, Science of soul research center, Radhasoami Satsang Beas, New Delhi, India
  2. Bhagavadgita with commentary by S. Radha Krishnan
  3. Bhajagovinda stotram of Sri Sankaracharya.
  4. Brahma-Sutras, with text, word for word Translation,
Swami VIRESWARANANDA, Advaita Ashrama November 2008.
  1. I am That, Sri Nisarga Datta Maharaj, Chetana pvt Ltd.
  2. Jivanmuktiviveka of Swami Vidyaranya, Translated by Swami Mokshadananda, Published by Advaita Ashrama, July 2006.
  3. Vivekachudamani of Sri Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami Madhavananda, tenth reprint, September 1978.
  4. Sri Sankara's Advaita Siddhanta, by S. Vitthala Sastri, Sri Sacchidananda Printers Jambur House, D. No.211, Kshetraiah Road, Mysore-1
  5. The Principal Upanishads, S. RadhaKrishnan.
  6. The Voice of Sankara, Volume 34 No.1&2, 2009.

No comments: