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Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 61


VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal


D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.

 

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II - The seeker has to emulate the characteristics of the jïäné

Çruti recounts these marks of the jïäni as the means to be adopted by us for becoming a jïäni. So, the jïäné’s spontaneous expressions in life, the attitudes and disposition with which he interacts with others establish the norms to be followed by us as a sädhana. [377]

 

III - The consequences of becoming a jévan-mukta

Lack of “I-sense” with reference to the body-mind-sense-complex makes the jïäné lose all its attributes like the doer (kartä), enjoyer (bhoktä) and knower (jïätä). The jïäné knows that ätmä is akartä and that doership is attributed to ätmä due to ignorance. Neither activity nor inactivity belongs to him, as he is neither the agent of action nor of inaction. The ceasing of the wrong notion of being of a doer in the wake of self-knowledge is called sarva-karma-sannyäsa [378]. Doing, he does not do. [379] He thinks, as it were; he shakes, as it were. [380]

 

It is important to understand that all of us are all along free from karmas. We do not know it owing to our self-ignorance. When we know it through self-knowledge, we call it freedom from all karmas from the standpoint of prior ignorance. Sarva-karma-sannyäsa is the very nature of ätmä and is only to be owned up through ätmä-jïäna.

 

Even as the jïäné is not a doer, he is also not the experiencer or the knower. The jïäné is simply the anumantä (permitter), who blesses whatever happens in the mind as the doer, experiencer and knower. These happenings belong to the organs [381]. This marks the total resolution of saàsära.

 

As the jïäné is no longer a jéva, he becomes immediately free from the consequences of his earlier actions as a jéva. It is as a jéva that he was the agent of action and the experiencer of its consequences. Now that he is not a jéva anymore, the jéva is now not available either to experience the stored results of his previous lives or to earn fresh puëya or päpa through its actions in this life. So, all the puëya and päpa earned in the present life (ägämi karma) as also in all the previous lives (sancita karma) as y cannot fructify [382]. They are now like roasted seeds having been burnt by the fire of knowledge and cannot germinate [383]. But the karma that has already started to fructify in the present life (prärabdha karma [384]) continues to be experienced by the body-mind-sense-complex until death. It runs its full course just like the arrow that has been released continues its flight until it loses its momentum. But because of jïäna, prärabdha continues in his perception only as a semblance (äbhäsa) like a tree that has been uprooted. The body that has been brought into being by prärabdha-karma lasts until that karma is exhausted.

 

On exhaustion of prärabdha-karma, death takes place. The gross body becomes part of the gross manifestation (virät), the subtle body merges with subtle manifestation (hiraëyagarbha) and the causal body merges into causal manifestation (antaryämi). The jéva’s anätmä is thus merged with the total anätmä. No causal body is now available for a new subtle body and gross body to manifest. No karma is in store for its results to be experienced. This is called videha-mukti or bodiless mukti. The mukti, which has already been attained on gaining self-knowledge, is called sadyo-mukti. It is only from the viewpoint of the ajïäné that that there is a distinction between sadyo-mukti and videha-mukti. As for the jïäné, the knowledge that he is not the body-mind-complex makes the body as good as dead for him immediately. As ätmä, he never undergoes any change and is always without any birth or death.

 

IV - Krama-mukti

There are texts in the Upaniñads to the effect that on death, the jéva’s subtle and causal bodies move along a path from the crown of the person to gain immortality [385]. This is not applicable to the brahma-jïäné as, on death, his subtle and causal bodies immediately merge with the total. As for ätmä, travel would be necessary only if it were different from Brahman and if Brahman were located elsewhere. But ätmä is Brahman and it is all pervading. Therefore, no such travel is either necessary for ätmä or is it possible. It is like pot-space not having to go anywhere to merge with total space on the breaking of the pot, since pot-space is always total space appearing to be confined to the pot. Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad says: “His subtle bodies do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman.” [386] The çruti texts on travel to Brahma-loka are in respect of those who meditate on the mantra Om as Brahman or on Éçvara or on Hiraëyagarbha or on any deity of one’s liking or on oneself after invoking the chosen deity in it [387]. What is gained through such meditation is Hiraëyagarbha’s abode or Brahma-loka. But he continues to be a jéva. On gaining self-knowledge in that loka, he gains mokña. This is called krama-mukti or step-by-step mukti. Some consider that ätmä in the individual becomes Brahman by merging with Brahman like the river commingling with the ocean to become the ocean. This view is also not tenable since ätmä and Brahman are not separate entities to become one through union. The analogy is not in respect of achieving the state of non-separation through merger but of gaining the knowledge of non-difference when the name and form are known as incidental characteristics. The example is to the effect that the river becomes the ocean by giving up its name and form [388].

377. Swami Dayananda, Gita Home Study, Volume 1, p. 330 - 331.
378. This is also called naiñkarma-siddhi or being actionlessness as ätmä.
379. kurvan api na karoti|
380. ... dhyäyatéva leläyatéva.. | Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 4.3.7.
381. Bhagavadgétä, 5.8 and 5.9.
382.Bhidyate hådayagranthiçchidyante sarvasaàçayäù|
Kñéyante cäsya karmäëi tasmin dåñöe parävare ||Muëḍaka Upaniñad, 2.2.8.
When that Brahman, which is in the form of cause and effect is known, the knot (of ignorance) in the heart is broken, all doubts are destroyed and all his karmas become worn out.
383. jñänägnidagdhakarmä (Bhagavadgétä, 4.19.)
384. prärabdha means well begun.
385. Kaöha Upaniñad, 2.3.16. Chändogya Upaniñad, 8.6.6. and Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 6.2.15.
386. .. na tasya präëä utkrämanti, brahmaiva sanbrahmäpyeti|4.4.6. Also, ..atraiva samavanéyante (3.2.11.) They merge there itself only .
387. This is called ahaàgraha-upäsanä.
388. Yathä nadyaù syandamänäù samudre’stam gacchanti nämarüpe vihäya|
Tathä vidvännämarüpädvimuktaù parätparaà puruñamupaiti divyam ||

Just as the rivers, flowing in various directions, resolve in the ocean giving up their names and forms, in the same way, the wise man becomes freed from name and form and becomes one with the effulgent (Brahman) which is superior to mäyä. (Muëdaka Upaniñad, 3.2.8.)

To be continued...

 

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