Tuesday, June 23, 2009


JIVANMUKTA – Working Definition

Let us begin with a clear understanding of who and what is a Jivanmukta.

JnAni, Sthitaprajna are other words used in the scriptures for one who is liberated, who realized Brahman. A Jivanmukta’s state is described in laudatory and eulogizing terms in all scriptures, Prakarana Granthas (concise treatises on specific topics) etc.

Special Note on the word “State”: We normally use this word to describe a phase or a transitory condition. It implicitly indicates that there are other states in which an entity could exist. But this is not the sense we use the word here. What we try to convey is the ‘disposition’, natural isness of Jivanmukta after one achieves ‘realization’.

So the ‘state’ of Jivanmukta is not something that comes and goes. As per Advaita Vedanta, this state is always there; other states, conditions may superimpose on that veiling it, making it invisible. For lack of a better word, we shall continue to use ‘state’ to denote the position of a Jivanmukta in order to differentiate from the condition or disposition of an ordinary seeker who has not yet reached that ‘state.’

A Jivanmukta is a Knower of Brahman. He is ever immersed in Brahman. The apparent world is unreal to him and lacks true existence. He is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. He is Truth-Knowledge-Infinity. He is forever happy unmindful of and unaffected by the goings on in the world.

A Jivanmukta’s ‘self’ stays merged with the Supreme Self or the Cosmic Consciousness. His mind is totally tranquil, equanimous and always focused on Brahman. He is the world and the world is him. J. Krishnamurti describes a state of ‘zero thought’ in pointing out to this state.

Self-Knowledge leads one to a state of null mind (amanaska). Sankara says that it happens by itself. Modifications in the mind and their root-cause, intentions, too cease. The seeker transcends mind. All his impressions (vasanas) collapse and he loses all thoughts of the world. The state of Jivanmukta will be as if he is in deep sleep but with awareness (Yoganidra) unlike our deep sleep when we are ignorant of who we are. (This can be a Neuronal Marker. We shall discuss later the details).

A Jivanmukta’s behaviour and actions, his day to day life and working are, however, described to be indistinguishable from any ordinary man. Hence we do not have any externally visible and readily identifiable traits of a Jivanmukta.

In view of these ambiguous descriptions, we need a working definition for Jivanmukta. The best and simplest one I came across was that given by direct path Advaitins.

“A Jivanmukta is one in whom a separate sense of ‘self’ has collapsed.”

We shall use this definition for all of our future reference.

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