Vedanta


Liberated in Life

Sincerity and earnestness are the two most important virtues, in a spiritual aspirants struggle, to reach the goal of Pure Consciousness; if these two are present then it does not matter which path he/she follows. After Self-Realization, the illusion of separate 'body-mind existence' in a 'world' is vanished forever and infinite Reality alone exists. Such a realized soul is called जीवन्मुक्त Jivanmukta - Liberated in Life. Rare are such beings on this Earth, though Earth is never bereft of them. For bound souls and aspirants, it is extremely beneficial to study the characteristics and lives of such great souls as this study conduces to their own Liberation and confers immeasurable blessings on humanity. If a soul reaches the state of Truth at the moment of his/her death then it is termed as विदेह-मुक्ति Videhamukti - Liberation after dissolution of body. Since in Videhamukti we do not have the opportunity to observe the conduct of a Self-realized being, a Jivanmukta is of immense value to humanity in general and spiritual aspirants in particular.

We may see a Jivanmukta living a life just like ordinary human being - performing bodily functions and mental activities like a normal human being - but his/her consciousness is entirely different from normal conditioned soul. A bound soul takes his/her mental and physical actions and external world to be the sole reality while a Jivanmukta has realized infinite Pure Consciousness as Self and hence 'sees' body-mind-functions and world as a mirage in Self! Swami Vivekananda expresses this beautifully as:

When one sees a mirage for the first time, he mistakes it for a reality, and after vainly trying to quench his thirst in it, learns that it is a mirage. But whenever he sees such a phenomenon in future, in spite of the apparent reality, the idea that he sees a mirage always presents itself to him. So is the world of Maya to a Jivanmukta (the liberated in life).

So this illusion of the universe will break one day. The whole of this will vanish, melt away. This is realisation. Philosophy is no joke or talk. It has to be realised; this body will vanish, this earth and everything will vanish, this idea that I am the body or mind will for some time vanish, or if the Karma is ended it will disappear, never to come back; but if one part of the Karma remains, then as a potter's wheel, after the potter has finished the pot, will sometimes go on from the past momentum, so this body, when the delusion has vanished altogether, will go on for some time. Again this world will come, men and women and animals will come, just as the mirage came the next day, but not with the same force; along with it will come the idea that I know its nature now, and it will cause no bondage, no more pain, nor grief, nor misery. Whenever anything miserable will come, the mind will be able to say, "I know you as hallucination." When a man has reached that state, he is called Jivanmukta, "living - free", free even while living. The aim and end in this life for the Jnana-yogi is to become this Jivanmukta, "living - free." He is Jivanmukta who can live in this world without being attached. He is like the lotus leaves in water, which are never wetted by the water. He is the highest of human beings, nay, the highest of all beings, for he has realised his identity with the Absolute, he has realised that he is one with God.

A soul travels the cycle of transmigration performing good/bad actions (कर्म Karma) and reaping their fruits/results (कर्मफल Karmaphala). Scriptures say there are three kinds of Karma:

(i) संचित कर्म Sanchita Karma that which is accumulated,

(ii) आगामी कर्म Aagaami Karma that which is yet to bear result, and

(iii) प्रारब्ध कर्म Prarabdha Karma that which has already started bearing fruit.

The last one of the above is what we see as the 'present life'. In case of an aspirant who reaches the goal of God/Self, the first two (Sanchita, Aagaami) are 'burned' in the fire of Self-Knowledge and if the third (Prarabdha) is left then his/her body may remain alive and he/she is called 'Liberated-in-Life'. If there is no Prarabdha left then the body falls and this is 'Liberation-without-Body' (विदेह-मुक्ति Videhamukti). The distinction between Jivanmukta and Videhamukti has meaning only from phenomenal point of view; it is discussed in the scriptures only as a concession to the ignorant. In the state of ignorance, we think and act as a personality based on body-idea and judge others from same view-point; thus to our limited vision, the Jivanmukta appears as bound as we are, but for him/her the awareness of 'body-mind' and its existence in a 'world' is like a mirage in desert - apparently there but with no reality of its own. All three Karmas - Sanchita, Aagaami, and Prarabdha - have no meaning for realized being.

Spiritual aspirants follow moral and noble virtues during the period of their sadhana (spiritual practice), so all the evil propensities and angularities of mind are washed away and only noble virtues persist. If such an aspirant reaches the goal of Liberation then later on his/her 'body-mind-complex' can never function in whimsical way or in a way which is injurious to others. Not only is the 'body-mind complex' of such a being beneficial to the world but also the state of consciousness in which he/she remains absorbed. His/Her presence bestows peace, beatitude, auspiciousness to all humanity - in fact to all creation. Swami Vivekananda puts this as:

'Infinity cannot be divided, the "One without a second" can have no second, all is that One. This knowledge will come to all, but we should struggle to attain it now, because until we have it, we cannot really give mankind the best help. The Jivanmukta ('the living free' or one who knows) alone is able to give real love, real charity, real truth, and it is truth alone that makes us free. Desire makes slaves of us, it is an insatiable tyrant and gives its victims no rest; but the Jivanmukta has conquered all desire by rising to the knowledge that he is the One and there is nothing left to wish for.'

'Power to help mankind is with the silent ones who only live and love and withdraw their own personality entirely. They never say "me" or "mine", they are only blessed in being the instruments to help others. They are wholly identified with God, asking nothing and not consciously doing anything. They are the true Jivanmuktas -- the absolutely selfless, their little personality thoroughly blown away, ambition non-existent. They are all principle, with no personality.'

Vivekachudamani - a Vedanta treatise by Adi Shankaracharya gives the characteristics of a Jivanmukta beautifully in a series of poetical verses (428-440); free translation of some of them is given below:

'He whose wisdom is steady, who enjoys constant bliss and who has forgotten the phenomenal world, is Jivanmukta'

'He, who is free from desires, has merged his mind in the Brahman and yet is quite alert but not as an ignorant man in normal wakeful state, is Jivanmukta'

'He, whose mind is free from anxiety, whose cares about world are stilled, and who though having a body of parts is yet part-less and undivided, is Jivanmukta'

'He, whose body is like a shadow to him and who has lost all ideas of "I" and "mine" in relation to body, is Jivanmukta'

'He who does not dwell on past or future and is also indifferent to present is Jivanmukta'

'He who looks at this world - made up of distinctions like merits and demerits - with an eye of equality is Jivanmukta'

'He, who maintains his equipoise when confronted with pleasant and unpleasant things of this world and who remains unperturbed in both situations, is Jivanmukta'

'He, who is devoid of notions like "internal" and "external" due to being merged in the bliss of infinite Brahman, is Jivanmukta'

'He, who has realized the Truth that Self is Brahman as described in the scriptures, and who has thus freed himself from cycle of transmigration, is Jivanmukta'

'He, who through Knowledge never makes distinction between embodied soul (Jiva), world, and Brahman, is Jivanmukta'

'He, who remains calm and balanced even if his body is worshipped by good people or is troubled by wicked people, is Jivanmukta'

In the second chapter of Srimad Bhagawad-Gita, Sri Krishna has also beautifully described these characteristics to Arjuna (please see the last section of the page Truth in Essence under Bhagawad-Gita).

The goal of entire humanity is to be Jivanmukta and towards this end it is moving, consciously or unconsciously. If more and more of humanity become aware of this Truth, we would be able to hasten the process.

May all realize their true nature and may their lives become fulfilled.

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