Vedanta: Concepts

19. Jiiva (Individual Soul)

The Jiiva is defined in Panchadas'i 4.11 thus: - The substratum or the pure consciousness, the subtle body, and the reflection of pure consciousness in the subtle body together constitute the jiiva.

Panchadas'i 3.41 - - - Brahman when looked upon as associated with the five sheaths (kos'as) is known as the jiiva, just as a man is called a father or a grandfather in relation to his son or grandson. Verse 42 says -- As a man is neither a father nor a grandfather when considered apart from his son or grandson, so Brahman is neither iis'vara nor jiiva when not considered as associated with maayaa or the five sheaths.

MaaNDuukya Kaarikaa 1.16 - - - When the jiiva who is sleeping under the influence of beginningless maaya is awakened, he realizes the birthless, sleepless, dreamless, non - dual (Brahman). The waking and dream states are both considered to be only dream, because, in both states the Reality is not known and only what is unreal is experienced and is looked upon wrongly as real. In sleep there is ignorance of the Reality, though there is no projection of what is unreal. Both dream and deep sleep in this sense are absent in Brahman. So it is said that Brahman is dreamless and sleepless. By saying that Brahman is birthless it is implied that it does not undergo any of the changes which everything in this world is subject to. When the jiiva becomes free from nescience or maayaa, he ceases to be a jiiva and realizes his real nature as Brahman.

Br.up.2.5.15.S.B. - - - puurvamapi brahmaiva sat - - - - sarvaH saH sarvam abhavat.

Even before realization one was always Brahman, but through ignorance one considered oneself different from Brahman; one has always been all, but through ignorance one considered oneself otherwise. By getting rid of this ignorance through the knowledge of Brahman, the knower of Brahman, who has always been Brahman, is said to have 'become' Brahman. Having always been all, he is said to have 'become' all. The idea is that every individual, even when he considers himself as a transmigrating entity, is really Brahman alone. He has only to realize this truth. Bondage being not real, but only the result of ignorance of this truth, it can be removed only by the knowledge of the truth. If a thorn has actually pierced the skin of a person, the pain caused can be removed only by the action of removing the thorn. But if one's suffering is due to having mistaken a rope for a snake, that suffering can be removed only by the knowledge that there is only a rope and not a snake and not by any action. So also, bondage, which is only due to wrongly considering oneself as the body, mind and organs, can be eradicated only by the realization that one is the Self which is beyond all suffering.

jiiva and saakshii - - difference

When the self is looked upon as qualified by the internal organ, that is to say, when the self and the internal organ are considered as inseparable, the self is called jiiva. So the jiiva is described as antaHkaraNa - vis'ishTa - chaitanyam. The jiiva is therefore looked upon as an agent and enjoyer, by attributing the qualities of the internal organ to it.

When the internal organ is considered as merely an adjunct (upaadhi) of the self, the self is known as saakshii or witness. In such a concept, the agency and enjoyment as well as the various changes of the internal organ do not at all affect the self, which is a mere witness to them. The self is, in this case, known as saakshii or antaHkaraNa - upahita - chaitanyam or the self with the internal organ as the upaadhi.

Both these terms apply only in the empirical stage, when there is nescience. The self becomes a seer only when it is qualified by the internal organ. It becomes a witness only in the presence of the internal organ. By itself, the self is neither a seer, hearer, etc, nor a witness.

B.S.2.3.17.S.B - - - It is pointed out here that the jiiva has no birth or death. The s'ruti clearly denies birth to the jiiva - "Unborn, eternal" (kaTha. 1.2.18). "This great birthless self" (Br.up.4.4.25). It is Brahman, the one without a second, that enters the intellect and appears as the jiiva. The taitt.up.2.6 says -- "Having created it, Brahman entered into it".

B.S.2.3.18.S.B. - - - The Vais'eshikas say that consciousness is not the very nature of the jiiva, because it is not found to be conscious in deep sleep. This is refuted by this suutra by saying that it is Brahman itself that, being limited by the body - mind complex, appears as the jiiva. Therefore consciousness is its very nature and is not destroyed even in sleep.

B.S.2.3.29.S.B. - - - This suutra refutes the view that the jiiva is atomic. Since the jiiva is none other than the supreme Brahman, it is also infinite.

B.S.2.3.40.S.B. - - - The Nyaaya view that agency of the jiiva is real is refuted here and it is said that agency is only superimposed on the jiiva. The s'ruti says -- "This aatmaa is unattached" (Br.up.4.3.15). All scriptural injunctions are with reference to the conditioned aspect of the self which is due to nescience. In its essential nature the jiiva is actionless, but appears to act only because of association with the upaadhi in the form of the body - mind complex.

B.S.2.3.43.S.B. - - - Here it is clarified that the statements in the scriptures describing the jiiva as a spark from a fire mean only that it is identical with Brahman and not a part of Brahman in the literal sense, since Brahman cannot have any parts.

B.S.2.3.46.S.B. - - - Though the jiiva is described as a part of Brahman or God, God does not experience pleasure and pain like the jiiva, who, on account of ignorance of his real nature, attributes to himself the joys and sorrows of the body and mind. If the jiiva realizes that he is different from the body and mind, he will also have no suffering. God is beyond the control of maayaa or nescience and does not identify Himself with the bodies. He does not therefore experience any suffering. This point has been dealt with in the Bhaashya on B.G. 13.2 also, in a very elaborate manner.

B.S.2.3.49.S,B. - - - It may be argued that if the same Brahman dwells in all bodies, everyone may have to experience the results of the actions of everyone else. This suutra dispels this doubt. A particular jiiva is connected only with a particular body - mind complex and so the jiivas are different from one another(as jiivas).

B.S.2.3.50.S.B. - - - The jiiva is only a reflection of Brahman in the internal organ (mind). The reflections in different minds are different, like the reflections of the sun in different vessels of water. Therefore, just as the trembling of a particular reflection of the sun cannot cause any disturbance to the other reflections, so also the experiences or the karma of any particular jiiva cannot affect other jiivas.

iis'vara's creation and jiiva's creation

In Panchadas'i - 4.17to 4.40 a distinction is made between God's creation and creation by the individual souls. Though all objects in the world are created by God, their enjoyment and the reaction of each individual towards a particular object depend on his karma and the vaasanas in his mind. A gem, which is a creation of God, may produce different reactions in different persons. One man may feel happy on having got the gem, while another man is unhappy because he has not been able to get it. Another person may not be interested at all in the gem and so may not feel either joy or sorrow on seeing it.(Verses20 and 21). The Jiiva creates these three feelings of happiness, disappointment and indifference with regard to the gem, but the nature of the gem as created by God remains the same. Verse 31 says that every object has two aspects, the material and the mental. The material aspect always remains the same, but the mental aspect varies according to the mental make - up of the person who sees it. Moreover, though God has created all objects, the extent to which each individual is able to get them is dependent on his karma. It is therefore said in verse 19 that for the actual enjoyment of objects it is the modifications or functions of the mind of the jiiva that are responsible. An example is given in verses 34 and 35 to show that the cause of a man's bondage and suffering is his own mental world. When a man was told by someone that his son who was in a far - off place was dead, he began to cry, though the news was not true. But even if the son had actually died, but he had not received the news, he would have felt no grief. In a dream, even though no objects are actually present, a person feels joy and sorrow, but in deep sleep, no joy or sorrow is felt, even if there are objects around (verse 33). Verse 42 says that the world of duality created by God is rather a help than an obstacle to the realization of non - duality. It is the creation of the jiiva that is the cause of suffering. By controlling the mind one can ultimately attain realization of the non - dual Brahman (verse 64).

Different theories about the nature of jiiva and iis'vara

Among Advaitins there are three different theories on this point. These are described in Vichaara saagara, ch.6, para 449 onwards.

1. aabhaasavaada (Semblance theory) -- This is the vaada or theory adopted in Panchadas'i. According to this, the jiiva is an aabhaasa or semblance of Brahman in the internal organ which is an effect of avidyaa. This reflection or semblance is mithyaa or illusory. In B.S.2.3.50.S.B it is said - - The jiiva is an aabhaasa or semblance of the supreme Self, like the semblance of the sun in water. The jiiva is not the Self itself, nor is it something different.

In the Bhaashya on Ch.up.6.3.2 S'rii S'ankara says that the jiiva is an aabhaasa or semblance of the supreme Being.

2. pratibimbavaada (Reflection theory) -- This is the theory adopted by the author of VivaraNa, Prakaas'aatma Muni. According to this, jiiva is the reflection of iis'vara who is the bimba or the original in avidyaa. iis'vara, according to this theory, is Brahman or pure consciousness itself. Omniscience, etc, are not His natural qualities. But in relation to jiiva who has limited knowledge, power, etc, the qualities of being a bimba, iis'vara, etc, are superimposed. In this theory, the reflection, jiiva, is not mithyaa, but real. This theory is expressed in Amr.tabindu upanishad,12 --

The one Self appears as different in different beings. It appears as one and as many, like (the reflection of) the moon in water. See also B.S.3.2.18.S.B.

3. avachchhedavaada (Limitation theory) -- This is the view of the author of Bhaamatii, Vaachaspati Mis'ra. In this theory the jiiva is a delimitation of consciousness by the internal organ, while iis'vara is not so limited. This theory is employed by GauDapaada and S'ankara in MaaNDuukya Kaarikaa, 3.3 to 7. It is said in the Bhaashya on 3.3: - The Self is subtle, partless and all - pervasive like space. The Self is spoken of as existing in the form of jiivas in the same way as space is referred to as existing in the form of spaces circumscribed by pots. The idea implied is that the emergence of jiivas from the supreme Self is comparable to the emergence of the spaces in different pots from the same all - pervading space.

Trees also have consciousness

Ch.up.6.11.2.S.B - - - vr.kshasya rasasravaNa - - - - - That a tree is also a jiiva is indicated by such signs as exudation and drying up of sap. From the illustration in the S'ruti that non - moving beings also have consciousness, the view of the Buddhists and the Vais'eshikas that these have no consciousness is proved to be wrong.

20. Iis'vara

Panchadas'i - 6.157 - - - iis'vara is the aabhaasa or semblance of Brahman in maayaa which is prakr.ti constituted of pure sattva. He controls maayaa and is the antaryaamii or Inner Controller of all beings. He is omniscient and is the cause of the universe.

According to the reflection theory iis'vara is the bimba and the jiiva is His reflection or pratibimba in maayaa. In both the theories God is omniscient. There is no obstruction to his knowledge by nescience, because of the absence of the veil in the form of gross and subtle bodies (Samkshepa s'aariirakam 2.176).

Br.up.3.7 - - - antaryaami braahmaNam -- iis'vara as the antaryaamii controls all beings from within.

B.S.1.2.20.S.B - - - In Br.up. 3.7 the Inner Controller is distinguished from the embodied soul. But this distinction is based on the limiting adjunct in the form of the body and organs, conjured up by nescience; the distinction is not real. The indwelling Self can be only one, not two. The one Self is spoken of as two because of the limiting adjuncts, like the space inside a pot being looked upon as different from the total space. All the statements in the Vedas about the difference between the knower and the known, doership and enjoyership, as well as all injunctions and prohibitions are based on this standpoint. The text "Because when there is duality, as it were, then one sees another, etc " (Br.up.2.4.14) shows that all dealings are only in the state of ignorance, while the text "But when to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self, what (other thing) can he see and through what (sense - organ)" denies all such activity after the rise of Self - knowledge.

Br.up.3.8.12 - - - When Brahman has as the limiting adjunct the power of eternal and infinite knowledge (maayaa) it is called iis'vara or antaryaamii.

B.S.1.1.20.S.B - - - God may take various forms at His will through His power of maayaa to bless devotees.

B.S.2.1.34,35.S.B - - - No partiality or cruelty can be attributed to God because of the inequality found in creation. The difference is due to the merits or demerits of individuals, acquired as a result of actions in past births. God is comparable to rain. While rain is the common cause of the sprouting of all seeds sown, the nature of the sprout depends on the seed. Similarly, while God is the common cause of all creation, the nature of a particular individual's life depends on the seed he has sown in the form of actions in past births. God cannot therefore be considered responsible for the inequalities in the world. Creation is without any beginning and so there is no such thing as the first birth of a particular individual for which it could be said that there would be no cause in the form of past karma.

B.S.2.3.46.S.B - - - God does not undergo suffering as the jiiva does, because He has no identification with the body. Even the jiiva will become free from all suffering when he gives up identification with the two bodies and realizes that he is the pure Self, untouched by anything that happens to the body or mind. It is further pointed out here that while a reflection of the sun in a vessel of water may shake when the water shakes, the sun itself is not at all affected, so also God is not affected, though the individual soul may be, by what happens to the limiting adjuncts.

B.S.3.2.38,39.S.B - - - The fruits of all actions are given by God. The fruit cannot emerge out of apuurva, the unseen potency, which, being insentient, cannot act unless stimulated by some conscious agent. This suutra refutes the view of the Miimaamsakas that karma itself gives the result through apuurva and it is not necessary to postulate a God for the purpose.

B.S.2.1.14.S.B - - - sarvajnasya iis'varasya aatmabhuute - - - - - - - - - -

Name and form which constitute the seeds of the entire phenomenal existence and which are the products of nescience are non - different from the omniscient God and cannot be classified either as real or as unreal. They are described in the Vedas and the Smr.tis as the power of God, called maayaa. Like space being apparently limited by a pot, etc, God appears limited by the limiting adjuncts in the form of name and form, which are created by nescience. And within the domain of empirical existence God rules over the selves which identify themselves with the individual minds and which are, in essence, identical with God. Thus God's rulership, omniscience and omnipotence are based on the limiting adjuncts conjured up by nescience; but in reality such terms as 'ruler', 'ruled', 'omniscience', etc, are not applicable when speaking of the Self, shining in its own pure nature, after the cessation of the limiting adjuncts as a result of right knowledge. Therefore all the upanishads declare the cessation of all empirical dealings in the state of the Highest Reality. It is with reference to this unconditioned Brahman that the Lord says in B.G. 5.14 and 15: - - "Neither agency nor action does the Lord create for the world, nor does he bring about the union with the fruit of action. It is nature or maayaa that does all that. The omnipresent Lord does not take note of the merit and demerit of anyone. Knowledge is covered by ignorance and so all beings become deluded". It is seen from this that in the state of the Highest Reality all transactions like those between the ruler and the ruled, etc, cease to exist. But within the state of phenomenal existence, even the s'ruti speaks of divine rulership, etc, as in Br.up. 4.4.22: - - "He is the Lord of all. He is the ruler of all beings. He is the protector of all. He is the embankment that serves as the boundary to keep the different worlds apart". (Thus the difference between the standpoints from which the unconditioned Brahman, on the one hand, and the conditioned Brahman or God, on the other, are spoken of is brought out here).

21. Maayaa

Panchadas'i.6.130 - - - From the standpoint of the ordinary worldly man, maayaa is real. From the standpoint of the man of realization, maayaa has no existence at all. For those who try to understand it through reasoning, maayaa cannot be determined as either real or unreal; it is anirvachaniiya.

S'rii S'ankara says in maayaapanchakam that maayaa has the capacity to make the impossible happen. It imposes on Brahman, which is eternal and devoid of parts and which is pure Consciousness, the false distinctions as the world, individual souls and God. It makes even those who have mastered all the scriptures no different from animals by tempting them with wealth and the like. It makes Brahman which is infinite bliss, pure Consciousness and non - dual, struggle in the ocean of samsaara by associating it with the body made up of the five elements. It imposes on Brahman which is devoid of qualities the distinctions of colour, caste, etc, and attachment to wife, son, possessions and the like. It creates even in non - dual Brahman distinctions such as Brahmaa, Vishnu and S'iva and deludes even the learned into thinking that they are different from one another.

S'v.up.4.10 - - - prakr.ti is maayaa and the supreme Lord is the wielder of maayaa.

V.C. verse 110 - - - maayaa is called 'Unmanifest'. It is the power of Parames'vara, the supreme Lord. It is beginningless Nescience. It is constituted of the three guNas, sattva, rajas and tamas. Its existence cannot be directly known, but can only be inferred from its effects. It is the cause of this universe.

V.C.verse 111 - - - it is neither real, nor unreal, nor both. It is neither different from Brahman, nor non - different, nor both. It is neither possessed of parts, nor without parts, nor both. It is most wonderful and is of indescribable nature.

V.C.verse 112 - - - This maayaa can be destroyed by the realization of the pure non - dual Brahman just as the illusory snake is negated by the knowledge of the rope which is its sub - stratum.

B.G.7.14 - - - The Lord says -- " This divine maayaa of Mine is difficult to overcome. Those who take refuge in Me alone can cross over this maayaa".

B.G.13.1.S.B - - - prakr.tis'cha triguNaatmikaa - - - - -

It is prakr.ti or maayaa made up of the three guNas that has become transformed as all the bodies, organs and objects for subserving the ends of the individual souls, namely, enjoyment and liberation.

22. Jnaanam and Dhyaanam - Difference

B.S.1.1.4.S.B. - - - nanu jnaanam naama maanasii kriyaa. na, vailakshaNyaat - - - - - - - - veditavyam.

jnaanam (knowledge) is not a mental act, because there is a difference (between knowledge and meditation). A mental act is seen to exist where there is an injunction about it, which is independent of the nature of the thing concerned. dhyaanam (meditation), is a mental act, because it depends on the will of the person performing it. For example, to think of a man or woman as fire, as enjoined in " O Gautama, man is surely fire" (Ch.up.5.7.1) , or in "O Gautama, woman is surely fire" (Ch.up.5.8.1) is certainly a mental act, since it arises from an injunction alone. But the idea of fire with regard to the well - known fire is not dependent on any injunction or on the will of any man. (In other words, thinking of one thing as another, like a linga as Lord S'iva and worshipping it as such, is meditation and it is a mental act, because it depends on the will of the worshipper. But looking at an ordinary stone and seeing it as a stone is knowledge and is not a mental act, because it does not depend on the will of the person). While meditation depends on the will of a person, knowledge depends only on the object concerned and on valid means of knowledge, such as perception. Meditation is therefore described as purusha - tantra (dependent on the person), while knowledge is called vastu - tantra (dependent on the object to be known).

23. Karma

The word 'karma' is used in two different senses in Vedaanta - - - (1) the results of actions performed, in the form of merit and demerit (puNya and paapa), which produce their effects later on, usually in another birth, and (2) the action itself, whether secular or religious. We shall deal with the first category here. The second will be dealt with subsequently.

Karma, in the sense of results of actions performed, is divided into three categories . (1) sanchita karma -- the accumulated results of actions performed in past births, (2) praarabdha karma - - those results of past actions which have given rise to the present body and (3) aagaami karma -- the results of actions performed in the present birth. On the dawn of Self - knowledge the first category is completely destroyed along with the third category acquired upto the time of attainment of knowledge. After the dawn of Self - knowledge any action performed does not produce any result in the form of merit or demerit. The second category is not destroyed on the attainment of Self - knowledge, but has to be exhausted only by being actually experienced. On the exhaustion of this category of karma the body of the enlightened person falls and the jiivanmukta becomes a videhamukta.

Br.up.1.4.7.S.B - - - s'ariiraarambhakasya karmaNaH niyataphalatvaat - - - - - - - - - anyaarthaasambhavaat.

The past actions that gave rise to the present body must necessarily produce their results and so the body, mind and organs will continue to function even after the attainment of Self - knowledge, just as an arrow that has already been discharged must continue to move forward until its force is exhausted. The operation of Self - knowledge, which is weaker than the praarabdha karma, is liable to be affected by the latter. There is therefore need to keep up the train of remembrance of the knowledge of the Self by means of renunciation of action and detachment.

Br.up.1.4.10.S.B - - - yena karmaNaa s'ariiram aarabdham - - - - itarat.

The residue of praarabdha karma is the cause of the body continuing even after the attainment of knowledge. Knowledge cannot prevent the results of this category of Karma from producing their effect, since the two are not contradictory to each other.

Ch.up.6.14.2.S.B - - - yaani pravr.ttaphalaani - - -

Those actions which have started yielding results and by which the body of the man of knowledge was brought into existence get exhausted only by their results being actually experienced, just as an arrow that has gathered momentum after having been discharged stops only when the momentum is exhausted.

Br.up.4.4.22.S.B - - - s'ariiraarambhakayostu upabhogenaiva kshayaH

Actions that caused the present body are exhausted only by the results being experienced.

B.G.4.37.S.B - - - Since the karma because of which the present body came into existence has already taken effect, it gets exhausted only by being experienced. Self - knowledge destroys only those actions performed in past lives and in the present life prior to the dawn of knowledge which have not yet taken effect. Actions performed after the dawn of knowledge do not produce any effect in the form of merit or demerit.

Karma in the sense of the actual action, both religious and secular.

Br.up.1.3.1.S.B - - - yathaa svargakaamaadidoshavataH - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - karmaavasaraH asti

As the rites with material ends (kaamya karma), such as the new and full moon sacrifices, are enjoined on one who desires to attain heaven,etc, so are the regular and obligatory rites (nitya and naimittika karma) on one who has the root of all evils, namely ignorance, and the consequent defects of attachment and aversion, manifesting themselves as the quest for what is pleasant and avoidance of the unpleasant. Rites such as agnihotra, chaaturmaasya, pas'ubandha and somayaaga are not intrinsically either rites with material ends (kaamya) or obligatory rites (nitya).They come under the former category only when they are performed with desire for results such as heaven. (The same rites can also be performed without desire for the result, in which case they become nishkaama karma and have the effect of purifying the mind and making it fit for Self - knowledge). No rites are enjoined in the scriptures for one who has realized the true nature of the Self. Self - knowledge arises only on the obliteration of the very cause of rites. One who has realized that he is Brahman has no obligation to perform even the obligatory rites. (They are not applicable to him, though he may still perform them to set an example to others or for the general welfare, as stated by the Lord in the Bhagavad - gita).

The aspirant for liberation must worship the gods by means of the rites prescribed for him - - - - Br.up.1.4.10.S.B - - - tasmaat mumukshuH -- Therefore the mumukshu should be devoted to the worship of the gods. (Here is another instance where S'rii S'ankara stresses the need for devotion even for an aspirant for liberation. This disproves the contention of some that there is no place for devotion in Advaita).

Br.up.3.3.1.S.B - - - tasmaat saabhisandhiinaam - - - - - - - - - - phalaani

Therefore the obligatory rites and rites like sarvamedha and as'vamedha performed with desire for the fruit lead to the attainment of oneness with hiraNyagarbha, etc.

yeshaam punaH nityaani nirabhisandhiini - - - - - - - - - - - -

But in the case of those who perform the obligatory rites without desire for the fruit, merely for the purification of the mind, the rites help towards the attainment of Self - knowledge.

B.G.18.9.S.B - - - nityaanaam karmaNaam - - - - - - phalam cha iti - - -

We said that the Lord's utterance is proof of the fact that nitya and naimittika karma also yield fruit. Or, even if these are considered to be devoid of any fruit on the ground that no fruit is mentioned in the s'ruti, still the ordinary, unenlightened man does certainly think that these produce a result in the form of purification of the mind or avoidance of evil. The Lord indicates by the words 'giving up the fruit' that even this thought should be given up.

See also the commentary of Aanandagiri on Br.up.1.3.1.

Br.up.3.5.1.S.B - - - na hi paramaarthaavadhaaraNa - - - - - - - - - -

We do not postulate the existence of things different from Brahman in the state when one is established in the highest truth. See 'one only without a second' (2.5.19) and 'without interior or exterior' (3.8.8). Nor do we deny the validity, for the unenlightened, of actions with their factors and results as long as the relative world of name and form is accepted as existent.

Br.up.4.4.22.S.B - - - vedaanuvachana - yajna - daana - tapaH - s'abdena - - - - - - - - ekavaakyataavagatiH.

The words 'study of the Vedas, sacrifices, charity and austerity' refer to all obligatory rites (nitya karma). Thus all the obligatory rites (that is all those other than kaamya karma) serve as means to liberation through the attainment of Self - knowledge. Hence we see that the ultimate purpose of the two parts of the Vedas, that dealing with rites and that dealing with Self - knowledge, is the same, (namely liberation).

Br.up.4.4.22.S.B - - - Commentary of Aanandagiri - - - aatmalokam ichchhataam mumukshuuNaam - - - - - vaktavyam ityarthaH.

When the Vedas speak of renunciation of action even for the mumukshu, is it necessary to point out that there is no action to be performed by one who has already realized the Self? (It must be mentioned here that one becomes fit to called a mumukshu only when one has attained total detachment. In his Bhaashya on B.G.4.11, S'rii S'ankara says that a person cannot be a mumukshu and have desire for other fruits also at the same time. Thus only a yogaaruuDha, one who has attained total detachment, is a mumukshu).

taitt.up.1.1.S.B - - - nityaanaam cha akaraNam - - - - - - - - The mere non - performance of the obligatory duties cannot give rise to a positive demerit (paapa), because something positive cannot arise from a mere negation (abhaava). The failure on the part of a person to perform obligatory duties (laid down in the scriptures) is merely an indication that he has accumulated sins resulting from past actions. (The performance of the obligatory duties eradicates such accumulated sins, while, by their non - performance, the sins continue. Thus the view of Advaita Vedaanta in this matter is opposed to that of the Miimaamsakas who hold that non - performance produces a new sin).

(A future sorrow is called a pratyavaaya, which, being a positive entity, cannot have a non - entity as its cause. For, according to Br.up.4.4.5, 'Sin arises from sin', sorrow is caused by the performance of prohibited actions -- Aanandagiri).

taitt.up.1.11.S.B - - - puurvopachitaduritakshaya - - - - - - - karmaaNi

The Vedic rites help in the attainment of Self - knowledge by eradicating the accumulated sins.

taitt.up.1.11.S.B - - - svaatmalaabhe tu puurvopachita - - - - - nityaaniiti.

For the attainment of Self - knowledge, the nitya karma becomes the means only by eradicating the obstruction in the form of accumulated sins. (karma cannot by itself lead to knowledge or liberation, because liberation is not something produced).

The fruit of karma is given by God

Br.up.3.8.9.S.B - - - tat cha karmaphalena - - - - - phalena samyojayitaa.

Awarding of the fruits of karma would be impossible if there were no ruler who, knowing the results of the various actions, unites the performer of action with its result. (The theory of apuurva of the Miimaamsakas is rejected. See also B.S.3.2.38&39.S.B under the head "iis'vara').

Br.up.4.4.5.S.B - - - tatra kaamakrodhaadipuurvaka - - - - - samsaarasya kaaraNam.

Doing good and bad deeds under the impulse of desire, anger, etc, is the cause of bondage and passing from one body to another.

atho api anye - - - - - kaamamaya eva iti. Others, however, say: - - It is under the influence of desire that man performs good and bad deeds. When desire is gone, any action performed does not lead to the accumulation of merit or demerit. Therefore desire is the root cause of transmigratory existence. As the MuND. Up. says - - - He who longs for objects of sense, thinking highly of them, is born along with those desires, in circumstances in which he can realize them. (3.2.2). Therefore the Self is identified with desire alone.

kaamya karma also produces some purity

Br.up.Bhaashya Vaartika, Sambandhabhaashya - verse 1130 says - - - purification does occur through kaamya karma also. But that is useful only for the enjoyment of the fruit of the karma (and not for liberation). Surely, one cannot enjoy the pleasures befitting Indra with the body of a hog (which is impure).

Br.up.4.5.15.S.B - - - karmaNaam cha avidvatvishayatvam - - - - vividishanti iti.

We have said that rites are for the unenlightened. As long as there is ignorance of the Self, there is need for the performance of rites which are intended to produce, attain, modify or purify. (These are the four kinds of results produced by action). Rites are the means to Self - knowledge through the purification of the mind.

Br.up.6.2.1.S.B - - - kevalena karmaNaa pitr.lokah - - - - - - devalokah.

Mere rites lead to the world of the manes and meditation combined with rites leads to heaven.

Ch.up.S.B. Introduction - - samastam karmaadhigatam - - - - -

Rites performed along with meditation on various deities lead to the attainment of Brahmaloka through the path of light (devayaana maarga). Rites alone (without meditation) lead to the world of the moon through the path of smoke, etc (pitr.yaana).

Rites performed with knowledge of the meaning of the mantras are more effective.

Ch.up.1.1.10.S.B - - - tasmaat yadeva vidyayaa vijnaanena - - - - - - bhavati iti abhipraayaH.

Therefore that rite which is performed with knowledge (of the meaning of the mantras), faith and meditation is more effective than the rites performed by a man who does not know the meaning. By declaring that a rite performed with knowledge of the meaning is more effective it is implied that a rite performed by an ignorant man also produces results, though it is less effective.

Ch.up.1.1.10.S.B - - - na cha avidushaH - - - - - - - It is not as if an ignorant man is not competent to perform rites, because in the story about Ushasta (Ch.up.1.10.1) it is seen that even a man ignorant of the meaning can be a priest in the performance of rites.

But Bhaskararaya says in his Varivasyaarahasyam,ch.2, verses 54 to 56 - The utterance of sound without a knowledge of the true import bears no fruit, and is only like an oblation poured into ashes. Those who merely recite various mantras without knowing their meaning may be compared to a donkey carrying a load of sandalwood.

The three debts (to the r.shis or sages, the manes and the gods) are only for householders.

B.S.1.1.1.Bhaamatii - - - ata eva na brahmachaariNaH - - - - - - -

Therefore for a brahmachaarii there are no debts (to sages, manes and gods), for the discharge of which rites would have to be performed. Accordingly, the statement "A BraahmaNa is born with three debts" should be explained as applicable only to householders. Otherwise the statement of the Veda "Or, let him renounce from the stage of brahmacharya itself " would be contradicted. Even for the householder the discharge of these three debts is only for the purpose of purification of the mind.

The same is stated also in the Introduction to Ait. Up. Bhashya.

B.S.1.1.1. Bhaamatii - - - tathaa hi - nityakarmaanushThaanaat - - - - - karmaNaam yuktam.

From the performance of the obligatory rites merit (puNya) is generated; as a result, demerit (paapa) is attenuated; it is that demerit that made the mind impure through wrongly looking upon what is transient, impure and miserable as eternal, pure and pleasant. On the cessation of paapa the world is recognized as impermanent, impure and the cause of misery. Thus the obligatory rites are the remote means for the attainment of Self - knowledge.

24. Mukti (Liberation)

Liberation is only cessation of nescience

Br.up.4.4.6.S.B - - - tasmaat avidyaanivr.ttimaatre mokshavyavahaaraH - - - - - - - sarpaadinivr.ttiH.

Therefore, as we have already said, the cessation of ignorance alone is what is known as liberation, like the disappearance of the snake, for instance, from the rope when the wrong notion about its existence has been eradicated.

Br.up.4.4.7.S.B - - - ataH mokshaH na des'aantaragamanaadi apekshate.

Therefore, liberation does not imply going to another place (world), etc.

Br.up.4.4.20.S.B - - - jnaanam cha tasmin paraatmabhaavanivr.ttiH eva. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - iti ubhayam api aviruddham eva.

The knowledge of Brahman means only the cessation of identification with external things (such as the body, etc). Identity with Brahman is not something which requires to be attained, since it is always there. Everyone is in reality always identical with Brahman, but wrongly considers himself to be something different (due to ignorance). Therefore the scriptures do not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be attained, but only that the false identification with things other than Brahman should be given up. When the identification with other things (such as the body) is eradicated, the identity with one's own Self, which is natural, prevails. This is what is meant by the statement that the Self is realized. In itself the Self is unknowable, that is to say it cannot be made the object of any means of knowledge (pramaaNa).

taitt.up. 1.1.S.B - - - aatmaa hi brahma - - - parapraaptiH.

The Self, indeed, is Brahman. The attainment of the highest will be declared for the knower of Brahman (taitt.up.2.1.1). Therefore the establishment in one's own Self, on the eradication of ignorance, is itself the attainment of the highest, namely, liberation.

B.S.3.4.52.S.B - - - brahma eva hi muktyavasthaa.

The state of liberation is itself Brahman.

B.S.3.4.52.S.B - - - tat hi asaadhyam nityasiddhasvabhaavam - - - - - - - iti asakr.t avadishma.

We have said more than once that liberation is not an effect to be attained; it is only to be realized through knowledge, since it is eternally existent. (It is not some thing to be brought into existence by any action, since it is ever present and has only to be realized as such).

taitt.up.1.11.S.B - - - ato vidyotpattyartham anushTheyaani karmaaNi.

The rites laid down have to be performed for the attainment of Self - knowledge (because they purify the mind and make it fit for the rise of knowledge).

taitt. up.1.11.S.B - - - yathaa praaptameva kaarakaastitvam upaadaaya - - - - - virodhaH.

The scriptures, on the assumption of the existence of the accessories of action (such as doer, etc), enjoin rites intended to eradicate the accumulated sins of those who aspire for liberation and also as a means for the attainment of various results for those who hanker after them. They do not however, at this stage, concern themselves with the question of the reality of those accessories. The rise of Self - knowledge is unimaginable for a person who has hindrances in the form of accumulated sins. On the attenuation of those sins, knowledge will emerge and nescience will be eradicated, resulting in the realization of the illusory nature of the world. A person who perceives something as different from himself may develop a craving for it. Impelled by desire, he engages himself in action. From that follows the succession of further births for enjoying the fruits of those actions. On the other hand, for a person who sees everything as the Self, no desire can arise. Such a person remains established in the Self and is liberated from further birth. It follows from this that Self - knowledge and karma (action) are opposed to each other.

taitt.up. 1.11.S.B - - - ataH kevalaayaaH eva vidyaayaaH param s'reyaH iti siddham.

Thus it is established that liberation is attained through knowledge alone.

taitt. up. 1.11.S.B - - - yato janmaantarakr.tamapi - - - - ishyate.

The karmas such as agnihotra and practices such as celibacy, etc, performed in past lives also help the dawn of knowledge. It is because of this that some persons are found to possess detachment even from their birth itself, while others are seen to be attached to the world and not inclined towards enlightenment. Therefore, for those who have become free from attachment to worldly pursuits as a result of tendencies acquired in past lives it is desirable to resort to the other stages of life (such as sannyaasa).

taitt. up, 1.11.S.B - - - sarveshaam cha adhikaaraH vidyaayaam - - - - iti siddham.

Persons belonging to all aas'ramas are entitled to Self - realization. Liberation comes from Self - knowledge alone (and not through any karma, though karma must be performed in the spirit of karma - yoga for attaining fitness for knowledge).

B.S.3.4.36 to 39.S.B - - - Even those who do not belong to any aas'rama are entitled to attain Self - knowledge (e.g. Raikva, Gaargii).

Br.up.1.4.7.S.B - - - na hi vedaanteshu brahmaatmavijnaanaat anyat - - - - - - - - - avagamyate.

In Vedaanta (upanishads) nothing is spoken of as a means to realization except the knowledge of the identity of the self and Brahman. (This is said while refuting the contention that Yoga is also by itself a means to liberation. While Patanjali's Yoga helps by developing one - pointedness of the mind, it does not postulate the identity of the self and Brahman as Advaita does).

People of the present day can also attain Self - knowledge.

Br.up.1.4.10.S.B - - - seyam brahmavidyayaa sarvabhaavaapattih - - - - - tadvijnaanasya asti.

Some may think that the gods were able to realize this identity with all through the knowledge of Brahman because of their extraordinary powers, but persons of the present age, particularly men, can never attain it because of their limited capacity. In order to remove this wrong notion, it is said here -- "And even this day, whoever, curbing his interest in external things, strives for Self - knowledge, can attain it. - - - - - - - - There is no difference as regards Brahman or the knowledge of It, between giants like Vamadeva and the human weaklings of today".

Br.up.3.3.1.S.B - - - ajnaanavyavadhaananivartakatvaat jnaanasya mokshaH jnaanakaaryam iti uchyate.

Because Self - knowledge removes the obstruction in the form of ignorance, liberation is metaphorically said to be the result of knowledge. (Liberation is not really an effect or result at all, since it is already existent in the sense that there is really no bondage at all).

Br.up.3.3.1.S.B - - - na cha ajnaanavyatirekeNa mokshasya - - - - - - - yat karmaNaa nivartyeta.

We cannot imagine any other obstruction to liberation than ignorance, because liberation is identical with the self of the aspirant and is therefore eternal (and not something to be brought into existence by any karma).

Br.up.3.3.1.S.B - - - na aapyo api aatmasvabhaavatvaat ekatvaat cha.

Liberation is not something to be attained because it is identical with the Self and (the Self) is one (without a second).

Br.up.3.5.1.S.B - - - na hi paramaarthaavadhaaraNaanishThaayaam - - - kaachana virodhas'a.nkaa.

We do not maintain that things different from Brahman exist when the highest truth has been realized, since the S'ruti says "One only, without a second" and "Without interior or exterior" (2.5.19 and 3.8.8). Nor do we deny the validity, for the ignorant, of actions with their factors and results as long as the relative world of name and form is considered as real. Therefore the standpoint depends on knowledge or ignorance and there is no contradiction between the two.

Br.up.4.3.34.S.B - - - tasmaat samprasaadasthaanam - - -

The state of deep sleep is taken as the example for describing liberation in the upanishads.

Br.up.4.3.20.S.B - - - tasmaat na aatmadharmo avidyaa - - - - - - - - moksha upapadyate.

Therefore nescience is not a natural characteristic of the Self, for what is natural to a thing can never be removed from it, like the heat and light of the sun. Liberation from ignorance is therefore possible.

Br.up.4.4.6.S.B - - - na hi vastutaH - - - - - - - upapadyate eva.

In reality, there is no distinction like bondage and liberation in the Self, because it is always the same; but the ignorance covering it is removed by the knowledge arising from the teachings of the scriptures.

Br.up.4.4.6.S.B - - - sarvadaa samaikarasam - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - vijnaanaphalamapekshya.

We hold that it is the definite conclusion of all the upanishads that we are nothing but the aatmaa, the Brahman that is always the same, homogeneous, one without a second, unchanging, birthless, undecaying, immortal, and free from all fear. Therefore the statement "He is merged in Brahman" is a figurative one, meaning the cessation, as a result of knowledge, of the continuous chain of births and deaths for one who was considering himself (out of ignorance) to be other than Brahman.

Br.up.4.4.7.S.B - - - ataH mokshaH na des'aantaragamanam - - - - iti uktam.

Therefore liberation does not mean going to another place (or world). The organs of a realized person do not go anywhere else, but they merge in their cause, just where they are. As has been said in Br.up. 3.2.12, only their names remain.

Br.up. 4.4.9.S.B - - - tasmaat ayameva mokshamaargaH - - - -

Therefore liberation is the absorption of the body and organs such as the eye in this very life, like the extinguishing of a lamp, when transmigration comes to an end because of the exhaustion of all desires.

Panchadas'i - 2.99 - - - Even after realization of the non - dual Reality, worldly dealings may continue as before, but no reality would be attached to them. The enlightened man will continue to see the world like every one else; but he will not be affected by anything that happens, knowing that joys and sorrows are only for the body - mind complex and not for the Self. See also 4.40.

B.S.1.1.4.S.B - - - tatra kinchit pariNaaminityam syat - - - - - kaalatrayam nopaavartete.

Eternality is of two kinds, known as pariNaaminityam and kooTasthanityam. The first is what continues to be recognized as the same, though undergoing changes, e.g. earth, etc, for those who hold the universe to be eternal, or the guNas for the Saankhyas. The second category is what never changes. Brahman is eternal in this sense.

B.S.1.1.4.S.B - - - avidyaakalpitabhedanivr.ttitvaat s'aastrasya.

The purpose of the scriptures is only to remove the notion of difference(duality) caused by nescience.

B.S.1.1.4.S.B - - - nityas'uddhabrahmasvaroopatvaat mokshasya.

Liberation is of the nature of Brahman which is eternally pure.

Liberation is not the result of action (karma).

B.S.1.1.4.S.B - - - ato anyanmoksham prati - - - - - - - - na upapadyate.

Apart from these (four), nobody can show any other mode by which liberation can be said to result from action. Accordingly, there is not the slightest possibility of any action being the cause of liberation.

Explanation: - The results of all actions fall under one or other of the following four categories -- production, attainment (or acquisition), transformation and purification. Brahman, being eternal, is not something to be produced. Being all - pervading and one's own real nature, it is not something to be attained or acquired. Being ever the same, it is not the transformation of something else, as curd is of milk. Being ever pure, it is not to be got by purification of something else, as gold is obtained by purification of ore. Non - realization of Brahman being due only to ignorance, knowledge alone can lead to its realization.

V.C. verse 2 - Commentary of H.H.Chandrasekhara Bharati Svami --

tena saalokya - saamiipya - saaruupya - saayujyaanaam mukhyamuktitvaabhaavaH suuchitaH bhavati.

These four -- saalokya, etc, are not of the nature of liberation in the principal sense. Since they relate only to saguNa Brahman, they are to be considered only as mithyaa or illusory.

Jiivanmukti - - - liberation even while living.

Br.up.4.4.6.S.B - - - tasmaat iha eva brahma eva - - - - - - - - - na s'ariirapaatottarakaalam

Therefore, being always Brahman, he is merged in Brahman, in this very life, not after the fall of the body.

Jiivanmukti is also spoken of in B.G.S.B -- 2.51, 5.24, 6.27 and 18.25 - - - Liberation consists in remaining identified with the changeless Self even while living in the present body. Liberation is not something to be attained after death.

Br.up.4.4.6 -- na tasya praaNaa utkraamanti - - - - brahmaapyeti.

The organs of the realized person do not depart (to take up another body). Being already Brahman, he merges in Brahman.

Br.up.3.2.11.S.B -- neti hovaacha yaajnavalkyo - - - - - uurmaya iva samudre.

The organs and objects do not depart, but attain identity with, or merge, in him only, their cause, the man of realization, who is the Supreme Brahman, like waves in the ocean.

The characteristics of the jiivanmukta .

Vedaanta saara -- Chapter 6.

Jiivanmukto nama - - - - A person liberated - in - life is one who, by the realization of the Absolute Brahman, his own Self, has dispelled the ignorance regarding It and who is free from all bondage and is established in Brahman, because of the destruction of ignorance and all its effects . See also muND. Up. 2.2.8. When he is not in samaadhi he experiences sense - objects as well as hunger, thirst, etc, but does not consider them to be real and is therefore not at all affected by them. He is like a man witnessing a magical performance, being fully aware that what he sees is not real.

"He who does not see anything in the waking state as in sound sleep; who, though seeing duality, does not really see it as he sees only the Absolute; who, though engaged in action (for the good of the world),is in reality inactive (being totally free from the idea of agency); he, and none other, is the knower of the Self. This is the truth." (Sankara's upadesasaahasrii,5).

"Such qualities as freedom from hatred are natural to one who has attained Self - knowledge. They have not to be cultivated with effort (as in the case of an aspirant for liberation)" - - - naishkarmyasiddhi,4.69.


A jiivanmukta (one who is liberated in life) continues to live till the praarabdhakarma which gave rise to the present body is exhausted. Then his body falls and he attains videhamukti or Absolute oneness, from which there is no return (see Sri Sankara's Vaakya vr.tti - verses 52,53).

"His sense - organs do not depart elsewhere (for taking up another body)" -- Br.up.4.4.6.

"They (the sense - organs) are absorbed in him" -- Br.up.3.2.11.

"Already liberated, he is freed (from further birth)" - KaTha up. 2.2.1.

Ch.up.6.14.2.S.B -- For a person who has already become a jiivanmukta the delay (in attaining videhamukti) is only till the body falls after the enjoyment of the fruits of action due to which it was born.

KaTha up. 2.3.15.S.B -- By declaring "He attains Brahman here" (2.3.14), it has been shown that there is no going to any other world for an enlightened man for whom all the knots of ignorance have been destroyed on the realization of the identity of the self with the all - pervading and absolutely attributeless Brahman, and who becomes Brahman even while living, as also asserted by another text: "His organs do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman" - Br.up.4.4.6.

Kramamukti (Liberation by stages).

It has been said earlier that a person who realizes his identity with Brahman becomes liberated even while living (jiivanmukta). Such a person becomes a videhamukta when his body falls on the exhaustion of his praarabdhakarma. There is another kind of liberation known as kramamukti or liberation by stages. Those who meditate on Om go to Brahmaloka and attain liberation there. Others who meditate on Brahman without the use of symbols also go to Brahmaloka by the path of the gods and attain liberation there (B.S.4.3.15.S.B). Those who meditate with the help of symbols do not go to Brahmaloka. In the meditations based on symbols, the meditations are not fixed on Brahman, the symbols being the chief object and so the meditator does not attain Brahmaloka (B.S.4.3.16). Meditation on a linga as S'iva or on a saalagraama as Vishnu are examples of meditation based on symbols. So also are the meditations such as "Meditate on the mind as Brahman" (Ch.up.3.18.1), "Meditate on the sun as Brahman" (Ch.up.3.19.1). Such meditators attain other results, but not liberation.

B.S.4.3.10.S.B - - - kaaryabrahmalokapralayapratyupasthaane sati - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - sambhavatiityupapaaditam.

When the time for the final dissolution of the world of the conditioned Brahman is imminent, those who are in that world and have acquired full realization there attain liberation along with hiraNyagarbha. Such a liberation by stages has to be admitted on the strength of the upanishadic texts.

25. Path of the Manes and Path of the Gods

Ch.up.S.B.Introduction - - - samastam karmaadhigatam - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - chandralokapratipattikaaraNam.

All the rituals performed along with meditation on praaNa and other deities become the means of reaching Brahmaloka (the world of hiraNyagarbha) through the path of the gods (devayaana) . Rituals alone (without meditation) are the means of attaining the Lunar region through the path of the manes (pitr.yaana).

These paths are elaborated below.

Ch.up.5.1.1.S.B - - - saguNabrahmavidyayaa uttaraa gatiH uktaa. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - vaktavyaa iti aarabhyate.

It has been said that meditation on the conditioned Brahman leads to the path of the gods. Now, in this fifth chapter, after reiterating that same path for the householder who knows the panchaagni vidyaa (meditation on the five fires), and the celibates who are possessed of faith and perform other forms of meditation, the path of transmigration (or the path of the manes) characterised by smoke, etc, for those who perform rites alone (without meditation) is described in order to generate a spirit of detachment (vairaagya).

The path of the gods (devayaana or the northern path) is described in Ch.up.5.10.1 as well as in Br.up. 6.2.15. Some other upanishads also describe this path with some variations. Taking all these descriptions together, the complete enumeration of the stages of the path of the gods is as follows: First the deity of fire, then the deity of the day, the deity of the bright fortnight, the deity of the six months when the sun travels northward, the deity of the year, the deity of the world of gods, the deity of the air, the sun, the moon, the deity of lightning, the world of Varuna, the world of Indra, the world of Prajapati, and finally Brahmaloka. (B.S.4.3.3). In B.S. 4.3.4 it is made clear that the terms fire, bright fortnight, year, etc, refer to the deities identified with these. That deities are meant here, and not marks or places of enjoyment, is indicated by the text of the Chhandogya upanishad, which says -- "From the moon to the lightning. Then a superhuman being leads them to Brahman" - (Ch. up. 4.15.5, 5.10.1). In B.S. 4.3.7 it is asserted that these meditators go to the Saguna Brahman, for no journey is possible to Nirguna Brahman which is all - pervading. This path is also known as the path of light or archiraadimaarga.

The path of the manes (pitr.yaana or the southern path) is described in Ch.up. 5.10.3 and 4. Householders who perform Vedic rites such as agnihotra and activities for public welfare such as construction of tanks, wells and rest - houses and practise charity (these are known as ishTa, puurta and dattam) go through the path of the manes. The stages in this path are the deity of smoke, the deity of the night, the deity of the dark fortnight, the deity of the six months during which the sun travels southward, the region of the manes, aakaas'a and the moon. This moon is King Soma. Reaching there, they become identified with this moon and enjoy there. They are also in turn enjoyed by the gods. Enjoyment is possible only with a body. Therefore the jiiva who reaches this moon by this path gets a body produced out of the water particles and smoke rising out of his dead body, which was his last offering on the earth into fire. The water, together with the smoke, arising out of the cremated body envelops the jiiva and goes to the region of the moon and produces a body for enjoyment. The enjoyment of the jiivas here consists in the companionship of the gods, who in turn enjoy them by being served by them.

Those who go by the path of the manes have to return on the exhaustion of the results of the rites and other good deeds performed by them, which earned them this path. This is described in Ch.up. 5.10.5 and 6. The aqueous body which the jiiva had in the region of the moon takes a subtle form like aakaas'a and remains in the sky. Then it successively appears as air, smoke, white cloud and rain - bearing cloud and then falls down in the form of rain. Then these jiivas come down to this world by remaining attached to rice, barley, herbs and trees, sesamum plants, beans, etc. There is no certainty where the rainwater will fall and where the jiivas attached to the grains etc, will go. When the rice, etc is eaten by a male capable of reproduction, the jiiva attached to it may enter the womb of a female and be born as a human being, animal, bird, or any other creature. This process and the difficulties in the way are described in detail in the Bhaashya. The nature of the birth is determined by the residual karma (See KaTh.up.2.2.7).

These two paths are also mentioned in B.G.8.24 and 25.

26. Transmigration

Death is the departure of the subtle body from the gross body. The gross body gets sentiency only because of the reflection of Consciousness in the subtle body. When the subtle body departs the gross body becomes insentient. The subtle body takes up another gross body. This process goes on until the dawn of Self - knowledge. Then, on the fall of the gross body when the praarabdhakarma is exhausted, the subtle body also ceases to exist and videhamukti is attained.

Br.up.4.3.35.S.B - - - itaH aarabhya asya samsaaraH varNyate - - - - - ityaaha atra dr.shTaantam.

From here onwards transmigration of the self is being described. An example is given to show how the self passes from the present body to the next, in the same way as the self goes from the dream to the waking state.

tat tatra yathaa loke - - - - - - - ityaaha kaaruNyaat s'rutiH.

Just as a cart, heavily loaded with various articles, moves rumbling under the load, so does the self that is in the body, i.e. the self that has the subtle body as its limiting adjunct, move between this and the next world, as between the waking and dream states, through birth and death, consisting respectively in the association with and dissociation from the (gross) body. It should be noted here that, when the subtle body, which has the vital force as its chief constituent, and which is illumined by the self - luminous aatman, goes, the self, of which it is the limiting adjunct, also seems to go. This happens when breathing becomes difficult, when the person is gasping for breath. Although this is an occurrence that is commonly observed, the upanishad mentions it only to stimulate a spirit of renunciation in us. Since at the time of death a man is in a helpless state of mind and cannot adopt the means for attaining the final goal of life, he must practise the means earlier, when he is in a position to do so. This is what the s'ruti indicates out of compassion.

Br.up.4.3.36.S.B - - - tasmaat rasaat - - - - - - - - - karma s'rutaadivas'aat aadravati.

Just as a fruit is detached from its stalk by the wind or by various other causes, so does this infinite being, the self identified with the subtle body, i.e. the self with the subtle body as the limiting adjunct, completely detach itself from all the parts of the gross body, such as the eye,etc. The word 'completely' indicates that the vital force does not remain in the body as in the state of deep sleep. The self withdraws the subtle body, including the vital force (praaNa) and departs again. The use of the word 'again' is to indicate that this subtle body has similarly gone from one gross body to another many times before, just as it has moved frequently between the dream and waking states. It goes to the particular gross body determined by the past work, knowledge, etc.

Br.up.4.3.37.S.B - - - - - tatra asya idam s'ariiram parityajya - - - - - - - - iti lokaprasiddho dr.shTaantaH uchyate.

Now a question may arise - - - - When the jiiva goes leaving one gross body, he has no power to take another by himself. Nor are there others who, like servants, would wait for him with another body made ready, as a king's retinue waits for him with a house kept ready. How then can the jiiva get another body? The answer is: He has adopted the whole universe as his means for the realization of the results of his actions. Therefore the whole universe, impelled by his work, waits for him with the requisite means for the realization of the results of his actions. The S'atapatha Brahmana says - "A man is born into the body that has been made for him" (VI.II.ii.27). This process is illustrated by two examples in 4.3.37 and 4.3.38. These examples are narrated below.

Br.up.4.3.37.S.B - - - - - tat tatra yathaa raajaanam - - - - - - - - - tathaa idam aagachchhati ityevameva cha kr.tvaa pratiikshante ityarthaH.

Just as, when a king visits some place within his kingdom the leading citizens of that place, as well as certain others appointed by the king to perform specific duties, wait for him with food and drink and a palace kept ready for his stay, similarly, for the transmigrating self who is about to take up a new body, the elements that are necessary for the creation of that body, as well as the presiding deities of the organs, such as Indra and others, wait with the means of enjoyment of the results of his past actions, saying "Here comes Brahman, our enjoyer and master".

Br.up.4.3.38.S.B - - - - tameva jigamishum - - - - - maraNakaale sarve praaNaa vaagaadaya abhisamaayanti. Just as when the king wishes to go back, the leading citizens and others who had received him approach him in a body, unbidden by the king, and simply knowing that he wishes to go, so do all the organs approach the departing jiiva at the time of death.

Br.up.4.4.1.S.B - - - It has been said in 4.3.36 - "This infinite being, completely detaching himself from the parts of the body" -- In order to explain when and how that detachment takes place, the process of transmigration is described in detail in this section - - - Sa ayam aatmaa sammuuDha ayamiti - - - When the self becomes weak - - - really it is the body that becomes weak, but its weakness is figuratively spoken of as that of the self. The state of helplessness at the time of death, which is caused by the withdrawal of the organs, is attributed by the ordinary man to the self. At this time the organs, such as that of speech, come to the self. Then this self that is in the body is detached from the parts of the body. How does this detachment take place and how do the organs come to the self? This is being explained: Completely withdrawing these particles of light, i.e. the organs, such as the eye, so called because they reveal colour etc. The word 'completely ' shows the distinction of this state from sleep, in which they are just drawn in, but not absolutely, as in this case. The self then comes to the heart, i.e. the ether in the lotus of the heart; in other words, the consciousness is manifested in the heart. The self cannot, by itself, move or withdraw the activities of the organs. It is through the limiting adjuncts, such as the intellect, that all changes and activities are attributed to the self. When does it withdraw the particles of light? The answer is: the presiding deity of the eye, who is an aspect of the sun, being directed by the individual's past actions, goes on helping the functioning of the eye, but withdraws this help and becomes merged in the sun when the person is about to die. Br.up.3.2.13 says that the vocal organ merges in fire, the vital force in air, the eye in the sun, and so on, at the time of death. These organs again take up their respective places when the individual takes another body.

Br.up.4.4.2.S.B - - - ekiibhavati karaNajaatam svena lingaatmanaa.

Every organ becomes united with the subtle body of the dying man.

Br.up.4.4.2.S.B -- tadaa upalakshyate devataanivr.ttiH karaNaanaam cha - - - - - - - nishkraamati.

This means that at the time of death the presiding deities cease to help the organs and the organs become united with the subtle body with its seat in the heart. The top of the heart, i.e. the nerve - end, which is the exit for the self, brightens. Through that top, brightened by the light of the self, the jiiva, with the subtle body as its limiting adjunct, departs. (This departure of the subtle body is what is known as death).

Br.up.4.4.2.S.B -- tatra cha aatmachaitanyajyotiH - - - - - - - - - - - gamanam iha vivakshitam.

In the subtle body the self - effulgent consciousness of the self is always particularly manifest. It is because of this limiting adjunct that the self appears to have birth, death and all activities. As the self (with the subtle body as limiting adjunct) departs, by which way does it leave the body? Through the eye, if the individual has a store of work or knowledge that would take it to the sun, or through the head, if the individual is entitled to go to the world of hiraNyagarbha, or through any other part of the body, according to his past work and knowledge. When the individual self is about to depart to the next world, the vital force follows; and when the vital force departs, all the organs, such as that of speech, follow.

Br.up.4.4.2.S.B -- karmaNaa tadbhaavyamaanena - - - - - - - vijnaanodbhaasitam eva ityarthaH.

Everyone gets, at the moment of death, a consciousness of his next life and goes to the body revealed by that particular consciousness.

The phenomenon of child prodigies explained

Br.up.4.4.2.S.B - - - s'akaTavat sambhr.tasambhaara - - - - - -

It has been said that the departing self goes like a loaded cart, making noises. Now, as it leaves for the next world, what is its food on the way and for consumption after reaching that world, and what are the materials for making the new body and organs? The answer is: the self, journeying to the next world, is accompanied by all the knowledge acquired, the result of all actions (karma) and the impressions of past actions. These impressions are the cause of the initiation of fresh actions and the bringing to fruition of past actions. When the organs are prompted to work by the impressions of past actions, they can easily attain skill in certain spheres even without any practice in the present life. It is observed that some persons are skillful in certain activities, such as painting, from their very birth, even without any training in the present life (child prodigies). This is due to skill attained in past lives. Similarly, in the enjoyment of sense objects also, some are found to be skillful by nature and others are not. Hence it is said that these three -- knowledge, work and past experience -- are the food on the way to the next world (or next life) and after reaching there (i.e. taking a new body). Therefore one should cultivate only the good forms of these three so that one may get a desirable body and desirable enjoyments.

How the jiiva takes a new body

Br.up.4.4.3.S.B - - - evam vidyaadisambhaarasambhr.taH - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - puurvaas'rayam vimunchati ityetasmin arthe dr.shTaantaH upaadiiyate.

Now the question is, when the self loaded with knowledge, etc, is about to take up another body, does it leave the old body and go to another, like a bird going to another tree? Or is it carried by another body serving as a vehicle to the place where, according to its past work, it is to be born? Or does it stay here, while its organs become all - pervading and function as such? Or do the organs remain contracted within the limits of the body as long as the jiiva remains in that particular body, but when the jiiva departs the organs become all - pervading, like the light of a lamp when its enclosure is removed and contract again when a new body is taken up? (These are the views, respectively, of the Jains, the Devataavaadins, the Saankhyas and Vedanta). The answer is: Though the organs are by nature all - pervading and infinite (in their form as the presiding deities), since the new body is made in accordance with the person's work, knowledge and past impressions, the functions of the organs also contract or expand accordingly. Therefore the impressions called past experience, under the control of the person's knowledge and work, stretch out, like a leach, from the body, retaining their seat in the heart, as in the dream state, and build another body in accordance with his past work; they leave their seat, the old body, when a new body is made ready. An illustration on this point is given in 4.4.3.

Br.up.4.4.3.S.B - - - tat tatra dehaantarasanchaare - - - - - - - - - esha dehaantaraarambhavidhiH.

The following example illustrates how the jiiva passes from one gross body to another. Just as a leach, which wants to go from one leaf to another, stretches the front part of its body and takes hold of the new leaf and then draws the hind portion of the body away from the old leaf and onto the new leaf, so also, the jiiva takes hold of the new body and only thereafter leaves the old body. This is similar to what happens when going from the waking to the dream state. In the dream state the person identifies himself with his dream body and completely dissociates himself from his waking state body. The presiding deities of all the organs also take their places in the new body. The nature of the new body, whether it is that of a human being or of a god, or of an animal or other creature, depends on the past karma, knowledge and impressions (vaasanas) of the particular individual. The MuND. Up. says - - "He who longs for objects of desire, thinking highly of them, is born along with those desires in a situation in which he will be able to realize those desires"(3.2.2). Desire is therefore the cause of repeated births and deaths. Total elimination of desire is the means to liberation.

Regarding how a new body is formed, the example of a goldsmith taking an old ornament and converting it into a new one is given in Br.up.4.4.4.

Br.up.3.2.13.S.B - - - karma eva aas'rayam - - - - - - - -

Karma is the cause of repeated births.

KaTha up. 2.2.7 -- The jiiva is born according to his karma and knowledge as a human being, animal, bird, tree, etc.

Proof of existence of past births

Ch.up.6.11.3.S.B - - - jiivaapetam - - - - - - na jiivo mriyate iti.

When separated from the jiiva (soul), the (gross) body dies, but the soul does not die. From the fact that as soon as a creature is born, it hankers after breast - feeding and experiences fear, etc, it is clear that it has memory of similar experiences in past lives. Moreover, since rites like agnihotra have some purpose to serve, it follows that the soul does not die.

Disclaimer: Celextel has Created this Vedanta Shastras Library with a Noble Intention of making these Indian Spiritual Treasures available to One and All. Celextel is taking Absolute Care in Maintaining this Website and Celextel shall not be held Responsible for any Errors or Incorrectness. These Online Books are only for Informative Purposes and shall not be Construed as Rendering of any Professional Advice in any Manner Whatsoever. Readers must Exercise their Own Judgement and Refer to the Original Source for all Practical Purposes.
Distribution, Publication and Unauthorized Copying of these Online Books without Prior Permission of Respective Authors, Publishers or Translators are Prohibited.
Copyright © 2002-2022 Celextel Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Innovation Theme by Cagintranet ** Powered by GetSimple
Subscribe to Notification of New Additions | Vedanta Shastras Library
Vedanta Shastras Library RSS Feed
Vedanta Shastras Library XML Site Map
Do NOT follow this link or You will be Banned from this Website!