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Jivanmukta (derived from the word, Jivanmukti, a combination of Sanskrit words jiva and mukti) is someone who, in the Advaita philosophy of Hinduism, has gained dradh nishthaa, firmly assimilated knowledge of the Self- and is liberated while living in a human body, free from rebirth.
Jivanamukti i.e. freedom from the vicious cycle of birth and rebirth, is a concept in Hindu philosophy, particularly in the school of philosophy known as Advaita. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is liberation from the cycles of rebirth. This liberation is technically called moksha. In all schools of Hindu philosophy (except Advaita) liberation is necessarily an event beyond the experience of human beings. But the Advaita school of Shankara envisages that human beings are already liberated and the soul is already free - one has only to realise (and to accept) this freedom. Souls who have had this realisation are called jivanmuktas.
Shankara explains that nothing can induce one to act who has no desire of his own to satisfy. The supreme limit of vairagya ("detachment"), is the non-springing of vasanas in respect of enjoyable objects; the non-springing of the sense of the “I” (in things which are the anatman) is the extreme limit of bodha ("awakening"), and the non-springing again of the modifications which have ceased is the extreme limit of Uparati ("abstinence"). The Jivanmukta, by reason of his ever being Brahman, is freed from awareness of external objects and no longer aware of any difference between the inner atman and Brahman and between Brahman and the world, ever experiencing infinite consciousness, to him the world is as a thing forgotten. Vijnatabrahmatattvasya yathapurvam na samsrtih – "there is no samsara as before for one who has known Brahman".
There are three kinds of Prarabdha karma: Ichha ("personally desired"), Anichha ("without desire") and Parechha ("due to others' desire"). For a self realized person, a Jivanamukta, there is no Ichha-Prarabdha but the two others, Anichha and Parechha, remain, which even a jivanmukta has to undergo. According to the Advaita school for those of wisdom Prarabdha is liquidated only by experience of its effects; Sancita ("accumulated karmas") and Agami ("future karmas") are destroyed in the fire of Jnana ("knowledge").
The Advaita school holds the view that the world appearance is owing to Avidya ("ignorance") that has the power to project i.e. to super-impose, the unreal on the real (Adhyasa), and also the power to conceal the real resulting in the delusion of the Jiva who experiences objects created by his mind and sees difference in this world, he sees difference between the atman ("the individual self") and Brahman ("the supreme Self"). This delusion caused by ignorance is destroyed when ignorance itself is destroyed by knowledge. When all delusion is removed there remains no awareness of difference. He who sees no difference is said to be a Jivanmukta. Perception of difference leads one from death to death, non-difference can be perceived only by the highly trained intellect, so states the Sruti (Katha Upanishad II.4.11).
The Advaita philosophy rests on the premise that noumenally the Absolute alone exists, Nature, Souls and God are all merged in the Absolute; the Universe is one, that there is no difference within it, or without it; Brahman is alike throughout its structure, and the knowledge of any part of it is the knowledge of the whole (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad II.4.6-14), and, since all causation is ultimately due to Brahman, since everything beside Brahman is an appearance, the Atman is the only entity that exists and nothing else. All elements emanated from the Atman (Taittiriya Upanishad II.1) and all existence is based on Intellect (Aitareya Upanishad III.3). The universe created by Brahman from a part of itself is thrown out and re-absorbed by the Immutable Brahman (Mundaka Upanishad I.1.7). Therefore, the Jiva (the individual self) is non-different from Brahman (the supreme Self), and the Jiva, never bound, is ever liberated. Through Self-consciousness one gains the knowledge of existence and realizes Brahman.
- Sri Candrasekhara Bharati of Srngeri. Sri Samkara’s Vivekacudamani. pp. 403–423.
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