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Jivanmukta is someone who, in the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, has gained and assimilated self-knowledge, thus is liberated with an inner sense of freedom while living. The state is the aim of moksha in Advaita Vedanta, Yoga and other schools of Hinduism, and it is referred to as jivanmukti (self-realization).
The various texts and schools of Hinduism describe Jivanmukti state of existence as one of liberation and freedom reached within one’s life. Some contrast jivanmukti with videhamukti (moksha from samsara after death). Jivanmukti is a state that transforms the nature, attributes and behaviors of an individual, claim these ancient texts of Hindu philosophy. For example, according to Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad, the liberated individual shows attributes such as:
- he is not bothered by disrespect and endures cruel words, treats others with respect regardless of how others treat him;
- when confronted by an angry person he does not return anger, instead replies with soft and kind words;
- even if tortured, he speaks and trusts the truth;
- he does not crave for blessings or expect praise from others;
- he never injures or harms any life or being (ahimsa), he is intent in the welfare of all beings;
- he is as comfortable being alone as in the presence of others;
- he is as comfortable with a bowl, at the foot of a tree in tattered robe without help, as when he is in a mithuna (union of mendicants), grama (village) and nagara (city);
- he doesn’t care about or wear sikha (tuft of hair on the back of head for religious reasons), nor the holy thread across his body. To him, knowledge is sikha, knowledge is the holy thread, knowledge alone is supreme. Outer appearances and rituals do not matter to him, only knowledge matters;
- for him there is no invocation nor dismissal of deities, no mantra nor non-mantra, no prostrations nor worship of gods, goddess or ancestors, nothing other than knowledge of Self;
- he is humble, high spirited, of clear and steady mind, straightforward, compassionate, patient, indifferent, courageous, speaks firmly and with sweet words.
Adi 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 ānatman) 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. "Vijnatabrahmatattvasya yathapurvam na samsrtih" – "there is no saṃsāra 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 superimpose 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 ātman ("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 between Self and Brahman is said to be a Jivanmukta.
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.
- Gavin Flood (1998), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780, page 92-93
- Klaus Klostermaier, Mokṣa and Critical Theory, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1985), pages 61-71
- Andrew Fort and Patricia Mumme (1996), Living Liberation in Hindu Thought, ISBN 978-0-7914-2706-4
- Norman E. Thomas (April 1988), Liberation for Life: A Hindu Liberation Philosophy, Missiology, Volume 16, Number 2, pp 149-160
- M. von Brück (1986), Imitation or Identification?, Indian Theological Studies, Vol. 23, Issue 2, pages 95-105
- Paul Deussen, The philosophy of the Upanishads, p. 356, at Google Books, pages 356-357
- Jivanmukti, Sanskrit English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
- See for example Muktika Upanishad, Varaha Upanishad, Adhyatma Upanishad, Sandilya Upanishad, Tejobindu Upanishad, etc.; in K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada
- Paul Deussen, The philosophy of the Upanishads, Translated by A.S. Geden (1906), T&T Clark, Edinburgh
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vol 1 & 2, ISBN 978-81-208-1467-7
- see: K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada, pp 140-147
- see also Sandilya Upanishad for ahimsa and other virtues; Quote: “तत्र हिंसा नाम मनोवाक्कायकर्मभिः सर्वभूतेषु सर्वदा क्लेशजननम्”; Aiyar translates this as: He practices Ahimsa - no injury or harm to any living being at any time through actions of his body, his speech or in his mind; K.N. Aiyar (Transl. 1914), Thirty Minor Upanishads, University of Toronto Robart Library Archives, Canada, pp 173-174
- Śaṅkarācārya (1973). Vivekacūḍāmaṇi of Śrī Samkara Bhagavatpāda. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 403–423.
- Maharshi, Ramana. "Karma and Destiny". Hinduism.co.za. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
- Shah-Kazem, Reza (2006). Paths to Transcendence: According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi, and Meister Eckhart. World Wisdom, Inc. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-941532-97-6.
- Ranade, R. D. (1986) . A Constructive Survey Of Upanishadic Philosophy: Being An Introduction To The Thought Of The Upanishads. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 157.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1972). Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Mumbai: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. p. 621.