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Jivanmukti and Videhamukti

by Swami Sivananda

ivanmukti is that state in which the sage gets established in Satchidananda Brahman. He becomes the Brahman. The phenomenal universe does not vanish from his vision. Just as the man who was duped in the beginning by the water in the mirage knows that it is only illusion after careful examination, so also the liberated sage fully knows that this world is mere illusion though it appears to him. Freedom from the Kleshas or afflictions is Jivanmukti. The liberated sage is not affected by pleasure and pain. He knows fully well that pleasure and pain, action and enjoyment are the attributes or Dharmas of the Antahkarana. He has now separated himself from the mind. He now stands as a spectator or witness of the mind.

Avarana Sakti and Vikshepa Sakti are the two Saktis of Avidya. As soon as Knowledge of the Self dawns, the Avarana Sakti is destroyed. Avarana Sakti is the veiling power. Vikshepa Sakti is the projecting power. This world is projected through the power of Vikshepa Sakti. On account of the Avarana Sakti you are not able to perceive the Satchidananda Brahman. On account of the destruction of Avarana Sakti, a Jnani is freed from birth and death. But Vikshepa Sakti (Lesha Avidya) remains like a burnt seed owing to the strength of Prarabdha. Therefore, there is appearance of the world for a Jivanmukta.

Just as trembling of the body on account of fear remains even after the illusion of snake in the rope is destroyed by the knowledge of the rope, just as the mirage appears even after the illusory nature of the later is understood, so also the world appears for the Jivanmukta even after he has attained Self-realisation, even after he has clearly understood the illusory nature of the world. But just as the man who has understood the illusory nature of the mirage will not run after the mirage for drinking water, so also the Jivanmukta will not run after sensual objects like the worldly-minded people though the world appears to him. That is the difference between a worldly man and a liberated sage.

After the death of Dronacharya, there was a fight with Asvatthama. Lord Krishna entered the battlefield with the pure resolve, This chariot and the horses will remain as they are today till I return home after the battle is over. Asvatthama utilised Brahmastra and Agniastra. Though the chariot and the horses of Arjuna were reduced to ashes by the weapons of Asvatthama, yet they remained intact on account of the pure resolve of Lord Krishna. As soon as Lord Krishna returned home, the chariot and the horses were burnt to ashes.

This physical body is the chariot. Virtue and vice are the two wheels of the chariot. The three Gunas represent the banner. The five Pranas are the ropes. The ten Indriyas are the horses. The five objects of enjoyment are the path. Mind is the rein. Intellect is the driver. Prarabdha is the Sankalpa. The four means and Sravana, Manana, Nididhyasana are the weapons. Satsanga is the battlefield. Guru is Asvatthama. 'Tat Tvam Asi' Mahavakya is the Brahmastra. Knowledge of the Atman is the fire. As soon as the knowledge of the Self dawns, the world and body which represent the chariot and horses are burnt. On account of the force of Prarabdha, the world and the body appear to the vision of the Jnani or the Jivanmukta. Just as the potter's wheel continues to revolve on account of the force already given by the stick of the potter, even after he has removed the stick, so also the world and body appear for the Jivanmukta on account of the force of Prarabdha, although in reality they are destroyed by the attainment of knowledge of the Self. This is called Bhatitanu Vritti.

That which gets destroyed is the Pratiyogi of destruction. by destruction there is the appearance of the Pratiyogi. In Badha there is no appearance of Pratiyogi; but Abhava (non-existence) in the three periods of time appears. This is the difference between destruction and Badha.

The Dharma of a man's Chitta that has the characteristics of agency and enjoyment is fraught with pain and hence tends towards bondage. The control of it (the Chitta) is Jivanmukti. Videhamukti follows when, through the existence of Prarabdha, the removal of the vehicles (of the bodies) takes place like the ether in the pot (after the pot is broken).

The destruction of Chitta is of two kinds, that with form and without form. The destruction of that with form is of the Jivanmukta; the destruction of that without form is of the Videhamukta.

As soon as the Prarabdha is fully exhausted, the Jivanmukta attains the state of Videhamukti, just as the pot - ether becomes one with the universal ether when the pot is broken.

In Videhamukti, the world entirely vanishes from the vision of a sage. There is no Prapancha Pratiti. As soon as Prarabdha is exhausted by enjoyment, Ajnana which assumed the modifications of gross, subtle and causal bodies involves itself into the Brahman. The Lesha Avidya (trace of ignorance that is found even in a Jivanmukta which is the cause for moving, eating, etc.,) along with the effect (Karya) is destroyed by the Chetana (consciousness) that is contained in the Samskaras of Brahma Vidya. Just as the fire in the fuel burns the heap of grass and itself burnt, so also the Chetana that is contained in the Samskaras of Knowledge destroys the world and the Samskaras of Knowledge are also destroyed eventually. Then the pure, self-luminous Satchidananda Brahman remains behind.

If one knows through direct intuitive perception, I am Satchidananda Brahman, it is Sakshatkara or Self-realisation. From the very date on which one realises his own Atman, he becomes a Jivanmukta.

The Jivanmukta roams about happily in this world as he is free from the three kinds of fevers. He is free from all sorts of attachment and Vasanas. He is absolutely free from Raga-Dvesha. He is established in right conduct. He is full of virtuous qualities. He does not feel: I am the actor, I am the enjoyer. He has a very large heart.

A Videhamukta is one for whom this world does not appear and there is no Brahmakara Vritti. He delights in his own self-luminous Satchidananda Svarupa. His bliss is beyond the reach of speech. He is Atita.

The great Lord Siva explains to Kumara in Tejobindu Upanishad the nature of Jivanmukti (embodied salvation) and Videhamukti (disembodied salvation) as follows: I am Chidatma. I am Para-Atma. I am the Nirguna greater than the great. One who will simply stay in Atman is called a Jivanmukta. He who realises: 'I am beyond the three bodies, I am the pure consciousness and I am Brahman' is said to be a Jivanmukta. He is said to be a Jivanmukta who realises: 'I am of the nature of the blissful and of the supreme bliss, and I have neither body nor any other thing except the certitude I am Brahman only'. He is said to be a Jivanmukta who has not at all got the 'I' in his self, but who stays in Chinmatra (absolute consciousness) alone, whose interior is consciousness alone, who is only of the nature of Chinmatra, whose Atman is of the nature of the all-full, who is devoted to bliss, who is undifferentiated, who is all-full of the nature of consciousness, whose Atman is of the nature of pure consciousness, who has given up all affinities (for objects), who has unconditioned bliss, whose Atman is tranquil, who has got no other thought (than Itself), and who is devoid of the thought of the existence of anything. He is said to he a Jivanmukta who realises 'I have no Chitta, no Buddhi, no Ahamkara, no sense, no body at any time, no Prana, no Maya, no passion and no anger. I am the great. I have nothing of these objects of the world, and I have no sin, no characteristics, no eyes, no Manas, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no hand, no waking, no dreaming nor causal state in the least nor the fourth state. ' He is said to be a Jivanmukta, who realises: 'All this is not mine, I have no time, no space, no object, no thought, no Snana (bath), no Sandhya (junction-period ceremonies), no deity, no sacred places, no worship, no spiritual wisdom, no seat, no relative, no birth, no speech, no wealth, no virtue, no vice, no duty, no auspiciousness, no Jiva, not even the three worlds, no salvation, no duality, no Vedas, no mandatory rules, no proximity, no distance, no knowledge, no secrecy, no Guru, no disciple, no diminution, no excess, no Brahma, no Vishnu, no Rudra, no moon, no earth, no water, no Vayu, no Akasa, no Agni, no clan, no Lakshya (object aimed at), no mundane existence, no meditator, no object of meditation, no cold, no heat, no thirst, no hunger, no friend, no foe, no illusion, no victory, no past, present or future, no quarters, nothing to be said or heard in the least, nothing to be done (nor attained), nothing to be contemplated, enjoyed or remembered, no enjoyment, no desire, no Yoga, no absorption, no garrulity, no quietude, no bondage, no love, no joy, no instant joy, no hugeness, no smallness, neither length nor shortness, neither increase nor decrease, neither Adhyaropa (illusory attribution) nor Apavada (withdrawal of that conception ), no oneness, no manyness, no blindness, no dullness, no skill, no flesh, no blood, no lymph, no skin, no marrow, no bone, none of the seven Dhatus, no whiteness, no redness, no blueness, no heat, no gain, neither importance nor non-importance, no delusion, no perseverance, no mystery, no race, nothing to be abandoned or received, nothing to be laughed at, no policy, no religious vow, no fault, no bewilderment, no happiness, neither knower nor knowledge, nor the knowable, no Self, nothing belonging to you or to me, neither you nor I, and neither old age nor youth, nor manhood; but I am certainly Brahman. I am certainly Brahman. I am Chit, I am Chit. He is said to be a Jivanmukta who cognises: 'I am Brahman alone. I am the supreme.' No doubt need be entertained about this; 'I am Hamsa itself, I remain of my own will, I can see myself through myself, I reign happy in the kingdom of Atman and enjoy in myself the bliss of my own Atman.' He is a Jivanmukta who is himself the foremost and the one undaunted person, who is himself the Lord and rests in his own Self.


A Videhamukta is one who has become Brahman, whose Atman has attained quiescence, who is of the nature of Brahmic bliss, who is happy, who is of a pure nature, and who is a great Mouni (observer of silence). He is a Videhamukta who remains in Chinmatra alone without (even) thinking thus: I am all Atman, the Atman that is equal (or the same) in all, the pure, without one, the non-dual, the all, the Self only, the birthless and the deathless, I am myself the undecaying Atman that is the object aimed at, the sporting, the silent, the blissful, the beloved and the bondless salvation, I am Brahman alone, I am Chit alone. He is a Videhamukta who having abandoned the thought 'I alone am the Brahman' is filled with bliss. He is a Videhamukta who having given up the certainty of existence of all objects is pure Chidananda (the consciousness bliss), who having abandoned (the thought) 'I am Brahman' (or) 'I am not Brahman' does not mingle his Atman with anything, anywhere or at any time, who is ever silent with the silence of Satya, who does nothing, who has gone beyond Gunas, whose Atman has become the All, the great, and the purifier of the elements, who does not cognise the change of time, matter, place, himself or other differences, who does not see (the difference of) 'I', 'thou', 'this', who being of the nature of time is yet without it, whose Atman is void, subtle and universal but yet without (them), whose Atman is divine and yet without Devas, whose Atman is measurable and yet without measure, whose Atman is without inertness and within every one, whose Atman is devoid of any Sankalpas, who thinks always, 'I am the Chinmatra, I am simply Paramatman, I am only of the nature of spiritual wisdom, I am only of the nature of Sat, I am afraid of nothing in this world,' and who is without the conception of Devas, Vedas and sciences, and regards all as void.

He is a Videhamukta who has realised himself to be Chaitanya alone, who is remaining at ease in the pleasure garden of his own Atman, whose Atman is of an illimitable nature, who is without the conception of the small and the great, who is of the fourth state and the supreme bliss. He is a Videhamukta whose Atman is nameless and formless, whose Atman is associated with Yoga, who is free from bondage or freedom, without Guna or non-Guna, without space, time, etc., who finds his spiritual effulgence in his own nature, who finds bliss in himself, whose bliss is beyond the scope of words and mind, and whose thought is beyond the beyond. He is said to be a Videhamukta who has gone beyond (or quite mastered) the modifications of Chitta, who illumines each modification, whose Atman is without any modifications at all. In that case, he is neither embodied nor disembodied. If such a thought is entertained (even) for a moment, then he is surrounded (in thought) by all.

He is a Videhamukta whose external Atman is invisible to others, is the supreme bliss aiming at the highest Vedanta, who drinks of the juice of the nectar of Brahman, who has the nectar of Brahman as medicine, who is devoted to the juice of the nectar of Brahman, who is immersed in that juice, who has the beneficent worship of the Brahmic bliss, who is satisfied with the nectar of Brahman, who realises Brahmic bliss, who cognises the Siva in bliss, in Brahmic bliss, who has the effulgence of the essence of Brahmic bliss, who has become one with it, who lives in the household of Brahmic bliss, who has an imponderable Chit being one with it, who is supporting (all) beings full of it, who stays in Atman having that bliss and who thinks: 'All this is of the nature of Atman, there is nothing else beside Atman, all is Atman, I am Atman, the great Atman, the supreme Atman, and Atman of the form of bliss; my nature is full, I am the great Atman, I am the all-conditioned and the permanent Atman. I am the Atman pervading the heart of all which is not sustained by anything, but which has no Atman; I am the Atman whose nature is changeless, I am the quiescent Atman, and I am the many Atman.'

He who does not think 'This is Jivanmukta and that is Paramatman', whose Atman is of the nature of the emancipated and the non-emancipated, but without emancipation or bondage, whose Atman is of the nature of the dual and the non-dual one, but without duality and non-duality; whose Atman is of the nature of the All and the non-All, but without them; whose Atman is of the nature of the happiness arising from objects obtained and enjoyed, but without it; and who is devoid of any Sankalpa such a man is a Videhamukta. He whose Atman is partless, stainless, enlightened, Purusha, without bliss, etc., of the nature of the nectar; of the nature of the three periods of time, but without them; whose Atman is entire and non-measurable, being subject to proof though without proof; whose Atman is the eternal and the witness, but without eternity and witness; whose Atman is of the nature of secondless, who is a self-shining one; whose Atman cannot be measured by Vidya and Avidya but is with them; whose Atman is without conditioned-ness or unconditioned-ness, who is without this or the higher worlds; whose Atman is without the six things beginning with Sama, who is without the qualifications of the aspirant after salvation; whose Atman is without gross, subtle, causal, and the fourth bodies, and without Anna, Prana, Manas and Vijnana sheaths; whose Atman is of the nature of Ananda (bliss) sheath but without five sheaths; whose Atman is of the nature of Nirvikalpa, is devoid of Sankalpa, without the characteristics of the visible or the audible, and of the nature of void, owing to unceasing Samadhi, who is without beginning, middle or end; whose Atman is devoid of the word Prajnana, who is without the idea: 'I am Brahman'; whose Atman is devoid (of the thought) of 'Thou art', who is without the thought 'This is Atman'; whose Atman is devoid of that which is described by Om, who is above the reach of any speech or the three states, and is the indestructible and the Chidatman; whose Atman is not the one which can be known by Atman and whose Atman has neither light nor darkness such a personage is a Videhamukta. Look only upon Atman; know it as your own. Enjoy your Atman yourself and stay in peace. Be content in your own Atman. Then you will attain Videhamukti.

For a Jivanmukta who beholds the all-pervading, immortal, indivisible self-luminous Atman everywhere, there remains nothing to be attained or known. He has attained perfection, highest bliss and highest knowledge.

Some are born with purity and other requisites of realisation on account of their having undergone the necessary discipline in their past life. They are born Siddhas. Guru Nanak, Jnanadev of Alandi, Vama Deva, Ashtavakra were all adepts from their very boyhood. Guru Nanak asked his teacher in the school when he was a boy on the significance of Om. Vama Deva delivered lectures on Vedanta when he was dwelling in his mother's womb.

The way of living of Jivanmuktas or sages differs. One sage lives in a princely style. Bhagirata lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in a beggarly manner. One sage is always in a meditative mood. He never works. He never talks. He lives always in seclusion. Jada Bharata lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in a busy, crooked city. He plunges himself in service. He talks with the people. He delivers lectures, holds religious classes, writes books, etc. Sri Sankara led this kind of life. This is due to Prarabdha. Every sage has his own Prarabdha. If all sages have the same kind of living and the same kind of Prarabdha, this world will be like a prison. Variety in manifestation is the nature of Prakriti.

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