ekajIvavAda, jnAni, jnAna niShTha, jIvanmukta

Several times in the past we have had detailed discussions in these columns on the question whether a jnAni needed to continue the observation of some or other ‘practices’ after gaining jnAna (Self-Knowledge).  We had also seen that there is a divergence of opinion on ‘ekajIva vAda’ both in the theoretics of the doctrine and also its relevance  as a ‘prakriya‘ (a process system) for an earnest seeker.

At one of the popular traditionally oriented Advaita fora, I found a very significant Post that simultaneously touches on both the issues of (i) The ‘need’ of practices in the post-jnAna phase and (ii) ekajIva vAda as a prakriya. Without further ado, I reproduce below the authentic words of the Poster: 


Q:  Is it not necessary that a jnAni  has to continue only with निदिध्यासन  (nididhyAsana) and not shravaNa and manana to make him a brahmasaMstha  or jIvanmukta.

If ‘jnAni‘ means that he has stable-jnAna, then there is no need of even nididhyAsana. He is already a jIvanmukta and brahmasaMstha. The degree of jIvanmukti may vary according to his practice of samAdhi.

If ‘jnAni‘ means that his jnAna is unstable, then to stabilize it, he needs shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana; all. Just cessation of mental modifications and controlling anger, etc. is not means of jnAna or it’s stabilization.

That’s why jIvanmuktiviveka supports practice of shravaNa, etc, with yoga and vAsanA-xaya at the same time. As the jnAni has already practices shravaNa, etc. and neglected others, so the jIvanmuktiviveka put its force on the practice of the other two. This doesn’t mean that shravaNa, etc. are to be left. So, all things must be practiced for jIvanmukti.

There may be specific cases, where a practitioner of jnAnasAdhana feels that he needs to control viparIta-bhAvana mainly because it is creating problems. In that case, he may mainly practice nididhyAsana, as nididhyAsana is the medicine of viparIta-bhAvana.

But, when a person feels that asambhAvanA is a hindrance, he will put his effort in practicing shravaNa and manana while not shunning nididhyAsana.

So, it depends that where one will concentrate. But, he has to practice all.

Q:  Are दृष्टिसृष्टिप्रक्रिया / एकजीवप्रक्रिया (dṛṣṭisṛṣṭiprakriyā  / ekajīvaprakriyā) appropriate for the निदिध्यासन (nididhyāsana) subsequent to jnAna?

What is the role of prakriyA in nididhyAsana? Is he going to remember the whole prakriyA while meditating?

That’s not acceptable. He has to meditate on brahman, not on prakriyA. prakriyA-s are mithyA.

Q:  Would it be appropriate to consider ONLY a jnAni to be the adhikAri  for दृष्टिसृष्टिप्रक्रिया / एकजीवप्रक्रिया (dṛṣṭisṛṣṭiprakriyā /  ekajīvaprakriyā) to make him a brahmasaMstha or jIvanmukta. And is it not meant for  one who is only a sAdhana-chatuShTya sampannah  but  desires to become a jnAni.

I understand that [the Questioner] is confused about the purpose of prakriyA-s.

Any mumuxu is adhikArI of brahmajnAna. When he practices a  means of Knowledge, he tries to solve problems which arise (tries to support shruti and advaita which are opposed by other pramANa-s). So, he applies logic etc. to solve those problems. Different set of logic-systems are created by different people for the same purpose. It is you who have to find which system appears faultless to you, that system which you can support.

So, prakriyA-s (logic-systems) are a means to attain Knowledge.

And, any mumuxu is their adhikArI. jnAni doesn’t need any new prakriyA. He has already attained jnAna by following one of them. So, he will continue to pursue the same system (which he initially followed) to strengthen his knowledge. No need to swap those systems. The same prakriyA will lead him to brahmasaMsthA and jIvanmukti. Actually, swapping will harm his journey towards brahmaniShThA.

ekajIvavAda is not for any jnAni. It is for those intellectuals (jnAni or other), who finds it appealing and can support. They must have the ability to support it, not only in front of others, but in front of his [own] doubting self too. If he can’t persuade himself regarding the correctness of shrautajnAna, there is no use of any prakriyA.

Q:  Is  ekajIvavAda superior?

The superiority of ekajIvavAda lies in the fact that it doesn’t need many sattA-s, many jIva-s, many avidyA-s, etc. And, the superiority of the adhikArI of ekajIvavAda lies in the fact that he is intellectually strong enough to support such a compact system.

I hope this clears confusion regarding mukhyatva of this prakriyA. The term mukhyatva implies its superiority and that was supported by me here. 

Additional Info:  Here I copy-paste what I wrote somewhere else:

nididhyAsana is needed for jnAna. But, what is nididhyAsana is to be decided.

There are at least three views regarding this.

  1. vAchaspati says that it is specific type of meditation.(ekadeshi-matam supported by bhartR^iprapa~ncha and refuted by all others.)
  2. vArttikakAra says that it is a specific type of knowledge which is generated as a result of shravaNa and manana. It can’t be practiced.
  3. madhusUdana sarsvatI, etc. say that it is a specific type of tarka (not anumiti) and can be practiced.

There are again different views here on what it does.

1. nididhyAsana generates aparoxa-jnAnam. (ekadeshi-matam supported by  vAchaspati.)

2. nididhyAsana removes viparIta-bhAvana.

What is jnAna-niShThA ?

Engaging oneself in  jnAna while not doing anything else (karma, etc.). How could it be done, because jnAna is not something dependent on the will of person?

By engaging oneself in sAdhana-s of jnAna and nothing else.

Why jnAnaniShThA is needed?

For amR^itatva; shruti says: brahmasaMstho.amR^itattvameti.

Why shravaNa, etc. are done?

For jnAna.


AtmA vA are draShTavyaH – is the shruti.

Are jnAna and jnAna-niShThA different things ?


How ?

jnAna is just a vR^itti. And  jnAna-niShThA is practice of shravaNa, etc. while not engaging in anything else.

Does jnAni need nididhyAsana, etc. for jnAna-niShThA ?

Question reflects some problem in the understanding of the questioner.

How ?

Because, engagement in shravaNa, etc. is itself jnAna-niShThA. So,  shravaNa, etc. are not sAdhana of jnAna-niShThA. They are jnAna-niShThA when accompanied by lack of other activities (karma, upAsanA and most laukika-vyavahAra).

jnAna-niShThA is Ashrama-dharma of saMnyAsI-s.

[Note 1: The Questions are re-framed for clarity. The Swami Ji who provided the definitions and clarifications was Shri LalitAlAlitaH. The source Post is here.

Note 2: The approx English meanings of the Sanskrit words in the above Post are listed Alphabetically below.]

adhikArI Right person (eligible to receive the  message)
amR^itatva Immortality
anumiti Conclusion deducted
aparoxa-jnAnam Immediated Knowledge
asambhAvanA Impossibility in comprehending
Ashrama-dharma Prescribed duties in a stage of life.
AtmA vA are draShTavyaH  “The Self, my dear, should be realized.”  Quote from brihadAraNyaka up. II-iv-5
avidyA-s Nesciences
bhartR^iprapa~ncha BhartRu prapancha, the Name of an Author
brahmajnana Self-Knowledge
brahman  Consciousness
brahmaniShThA One who abides as brahman
brahmasaMstha One established as brahman
brahmasaMstho.amR^itattvameti  “He who is established firmly in Brahman attains immortality.” Quote from chAndogya II-23
dṛṣṭisṛṣṭiprakriyā The process as per the Doctrine of Vision-based Creation 
ekadeshi-matam  Applicable at one place only.
Ekajīvaprakriyā Process under the Doctrine of “I Alone Am.”
ekajIvavAda The Doctrine of “I Alone Am.”
 jIvanmukta One who is liberated right in this life.
jIvanmukti Liberation
jIvanmuktiviveka A book authored by Swami Vidyaranya on the ‘Wisdom of attaining liberation.’
jIva-s Indivdiuals
jnAna Self-Knowledge.
jnAna-niShThA Practice of shravaNa, etc. while not engaging in anything else.
jnAnasAdhana  Attainment of Self-Knowledge.
jnAni  Knower of Self-Knowledge.
karma Action (and also the effects of actions).
laukika-vyavahAra worldly transactions
madhusUdana sarsvatI Name of a well-known Advaitin of 16 – 17th Century.
manana Reflection (churning internally in the mind).
mithya Illusory
mukhyatva Superiority
mumuxu One who yearns for liberation
nididhyAsana Deep Contemplative Meditation.
prakriyA Logic-system (Process).
pramANa-s Means of Knowledge
sAdhana Path of practices
sAdhana-chatuShTya sampannah One who has achieved the Fourfold Aids of Seeking.
samAdhi Deep Meditation.
saMnyAsI-s The Renunciates (who are in the fourth stage in the life).
sattA-s Realities.
shrauta Related to Vedas
shravaNa Listening to / study of (scripture)
shruti Vedas
tarka Logic
upAsanA Meditational practice of worship
vAchaspati Name of 9-10th Century Advaitin
vArttikakAra Author of versified commentary (refers usually to Sureshwara)
 vAsanA-xaya Annulment of the stored impressions (tendencies) accumulated from past actions.
 viparIta-bhAvana Contrary imagination (understanding).
 vR^itti A thought-wave; a modification.


9 thoughts on “ekajIvavAda, jnAni, jnAna niShTha, jIvanmukta

  1. While acknowledging my practical illiteracy in Sanscrit (I know and understand only about 20 of its terms as employed in advaita), this post is, for me, quite abstruse. It would be less so if I sunk into it for several hours Skt. diccionary in hand (I wonder what Anon. makes of it). I suppose all this is ordinary fare for specialists of sancritist advaita post-Shankara.

    Compared with what is contained in the above post, any of the writings of Sri Satchidanandendra Saraswati are clarity itself (again, for me). I have learned from the latter to suspect anything that comes from Vacaspaty Misra and Madhva, and even the Vivarana school – evidently most prominent in the present time – and its theory of the two-fold power of avidya and that of the reflection theory of Brahman in the jiva. I should say no more.

    • Dear Martin,

      Thank you for the Comments.
      Sorry for the inconvenience.

      There are over 50 Sanskrit words used by Shri LalitAlAlitaH.
      It would have been tedious to read English words in parenthesis throughout the text. So I gave the meanings for quick reference in an alphabetical order as a Table at the end of the Post.

      Hope this helps.


      P.S. I do not know if Shri LalitAlAlitaH comes under the Vivarana school. Maybe Dennis knows.

  2. Hi Ramesam,

    A really fascinating Q&A posting, thank you. I appreciate you appending the dictionary, as I too was struggling a bit with the heavy Sanskrit usage. I got the gist on the first read through, but the added definitions helped clarify some of the more obscure bits. The Swami’s view on ekajIvavAda is interesting, in that he is not saying this is the only correct view, but rather one applicable only for those of sufficient intellect and strength of purpose, etc. This leads me to wonder whether attribution to “schools” like Vivarana or Bhamati are better construed simply as preferences for different prakriyA-s, rather than as conflicting doctrines within Advaita.

    Best Regards,

  3. Hi Charles,

    Thank you for the observations.

    Shri L.. is essentially reflecting what the 35th Shringeri Mahaswami, Shri Abhjinava Vidyatirtha is reported to have said to a disciple (In the book: Exalting Elucidations, Sringeri, 2004):

    “This, however, is not suitable for many people because their minds are not pure enough to imbibe it. People accept that the dream state is unreal. However, if told that the waking state is equally unreal, they would feel disturbed. On hearing, “The waking state is on par with the dream state” some may decide that dreams too are real! That is why the shastra-s do not speak much of the drshti-srshti-vada.”

    I am fully with you in your thinking that “… attribution to “schools” like Vivarana or Bhamati are better construed simply as preferences for different prakriyA-s, rather than as conflicting doctrines within Advaita.” Shankara used both metaphors of ‘reflection’ and ‘pot-space’ in his commentaries and has not indicated that one is superior to the other. Sringeri also uses both theories – they essentially use bhAmati for the brahmasUtra bhAshya.

    The vivaraNa and bhAmati differ in explaining the mechanics of how the final “tipping point” happens — whether by listening by itself to the ‘mahA vAkya’ alone or there is an action involved by the mind. I suppose that neither of those schools had any reliable physical evidence of a process for the “tipping point” (in the brain of the individual) but had been arguing based on their surmises and speculation. I feel some modern Swami-s, however, make one or the other theory as an USP for their wares.


  4. Apolgies for my failure to comment here. I have been rather busy with domestic problems for the past week or two and will remain so for the rest of the month. But I appreiciate the post. It is good to have such material here, and special thanks to Ramesam for the extended glossary of Sanskrit terms!

    I, too, support the ‘different prAkriyA-s’ point about the various schools. Essentially, whatever teaching leads one to the truth of advaita is fine. Obviously internal inconsistencies are likely to be counter-productive for anyone with reasoning capability, but all of the various inter-school inconsistencies are really only fodder for academics!

    • Thank you Dennis.
      It is very kind of you to spare your time to pen your thoughts here in spite of being pre-occupied with other pressing matters.

      Your words do add weight to the views expressed here.


  5. Ramesam, there is nothing you have to apologize for. I am the one that must do so and I do it right now.

    The following is as a documentation of Swami Satchidanandendra S.’s (SSS) position in regard of the post-Shankara sub-Commentaries that have been so influential over the past few centuries and right up to now.

    From Intro. to Visuddha-Vedanta-Paribhasha:

    Hurdles in the path of Research Scholars and Pandits

    ‘Pure Vedanta has resisted all attempts of scholars to define its limits or to label it as one or the other of the systems familiar to students of Western thought. It has been alternately dubbed scholasticism, theology, mysticism or metaphysics. And it has tempted some of the Eastern thinkers and Pundits to subsume it under Mimamsa, Shankya, Yoga or Nyaya or even Buddhistic philosophy or else to treat it as a conglomeration of all these systems. The reason is very simple. Writers on pure Vedanta accept or adopt the terminology as well as certain doctrines of these schools while discussing on the empirical level, but strictly adhere to their main theme and method when they wish to teach the transcendental truth. Failure to keep this distinction intact, and to understand the techniques of pure Vedanta, has baffled many a research scholar engaged in a serious attempt to understand Shankara’s Vedanta’.

    From Intro. To Visuddha Vedanta Sarah:

    ‘I have scrupulously confined myself to the standard works of Sri Gaudapadacharya, Sri Shankaracharya, and Sri Suresvaracharya whenever I had to appeal to authorities in support of my views. Of course, the truths of Vedanta, according to this tradition, depend upon reason based on universal intuition and not upon the idiosyncracy or a particular line of interpretation of the sacred literature by any individual Acharya.’

    From Intro to Panchapadica Prasthanam:

    ‘This time it was not a full-fledged rival system that attaked the traditional school [of Shankara’s Vedanta], but two different systems that reconciled themselves to ocupy the subordínate position of supplying critical expositions, called Tikas, of Shankara’s Bhasya so that they might infuse their own doctrines subtly into the dominant philosophy. This artífice was so very succesful that the original system soon became inextricable from the teachings of these two rivals and in some respects even mutually opposed schools, and today’s vedantins are nowise disconcerted to accept both of them as forming part and parcel of Shankara’s Advaita. The idea is that there are no doubt some differences of opinion regarding certain doctrines relating to empirical truths, but these are due to the different means of approach employed to reveal the nature of Reality, and do not matter at all so long as both the sub-schools are in perfect agreement about the nature of the Absolute. The critical student of Advaita is thus inevitably thrown into a state of perplexity as to what exactly is the system of Shakara. Whether that great thinker actually agrees with this or that school, or has a system of his own distinct from both [Panchapadika and Bhamati], continues to be an unsolved enigma to this day’.

  6. Many thanks, Martin for the kind words and the Quotes from SSSS.

    For all that truth spoken by Shri SSS, he is misunderstood more. May I, because of your knowledge of Shri SSS’s teachings, request you to write, when you can spare time, about the controversial concept of “mUlAvidyA,” the root ignorance, which is very much denied by him? That will be very educative for many of us.


  7. Thank you Ramesam. I will do my best to comply with your request, and the result should be ready in a few days. I hope I can do justice to Sw. Satchidanandendra (SSSS), which should not be too difficult (there are his own words). I may touch on the controversy itself (have to), despite being far from meriting the title of Pundit.

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