Imaginary ‘mokSha’ for Imagined ‘bandha’ – Shri P. Neti – 3/3

[Continued from Part – 2]

Question 3: The body that (notionally) housed previously a seeker….

Please Sir, body does not really house Consciousness. Not even the so-called limited consciousness. But it is Consciousness in which body appears just like any other object – and this is easily graspable even to the so-called limited consciousness, with a bit of subtle and impartial observation.

Question 3 (Contd.): … who is now liberated, (the body) is just a part of the ‘world’ which only exists as an “appearance” in the perception of the ‘ignoramuses.’ That body is now ‘without’ anyone as a claimant of ‘ownership’ to it. …

Let it be so. What is the problem if there is no claimant of ownership to a body?, I ask the ignoramuses.

Well, is not the shAstra saying that taking oneself to be owner of the body (in the sense ‘I am this’ and ‘this is mine’) ignorance?, I ask the ignoramuses.

Also, is it that the ignoramuses are concerned about ‘no claimant of ownership’ because they are worried as to who/how can a body is kept / taken care of, if there is no claimant of ownership?

There is no need for such a worry because Bhagavad-Gita tells us:

प्रकृते: क्रियमाणानि गुणै: कर्माणि सर्वश: |

अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ||   —  3.27, BG.

Meaning:  All activities are carried out by the three modes of material nature. But in ignorance, the ‘self,’ deluded by false identification with the body, thinks itself to be the doer.

Thus, by reminding Gitacharya’s vAkya, I would ask the ignoramuses to enquire first of all into the validity of their own claim about being the ‘owner of the body.’  When their claim itself is not correct, why then worry about the modus operandi of the body of a so-called mukta?

Question 4: The now freed pratyagAtman from Its own imagination of limitation is imperceptible to the senses and mind; therefore, none can see it and call it a mukta…..

First of all, pratyagAtma is thought to be bound, which is a wrong notion, because pratyagatma being brahman, was never really bound. Then what to say about its “now becoming free,” as if it is an event in time? – it is also a wrong notion only.

Question 4 (Contd.):  Thus, there is no entity that can be labeled a ‘jIvanmukta.’

Let it be so, Sir! As I said before, we are least bothered about locating a mukta. We are only interested in mukti but not mukta and mukta’s whereabouts.

Question 5:  After the seeker has done shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana as needed, it is tantamount to say that the manifold (kSetra) just continues on with all business as usual with just a notional change happening in the mind of the former seeker. ‘jIvanmukti’ then gets trivialized to being a mere ‘conceptual’ exercise.

This kind of value-seeking is what an ignorant man does. That is why to such an ignorant man, shAstra gives certain lakShaNa-s about a man of realization as sAdhana-s. I think the lack of sAdhana and hence, lack of cittasuddhi is what made this ignorant man look for value in mokSha. If the adhikAritvam (eligibility) is ripe enough, the worry about value-seeking out of jIvanmukti drops off – the Knowledge that ‘AtmA is purNam’  takes hold.

On the other hand, if there is a value-seeking and thereby worrying about mukti becoming trivialized, the onlooker/seeker should stop worrying about mukti and focus on prescribed sAdhana – because it shows that this ignorant man is lacking cittasuddhi and seeking value in mukti. Moreover, it also shows that s/he takes mokSha to be an event in time which is also wrong.

I don’t think there is any better way to deal with this issue because, when the teaching is urging us to recognize the already pUrNa AtmA, what is this unnecessary worry about mukti being trivialized?

Question 6: While a few seekers may be driven by the insatiable desire to “know” what is the Absolute really real Reality in the midst of ever changing ‘jagat,’ majority of seekers look for a Vedantic solution for their body-mind related problems and suffering. They tested everything available at the body-mind-world level and failed to get a lasting solution to happiness in the time-space-phenomenal world.

If the manifold were to continue on after liberation, the now-liberated-seeker will still be burdened with a body and has to continue to face its suffering, need for food etc. and the downstream enchilada that ensues.

Will Advaita not become then a mere ‘coping mechanism’ using denial as a tool to say, ‘I am not this body nor mind?’

There is no continuation of the manifold in that “state” and we say so on the strength of the Upanishad pramANa!

Let the seeker hold on to shraddha on shruti vAkya and properly enquire into the reality of manifold (and its associated afflictions) by taking avasthAtraya vicAra through a proper prakriyA. It becomes clear that both manifold and its afflictions are not real as neither of them are present in Deep sleep while you remain in your True nature as ever, asangah.

Therefore, all in all, the point is, for an imagined bandhana, let there be an imagined mokSha. That is why adhyAsa and means of removing adhyAsa, both are within adhyAsa only and Atman/brahman remains ever free!

About the Author:  In his characteristic humility, Shri P. Neti Ji would describe himself as a mere “VedAnta sAdhaka (Vedantin seeker).” Nevertheless, one can easily see that he is head and shoulders above many Advaita Vedanta teachers who go by the titles of Gurus and Acharyas, in the  depth of his understanding of Advaita, in his knowledge of our scriptures and in his ability to explain the intricacies of Advaita. On my insistence, he reluctantly penned a couple of lines about his Vedantic background as given below — Ramesam

“Though I owe my allegiance to Truth itself but not to a teacher per se, to address the interest of the readers who may want to know more about my “allegiance / inclination,” I take this opportunity to say: ‘I am grateful to (a wide spectrum of) the teachings of Vedanta which I happened to come across by listening to teachers like Sri Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati ji of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam on one hand and Brahmasri Yellamraju Srinivasa Rao ji on the other. I make obeisance with my whole being to the holy feet of Sri Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati ji, of Holenarasipura, who through his books, corrected my misunderstandings and pointed me to the right method of Vedanta, which shines in all its uniqueness in the prasthAnatraya bhAShya of Sri Śaṃkara BhagavatpAda’.”

11 thoughts on “Imaginary ‘mokSha’ for Imagined ‘bandha’ – Shri P. Neti – 3/3

  1. Manifold after liberation…
    after reading this post I get a feeling that this whole advaitic message is given just to me alone in my ears and there was just me all along and everyone gets liberated after mukti is ok since there was just me all along.

    Anything otherwise I have to be content with life continues on VyAvahArika-level for the JMs and the ignorant(s) with the exception that JM knows the world is not real like blue sky.

  2. Superb reasoning and conclusion! One cannot argue with it, unless one insists on continuing to be in ignorance, deluded by false identification with the body.
    When there is no “center” or “reference point” to claim any ownership, bondage or liberation, then there is only Pure Awareness – the Knowledge that ‘AtmA is purNam’  takes hold.

    Thanks Ramesam-ji and Prasanth Neti-ji for methodically and superbly driving home the point that there is no bondage, let alone the one in bondage. It is so liberating, when the focus shifts from a non-existent jIva to the Fullness of the Atma that is ever ready and ever present.

  3. Shri Sreenivasa Murthy Ji comments at Advaita-L:

    Dear Sri Ramesam Vemuri,
    I thank you from the depth of my heart for this 3-part excellent article
    which in a very precise way presents the ABSOLUTE TRUTH.
    A rare piece of writing indeed is this!

    With grateful namaskars,
    Sreenivasa Murthy.

    Of course, I did acknowledge his appreciation and informed him that the Thanks and entire credit goes to Shri Prasanth Neti Ji.


  4. Shri H S Chandramouli Ji writes:

    1. Reg ** On ‘jIvanmukti’ – Shri P. Neti – 1/3 **

    I will only point out a few basic points briefly .

    The basic issue is that proper foundation is not laid out for what follows.

    For example, << We, by default, falsely assume that we are embodied and bound and hence, limited >>,
    << This is done just for the purpose of teaching and one should not think that “not knowing the Truth” produces a real bondage! >>.

    At a universal level, there is no such **false assumption ** by ** default **. If a declaration to that effect is made by anyone, then it is upto him to prove it. That is exactly what Sri Bhagavatpada states in the concluding part of AdhyAsa Bhashya:

    << एवमयमनादिरनन्तो नैसर्गिकोऽध्यासो मिथ्याप्रत्ययरूपः कर्तृत्वभोक्तृत्वप्रवर्तकः सर्वलोकप्रत्यक्षः । अस्यानर्थहेतोः प्रहाणाय आत्मैकत्वविद्याप्रतिपत्तये सर्वे वेदान्ता आरभ्यन्ते । यथा चायमर्थः सर्वेषां वेदान्तानाम् , तथा वयमस्यां शारीरकमीमांसायां प्रदर्शयिष्यामः । >>.

    If ** not knowing the Truth ** does not result in ** a real bondage! **, then why should anyone worry so much about it. It (bondage) could well disappear on its own over a period of time without any serious effort on our part.

    2. Reg << ‘mukti’ (liberation) is simply giving up the wrong notion that ‘I am in bandhana / I am embodied,’ based on the shruti pramANa which vouchsafes the true nature of AtmA (the essence or substrate of “I”) >>. << And that giving up, when we closely look at, is giving up the wrong idea that ‘I am bound’ >>

    I do not think so. It is intuitive and direct understanding of MahavAkya like ** तत्वमसि **. Usual stipulations apply. By SMN under a Guru.


  5. Shri Prasanth Neti Ji replies to Shri H S Chandramouli Ji:


    I do not understand what does Sri Chandramouli ji mean by saying that “”there is no such false assumption at universal level by default””.

    Every one thinks “I am limited” and this notion is naisargika (most naturally i.e. by default). Only Mulavidyavadins say that it is not “by default” because to them avidya is bhAvarupa. I do not subscribe to that idea of bhAvarUpa mUlAvidyA. The moment I say it is not by default the onus lies in proving its cause and it opens the pandora’s box – in fact entire vyakhyanakara vedanta (in support of mulavidya is chasing that cause and finding a place to it by proving Avidyā’s existence).

    Whereas the way I learnt from prasthanatraya is that Bhagavatpāda simply points to such default human behaviour based on notions “I am this and this is mine” as something clearly observed. He calls that adhyAsa.

    Shankara clearly says that such adhyAsa is what wise men call as Avidyā. Moreover, to what is clearly observed, I do not think any proof is required because there is no question / doubt regarding its possibility or impossibility. There is no need to prove adhyAsa, because it is “already observed” (and hence no question of its impossibility).

    Next point,

    // If not knowing truth does not result in a real bondage then why should anyone worry so much about it //

    Bondage is taken to be real – that is the default position.

    To this, the teaching is bondage is not real. Period.

    Until the knowledge that “ātma was never in bondage” dawns, bondage continues i.e. bondage is continued to be taken to be real. That is the key. That is why bhashyakara says adhyasa is anadi ananta (‘from the’ and ‘to the’ standpoint of adhyasa)! However through shAstra bodha, it stands negated.

    // It (bondage) could well disappear on its own over a period of time without any serious effort on our part. //

    It will not disappear on its own. Did that snake disappear on its own or is it that some sort of effort i.e. shining a torch light etc leads to negation of the idea called snake?

    As long as snake was “felt”, it is ***taken to be*** real. But even while snake is taken to be real, no amount of snake-ness exists in / touches the rope. Effort is to negate the snake inasmuch as negation of snake should be the sole purpose of such effort.

    Please sir, I say that, it is not shAstra which is saying that world or bandhana is relatively real. We ourselves take by default that world and bandhana to be real. That is jivattvam. Therefore jivattvam is wrong notion i.e. mithya-jñāna i.e. an error! and not relatively real truth/satta.

    To what we most naturally take it to be real, shAstra teaches that it is not at all real. Brahman alone is real. Unfortunately this straight forward teaching has been unnecessarily complicated by post Sankara vyakhyanakaras by saying that world is relatively real. That is wrong.

    World is taken to be real – this is default position. To this the teaching is Brahman alone is Real. Then what is world? Taking Brahman which alone exists to be world is your error! Brahman alone exists and That Thou Art!, teaches sastra.

    The effort to transcend jivattvam should constitute negation of jivattvam based on the sastra pramana. No doubt in it, which means, effort should constitute understanding the mithyatvam of idea called “I am a jiva” based on the sastra pramana that ātman / brahman alone exists as one without a second where there never exists an entity called jiva => jiva is not jiva but Brahman alone.

    Sir, I am not saying that Sravana-Manana-Nididhyasana is not required. Sastra vakyArtha vichara (S-M-N) is a must. No doubt.

    Next point,

    // I do not think so. It is intuitive and direct understanding of MahavAkya like ** तत्वमसि **. Usual stipulations apply. By SMN under a Guru. //

    Well, the paragraph in the article where above comment was made is:

    *** mukti’ (liberation) is simply giving up the wrong notion that ‘I am in bandhana / I am embodied,’ based on the shruti pramANa which vouchsafes the true nature of AtmA (the essence or substrate of “I” ***

    Sir, is the above paragraph not saying ***based on Shruti pramANa which vouchsafes the true nature of AtmA***?

    That application of shruti pramANa does constitute Sravana-Manana-Nididhyasana. Who denied role of S-M-N? I have not. The reason to use phrase “simply giving up” is with an intention to stress the point that, application of S-M-N has to have single point agenda i.e. giving up the wrong notion. That means do not use S-M-N to reify the wrong notion but use it for the only purpose of giving up wrong notion. Here is another important concern that Sri SSS ji raised i.e. He again and again alluded to us in his books that purpose of teaching is to remove wrong notion but not to find a place to wrong notion – always understand sastra as apavada pradhana. Sastra’s primary intention is to negate wrong notion(s). Period.

    Anyone who teaches through mūlāvidyā prakriya, only puts shAstra to use in a way that they end up finding a place to wrong notion by accepting positive existence to Avidyā. But that is wrong application of sastra’s S-M-N as I understood. Hence I had to use the phrase “simply giving up”. That much only. There is no intention to downplay S-M-N. But the intention was only to make sure that S-M-N to have razor sharp focus only on right prayojana i.e. transcendence of jivattvam (negation of wrong knowledge).


    • Namaste Prasanth Ji,
      This is in response to the post Prasanth Neti on March 19, 2023 at 15:39
      Thanks for the response. You had observed in another post (Ref Ramesam on March 19, 2023 at 15:55 )
      // These discussions are becoming unnecessarily lengthy and spanning several responses without a real need and useful purpose out of it //.
      In deference to the same, I am refraining from extending this discussion any further.

  6. Namaste.
    Reg <>,
    Emphasis was on ** false assumption **. The understanding ** I am limited ** is not an an ** assumption **, let alone a ** false ** one. It is a naisargika (natural) conviction born of an intimate personal experience which is never violated at any time, from birth to death, and is universal. Why should it be termed ** false assumption **. That was the point made. There was no intention or need on my part to invoke, explicitly or implicitly, avidyA or mUlAvidyA for this statement.
    Reg <>,
    Sri Bhagavapad declares that this understanding is not correct, it is due to adhyAsa. It is part of ** pratijnA Bhashya** (5 parts are recognized in adhyAsa bhAshya). This is to be proved in accordance with the Shrutis. I had pointed this out in my earlier post.
    Reg <>,
    Not correct in my view. Except Advaita Sidhanta, no other Darshana accepts such a view. This itself shows that it is not obvious. Sri Bhagavatpada declares at the end of the adhyAsa bhAshya that he is going to prove this in accordance with the Shrutis as pointed out above.
    Reg <>,
    Again it is a pratijnA (Declaration). Proved subsequently as brought out above.
    I will be repeating myself over and over again. I will stop here.
    I have no where brought in the concept of mUlAvidyA in my post. There is no need for it at this stage when I felt that a proper foundation has not been laid for what follows, and hence it is difficult to appreciate the need for bringing in the concept of adhyAsa.

    • Sri Chandramouli ji,


      Please let me explain my intention in marking the notions “I am this and this is mine” as simply “false assumption”:

      To start with, yes, I agree that it is naisargika and it is universal. But that does not mean that the phrase “false assumption” should not be (and can not be) applied to it, because that phrase is after all applied from context of teaching which has a particular end in view i.e. mokSha, which is Atman/Brahman itself.

      The very word ‘assumption’ in English means “accepting without verification / proof”. The very intention behind using word ‘assumption’ in the 3-part article was to draw attention of the seeker that the notions such as “I am this and this is mine”, whose another form is saying “I am limited”, are after all only ‘notions’ i.e. something which lacks proper verification.

      I never meant that in default position, I myself take that I am having false assumption. But the “I am this” and “this is mine” are naisargika to me. In this context I said, to such default position, I pointed the teaching that “such understanding is not correct, it is due to adhyAsa”.

      Here you are saying that, it is not the teaching, but it is a pratijna i.e. you are saying that Bhagavatpāda is making that pratijna and he will show that ideas such as “i am this and this is mine” are only incorrect understanding and it is due to adhyasa. Isnt it?

      Here I politely ask Sir, so what? i.e. What is wrong to point to it as a teaching, despite of your contention that it is only a pratijna? I agree that it would be wrong if Bhagavatpāda failed in keeping up with the pratijna in which case it could not be given as teaching. But he did not. Isn’t it? That which he made as pratijna stands fulfilled in the bhāshya and hence both pratijna as well as the way pratijna is fulfilled put together is the teaching – we should never pursue teaching by turning a blind eye to the pratijna. That was the intention.

      Therefore, pointing to the notions such as “I am this and this is mine” and marking the entire vyavahara based on those notions put together as only a wrong understanding i.e. false knowledge, though is a pratijna in adhyasa bhashya, it can be very well pointed to again and again and there is nothing wrong in drawing sadhaka’s attention to this subtle point. And in doing so I do not see any “lack of foundation”.

      If you see a “lack of foundation” in it then please let us agree to disagree and move on.

      Moreover, in replacing the word ‘knowledge’ in the phrase ‘false knowledge’ with the word ‘assumption’ i.e. to mark it as ‘false assumption’ is also not wrong as per my understanding given the explanation in my first para of this reply is that after all it is naisargika and yet not a verified piece of knowledge i.e. not pramana janita. Regarding the use of word ‘false’ next to the word ‘assumption’ is again only to point to the fact that from the “viewpoint” of Brahman that assumption (i.e. that unverified knowledge) is after all non-existent (hence false). As the key point in the 3-part article is to point to jñāna (Brahman) itself but not to jñāni, the Ajñāna (i.e. so-called assumption) must also be ultimately false (non-existent).

      Therefore I see neither siddhanta-hani nor “lack of foundation” in the development of the argument in this article across its 3-parts. The article was primarily aimed to cut through unnecessary “positive teaching / finding a place for vyavaharika”.

      I also agree that, this ‘jñāni related’ teaching is to vyavaharika viewpoint, but, there is also another area of the teaching which says that such vyavaharika altogether do not exist in truth. My focus was more on the latter part of the teaching as I said before sastra is apavada pradhana.

      If anyone insists that after all there is a jñāni, even though it is in vyavahara and thereby side track the discussion into jñāni’s vyavahara, I would say, “yes! I agree that I saw in my waking vyavahara that the jñāni was eating, sleeping, talking, reading. And this is the same waking vyavahara which sastra is urging me to understand as no different to my dream vyavahara”. Therefore, that so-called jnani’s vyavahara is after all that which happens to be a subset of my waking vyavahara which in turn sastra is urging me to understand as no different to my dream vyavahara. Therefore quoting bhāshya vakya-s and sastra vakya-s in such a way which re-affirm my ignorance is useless in my opinion – it will not serve purpose called mokSha. But sastra vakya and bhāshya vakya has to be applied with only one point agenda i.e. transcend the wrong notion that “there is vyavahara”! – there is only Brahman and That Thou Art, teaches sastra.

      Finally, regarding your point that you were not suggesting (bringing in) mūlāvidyā, I must honestly agree with you by saying that it was only my (mis)understanding in thinking that you were doing so. Misunderstandings do happen in online discussions just like how you took the article may be suggesting a downplay of S-M-N in the whole pursuit, to which I had to reply with an explanation that my intention was not to downplay S-M-N, rather it was not the actual subject matter of the post (and hence not touched up on).

  7. Dear Sri Prasanth Neti-ji and Ramesam

    Posting my question as requested:

    Knowledge from sruti is first gained in the mind, which itself is part of the super-imposition. What is the mechanism by which the mind dissolves the mind, or cancels itself?

    Is it just the rigorous process of observing oneself, as in Ramana’s self-enquiry, watching for the ‘I’, and continually negating it (neti, neti)? Until finally, as Katha says, ‘whom atma chooses’?


    • Namaste Venkat Ji,
      I am taking the liberty of responding to your query though it is addressed to Prasanth Ji, as it is a very interesting question, and present my understanding.
      You ( V ) have observed
      Knowledge from sruti is first gained in the mind, which itself is part of the super-imposition.
      My ( C ) understanding
      Neither superimposition (adhyAsa) of the mind on Chaitanya (Consciousness) , like rope-snake, nor the chidAbhAsa (look alike Chaitanya) are by themselves not a problem. By themselves, individually, they do not lead to bondage/samsAra which is to be transcended for mOksha.
      What is the mechanism by which the mind dissolves the mind, or cancels itself?
      Is it just the rigorous process of observing oneself, as in Ramana’s self-enquiry, watching for the ‘I’, and continually negating it (neti, neti)? Until finally, as Katha says, ‘whom atma chooses’?
      I am presenting my understanding in accordance with the Bhashya. May not be in accordance with Sri Ramana Maharshi’s self-enquiry.
      It is the तादात्म्य अध्यास (tAdAtmya adhyAsa) (Identification) between them, mind and chidAbhAsa, which leads to bondage/samsAra, and which needs to be transcended for mOksha. It is this तादात्म्य अध्यास (tAdAtmya adhyAsa) (Identification) which is destroyed through SMN. Mind itself is not dissolved nor canceled.

  8. Dear Chandramouli-ji

    If one starts from ajata vada – there is no jiva, no jnani, no bondage.

    However there is clearly an appearance of a diverse world and a ‘me’ from which the world is seen.

    My understanding. of AV is that this appearance is all a superimposition on consciousness, which is also called ignorance. The cessation of ignorance is also the cessation of the superimposition.

    I appreciate that there is another interpretation which is that ignorance of one’s true non-dual nature is in the mind, and that knowledge assimilated through S-M-N leads to the removal of ignorance. And that ‘jnani’ continues in the world but with this knowledge in mind. This still leaves duality intact – because subject / object still exists; and even this knowledge is dual – there is a knower that has this knowledge.

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