bhAskara was mentioned briefly earlier in respect of the related philosophy of bhedAbheda vAda. He was probably approximately contemporaneous with Shankara and addressed similar issues. Regarding the continuation of ‘obstacles’ post-enlightenment, he had this to say (in his commentary on the Brahmasutras 1.3.20):
“There is no escape from experiencing the whole of the portion of merit and demerit which initiated the body through which liberation is attained. And one who supports a body inevitably undergoes pleasure and pain. Therefore those who say that there can be no liberation for one who is yet alive go beyond the teaching of the Veda. They also contradict perceived experience.” (Quoted in Ref. 100)
Swami Dayananda’s influence today is considerable, so it seems perfectly admissible to include his views on the subject here. After Self-knowledge has been gained from shravaNa and any doubts have been removed by manana, it is necessary to eliminate any habitual modes of behavior that prevent enjoyment of the fruit of that knowledge (j~nAna phalam). Swami Paramarthananda, one of his direct disciples, says:
“And then comes fifth and final stage of sAdhana called nididhyAsana, which is meant to remove my habitual reaction; the removal of vAsanA, because of my regular unhealthy responses in life, I have developed a habit. And habit is developed in-time and habit can go only in-time. This deliberate invocation of the Vedanta, so that I can get rid of un-Vedantic reactions in life. Every disturbing reaction is un-Vedantic reaction. So anxiety, frustration, self-pity, sense of insecurity, fear, attachment; all of them are unhealthy vAsanA-s. This vAsanA nivRRitti or viparIta bhavana nivRRitti is the fifth and final stage called nididhyAsana.” (Ref. 208) [The first 4 stages are karma yoga, upAsanA, shravaNa and manana.]
T. M. P. Mahadevan summarizes the position expressed in this topic very well when he says:
“Knowledge is not the destroyer of prArabdha, since it does not bring about the resolution of the world. It reveals only the illusory nature of the universe, and by that the latter is not resolved… The obstinacy of prArabdha is in compelling the jIva to enjoy pleasures and suffer pain, and not in postulating the reality of the objects of enjoyment.” (Ref. 198)
The ‘enjoyment of pleasures and suffering of pain’ are the consequences of what is called ‘pratibandha-s’ in this topic; the ‘obstacles’ to the experience of the total freedom that comes from jIvanmukta or videha mukta.
dharmarAja adhvarIndra in his vedAnta paribhAShA says that: “One who has realized the unconditioned Brahman… experiencing pleasure and pain till his fructifying work is exhausted, he is afterwards liberated.” (Ref. 202)
As a final ‘proof’ of the validity of the concept of pratibandha-s, consider this: embodiment is caused by ignorance – identification with the body. Ignorance is the nature of the causal body of the jIva. Therefore, it is entirely logical to conclude that, while a jIva remains (as if) embodied, there is some degree of ignorance remaining. This would explain why Shankara did not differentiate between a j~nAnI and a jIvanmukti. Both still have prArabdha by definition, since they still have bodies. When we say that either or both are ‘unembodied’, what is meant is that there is now mental detachment rather than ahaMkAra identification. The extent to which the still-present mind may present pratibandha-s (obstacles) may well vary from significant to virtually non-existent, but these must still be there. Only when the body drops is there ‘final’ liberation (as Shankara said in Chandogya bhAShya 6.14.2).
It is unfortunate that the word pratibandha translates as ‘obstacle’ because of course there are no obstacles to liberation for the j~nAnI. By definition, the j~nAnI now knows that he/she was always free and never embodied. pratibandha-s only affect the behavior of the j~nAnI in what is now known to be a mithyA world. They may prompt or hinder actions and trigger fleeting emotions in the mind, but the identification or attachment is attenuated. For the j~nAnI, any elation or distress will be minimal; for the jIvanmukta, they will be virtually non-existent. But they must still be there because the body is still there.