Apologies for the delay in continution of this series. I had to do some more background research and I have also been switching to Windows 10 and a new PC for the past 3 weeks!
Post-Shankara contributions to the concept
(I am indebted to Ref. 195 for many of the scriptural citations in this section.)
It is certainly true that there are few references to the word pratibandha in prasthAna traya and Shankara bhAShya, although a number of discussions can be interpreted as referring to the concept. One can certainly argue that the idea of jIvanmukti itself strongly implies that of pratibandha-s. Being ‘in a body’ is clearly a limitation compared to not being so constrained. Indeed, having a body to begin with is said to be the result of ignorance, so the fact that there is still one present implies that there must be some aspect of ignorance still present.
Accordingly, whether or not you accept the idea of prArabdha karma being the reason for the j~nAnI continuing to inhabit a body, it seems that ‘freedom’ cannot be total until the body drops. It is therefore reasonable to think that this body-mind might be susceptible to ‘obstructions’ of various types, while this embodiment continues. The body has needs, after all, and even though there is no longer any identification with the body post-enlightenment, the mind is still very likely to be affected. And the j~nAnI still continues to utilize the Atman-animated-buddhi, as described above. I.e. pratibandha-s are implicit in the differentiation between jIvanmukti and videha mukti.
This idea is supported by Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.1: “Surely, for that which remains embodied, there can be no elimination of the desirable and the undesirable. But the desirable and the undesirable cannot surely touch (It) which has become unembodied.” (Ref. 23) Shankara quotes numerous other shruti statements in his bhAShya on Brahmasutras 1.1.4 and concludes: “Hence it is proved that the unembodiedness, called liberation, is eternal.” I.e. unembodiedness (asharIratvam) is not something to be achieved (sAdhya); it is already the case (siddhi).
Sub-section j, above, discussed the idea that the ‘person ceases to exist’ on enlightenment. And Chandogya Upanishad 6.14.2 was quoted, which could be interpreted to mean that the body-mind actually comes to an end on, or shortly after, gaining enlightenment. But Shankara used the metaphor of an arrow shot from a bow to claim that prArabdha karma was responsible for the continued existence of the body. Since that has been brought into play in this life, the body has to continue until the karma is exhausted.
Writers/scholars/sages post Shankara endeavored to provide explanations which support or refute this contention.
In his brahmasiddhi (3.53), maNDana mishra (around 660 – 720CE) says that is saMskAra-s that are responsible, rather than prArabdha itself:
“Just as trembling at a serpent may continue after the knowledge that it is really a rope, because of the influence (saMskAra) of the fear, so the body continues for a while because of traces (saMskAra). In a similar manner a potter’s wheel keeps spinning after the potter has ceased moving it, because of the saMskAra of motion. But the fact that it continues does not mean that it continues long. Nothing besides the knowledge of the real rope already possessed is necessary to make the trembling caused by the imagined serpent stop; the root cause having ceased, the effect eventually ceases. Likewise, the body eventually ceases once the Self is known.” (Ref. 28)
And he specifically rejects Shankara’s idea of prArabdha karma:
“Just as an arrow already in motion may be stopped, works that have already begun to be enjoyed can be destroyed; we do not need to await their destruction by enjoyment… Therefore the persistence of the body after knowledge has been obtained is from the impression (saMskAra) alone (not from past works).” (Ref. 28)
So, in the case of maNDana mishra, we could equate saMskAra-s with pratibandha-s. This nomenclature was also adopted by prakAshAtman (see later). He objected to the notion that Self-knowledge could destroy some types of ignorance but not others (i.e. not prArabdha). To get around this, he argued that it was not prArabdha itself that was left but a ‘trace of ignorance’, like the smell of flowers left behind when the flowers themselves have been removed. This he equated with saMskAra-s. And it seems that all the metaphors – trembling, potter’s wheel, smell of flowers – were carefully chosen to reflect his belief that the jIvanmukta state would last only a short time.
maNDana also uses another metaphor that specifically tallies with the idea of pratibandha-s. He says that if we look at our reflection in a mirror and see a scar on our face, we are not concerned if we know that this is due to a blemish on the mirror. Similarly, if we encounter a body or mind-related problem post enlightenment, we do not suffer because we know that this only affects the appearance and not the Self.
vimuktAtman (around 1000 CE) in his iShTasiddhi (1.9) makes an explicit concession to the possibility of pratibandha-s:
“Objection: There is no problem with accepting a residuum (leshya) of ignorance capable of producing the appearance of karmic results even in the liberated knower.
Answer: True, but that residuum is not strong enough to produce rebirth in a new body.” (Ref. 141)
He was also possibly the first to point out that there could be no (qualified) teaching of Advaita if a would-be teacher died as soon as Self-knowledge was gained:
“Enlightenment is received from an enlightened teacher (AchArya). And an enlightened teacher is both enlightened and alive. Perhaps you will object and say that, if a teacher remains alive, he cannot have had direct experience of the final reality. But that would not be correct. For the Lord taught in his Gita ‘Those enlightened ones who have directly perceived reality will teach you knowledge’ (B.G. 4.34), emphasizing that metaphysical knowledge is the means to gain the true end of man, provided it is taught by one who himself had direct experience of reality. If you claim that as soon as anyone has direct experience of reality his body falls dead forthwith, then that would mean that there could be no enlightened teacher and so no receiving of enlightenment and so no liberation.” (Ref. 201)
sarvaj~nAtman , supposedly one of Sureshvara’s disciples makes very similar statements in his saMkShepashArIraka (4.38-46):
“When liberation occurs one is immediately separated from one’s body. Upanishadic passages speaking of liberation while living use constructions which refer to one who has realized the Self and retains a trace of ignorance. This trace is automatically removed by the jIvanmukta’s final experiences.” (Ref. 141)
sarvaj~nAtman clearly means, by jIvanmukta, someone who has remaining traces of ignorance (or pratibandha-s), and that some further experience is necessary before dropping the body and gaining videha mukti. He also has yet another term for this final stage of ‘ignorance’, calling it somewhat romantically a ‘scent of darkness’ (dhvAnta-gandha). I.e. the enlightenment gained from shravaNa gives us the knowledge of non-duality but does not prevent the continuing experience of duality.
The major work of chitsukha (1220 CE) is called chitsukhI or (pratyak)tattva(pra)dIpikA. In the closing paragraphs of the work, he addresses the topic of jIvanmukti. He initially quotes from the work of his teacher (j~nAnottama), nyAyasudhA 5.10-11:
“In liberation while living (jIvanmukti), a little fraction of ignorance (avidyAlesha) continues on. It is responsible for carrying out worldly activities after liberation. It continues because of the powerful karma that has already begun working (prArabdha) which obstructs knowledge.” (Ref. 141)
He then goes on to expand on this:
“This little fraction includes elements of three sorts: 1) that which is responsible for the belief that worldly existence is real; 2) that which creates things which lead to fruitful activity (arthakriyA); and 3) that which creates the form of an object that appears in direct cognition. 1) is destroyed by the definite realization that non-duality is real; 2) is removed by the realization of the truth about things. 3) continues even during the released state, presents before the realized self the appearance of a body and the world, and is removed only in the final absorption in meditation (samAdhi) when the prArabdha karma is spent out.” (Ref. 141)
bhAratItirtha and/or vidyAraNya
Vidyaranya, putative author of pa~nchadashI and jIvanmukti viveka, lived around the 14th Century CE and his ideas, distorted as they were by Yoga philosophy, have already been discussed at length in 3.o above. Since he is clearly better known today than the other authors dealt with in this sub-section, his ideas have obviously been more influential. This is seen especially in ideas such as knowledge gained from shravaNa being only ‘intellectual’, the need to ‘destroy the mind’ and ‘get rid of desires’, enlightenment being reached through samAdhi, the need for saMnyAsa following gain of Self-knowledge. It is indeed unfortunate that Shankara was no longer alive to defeat him in debate! But the fact that Vidyaranya firmly believed that further action was needed post-enlightenment shows that he believed in some form of pratibandha.
bhAratItirtha is either an Advaitin who was contemporaneous with vidyAraNya or literally the same person (opinions differ). They either co-authored or singly wrote the vivaraNaprameyasa~Ngraha (VPS) in the 14th CE. They (or he) “describe the continuance of the residual impression of ignorance as a defect (doSha) and prArabdha karma as an obstacle (pratibandhaka). The final mokSha is not attained until the prArabdha is exhausted and the body falls.” (VPS 1.165-166) (Ref. 195) and Vidyaranya states in his pa~nchadashI (7.245-6):
“[After enlightenment] The fructifying karma does not end abruptly but wears off slowly. In the course of the enjoyment of its fruits the yogi is occasionally visited by such thoughts as ‘I am mortal’. Shortcomings like this do not nullify the realization of truth. jIvanmukti does not depend on any special rule of life; its main characteristic is the establishment of the soul in the knowledge of Brahman.” (Ref. 99)
Read Part 8