Q. 479 What should I read?

Q: I am new to Advaita I am currently reading Drg Drsya Viveka and the works of Swami Vivekananda. I also sometimes listen to commentary from Swami Sarvapriyananda from the NY Vedanta Society. And I frequently read thru your website, but my internet connection is poor.

Which book of yours and maybe others would you recommend to help?

A: Don’t read Vivekananda. He is, unfortunately, a source of much confusion in Advaita, rejecting some key aspects and embracing teaching from Yoga (which is a dualistic philosophy). Here is a list of recommended books for beginners that I produced recently for someone:

Indian:

  1. Vedanta: the solution to our fundamental problem, D. Venugopal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 2012. ISBN 81-7276-457-X. (Both readable and authoritative by a student of Swamis D and P.]
  2. Introduction to Vedanta, Dr. K. Sadananda, Srath-Visual Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-99917-040-3. [Edited by myself, so I know it is good!]
  3. The Living Gita, A commentary for modern readers, Sri Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Publications, 1988. ISBN 0-932040-27-6. [This is actually a Yoga book of course rather than Advaita but beginners will not really see the differences and it is so readable and inspirational that I overlook this! The other 40 or so versions I have are not so likely actually to be read. ]
  4. Self-knowledge, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, 2003. ISBN 0-9748000-0-7. [Transcription of 9 introductory talks – excellent.]

Western:

  1. How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Nonduality, James Swartz, Sentient Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59181-094-0. [Especially good for a Western reader and quite likely to prompt them to read more.]
  2. Be As You Are – The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Edited by David Godman, Arkana, 1985. ISBN 0-14-019062-7. [Again readable and inspirational, although my latest book has to complain about some of the wrong ideas stemming from Ramana.]
  3. A Natural Awakening, P. T. Mistlberger, Tigerfyre Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-97334019-0-4. [I expect I might find things to complain about if I re-read this now, but I thought at the time it was an excellent, readable introduction.
  4. Awakening to the Dream, Leo Hartong, Trafford, 2001. ISBN 1-4120-0425-X. [Neo-Advaita! But very readable, original, provocative for a beginner.]
  5. Book of One (2nd Edition), Dennis Waite, O Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84694-347-8. [Modesty aside, still the best book on Advaita by a Western writer…]

First of all, I would have to recommend my own book, since obviously I trust what I have said in there!

My consolidated Q &A book, with added summaries and explanatory sections, will be out in March 2020, entitled “The Difficult Questions… for the Spiritual Seeker”.

Swami Sarvapriyananda is excellent incidentally, from what I have heard of his talks. But, as a disciple of Ramakrishna/Vivekananda, there is always a danger of mistaken notions creeping in. Listen to talks of Swami Paramarthananda if you want authentic material.

82 thoughts on “Q. 479 What should I read?

  1. Swami Tattvavidananda, a disciple of Swami Dayananda, teaches his students to pursue Vedanta with a humble heart and an open mind. Swamiji recommends reading Vivekananda and Rama Tirtha (‘the quintessential Vedanta’ he calls it) as well as the ‘Gospel of Ramakrishna’, which he has enjoyed teaching in many classes. Like so many others, Swamiji also finds inspiration in the talks of Nisargadatta Maharaj. Swami Sarvapriyananda is indeed an excellent teacher from whom we can learn a lot. I wouldn’t fear any danger from those so-called mistaken notions creeping in. As Swami Sivananda reminds us, an aspirant should be not merely firm as the Meru, free as the ether, fragrant as the jasmine, broad as the sky, forbearing as the earth, forgiving as the parents, radiant as the sun, and generous as Ranti Deva, but also fearless as a lion.

    • There is much of value in Ramakrishna and VIvekananda (and Ramana and Nisargadatta) and I would never suggest that an established seeker should avoid them. But a beginner can gain lots of misleading notions from them. Vivekananda, for example, was considerably influenced by Yoga philosophy. He believed that enlightenment comes only from experience (samAdhi) and thought scriptures largely a waste of time. Ramakrishna, of course, was a mystic, not a saMpradAya teacher.

      • If as our moderator suggests we are to consider Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, et.al. as verboten reading for a beginner, and the scriptures unmediated by a qualified teacher also a definite no-go , I would recommend the following as being perhaps less humdrum than similar expository texts I’ve come across:
        Dhruv Kaji’s ‘Uncommon Wisdom-Ancient Teachings of Vedanta’.
        Sheela Balaji’s ‘Without a Second- Concepts of Non-Duality’.
        I would also recommend SSSS’s ‘Articles and Thoughts on Vedanta’. This is a luminous collection of articles and thoughts on a variety of topics on Vedanta written for the Adhyatma- Prakasha magazine with the beginner in mind.

        Incidentally, Venkat wrote “Perhaps if one needs an overview of the field, before diving in, one could do no worse than “Essays on Vedanta” and “The basic tenets of Sankara Vedanta” by Sri Satchidanandendra Saraswathi Swamiji.” I believe he meant to write ‘one could do worse’.

          • Not ‘verboten’, obviously; merely a recommendation based upon my own experience. The book I am currently writing highlights lots of misconceptions and confusions amongst seekers, endeavors to track their likely origin, and quotes Shankara’s views as definitive. Vivekananda crops up as a likely source of a number of problems!

            I don’t know those books – thank you for the recommendations!

  2. I would entirely skip Dennis’ recommendations of 1,2 4 and 5 above. I’d suggest going straight to:
    1. Katha Upanishad translated by Sw Gambhirananda
    2. Bhagavad Gita also translated by Sw G
    3. Mandukya Karika translated by Swami Nikhilananda
    4. Ashtavakara Gita with Sw Chinmayanada’s commentary
    5. The Nature of Man According to Vedanta by Levy

    They are all readable, though you need to take your time and reflect / repeat them. And they are fresh and majestic, and encourage you to reflect and meditate on the meaning for yourself, rather than being soporific.

  3. I think you missed the key word ‘beginner’ here, Venkat. You have some excellent suggestions here but they are likely to put a beginner off Advaita rather than encourage them to find out more. Here is what I said about Nikhilananda’s Mandukya in the bibliography of my book ‘A-U-M’, for example:

    “This is the translation that you are most likely to find in your specialist bookstore (of course you do not find any Advaita-related books in most High Street bookstores). Swami Nikhilananda is well-known and was a highly respected monk in the Ramakrishna Order. The book was first published in 1932. For many years, this was the only version I had and I attempted to read it several times, intrigued with its content and finding lucid pearls amongst rather more impenetrable material.

    “Its format is to present the Devanagari, followed by a simple translation without transliteration or word by word interpretation. This is then followed by Shankara’s commentary.

    “Any observations of the author are relegated to notes at the bottom of the page in small font. These notes often merely reword the comments of Shankara and do not really add much to the translation. Any Sanskrit reference in these notes is in Devanagari only, so the reader is definitely expected to be able to read the script!

    “This version really does emphasize the need for a suitably qualified teacher to present the material. This is so that the seeker may benefit from hundreds of years of sampradAya methodology on how best to interpret the original for ease of understanding.”

    In fact, I say somewhere that it was because I considered Gaudapada so important but had been unable to understand much of it that I had always wanted to write my own book on the Mandukya. And I would not even recommend ‘A-U-M’ to a beginner!

  4. Dennis

    I appreciate that this is for a beginner, but one can spend a lifetime reading commentaries and discursive texts on advaita, get lost in various disputes around their meaning and never actually get to the scriptures, which are far more inspiring that all the interpretations. You’ll learn far more by reading, figuring out and meditating on the scriptures for yourself, than from reading all the profusion of explications of advaita that there are. I agree that Mandukya is probably the last one to approach from my list.

    Perhaps if one needs an overview of the field, before diving in, one could do no worse than “Essays on Vedanta” and “The basic tenets of Sankara Vedanta” by Sri Satchidanandendra Saraswathi Swamiji.

  5. I still maintain that a beginner should NOT be trying to read scriptural material of any kind. There is too much Sanskrit for a start. Even if there is no Devanagari in the text, you have to rely on accurate translations and unbiased commentary and it is very likely that you will not get this. Ideally, of course, one would go to texts that are agreed by a majority to have been written by Shankara. But, again, a beginner will not know where to go, is unlikely to understand what he/she reads, and probably would not believe any of it! The same goes for SSSS.

    New seekers have to appreciate all of the basic concepts before they plunge into the original nitty-gritty. They have to get this from general, introductory material that adheres to traditional teaching without going into too much detail and which minimises Sanskrit content.

    This is all part of the reason why seekers end up with Ramana and Nisargadatta. There is very little Sanskrit there and much of the material makes sense. Unfortuantely, they can also end up believing in things like needing to ‘kill the mind’ or ‘experience’ Brahman!

    I would also dispute that one can ‘figure out the scriptures’ by oneself! This requires a sampradAya shrotriya to explain what they mean!

    • “This is all part of the reason why seekers end up with Ramana and Nisargadatta. There is very little Sanskrit there and much of the material makes sense. Unfortuantely, they can also end up believing in things like needing to ‘kill the mind’ or ‘experience’ Brahman!”

      Ramana does make statements about ‘killing the mind’ but he is not, as some might think, recommending that we should all become brain-dead and in Dr. Johnson’s words, ‘sit stupid in the gloom of perpetual vacancy’.

      This is what Ramana is reported to have said on the subject:

      “You do not set about saying there is a mind and I’m going to kill it, but you seek the source of the mind. Then you will find that the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self. So you must turn inward and see from where the mind rises and then it will cease to exist.”

      “Mind is a wonderful force inherent in the Self. The self exists without the mind, never the mind without the self.”

      “If the mind is watched thoughts cease. Peace results and it is your true nature. King Janaka said: “I have now found the robber (namely the mind) who has been robbing me of my ‘I’-ness. I will instantly kill this thief.” The perturbation owing to thoughts appears to rob the Self of its peace. The perturbation is the mind. When that ceases the mind is said to take flight. The Self remains as the undisturbed substratum. Another person interposed: ‘The mind must kill the mind.’ M.: ‘Yes, if there be the mind. A search for it discloses its non-existence. How can anything that does not exist be killed?'”

      A not dissimilar thought is presented by Swami Dayananda in his essay on mind and time: “Without mind there is no concept of time. Put an end to your mind, the time concept will no more exist. You become the timeless, far, far, above the mind and therefore, from the whole world of finite experiences. Now the problem is this: how to put an end to the mind? Observe the very mind, the mind will become still. A still mind, not stilled mind, is no mind at all, and therefore, it is beyond time.”

      • Vivekachudamani (whether or not written by Shankara) emphasizes how the mind is the cause of all our problems… but also the means by which we resolve them. (We cannot do shravaNa – manana without one!)

  6. Very interesting discussion on “Which books to be read by a beginner for a good understanding of Advaita.” Thanks to both Dennis and Venkat for their apt comments and observations.

    At the outset, my appreciation for the magnanimity of Dennis Waite in publishing the Question in an open forum, thus making his own recommendations vulnerable to critical appraisal. That I would call as honesty and humility on his part. Had he wished otherwise, he could have quietly responded to the Questioner a list reflecting his own favorites.

    And, inevitably, any list recommended by anyone will depend on the background and experience of the person recommending.

    In the context of the Question # 479 specifically, the Questioner does not seem to be a total novice to Advaita. After all, as s/he says, s/he is already grappling with Drg Drishya Viveka!

    First of all, I would like to know if the Questioner is an English speaker or an Indian. My suggestions would differ for these two populations.

    Next, assuming s/he is not an Indian, the preferred list for me would be:

    1. Advaita Vedanta by Eliot Deutsch, 1980.
    It is a short (130 pp) excellent Intro to Advaita that gives the overall picture very well inspiring the reader to explore further.

    2. Atmabodha (Self-knowledge) of Adi Shankara by Swami Nikhilananda:
    In 68 short verses, the basic tenets of entire Advaita are explained by Shankara, each verse giving the principle in one line and a beautiful and appropriate analogy in the second line.

    Swami Nikhilananda gives nearly a 150-page excellent overview of the Indian philosophy and Advaita preceding the actual verses of Shankara.
    The text in Sanskrit script can be safely avoided by the reader without any loss.

    The book is available as a free pdf:
    https://estudantedavedanta.net/Sri_Shankaracharya-AtmaBodha%20(and%20Other%20Stotras)%20-%20Swami%20Nikhilananda%20(1947)%20%5BSanskrit-English%5D.pdf

    3. Drg Drishya Viveka
    4. Mandukya upanishad with Gaudapada karika by Swami Nikhilananda.

    The books at # 3 and 4 are also by Swami Nikhilananda.
    No harm reading them, just understanding whatever one can, each time. Depending on how much is absorbed, the reader may read again and again.
    Both books are available online as free pdf.

    5. Book of One (2nd Edition), Dennis Waite, O Books, 2010.
    I can’t leave without mentioning Dennis’s own book.
    But bear in mind that it is more like a reference book, very exhaustive and covering a large canvas. Definitely not a bed time read.

    6. Yogavasishta: (A little commercial here, pardon me):
    A revered Advaita text, the Non-dual concepts are illustrated through many real and concocted stories. It is available as a free pdf at this site itself.

    ***

    Having said the above, I will also hesitate to recommend the first 4 in the list Dennis gave. I may be annoying Dennis, but my reasons are as below regarding each:

    1. The book objectifies too much the concepts of Advaita and almost dumbs down the subject.
    2. The author is good in what he expresses in simple language with clarity. But he cannot resist his own Visishtadvaita background getting reflected occasionally and his writing compromises sometimes as he is not very thorough with Shankara’s own commentary on the three canonical texts of Advaita.
    3. I am not familiar with this text on Bhagavad-Gita.
    Anyway, I prefer reserving Gita for a study after getting some prelim idea of Advaita. Otherwise, there is a danger that one may develop a dualistic belief system.
    4. I don’t know what Sw-D says in those talks. Could be good as Dennis recommends them. I have more confidence in Dennis.

    But I am generally wary of Sw-D’s teachings. He tends to make things too palatable to his audience, particularly for the Western and present day upper middle class Indians. To avoid controversy and not wanting to get into a debate, I shall mention below just 2 examples that came to my notice.

    OTOH, Many of his followers, I should also mention however, have written/spoken more authentically on Shankara Advaita.

    i) Any reader of Bhagavad-Gita can see very clearly how Krishna says that a sincere seeker should ‘control’ desires and the senses. Krishna talks about it in Ch 2 (v 58, 62-63), Ch 3 (v 37, 39) and also in Ch 6 and 18. ‘sama and dama’ are considered preliminary requisites.

    But Sw-D says, “We always hear it said that desires should be removed. That is nonsense.” He interprets the BG verse at Ch 7.11 to support himself.

    That leads some Westerners to naively believe, as one lady writes, “desires which arise in the mind that are not opposed to dharma, are actually considered to be ‘vibhutis,’ ie glories of the Lord, or glories of the creation, or glories of duality. Say if a desire arises in your mind to marry a certain person, or have a child, or become a doctor, or something of that nature.”

    I beg to differ.

    ii) Perhaps, to encourage his followers, Sw-D talks of “Self-realization with pratibhandakas (blocks).”

    Such a concept does not exist in Advaita IMHO. It is almost like giving, say, US “Citizenship” with no permission to enter the country.

  7. The questioner begins “I am new to Advaita” so must be classed as a beginner (English speaking). The fact that he is reading dRRig dRRiShya viveka does not mean that he is appreciating it. As I explained, I tried to read Nikhilananda’s Mandukya when I was a relative beginner and it was largely a waste of time.

    I did actually put Deutch’s book on my list to begin with but then removed it as being a bit too academic, but it is certainly very good. I must confess that I do not have Nikhilananda’s Atma Bodha but am very hapy to accept your recommendation (and thanks for link!).

    I have given my reasons for avoiding more serious scriptural texts to begin with. Yoga Vasishtha is certainly not as difficult as prasthAna traya, but I would not recommend to anyone not already committed to Advaita in case they found it too ‘strange’!

    I was, of course, aware of your antipathy to Swami D, but I think this may be the first time that you have ‘zeroed in’ on a point of contention. I would be interested to hear how you reconcile the continuance of prArabdha karma post enlightenment with the impossibility of ‘pratibandhaka-s’.

  8. Dennis

    “I would be interested to hear how you reconcile the continuance of prArabdha karma post enlightenment with the impossibility of ‘pratibandhaka-s’.”

    Very simply and decisively, There is no jiva post-enlightenment (or indeed pre). So what blockages can there be? How can the prArabdha karma any longer be a burden for a jnani? Sankara and sruti are very clear that jivanmukti is coincidental with jnana. Vide:

    BS4.1.13: On the realisation of That, there occur the non-attachment and destruction of the subsequent and previous sins respectively, because it is declared so.

    Sankara’s bhasya:
    Although the man of knowledge appeared to have some ownership of past works on account of false ignorance, still owing to the cessation of false ignorance through the power of knowledge, those works are also washed away. This fact is stated by the term destruction. The knower of Brahman has this realisation: ‘As opposed to the entity known before as possessed of agentship and experienceship by its very nature, I am Brahman which is by nature devoid of agentship and experienceship in all the three periods of time’. . . From such a point of view alone can liberation be justified. For on a contrary supposition – if the results of work flowing down from eternity continue unhampered in their course – there can be no liberation . . It is also unreasonable that the result of knowledge (which is really immediate) should be mediate (as the opponent’s theory implies). Hence the conclusion is that sin becomes dissipated when Brahman is known.

  9. I rather think we have been around this loop before!

    You are confusing levels. Of course, from the (as if) pAramArthika standpoint, there never was a jIva. But that is not what we are talking about – we are discussing karma and enlightenment, which are firmly in the vyAvahArika realm.

    Upon enlightenment, Shankara says, saMchita and AgAmin saMskAra are destroyed. But that karma that was responsible for this birth – prArabdha – continues until death of the body-mind, like the ‘arrow shot from a bow continues to its target’. He says this in numerous places, so there is no doubt on the matter.

    E.G. BSB 4.1.15: ““After the acquisition of knowledge, those virtues and vices that have not yet begun to yield their fruits and that were accumulated in earlier lives or even in this life before the dawn of knowledge are alone destroyed, but not so are those destroyed whose results have already been partially enjoyed, and by which has begun this present life in which knowledge of Brahman arises.”

    So the idea that a person, on enlightenment, ceases to act, becomes a ‘non-person’, is nonsensical. There are, in any case, various descriptions of one who has gained enlightenment (called a sthitapraj~na – one of ‘steady knowledge’). The Bhagavad Gita for example describes how such a one behaves (BG 2.55-68). What any traditional teacher or resource means by the expression ‘ceases to exist’ is simply that the ‘enlightened person’ now knows that ‘he/she’ is not actually a person and never has been. The enlightened ‘person’ continues to act, just without the desire for the karmaphala: “As the unenlightened, attached to work, acts, so should the enlightened act, O descendent of Bharata, but without attachment, desirous of the well-being of the world.” (BG 3.25)

  10. Dear Dennis,

    Thank you for your Comments and observations.
    Inter alia, it is beholden on me to respond to a couple of points made by you, while expressing my thanks to you for agreeing on some of the book suggestions made by me.

    1. Yogavasishta:

    I am a bit aghast why you say, “I would not recommend to anyone not already committed to Advaita in case they found it too ‘strange’!”

    In a Comment of yours, you have yourself said earlier as follows:

    “I read the ‘Supreme Yoga’ – Swam Venkatesananda’s abbreviated ‘day by day’ version of the Yoga vAsiShTha many years ago and found some of the stories very revealing and helpful (and a few just plain fantastical).”
    https://www.advaita-vision.org/yogavasishta-vs-bhagavad-gita/

    In order that Readers do not go away with a wrong idea, let me please copy here a few lines from the artilce of mine under reference re: Yogavasishta:

    “YogavAsiShTha [….] does not get into the academic type of arguments or discussions with regard to the other philosophical concepts. It is not interested in popularizing or promoting any particular dogma and is devoted to expounding the ultimate Truth. The text does not aim at serving the normal run of the mill type of reader but concerns itself with deep philosophical expiation of the highest teaching as realized by the ancient Sages. A study of Yogavasishta thus requires a one-pointed attention and not mere curiosity and therefore, is not suitable for arm-chair philosophers or litigious debaters interested only in superficial discussions.”

    2. Re: Sw-D:

    You write, “I think this may be the first time that you have ‘zeroed in’ on a point of contention.”

    That surprises me!

    You may have either overlooked or forgotten the enormous amount of mails exchanged between us regarding some of the citations from Sw-D you included in the draft MSS of your book, “A-U-M.”

    Only recently, I deleted those mails. Otherwise, I could have come up with quite a few actual examples where his interpretations were contested by me.

    One thing that comes to my mind is how your first draft, right at the opening, contained a reference to a story of the Swami’s theatrical dramatization of stripping a flower to introduce the concept of ‘brahman.’ I remember to have said that approach was totally inappropriate and meaningless to arrive at brahman. It misrepresents brahman as though It is a basic building block polymerization of which builds up the objects of the world. After a few more clarifications from my side, you deleted that part.
    I can recall a few more, but it is not necessary to enumerate them here.

    (To Continue …)

  11. The third point that was raised by you, Dennis, is with regard to “prArabdha.”

    3. prArabdha karma post enlightenment:

    As you have said to Venkat, “we have been around this loop before!”
    I would say, maybe, on quite a few occasions.

    But, perhaps, it is worth recapitulating a few main points in this context.

    i) Shankara says very clearly at 1.1.4, BSB:
    ब्रह्मभावश्च मोक्षः
    brahma bhAvasca mokShaH
    (Swami Gambhirananda trans: Liberation is the state of identity with brahman).
    Thus liberation is non-different from Self-knowledge (brahma bhAva). IOW, the AtmAkAra or brahmAkAra vRitti would not arise even if an iota of duality remains. All sorts of blocks should have been dissolved for the akhaNDAkAra vRitti to be.

    Or looking at it from a different perspective, all impediments are the result of vAsanA-s. Another name for the vAsanA-s can be taken to be the knots or ‘granthi-s.’ These are the latent ‘desires’ present in the ‘hridi’ (as seeds for the mind). We have from kaTha upanishad 2.4.14 and 15:

    यदा सर्वे प्रमुच्यन्ते कामा येऽस्य हृदि श्रिताः ।
    अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्यत्र ब्रह्म समश्नुते ॥ — 14
    When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal becomes immortal and here attains Brahman.

    यदा सर्वे प्रभिद्यन्ते हृदयस्येह ग्रन्थयः ।
    अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्येतावद्ध्यनुशासनम् ॥ — 15
    When all the ties of the heart are severed here on earth, then the mortal becomes immortal. This much alone is the teaching. (Translation: Sw Nikhilananda).

    Shankara, quotes the above mantras at 4.4.7, brihadAraNyaka also reaffirming: “When all the desires, forms of yearning, of the knower of Brahman all the objects of whose desire are the Self, are gone, are destroyed together with their root. That dwell in his heart, those well-known
    desires concerning this and the next life, viz. the desire for children, wealth and worlds, that abide in the intellect (mind) of the ordinary man. Then he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, being divested of desires together with their root.” Trans: Swami Madhavananda.

    Therefore, if Self-realization has been attained, there is no scope for any vAsanA-s or blocks to persist.

    Moreover, we have Shankara himself putting forth his views on prArabdha unimpeded by any of the “teaching models” (like superimposition-sublation) in aparoskSAnubhUti. He says:

    “तत्त्वज्ञानोदयादूर्ध्वं प्रारब्धं नैव विद्यते ।
    देहादीनामसत्यत्वात्तु यथा स्वप्नः प्रबोधतः ॥ — 91, aparokShAnubhUti.
    [After the origination of the Self-Knowledge, prArabdha verily ceases to exist, in as much as the body etc. become non-existent. Just as a dream does not exist on waking up.] ”

    He recalls the muNDaka mantra 2.2.9 saying:

    क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन्दृष्टे परावरे ।
    बहुत्वं तन्निषेधार्थं श्रुत्या गीतं च यत्स्फुटम् ॥ — 98, aparokShAnubhUti.
    [All the actions of a man perish when he realizes that Self which is both the higher and the lower. Here the clear use of the plural (consequences of actions) by the shruti is to negate prArabdha as well.]”

    Shankara quotes in the first line of the verse 98 the mantra (2.2.9) from muNDaka upaniShad to say that all types of karmic effects end for the liberated individual. Shankara says that when the shruti clearly says “all” karmas, it would include the accumulated sancita, the ongoing (prArabdha) as well as yet to-come-into-operation (AgAmika) varieties of effects.

    And perhaps it is worthwhile to copy an excerpt from an earlier discussion on this topic at this site:

    “The muNDaka mantra II-ii-9 itself is very unambiguous.
    It uses clearly the Plural number (bahuvacana). No conditions of restriction were imposed on the statement it made.

    In the usual cryptic style of the mantras, it says:

    “क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन्दृष्टे परावरे ॥”
    kShIyante ca asya karmANi (plural – more than two), tasmin dRiSTe parAvare |

    Meaning:

    dRiSTe = having seen
    tasmin = (in) that
    parAvare = the high and the low,
    asya = his
    karmANi = results of the actions
    kShIyante = are destroyed
    ca = also

    [please note that there is no reference to ‘prArabdha’ in the mantra.]

    Swami Vidyaranya, the 14th Pontiff of Sringeri in his gloss “dIpikA” on aparokShAnubhuUti writes:

    “The very use of the plural “karmANi” clearly indicates that the shruti is negating the ‘prArabdha’ also; it would have used the dual number “karmaNi,” if it intended that only the sancita and agAmi were to be meant here.” The mantra by itself did not talk of just two of the three fruits of karma.

    And we can be sure that Swami Vidyaranya would NOT say anything that would be contrary to or that which would violate Shankara’s teaching.
    The earlier shlokas in aparokShAnubhUti make it abundantly clear that the concept of prArabdha was brought in the shruti commentaries only for the sake of the ignorant.

    We have to bear in mind that the model of “Superimposition – Sublation” was adopted in imparting the Advaitic message in the major Upanishads. So the shruti was explicated by Shankara in the context of “superimposing” creation. The concept of “creation” inevitably brings in its wake the downstream concepts of birth, rebirth, the three kArmic effects, prArabdha etc.

    So Shankara talked of the prArabdha in his very brief comment on muNDaka mantra II-ii-9, as was pointed out by you.

    Hence we should appreciate that Shankara mentioned prArabdha just to conform with the superimposition-sublation model followed by him in his bhAShya-s. In aparokShAnubhuUti, he is free from this constraint and he expressed clearly the position as confirmed by Swami Vidyaranya also.

    In addition, if my memory does not deceive me (though it does sometimes. Ha ha), you Dennis expressed quite a few times that you did not believe in the Theory of Rebirth. Hopefully you still stick with that idea. Once you agree that the concept of “rebirth” is invalid, pray, how do you contribute to the concept of prArabdha – an effect of the past births?

    Need we discuss more?

  12. Ramesam, thanks very much for your detailed comments.

    Dennis for my part, I’d simply say that you are confusing the point I was making, which was not to argue about whether prarabdha karma exists or not. Even if we say it does, it affects the body-mind, with which the jnani no longer identifies. Therefore he is not afflicted by whatever experiences (whether karmically ordained or not) the body-mind subsequently goes through.

    Surely this is the gist of the BSB quote from Sankara saying that the jnani has no agentship or experiencership. As such there can be no obstacles to his / her enlightenment. And, as you quote from BG, without identification with his / her specific body-mind, then his / her subsequent actions are for the whole rather than the part. I’m surprised that this is not clear.

  13. Venkat,

    Since prArabdha remains, the life-situations and proclivities will continue to play out. Of course, the outlook and understanding of the j~nAnI being radically changed as a result of enlightenment, it is likely that the response to situations will be different than it otherwise would have been. But it is not certain. It is the preparatory practices that prepare the mind to be able to take on board the teaching. It is perfectly reasonable that these could be sufficient to allow enlightenment but not to eliminate mental tendencies. It is certainly true that a j~nAnI would not be bothered about whether or not a desire was satisfied but this does not mean that there would be no desires.

    I know that neither you nor Ramesam agree with this so a prolonged refutation is not needed!

    Ramesam,

    It will take rather longer for me to respond to your lengthy comments, I’m afraid!

  14. “It is perfectly reasonable that these could be sufficient to allow enlightenment but not to eliminate mental tendencies.”

    Sorry Dennis, Sankara does not assert this anywhere. In fact the contrary, as Ramesam has documented.

    I’d also refer you to Gangoli’s translation of SSSS’ “The essential Adi Sankara”, chapter 27, “The jnani’s sense of fulfilment”. Extracts:

    208: On the dawn of jnana, ajnana is got rid of completely and mukti accrues instantaneously, and there is no scope or possibility for anyone to imagine in the manner ‘in due course of time jnana will yield a particular fruit’.

    209: From the empirical viewpoint, since it is believed that bondage of the form of impediments like avidya, Kama and karma is sublated or falsified, only as a courtesy or formality the scriptures mention mukti to be a jnana karya or jnana phala. In fact even devatas are not capable of hindering the seeker attaining mukti.

    210:The vyavahaarika phala that accrues from self-knowledge is described in the scritural texts: ‘First of all the kamas (desires) which are fed and sustained by avidya get rooted out; samshayas get cut asunder; all karmas get destroyed.

    In 211 he addresses avidya lesha vada (the theory of remnants of ignorance that remain as long as body last in which jnana was attained):
    ‘To argue that Vidya and avidya exist in one and the same person is as ridiculous as to say that light and darkness exist together in the same time and same place.’

    In 214, he addresses the question as to whether a jnani would continue in his state of life without being a sannyasin.
    ‘To desire to remain quiet at home alone is tantamount to having a kama; because a jnani does not have any kama he cannot think in this manner. Because he has realised the truth that there is no benefit whatsoever from any karmas of these ashramas, the jnani attains paariviraajya (the wandering life of a recluse) of the nature of Eshanaa Vyutthana (giving up all desires exhaustively). Because paarivrajya is an abhava, of the form of eshanaa tyaga (renunciation of desires) and not any kriya (action), there is no scope for anyone to raise the objection – why exclusively paariviraajya? If there is any impediment for the jnani to take recourse to the way of life of paariviraajya, the jnani will invariably be performing the respective karma for the sake of loka sangraha

  15. Dear Dennis,

    In your response to Venkat, you suggest that “It is perfectly reasonable that these [meaning “preparatory practices”] could be sufficient to allow enlightenment but not to eliminate mental tendencies.”

    That remark of yours shows that you are bringing back the issue of a “time gap” between the attainment of Self-knowledge and liberation.

    [Let us not quibble on the phrase “attainment of Self-knowledge” to say that It is not something to be attained but always present. Agreed that It is ever available. So let us agree that the phrase means only that the obstructing veil has now dropped.]

    Once again, as we all know, it (the ‘time gap’) is another dead horse. We discussed it earlier too.

    However, I can’t help but intervene because you also observed that “I know that neither you nor Ramesam agree with this so a prolonged refutation is not needed!”

    No, No, Sir.
    With all humility I can muster, let me please submit that I have no “vested interest” in a gap between Self-realization and liberation being present or absent. Nor am I committed to take a stand that is in opposition to anyone’s view.

    I do not have any privileged position to know any better than your own Knowledge. Nor am I blessed by any angel to have extra-ordinary wisdom that is unavailable to others. I am just going by what is in front of our eyes. If I have come to a particular understanding, it is purely based on the scriptural evidence that we have. And I have cited all those references for all to see.

    I hope that Venkat’s position too is not dissimilar to the above statements of mine.

    With that caveat up front, let me bring to your kind notice one more fact. I was reading the other day Shankara’s bhAShya at 1.4.10, brihadAraNyaka.
    The opponent raises a question if Gods can thwart the results of Self-realization.

    Shankara gives an unambiguous and assertive reply. To quote Shankara:

    न, अविद्यापगममात्रत्वाद्ब्रह्मप्राप्तिफलस्य — यदुक्तं ब्रह्मप्राप्तिफलं प्रति देवा विघ्नं कुर्युरिति, तत्र न देवानां विघ्नकरणे सामर्थ्यम् ; कस्मात् ? विद्याकालानन्तरितत्वाद्ब्रह्मप्राप्तिफलस्य ; कथम् ; यथा लोके द्रष्टुश्चक्षुष आलोकेन संयोगो यत्कालः, तत्काल एव रूपाभिव्यक्तिः, एवमात्मविषयं विज्ञानं यत्कालम् , तत्काल एव तद्विषयाज्ञानतिरोभावः स्यात् ; अतो ब्रह्मविद्यायां सत्याम् अविद्याकार्यानुपपत्तेः, प्रदीप इव तमःकार्यस्य, केन कस्य विघ्नं कुर्युर्देवाः — यत्र आत्मत्वमेव देवानां ब्रह्मविदः । तदेतदाह — आत्मा स्वरूपं ध्येयं यत्तत्सर्वशास्त्रैर्विज्ञेयं ब्रह्म, हि यस्मात् , एषां देवानाम् , स ब्रह्मवित् , भवति ब्रह्मविद्यासमकालमेव — अविद्यामात्रव्यवधानापगमात् शुक्तिकाया इव रजताभासायाः शुक्तिकात्वमित्यवोचाम । अतो नात्मनः प्रतिकूलत्वे देवानां प्रयत्नः सम्भवति । यस्य हि अनात्मभूतं फलं देशकालनिमित्तान्तरितम् , तत्रानात्मविषये सफलः प्रयत्नो विघ्नाचरणाय देवानाम् ; न त्विह विद्यासमकाल आत्मभूते देशकालनिमित्तानन्तरिते, अवसरानुपपत्तेः ॥ — Shankara in his commentary at 1.4.10, brihat upanishad.

    Swami Madhavananda translates the above passage to say:

    “Nor (can the gods check the result of knowledge), for the realisation of Brahman, which is this result, consists in the mere cessation of ignorance. It has been suggested that the gods may thwart the attainment of Brahman, which is the result expected from the knowledge of It ; but they do not have that power.

    Why?
    Because this result, the attainment of Brahman, immediately follows the knowledge.

    How?
    As in the world a form is revealed as soon as the observer’s eye is in touch with light, similarly the very moment that one has knowledge of the Supreme Self, ignorance regarding It must disappear.

    Hence, the effects of ignorance being impossible in the presence of the knowledge of Brahman, like the effects of darkness in the presence of a lamp, whom should the gods thwart and by what means, for is not the knower of Brahman the self of the gods?

    This is what the text says : ‘For he, the knower of Brahman, becomes their self, the reality of these gods, the object of their meditation, the Brahman that is to be known from all scriptures, simultaneously with the knowledge of Brahman, since, as we have said, the only obstruction of ignorance vanishes then and there, like a mother-of-pearl mistaken for a piece of silver becoming itself again.

    Hence the gods cannot possibly try to stand against their own self. They succeed in their effort to put obstacles only in the case of one who seeks a result which is other than the Self and is separated by space, time and causation, but not with regard to this sage, who becomes their self simultaneously with the awakening of knowledge, and is not separated by space, time and causation, for there is no room for opposition here.”

    ***

    Thus, Sir, even Gods cannot create a gap between the ending of ignorance and the dawn of liberation.

  16. Dear Venkat and Ramesam,

    I am trying to write a book here! If I responded to all of these questions, I would be here all day. I did start to reply to each of Ramesam’s points from his last post but one (I think) but that has now been overtaken by yet more.

    I have read through the comments obviously and two main points strike me.

    1) Brahman being ‘attained’ on enlightenment is another one of the ‘confusions’. We are already Brahman so we cannot ‘reach’ Brahman or ‘merge with’ Brahman or even, as Swami Gambhirananda put it, ‘gain an identity with Brahman’, as though we are presently somewhere else. This expression is gauNa only (figurative). What happens on enlightenment is that the previous ignorance about our true nature is destroyed (and gods cannot prevent this).

    2) The ideas that the person ‘ends’, mind is ‘destroyed’ etc. all contradict one of the key teachings of Vedanta – karma. Yes, we know that karma is apavAda’d eventually, along with everything else but it plays a key role in the teaching. (I don’t find it particularly useful, as Ramesam notes, but that does not change the fact.) The person is here because of past karma. And it is taught that the person’s life continues until that part of the karma that caused this embodiment is exhausted. And this applies to the j~nAnI also. This is undeniable because the person does not drop dead upon gaining enlightenment.

    What is meant by statements such as those in aparokShanubhUti is that, on enlightenment, the j~nAnI realizes that he was never the body-mind; that these are mithyA, just as the dream is realized to have been completely unreal after awakening. That being the case, he also knows that the idea of prArabdha too belongs to this mithyA appearance. But that does not stop the whole thing continuing to play out from the standpoint of vyavahAra. The world does not ‘disappear’ either! The prArabdha belongs to the mithyA body-mind, not the satyam Self, but the body-mind and world continue from the empirical standpoint.

    So it would seem that, if you are to maintain your stance, you have to reject part of the fundamental teaching of Advaita. (adhyAropa-apavAda is true but not a valid argument. If you bring this in, you are obliged to reject everything.)

    Venkat objects that the j~nAnI no longer identifies with the body-mind. I would prefer to say that the j~nAnI now knows that he is not the body-mind – a subtle difference. The body still eats and sleeps; the mind still responds to sensory input and so on. How could it do anything at all without the Consciousness (of the j~nAnI) to enable it??

    Rather than go through each quotation and query the understanding or find other quotations to refute them, maybe you could both respond to these very fundamental issues.

  17. Hi Dennis,

    This discussion started with your question as how, for a jnani, prarabdha karma can continue without blockages, or mental tendencies. Both Ramesam and I have provided many quotes sourced back to Sankara where his statements set forth that with enlightenment there can be no blockages, no gap between realisation and liberation. By contrast, you have not provided a single comment from Sankara supporting the assertion that:
    “It is perfectly reasonable that these [preparatory practices] could be sufficient to allow enlightenment but not to eliminate mental tendencies”.

    Your last post challenges us to respond to two “very fundamental issues” and sets up straw man positions, which you then seek to address. So let’s deal with each point.

    1) Your first point sought to ‘correct’ (our straw man) misunderstanding that
    “we cannot ‘reach’ Brahman or ‘merge with’ Brahman . . . What happens on enlightenment is that the previous ignorance about our true nature is destroyed”

    I think we know that. Ramesam even anticipated this in his prior post to yours saying:
    “Let us not quibble on the phrase “attainment of Self-knowledge” to say that It is not something to be attained but always present. Agreed that It is ever available. So let us agree that the phrase means only that the obstructing veil has now dropped.”

    2) Your second straw man point:
    “The ideas that the person ‘ends’, mind is ‘destroyed’ etc. all contradict one of the key teachings of Vedanta – karma . . . And it is taught that the person’s life continues until that part of the karma that caused this embodiment is exhausted. And this applies to the j~nAnI also. This is undeniable because the person does not drop dead upon gaining enlightenment.”

    Firstly, I don’t believe either Ramesam or I said the mind is destroyed or that the world disappears. And Rick’s apt quote shows that even Sw Dayananda says “Without mind there is no concept of time. Put an end to your mind, the time concept will no more exist”. Again, that is not to say that the mind is ‘destroyed’, but that it is ‘still’, it has ceased its conceptualising activity.

    You write that “adhyAropa-apavAda [of the karma theory] is true but not a valid argument”. Why not?

    You finally write to me: “Venkat objects that the j~nAnI no longer identifies with the body-mind. I would prefer to say that the j~nAnI now knows that he is not the body-mind – a subtle difference.”

    This actually gets to the nub of our difference. You believe that the jnani has (positive) knowledge that he is not the body-mind; therefore he has ACQUIRED this positive knowledge. I believe that Sankara goes further by saying that the deeply held inherent concept / identification – that we are this body-mind – dissolves (like a salt doll in the ocean, Brhd Up) leaving only THAT which we always have been.

    To be clear, one may well start with this positive knowledge from sruti (and the preceding preparatory sadhanas of renunciation etc to “purify” – I’d say attenuate – the mind). One then reflects and meditates on the meaning of this; and inevitably therefore watches the mind as Dayananda / JK says, or examines the ‘I’-notion as Ramana / Nisargadatta says. This manana / nididhyasana then leads to this still mind, that even Dayananda talks of, which sublates even this positive knowledge.

    A jnani may thus function in the world, responding to sensory input, but as there is no identification with the body-mind, there are no preferences / aversions; the body simply responds automatically, like a dry leaf blown in the wind. This is why Sankara / SSSS talks of the jnani attaining paariviraajya. This is an entirely logical consequence of a mind that is still: ie with no erroneous thought-feeling of identification, and consequently no thoughts of aversion or preference

    Martin’s recent SSSS from elsewhere quote sums it up well:
    “For, as the self of all, it is immediately evident; and because it is self-luminous experience, it is self-evident, and does not, like other objects, require anything else apart from itself to make itself known. For all these reasons it does not require any special positive teaching”

    best wishes,
    venkat

  18. Dear Venkat and Ramesam,

    I now see that it is necessary to write a separate topic for my ‘Confusions’ book on pratibandha-s, so thank you for pointing this out and providing the incentive. In case you should think I am ‘chickening out’ of the discussion by saying this, I will post the topic on completion – hopefully just a few days. In any case, this post (recommended books) is not the place that visitors would expect to find a discussion such as this; far better that it should come as its own topic.

    Meanwhile, could I just ask both of you a few simple questions, for which I would ask that you provide short and simple answers?

    1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?
    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?
    6) If you answered ‘no’ to Q.5, why not?

    Obviously you can see where I am going with this but please respond honestly and as succinctly as possible. My own answers are as follows, although you can guess them without difficulty:
    1) Self-knowledge.
    2) Yes.
    3) No further doubts about the mahavAkya-s of Advaita. Able to provide answers to all queries by seekers.
    4) j~nAna phalam means all the ‘good things’ that many seekers expect to come with enlightenment – no worries about anything, including death; freedom from all the ‘problems of life’; perennial equanimity etc.
    5) No.
    6) prArabdha – pratibandha-s; incomplete sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  19. Dear Dennis,

    An excellent post by you.
    Thank you very much.
    You really nailed down where exactly the problem lies.

    I would like to suggest one more question between # 1 and # 2.
    Because it is also very crucial to the discussion and could form the fulcrum for your proposed Chapter. You may refine / reword / reformulate more elegantly, but the suggested question is:

    1 (b) or 2 (a): What is your definition to say that one is enlightened?

    Before closing:

    The six questions (hoping that you will agree to add the question suggested by me) deserve to be circulated much more widely and canvassed from a larger population. That would help in obtaining a more balanced outcome and valid info for your new book.

  20. Dear Ramesam,

    I have revised the questions in line with your suggestion.

    Regarding your suggestions for canvassing, it would certainly be interesting to have some views on definitions and criteria but would not mean anything to know whether person X (who no one knows) believes that they are enlightened or a jIvanmukta. So actual questions need more consideration.

    Also, you still haven’t answered them yourself…

  21. Dear Dennis,

    Thanks for revising the questionnaire.

    I do think that a larger sample of responses is more advisable than the replies of just three of us or four if Martin is following this thread and like to add his response.

    As you will be circulating the Questionnaire to a limited committed population of Advaita followers ( the catchment being merely our present/past bloggers, Yahoo Advaitin group etc.), there will be more representative replies regarding the actual questions as you said. It is immaterial whether the responding person X is known or unknown, IMHO.

    What is important is the fact that the sample population is a very select narrow group and the individuals are people who studied and know Advaita. I guess the main interest here is NOT who is enlightened or not according to their own self-appraisal but how each one “understands” what Enlightenment is and what criteria are used in self-assessment, thereby establishing their own decipherment of the Doctrine of Advaita.

    ***

    Below is my own considered reply after taking a deep breath and couple of minutes of meditation (silence). For whatever it is worth :).

    1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?

    R: Self-knowledge.

    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?

    A: No.

    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?

    A: Clear presence of fine, though tenuous, strings of attachments to the body-mind etc.; absence of absolute equanimity; mentations.

    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?

    A: No.
    jnAna is Itself jnAnaphalam as Shankara holds.

    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?

    A: N/A

    6) If you answered ‘no’ to Q.5, why not?

    A: N/A

  22. Dear Dennis

    (1) Your response to question 1, ‘the definition of enlightenment?’ was ‘self-knowledge’. You now need to define what you mean by self-knowledge.

    IF your answer to that is essentially your response to question 3: “No further doubts about the mahavAkya-s of Advaita. Able to provide answers to all queries by seekers”.

    THEN you essentially mean by enlightenment / self-knowledge a (positive) knowledge / understanding (ie concepts arising in the mind) of what the scriptures say. But I would draw your attention to BSB 1.1.4 where Sankara writes “Brahman is denied to be an object of the act of knowing”.

    My response: I would use SSSS’ definition from Adhyatma Yoga:
    ‘to KNOW the Self is to BE the Self and to be the Self is to CEASE the IDENTIFICATION with the not-self’ (quoting Ramana Maharishi)

    This is entirely consistent with BrUp Bhasya 4.5.15;
    “Therefore the knowledge of this Self by the process of neti, neti, and the renunciation of everything are the only means of immortality”
    And BSB1.1.4:
    “The knowledge of Brahman is nothing but the removal of the obstacles to liberation”.

    (4) Your fourth question was ‘do you differentiate between jnana and jnana phalam?’ My answer to that should be evident from the various quotes from Sankara that have been set out in previous posts. [Whilst you have still not presented any to support your contention of difference]

    However, one more Sankara quote to underscore this point – let’s go to BSB1.1.4:
    “for the attainment of the highest human goal (of freedom) becomes an established fact only when the total eradication of all sorrows comes about as a result of the realisation of the Self as Brahman”
    He goes on to equate unembodiedness with liberation, and liberation with Brahman. Next he writes:
    “The following texts show liberation as coming IMMEDIATELY after the knowledge of Brahman; and thereby they DENY any activity in the interval: ‘Anyone who knows Brahman becomes Brahman’ (Mu3.2.19) . . . ‘Then what delusion and what sorrow can there by for that seer of unity (Is7)'”

    To summarise then:
    Self-knowledge means knowledge of Brahman, by which is meant the negation of all concepts as not this, such that thoughts no longer arise that are of identification with the body. Naturally, from that point, there can be no sorrows or fear. Jnana phalam is an inevitable by-product of jnana.

    venkat

  23. Dear Venkat,

    I wasn’t asking for criticism/questioning of my answers but for your own succinct answers. (I.e. based on what you believe from whatever sources, not for supporting quotations to justify your beliefs.)

    As I said, I will post my topic of pratibandha-s when I have finished it. You can then query the rationale and my supporting quotations.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  24. Hello everybody,

    My name is Georg and i have been reading these wonderful comments with great pleasure. I must admit that i find it a great punyam to read these very thoguhtful comments openly! I am very thankful for this and express my gratitude to all members involved.

    Myself, I am in my early thirties and have studied mostly with James Swartz and Swami Paramarthanda’s transcripts and mp3. I also met Ira Schepetin last year and got a little introduction into Swami SSS by him but unfortunately was not able to understand Swami’s books. 

    i know already Ramesam from quite a few email exchanges, “Hi Ramesam!”, but I have not exchanged any emails or comments with you Dennis or Venkat, Be greeted!

    From what I have read, I personally dont think you are that far apart Venkat/Ramesam and Dennis, in my opinion. Ramesam and Dennis seemed to have answered the questionnaire with basically the same answers, namely that self knowledge is enlightenment and there is further sadhana necessary, as full liberation of complete equanimity etc. has not been attained. I say the same about myself.
    The only difference seems whether jnana is the same as jnana phalam.  I personally don’t see the value of arguing for one or the other. Maybe there is more importance in the distinction than i am aware of. 

    For me the real focus seems to be in further sadhana, as Dennis and Ramesam pointed to, correct? And if I am not mistaken the sadhana consists of scripture, meditation, contemplation,worship, praying and service. Did I forget something?

    So my question, is it important to argue on the topic of jnana and jnana phalam? I do indeed wonder.

  25. Hi Georg,

    Thanks very much for that – really good to know that someone else is reading this stuff!

    Of course you are right – we are not very far apart really. We are all three enlightened for a start! But Ramesam (and Venkat probably) will not agree and that is the point. Everyone can see that they have Self-knowledge but they will not openly admit that this equates to being a j~nAnI. They think that some further revelation is required, whether this be a smAdhi experience or ‘becoming one with Brahman’ or simply death of the body-mind. Whereas I, and I presume you, think that it just a matter of more reading/discussion/teaching or whatever to clear the pratibandha-s.

    Nothing is ‘really’ important. But from the point of view of Advaita teaching, and hence the point of this website, it is important to clarify the issue of j~nAna versus j~nAna phalam because I believe there are lots of people out there who are really enlightened but do not believe it because they have not yet experienced lasting bliss or whatever.

  26. Hi Georg,

    Thanks for your generous comments.

    In a way, you are right, the distinction doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, moksha is a ‘personal’ journey of de-personalisation. Each person has to find that path and achieve that goal for him/her self.

    From my perspective, I have often wondered how can I be sure whether whatever ‘jnana’ I have is what the maharishis meant by jnana. Dennis / Swartz / Dayananda essentially put forth a proposition that jnana is fully understanding and being convinced by the sruti, and that what is meant by atma vichara is actually sruti vichara. As a result we have a number of self-proclaimed Jnanis running around teaching advaita or indeed neo-adviata. That is their business.

    However, if you read Sankara’s original bhasyas, and his upadesa sahasri, and also Nisargadatta, Ramana and SSSS, you find that atma vichara is actually about abiding in the Self, discarding all else (hence Sankara’s emphasis on renunciation).

    So, this is important for me, because I don’t want to fool myself into believing I have jnana, just because I have an intellectual understanding and conviction from the texts; and thereafter continue with my daily life and its vasanas; the ignorance actually unchanged.

    You could argue that I am also simply saying that I need to do further sadhana to get jnana phalam. Possibly . . . but, firstly the sadhana that is precribed is far more radical and fundamental than is acknowledged by Swartz et al; secondly when Krishna in BG talks about how to recognise a jnani to go for instruction, it is clear that his description is equivalent to that of a jivanmukta, which makes most of the certified “acharyas” redundant. So as a seeker, you need to judge for yourself to what extent you rely on them vs your own study of the scriptures.

    Hope that make sense?

    venkat

  27. Dennis, we posted simultaneously. Thanks for your generous comments.

    Georg, to clarify following on from Dennis’ comments, I’m not expecting some revelation or blissful state. What I am convinced by is that enlightenment / self-knowledge, is actually about the loss of the ego, such that one’s actions are no longer motivated by ego-centric desires and fears. So it is not so much about bliss, but as BG put it:
    “He by whom the world is not afflicted and who is not afflicted by the world, who is free from pleasure, anger, fear and anxiety – he is Dear to me”

    In this vyavahara world, the reality is that most of us do indeed afflict the world, rather terribly, by omission or commission. One just has to glance around to see that. The very structure of our society is predicated on ego-ism and self-promotion. So, to not afflict the world and not be afflicted, is a very high standard indeed; it can only involve no longer participating in a society that is fundamentally corrupt and violent. The conclusion I’ve come to is that Sankara was therefore right in prescribing paariviraajya.

  28. Thank you for your kind words Dennis and Venkat!

    Yes Dennis, I am familiar with the explanation that self knowledge is the first step and nidhidhyasana, meaning further contemplation on the teaching or requalification, is required to gain a purified mind which leads to full liberation, which is the final step. Let me know if there is a mistake!

    Yes Venkat, I am familiar with the teaching of the death of the ego required for self knowledge by Swami SSS through Ira Schepetin. And I know that to get there is to live a very austere lifestyle as a renunciate. Ira gave us an example of what that looks like in form of his guru primary student who went to bed at 10pm and woke up at 2am every day in order to focus on the mantra OM for about 6-9 hours daily, interspersed with 2-3 hours of scripture reading and a handful of food. Is that what you mean by radical sadhana, Venkat?
    I personally cannot imagine such a lifestyle for myself as a Westerner.

    I am also familiar with abiding in the self. My own practice is to contemplate the qualities of the self. To contemplate I use human words which are of course limited. Let me know if you find some mistake in it. The words include:
    INNOCENCE
    CONSTANCY
    NON ATTACHMENT
    TRUST
    EQUANIMITY
    SELF WORTH
    HUMILITY
    SERENITY
    ALIVENESS

  29. Hello Georg,

    Nice to see you here.
    Yea, it’s quite some time since I have heard from you.
    Last time we exchanged mails was when Ira was visiting your place or the other way around – you went to his talks.

    Martin and myself at one time were searching for the mysterious “Atmachaitanya” and later on could find that he was Ira Schepetin and was in New York.

    Hope your business is running well.
    I remember that you said that you were translating one of James’ books into German. Trust you could complete the project by now.

    ***

    I agree with you that it makes no big difference when you refer to things from a general perspective. Yes it does look like quibbling over minor things when one begins to ask whether jnAna is different from jnAna phalam.

    Taking a broad overall outlook, say like taking a synoptic view of a city from an aerial platform, does homogenize many things papering over all differences. Such a shot provides undoubtedly a “satisfication” of having got the ‘big picture,’ but sadly, it misses the innumerable nitty-gritty detail like, say the taste of the unique cuisine of your restaurant, the inimitable characteristic grace of the ladies of the town, the fragrance of the local flowers or the buzzing of the bees. These are of immense value available only to the individual with the boots on the ground. The ‘big picture’ misses to provide those real things.

    After all, the spiritual practices too have to happen at an individual level on the ground, as you are well aware. What may look like petty insignificant issue from a larger perspective could actually prove to be of true significance to the individual practitioner.

    So please hang on, I hope to comment below in more detail in my response to the observations of our other friends.

    All the best,

  30. I append here one particular answer I made in Quora which may, tangentially, fit in with the Questionnaire made by Dennis. If anyone wants for me to properly fill in the Questionnaire with its 6 Qs, I will gladly do so.

    ‘What is the truth? We all have our point of views about life and things in general, but what’s actual reality? Are we even conscious of it?’ Quora

    A. Despite objections to the way you have formulated the question – some of them well taken – yours is a fundamental question, and it is cogent and understandable (despite the strictures an academic philosopher – below – has listed). First, you are right in equating truth with reality and, indirectly, with life and with consciousness. Also that there are several points of view (Francis Bacon called hem ‘idols of the market-place’).

    Reality is ‘everything there is, all in a bundle’ (my definition) – inner, outer, manifested and unmanifest, known and unknown, thought of and imagined. Reality is not a bundle of separate truths, though, since everything is interconnected in mutual dependency. Reality is indefinable; ungraspable by the mind (it requires a silent mind and a leap of faith – a constancy of purpose). ‘Those who think they know don’t know’ (Upanishads). Reality is subjective and objective at the same time (nay, there is no such dichotomy in it). Reality is Knowing and Being beyond the individual, the latter partaking of it. Reality, truth, cannot be transmitted or expounded – it is at the same time personal and impersonal. Only metaphysics and mysticism combined, love of truth, not mere philosophizing, can take you to it.

  31. Hi All Friends,

    [I am still awaiting the knowledgeable interventions from Martin, our In-house SSSS Expert.]

    Honestly speaking, neither Dennis, and in a poor imitation of him, nor myself really answered the first Question: “How do you define ‘enlightenment’?”

    Dennis gave almost a synonym as the answer and I sneakily followed him, after brooding over a considerable time about how best to encapsulate what “Enlightenment” is. There is no one unique way to define It because of Its multifaceted nature. After all, Dennis wrote a book on the subject. And if giving an alternate name satisfied him as the definition for ‘Enlightenment,’ I felt following him will, well, make things easy for me!

    The failure to clearly spell out in black and white what Enlightenment is, has unfortunately, led to two downstream consequences:

    i) The first consequence is that it gave an occasion to a clearly mistaken inference by Dennis that Ramesam and (possibly) Venkat “think that some further revelation is required, whether this be a samAdhi experience or ‘becoming one with Brahman’ or simply death of the body-mind.”

    I have not said anything like that nor do I expect, on being enlightened, some fancy “out of the world” ethereal Bequeathal!

    ii) The second consequence is that it facilitated, innocently but at the same time cleverly, hiding the fact that the Goal Post itself innocuously got shifted!

    I realize that the second point above is a bit of a serious charge. It needs a more elaborate explication on my part. Maybe I will have to do it as an independent Post.

    However, let me briefly state here that shifting the “goal post” gives me the “egoistic satisfaction” of being a “jnAni” to hang a Certificate of Enlightenment on the walls of my office. But does it mean I made the goal? Do I really score any point? Do I benefit from that?

    “No, Boy, Wait for the real gains. You are not yet eligible to draw “The Fruits” of your Certificate. You are NOT there yet,” say the rules!

    Then why to artificially “split” the making the goal and getting the score into two distinct events? Why to drive a wedge into That which is essentially One and divvy It into two? Why create a gap in that where the scripture and Shankara’s bhAShya say no gap exists?

    (To Continue …)

  32. (Continuing from the previous post …)

    Why to pant for a ‘title’?

    It is actually a disastrous thing to do so. Instead of “quietening down” the ego, which is one of the definitions for Enlightenment (the one expressed above by Venkat ), instead of naturally being humble, the “titles” tend to strengthen the ego defeating the very concept of being a jnAni. The sense of individuation, the separate self, the ego, perpetuates itself covertly through such means. The seeker, rather than realizing the ego to be a non-existing ghost and letting the body become an instrument (nimitta mAtram, BG 11.33) in the hands of the Universe (brahman) in complete surrender of the ego without any sense of ‘doership,’ becomes vulnerable to a creepy self-satisfaction (a clandestine form of the ego).

    And what does it mean to be a jnAni? BG expresses very clearly starting from the verse 2.55 in 18 verses (till the end of the chapter). It further spells out the cardinal features and behavioural pattern of a jnAni at 4.19, 4.22, 6.2, 6.4, 6.24, 12.15, 12.16-19, 18.2 and many more. This is not the place for a detailed discussion with Shankara’s commentary and shruti citations.

    The acquired Self-knowledge, as our scriptures tell us, self-destructs itself, like the fire burns itself away after it burns the faggot (ignorance). For a true jnAni, there is no ‘stored’ dead information load. Self is ever fresh, anew and historyless. S/he himself is the Self (muNDaka 3.2.9). jnAni is the Jivanmukta as long as there is a body and he is Videhamukta when the body drops.

    That is the way the life of an individual “liberated right in this birth while s/he is still having a body” goes on. But not just by being a scholar and answering questions through the ‘store and retrieve’ mode of memory function.

    Our scriptures unambiguously distinguish a real Knower of Truth from an Expert, a mere Scholar of Truth. We have an article on that subject at this very site at:

    https://www.advaita-vision.org/an-expert-on-truth-vs-true-knower-of-truth/

  33. Wonderful Ramesam! Thank you for the comments. Yes, from an individual point of view e.g. a communication with somebody else can be rich and meaningful, from a bird’s eye point of view it can seem just two dots standing next to each other. So yes, in other words there can be a tremendous difference between how to interprete the teachings.

    I agree that it is dangerous to claim enlightenment if it has not brought about a total transformation of the jiva mind.
    Would you agree that it makes sense to distinguish between self realisation, getting to know ones true self, and self actualization which is the full transformation of the jiva to jivanmukti? That is how i learned it from James and I am starting to see the value of this distinction!

  34. I am happy that equating ‘Self-knowledge’ with ‘enlightenment’ is simple and clear enough for the purpose. (As you said, Ramesam, I wrote a book to give the long answer!) The intention is simply to differentiate clearly from those who insist that some sort of ‘experience’ is needed after gaining the ‘merely intellectual’ knowledge from scriptures.

    I am not going to expand futher here. As I said, I am writing a new topic for the ‘Confusions’ book under the heading of ‘pratibandha-s’ so we can continue the discussion after I post that within the next week. (There are already topics for jIvanmukti and videha mukti, so I would try to restrict discussion to the subject raised in this thread. But it is inevitable that this will crop up tangentially, since a jIvanmukta is obviously a j~nAnI who has eliminated the pratibandha-s.)

    Yes please, Martin (and Georg). I think we should make it a condition that anyone taking part in this discussion should complete the ‘questionaire’ so that we know where they take their stand.

  35. Absolutely I have no problem there at all to wait, Dennis.
    Have we not been waiting for your Essay on “manonAsha”?

    But to be fair, and I have full confidence that you will NEVER be unfair, to me and to all your Readers, please, please for now spare a few minutes of your time and cite a couple of clear crisp references from shruti and Shankara bhAShyas that speak about the split and gap between jnAna (Self-knowledge) and jnAna phalam (fruits of Self-knowledge). After all, all of us do swear by shruti and Shankara.

    Your kind references from shruti and Shankara will give us the opportunity, in the meanwhile, to study them with care.

  36. Have you been waiting for my essay on manonAsha?? https://www.advaita-vision.org/manonasha-not-the-literal-death-of-the-mind/ was posted June 18 2012.

    I am still researching for references. I am pretty sure that Shankara never used the word ‘pratibandha’ but the references I will be using include Mundaka 2.2.3 – 4, BSB 4.1.15 and vivekachUDAmaNi 267 – (since yourself and Venkat I believe accept Shankara as the author of this, although I do not). Hopefully I will find some others in fue course!

    • Thank you, Dennis, for the prompt response.

      Not to extend the discussion, but to quickly clarify my points:

      1. No, I was not referring to the 2012 article of yours on “manonAsha.” I was alluding to a more recent commitment of yours (Maybe Venkat can recall the correct context) that triggered the writing of the book currently you are on. It was supposed to be a post of yours at the AV, but then got enlarged to be a book project.

      2. I hope we do not mix up the concepts of prArabdha (about which there is no dispute here**) and the splitting of jnAna and jnAna phalam specifically for which we are looking for clear crisp shruti and bhAshya citations.

      [** – There is no doubt that prArabdha is for the “body” which is perishable and the Self-knowledge or liberation is not for the body.]

    • “I am pretty sure that Shankara never used the word ‘pratibandha’”.

      Shankara uses ‘pratibandha’ in BSB 4.4.51 where he discusses the notion that knowledge is possible in this life if there is no obstruction (pratibandha) to the means adopted owing to the result of past work that fructifies at that time.If knowledge is obstructed one will gain it, presumably in another birth, when all obstacles (pratibandha) are destroyed.

  37. Hi Ramesam

    I think we started this conversation on what Sankara meant by knowledge in the early part of this year:

    https://www.advaita-vision.org/shankara-and-mind/

    Dennis then kindly decided to write a book to “hopefully correct your numerous misunderstandings regarding the teaching of Advaita”, here:

    https://www.advaita-vision.org/advaita-traditional-to-neo/

    Unsurprisingly that we are always circling this area, because this is the core question.

    best wishes

    a confused venkat 🙂

  38. I think the trigger was probably jIvanmukti. I think I was already writing but with a view to a 2nd edition of ‘Back to the Truth’ but, realizing that there were quite a few topics that were causing confusion amongst modern seekers, decided to make it a new book. Since then, it has just kept expanding and will now almost certainly be two volumes!

    Thanks for the reference, Rick. I think I was aware of that but it seems clear that here Shankara is referring to the obstacles to gaining enlightenment, not obstacles to ‘converting’ j~nAna to j~nAna phalam, which is what we are talking about here.

    This indeed is one of the problems with learning Advaita from books (and I am speaking of myself here!) – context is all-important and one can easily be misled based upon a prior, but incomplete, knowledge.

  39. Many thanks Venkat for your sharp analytical mind well supported by excellent record keeping memory faculty. I do not think you are confused at all.

    I was re-reading at the two links kindly provided by you all the Comments and the quotes that rolled out from all of the participants. Amazing! There is enough material there for several Ph.D. theses!

    It looks that we have been awaiting Dennis’s promised essay-turned book turned book-series (volumes) for almost a year ! I thought it was for about six months, but obviously I was wrong.

    Incidentally, in one of those Comments I claimed to be the “conscience keeper” but really speaking you are the one that deserves the title as the true Conscience Keeper of this site. I think Dennis too does realize and recognize that fact in his heart. No wonder he promised to send you a Complimentary copy of his book. Hopefully it will reach you at least by next Christmas!

    In the meanwhile,

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND SEASON’S BEST WISHES TO ALL

  40. I don’t think I could have promised it in a year! The publisher now takes 1 year from completion of proof copy to availability and, at the rate I am going, I am unlikely to complete for a few months yet. But I guess it may well be year since we had the discussion. Time seems to go faster as we get older, and I seem to get less done per unit time!

    As consolation and appreciation, I will send yourself, Martin and Venkat a copy of my Q&A book which I should receive before XMas I hope. It will be in the shops by the end of March next year. (I will make an announcement next month.) Please would you each send me your postal address via private email.

  41. Just filled out the questionnaire. Martin.

    1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    A. Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind.
    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    A. Not as ‘my’ individual mind, which is a vehicle or projection of Consciousness. Consciousness is ‘light’.
    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?
    A. Deep conviction – or knowledge-experience (in relationship with ‘others’; multiplicity being just appearances, etc.).
    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    A. Yes, in the empirical or everyday life. According with the latter (phalam) there are consequences: desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity.
    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?
    A. N/A
    6) If you answered ‘no’ to Q.5. why not?
    A. N/A (this last Q. is unclear).

  42. My fill out.

    1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    G. Knowing that my true, everlasting nature as the self firmly, so that the old, limited Jiva fixations do not have power to make me think I am those habits of greed, anger, avarice, etc.
    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    G. No, I would say that I am aware of my true nature, but the old habits of judgemental thinking still rule in stressfull situations.
    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?
    G. Firm knowledge of my true nature implies that I am non-attached to the Jiva fixations, inlcuding fear, anger, avarice, pride, perfectionism, lazyness, arrogance, greed, etc.
    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    G. Yes, knowing my true nature (j~nAna) is freeing and joyful but to be actual free ( j~nAna phalam) implies the end of the old Jiva fixations.
    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?
    G. N/A
    6) If you answered ‘no’ to Q.5. why not?

  43. Dear Martin,

    Thank you for your post answering the 6 Qs posed by Dennis.

    Would you mind clarifying a couple of my doubts emerging out of your answers please?

    “1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    A. Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind.”

    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
    Can I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia because that ID-tag goes with “this body or this mind” and it is he who would like to know that he is pure Consciousness.

    “2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    A. Not as ‘my’ individual mind, which is a vehicle or projection of Consciousness. Consciousness is ‘light’.”

    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
    Because you refer to the ” ‘my’ individual mind” in the answer, I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia who is answering it and not Consciousness.

    “4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    A. Yes, in the empirical or everyday life. According with the latter (phalam) there are consequences: desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity.”

    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
    Based on the answers at # Q1 and # Q2 above, I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia.

    The answer at the # Q4 shows that Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia “hopes and expects” to continue his existence as ‘that person’ with ‘that ID-tag’ EVEN AFTER “Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind”
    (see your answer at # Q1).

    Is that possible that you will be BOTH the Infinite ignorance-free Pure Consciousness and the finite ignorant Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia at the same time ? Will darkness continue to exist in the presence of bright light?

    Secondly, your answer obviously subscribes to the concept of a “difference” between jnAna and jnAna phalam. As a student of SSSS, will you be kind to confirm that SSSS also supports that view by citing a reference from SSSS?

    ***
    Please do not take that I am being impertinent here.
    I respect your knowledge and commitment and I always consider you to be senior to me, as you know. But your answers bewildered me and hence thought of requesting you for amplification.

    warm regards,
    ramesam

  44. 1)How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    Unfortunately, I can’t define it but I take the notion seriously.
    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    I am certain I am not enlightened (please see answer 4).
    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?
    Not applicable.
    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    I have a vague idea that jnanaphalam IS jnana, and jnana is jnanaphalam. But I am also a hard determinist by conviction I am not able to think of a ‘holy’ person who would be a glutton, for example. By their fruits you shall know them, as in the Sermon on the Mount.
    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?
    Not applicable.
    6) If you answered ‘no’ to Q.5, why not?
    Not applicable.
    Shishya.

  45. Great intervention, based on your points I would like to fill out a second time.

    1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    Being.
    2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    I am the light.
    3) What are your criteria for your answer at 2?
    No criteria, just being.
    4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    No distinction.
    5) If you answered ‘yes’ to Q.2, do you have j~nAna phalam?
    Not applicable.

  46. My replies at Ramesam’s request:

    “1) How do you define ‘enlightenment’?
    A. Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind.”
    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
    Can I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia because that ID-tag goes with “this body or this mind” and it is he who would like to know that he is pure Consciousness.

    – AA. Pure Consciousness through AMG’s (reflected) mind.

    “2) Do you consider that you are enlightened?
    A. Not as ‘my’ individual mind, which is a vehicle or projection of Consciousness. Consciousness is ‘light’.

    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?

    — AA. Same as above – ‘my’ was written between colons (to repeat, ‘Consciousness is Light’’, which shines wherever It willeth.

    “4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
    A. Yes, in the empirical or everyday life. According with the latter (phalam) there are consequences: desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity.”

    Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
    Based on the answers at # Q1 and # Q2 above, I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia.

    — AA. As above. Those are the spontaneous (uncalled for, unanticipated) experiences of this body-mind that goes by the name of AMG
    The answer at the # Q4 shows that Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia “hopes and expects” to continue his existence as ‘that person’ with ‘that ID-tag’ EVEN AFTER “Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind”
    (see your answer at # Q1).

    — AA. Non sequitur (se previous AA).

    Is that possible that you will be BOTH the Infinite ignorance-free Pure Consciousness and the finite ignorant Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia at the same time? Will darkness continue to exist in the presence of bright light?

    — AA. No, it is not possible. Who determines ignorance (or ‘realization/illumination’) of/to whom?

    Secondly, your answer obviously subscribes to the concept of a “difference” between jnAna and jnAna phalam. As a student of SSSS, will you be kind to confirm that SSSS also supports that view by citing a reference from SSSS?

    –AA. 1) Jñana-phalam happen in vyavahara life; they are relative and passing. 2) re. SSSS. Not necessary, but I will try.

  47. Dear Martin,

    Can I clarify . . . I don’t think that you are proposing a time gap between enlightenment and jnana phalam, are you? You are simply pointing out (I think) that jnana phalam is simply what the body-mind of AMG experiences in the empirical world, when AMG’s reflected mind has lost its ignorance. Is that correct?

    Thanks
    venkat

  48. I think that the responses to the Six Questions posed by Dennis and the discussions we have here further clarifying on what each respondent means to say through those answers, has reached a ‘critical’ level to warn us that the questions themselves need to be examined with a fine comb.

    Will Dennis like to take note please?

    The “model” that each respondent assumes while replying is very “critical” to the way s/he formulates the answers.

    In turn, it requires that Dennis should clearly state what he means when he uses the pronoun “You” in his questions:

    i) Does “You” refer to the Universal Consciousness, the only One that has the Sentience to be able to ‘express’ if “It willeth” (Matin’s phrase); OR

    ii) Does “you” stand for the reflected consciousness which is responding to the questions; OR

    iii) Does “You” mean simply the person holding an ID card with that name and form (the usual body-mind connotation).

    So To whom does Dennis address his questions?

    Georg’s (revised) answers seem that It is ‘as though the ‘Consciousness’ is speaking.’ Martin’s replies seem to be those from the reflected consciousness. Mine and perhaps Dennis replies are as normal persons holding the ID-tags of the specifc names.

    Dennis may also have to tell us how the socially recognized moral, ethical and ideal code of life is different from the jnAna phala he conceives of.

    Thridly, last but not the least important point that needs to be clarified by Dennis is the very fundamental issue. Does a “Self-realized” being who is free of ignorance, by definition, still finds himself / herself wallowing in ‘vyavahAra’ which is, again by definition, something that arises only if and when there is ignorance?

    It may be salutary to rerun the Questionnaire survey after the above clarifications.

    • Martin says, above”
      ——-
      “4) Do you differentiate j~nAna from j~nAna phalam? If so, what is the distinction?
      A. Yes, in the empirical or everyday life. According with the latter (phalam) there are consequences: desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity.”

      Who exactly is the one giving the above answer?
      Based on the answers at # Q1 and # Q2 above, I take it that it is Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia.

      — AA. As above. Those are the spontaneous (uncalled for, unanticipated) experiences of this body-mind that goes by the name of AMG.
      The answer at the # Q4 shows that Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia “hopes and expects” to continue his existence as ‘that person’ with ‘that ID-tag’ EVEN AFTER “Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind”
      (see your answer at # Q1).
      ——
      Ramesam says, immediately above:
      ———-
      ThIRdly, last but not the least important point that needs to be clarified by Dennis is the very fundamental issue. Does a “Self-realized” being who is free of ignorance, by definition, still finds himself / herself wallowing in ‘vyavahAra’ which is, again by definition, something that arises only if and when there is ignorance?
      ——-
      I would go so far as to say that Martin may have put the cart before the horse. It is a very traditional view but for the life of me, I can’t shake the idea that “desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity” are the necessary conditions for jnana/jnanaphalam and are not the result of it. I think pratyahara is a real phenomenon (sorry if I put it clumsily) that is the basis and foundation of any insight into reality.

      Shishya.

  49. Dear Martin,

    At the outset, thanks for your time and consideration.

    What I gather from your reply is that the Answers given by you to the various questions are formulated as though Pure Consciousness has been speaking through the instrumental medium which bears the name tag of Dr. AMG.

    That sounds very consistent until the words “Non sequitur” appears.
    How do you say it is non sequitur?

    If a new form of Dr. AMG is not the one to inherit the rights to be the enjoyer of the jnAna phala, the result of the jnAna obtained as Dr. AMG, the very concept of jnAna phala is meaningless and is not required.

    Unless there is a hope and expectation of being the bhokta and enjoyer, one need not even subscribe to the concept of jnAna phala (consequences). A con-sequence can exist only when there is some connection between events p and q.

    If the events ‘q’ are totally new, “spontaneous (uncalled for, unanticipated)” and unrelated to anything, just randomly happening because of the fact that “It willeth” so, then there is no need to relate them to any jnAna also and call those new spontaneous occurrences as “consequences.”

    Though you said that the views of SSSS were “not necessary” I suppose they are very crucial to get a clearer picture.

  50. Hello Shishya,

    Thanks for your interventions and critical observations.

    It is really unfortunate that, even though we are about to touch the Number 60 in the Comments, our learned Members still feel it expedient and necessary to talk about jnAna phalam in Advaita.

    Dennis himself admitted the infirmity of such concepts as jnAna phalam 2015 Days ago to this date!

    Quoting his own exact words below”

    “I do concede that the stance of Swami Dayananda and his disciples on the distintion between j~nAna and j~nAn phalam is not strictly in accord with tradition.”

    Venkat further buttressed that view quoting Shankara at 3.4.52, BSB, based on Swami Vireswarananda’s translation, as follows:

    “Neither can there be any delay in the attainment of Liberation after Knowledge has dawned, for knowledge of brahman is itself liberation.”

    [Incidentally, this is one more proof, if proof is required, why one should be wary of the Talks of Sw-D – a comment I made way up.]

    The original post and all the comments thereon can be seen at:

    https://www.advaita-vision.org/gk-iii-40-and-some-misconceptions/

    regards,

    • Ramesam,

      If we are talking about what we said in the past, may I draw your attention to what you said just over 6 years ago :

      “He (Rupert Spira) patiently points out that it takes time for the body to fall in alignment with the new understanding because the body is slow in letting go its long standing old habits of feeling and functioning as a separate self…
      The traditional teachers of Advaita in India do recognize this problem faced by the seekers. They have a term for this. They call these impediments as pratibandhaka-s or obstacles on the path. These obstructions to the understanding can come in many forms, tangible and intangible, depending on the cultural and spiritual background, analytical acumen, accumulated experience, knowledge gained and several other factors. Hence it is not possible to administer a single prescription for all. Because these obstacles are personal to each individual, he/she has to identify the kinks and knots experienced by them in fully ingesting the Non-dual message.”

      https://www.advaita-vision.org/knots-and-kinks-in-the-way-of-knowing-the-truth/

  51. Risking Dennis’ ire, I make bold to post the following:

    Questioner P: I would like to ask you about the backward flowing movement, a state in which there is a drawing in of sight, hearing and the energies of sex. In the Yoga-sutra, there is a word ‘parivritti’, which denotes the state where thought turns back upon itself. Is there such a state as the drawing in of the outward flowing senses and of thought turning back on itself?

    Krishnamurti: Like a glove taken inside out? Are you saying that thought looking at itself, or swallowing itself, is the backward flowing movement?

    P: What is meant by the word, the content of the word, is a matter of experience.

    Krishnamurti: You are asking, is there a state in which hearing, seeing and the sensual energies draw themselves into one and there is a moving backwards? What do you mean by backwards?

    Are you saying that the hearing, the seeing and the sensual energies are with drawing without outer propelling?…
    ——————-
    https://www.jkrishnamurti.org/content/dialogue-8-new-delhi-26th-december-1970-backward-flowing-movement

  52. Dear Ramesam

    Thanks for tracking down that article of yours – and the comment therein by Sri S N Sastri. Wow! We have been discussing this since 2014! We are not making much progress are we? 🙂

    Best wishes,
    venkat

  53. I cannot resist bringing back your important comment from Sri S N Sastri:

    VedAntins do not speak of mukti as ‘jnAnaphala’ because a phala means that it is something produced and is perishable, while mukti is not produced and is eternal.

    We are all brahman but only the person who has given up completely his identification with his body is a jnAni. It is not an easy thing to become a jnAni. With respect , I must say that we have scholars in this group, but no jnAni. I am nowhere near that.

    • Precisely! j~nAna = knowledge that one is already free. It is not = j~nAna phalam, which may come at the same time, at a later time, or not at all. Regardless of whether it comes or not, there is no rebirth. If the phalam comes in life, the j~nAnI becomes a jIvanmukta; otherwise it is a case of videha mukti at death of the body.

  54. So, if the evidence is there against a distinction between j~nAna and j~nAna phalam and if the evidence indicates that the sAdhana chatuShTaya is not a necessary action for j~nAna because j~nAna is not a result based on action but rather our true everlasting nature, how do we get to remove the ignorance that keeps us identified with the BMI?

    • Hi Georg,

      I appreciate your point.
      I guess, however, it deserves to be dealt with as a separate topic rather than being mixed up here.

      However, that is what my humble feeling is. Let us see what other learned Members think.

  55. This notion – jnana phalam – has brought a great deal of confusion in its wake, seems to me. Thanks to Ramesam for bringing back the post of 5 yrs ago, GK: III-40 and Some (Mis)Conceptions. It has been very helpful.

    My reply to Venkat is that he is correct: I was not saying that there is a time gap between enlightenment and jnana phalam, and also that AMG referred to ‘experiences in the empirical world, when AMG’s reflected [superimposed?] mind has lost its ignorance.’

    To Ramesam: In my reply to Q. 4, I should have written that the phalam are concomitances rather than consequences (desirelessness, peace of mind or dispassion, serenity or equanimity.) – that is, no time sequence being involved.

    You may see better now the reason for my comment [non sequitur]… ‘Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia “hopes and expects” to continue his existence as ‘that person’ with ‘that ID-tag’ EVEN AFTER “Knowing that I am pure Consciousness, not this body or this mind”’.

    It is true that I related causally phala with awakening or realization in what concerns practical life (and I may not be quite right here – again, it is rather concomitance rather than cause), but cf.Ta.U Bh, 2.1.1 – ‘The man of knowledge, having become Brahman, enjoys as Brahman all the desirable things simultaneously… not in sequence the desirable things that are dependent on such causes as merit or demerit…’.

    To Shishya: [re putting the cart before the horse] I may have responded to this in part from what precedes, but I think you are right here: ‘Does a “Self-realized” being who is free of ignorance, by definition, still finds himself / herself wallowing in ‘vyavahAra’ which is, again by definition, something that arises only if and when there is ignorance?’.

    However, for the realized person the everyday experience is non-dual, devoid of subject-object duality (not making distinctions), at least in principle – BSB, 1.1.4. Is this a tall order?

    • Hi Martin,

      The Taitt. quote does not refer to enjoyment in the sense of jIva’s phalam as a result of destroying pratibandha-s. It is talking about the newly gained knowledge that one IS Brahman resulting in the recognition that one is anantam and therefore effectively satisfying all desires. Shankara comments:

      “He (saH) who has recognized in this manner Brahman as himself, as the very sAkShi manifest in one’s own mind (sa evam brahma vij~nAnan) what happens to him (kim)? The RRig mantra says that (iti Aha – the knower of Brahman) attains or enjoys (asnUte) everything, without exception (sarvAn), all the objects of desire (kAmAn).”

      There is no need to seek out enjoyments of the worls when one knows one is pUrNam.

  56. Shishya,

    The question of ‘ire’ does not come into it. It is simply that the views of Yoga or of JK do not help a reader understand the intended, correct, teaching of Advaita. They can only confuse the issue.

  57. Dear Dennis,

    Thank you for the link to a more than 6 yrs old Post on “Knots and Kinks In The Way Of Knowing The Truth.”

    I did enjoy reading it after a long long time.

    Though the subject matter discussed therein has some relation in a distant and indirect way to the topic here on our hands now, I am unable to immediately see the connection between the two topics which are very distinct, IMHO.

    The article on the “kinks and knots” is more of a diagnostic type to help a seeker in identifying what is standing in his/her way of fully IMBIBING the Non-dual teaching. The title clearly says so ” Knots and Kinks **In The Way Of Knowing The Truth**.”

    Unless one has fully grokked the Truth, I do not think a seeker would graduate to be able to abide in/as an unbroken ‘taila dhAravat’ brahma cintan. This aspect is further highlighted in the last sentence of the article (just above the Table) saying: “… to progressively peel away the various layers of latent tendencies which act as impediments **in the attainment of an unbroken realization of brahman**.”

    In contrast, our concern here is, if there is a gap, time period of waiting, between imbibing the Self-knowledge (jnAna) and being liberated.

    Needless to say that only a seeker who has fully imbibed the jnAna will be known as a jnAni.
    I am not sure (i have to verify), but the first mention of the word “jnAni” appears in Shankara bhAShya at BG 2.51. What does he say who a jnAni is?

    He says: “Men of Knowledge, possessing evenness of mind, cast off the fruits of actions, while still alive, they are released from the bond of birth, and attain the supreme abode of Vishnu – the state of moksha or liberation, freed from all turmoils.”
    Therefore, jnAni is such a “Man of Knowledge.”

    We have already seen that Shankara said that Self-knowledge Itself is mokSha in his commentary at 1.1.4, brahma sUtra-s (Vide my comments elsewhere in this thread).

    All in all, I am unable to decipher the context of that article on “Knots ….” here.

    Am I missing something?

    regards,

  58. Hi Dennis

    You commented, in response to the quote from Sri Sastri:

    “Precisely! j~nAna = knowledge that one is already free. It is not = j~nAna phalam, which may come at the same time, at a later time, or not at all. Regardless of whether it comes or not, there is no rebirth. If the phalam comes in life, the j~nAnI becomes a jIvanmukta; otherwise it is a case of videha mukti at death of the body.”

    I’m not sure what you are getting at here Dennis; you seem to be missing Sri Sastri’s point entirely. To me, he very clearly is saying that:
    1) there is no jnanaphala, because it is just mukti, which is ever present
    2) a jnani is only one who has given up completely his identification with the body; and by inference he has mukti. This he makes clear in the last part of the quote, which I omitted:
    “When the jnAnam is not merely intellectual, and becomes aparoksha anubhUti then the person is a jnAni. Till then he is only a scholar who can give beautiful lectures and write good articles.”

    He clearly says that there is no such thing as jnana phala, but rather that a jnani has mukti. Full stop.

    Throughout the quote he also clearly differentiates between intellectual knowledge and that which a jnani has. He makes clear that he did not believe that there were any Jnanis in the AV Group, just scholars, in which category he humbly included himself.

    It seems very clear that his interpretation, is consistent with that of Ramesam (and Martin), in saying that jnani = jivanmuki.

    Do you not concede that? You may of course disagree with Sri Sastri, but surely you have to concede the above interpretation?

  59. I think it is pertinent to paste the full Sri Sastri quote – I have capitalised the relevant portions for our discussion:

    VedAntins do not speak of mukti as ‘jnAnaphala’ because a phala means that it is something produced and is perishable, while mukti is not produced and is eternal.

    We are all brahman but only the person who has given up completely his identification with his body is a jnAni. It is not an easy thing to become a jnAni. With respect, I must say that we have scholars in this group, but no jnAni. I am nowhere near that. AS I SAID ABOVE, THERE IS NO JNANAPHALAM SEPARATE FROM JNANAM. When the jnAnam is not merely intellectual, and becomes aparoksha anubhUti then the person is a jnAni. Till then he is only a scholar who can give beautiful lectures and write good articles.

    mukti is not considered to be a phalam because it is not the attainment or production of anything new, but only the removal of the wrong notion that one is the BMI. Shri Shankara says in his bhAshya on br.up.4.4.20.:—- jnaanam cha tasmin paraatmabhaavanivr.ttiH eva.——————— iti ubhayam api aviruddham eva.

    “The knowledge of Brahman means only the cessation of identification with external things (such as the body, etc). Identity with Brahman is not something which requires to be attained, since it is always there. Everyone is in reality always identical with Brahman, but wrongly considers himself to be something different (due to ignorance). Therefore the scriptures do not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be attained, but only that the false identification with things other than Brahman should be given up.

    WHEN THE IDENTIFICATION WITH OTHER THINGS (SUCH AS THE BODY) IS ERADICATED, THE IDENTITY WITH ONE’S OWN SELF, WHICH IS NATURAL, PREVAILS. This is what is meant by the statement that the Self is realized. In itself the Self is unknowable, that is to say it cannot be made the object of any means of knowledge (pramaaNa)”.

    Thus mukti is not something produced by knowledge and so it is not a phalam. Any phalam has an origin and so will have an end also. But mukti is eternal.

    Shri Shankara says in his bhAshya on the brahma sUtra `athAto brahmajij~nAsA’ that only a person who has acquired sAdhanacatuShTayam is eligible to take up inquiry into brahman. EVEN IF ONE TAKES UP SHRAVANA, ETC, BEFORE ACQUIRING THESE, THEY WILL NOT BECOME EFFECTIVE UNTIL HE HAS ACQUIRED THESE FOUR PRE-REQUISITES AND HAS MADE HIS MIND PURE AND FREE FROM ALL DESIRE. So a person for whom akhaNDAkAra vRitti has arisen should already have acquired the sAdhanacatuShTayam. This is what I have heard from my teachers and this is the generally held view. But VidyAraNYa takes a different view in jIvanmuktiviveka, as you may know. I do not know whether Swami Paramarthananda expresses this view in the reference you have made. But there is no difference of opinion about mukti not being a phalam.

    In fact Shri Shankara says that liberation is identical with the Self:–
    br.up.3.3.1. bhAshya — na aapyo api aatmasvabhaavatvaat ekatvaat cha.
    Liberation is not something to be attained because it is identical with the Self and (the Self) is one (without a second). I am aware that you know all this. I am stating all this only to make this presentation complete and for the benefit of those members who are beginners and may not know these details.

  60. No, I don’t concede it. But I believe it was the topic of jIvanmukti that I said would have to wait for the book wasn’t it, since it had so many ramifications?

    Just very briefly: this is why we have the distinction of j~nAna and j~nAna niShThA. One gets the knowledge but it may take some time before that knowledge becomes ‘firm’ or ‘steady’. One cannot be a jIvanmukta until it is fully established. And I believe I will be able to substantiate this view with relevant quotations.

  61. So Dennis to be clear, do you agree that

    Sri Sastri has written (you way of course disagree with what he has written, but lets just first agree on what he has written):

    1) That there is no jnana phalam separate from jnanam?

    2) A jnani has gone beyond a deeply intellectual understanding of advaita (as surely Sri Sastri and others in the AV group had) to a complete disidentification with the body (by implication of the word ‘complete’, in which he is stabilised)

    3) Until a person has acquired the 4 pre-requisites of sadhana, and made his mind pure and free from ALL desires, he cannot gain this jnana

    Firstly would you agree that this is what Sri Sastri said? If not, which parts do you think I have misinterpreted him?
    Secondly, which of his conclusions do you disagree with?
    Thirdly, from your comment about jinvamukta, are you now introducing a third category in your schema of:
    – gaining jnana
    – then gain jnana phala through completion of the sadhanas
    – then gaining jivamukti?

    I understood you meant the gaining of jnana phala to be equivalent to jivanmukti?

    Thanks!

    venkat

  62. The messages are coming thick and fast and I can’t keep up. (Pity there is not someone else ‘on my side’ to help field the objections!)

    Ramesam comments: “our concern here is, if there is a gap, time period of waiting, between imbibing the Self-knowledge (jnAna) and liberation.”
    and
    “Moreover, only that seeker who has fully imbibed the jnAna will be known as a jnAni.”

    Just to clarify the apparent misunderstanding of what I am saying, the sequence of events is as follows:

    A person gains Self-knowledge. He/she thereby immediately becomes a j~nAnI.

    This simultaneously means that they now know that they are already free. (You can say that they are ‘simultaneously liberated’ if you really want.) Note that the phalam cannot mean mokSha (mukti) because you cannot gain as fruit something that you already have!

    If they had done sufficient sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti previously, they also simultanously gain the phalam (= become a jIvanmukta).

    If their SCS was insufficient, they do not immediately gain the phalam. I.e. they have pratibandha-s and they need to do more nididhyAsana in order to remove them. Thus, they may get the phalam later in life. If they do not, they get videha mukti at death of the body-mind (when the prArabdha karma is used up).

    Hope this sequence is now clear!

  63. It just occurs to me, reading the S. N. Sastri communication posted by Venkat, that there is another misunderstanding (or two) here.

    The phalam relates to the mind, not to Atman. It is ‘i’ the person who gains the phalam, not ‘I’, now known to be Brahman.

    This is why it can be that the phalam (may or may not) come later than the Self-knowledge that (as if) converts the jIva into a j~nAnI. The arguments attempting to refute this are assuming a) that the one who is ‘now Brahman’ cannot have to wait for phalam and b) that the phalam is the liberation that has ‘just been gained’. But both these arguments are mistaken because they are making wrong assumptions.

    (In fact, I do not disagree with anything in the SNS post.)

  64. Dear Dennis,

    Being concise and precise without losing clarity is the usual Hallmark of your writings. I always admired those skills of yours and perhaps expressed so a few times at this site.

    But, Alas, your latest Comment referring to me is a mess of confusion. Sorry.
    Leaving out the detailed critique, let me point out some important things:

    1. “jnAni” is one who gains or attains Self-knowledge.

    [You seem to agree with the above as you say: “A person gains Self-knowledge. He/she thereby immediately becomes a j~nAnI.”
    I will not prefer to use the word “person” – but let it go).

    2. We should reject the use of the word “phalam” as a concept.

    [You seem to suggest so, as you say, “because you cannot gain as fruit something that you already have!”]

    3. A jnAni, i.e. one who attains Self-knowledge, is liberated immediately.

    [ You seem to agree to the above because you say: “You can say that they are ‘simultaneously liberated’ ”
    I prefer to delete the four words “that they now know” in your sentence that says: “This simultaneously means that they now know that they are already free,” – but let it go.]

    Summing up, you are now clear that the concept of ‘phalam’ is only figurative and a jnAni who attained Self-knowledge is liberated without any time gap.

    THAT IS GREAT.

    ***

    On one side you complain that there are too many comments to respond to, but on the other, you keep raising new issues every time.

    For example, instead of stopping with the points as above at 1, 2 and 3, you introduce a new topic of SCS and an IMAGiNED proportionality relationship with attainment of mukti. You yourself use the word “phalam” once again here whereas you said a little earlier that it did not make sense to say that you “gain as fruit something that you already have!”

    Have you not yourself FORCED us to request you for shruti and Shankara bhAShya citations that speak about such a “proportonality relationship” between SCS and mukti or mokSha?

  65. 1. There appears to be a lot of confusion about terms like liberation, mokSha, mukti, Self-knowledge etc.

    Actually all those terms are synonyms. They are all interchangeable. IOW,

    Liberation = mokSha = mukti = Self-knowledge = brahma jnAna = brahma bhAva = jnAna.

    2. Next there also appears to be some absence of clarity with regard to the usage of the terms like “phalam”; “gain”; “attainment”; “mokSha” etc. and “ending of ignorance.”

    At 1.4.7, brihadAraNyaka, Shankara clarifies, replying to the opponent as follows:

    फलं च मोक्षोऽविद्यानिवृत्तिर्वा ॥
    The result is liberation on the cessation of ignorance.

    आत्मविषयमिथ्याज्ञाननिवृत्तौ च तत्प्रभवाः स्मृतयो न भवन्ति स्वाभाविक्योऽनात्मवस्तुभेदविषयाः |
    And when this false notion about the Self is gone, memories due to that, which are natural to man and concern the multitude of things other than the Self, cannot last.

    ज्ञानलाभयोरेकार्थत्वस्य विवक्षितत्वात् । आत्मनो ह्यलाभोऽज्ञानमेव ; तस्माज्ज्ञानमेवात्मनो लाभः|
    The shruti uses the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘attainment’ as synonymous.
    The non-attainment of the Self is but the ignorance of It. Hence the knowledge of the Self is Its attainment.

    तस्मान्निराशङ्कमेव ज्ञानलाभयोरेकार्थत्वं विवक्षन्नाह — ज्ञानं प्रकृत्य — ‘अनुविन्देत्’ इति ; विन्दतेर्लाभार्थत्वात् ॥
    Therefore the Sruti, wishing to express the indubitable identity of meaning of knowledge and attainment, says after introducing knowledge, ‘May get: for the root ‘vid’ also means ‘to get.’

    [All the above bhAShya translations: Swami Madhavananda.]

  66. Ramesam, luckily I found this (a confirmation about jnana-phalam by SSSS):

    ‘Intuitive Approach of Shankara’s Vedanta’ (Secrets of Adhyasa & Adhyaaroapa [sic] Apavaada Nyaaya revealed) – free translation by D.B. Gangolli of same title by SSSS – Bangalore, 1991.

    93. Q. What is meant by Mukti? Is it not true that to get Liberated from Bondage is itself Phala (fruit)? Therefore, Mukti should necessarily be a plausible result attained by means of Saadhana, is it not so? If it is not so, why is it that karmaopaasanas have been stipulated by way of injunctions (Vidhi) in the Shrutris to attain Mukti?

    A. For this an answer has been given in Shootra (3-4-52) (….transliterated Sanskrit follows…). Here in this above Bhaashya portion it is expounded that Muktyavastha is not an Avastha at all; in truth it is the Nitya-siddha (eternally existing) Brahmaatmaswaroopa alone.
    …………………………………….
    “Apt Cha Vidyaasaadhanam swaveery avishesheshaat Swaphale Eva Vidyaayaam… Na Tu Muktou Kasyachit Atishayasambhavoa(s)sti”.

    Its meaning: There may be distinctions to the effect – if a Saadhana or spiritual practice (to gain Self-Knowledge) is strong it will help attain that Vidyaa either immediately or proportionately faster than if the Saadhana is weak; but in the latter case the Knowledge may accrue in due course of time. However, in Vidyaa itself there do not exist any distinctions of higher and lower, big or small. It is pointed out here that only when it becomes Paripoorna (absolutely whole, consummate), then only it can be called ‘Vidyaa’ and not when it is limited or immature. (Hence, the doctrinaire teaching about gradation among Jnaanis like Brahmavid, Brahmavidvara and Brahmavidvarishtha is totally against this Bhaashya portion).

    Here it is affirmed that – ‘Mukti is not Saadhya (a product or effect of an effort or practice, Saadhana; but it is Nityasiddha….: thus we have reiterated’. Therefore, it amounts to our elucidating beyond any doubt that by means of Vidyaa the falsification or sublation of Avidyaa that takes place is itself the Mukti from Bandha.

  67. Thanks Martin for the research you have done.

    The gist of Shankara’s commentary at 3.4.52, BSB has already been cited by Venkat adopting the translation of Swami Vireswarananda. I wrote about it in my comment posted on Dec 17, 02:39 hrs.

    The Comment of SSSS that you posted has two parts in it.

    The first part relates to the “result” of different meditation practices adopted by the seeker for gaining Self-knowledge.

    Shankara commented that depending on the efficacy of the meditation method followed, the result of the method (i.e. Self-knowledge) may dawn on the seeker either immediately or later on. So the reference is not about any delay in liberation after attainment of Self-knowledge, but about the delay IN OBTAINING Self-knowledge due to a weak or strong meditation practice adopted by the seeker.

    Shankara also said that the Self-knowledge that finally comes as a result of any method could not have varieties in It because brahman is One and there are no varieties in brahman. Because the same Self-knowledge results from all practices, all seekers get the same liberation.

    The second part of the comment of SSSS relates to the possibility of “grades” in the Self-knowledge attained by a seeker.

    This part of the comment by SSSS is his own and does not directly relate to any observation by Shankara.

    Swami Vidyaranya, following Yogavasishta did talk about “grades” or “levels” in the the jIvanmukta-s.
    SSSS, was hitting on the followers of Shankara in this second part of the comment, indirectly hinting on Swami Vidyaranya.

    However, this is a controversial viewpoint, unrelated to the discussion here.
    I disagree withe SSSS on this.
    Shankara himself used expressions like “The Excellent Knower of brahman” as though there are levels.

    I shall make a separate Post on this topic.

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