“sadyomukti” (Instant Liberation) – 1/3:

What Shri Shanakara bhagavat pAda exhorts us in his commentary at the kaTha Upanishad, IMHO, is that we should try to “realize” the Self right in this life and not defer it to a later time because it involves a much more arduous effort to attain liberation with a stopover in some other loka (which involves continuing in the subtle body (or an AtivAhika sharIra)) after the gross body is dead. For example, Shankara writes:

तस्माच्छरीरविस्रंसनात्प्रागात्मावबोधाय यत्न आस्थेयः यस्मादिहैवात्मनो दर्शनमादर्शस्थस्येव मुखस्य स्पष्टमुपपद्यते, न लोकान्तरेषु ब्रह्मलोकादन्यत्र । स च दुष्प्रापः ॥ — 2.6.4, kaTha bhAShya

Meaning: Hence effort is to be made for the realization of the Self before falling off of the body, for here alone is it possible for the vision of the Self as clear as that of a face in a mirror, whereas this is not possible in other worlds apart from that of brahmA, which, however, is difficult to attain. (Trans: Sw-G).

स च दुष्प्रापः, अत्यन्तविशिष्टकर्मज्ञानसाध्यत्वात् । तस्मादात्मदर्शनाय इहैव यत्नः कर्तव्य इत्यभिप्रायः ॥ — 2.6.5, kaTha bhAShya.

Meaning: But that world (of brahmA) is difficult to attain, being the result of many special kinds of work and knowledge. Therefore, effort should be made for the realization of the Self here itself. This is the idea. (Trans: Sw-G).

Obviously, what Shankara refers to in the above is not krama mukti, but “sadyomukti.

Shankara does not mince words to establish the desirability (and superiority) of ‘sadyomukti‘ in comparison to other approaches, when he says:

ते एवं कर्मिणः अनुपरिवर्तन्ते घटीयन्त्रवत् चक्रीभूता बम्भ्रमतीत्यर्थः, उत्तरमार्गाय सद्योमुक्तये वा यावद्ब्रह्म न विदुः ; ‘इति नु कामयमानः संसरति’ …| — 6.2.16, BUB.

Meaning: These ritualists, continuously rotate in a circle like the Persian wheel, until they know brahman so as to attain the northern way or immediate liberation (sadyomukti). (Trans: Sw-M).

Further, he emphasizes in his bhAshya at 8.24, BG, quoting 4.4.6, BU, that:

न हि सद्योमुक्तिभाजां सम्यग्दर्शननिष्ठानां गतिः आगतिर्वा क्वचित् अस्ति, ‘न तस्य प्राणा उत्क्रामन्ति’ (4.4.6, BU) इति श्रुतेः । — 8.24, BGB.

Meaning: Those who are firm in devotion to right Knowledge and attain to immediate liberation have no place to go to or to return from, “Nor do his organs depart” (4.4.6, BU). (Trans: A.M. Sastri).

Shankara explains at 18.49 that: “naishkarmya, is the state of immediate liberation (sadyomukti). This state is attained by saMnyAsa or right Knowledge, or better still, by the renunciation of all actions for which one is prepared by his right Knowledge. Such an individual rests happily in the nine-gated city, neither at all acting nor causing to act (vide 5.13, BG). (Trans: A.M. Sastri).

The above position from shruti and bhAShya seems to be contrary to the stand taken by some teachers who like to believe that a Self-realized and Liberated individual will lead a life of action in the world retaining a bheda dRSTi , though no bheda bhAva.

2.  ‘sadyomukti‘ in Shankara bhAShya:

(Contd … Part – 2)

4 thoughts on ““sadyomukti” (Instant Liberation) – 1/3:

  1. Shankara refers to sadyomukti in his commentary on the Gītā (5.24-26), where “Immediate liberation of the monks who are steadfast in full realization has been stated”. He says that immediate liberation accrues to those renunciants who have established themselves in samyagadarśana. The reference here is to those whose happiness is within themselves, who delight within themselves, whose light is within those who are yogins and have become one with Brahman. Their sins have all dwindled away; their doubts have all been solved; they have perfect sway over themselves and are intent on promoting the welfare of all living beings. They are free from lust and anger; they have known the self, and are, therefore, liberated both in this life and hereafter. This conception of liberation hardly differs from that of jīvanmukti.

  2. Rick Riekert writes: “This conception of liberation hardly differs from that of jīvanmukti”

    Thanks Rick.
    I feel 5.23, BG and BGB echo what Shankara exhorts us at the kaTha bhAShya referred to by me in the Post. He says at 5.23, BG, “The impulse of desire and anger is certainly inevitable for a living person.” That itself gives us a clue how sadyomukti differs from jIvanmukti. Borrowing the words of Dr. V. Sundaresan, let me add, “While a sadyomukta may ‘appear’ to be or referred as a jIvanmukta in a general way, all jIvanmuktas are NOT sadyomuktas!

    As he explains, based on Sankara’s texts, “The knower of nirguNa brahman is sadyomukta. S/he fully knows “brahmAhamasmi.”S/He does not need the further support of tyAga, vairAgya and other sAdhana-s to bolster his/her knowledge and s/he does not need any practices, to counter the prArabdha karma induced tendency towards further karma. There are others who need multiple teachings, as also additional sAdhana-s, to counter the effects of prArabdha karma. These are jIvanmukta-s. If this kind of jIvanmukta still has residual tendencies towards action, even at the moment of physical death, he is in a similar kind of situation as the knower/worshipper of saguNa brahman who performs the upanishadic upAsana-s. On the death of the body, he passes to brahmaloka. In contrast, in the case of sadyomukta, “na tasya prANA utkrAmanti atraiva samavanIyante,” as the BU says.


  3. Hi Ramesam,

    I may be jumping the gun here on part 2, but in the history of classical Advaita the idea of sadyomukti has been given consideration often as a result of the various misgivings about the concept of jivanmukti. Many of those who accept the idea of jivanmukti seem to do so as one possible theory rather than a final position. They’re not willing, that is, to rule out the prospect that the rise of knowledge may entail total, instantaneous transcendence of empirical form. Arguments for this possibility (sadyomukti) cannot, they believe, be completely dismissed.

    Mandana, for example, when citing MuU 2.2.8 in Brahmasiddhi sees this passage which suggests that knowledge destroys all karmas as difficult to reconcile with the concept of prarabdha-karma and this compels consideration of the sadyomukti position. Some might rightly object, Mandana notes, that the notion of immediate liberation negates the traditional ideal of the sage of “steady wisdom” (sthita-prajna), extolled at BG 2.54-71. But he’s willing to tolerate this outcome. He concedes that such an individual might not be a fully liberated sage after all, but only an advanced aspirant.

    Sureshvara in his Naiskarmyasiddhi presents a similar treatment of the sadyomukti-jivanmukti question. He begins by teaching that right knowledge once and for all destroys all ignorance and all becoming without remainder (NS 4.57). On this view, there is “no ignorance left unconsumed.” He then goes on to admit what he calls “another traditional teaching” (NS 4.60). This is the possibility of a lingering “effect of ignorance.” Jnanottama (twelfth century), in his comments on this passage, explains the first view as the “immediate liberation” position (sadyomukti-paksha) and the second as the doctrine of living liberation (jivanmukti-paksha).

    Sarvajnatman repeats this pattern. Prior to his discussion of jivanmukti, he presents as a valid alternative the view that the rise of knowledge brings all empirical existence to an immediate end. In support, he marshals in his main work (Samksepasariraka, 4.38-39) an array of arguments for sadyomukti that were later more fully developed by Prakashananda. The rise of knowledge instantly destroys the entirety of ignorance and all its products. Passages of scripture describing Jivanmuktas are therefore merely for inspiration. Fully enlightened teachers cannot exist; they must be fabricated by ignorance.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  4. Thank you very much Rick for all the valuable inputs in your comment above.

    Somehow, I missed following up on this Series all these days. Unfortunately my previous laptop broke down and along with it, I seem to have lost a number of my files and notes. I hope to resume this thread soon. In the meanwhile, I will be happy to receive any further references/observations on the subject matter from you.


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