Jivanmuktiviveka of Swami Vidyaranya

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Jan 31 19:10:32 CST 2000

As I have gotten extremely busy of late I have been unable to regularly
post from this work but I hope to change that now.

[In the beginning of his work Swamiji had mentioned there are two kinds of
Sannyasis.  The Vidvisha sannyasi who has renounced the world in order to
seek Brahmavidya and the Vidvana sannyasi who has already realized and for
whom the mundane world has simply ceased to be relevant.  Now he describes
the qualities of the Visvisha sannyasi.  This is not a literal translation
but a paraphrase by myself.]

The Brhadaranyakopanishad in 1.5.16 [1] mentions three worlds or lokas.
The world of the Devas which one reaches through religious rites such as
puja, yajna etc.  The world of the Pitras which is rechieved through
performing shraddha etc. and having children to continue the family line,
and the world of men by giving charity and hospitality etc.[2] It goes on
to say the world of the Self is superior to all of these.  "If however one
leaves this world without knowing his own world, it does not protect him."
Why is this?  Because the Shruti says, "Even if a man who does not know it
performs many virtuous acts in this world, those acts are ultimately
exhausted.  From this Self he puts forth what he wishes."  The worlds of
the Devas, Pitrs etc. are great compared to this one but they do not free
the soul from sorrow, ignorance and other evils as they too are part to
some extent of avidya.  Only by devotion to  the world of the self will
the seeker prevail over avidya and reach the ultimate bliss.

[Because of the use of the word loka "world, a doubt may arise that is it
Brahmajnana being refered to or some place called atmaloka?  Swamiji
responds as follows]

In the 6th adhyaya of the upanishad are the words, "Why should we study
[the Vedas], For what goal should we worship, of what use are children
for us to whom this atmaloka is the supreme abode?"[3]  Desire for
offspring leads to the smashan, non-desire leads to true
immortality.  This quote from a section that begins "This atma is without
qualities and unborn" plainly shows that the atmaloka is totally different
from the other lokas which were mentioned.  Atma is refered to as a loka
because it is seen, and realized.[4]  What is called "gaining the
atmaloka" is atmanubhava (self-realization.)  It is also said in Smrti,
"To attain Brahmajnana the paramahansa should have all the means such as
peace of mind, bodily control etc."  As this comes about due to study
and practice of the Vedas in the proper manner in this or a former life
which causes a strong desire for jnana it is called vidvisha
sannyasa.  (The sannyasa of the seeker.)  It has two parts, the
renunciation of the acts motivated by desire and others which lead to
rebirth and the taking up of the emblems of sannyasa such as the danda
[staff] etc. after being duly initiated with the praisoccharana[5] which
guarantees the renouncer an contentment and fixture in Brahman
(Brahmanishta) and his wife and mother, rebirth as a male.  This sannyasa
has been mentioned in Taittiriya and other upanishads.  The
kaivalyopanishad says "Some attained immortality, not by acts, or
offspring, or wealth but by renunciation alone."

[Another doubt may arise.  If Sannyasa is only open to one who has duly
studied and practiced the commands of he Vedas then moksha is for all
intents and purposes off-limits to women and others who have no right to
do those things.  The mention of the praisochharana also seems to suggest
that the best they can hope for is to be reborn as men.  Is this the
Advaita view?]

Women are also entitled to this renunciation.  The Chaturdhari commentary
on the Mahabharat in describing the conversation between Sulabha and
Janaka in the Mokshadharma mentions that Sulabha was a bhikshuki (female
monk) and indicates that women may renounce before marriage or after the
death of their husbands[6] and may hear appropriate shastras dealing with
moksha[7].  In the Devatadhikarana of the Brahmasutrabhashya,
Shankaracharya has mentioned Vachaknavi as another female renouncer.
These instances support the right of Maitreyi the wife of Yajnavalkya of
whom she asks[8] in the brhadaranyakopanishad, "Of what use would such
wealth be to me if it would not make me immortal?  Tell me whatever you
know sir as to what I should do to be free of mortality."[9]

Even for the Brahmacharis, Grhasthas, and Vanaprasthas who for some reason
or another cannot take sannyasa, there is the possibility of at least
mentally renouncing the fruits of actions.  There are many instances in
the shastras and history of such seekers of truth.

The characteristics of a Paramhamsa such as danda etc. have already been
fully described by various acharyas and I do not think I have any more to
add.  Thus ends "The renunciation of the seeker."

[1] I posted a translation of this on 1/14

[2] Actually it mentions several other "worlds" one by various types of

[3] Which shakha of the upanishad was Swamiji using?  The first part of
this quote does not occur in the text I have.

[4] the word loka is being derived from the Sanskrit dhatu lok -- to
see.  Cf. the English cognate look.

[5] The ceremony which marks the formal abandonment of the Grhasthashram
and the adoption of Sannyasashram.

[6] Why not during marriage?  Because for a married women the husband is
her vow (pativrata)  She has an obligation which must be honored.

[7] Out of compassion for those who had no right to study the Vedas
Maharshi Vyas distilled the essence of the Vedas into  the 18 Puranas and
the Mahabharat (which contains the Gita and Mokshadharma.) By their study
they too can be a means to Atmajnana.

[8]  At the time when Yajnavalkya took sannyas and left all his posessions
to her.

[9] This passage is very interesting because it illuminates the Vedantic
stance towards social convention.  Following the shastras is not just a
friendly suggestion it is the law and must be followed scrupulously.
This is why Swami Vidyaranya brings up praishoccarana and who has the
adhikara to study the Vedas etc.  But in the matter of the Self shastraic
injunctions have no authority.  No disrespect is intended, this subject is
simply outside their scope.  The self is innate to all and the very ground
of consciousness, only known through knowledge so no shastra or God or
Guru can give it or take it away.  Once we start talking about social
obligations (how to take sannyasa, when to take sannyasa) we are back once
again into the domain of injunction and prohibition.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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