[Advaita-l] Self-realization and Moksha

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Jul 17 23:07:41 CDT 2006

On Sun, 16 Jul 2006, ramesh badisa wrote:

> “However, it is not as if you "become" that, but instead, you realize 
> that you ARE that and that …”
>  Badisa: Namaste. It implies from the above that self- realization is
>  nothing but moksha. In that case, why Brahma Sutra 4.4.17 says
>  limitations even after self-realization.

It depends on who/what is being realized, what THAT refers to.  Let's look 
at the sutras:

jagadvyApAravarjyam prakaraNAt asannihitvAccha || 17 ||

Except for the mechanics of the world, He being the subject, and because 
the realized souls are not involved. (17)

When the shastras speak of the mechanics of the world-system, i.e. its 
creation, maintainence, and dissolution and regeneration, it is only 
Ishvara who is spoken about as being responsible.  The realized souls are 
not mentioned in this context so these things are not powers which belong 
to them.

Why is necessary to talk about an Ishvara?  Why can there only be one 
Ishvara.  Because if you are going to talk about ideas such as creation at 
all, then it must strike you that the created is strikingly similiar to 
all observers.  I see the sky as blue, you see the sky as blue and everyone
else does.  If creation was performed by multiple entities, some people 
should see the sky as purple, some as green, some as pink etc.  In fact 
all the laws of nature should be as varied as individual dreams.  The 
ubiquity of blueness in regards to the sky speaks to a common origin and 

pratyakshopadeshAditichet na AdhikArikamaNDalasthokteH || 18 ||

If it is argued from empirical teaching? No; because it speaks of the 
one who has special functions and resides in the spheres. (18)

Shruti is called pratyaksha upadesha here because it was directly "seen" 
or "heard" by the Rshis.  It could be argued that Shruti says the realized 
souls have unlimited powers.  For instance Taittareya upanishad 1.6 would 
seem to imply this.  However this sutra reminds us that the same text goes 
on to say that these powers are given by He who has the special functions 
such as creation, maintainence, etc.  From the previous sutra we know that 
person is Ishvara.  And that passage speaks of attaining the power of 
speech, power of mind etc.  This is due to the Lord who pervades the 
sphere of speech, the sphere of mind etc.

vikArAvarti cha tathA hi sthitimAha || 19 ||

And also because it is said there is one beyond all forms. (19)

Ishvara is the cause of all that there is and pervades it all but even 
that is not the highest state.  For Shruti says Brahman is beyond all 
forms.  As the Purushasukta says "one quarter of Him is all beings, three 
quarters are immortal in Heaven."  This is paraphrased in 
chandogyopanishad 3.12.6 too.

So being equal with Ishvara still doesn't mean you have unlimited power 
because Brahman is more than the conception of it with limiting qualities 
(gunas)  This is an important distinction to bear in mind.  Because we 
think in terms such as time, and space, and power, the furthest degree to 
which we can conceptualize Brahman is i.e. eternal (existing in all times,)
omnipresent (pervading all spaces,) and all-powerful (possessing the 
maximum amount of power there is.)  But Brahman is actually beyond time, 
beyond space, and beyond power.  Our words can only indirectly grasp at 
these concepts.

darshayatashchaiva pratyakshanumAne || 20 ||

And it is also shown by perception and inference. (20)

Here also Shankaracharya interprets pratyaksha as Shruti because it the 
direct perception of the Rshis.  Anumana refers to Smrti because it was 
inferred by the Rshis based on their understanding of smrti.

There are references in both Shruti and Smrti that show while Brahman can 
be conceptualized with gunas, ultimately it is beyond them.

bhogamAtrasAmyali~ngAccha || 21 ||

And the indications are of enjoyment only. (21)

Those statements in the shastras that do speak of lordly powers refer only 
to enjoyment of the fruits of Ishvaras creation not to actual creation 

anAvrttiH shabdAt anAvrttiH shabdAt || 22 ||

According to the shastras there is no return (22)

Actually this sutra is repeated twice because it is the last one in the 

An objection could be made that if a realized soul is only at the level of 
creation and not in control of it, there is a chance he could get wrapped 
up in samsara again.  After all, every created thing eventually comes to 
an end.  This sutra tells us that the fear is unfounded.  Once the jiva 
has escaped from samsara, there is no force that could send it back.  If 
the jivas has not been fully realized by this time (because it identified 
with saguna brahman not nirguna brahman) it will eventually do so when the 
universe upto and including saguna brahman is destroyed in the pralaya.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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