[Advaita-l] BGB-5:19: Questions on jIvanmukti and the inadmissibility on doshAs, desires and distinctions

Murali Karamchedu murali_m_k at msn.com
Wed Dec 14 11:13:58 CST 2011

Dear List Members,

I need a little help in connecting the dots in the gItA-bhAshyA on 5:19. 
Apologies for the long-ish post.

Here, in the bhAshyA, the acharya talks about the prospect of muktI in this life 
itself for the sam.nyAsI with samyag-darSaNA, of one who habitually and truly 
sees in all beings the same brahman. In the lead-up to this verse, he teaches 
how karma-yoga, done with a spirit of dispassion and surrender to Ishvara, 
prepares one for the correct perception of the true identity of the Atman in all 
beings; and the absolute lack of apprehension of agency, motivation or 
association of this Atman in all natural operations, their effects or 
consequences. This is samyag-darshaNA. Such a one merely inhabits his body - 
neither acting nor causing actions. Such a one has overcome (re)birth. Of such a 
one whose mind has stilled, he says the following in this order:

a) (S)He is flawless (nirdosha), despite actions that are seemingly flawed or 
tainted by pApA, because (s)he is not touched by them.

b) Nor are there any inherent attributive or constituent distinctions - since 
the pratyag-caitanya is nirguNA. (nApi svaguNa-bheda-bhinnam)

c) bhagavAn will subsequently teach that desires etc. (iccA) are characteristic 
of material and phenomenal nature (kshetra-dharmatvam) and not of caitanyam.

d) Nor are there any ultimate special distinctions of the (or in the) Atman 
(antya-viSeshAH atmano bhedakAH), for any means of knowledge to establish the 
existence of this Atman in each being is inapplicable. (pratiSarIram. teshAm. 
sattve pramANa anupapatteH). Thus, the identical brahman is just one. Therefore 
they abide in brahman alone. 

e) Therefore, even a trace of doshAs cannot touch them, not even indirectly (na 
dosha-gandha-mAtramapi teshAm sprSati). Because they do not have an assumption 
of agency or association of ego in 'their' particular body or its operations. 
(dehAdi-sam.ghAta Atma-darshaNa abhimAna abhAvAt).

The final point above (e) sums up the argument that such a sam.nyAsI has 
overcome (re)birth. Now, what is the relevance of each of the points above it to 
the main thrust of the teaching in this verse - that such a sam.nyAsin has 
overcome the prospect of (re)birth? 

Clearly, being tainted by pApA and doshA causes (re)birth. Because this dehI 
merely inhabits this particular body, he is a functionally inert witness for the 
remainder of the deha'e existence and its operations. When one is tainted by 
doshAs, one has to take a birth. The first point here says that the prospect of 
birth because of doshAs is not there for such a sam.nyAsI. 

How is the second point (b) related? Is it to consider the possibility that even 
though one might not be tainted by doshAs, still, the guNAs operate and as such 
the prospect of differentiation due to the relative composition of sattva-rajas-
tamas could itself cause janmA (Such as when sattva dominates over rajas, rajas 
over sattva, rajas over tamas and tamas over rajas) ? Whereas, for such a 
sam.nyAsI, who has discarded all (mis)identification with everything else, and 
all that remains is the pratyag-caitanya- which is nirguNA, this possibility is 

The third point (c) seems to consider that point that iccA causes janmA, and as 
such iccA is a kshetra-dharma, misidentification with which has fallen off for 
this sam.nyAsI. So, the prospect of janmA due to iccA is eliminated.

In the fourth point(d), one learns that there is only one brahman (I will come 
back to this argument in a bit). But how is this related to the issue of 
overcoming janmA? Is the idea here that brahman as such is nirdoshA, and it is 
this very same brahman that such a sam.nyAsI has seen themselves to be, for 
there is nothing else that can confound their apprehension? Since there is no 
further (mis)identification with anything else, there are no doshAs and there is 
no going to another birth. (i.e shrutI teaches us that brahman is untaintable. 
Should there be brahmans in each SarIrA which the sam.nyAsI sees themselves to 
be, then one needs to consider the possibility that there isn't  an automatic 
extension of this shruti taught 'immunity' to these per-SarIrA brahmans; hence 
the prospect of doshAs). 

Point (d) also says that means of knowledge to establish the possibility of this 
brahman in each SarIrA is not applicable, and therefore this brahman is just 
one. Now, such inapplicability could mean the following:

1. There are'nt any means of knowing that can establish this Atman in each 
SarIrA. Therefore, this brahman is one. In such an argument, the absence of 
means of evidence of per-SarIrA brahman is construed as evidence of absence of 
it. This does'nt consider the prospect that even with absence of means of 
evidence, there is still the actual prospect of multiple Atmans (hence the 
nirdoshA-ness of brahman does not automatically confer to the Atmans), and hence 
there is a trace possibility of doshAs in them. Unless, the anupapattI of 
pramANAs here also disallows this hypothetical case. If so, how?

2. The means of knowing are inapplicable because such a knowing constitutes a 
vrttI, which is a kshetra-dharma, and the sam.nyAsI has already overcome all 
(mis)identification with any such vrttI's. So, any such knowledge of multiple 
Atmans is ultimately irrelevant to this sam.nyAsI who knows that all 
multiplicity is in the realm of kshetra. All that now remains is the single, 
same brahman.

3. The prospect of a means of knowledge to establish brahman in each SarIrA 
involves a logical fallacy, and therefore it is inapplicable. To posit a brahman 
in each SarIrA implies a distinct observer apart from these for whom the 
witnessing of multiplicity is meaningful, which automatically relegates these 
hypothetical per SarIrA brahmans to the kshetra, because it becomes a field of 
knowledge to that observer. Hence each of these 'brahmans' are therefore no 
longer the real kshetrajnA. I.e by attempting to establish a brahman in each 
SarIrA, one defeats the objective.

Is there a fourth way to conclude that the identical brahman is just one with 
what the bhashyA teaches here? Of the above three, the second and third appeal 
to me more, but what is the correct way to look at how the inapplicability of 
pramANA results in a single brahman?

Murali Manohar

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list