[Advaita-l] The 'Body' idea in MokSha too?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 3 07:14:14 CDT 2012


It is well known to Advaitins on the basis of the adhyAsa bhAShya of
Shankara that the very thinking 'I am a human' is the fundamental
error which leads to all the other errors up to the whole world of
'others', other beings, objects, etc'. The question arises - The
thinking 'I am a human' consists of an object, a meaning, an artha, a
vastu, that is a person, a shape, a body with a specific form that is
identified with the thinking.  This body is, the sharIram, precisely
the manuShya sharIram.  Is this sharIram real or not?  For, in the
common adhyAsa example of rope-snake the superimposed or imagined
snake is a really available one in the world; it is only imagined in
the wrong locus, rope.  What about the human body?  In the
srImadbhAgavatam we have a fine instance of this phenomenon. In the
following verse (11.23.50) -

deham manomAtramimam gRhItvA mama-ahamityandhadhiyo manuShyAH |
eSho'ham anyo'yam iti bhrameNa durantapAre tamasi bhramanti ||

//Foolish men, coming to look upon the body, which is but a phantasm of the
mind, as 'I' and 'mine' and thinking erroneously, 'This am I but this other man
is different', wander in a limitless wilderness of ignorance.//

Accordingly, the body is manomAtram, something that exists only in the
imagination.  There is the 'abhimAna' that translates to the
thinking/articulation 'this body is me'.  If it is urged that the body
is real and the abhimAna is only initiated in it, though wrongly, at
some anAdi kAla, the further question arises as to whether the body
was created, manufactured, by prakRti or Ishwara and kept ready for
the abhimAna to be initiated? Surely neither the prakRti or Ishwara
would simply, for no reason, nirnimittakam, create a body and cause./
let the abhimAna come about in it as 'this body is me'.  Thus, with no
real body being possible, it is concluded that the abhimAna is
generated in a vastu that is itself not there in truth.

Again, the Bhagavatam verse cited above proves the sad-asad vilakShaNa
nature of the body that is described as manomAtram.  It is 'sat'
because its pratIti, cognition, is there, undeniable.  It is asat
because, when we enquire into its status with the shAstra and yukti
pramANa, it turns out that there is no such entity called the body in

This being the case, it is only in Advaita that mokSha is explained
without the body concept finding a place in it.  All other
non-Advaitic schools like Dvaita and VishiShTAdvaita have the mokSha
concept without giving up the body idea.  A mukta is essentially with
a body, either human or otherwise, along with other muktas with
bodies, residing in the specific loka serving or praising or enjoying
the Lord in innumerable ways.  In other words, what is decidedly a
bhrama, the body idea, is carried on even in moksha, even in the case
of aparokSha jnanis for whom bhrama is supposed to have ceased owing
to samyak jnAna.  The reason for this situation is that since a
svarUpa guNa, a svarUpa form, varNa / jAti, Asrama, etc. are admitted
for the jiva,  and jiva-jiva difference is also in tact,  it becomes
inevitable for these systems that the body concept continues in mokSha
too.  For, the differentiating factor, between one jiva and the other,
and jiva and Ishwara, has to be something that has to be body-based.
There is the 'person' idea eternally continuing and necessarily a body
has to be there.

In Advaita, even for muktas, in rare cases of aadhikArika puruShas, a
body is admitted, as in jivan mukti. But this is only karma-based, in
that it continues only as long as the prArabdha continues and ceases
once it is exhausted.  Thereupon it is videha mukti, marked by no body

That the 'I am a human' thinking is a bhrama is admitted even by
non-Advaitic schools is clear from this example:

Recently I had informed this forum about a book
'apacchedanyAyavaiShamyam' published by the Purnaprajna Samshodhana
mandiram, Bangalore. In that book, at the end is a remark by the
Pejawar Swamiji to the effect that: //...that the anubhava/pratyaya
'aham manuShyaH' is a bhrama is well known from works such as the

I had also reported recently that the Dvaita school holds the jiva to
be 'nitya baddha' and the VishiShTAdvaita considers the jiva to be
'nitya paratantra'.  This is in contrast to Advaita declaring that the
Atma, Brahman, is 'nitya shuddha buddha mukta svabhAvaH', the true
nature of the jiva.  Naturally this difference in the perception of
what a jiva is in truth speaks for itself in the description of mokSha
by these schools.  In the first two the body-idea though not with the
durabhimAna, is still there.  In Advaita alone there is a complete
impossibility of this idea continuing in moksha.  This is because in
bandha too this abhimAna is repeatedly shown to be a bhrama.

Om Tat Sat

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