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from observing known realized souls like Ramakrishna - they are not in Samadhi all the time. Do they incur fresh Karma after realization until Mahasamadhi?

  • There is a difference between Sahaja Samadhi and a nirvikalpa Samadhi. The saints like Ramakrishna, Ramana maharishi were in Sahaja Samadhi . As long as there is life in the body, we can understand that there is Karma to be undergone. – srimannarayana k v Mar 9 at 2:12
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In the 5th Canto, a dialogue between Priyavrata and Brahmaa indicates the words of the Lord are

मुक्तोऽपि तावद्बिभृयात्स्वदेहमारब्धमश्नन्नभिमानशून्यः यथानुभूतं प्रतियातनिद्रः किं त्वन्यदेहाय गुणान्न वृङ्क्ते १६

Even if one is liberated, he nevertheless accepts the body he has received according to his past karma. He regards his enjoyment and suffering due to that karma the way an awakened person regards a dream he had while sleeping. He thus remains steadfast and never works to achieve another material body under the influence of the three modes of material nature. The ideas of Jivanmukti, Prarabdha karma by him and the simultaneous idea of his not identifying with it are similar to a man who has woken up from a dream not identifying with the dream person/s and events.

Sri Vijayadhvaja Tirtha, of the Madhva following, says: जीवन्मुक्तोऽपि यावत् प्रारब्धकर्मनाशः तावत् स्वदेहं बिभृयात् | [Even the Jivanmukta will bear his body till the exhaustion of the prarabdha karma.]

There is a slight difference in the interpretation given by sages like Ramana Maharshi

In Spiritual Instruction of Bhagavan Sri Raman Maharshi, S Natananda, pg.21, the Maharishi was asked:

 “Is it possible to overcome, even while the body exists, the prarabdha karma which is said to last till the end of the body?

A: Yes. If the agent upon whom the karma depends, namely the ego, which has come into existence between the body and the Self, merges in its source and loses its form, how can the karma which depends upon it survive? When there is no ‘I’ there is no karma.”

 In Day by Day with Bhagavan, D Mudaliar, pg 295-296, Maharshi says

 “That is why it is sometimes said in reply to such questions, ‘The body of the jnani will continue till the force of prarabdha works itself out, and after the prarabdha is exhausted it will drop off.’ An illustration made use of in this connection is that of an arrow already discharged which will continue to advance and strike its target. But the truth is the jnani has transcended all karmas, including the prarabdha karma, and he is not bound by the body or its karmas.”

For scriptures, The scriptural reference is Chandogya Up. 6.14.2. Shankara also comments on Bhagavad Gita 4.37.

In the last two Adhikaranas (topics) it has been stated that all the past works of a knower of Brahman are destroyed. Past works are of two kinds, viz., Sanchita (accumulated works) those which have not yet begun to yield results and Prarabdha, i.e., those works whose effects have already begun to operate and have produced the body through which the aspirant has attained Brahma Jnana or knowledge of Brahman."

Also check Brahmasutra Chapter 4 Topic 11 (4.1.15) – ‘But only those former works whose effects have not yet begun are destroyed by knowledge;

So, the shruti seems to say prarabdha exists for the jnani. But Shankara says, it only seems to exist for the jnani from an ajnani viewpoint.

In aparokShAnubhUti, Shankara states very clearly:

“The theory one hears from the scripture that the current prArabhdha karma does not loosen its hold upon one even after the origination of Self-knowledge, is being refuted now. — 90, aparokShAnubhUti.

After the origination of the Self-Knowledge, prArabdha verily ceases to exist, in as much as the body etc. become non-existent. Just as a dream does not exist on waking up. — 91, aparokShAnubhUti.

The body also being within the phenomenal world, (and hence unreal) how could prArabdha exist? It is, therefore, for the sake of the ignorant alone that the shruti speaks of prArabdha. — 97, aparokShAnubhUti.

All the actions of a man perish when he realizes that Self which is both the higher and the lower. Here the clear use of the plural (consequences of actions) by the shruti is to negate prArabdha as well. — 98, aparokShAnubhUti.”

In verse 33 of Ulladu Narrpadu Anubhandam, the Maharshi teaches us the truth that though some texts say that an atma-jnani (one who knows self) is free of sanchita (the store of one’s past actions or karmas that are yet to give fruit) and agamya (the actions that one does in this life by one’s own volition or free will) but that prarabdha (destiny or fate, which is the fruit of past actions that are destined to be experienced in this life) does remain to be experienced by him (or her), this is only a ‘reply that is said to the questions of others’ (that is, it is said as a concession to those who cannot understand the truth that the jnani is not the mind or body that experiences prarabdha), and he illustrates this truth by saying that just as no wife will remain unwidowed if a husband (with three wives) dies, so none of the three karmas (agamya, sanchita or prarabdha) will remain when the karta (the ‘doer’ or agent who does karmas and experiences their fruit) is destroyed (by the clarity of true self-knowledge).

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