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This question should be and can be answered using Advaitha only.

According to advaitha, a person can become Jivan Muktha while she is living in her human body only. After becoming Jivan Muktha, she becomes brahman. But, she has to obey niyathi.

Several such cases are present in yoga Vasistha: persons who underwent niyathi are Vasistha, Viswamithra, Rama and his brothers, Janaka, Prahlada, Lila, Cudala etc., First two continued as maharshis and almost remaining all continue as rulers.

My doubt is

Why can't/won't they change Niyathi kept by brahman if they become brahman? Are Jivan Mukthas constrained by Niyathi?

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  • Unclear what you are asking. please clarify. Aug 25 at 4:37
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda Where you are feeling unclear?
    – hanugm
    Aug 25 at 4:58
  • 1
    Good question. I think Brahmasutra 3.3.32 throws some light on it.. Will add answer...
    – Pandya
    Aug 30 at 17:25
  • Because as far as I know Niyati is the will of God. And no one can or will change the will of God. Sep 6 at 18:39
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Trying to answer the question in two parts:

Part-1

  • Refuting the existence of Prārabdha for Jeevanmukta
  • Difference between Jīvanamukti Videhamukti is not absolute

Part-2

  • Reason for rebirth of mentioned Jīvanamukta Rishis

Note: This answer is based on Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya


Part-1

According to Adi Shankaracharya, talking about the existence of Prārabdha is meaningless for those who attains the Brahman since all three types of Karmas gets destroyed after attaining the absolute and any of Karmas doesn't remain effective to them. In other words, Prārabdha also verily ceases to exist after attaining the absolute truth. The purpose of mentioning the the existence of Prārabdha for Jīvanamukta is to convince the ignorant only.

Quoting from Aparoksha Anubhuti from Vedanta Shastra Library:

  1. The theory one hears of from the scripture, that Prarabdha does not lose its hold upon one even after the origination of the knowledge of Atman, is now being refuted.

  2. After the origination of the knowledge of Reality, Prarabdha verily ceases to exist, inasmuch as the body and the like become non-existent; just as a dream does not exist on waking.

  3. That Karma which is done in a previous life is known as Prarabdha (which produces the present life). But such Karma cannot take the place of Prarabdha (for a man of knowledge), as he has no other birth (being free from ego).

  4. Just as the body in a dream is superimposed (and therefore illusory), so is also this body. How could there be any birth of the superimposed (body), and in the absence of birth (of the body) where is the room for that (i.e., Prarabdha) at all?

  5. The Vedanta texts declare ignorance to be verily the material (cause) of the phenomenal world just as earth is of a jar. That (ignorance) being destroyed, where can the universe subsist?

  6. Just as a person out of confusion perceives only the snake leaving aside the rope, so does an ignorant person see only the phenomenal world without knowing the reality.

  7. The real nature of the rope being known, the appearance of the snake no longer persists; so the substratum being known, the phenomenal world disappears completely.

  8. The body also being within the phenomenal world (and therefore unreal), how could Prarabdha exist? It is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant alone that the Shruti speaks of Prarabdha.

  9. "And all the actions of a man perish when he realizes that (Atman) which is both the higher and the lower". Here the clear use of the plural by the Shruti is to negate Prarabdha as well.

  10. If the ignorant still arbitrarily maintain this, they will not only involve themselves into two absurdities but will also run the risk of forgoing the Vedantic conclusion. So one should accept those Shrutis alone from which proceeds true knowledge.

This is also explained logically in the text Vivekchudamani verse Nos. 445-463. Quoting several of them:

  1. Prarabdha work is certainly very strong for the man of realisation, and is spent only by the actual experience of its fruit; while the actions previously accumulated and those yet to come are destroyed by the fire of perfect knowledge. But none of the three at all affects those who, realising their identity with Brahman, are always living absorbed in that idea. They are verily the transcendent Brahman.

  2. For the sage who lives in his own Self as Brahman, the One without a second, devoid of identification with the limiting adjuncts, the question of the existence of Prarabdha work is meaningless, like the question of a man who has awakened from sleep having any connection with the objects seen in the dream-state.

  3. Prarabdha work can be maintained only so long as one lives identified with the body. But no one admits that the man of realisation ever identifies himself with the body. Hence Prarabdha work should be rejected in his case.

  4. The attributing of Prarabdha work to the body even is certainly an error. How can something that is superimposed (on another) have any existence, and how can that which is unreal have a birth ? And how can that which has not been born at all, die ? So how can Prarabdha work exist for something that is unreal ?

462-463. "If the effects of ignorance are destroyed with their root by knowledge, then how does the body live?" - it is to convince those fools who entertain a doubt like this, that the Shrutis, from a relative standpoint, hypothesise Prarabdha work, but not for proving the reality of the body etc., of the man of realisation.

Further clarity on why people think that Jivanmukti is not Videhamukti:

546-547. The sun which appears to be, but is not actually, swallowed by Rahu, is said to be swallowed, on account of delusion, by people, not knowing the real nature of the sun. Similarly, ignorant people look upon the perfect knower of Brahman, who is wholly rid of bondages of the body etc., as possessed of the body, seeing but an appearance of it.

Clarifying the definition of mukti:

  1. For the giving up of the body is not Liberation, nor that of the staff and the water-bowl; but Liberation consists in the destruction of the heart’s knot which is Nescience.

Part-2

32nd sutra of 3rd Pada of 3rd Adhyaya of Brahmasutra disclose the reason behind rebirth of Rishis who have already attained the knowledge of Brahman.

According to it, these Rishis are having divine mission and until it gets accomplished they reborn but yet never comes under the influence of ignorance. This case is equated with that of existence of Prarabdha karma of Jivanmukta.

Quoting Brahmasutra 3.3.32 with Adi Shankaracharya's commentary from wisdom library.

यावदधिकारमवस्थितिराधिकारिकाणाम् ॥ ३२ ॥
yāvadadhikāramavasthitirādhikārikāṇām || 32 ||

  1. Of those who have a mission to fulfil (there is corporeal) existence, so long as the mission is not fulfilled.

Rishi Apantaratama was born again as Vyasa. Sanatkumara was born as Skanda. So also other Rishis like Vasishtha and Narada were born again. Now these Rishis had attained the knowledge of Brahman, and yet they had to be reborn. If that is so, what is the utility of such knowledge of Brahman?—says the opponent. This Sutra refutes it and says that ordinarily a person after attaining Knowledge is not reborn. But the case of those who have a divine mission to fulfil is different. Those perfected sages have one or more births until their mission is fulfilled, after which they are not born again. But then they never come under the sway of ignorance although they may be reborn. Their case is analogous to that of a Jivanmukta, who even after attaining Knowledge continues his corporeal existence as long as the Prarabdha Karma lasts. The divine mission of these people is comparable to the Prarabdha Karma.

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  • I was under the impression Prarabdha lasts for mukta people. What does this line mean- it is to convince those fools who entertain a doubt like this, that the Shrutis, from a relative standpoint, hypothesise Prarabdha work?
    – Adiyarkku
    Sep 6 at 2:47

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