Jivanmukta – Enlightened one.

1).  Who is Jivanmukta ?

Tattva Bodha by Shri Shankaracharya gives following definition of a Jivanmukta

  • Jivanmukta is one who is liberated while the body is alive.  A person who has realized that he is not body, mind, intellect but pure consciousness (ನಾನು ನಾನೆಂಬುದು ನಾನಲ್ಲ ಈ ದೇಹ ಮನ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ನಾನಲ್ಲ ಸಚಿದಾನಂದಾತ್ಮ ಶಿವ ನಾನು ನಾನೆ  ಶಿವೋಹಂ  ಶಿವೋಹಂ) – Brahman is called jivan mukta.
  •      Through listening (shravan), contemplation ( manan) and Nidhidhyasa (meditation) one who has realized his essential nature Brahman is liberated while his body is alive. By the teachings of realized master (sadguru) he/she realized the Truth of SELF (Brahman). Not only he has realized that he is Brahman, he realizes essence of all beings as Brahman. (evam cha vedanta-vakyaih; sadguru-upadeshena cha)
  •   When all desires of heart are burnt away ( yada sarve pramuchyante kama – tatwabodha), the individual becomes immortal while living and attains Brahman in this body.
  • Common person has conviction that I am body,  I am man, woman, I am brahmin, I am Vaishya etc.  Similarly a jivanmukta is the one who has firm conviction that I am not man, woman, not body, mind or intellect, I am not brahmin, Vaishya.. but all pervading unattached (asangatha) pure consciousness. One who has such direct  knowledge ( aparoksha) jnanam is jivan mukta.  ( yatha dehom, purushoham….. Tatwabodha)
  • He who knows that whole universe is projected in SELF through maya is called jivan mukta ( Suta Samhita).
  • One who has become Brahman himself is jivan mukta (brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati – Mundaka Upanishad)
  • Jivanmukta is free from suffering ( Knower of Brahman becomes free from sorrow – Chandogya Upanishad).

A story :

In one ashram, there was lot of chaos. Ashram was becoming unmanageable due to infights. One day Swamiji of Ashram calls and tells residents that God has come to Ashram in human form in a disguise. Every ashramite became very careful and started respecting every other person. Who knows anyone could be God in disguise.

2. What is renunciation of seeker (vividisa sanyasa) and renunciation of knower (vidvat sanyasa) ?

Sanyas means samyak+nyas – right kind of deposit of mind – focus of mind. When the mind is focused on Self realization, focus on other aspects of life reduces. This is called sanyas or renunciation.

By performing desire oriented actions (kamya karma) involving rituals, one cannot attain atman. On the other hand, such activities expands samsaric life. Hence seekers of Truth renounce mentally (manasika)  or physically all desire oriented actions for seeking atman. This is called vividisa sanyas or renunciation of seekers.

On the other hand after realization of Atman, there is no need to perform any rituals. Such a person – jivanmukta like Yajnavalkya   take up sanyas. This is called renunciation of knower (vidvat sanyas).

The world of plurality is absent for jivanmukta. It is similar to a deep sleep condition while being fully awake. It is similar to sleep. However, it is different because from sleep one wakes up to find plurality while  for jivan mukta world of plurality does not appear at all.

One who is not elated by joy, depressed by sorrow, one who is free from attraction repulsion … ( Bhagavadgita )  is sthitaprajna  { dhukeshu anudvigna ….. Bhagavadgita ).

Jivanmukta is not affected by world. Nor he will affect the world.

3). What are the qualities of enlightened one (sthita prajna) as per Bhagavadgita ?

Qualities of a Sthitaprajna – Explained


In Bhagavadgita., Arjuna puts a question to Sri Krishna, in the 54th sloka of second chapter, Sankhya yoga :

Sthitaprajnasya ka bhasa samadhisthasya keshava
Sthitadhih Kim prabhaseta Kimasita vrajeta Kim – 2.54

“What O keshava, is the description of a person of
steady wisdom, mearged in samadhi? How does the person
of steady wisdom speak, how sit, how walk?”


The rest of the verses till the end of the second chapter is devoted to answering this question by Sri Krishna, thus explaining to Arjuna the qualities of Stithaprajna –


(Desire-less) “When one completely casts away, O partha, all the desires of the mind, satisfied in the self alone by the self, then he or she is said to be one of steady wisdom.” -2.55

Here Krishna clearly gives the hint – absense of desire alone is not enough. It can be a pathological state. There may not be anything spiritual about it. There are cases in mental hospital, they live in a corner, don’t want anything, immensed in themselves all the time. So Sri Krishna adds the second line – he or she is fully delightlyed in the self by the self. Because of that, I don’t want anything. I have got something infinite with me. What can these petty things do for me. This is the actual idea.


(Situational Stability) “One whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after happiness, who has become free from blind attachment, fear and anger, is indeed the muni or sage of steady wisdom – Sthitahprajna.” -2.56

Here “Hanker after happiness” means ‘not carried away by ambition in happiness.’ Then Sri Krishna also mention about the three motins that are harmful to man – Raga (Desire), Bhaya(fear), Krodha(anger).


(Emotional Stability) “One who is everywhere unattached not pleased at receiving good, nor vexed at evil, his or her wisdom is steady.” -2.57

Unlike animals, which reacts to the stimulus, we have the capacity to study the situation and discriminate before reacting. When that qualities is exercised, we get this kind of stability. The next sloka presents an example –


“When also, like the tortoise drawing its limbs, one can completely withdraw the senses from their sense objects, his or her wisdom becomes steady.” -2.58

This and the next two verses is dedicated to control of senses –


(Perfect Self Control) “Sense objects fall away from the abstinent person, leaving the longing behind. But even that longing ceases when one realizes the supreme” -2.59

“The turbulent senses, O son of Kunti, do violently snatch away the mind of even a wise man who is striving after perfection -2.60

“The steadfast, having controlled them all, sits focused on Me as the supreme, his or her wisdom is steady, whose senses are under control”-2.61

The aspirants, the abstinent persons often does this mistake due to overconfidence that they can comfortably be in the midst of sense objects that are attractive, yet be unattached, after doing some spiritual disciplines. Thus falling prey to the dangerous senses. Whereas a sthitaprajna is capable of remaining unattached at all circumstances for he has realized the self and well established in it.

The next two verses, 2.62 & 2.63 tells how a person falls down from the ideal by having or developing attached to the sensory system.


(Tranquility) “But the self-controlled person, moving away sense objects with the senses under one’s restraint, and free from attraction and aversion attains to tranquility” -2.64

“In tranquility, all sorrows are destroyed. For the intellect of one who is tranquil-minded is soon established in firmness” -2.65

The verse 2.66 talks about importance of meditation. And 2.67, what happens if not meditated.


Therefore, O mightly-aimed, his or her knowledge is steady, whose senses are completely restrained from their objects.” -2.68


(Established in fullness of ego) “As into the ocean, brimful and still, flow the (flood) waters (of various rivers without agitatin the ocean), even so is the muni into whom enter all desires, he or she attains to peace and not the desirer of desires.” -2.69

He might desire to eat a delicious food or even to establish a huge organization. But such desires does not make any disterbances inside, which is absolutely calm and steady. Such a mind is established in the universal ego, universal fullnesss, as illustrates in the shanti mantra – “Poorna midam, poornath poornamudatchathe,…”/ Thus he performs the actions in accordance with the will of the eternal divine as described by the shloka -2.50. This shloka defines that state as “Yogah KArmasu Kausalam – Dexterity in action.”

Though the sthitaprajna lives in the midst of the desirable objects, and the sense organs does their job of constantly bringing in the information about the desirable objects, the person attains peace and not become the desirer of the desirable objects.


(Oneness with Brahman) “This (state of sthitaprajna) is having one’s being in Brahman, brahmi sthitih, none, O son of Partha, attains to this becomes deluded. Being established their in even at the end of one’s life, one attains to oneness with Brahman”.

Thus to summarise the qualities of sthitaprajna :

1. Desireless, Satisfied in the Self.
2. Situational Stability
3. Emotional Stability
4. Perfect Self Control
5. In state of Tranquility
6. Established in fullness of ego
7. Oneness with Brahman.

3). What the different names for jivanmukta in scriptures ?

Brahmana, Jivanmukta, atitashrami, atitavarnashrami, sthitaprajna  are some of the names for Jivanmukta.

4).  Please explain Yoga Bhumika –  stages of realization ?

There are seven stages of Jnana or the seven Jnana Bhumikas. First, Jnana should be developed through a deep study of Atma Jnana Sastras and association with the wise and the performance of virtuous actions without any expectation of fruits.
This is Subheccha or good desire, which forms the first Bhumika or stage of Jnana. This will irrigate the mind with the waters of discrimination and protect it. There will be non-attraction or indifference to sensual objects in this stage.
The first stage is the substratum of the other stages. From it the next two stages, viz., Vicharana and Tanumanasi will be reached. Constant Atma Vichara (Atmic enquiry) forms the second stage.
The third stage is Tanumanasi. This is attained through the cultivation of special indifference to objects. The mind becomes thin like a thread. Hence the name Tanumanasi. Tanu means thread – threadlike state of mind. The third stage is also known by the name Asanga Bhavana. In the third stage, the aspirant is free from all attractions. If any one dies in the third stage, he will remain in heaven for a long time and will reincarnate on earth again as a Jnani. The above three stages can be included under the Jagrat state.
The fourth stage is Sattvapatti. This stage will destroy all Vasanas to the root. This can be included under the Svapana (svapna) state. The world appears like a dream. Those who have reached the fourth stage will look upon all things of the universe with an equal eye.
The fifth stage is Asamshakti (Asamśakti). There is perfect non-attachment to the objects of the world. There is no Upadhi or waking or sleeping in this stage. This is the Jivanmukti stage in which there is the experience of Ananda Svaroopa (the Eternal Bliss of Brahman) replete with spotless Jnana. This will come under Sushupti.
The sixth stage is Padartha Bhavana. There is knowledge of Truth.
The seventh stage is Turiya, or the state of superconsciousness. This is Moksha. This is also known by the name Turiyatita. There are no Sankalpas. All the Gunas disappear. This is above the reach of mind and speech. Disembodied salvation (Videhamukti) is attained in the seventh stage. Remaining in the certitude of Atma, without desires, and with an equal vision over all, having completely eradicated all complications of differentiations of ‘I’ or ‘he’, existence or non-existence, is Turiya.
The witness attitude or Drashta
Increasing the witness attitude, the drashta, is an obligation for the jnana yogi in order to express his qualities in his behaviour. Without knowing ourselves, without being the dispassionate witness of the internal and external manifestations of our personality, we cannot use the qualities of viveka and vairagya, we cannot calm down the mind, curb our desires or remain indifferent when facing the circumstances of life. The preliminary work is therefore to know better our mind, body and senses, and develop a friendly attitude with ourselves. Most of the time, we want to become something else and there is neither knowledge nor acceptation. Swami Niranjanananda has expressed this point through a beautiful joke : “If an elephant fantasizes and tries to live like a goldfish, or if a peacock fantasizes and tries to live like a cow, then it would be a very disharmonious expression of their natural being. In fact, one would classify them as ridiculous. Do you see any such correlations in yourself ? We are often like the elephant trying to become a goldfish or the weak mouse trying to become a roaring lion.”
It is necessary to develop self-awareness in daily life to let the vision of the Self arise. The cornerstone of jnana yoga is the drashta, the witnessing attitude which combines sincerity, awareness and acceptation. The techniques of hatha yoga and raja yoga help us to awaken this faculty of neutral observation. And this effort of knowledge may also be supported by a remarkable practice of Satyananda Yoga, antar mouna, the inner silence. In this meditation technique we learn to listen to each external sound and inner mental “sounds” in the form of thoughts, images, concepts before allowing the inner silence to imbibe the whole personality.Only a man with iron will can consider that he will exclusively follow the process of jnana yoga. For most of the seekers, to consider the world as non-existing is actually something very difficult or impossible. We are all in the hands of maya, we are part of the illusion. And to get out of it, we need another “illusion”, the philosophy, the techniques and the paths of yoga. To progress harmoniously, to avoid disappointments and to open the gate on the infinite dimension of our being, let us use the set of tools given in the millenary wisdom of yoga and develop in the same time the qualities which will ultimately transform us into a true jnana yogi.


4).  What is the difference between jivanmukta and Videha mukta ?

Jivanmukta means being liberated while body is alive. Videha mukta means liberation after dropping the body.  The awareness of plurality is missing in both the cases.


In both the situation, jivanmukta and videhamukta  are established in pure awareness – Brahman only. Experience is same in both the cases.  However in case of Videha mukta there is no body while jivnamuktas body is alive.

3. How do you recognize a Jivanmukta ?

Scriptures give description of a jivan mukta not for recognizing a jivanmukta. You cannot recognize anybody’s spiritual status by their external appearance.  The description of Jivan mukta is given to recognize your own attainment. Several characteristics of jivan mukta are given in following sections.






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