Periyava’s discourse on “The State of Jeevan Mukthi”
Our Acharya taught Advaita in order that all beings may be redeemed. We who have come in that tradition are visiting all sorts of places. When we do so, we are reminded frequently of Him and of His Advaita teaching. Now all of us have met here. At this time, the memory of Sri Bhagavatpada comes to all of us. This is an important fruit of the tradition he has left for us that we should be constantly wandering about. This is not alone. There is also another purpose. The Acharya established our religion and the way of dharma from the Kanyakumari to the Himalayas. He has also given us a command. His command to us is that we should expound the various topics connected with our religion, when we perform the Pooja of Sri Chandramouliswara at the different places to which we go. For this purpose, He has also made us bear His name. Therefore our main task is to spread the teachings of the Bhagavatpada, being in the Sanyasa Asrama. We call those as Acharyas who have established religion. It is usual for those who have established religion to refer to our Acharya as the Bhagavatpada. It is not our habit to utter the name of those whom we revere.
There is the wish in us, i.e., in all beings, right from the ant onwards, that we should remain without dying but each and every being dies again and again and also is born again and again. We have heard from the epics that there were many great people who have conquered death. In recent times, it is known that there was one such great person of that nature, Sadasiva Brahmendra. Now also there may be some great ones but they do not come to us and tell us what is the medicine that will remove the disease called death. It is this highly potent medicine that the Bhagavatpada has taught us. We can acquire it even while living. We do not have the sufficient power for getting it after death. Those of us who died formerly have taken birth again. Is that not so? Even because of this what I stated just now is clear. Similarly one who is not surviving cannot die. Because we died previously, we should have taken birth. If we probe thus still further our head will reel. Let that be.
I said that we couldn’t acquire the medicine for not dying after death and that is known from the fact that we have taken birth again. In the same manner, we know that even in the previous births, when we were living we did not discover this path. The reason for this is this: Is that not so? Thus the disease known as birth and death haunts us all and has been baffling us.
Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, II.27.
jatasya hi dhruvo mrityur dhruvam janma mritasya cha.
If we find happiness in the process of repeatedly dying and taking birth we need not seek for the medicine which will give us the state of deathlessness.
We do not see this to be the case.For man there was set up a body by someone, somewhere. As long as that lasts, hunger and thirst will continue to afflict him. In order to pacify them, everyone has to go in search of many things. Because they are helpful for our purpose, there arises in us the desire for them. If there is some hindrance in the way, we get angry. It is in order to remove the disease consisting of hunger and thirst that all of us go through so much difficulty. If it is some other disease, it can be removed through some medicine. But this disease cannot be removed that way. It arises time and again, and continues to give us trouble.
I said that as long as this body lasts hunger would not leave us. Then it means that when the body goes, the trouble will disappear. There seems to be an easy way of achieving this. Now a days when some people are guilty of some great mistake, or have to face some unbearable sorrow they take a revolver, shoot themselves. Can this be a way of removing the relation with the body?No, it cannot.
Although this gross body goes, there is some sort of another body. One has to be wandering somewhere with that one. Again one must take another lowly birth. Committing suicide is not the right way. The dharma sastras say that suicide is a heinous crime. We have suffered such difficulties earlier by committing many sins. Along with them, if the sin of suicide also joins, births and sufferings will only increase. Even at the present time, committing suicide is thought to be a great crime. If one person murders another he is sentenced to death in the court. What for is this? By sentencing him to death will his sin be removed completely? Not at all. That punishment is not for his good. If he continues to live he will murder many more. Is that not so? Better than the death of many in that manner is the death of one. That is why the punishment is given. Let this be.
The body is a great disease. Committing suicide is sin. Remaining without death is the supreme state. All this I have said. What is the way to reach that state?
It is this that the Bhagavatpada has taught us. In each and every religion the respective preceptors have taught a particular method for gaining this end. The Saivas sponsor a method. Another method is taught by Vaishnavas. Different from these two, others show a third method. Many other means have been expounded. The Bhagavatpada does not discard any of them. They are all acceptable. But through them there can only be a temporary remedy for this disease. The root-cause of the disease will remain attached to us. A man gets malaria. We give medicines like quinine. If these are given the fever stops. But will this do? If we are able to get some medicine, which will remove the cause of this fever so that it will not recur, will that not be supremely valuable?
Curing the disease called the body through the methods taught in other traditions is like taking quinine. For temporary relief we must take that also. Accepting all the various means the Bhagavatpada teaches another method, which is superior to all of them. I have already stated that we cannot take this medicine after death. At that time all our faculties like the eyes, the legs, etc. would be devoid of any power.
The Purusha suktha is chanted every day at the time of the Pooja. In that suktha the following mantra occurs:
tam evam vidvan amritha iha bhavathi nanyah pantha vidhyathe yanaya
The meaning of this mantra is: He who has known this Self very well becomes one who has attained the state of deathlessness even in this birth.
For gaining this state there is no other way. Amritha means moksha. To those who have gained moksha there are no birth and death. Therefore moksha is called amritha. The disease called the body is not something, which has come to man anew. It has come from countless time and without our knowledge. We require only the experience of those who have had this disease cured by taking the appropriate medicine.
Even like this disease the medicine which is meant for this is also stated in the beginningless Veda. We write a book. Before the writing it was not there. The Veda is not like it. It was not written by someone. The conclusive view is that it is like the perennial teaching. I shall tell you about it when there is time.
In the passage cited above there is the word iha (here). Therefore even while this body lasts, it is clear, the state of deathlessness can be gained. This way alone is the best. Why? If as is stated in other traditions this state is to be gained in another world, we cannot know about it now. Those who have gained it will not come back and tell us about that experience.
The purport of the passage is that Self-knowledge is the means to the state of immortality. I said that the disease consisting of hunger and thirst is common to all beings. In order to satisfy it there are required instruments such as eyes, tongue, etc. The mind too is needed. Through the mind we come to know which objects are good and which are bad. With the help of these instruments we acquire many objects. In order to protect them there is required a house; in order to help us a wife, son, relations, friends and others.
Without stopping therewith, we begin to have great conceit in them, thinking they are ours. If there is pain for the instruments—eyes, legs, etc. we imagine that the pain has come to us. If the body gets emaciated, we think that the suffering is ours. From this, is it not clear that we have not understood our true nature? Although sometimes we say “This is my mind”, “this is my eye, my body”, etc. separating ourselves from them, yet at the same time the conceit of identity does not leave us as is evident from such statements as “I am tall”, “I am short”, etc.
The medicine, which will destroy this, is Self-knowledge alone. It is customary always to find the proper medicine for a particular disease. If one takes on oneself on account of ignorance, the troubles which are not there and suffers as a consequence, the proper medicine for that is the knowledge that these do not belong to one. If we realise that the body is not ours then the disease called the body will go of its own accord. For the sake of this, one need not commit suicide nor is there required a search for some other means. By these methods, the connection to the body will become only all the more. This I have stated already.
The Bhagavatpada has taught us that we should realise bodilessness even while the body is there. This is immortality (amritha), release (moksha).
tadethat asarirathvam mokshakhyam –Sutrabhashya (I, I,4)
This is what he has said. You may have many friends. So long as you think they are yours you will regard what are their happiness and misery as yours. Let us suppose that at some time later they themselves become our enemies, then we will not have any relation with their happiness and misery. May be, we may think that they should experience some misery. Why is it so?
In regard to them, the conceit “mine” has gone. In the same manner, we must treat our body. Here before us there hangs a plantain/stem. If that dries up do we dry up? We must often think of our body as a piece of flesh, which is tied up, nearer than the plantain/stem. Because we have the conceit “I”, “I” it has taken root in us. We must constantly reflect on this. “Desire, anger, hatred, fear, all these belong to the mind and not to me”. Hunger, thirst, etc. belong to the body, they are not mine. If we do so then the deep-seated conceit will disappear little by little. In the Upanishads it is taught that our Self is extremely pure. Iswara is the one Reality that is all-pervasive, pure and blissful. Everyone should realise that we are truly that Isvara. The body, etc. that are seen by us are different. We are different. Thus we must know the distinction.
tam svaccharirat pravrheth munjadivesikam
dhairyena tham vidhyacchukram amritham Katha Upanishad vi, 17.
Just like drawing out pulp from the munja grass the Self should be separated bravely from the body. Then it will be seen to be pure and deathless. This is the meaning. We see a thing here – there are two: the object and the subject.
What is seen is different from that which sees. The body is what is seen, therefore the one who sees, the Self, is different from it. He who thinks that the Self is what is seen is an ignorant person. This is stated in the Kenaupanishad:
avijnatham vijanatham, vijnatham avijnatham
For those who think they know, it is not known. For those who think they do not know it is known. This is the meaning. Let this be.
If we wish to remain without death, the disease consisting of the body, etc. should go. He who is without body is Iswara. So we should always have the contemplation “I am He”. Some persons would say verbally “Iam He” (soham, soham) while sitting and while standing up. Unlike this it is better to utter the statement after knowing its meaning.
It is very easy to say that we should think that the body is not ours. It is difficult to realise this in practice. If somebody beats us is it possible for us to think that there has been no beating, that there is no beating, that there is no pain? By what means can we achieve this? If it is not possible to think that there is no body, we must begin to think that all the bodies in the world are ours. This is the remedial means. By thinking so, when others suffer we will think of going to their help. The happiness and sorrow of others will become ours. The thought that whatever we do is not for us will automatically arise.
It is this that is taught by the Lord to Arjuna in the Bhagawad Gita. All things should be performed as an offering to God. Therefore we must toil for others always. Every action that we do must be offered to God. Always we must have the contemplation “I am He”. As I said yesterday, we must constantly raise the slogan, “namah parvathi pathaye”. This is the state of having left the body even while living.
In the sastra this is called jeevanmukthi.
asariram vava santham na priyapriye sprisata
This passage of the Chandogya (viii, xii, I) gives the same teaching. The meanings are pleasure and pain never approach a man who lives without body. This is the meaning.
The medicine taught to us by the Bhagavatpada for remaining without death is the same. This is given in the form of a verse by a great person. This verse has been cited by the Bhagavatpada in his Brahmasutra bhashya (I, I, 4).
gaunamithyathmano satthve putradehadhi badhanat,
sadbrahmathmahamithyevam bodhe karyam katham bhavet.
The Self usually is distinguished into three.
Gaunathma (the figurative self), mithyathma (the illusory self),and mukhyathma ( the principal Self).
Our son, friends etc. their pain and pleasure are ours. This conceit is in every one. Have I not said this? This is gaunathma. Gaunathma means figurative self. We know we are different from the son, friends and others. Even then, the conceit that we are they come to us. So, this has been stated to be gaunathma.
The conceit of “I” in the body etc. is mithyathma. Separating the pure Self and realising it to be Brahmin and that we are. That is mukhyathma. If the two gaunathma and mithyathma are given up the relation to the son, friends, the body, sense organs, etc. will be removed. After that there is nothing that has to be done. This is the meaning of the verse cited above.
Therefore all of us should endeavour to acquire this medicine which is true knowledge as taught by the Bhagavathpada, our supreme Preceptor. Then we shall gain always the pure state of bodilessness and the supreme bliss without any blemish. In order to achieve this, we must always think of God and perform good deeds. Sri Chandramauliswara should bestow His grace on us for this. This is our prayer.
[Translated in English - Courtesy: Shri