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Re: Intra Religious Distinctions - Section 7

vidya_at_cco.caltech.edu
Date: Thu Apr 04 1996 - 14:26:17 PST

I don't want to get into an advaita vs. viSishTAdvaita debate on this
list, but I had to point out something wrt jIvanmukti and videha mukti. 

Let us first see what the real argument about jIvanmukti is, from the 
advaita perspective. Briefly, the jIvanmukta is considered to have burnt
all sancita and Agamin karma by having realized brahman, and only prArabdha
karma that was responsible for taking on the present body continues to 
operate. When this prArabdha karma exhausts itself, the body perishes and
the jIvanmukta is not affected thereby. 

Now, from part 6 of this series, Sri Ramaswamy says, "... as visishtadvaita
holds, on performance of prapatti, all sins are extinguished except that 
portion of prarabdha karma which the 'tripta' prapanna has agreed to 
experience till the time comes for the fall of his body in the normal course. 

.... Only at the time of death, there will be a nil balance of Karma thus entitling the Prapanna to Moksha. " 

Now, if we replace the word jIvanmukta in the paragraph setting out the 
advaita position, with the word prapanna, the two positions are very nearly
identical. Both schools hold that Prarabdha karma continues to operate till
the body dies in the normal course. We advaitins call such a person a
jIvanmukta. We do not say that there is no karma at all, but we hold that
karma does not affect the jIvanmukta. I assume that karma cannot affect the 
true prapanna who is entitled to Moksha at the moment of physical death. 

Aren't we then merely quibbling about terminology? We seem to be saying the
same things in different ways with different emphases. Physical death is 
something that happens to the deha, which is not the AtmA, which is why we
don't consider the moment of death to be of great importance in this case, 
and we call such a person a jIvanmukta. I can understand the reluctance of
viSishTAdvaita to use this word, as it is likely to be misused by fraudulent
people, who can claim to be jIvanmuktas, but are not really so. But when
pressed, the phislosophical differences on this detail seem to melt away, 
leaving the core difference between the two schools in their approach to
interpreting Vedanta, the most important of which lie in the differing notions
of ontology and epistemology. 

Regards, 

S. Vidyasankar


ps. I have been making slow progress through Vedarthasangraha, and while 
the traditional style is to set the purvapaksha argument first and then
set forth one's own siddhAnta, I also find more substance in Ramanujacharya's
philosophical arguments. Sankara has been accused of misrepresenting Buddhism,
Ramanuja has been accused of misrepresenting advaita, and so on. However,
pointing out why one differs from the pUrvapakshin is quite different from
misunderstanding the pUrvapakshin and thereby misrepresenting his position
completely. 

mA vidvishAvahai