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A Question Related to The Notion of Karma Mukti

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 13:17:52 PST

Dear Bhagavatas,

I am writing in regards to an issue related to Advaita Vedanta; it is an issue that I was only partially aware of until I starting reading Sri. S.M. Srinivasa Chari*s book *The Philosophy of the Vedanta Sutras.*

Question: Since the blissful state is common to both types of muktas, in what sense is mukti, as related to nirguna Brahman, superior? From the point of view of one who has attained mukti, with respect to suguna Brahman, what is to be gained at the time of mahA praLayam?  

****Please read what follows to understand the motivation behind the question.  This is a valid question posed with the hope of obtaining an answer and not for argument sake.) ****

The notion of mukti in Adviata:

I use to be under the impression that when an Advaitan speaks of mukti it only refers to the attainment of  the Nirguna Brahman.  However, I became puzzled when I came across a few instances where deceased individuals, who did not obtain Atmaikya JnAna during their most recent janma, were referred to as muktas.  I suspected that there must be some sort of sequential mukti concept in Advaita; I tried to look for a description of mukti, as related to the suguna Brahman, in VivekacudAmani but was unsuccessful.  (It could very well be that I missed such a reference due to the fact I resorted to a cursory iterative approach).  However, my search came to an end when I came across the discussion on Karma-mukti in Sri. S.M.S. Chari*s book.   As stated in Sri. Chari*s book,  Sankara admits two stages of mukti, in his commentary of the Vedanta sutras.  Mukti, as related to the suguna Brahman, is attained when an individual is totally liberated from karma (karma balance=0); such an indiv!
idual enjoys the glory of Brahman in the kArya-loka.    Moreover, the individuals in the kArya loka along with the suguna Brahman will attain the Para Brahman at the time of final dissolution (I think this is referring to mahA praLayam.) Mukti as related to the Nirguna Brahman is attained *with the direct realization of absolute identity of jIvAtman and Brahman* during a particular janma.  

The following facts can be deduced from the above description:

1.mukti as related to suguna Brahman or nirguna Brahman is real only in an illusory sense; i.e. both are impermanent.
2. The individual who has attained mukti, with respect to suguna Brahman, is in a state of bliss, but is still under the influence of avidya.  Whereas, the individual who has attained mukti, with respect to the nirguna Brahman, is in a state of bliss, but is also free from the influence of avidya (except for the trace.)   

Note:  MahA praLayam as defined in Hinduism Rediscovered by Sri. Anbil Ramaswamy ** Mahapralaya- affecting the entire universe, when it is resolved into unmanifested, undifferentiated nature, where the Gunas are in a state of equilibrium. It takes place at the end of the life of Brahma or Mahakalpa. At that time all beings and things rest in Bhagavan in a very subtle form. Bhagavan alone remains. *

ramanuja dasan,