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Re: Vibhava lokas

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Tue Sep 07 1999 - 11:50:42 PDT

Sri P. Srinivasan writes:
> 1) Does the expansion of dharma-bhuta-jnana mean that the mukta is
>    omniscient like Bhagavan?

Yes, this is what it means. Near the end of the Brahma-Sutras, 
Badarayana discusses what the nature of the mukta actually is.
The conclusion is that the jIva is equal in all respects to 
Brahman, save the ability to create the universe, confer liberation
on others, and be infinite in "svarUpa" or essential nature. 
The words used in the sUtras is "bhoga-mAtra-sAmyam", and "jagad
vyApAra varjam", meaning that in the aspect of enjoyment (which
implies omniscience), the jIva is completely equal to Brahman,
but in the matter of creation (jagad-vyApAra), the jIva is 
inherently limited.

There are two Upanishad vAkyas here of importance:

      paramam sAmyam upaiti / [The knower of Brahman] attains the highest
                              similarity to It.
      
      tAdRg eva bhavati / [In the state of moksha] the jIva becomes just
                          like [Brahman].

> 2) Why cannot this happen while the jiva is here on earth, by the grace
>    of Bhagavan?

The answer to this question lies in understanding what it means for
us to be on this earth, and what the state of liberation entails.  
SamsAra means bodily existence on earth, because of association with karma. 
Each one of us is paired with a body so that we can experience and expend 
our karma. Moksha means the transcendence of all karmas, so much so that a 
body is completely unnecessary.  The jIva, freed from its association with 
a karma-based body, can return to its rightful place, blissfully and 
irrevocably in communion with Brahman.

The key Vedanta vAkya here is from the Mundaka Upanishad, in the same
verse as the first passage quoted above:

    tadA vidvAn puNya-pApe vidhUya, paramam sAmyam upaiti |

    Then, [when one's meditation has acquired the vividness of perception],
    the knower of Brahman, casting aside all merit and demerit, attains
    the highest similarity to Brahman.

There "puNya-pApe vidhUya" (casting aside...) refers to disentanglement
from the body, which is merely an expression of such karma.  Nothing
is left for the jIva but Vaikuntha-prApti, reaching the abode of Brahman.

Alvar explains this as "maraNam aanaal vaikundham kodukkum piraan" --
God is that great benefactor who gives Vaikuntham upon death.

In short, to answer your question explicitly, if the jIva is here on
earth, it is under the sway of karma.  When the grace of Bhagavan operates,
the jIva is taken to Vaikuntha, the state of moksha, because all karma
has been removed. It does not make sense for a jIva to stay here and
yet still be liberated.

> 3) Does this dharma-bhuta-jnana reveal the jnanaanandaika-nature of
>    Bhagavan also? In other words, does the mukta directly perceive the
>    swarupa (essential substantive nature) of Bhagavan (apart from his
>    rupa)?

Yes -- because without perception of these qualities one would hardly
recognize God as God.  Recall that jnAna and Ananda are two of the five
svarUpa-nirUpaka-dharmas, qualities that reveal the essential nature of
God.  These are unconditional existence (satyam), unconditional 
consciousness or knowledge (jnAnam), infinitude (anantam), blissfulness
(Ananda), and purity (amalatva).  These five attributes are to be 
included in every meditation on God, as these attributes constitute
the *definition* of God's nature.  In liberation, when one's indirect 
(paroksha) meditative knowledge gets transformed into direct (aparoksha) 
perception, these attributes, which had been part of the meditation
earlier, are known in complete clarity and are definitely revealed 
to Brahman.

> It is interesting to note that in all the three meanings, the notion of
> a physical place is not present.

As a clarification, in Ramanuja's original words, "sthAnam" is used when
referring to parama-padam. This can mean either a state or a place. I think
the word intentionally has a double meaning.

emberumaanaar thiruvadgaLE SaraNam,
Mani