Nirvana and Moksha and the related paraphernalia of Atma, Brahman and Prakriti (the combinations of them) have been a popular pass time of many Saints and Rishis. Many times people indulge in this because they cannot or will not be honest to the very basics. If you ask the proponents of Samkhya – theistic and atheistic – then you know that they talk of Prakriti as gross and Atma as the “engine” of this gross… such that the Prakriti or gross gets its “Life” because of the Chetna (or consciousness).
Jeevan or life has been confused with Chetna or consciousness.
And nothing could be further from truth! In Vedic literature, there is an interesting word – Jivanmukta. Jivanmukta is the word for a person who has reached the Chetna stage or is free but in the body. Hence Chetna starts when Jivan “ends”. But living as in breathing does NOT end when Jivan ends. Jivan, the way it has been perceived or defined is VERY different from both, Chetna and breathing. In fact if one looks at the Karma categories, and then look at the definition of Jivanmukta – one would find that Jivan is a sub-set of all Karmas, but currency of all the Karmas do not stop one from freedom. Only the effects of some categories do.
Again, looking at above, to me two questions arise:
1. If one who is Jivanmukta (free of Jivan or life), is still in the body (by definition), then what is “Jivan”? Is it breathing, heart beating or something totally different??
2. If one is indeed Chetan (or conscious and free), then why is s/he still in the body!
These are important questions and to completely understand these one needs to ponder on the Law of Karma properly – specially the baggage of Sanchit karmas and prarabdha karmas – and how it differs. There is no difference between Life/Jivan, Karmas, Thoughts, Atma (Soul) – they are just semantics. Vasistha says so in Yoga Vasistha – and it cannot be said better!
Below I have reproduced the Nirvanopanishad – which is part of Rig Veda and describes what a Jivanmukta is. The discussion and the definition is very interesting.
Also, as I had discussed earlier, one of the aphorisms here in this small part of Rig Veda, you finally do see Vivek (or discrimination/differentiation) being correctly defined!
– Now we shall expound the Nirvanopanishad.
– The Paramahamsa: I am He.
– The mendicant monks who wear marks of renunciation inwardly. [They are the ascetics entitled to study this Upanishad.] – (They are) the protectors of the field in which I-ness (indicative of the separateness of the Self) is destroyed.
– Their settled conclusion is partless like ether.
– (Their heart) is the river of immortal waves.
– (Their heart) is imperishable and unconditioned.
– (Their preceptor) is the (realized) sage free from doubts.
– The divine being (they adore is) final beatitude.
– Their activity is free of family (and other) ties.
– Their knowledge is not isolated.
– (They study and/or teach) the higher scripture.
– (They constitute) the propless monastic centre.
– Their dedication (is to reveal Brahman) to a group (of worthy disciples).
– The instruction is the non-existence (of things other than Brahman).
– This dedication brings joy and purification (to the disciples).
– Their sight is (like) seeing the twelve suns.
– Discrimination (of the real from the unreal) is (their) protection.
– Their compassion aloe is the sport.
– (They wear) the garland of bliss.
– In the cave of one seat (is) their audience of happiness, free from restrictions of yoga-postures.
– (They) subsist on food not prepared (specially for them).
– Their conduct is in consonance with the realization of the oneness of the Self and Brahman (Hamsa).
– They demonstrate to disciples (by their conduct) that Brahman is present in all beings.
– True conviction is their patched garment. Non-alignment is their loin-cloth. Reflection (of the truths of the Vedanta) is their (emblematic-)staff. The vision of Brahman (as non-different from the Self) is their yoga-cloth. Sandals (consist in avoiding contact with worldly) wealth. Activity (for bare living) at the behest of others. Their bondage (is only in the desire to direct) the Kundalini (into the Susumna). Liberated while alive, as they are freed from denial of the highest (Brahman). The oneness with Siva is their sleep. True knowledge (by denying joy in Avidya) or the Khechari-mudra is their supreme bliss.
– The (bliss of) Brahman is free from the (three) qualities (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas).
– (Brahman) is realized by discrimination (of the real from the unreal) (and) it is beyond the reach of the mind and speech.
– The phenomenal world is impermanent as it is produced (from Brahman which alone is real); it is similar to a world seen in a dream and an elephant in the sky (i.e. illusory): similarly the cluster of things such as the body is perceived by a network of a multitude of delusions and it is fancied to exist as a serpent in a rope (due to imperfect knowledge).
– The (worship of) gods named Vishnu, Brahma and a hundred others culminates (in Brahman).
– The goad is the path.
– The path) is not void, only conventional.
– The strength of the supreme Lord (is the support to the aerial path).
– The Yoga accomplished by truth is the monastery.
– The position (heaven) of gods does not constitute its real nature.
– The prime source Brahman is self-realization.
– (The ascetic) shall meditate on the absence of distinction, based on the Gayatri through the Ajapa Mantra.
– Restraint on the mind is the patched garment.
– By Yoga (there is) the vision (experience) of the nature of everlasting bliss.
– Bliss is the alms that he enjoys.
– Residence even in the great cemetery is as in a pleasure garden.
– A solitary place is the monastery.
– Complete quiescence of the mind is the practice of Brahmavidya.
– His movement is to unmani state.
– His pure body is the propless seat of dignity.
– His activity is the bliss of the waves of immortality.
– The ether of consciousness is the great established conclusion.
– Instruction in the emancipating mantra results in efficiency of bodily limbs and mind for possessing divine power in practising tranquillity, self-restraint, etc., and in the realization of the oneness of the (so-called) higher and lower Self.
– The presiding deity (of the Taraka) is the everlasting bliss of non-duality.
– The voluntary religious observance is the restraint of the inner senses.
– Renouncing (tyaga) is the giving up of fear, delusion, sorrow and anger.
– (Renouncing results is) the enjoyment of bliss in the identity of the higher and lower (self).
– Unrestrainedness is pure power.
– When the reality of Brahman shines in the self there is the annihilation of the phenomenal world which is enveloped by the power of Shiva (Maya); similarly the burning of the existence or non-existence of the aggregate of the causal, subtle and gross bodies.
– He realizes Brahman as the prop of the ether.
– The auspicious fourth state is the sacred thread; the tuft (too) consists of that.
– (To him) the created world consists of consciousness; (so also) the immovable and the group of various beings.
– Uprooting (the effect of) karman is (mere) talk; in the cemetery (Self-Brahman), illusion, ‘mine-ness’ and ego have been burnt.
– (The realized Parivrajaka) has his body intact.
– Meditation on the true form which is beyond the three attributes (of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas); (even this) condition (of distinction ‘I am Brahman’) is a delusion which shall be annihilated The burning of the attitude of passion, etc., (ought to be done). The loin cloth ought to be rough and tight (so that the vital energy moves upward in perpetual celibacy). Deer-skin garment for long (and later to be unclad). The unstruck mantra (the Om in the fourth state turiya) is practised by refraining from (worldly) action. Conducting himself freely (as he has reached a stage which is beyond good and bad, he realizes) his true nature which is liberation.
– His conduct (of serving a primary Avadhuta) as a ship (to cross the ocean of worldly life and) reach the transcendent Brahman; practising celibacy till tranquillity is attained; getting instruction in the stage of a celibate student, or learning (the truth) in the stage of a dweller in the forest (Vanaprastha) he (embraces) renunciation wherein all (true) knowledge is established; at the end he becomes of the form of the indivisible Brahman, the eternal, the annihilator of all doubts.
– This Nirvanopanishad (the secret doctrine leading to final beatitude) shall not be imparted to one other than a disciple or a son. Thus (ends) the Upanishad.
Om ! May my speech be based on (i.e. accord with) the mind;
May my mind be based on speech.
O Self-effulgent One, reveal Thyself to me.
May you both (speech and mind) be the carriers of the Veda to me.
May not all that I have heard depart from me.
I shall join together (i.e. obliterate the difference of) day
And night through this study.
I shall utter what is verbally true;
I shall utter what is mentally true.
May that (Brahman) protect me;
May That protect the speaker (i.e. the teacher), may That protect me;
May that protect the speaker – may That protect the speaker.
Om ! Let there be Peace in me !
Let there be Peace in my environment !
Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
Here ends the Nirvanopanishad, as contained in the Rig-Veda.
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