by Swami Krishnananda
Tattva bodhaṁ kṣayaṁ vyādhiṁ manyante ye mahādhiyaḥ, teṣāṁ prajñā tiviśadā kiṁ teṣāṁ duḥśakaṁ vada (271). We should not be under the impression that being a jivanmukta necessarily means keeping quiet. It does not follow that the moment a person becomes a jivanmukta he is obliged to keep quiet without doing anything. That is only one aspect of the behaviour of certain categories. There were immensely active persons like Lord Krishna, for instance, or like Janaka. Janaka was a king, and we know the activity of a king. They cannot keep quiet like idle men. Janaka was a jivanmukta purusha, but even then another, greater jivanmukta, a lady called Sulabha, found fault with him.
The story is in the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata. Sulabha was a dandi-sanyasini. For the first time we hear of a dandi-sanyasini in the scriptures – an old lady who heard that Janaka was a jivanmukta. She wanted to have a darshan of this great man, so she came and did namaskars. He was sitting on the throne, and could not actually recognise who this lady was. He thought she was some beggar. So what she did was, she immediately entered him through her subtle body. But he was also a great man; he could understand that something was entering him. He said, "You are a woman. You have committed a sin by entering me, who is a man."
Sulabha replied, "Oh, I see. I came here to know only this much – whether Janaka is a jivanmukta purusha or is he a man. You are a man. I am going from this place. I do not want to see you again. You have called me a woman and you call yourself a man; but people said you are a jivanmukta. Thank you very much. I will go from this place." Immediately King Janaka came down from his throne knowing that this was not an ordinary person, and prostrating himself before the lady, said, "Please excuse me, I did not understand who you are." Subsequently, there was a great conversation between Sulabha and Janaka. The wisdom that she poured upon him was such that it is worth studying in the Shantiparva of the Mahabharata. These are all the interesting varieties of jivanmuktas that we have got, looking like anything in this world.
Bharatādera pravṛttiḥ purāṇokteti cettadā, jakṣan krīḍan ratiṁ vindan nitya śrauṣīrna kiṁ śrutim (272). Jadabharata and others sat like idle people. Why do not all jivanmuktas behave like that? The Upanishad says there are jivanmuktas who dance and sing, eat and make merry; that is also one kind of jivanmukta. As a matter of fact, a jivanmukta is not bound to any particular kind of behaviour. We cannot constrain that person and say, "this must be your conduct". A jivanmukta is a free person. The whole cosmos is his body, and so any event that is taking place in the world anywhere can be regarded as his own action. He may be dancing and singing and making merry, or he may be keeping quiet like an idle man. We cannot constrain him. A constrained person cannot be regarded as a jivanmukta purusha.
Na hyāhārādi santyajya bharatādyaḥ sthitāḥ kvacit, kāṣṭha pāṣāṇavat kintu saṅgabhītā udāsate (273). Jadabharata did not keep quiet without eating anything. He was not starving. He had some morsel of food, though he did not pay much attention to it. It is only because of the earlier experience that he had as a deer, he withdrew himself from contact with everything. They say this deer, which was Jadabharata, would not touch even a leaf in the forest because of jatkesvara. It was jatkesvara; it had the memory of past lives. To track the chain, there was a King Bharata, who due to attachment to a little deer, became a deer; and this deer, who was Bharata, being conscious of what happened to it, would not touch even a leaf on a bush when it moved in the forest. Then it left its body, and in the third birth he became this great Jadabharata whom dacoits caught, etc. He was not concerned with things because he had the feeling that attachment is bad, and not because he felt that it was necessary to sit like an idle person.
Saṅgī hi bādhyate loke niḥ-saṅgaḥ sukha maśnute, tena saṅgaḥ parityājyaḥ sarvadā sukha micchatā (274). This is a verse from the Yoga Vasishtha. All people who are attached to things are bound forever. And those who are free from attachments will have no bondage whatsoever. Therefore, attachment should be given up if we want happiness in this world.
Ajñātvā śāstra hṛdayaṁ mūḍho vaktya nyathā nyathā, mūrkhāṇāṁ nirṇaya stvāstām asmat siddhānta ucyate (275). Let people say whatever they want to say, and don't bother about it. Now, let me conclude this discourse; listen to what it is. The author of the Panchadasi, concluding this sixth chapter, says, "Forget all this wrangling. Now listen to what I am telling you in conclusion – a very important thing."
Vairāgya bodho paramāḥ sahāyāste parasparam, prāyeṇa saha vartante viyujyante kvacit kvacit (276). The greatness of a jivanmukta is seen by the abiding in him of three great qualities: vairagya or detachment, bodha or wisdom, uparama or cessation from activity. Three qualities will be found in these great people. They will not engage themselves in any work. They will not be attached to anything in this world. Inwardly, they will be highly illumined. Vairagya, bodha, uparama – these three qualities are found in great jivanmuktas. All the three qualities are not found in every jivanmukta. In some, one or two may be there, but only in the greatest we will find all the three combined.
Hetu svarūpa kāryāṇi bhinnā nyeṣāma saṅkaraḥ, yathā vada vagantavyaḥ śāstrārthaṁ pravivicyatā (277). Vairagya, bodha and uparama – these words must be remembered always. Vairagya is non-attachment; bodha is knowledge; uparama is cessation from activity. All these three have a cause, a nature and an effect. Vairagya has a cause, it has a nature, and it has an effect. Knowledge also has a cause, it has a nature, and it has an effect. Cessation from action also has a cause, it has a nature, and it has an effect.
What is the character of non-attachment? What are its causes? What is its nature? What is its result? Doṣa dṛṣṭir jihāsā ca punar bhogeṣva dīnatā, asādhāraṇa hetvādyā vairāgyasya trayo’pyamī (278). The cause of detachment is the perception of defects in things. Everything in the world is full of defects. There is not one perfect thing anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is futile to get attached to anything in this world. The source, or the cause of detachment from things, is the perception of defect in the objects of sense. And the nature of detachment is the absence of further desire in respect of objects outside. The result is total distaste for things. These are the three characteristics of vairagya.
Knowledge has a cause, it has a nature, and also has an effect. Śravaṇādi trayaṁ tadvat tattva mithyā vivecanam, punar granther anudayo bodhasyate trayo matāḥ (279). Śravaṇādi trayaṁ: Sravana, manana, nididhyasana – listening from a preceptor, deeply contemplating on what is heard, and intense meditation on the great subject – this is the cause of knowledge. Tattva mithyā vivecanam: The nature of knowledge is the non-perception of the reality of an external world and the perception of its total unreality. And the result is that avidya-kama-karma never again rises. This is the threefold character of knowledge.
Yamādir dhī nirodhaśca vyavahārasya saṅkṣayaḥ, syur hetvādyā uparateḥ itya saṅkara īritaḥ (280). Now cessation from activity has a cause – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. The practice of these limbs of yoga is the cause of absence of indulgence in any kind of activity. The restraint of the mind is the nature of the cessation from all activity. And having no concern with anything in this world, taking no initiative at all in respect of anything, is the result of absence of activity. These are the threefold characteristics of vairagya, bodha (knowledge) and uparati or cessation from action.
Tattva bodhaḥ pradhānaṁ syāt sākṣāt mokṣa pradatvataḥ, bodhopa kāriṇā vetau vairāgyo paramā vubhau (281). Of the three qualities, knowledge is primary. Vairagya, knowledge and cessation from action are all good. If we have vairagya, we are detached and we are also free from action, but if knowledge is absent, that is no good. Pradhana – the most important of the three is knowledge because the direct cause of moksha is knowledge. Other things are only accessories. Vairagya and cessation from entanglement in action, etc., are accessories to intensify the nature of knowledge, but they themselves cannot bring moksha. Knowledge is the real cause.
Trayo’pyatyanta pakvā ścet mahatas tapasaḥ phalam, dūritena kvacit kiñcit kadācit prati badhyate (282). If all the three are there in a great man, he is a Godman. It is very difficult to find such people. Sometimes in the case of prarabdhas which are touched with a little of rajas, etc., one quality may be lessened. Knowledge may be there, he may be living like a royal emperor or he may be having cessation from all action, but the other two qualities may be absent. Something may be there; something else may not be there. We will not find in everyone all the three qualities; usually one thing is missing. But the great point is that even if one or two are missing, knowledge should not be missing, because knowledge is the direct cause of moksha.
Vairāgyo paratī pūrṇe bodhastu prati badhyate, yasya tasya na mokṣo’sti puṇya loka stapo balāt (283). Suppose vairagya is there, great detachment is there. He is not concerned with anything and he is not involved in action, but knowledge is obstructed. For such a person, there is no moksha. Therefore, mere austerity is no good. Keeping quiet without doing anything is also of no utility. It is wisdom, illumination, that is necessary. If we have the other two qualities but no knowledge, we will not get moksha. We may go to heaven or some higher region because of the great austerity that we have performed, so it is not useless, but moksha is far off.
Pūrṇe bodhe tadanyau dvau pratibaddhau yadā tadā, mokṣo viniścitaḥ kintu dṛṣṭa duḥkhaṁ na naśyati (284). Suppose a person is completely illumined, but he is not putting forth any special effort to detach himself from things or from action which is the usual concomitant of the physical existence. Very busy he is, doing work, and he is not bothered about austerity, etc., but inwardly he is illumined. Such a person will certainly have no rebirth. He will attain moksha, no doubt. But because of his entanglement in things, he will have some suffering in the world also. So we can choose whichever one we like.