Analysis of Jeeva as per various systems

Location: India

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some questions and Conclusion

Hari OM

1) If I am Brahman, am I the creator of the world? How can this be when I am unable to control the world?
Answer is simple: IT is very well known that yogis are able to control the world similar as avatars. Thus if the seeker is able to control his mind and go beyond the mind, he can control the world because world is what he perceives and “his perception” is important and not that the “world already exists & I perceive it”. The world is perceived and created by me as in dream because if I put little effort, I can control the world.

2) What about the concept of God which is explained in scriptures too?
Answer is also simple: The God who creates the world is “I” alone as Brahman. There is no God apart from me because God also gets existence from Consciousness. As in deep sleep, there is no God but I am still there. Thus I am permanent whereas the subjective God is not permanent but dependent on me. This means that God becomes temporary unless the God is “I” alone. Thus scriptures are not wrong at all but only thing is the God mentioned by them is “I” or Self or Consciousness or “JEEVA” alone.

3) If there is only one jeeva, then what about other “conscious” beings? Other conscious beings can be explained only through reflected consciousness as jeeva which would lead to aneka jeeva vaada?
Answer is again simple: Other conscious beings themselves (like God) are dependent on “I” or Jeeva for their existence. IF I deny, they will never exist. Thus this multiplicity of jeeva itself is an illusion of ignorance affecting the eka jeeva or Brahman with ignorance.
What about liberated beings, jeevan muktaas and avatars seen in the world? If eka jeeva vaada is accepted, they also will be illusions. This is against scriptures proclaiming Shuka Deva (son of Vyaasa) as ever-liberated.
Answer is simple: A person dreams and sees liberated beings in dream. But reality is that those liberated beings he saw in dream are not real. Similarly the liberated beings seen in waking state too are not real but only illusions caused by the ignorance which binds the jeeva.

4) How can it be that liberated beings are seen by ignorance as liberation means “removal of ignorance”?
Answer: Liberation and bondage both are concepts of the mind alone. As per the reality, there is no liberation or bondage for the Self or Brahman which is nitya mukta. Thus when “liberated” is mentioned, that is empirical level. This means this “liberated” as illusory as “bonded” in the world (like dream world). Similarly when “beings” (plural or duality) comes into picture, that itself is an illusion and hence they can be valid only when ignorance is there. Thus ignorance causes liberation and bondage – similarly causes multiplicity. But by “liberation” or removal of ignorance that sruthi mentions is that state where there is no duality at all which is beyond both liberation and bondage. Thus there is no fault at what has been explained.

5) Doesn’t the eka jeeva vaada theory go against Gaudapada’s statement in Mandukya Karika that “there is no jeeva born at all – this is not at all possible; the reality is that there is nothing born at all”?
Answer: No, this isn’t against the gaudapada statement because gaudapada says that “no jeeva is born” and says that “there is nothing born” (agreeing that “that which exists only exists”). This means the jeeva which exists always exists as the non-dual reality of Brahman and that jeeva concept which says it is born is not at all present. Thus gaudapada statement is valid enough for eka jeeva vaada also as the jeeva is unborn Brahman only. Gaudapada statement is also valid for other jeeva theories because in those cases, jeeva is only an illusion which means that it is never created or has any existence but only Brahman as its substratum exists.

These in general are the doubts that might arise in the mind of the seeker as well intellectual scholars regarding eka jeeva vaada. Even though Sankara accepts aneka kartha bhoktha or many jeevas but that is only from empirical viewpoint & this can be very well accepted by eka jeeva vaada by adding the clause that “aneka jeevas are the cause of the ignorance of one jeeva alone”. Since Svapna or dream is considered one of the best examples to point to the ultimate reality of adviteeya Brahman as per Gaudapada and Sankara too.

Thus Gaudapada says in Mandukya Karika
Svapna maaye yathaa dristam gandharva nagaram yathaa
Tathaa vishwam idam dristam vedantheshu vichakshanaihi

As a dream world is seen, as the world seen amongst clouds – similarly the waking world is perceived and explained by knowers of Vedanta (experiencers of Brahman).

Sankara says in Dakshinamurthy astakam
Vishwam darpana drishyamaana nagaree thulyam, nija anthar gathan
Pashyan atmani mayayaa bahir iva udbhootaam yathaa nidrayaa

The world is like a reflected world seen in a mirror – which is perceived inner or really present inner in the Self & seen as if present outside like SVAPNA LOKA or dream world.

These are but very few examples of how Advaita accepts Svapna as one of the best ways to analyze the waking state & point to the ultimate reality of Brahman. It is also interesting to note that Yoga Vasistha too considers svapna as an important analogy and explains about the same in many places as well as uses similar stories which are like dream-stories to put forth the ultimate reality of Brahman.

Since Svapna is clearly accepted by Advaita and svapna clearly points out to Eka jeeva vaada, it is but correct that this theory is the best theory of explanation of the jeeva concept or the illusory world concept. Yes, this theory is very tough indeed to apprehend but when analyzed with respect to dream – it is very easy to understand. This eka jeeva vaada is very closely related to drishti sristhi vaada (the theory that world is created when it is perceived by the perceiver or drik) rather than sristi dristhi vaada (the theory that God created the world & this already created world is perceived by the perceiver or seeker). Madhusudana Saraswathi seems to support Eka jeeva vaada. All the important later acharyas do support eka jeeva vaada so does the great Chitsukhacharya in his chitsukhi where he supports the views of vimuktatman. Madhusudana Saraswathi mentions about eka jeeva vaada in his sidhantha bindu (which is a commentary on Sankara’s dasha sloki) as well as Advaita Siddhi. Appayya Dikshitar explains this view in his Sastra siddhanta lesha sangraha (which is an encyclopedia of different views of Advaita as per different acharyas – this has a detailed commentary called Krishnaalankaara of Achyuta krishnaananda Teertha). Nrsimhaasrama deals with eka jeeva vaada proving it through sruthi, yukthi (different anumaaanas are given to prove this vaada) in his Vedanta Tattva Viveka.
We have to still remember that from ultimate viewpoint, there is no vaada or theory at all to speak about but still eka jeeva vaada is very near to ajaathi vaada or the ultimate theory that there is no world created, no jeeva creation but only non-dual reality of Brahman exists.

Eka jeeva vaada is final strengthened by Sankaracharya’s motto of Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jeevo Brahmaiva na parah (Brahman is the reality, world is only an illusion, jeeva is Brahman only not different from Brahman).

Hari OM


Hari OM

Just to recap
Jeeva is Reflected Consciousness
Kutastha is OC which is Brahman seemingly limited by adjuncts of body, mind etc.
Ishwara is Brahman with power of Maya
Brahman – ever unaffected and nirvishesha as it seems to be the kutastha or witness but never is witness also.

There is still one more concept which can be discussed over here which is Eka Jeeva Vaada and Nanaa Jeeva Vaada. Many acharyas seem to support Eka Jeeva vaada which this limited intellect also supports. With another mail where we will discuss eka jeeva vaada in detail, we will close this thread.

Now we will try to see the two distinct types of analysis of jeevas and concentrate on Eka jeeva vaada in particular.

There are a set of acharyas like Swami Sachidanandendra Saraswathi and others who claim that at the empirical level, Sankara accepts aneka kartha bhoktha (which is jeeva) and hence analysis into whether jeeva is one or many is futile.

Yes, the swami is right in that – but we have to remember that most of discussions do happen at the empirical level only. There is no explanation or even commentary at the paaramarthika level or the ultimate level where there is only one non-dual entity of Brahman or Consciousness. Thus it is only at the empirical level that all analysis happens. There is no fault in analyzing whether jeeva is one or many because this theory makes Advaita more clear & if this is done remembering the ultimate reality of non-dual Brahman & remembering that all these theories have been formulated by acharyas who wanted to prove Advaita at the empirical level through these theories, then there is no fault at all. But it is my personal opinion that if we analysis eka jeeva vaada in detail, Advaita concept will become more clear & thus we will be able to contemplate on the reality for realization of the reality as our own very nature. It is only when doubts are eradicated that a person contemplates on the entity without any gap or voidness. Thus doubts have to removed which will then make the advaitic Brahman clear and then alone can the seeker contemplate on the reality at all times.

Thus in Vedanta, there are three types of faults or jnaanas (knowledge-s – yes, these are not real knowledge but contrary knowledge or that knowledge obstacles to real knowledge of the Self) which are removed through the three processes of Sravana or listening to the scriptures about the reality, manana or reflecting on what has been previously heard through logic and nidhidhyaasana or contemplating on the reality.

Let’s say a person has heard about the ultimate reality that there is only one Brahman here – nothing else, all other things being mere illusions in the reality of Brahman. He has only heard it and not intuitively experienced it (merely hearing or learning from guru is called Paroksha Jnaana and intuitively experiencing it is called Aparoksha Jnaana in Vedanta). Thus he gets the following faults:

1) Samshaya Jnaana – he gets doubt as to whether adviteeya Brahman alone is the import of scriptures as scriptures do mention different-different things. These doubts are removed through sravana or listening of the scriptures using the imports – thus finding out that the import of the scriptures is adviteeya Brahman alone.

2) Asambhaavana (impossibility) – after listening too, he gets the feeling that scriptures say that Brahman is real and the world is unreal – but I don’t feel the world as unreal. Thus it is impossible that such Brahman is the import of the scriptures. This is removed by manana or logically figuring out that Brahman alone is real whereas the world is only an illusion which is unreal from ultimate viewpoint. There are more than enough logics to prove it (maybe somebody else can take this as a discussion subject --- Brahma Satyatva and Jagan mithyaatva).

3) Viparyaya Jnaana (contrary knowledge) – even after logic proves, still the seeker is not able to realize such a Brahman (due to lack of real practice of remembering the reality or lack somewhere in the previous two processes of sravana and manana). Thus he concludes that there is no such Brahman at all. This is removed through nidhidhyaasana which is contemplation on the reality. When a person contemplates on the reality, he verily becomes the reality and realizes the ultimate reality of non-dual Brahman. Then it dawns unto him that the world he perceived was only an illusion like the dreamer realizing the dream world to be an illusion once he wakes up.

Yes, it is correct that if a person contemplates on the reality with faith – that itself is enough. But Swami Sachidanandendra Saraswathi does agree upon the sravana, manana, nidhidhyaasana process as well as adhyaaroopa-apavaaada process too – thus since the swami accepts empirical practice, there is no wrong in trying to understand another theory useful for the seeker to realize the reality.

As Prof. Balakrishnan Nair says – “do whatever you want, what u do doesn’t matter, but remember the reality (Add the reality also to the action) and then do the action; such an action becomes a brahma yajna & leads to realization”. This is what scriptures and Gita explains in many places.

The jeeva determination that we learned in the previous mail all point out to aneka jeeva or many jeevas (in all three types of vaadas, the jeevas are many depending on the many antah karanaas or inner equipments). But there are a set of acharyas who believed in eka jeeva only. The main acharya to propagate this theory was Vimuktatman whose ishta siddhi is a beauty to learn and understand. Appayya Dikshitar while explaining eka jeeva vaada quotes from SAnkara’s brihadaranyaka Upanishad bhashya where sankara says that “the same Brahman while in avidya is in the samsaara and same Brahman when having Vidya is liberated”.

As per Eka jeeva vaada, there is only one jeeva who is Brahman and nothing else. This Brahman or jeeva seems to be limited or in the samsaara due to ignorance (this ignorance is its own ignorance). The same Brahman when realizes that he has no ignorance is liberated instantly.

Thus says Vimuktatman in Istasiddhi

Brahmaiva avidyayaa ekam ched bhahdyathe muchyathe dhiyaa
Eka muktau jagan muktheh na mukta anya vyavasthitihi

Brahman alone gets entangled in one avidya and is liberated through knowledge – when a single person gets liberated, the world itself is liberated & there is no other explanation of mukthi and bandha.

This theory might seem little bit tough to apprehend as many questions creep in for the seeker. We will see the various questions and the answers to the same too.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per the sub schools of Advaita – 2

Hari OM,

Before continuing this thread, would like to address a serious question over here: “Why should I learn all these theories if Advaita alone is true and real?” First of all, this question itself is proof that the questioner has not still realized his own very nature of Consciousness or Self because for a realized person, there will be no questions or doubts as Mundaka Upanishad says:

Bhidhyathe hridaya granthi
Chidhyanthe sarva samshayaah
Ksheeyanthe cha asya karmaani
Tasmin driste para avare

He who knows the ultimate reality of Brahman will have his knots of heart broken – all doubts will vanish – all his actions will be nullified.

Yes, it is right that “Advaita alone is real and the reality is explained in the half sloka of Sankara as Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jeevo Brahmaiva na parah”. But if this theory or reality has to become clearer, then intellectual conviction on the same has to be there. Scriptural learning and learning different works on Advaita is only for getting this clear intellectual conviction. Thus the analysis of the different ways of jeeva is helpful in pointing out that all these theories differ empirically but they all are trying to prove the existence of the non-dual reality alone. Whatever seems to be supporting and logical for the seeker can be accepted at the empirical level & contemplation on the same will lead to realization of the reality underlying the jeeva – which is adviteeya Brahman.

Keeping in mind that all these analysis are for seekers at different level and different ways of explaining the reality at the empirical level & the main intention behind this being contemplation/realization of the ultimate reality of Brahman, we will continue with the three systems and as to which system is appropriate as per the limited intellect titled Hariram.

It is but appropriate that the Ishwara who is sarvajna and sarva vyaapi is as illusory as the world because the qualities of sarvajna and sarva vyaapi are valid only at the empirical level where there is “other or sarva” to know and to pervade. Thus Ishwara has to be considered as illusory as jeeva. Jeeva is that which is affected by the activities of the mind – this has to be accepted because there should be some entity which is the linking between sentient Consciousness or Self and insentient entities starting from intellect, mind etc. Thus Jeeva or RC is the link between OC and insentient objects. Thus Jeeva is the reflection of Consciousness in the intellect. The theory of limitation doesn’t really have any link between sentient Self and insentient entities – but here the same jeeva seems to be affected but is never affected. This means limitation theory cannot really be accepted as exactly correct. Thus reflection theory is the exact explanation of Jeeva as per Advaita. This is substantiated by the two disciples of Padmapaada and Sureshwara agreeing on it – as well as Hastamalaka in hastamalakeeya.

Thus the reflection of Consciousness in intellect is jeeva. Thus jeeva is affected by activities whereas OC is not at all affected. That OC which is in the illusion as the witness and substratum of the illusion is called Kutastha. This Kutastha is Brahman as if limited by the adjuncts of body, mind etc. Ishwara is the Consciousness when endowed with the power of Maya. It is Brahman which is unlimited Consciousness which is not at all affected by the activities in the illusory world. This Kutastha is avachheda of Brahman --- seemingly limited by body, mind --- whereas Jeeva is reflection of Kutastha of OC in the intellect. Brahman is never really involved in these activities but as “seemingly limited Kutastha”, Brahman is involved as the witness/substratum of the illusions.

This is almost very same as abhaasa vaada or vartika prasthaana theory – but maybe little bit different.

So, when the seeker realizes that he is not the jeeva but the kutastha through purifying the intellect – when intellect is purified, the intellect itself vanishes as there is no intellect without thoughts. When intellect vanishes, there is no medium and hence jeeva becomes one with Kutastha or Brahman in this case as Kutastha and Brahman are same when there is no intellect to seemingly limit Brahman (making it Kutastha). So when seeker realizes himself as Kutastha, he realizes the ultimate reality of Brahman. After that, even though the world or intellect might still exist – he is not at all affected by the activities of the world even as a dreamer is not affected by the dream activities. This is what is normally called as jeevan mukthi or liberated while living.

Literally here ends the analysis of Jeeva as per various systems.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per the sub schools of Advaita - 1

Hari OM,

We have already seen the three different schools of Advaita Vedanta in the previous section. Now, we will try to see the three different ways in which jeeva is considered as per the different schools of Advaita Vedanta.

There are three different schools of Advaita which are 1. Bhamathi school which takes resort to Bhamathi of Vachaspathi Mishra and the sub commentaries on the same, 2. Vivarana school which bases itself on the Panchapaadika Vivarana of Prakaashaatman, 3. Vartika school which bases itself on Sureshwaracharya’s Upanishad Vartikas and Brihadaranyaka Vartika Saara of Vidyaranya.

These three schools have different views about jeeva and the way in which jeeva is explained in each of these schools is termed as separate vadaas based on how the jeeva is interpreted.

1) Avaccheda vaada – Bhamathi school accepts jeeva as a limitation of the ultimate reality of Brahman by avidya or ignorance. This ignorance causes the duality in the world. There are different avidyaas and therefore nana jeeva is accepted. Since jeevas are many, the world experienced by each jeeva is also different from each other. Hence, jeeva is the material cause of the world. Since Ishwara is the substratum of ajnaana, therefore in ishwara also the causal state is superimposed. As per this theory, Brahman or Ishwara is the reality which is subject of ignorance. Thus Brahman is endowed with ignorance but is controller of ignorance. Brahman is the vishaya or subject of ignorance whereas jeeva is the asraya of ignorance (asraya means locus or that on which dependence is there – thus ignorance depends on the jeeva). Putting it in simple words, maha akasha is unlimited space – this is Brahman or Ishwara. Ishwara when subject to ignorance is limited (seemingly limited) by ignorance. This ignorance depends on the seemingly limited Ishwara which is jeeva. Maha akaasha is ishwara, the limitation or adjunct is body, mind etc and pot in this case. The jeeva is space limited by pot – it is never limited by pot but only seems to be limited by pot. Once pot is removed, the limited space is known as unlimited space. Similarly when the adjuncts of body, mind etc. are removed, then the jeeva is realized as one with Brahman. As eternal space is subject to the adjunct of pot, similarly Brahman or Ishwara is subject to the adjunct of avidya or ignorance. The limited jeeva (limited by avidya) is called jeeva. Avidya is there only when jeeva is there. Thus jeeva is the locus of avidya – avidya depends on jeeva for its existence. (there are many more things which can be explained over here but will wait for queries/doubts on the same and we can take it forward on the same). In this system, jeeva is many.

2) Prathibimba vaada – As per this theory, jeeva is the reflection of Brahman on the intellect or antah karana. Brahman or Ishwara is the Bimba Chaitanya or original consciousness. It is this Brahman or OC which gets reflected and becomes jeeva. As per Siddhantha Bindu “jeeva is the reflected consciousness on ignorance which is limited or categorized by antah karana and the samskaaraas of antah karana”. There is not much difference between siddhanta bindu and the normal definition. Sanskhepa Shareeraka of Sarvajnaatman accepts jeeva as reflection of Consciousness on Buddhi or intellect. This is what vivarana school follows and this theory is called prathibimba vaada or reflection theory. As per this theory, Ishwara is real and Brahman only. When ignorance is there and ishwara is reflected in it, the reflection is called jeeva. As many antah karanaas, so many jeevas are there. But unlike the limitation theory, here there is only one avidya (and not as many avidyaas as jeevas) – and when this avidya is removed, then Brahman alone exists. This is realization. Maybe here we can also take that many jeevas are there – therefore liberation or realization of all jeevas happen one by one. Vivarana school accepts only one avidya but different aspects of avidya or we can say different samskaaras and antah karaanas of the same avidya. Thus inferring, if one avidya vanishes – others too vanish & only Brahman remains. Whereas in bhamathi school, if one jeeva realizes – still many more avidyas are there & hence others are not realized (this is a complex concept – we will not analyze or argue on the same but at this place, accept whatever they say as such).

3) Aabhaasa vaada – this is what Vartika school follows. As per this theory, both ishwara and jeeva are aabhaasaas or fallacious representations of Consciousness or Brahman. These representations are on maya and avidya respectively (some people accept both maya and avidya as same whereas some don’t). Fallacious representation here also means that jeeva is reflection of Consciousness on intellect or avidya. The difference between reflection theory and this theory is that in reflection theory, the reflection is real empirically – but in this theory, there is no real reflection at all even at the empirical level. The example quoted for this theory is reflection of a material kept near a crystal on the crystal. There is no real reflection but reflection seems to be there empirically. But in reflection, the reflection is empirically real but never exists without the original – once the reflection medium is removed or sublated through knowledge, there is no reflection but original alone. This theory accepts ishwara too as an illusion only unlike reflection theory of vivarana school which accepts ishwara as Bimba or original Consciousness. Here too there is only one avidya and thereby we can say that there is really no many jeevas but one jeeva alone. Due to a single avidya, many jeevas are seen & thus nana jeeva is perceived.

To sum up in short:

Limitation theory – jeeva is limitation of Consciousness on avidya
Reflection theory – jeeva is reflection of Consciousness in intellect
Aabhaasa theory – jeeva is a fallacious (unreal reflection) representation of Consciousness in intellect or avidya.

In limitation theory alone, jeeva is considered as real and one with Brahman – in the other two theories, there is no jeeva apart from Brahman but still jeeva is not exactly the same as Brahman. This never contradicts Sankara’s statement of Jeevo brahmaiva na parah because here too jeeva is not different from Brahman but Brahman alone (jeeva is Brahman as the substratum and unreal as jeeva or the reflection – any reflection has no existence apart from the original – thus all reflections are original. When the medium is purified and removed, then reflection itself is seen as the original).

Hari OM

Different sub schools of Advaita

Hari OM,

We will try to analyze the jeeva as per the different sub schools of Advaita Vedanta. Before entering into that, let’s see in general what are the three sub schools of Advaita Vedanta.

1) Bhaamathi Prasthaana – Bhamathi sub school bases itself on the Bhamathi sub commentary of Vachaspathi Mishra on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya. Scholars opine that there was an advaitin Mandana Misra who was a contemporary of Sankara and wrote the work Brahma Siddhi. The means propounded by this Mandana Mishra in his Brahma Siddhi (independent work) is different from Sankara and traditional Advaita Vedanta. Thus there are differences of opinion on this (many places Sureshwara too refutes the views of Mandana Mishra in his Naishkarmya Siddhi) (Sankara’s and Mandana Mishra’s means to the final goal of Advaita). Vachaspathi Mishra wrote the first complete commentary on Sankara’s BSB titled Bhamathi (there was Panchapaadika of Padmapada acharya but this work analyzes only the first four sutra bhashyas (but there are proofs from Bhamathi that Padmapada had written an entire commentary on Sankara’s BSB and Madhava vidyaranya’s Sankara dig vijaya too tells it the same way – but scholars differ on this). Scholars thus opine that Vachaspathi tried to harmonize Sankara with Mandana Mishra – thus in many places, he uses Brahma Siddhi means which might seem to be against Sankara’s means. Even in some places, vachaspathi goes against Sankara’s bhashya to interpret in a different way which is supported in Amalananda’s Kalpatharu sub-commentary on Bhamathi (it is interesting to note that Prakataartha Vivarana of Anubhooti svaroopacharya refutes the places where bhamathi goes against Sankara - but the views of this acharya is refuted and bhamathi supported by Amalananda). It finally ends up in Appayya Dikshitar’s parimala sub commentary on Kalpatharu where dikshitar supports Sankara while refuting Bhamathi in those places. Enough of this too much explanations ---- this sub school is based on Bhamathi mainly and Kalpatharu-Parimala secondarily to interpret Bhamathi properly. This is the first sub-school of Advaita Vedanta. There are less number of followers for Bhamathi school these days (most followers are in north I believe) but still it is interesting to note that Gauda Brahmananda Saraswathi in his Nyaaya Ratnaavalee on Siddhanta Bindu of Madhusudana Saraswathi says that Vedanta shaastra includes the five works of Brahma Sutra, Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Bhamathi, Kalpatharu and Parimala. It is generally held that there are very few who have read all the five works and mastered them (the entire five works are published by Nag Publishers in two volumes for 400 Rs. Chaukhambha Press too have brought out the five works for 650 Rs.).

2) Vivarana Prasthaana – As mentioned earlier, Padmapaada had written Panchapadika on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya which was again explained in detail by Prakaasaatman in Panchapaadika Vivarana. There are many sub commentaries on Vivarana of Prakaashaatman. The school which bases itself on Vivarana of Prakaasaatman is called Vivarana school. The important sub commentaries on Vivarana are Akhandaananda Tattva Dipana and RjuVivarana of Sarvajna Vishnu – there are as well sub commentaries on it by Chitsukha and Nrsimha ashrama. Amalananda has also written Panchapaadika Darpana. This school is very famous and has many acharyas following it. Two of the three complete commentary on Sankara’s BSB (one being bhamathi) follow Vivarana school only – these are Anandagiri’s Nyaaya Nirnaya and Govindananda’s Bhashya Ratna Prabha. We can very clearly say that this school bases on one of Sankara’s direct shishya or disciple (Sachidanandendra Saraswathi does show in some work that this school differs from Sankara’s BSB but it is worthy enough to analyze on that – might be we can take that up for Ph. D when lot of free time is there).

3) Vartika Prasthaana – Sureshwaracharya, after being guided by Sankara, wrote vartikas on Sankara’s Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka Bhashyas. Vartika is that commentary in which ukta, anuktha and duruktas are mentioned – ukta is explaining in detail whatever the original work does – anuktha is explaining that which has been left out in the origin – duruktha is making correct whatever has been explained either wrongly/incompletely in the original work. Sureshwaracharya thus differs in almost 4-5 places in the Brihadaranyaka Vartika from Sankara’s Brihadaranyaka Bhashya. The Brihadaranyaka Vartika consists of as much as 12,000 slokas which has been further commented by Anandagiri and vidyaasagara. Vidyaranya has condensed the vartika into a work called Vartika saara. The school based on Vidyaranya’s as well as Bharathi Teertha’s works (which themselves base on Vartika of Sureshwara) is called Vartika school. We can thus very well clearly find differences between ishwara in vivarana and this school. Vivarana considers ishwara as Bimba Chaitanya (that original consciousness which is reflected and becomes jeevas) whereas vartika school considers both ishwara and jeeva as illusory and not real at all (this is clearly found in Panchadashi many places). But we have to remember that Vidyaranya and Bharathi Teertha have written vivarana prameya sangraha which is summarizing Vivarana of Prakaasatman where they follow the vivarana school very clearly. I have also found in one place in panchadashi where vidyaranya refutes bhamathi view of jeeva.

Thus we have seen in general the three sub schools of Advaita Vedanta. We will see in the coming days, the differences in concept of Jeeva in these three schools (as well as Ishwara). We will be learning this as per Madhusudana Saraswathi’s Siddhanta Bindu (along with Brahmananda’s Nyaaya ratnavali) which is a sub commentary on Sankara’s dasa sloki and Appayya Dikshitar’s Siddhanta Lesha Sangraha (if possible, will try to quote the original Sanskrit text in these works and explain on the same).

We will try to analyze the concepts by removing all doubts that can arise & finally will conclude with that view of jeeva which seems right.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per Advaita Vedanta

Hari OM,


Dvaita – Self is Conscious but limited – it has the quality of Consciousness with it
Vishista advaita – Self has the quality of Consciousness and nature too – it is limited and different from Ishwara

In the above two systems, Self is anu or atomic.

Advaita – we will discuss this separately as different authors explain jeeva differently.

It’s long since we continued this thread and it’s time to give the finishing touches to it. As per Advaita, Jeeva is nothing but Brahman alone but seemingly different from it.

The authority for this statement is Chandogya Sruthi and other Mahavakyas which say that “Tat Tvam Asi” – That Thou Art.

Other than sruthi, the authority for oneness of jeeva and ishwara or Brahman is bhagavadpaada’s words in Brahmajnaanavalee maala and other works – Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithyaa, Jeeva Brahmaiva na parah (This jeeva is Brahman alone, not different from it).

Sankara didn’t give much analysis into Avidya and hence different schools of Advaita started coming in (after Sankara) which differed in the definitions of jeeva, ishwara, maya, avidya etc. at the empirical level. So also the way or means to establish Advaita was different in these systems. There was also resurge of the Nyaaya system which had to be attacked by Sri Harsha and Chitsukha – even along with this, rivals started attacking Advaita claiming that “There are differences among Advaitic acharyas itself”. These had to be defended and thus works like Bhashya Bhaava Prakaashika of Chitsukha, Madhusudana Saraswathi’s Siddanta Bindu, Appayya Dikshitar’s Siddhanta Lesha Sangraha were required where the authors showed clearly that these systems differ only in the approach or means while their goal of Advaita was still the same. As there paths to the reality which will lead to Brahma-Atma Aikya Jnaana, therefore these acharyas took those paths which were appealing to them for the welfare of the different seekers in the world. In the 15th century, there was again strong attack of Advaita by the Dvaitin Vyaasateertha which had to be refuted by Madhusudana Saraswathi and Brahmananda Saraswathi. The kind of attack these later dvaitins showed was different from what Sankara had in his time & what he himself had defended – hence it was essential to come up with such a defense of Advaita. Moreover, Nyaaya took a new shape in the hands of Gangesha Upadhyaaya in his Tattva Chintamani finally shaping up at the hands of Raghunaatha Shiromani in his Dhidhithi commentary on Tattva Chintamani. These latter advaita acharyas had to thus use navya-nyaaya logic rather than pracheena nyaaya which was prevalent during Sankara’s time.

The above are mentioned to show that these various diverse views of empirical entities was essential to counter the arguments of rival schools as well for the welfare of different types of seekers. There are a set of acharyas who claim that “Sankara and sureshwara alone were true to Advaita – all other later acharyas diluted Advaita and brought in their own theory while ascribing those foreign ideas to Sankara”. This is completely wrong and not required too – diverse opinions were required as per time and yes, these later acharyas might be deviating from Sankara but we have to remember that Advaita is that which encompasses all the systems under it & therefore claims of “false-hood” from an Advaita acharya is not worthy as we have to consider these later advaita acharyas as having explained the reality in different ways.

Anyway, we will not deal into this argument between Sachidanandendra Saraswathi of Holenarsipur (who claims that Sankara and Sureshwara alone were true to Advaita whereas other acharyas were not true) and other advaita saints.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per other systems

Hari OM

The next system that comes into picture is the Jain system. In short, as per the jain system, the jeeva changes or progresses in seven levels to attain moksha. The jeeva changes as per changes in the body as the jeeva is subtle or atomic in nature and in the body. Thereby jeeva has length and other qualities too.....

Let’s now try to analyze this jain system and as to why it is not logical and thereby wrong.

This theory is also not correct because the Self cannot be changing and it isn’t atomic as the jains say. Moreover the theory that Self has qualities is against scriptures – thereby the jain theory of jeeva is completely wrong only.

We will see what other systems speak about the Self – whoever is really interested can reply back to the forum answering out why that particular concept of jeeva is wrong.


Shoonyavaada – Self is void and non-existent entity
kshanika Vijnaanavaada – Self is changing Consciousness or temporary or momentary (Kshanika) Consciousness (Vijnaana)

Nyaaya & Vaisheshika

Self is a jada vasthu which is the kartha and bhoktha --- it is limited and anu or subtle. It has the quality of Consciousness or CHIT. Jeeva is always different from Ishwara

Sankhya & Yoga

Self is conscious, it is the Bhoktha or enjoyer but not the kartha. Self in these two systems is multiple or many and called Purushas. Prakrithi is the Kartha whereas Purusha is the bhoktha


Self is Conscious but it has ignorance also along with bliss (as in deep sleep state) – this is what Prabhakara school of mimamsa say about jeeva (here the Self is kartha and bhoktha – doer and enjoyer).

Self is Conscious and doesn’t have ignorance – it is kartha and bhoktha – say the Bhatta school of mimamsa.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per Charvaakas - 2

Hari OM

We can start analysis of the other types of charvaakas who claim that “indriyaas or sense organs are the Self” and “pranaas are the Self” – the logic for this will be very similar to one another (if sense organs are proved to be not-Self, then pranas also can be proved as not-Self). As we have already discussed about body being not the Self – it is very much easy to prove the sense organs and prana are not the Self.

Not getting into details over here as to why the Self is not the body etc. but shortly want to mention as to why the Self is not the sense organs (either individual or their mixture).

Self is not individual sense organs because sense organs are mere instruments which are insentient whereas self is sentient. When an object is made up of parts which are insentient, that object is also insentient alone. Body has various parts of legs, hands etc. which are insentient – therefore the body itself is insentient.

Since sense organs are individually insentient, therefore their mixture too has to be insentient only. Such insentient entity cannot be the Conscious Self (it cannot be argued that Self is not conscious but insentient because in that case we should never have the feeling that “I-exist” which is always there).

For the above reason, the sense organs are not the Self neither are the pranas or antah karanas the Self as all these are insentient whereas the Self or “I” is conscious as it is experienced at all times.

A sentient entity controls an insentient entity. Therefore all insentient entities are controlled by the sentient Self – in between an insentient entity might be controlling another insentient entity which has been mentioned in the first sloka of drik drishya viveka. Hence there is no fault as such in whatever Bharathi Teertha has mentioned in the first sloka.

With this the charvaka system which include dehatma vaada, indriyaatma vaada as well as pranaatmavaada has been refuted.

Hari OM

Jeeva as per Charvaakas - 1

Hari OM,

This topic is very vast but can be easily concluded with Sankara’s statement that “jeevo brahmaiva na parah” – Jeeva is Brahman alone and not different from Brahman. But lot of analysis goes before coming to this conclusion. There is a very progressive approach where Jeeva is termed something as per some system & this being refuted in the next system – thus finally leading to the ultimate reality of Brahman.

Let’s start off with the theory of Charvaakas who accept only the four bhootas (not ghostJ but gross elements) of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Ether or Space is not accepted because it is not perceived (Materialists have only pratyaksha pramaana – whatever they see alone is valid for them). For these people, the Self is the body composed of the mixture of the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.

Thus Jeeva (or the Tvam pada in TAT TVAM ASI) is SHAREERA or body composed of the four elements.

Now let’s try to analyze why the jeeva or “I” cannot be the body.

AHAM or “I” is what is called as jeeva or conscious being in all the systems. The following can be said to be various reasons for jeeva not being the body.

“I” cannot be the body as body is jadam or insentient whereas I am sentient
“I” cannot be the body as body is something caused (out of annam and hence it is annam alone)
“I” cannot be the body as the body is accidental (aagantuka) – accidental because it seems to be temporarily present – before the body too I was present & after body vanishes too I will be present. Else we cannot say that “I” am born – this statement is possible only I witness by birth which is getting a new body. Thus Body is accidental or nimittam alone whereas “I” is eternal
“I” cannot be the body as the body gets destroyed whereas “I” am beyond any destruction.
“I” am not the body as body changes whereas I am changeless from birth till death and even beyond that (as recollection of previous births also do happen).
“I” am not the body because of the experience of “my body” even like “my house”. Since I am different from the house, similarly I am different from the body too.
“I” have no parts whereas body has parts – therefore I am not the body.
The gross body is not there is dream where there is only subtle body. Both these bodies are not there in deep sleep (as it isn’t experienced due to perception etc.) but still in deep sleep I exist as after waking up it is said “I slept well, I did not know anything”. Therefore I am not the body which was not present in deep sleep but I was present.

The above are the various reasons (original in Sanskrit using anumaana or inference) given by various Acharyas like Sankara, Sureshwaracharya in Tattva bodha, Naishkarmya Siddhi etc. In Naishkarmya Siddhi, sureswaracharya gives almost 5-6 reasons saying that “I am not the body” and that too to instigate vairagya in the seeker.

Apart from the above mentioned inferences, there is one proof as per scriptures and logic which acharyas use to show that “I” am not the body.

Quoting from Panchadashi 3.4

Purva janmani asat etat janma sampaadayet katham
Bhaavi janmani asat karma bhunjeeta iha sanchitam

If there was no previous birth, then how can this birth be attained (as it is already attained)?
If there is no next birth, then the fruit of all actions should be enjoyed in this birth itself.

Both the above are not possible if I am the body. If I am the body, then the body takes birth and deaths. Scriptures tell that body is due to karmas alone and the karma that we do now may not fructify this birth itself (this is experience of each person). Thus the body that has been attained now has to have some cause which should be karma before the body – since I am the body, there is nothing before birth – this means there was no karma before birth & so how can this birth be got???????

The second thing is I do actions and some of those are fructified whereas some are not. So those which are not fructified are completely destroyed in that case. This is illogical and against law of karma that all actions have reactions (since there is no reaction in this birth, next birth should be there to enjoy that reaction or fruits).

The above both prove thus that I am not the body.

The Sanskrit terminologies used for this is:

For the first point of how this body is achieved – akritha abhyaagama – what I haven’t done or performed, I reapJ As good as telling that without sadhana, I will realized – without working, infy will pay me money Hope the CCD are not tracking this mail (just joking).
Thus without any action, I get fruit which is impossible and wrong.

For second point, the body vanishes without enjoying all fruits of karmas – kritha haani – whatever has been done is destroyed without giving its efforts. As good as telling that I will type this mail but the mail will vanish after I type I will work but infy will not pay me this is also not possible.

(The above points are taken from Ramakrishna’s pada dipika commentary on Vidyaranya’s Panchadashi as well as from Tattva anusandhaanam, another advaitic work)

To conclude (in anumaana form):

Dehah na atmaa bhavathi, anyathaa “kritha haanih” “akritha abhyaagama” prasangaath

The body is not the Self, as if it is the Self there are the faults of “actions not giving fruits” and “getting fruits for those actions which are not performed”.

Dehah na atmaa, karyatvaat, ghataadi vat (this is how Ramakrishna concludes his commentary to the above sloka of Panchadashi)
The body is not the Self as it is an effect like pot (any effect is not the Self as the Self can never be caused or it can never become an effect).

Hope the above part clearly and convincingly proves that the body is not the Self and thus the jeeva of charvaaka (which is the body) is wrong, against all pramaanas and thus should be renounced (renunciation of the thought that “I am the body”).

Hari OM