How To Recognise A Jivanmukta


Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is from the book Jivanmukta Gita.

It is very difficult to judge a Jivanmukta. A Shakespeare only can understand a Shakespeare. A Jesus only can understand a Jesus. A man of experience who has mixed with Sadhus and Sannyasins and lived with them for a number of years may arrive at certain definite conclusions and infer something. But he may or may not be accurate. Only a Jivanmukta with his eye of intuition (Divya Drishti) can directly see and understand a Jivanmukta.

A Sadhu may be physically nude. He may not keep anything with him. He may use his hands as the begging bowl and live underneath a tree. He may live in a forest. Yet he may be the greatest scoundrel; he may be the most worldly minded man with internal and external attachments. He may dance in joy when he gets an eight-anna piece for his opium-smoking. His mind may be full of distractions and disturbances. Whereas a man may live in the bustle of a town or city. He may lead the life of a Big Babu. He may wear fashionable dress. He may eat dainties. Yet he may have the least attachment and craving for anything. Sri Ramanuja lived amidst luxuries. He preached a life of enjoyment. Raja Janaka had his royal pleasures. And yet he said: “My Wealth is boundless, yet I have nothing. Even if the whole of Mithila were burnt to ashes nothing of mine will be burnt.”

Householders make wrong judgments in deciding the nature of Jivanmukta. They take into consideration only the external conditions of a Jivanmukta. Even educated people commit mistakes in this regard.

One cannot estimate the advancement of a Jivanmukta by a simple casual talk for an hour or two. One has to live with him for a long time and then alone one will be able to draw some accurate conclusions. There had been instances of realised persons who had elephants, horses and all royal paraphernalia without being affected in the least by these external objects. They had always Jnana Nishta and Svaroopa Stithi (established in knowledge of Brahman) amidst multifarious activities. This is the integral development. This is the gist of the Bhagvad Gita. This is the central teaching of Lord Krishna.

What is wanted is mental nudity. Jnana is purely an internal state. The external marks are no sure criterion. So do not look into the external things of a Jivanmukta. A man may take any kind of food, he may dress in any way he likes, he may part his hair in any manner he finds it convenient. These are all non-essentials. Always look into his internal mental state.

Do not judge a man by his Siddhis (psychic powers). Another great blunder people generally commit is that they judge the enlightenment of Jivanmuktas by the Siddhis they display. Siddhis are side-lights. They are invitation from Devatas. They have nothing to do with Atmic realisation. A Sadhu may manifest Siddhis due to strong passions and intense desires, and if that be the case he is undoubtedly a big householder only. But this does not mean that a person manifesting Siddhis is not a Jivanmukta. There are several instances of such persons who have exhibited several Siddhis purely for the elevation and uplift of the world, but never for selfish motives.

The ways of a Jnani are mysterious. Many do not recognise a Jivanmukta. Real aspirants know him at once without any difficulty. They follow him. They live in close contact with him.

He who has mastery over the mind and Indriyas, he who always dwells on the inner Atman is the real Jivanmukta, Nityamukta, a great master, the real hero indeed.

He who is calm, collect, controlled and contented, he who dwells in solitude, he who has given up seeking pleasure outside in sensual objects but seeks bliss and peace inwardly in Atman that shines in the chambers of the heart by constant and intense meditation after withdrawing the Indriyas, is really a Jivanmukta. Such a man must be adored. He who comes in contact with such a person is a blessed soul indeed. Verily this man also will be spiritualised and elevated quickly.

A Jivanmukta is the Sun of Suns, the Light of lights. Sun shines only during day. But the Jivanmukta shines day and night. Glory, glory to such awakened inspired high souls! May their blessings be upon us all.

The great soul who does not offend anybody in thought, words or deed, and who is not hurt even a bit by the taunts, censures, insults and injuries by others is the real Jivanmukta. He who dwells or lives in the Supreme Self only, he who delights and rejoices within the Atman cannot hurt others and cannot be hurt by others.

He who is homeless, who is free from all cravings, yearnings, longings, passions, desires, love of society, lustful feeling, and who calls nothing his own is really a Jivanmukta, who has attained freedom or emancipation from births and deaths. Hail, hail to such a great Mahatma!

He who is above good and evil, virtue and vice, who has transcended the mind and seed body (Anandamaya Kosha or Karana Sarira) who has knowledge of the Vedas and wisdom of the Self, who finds no faults in others, who is free from all kinds of doubts, who bears reproaches and insults, who never gets angry even under extreme provocations, who is always gentle and mild, and who always speaks the truth and utters sweet and instructive words is really a Jivanmukta.

He who has broken all ties, who has subdued all Indriyas, who is free from all kinds of temptations, who has renounced Trishna, Vasana, Kamana and egoism and who is dwelling in Atman and Atman alone is the greatest of all men. He is a Jivanmukta. Even Indra and other Devas are envious of such an exalted personage. Even Lord Vishnu follows the feet of such a great saint to get the dust that is thrown off from his feet. Even Lord Siva keeps the dust of his feet in a golden casket.

Self-poised state in pleasure and pain, censure and praise etc., and universal love are the two important characteristics of a Jivanmukta.

If a person has no dislikes or hatred for any creature in this world in thought, word and deed, he is a Jivanmukta.

A Jivanmukta or a full-blown Jnani is full of pure love, compassion, mercy, exquisite gentleness and hidden power and strength. Love and lustre (Brahma Tejas) shine through his brilliant eyes.

He who sees all things in one and one in all things is really a Jivanmukta. He enjoys peace of mind. He lives in God.

A Jnana Yogi is always in Samadhi (Jnana Nishtha). He need not sit in a room in an Asana. No Asana is needed for him. He does not want a room. He is not affected by Maya. There is no ‘in Samadhi’ and ‘out of Samadhi’ for a Jnana Yogi.

He is very silent. He speaks a few words. These words produce tremendous impressions. They give a new life and joy to all who understand him and his message. In his presence alone all the doubts of the aspirant are cleared, though he remains mute.

When a Jivanmukta sees outside, he may simply see, but the Vritti may not assume Vishayakara (form of the objects) as in the case of worldly-minded persons.

A Jivanmukta may or may not have any Siddhis. But if he likes, he can have. He will find out quickly the modus operandi and exhibit them. He cannot have the Anima, Mahima Siddhis. He will have spiritual Siddhis through Sat Sankalpa. A fully developed Jivanmukta can achieve anything through his will.

Pain in the body and quarrels always exist in the world. A Jivanmukta has to face these when he does Vyavahara. He does not mind them. He rises above them. He laughs and smiles as they are unreal. He knows that there is neither pain nor quarrel in the Atman.

When he is absorbed in Brahman (the Glory of glories, the Soul of souls) he will not be able to work. But when he comes down from his full Brahmic-consciousness owing to the force of Prarabdha and Vikshepa Shakti, he will pour forth his love at the cry of a suffering soul. So radiant and compassionate is he. He is the ocean of mercy and love and peace, a Buddha or Jesus.

A Jivanmukta casts off this body as a slough when he identifies himself with Brahman (Sat-Chit-Ananda) just as a snake throws off its skin.

A Jivanmukta may give up his body in any place, at any time. Just as the falling of leaves and fruits of a tree will not affect the tree itself, so also the dropping the body will not affect the Atman, which survives like the tree.

They are the Jivanmuktas or the ‘delivered in life’ who have come to know that ‘Brahman is real; the world is illusory and Jiva is Brahman himself’ through the teaching of Sastras and Guru as well as through Self-realisation; and who took upon all as Brahman.

They who have the direct or intuitive knowledge of Brahman (Aparoksha Jnana).

Direct knowledge (Aparoksha Jnana) is the knowledge characterised by firm conviction of one’s being neither Brahmin nor Sudra nor Purusha nor body, but the everlasting intelligence and Bliss Absolute, the Self-effulgent, the Inner Ruler of all beings, all-pervading intelligence like Akasa just as one labouring under Avidya has the same firm conviction: ‘I am body, I am male, I am Brahmin, I am Sudra’ etc.

The direct knowledge ‘I am Brahman,’ annihilates the bondage of all Karmas.

A Jivanmukta is perfectly desireless, I-less, mine-less, fearless, and angerless. He beholds the Self only everywhere. He has equal vision. He has balanced mind. He has no attachment, longings and cravings. His state is beyond description and yet he will move in the world like an ordinary man. He is ever calm and peaceful. He rests in the Turiya state. He identifies himself with the Pure, All-pervading Brahman. He is free from dualities, differences and distinctions.

Jivanmuktas will neither long for things in the future nor think of the things of the past. They will always do actions for the solidarity of the world. They are not frightened or astonished at any unusual occurrence in nature. They will never be disconcerted even should the sun grow cold or the moon turn hot or the fire begin to burn with its flame downwards or the course of the river begin to rise upwards.

Jivanmukta is free from egoism, desires, Gunas and attachment. He has equal vision. He enjoys perfect peace and eternal bliss. Therefore he will never be afflicted in mind. Whether engaged in business or retired from it, whether living with a family or leading a single life, the man who identifies himself with the Immortal Self or Brahman and who has nothing to fear, or care, or to be sorry for in this world, is regarded as liberated in this life. He who knows himself to be without beginning and end, decay and death, and to be of the nature of pure consciousness, remains always quiet and composed in himself and has no cause for sorrow at all. He gets rid of the knowledge that ‘this is I’, ‘that is another,’ ‘this is mine.

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