Who is a Jivanmukta?
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is a chapter from the book Yoga And Realisation.
A Jivanmukta is a liberated sage. He is released even while living. He lives in the world, but he is not of the world. He always revels in the eternal bliss of the Supreme Self. He has no identification with the body and senses. Hence he has no idea of enjoyment or enjoyer when he exhausts the residue of his Prarabdha. He has no idea of action or agent. He roams about happily without attachment and egoism, with a balanced mind and an equal vision. His state is indescribable. He is Brahman Himself.
The sage, who has realised that there is no other reality in the universe than Brahman, that he is Brahman Himself and that everything is Brahman, is freed from the round of births and deaths. He has attained freedom, perfection and immortality. He is a Jivanmukta (one who has attained liberation while living).
Not through matted locks, not through fiery lectures and erudition, not through the exhibition of miracles, does one attain perfection or knowledge of the Self. He in whom the two currents, Raga, Dvesha, egoism, lust and anger are destroyed in toto is ever happy and he is Brahman or liberated sage or Jivanmukta. A Jivanmukta or liberated sage is absolutely free from egoism, doubt, fear and grief. These are the four important signs that indicate that one has attained perfection.
For a Jivanmukta there is no distinction between a rogue and a saint, gold and stone, high and low, man and woman, man and animal, censure and praise, honour and dishonour. He beholds the one Self everywhere. He sees divinity in every one. As he is mindless, all differences and barriers have vanished for him.
For a Jivanmukta who beholds the all-pervading, immortal, indivisible, self-luminous Atman everywhere, there remains nothing to be attained or known. He has attained perfection, highest bliss and highest knowledge. The sage becomes aware that he is free. He realises that rebirth is exhausted. He realises also that he has fulfilled all his duties and that there is no further return to this world. He further realises that he has obtained everything, that all his desires are gratified, that he has nothing more to learn and that he has obtained the highest knowledge.
Raja Janaka asked a sage, “O Venerable Sage, how is it you do not perform Sandhya at daybreak, midday and sunset?” The sage replied, “O Rajan! The sun of knowledge, Jnana Surya is ever shining in the Chidakasa of my heart. There is neither sunrise nor sunset for me. How can I perform Sandhya when there is neither sunrise nor sunset? Further my old grand mother Maya is dead.” Raja Janaka bowed his head before the sage and silently left the place. He came to understand that the sage is a real Jivanmukta who is established in Brahmic Consciousness.
What a great wonder! What meritorious actions did these Jivanmuktas do! They become liberated sages while living. Through their Satsankalpas they work wonders. They are gods on earth. How peaceful they are! They always possess unruffled mind. Wherever they go, they influence people. They do not speak and yet teach the aspirants through their silence. Adorations to such exalted beings!
A Jivanmukta is a great spiritual hero. He is an enlightened sage who has knowledge of the Self. He is pre-eminent amongst men. He is the conqueror of the mind. He is absolutely free from desires, craving, fear, delusion, pride, egoism, etc. He is a powerhouse of spiritual energy. He radiates his spiritual currents to the different corners of the world. Sit before him. Your doubts will be cleared by themselves. You will feel a peculiar thrill of joy and peace in his presence.
A Jivanmukta is an ocean of mercy. He tries his level best to rescue the worldly-minded who are deeply immersed in the mire of misery. He guides the aspirants in the attainment of Brahma-Jnana, which leads to perfect freedom. His very presence is thrilling and inspiring. He guides the students by his mere silence just as the silent Dakshinamurthy guided the four Naishtika Brahmacharis, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatsujata and Sanatkumara in days of yore.
The way of living of Jivanmuktas or Sages differs. One sage lives in a princely style. Bhagiratha lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in a beggarly manner. He lives always in seclusion. One sage is always in a meditative mood. He never works. He never talks. He lives always in seclusion. Jada Bharata lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in busy crowded city. He plunges himself in service. He talks with the people. He delivers lectures, holds religious classes, writes books etc. Sri Sankara led this kind of life. This is due to Prarabdha. Every sage has his own Prarabdha. If all sages have the same kind of living and the same kind of Prarabdha, this world will be like a prison. Variety in manifestation is the nature of Prakriti.
If the Vasanas and attachment to the object of the world vanish entirely and if one is in that immovable state, he has become a Jivanmukta. He abides in his own Self. He rests in the non-dual Supreme seat. The Jnana vision arises in him. The light of wisdom will shine unobscured like the sun in the absence of clouds. He is never attracted to any worldly objects. He is absolutely free from delusion and sorrow. He actually feels that the Self alone pervades and permeates everywhere in this world. He shines with Brahmic effulgence. He possesses equal vision and a balanced mind. He is free from longing for sensual objects, because the mind will always be made cool with Brahmic Bliss. He is bathed in the cool ambrosial nectar that dribbles from a contented and quiescent mind.
There at the summit of the hill of eternal bliss you can see now the Jivanmukta or a full-blown Yogi. He has climbed the stupendous heights through intense and constant struggle. He did severe, rigorous spiritual Sadhana. He did profound Nidhidhyasana (meditation). He spent sleepless nights. He kept long vigils on several halting stages. He persevered with patience and diligence. He surmounted many obstacles. He conquered despair, gloom and depression. He is a beacon light to the world now. Remember that he was also rotting in those days in the quagmire of Samsara like yourself. You can also ascend to that summit if only you will.