So far, we have seen how a Jeevan Muktha, the liberated Jnani, who is continuing to live in his Sareera Thrayam conducts himself - within himself and in the outside world.
SANCHITHA KARMA :- A Jeevan Muktha has dissolved and destroyed his Sanchitha karma by becoming liberated from the Ignorance in which the Sanchitha karma was created. For the Ajnani, since his Avidya / ignorance continues, he has to bear the burden of the entire Sanchitha Karma and reap the karma phalam thereof.
AAGAMI KARMA :- After becoming Atma Jnani , whatever karma a Jnani does, its karma phalam does not touch him at all. But, aagaami karma done by the Ajnani gets added to his Sanchitha Karma and he has to face its karma phalam fully – in any number of births and deaths.
PRARABDHA KARMA :- Both Jnani and Ajnani have to face Prarabdha karma phalam which has already matured for them in the current birth. Prarabdha Karma phalam has therefore to be faced by Jnani and Ajnani alike. But, there is a difference in the way they go through it.
Ajnani goes on creating further aagami karma and adds it to his store of Sanchitha Karma and goes on taking re-births to receive the karma phalam of this store. Also, because of his identification with the Sareera thrayam, Ajnani suffers Prarabdha Karma phalam much more than the Jnani, physically and mentally. Thus, all the three karmas and their phalam persist and continue for Ajnani.
Jnani’s identification with Sareera thrayam has ended and hence, his suffering is merely at physical level. He does suffer physical afflictions, diseases etc. But, at the level of the mind and intellect (Manas and Buddhi), his suffering is much less than that of Ajnani. He knows that these are temporary but his atmananda is permanent. He remains seated in his atmananda.
Once Prarabdha karma is totally exhausted, the physical body does not survive. This is true for both Jnani and Ajnani.
Ajnani continues in the cycle of births and deaths because, his Sanchitha and Aagami karma are still in store for him. For him, exhaustion of Prarabdha karma relieves him from current birth but does not relieve him from rebirth. So, while his present gross body falls, the other two bodies (subtle and causal) go for finding a new one.
For Jnani – his liberation from avidya has destroyed Sanchitha and aagami Karmas instantly. He has become a Jeevan Muktha - one who is liberated even when he is in his physical body. At death, his Prarabdha karma also is exhausted. Hence, all cause for rebirth is destroyed for Jnani and he attains videha mukthi as well (from the body).
So what happens to Jnani on the fall of the gross body. All cause for rebirth are destroyed for him. His total identification is now with the Brahman – which is all pervading. He therefore becomes a part of the all pervading Brahman.
This means – not only the gross body – but also the causal and subtle bodies get dissolved, since their purpose is dissolved now. All Upaadhis are now destroyed for Jnani. He is part of Brahman. He is Brahman. Just as the gross body falls and becomes part of the Sthoola prapancham (the gross universe), the sookshma Sareeram (subtle body) dissolves and becomes part of sookshma prapancham (subtle universe) and the causal body dissolves and becomes a part of the Karana Prapancham or causal universe.
Adi Sankara gives three simple examples to illustrate this.
If you pour water into a river, it becomes an integral, indistinguishable part of the river water. If you destroy a pot, the space earlier enclosed by the pot becomes and indistinguishable and integral part of the total space. If one candle light is placed near 100 other candles, the total light of each becomes indistinguishable from each other. Fire added to a bigger fire becomes a part of it.
The Jnani becoming a part of Brahman, on videha mukthi or fall of gross body, is much like the same. Adi Sankara is very fond of using different terms for Brahman. In this verse, he has used the term Vishnu. He has used the terms, Brahma, Vishnu, Eswara and several others in this one treatise of Atma Bodha itself – to tell us firmly that all names indicate the same Brahman.
We have prayers – like Sahasra Nama Stothram, prayer through a thousand names, for different forms of god – like Vishnu, Lalitha, Siva, Durga, Ganesa etc and we can find a number of names repeating in many of them. These are intended to drive home the point that all names indicate the same Brahman finally and all prayers reach the same Brahman finally.
If you have any further names for YOUR FAVORITE GOD – you are free to add all such names reverentially and pray. This is Bhakthi yoga. Bhakthi Yoga finally leads to Jnana Yoga – where you finally identify your self with that one and only Brahman – and strive to become that. And, that is the Atma Bodha – which comes after purification of mind through karma yoga and Jnana Yoga.
The fruits of Atma Jnanam is Jeevan Mukthi and videha Mukhti – otherwise called Moksha or liberation. This is freedom from Samsaara, avidya, ignorance, Ahamkara, mamakara etc.
There is no other profit or accomplishment in life greater than the attainment of Moksha/ brahman/ Jnana. Because Brahman is the only infinite one. All other profits and accomplishments are finite in time and space and they cannot give infinite satisfaction. They come and they go. All of them leave some level of dissatisfaction always.
And, we again begin to crave for some more things.
Our struggle for total satisfaction ends only with attainment of Atmananda.
Other than the ultimate satisfaction of Brahmananda there is no greater Aananda.
There is no greater knowledge than this knowledge of the Brahman.
There is no greater sukham (Happiness or comfort) than the sukham realized from Atma Jnanam.
There is no greater gain in life than Brahma Jnanam
Thus, the highest goal of any one’s life is to strive for such Atma Jnanam (which comes through Atma Bodha)
The process of seeing talked of here is illustrative. It is with Jnana Chakshu or the eyes of wisdom that we see Brahman and not with physical eyes.
As we have already understood – all other accomplishment give finite and temporary satisfaction – while Brahma Jnanam give infinite and permanent joy.
Brahman is that which pervades all places – the above is Brahman. The below is Brahman. The one in all the directions with no limits of time and space is Brahman.
It is complete (poornam) and therefore is the only one without a second.
It is absolute, infinite, ever existing. It is Sath – Chith – Aananda (Eternal and never changing existence – all pervading consciousness – supreme bliss).
The Gita and all the Upanishads praise this state of Brahman in one voice. Sankaracharya has talked of these characteristics of Brahman already.
In this verse, he is implying that these are the extraordinary benefits that a Jnani gets on attaining Brahma Jnanam.
The Upanishads speak of the process of continuous negation (nethi, nethi) of the Anaatma to identify and reach the Atma / Brahman – and also, as we have seen in Atma Bodha so far by a subsequent process of assertion of Brahman as : this, this (ithi, ithi).
This, in simplest form is the Nidhidhyasanam process. First, nethi, nethi, the negation of all Anaatma - of Sareera thrayam, Chidhabhasa and of external universe and all of their actions / vritthis.
Then, the process of this, this – the assertion of what the Atma is – what Brahman is – what Brahma Jnanam is.
It also indicates what happens to us at each stage of attainment of Atma Jnanam.
We start disidentifying with the finite and identifying with the finite. We start becoming infinitely Joyful - for no reason what so ever, since we are the embodiment of Joy itself.
But then, what happens to the external universe. Let us see in next verse.