About Jivanmukta - Liberated being by Swami Shivananda
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 is Ishvara (God) Himself. He is a God on
The Jivanmukta or full-blown Jnani (a person with full wisdom) is full of
pure love, compassion, mercy, exquisite gentleness, and hidden power and
strength. Love and lustre shine through his brilliant eyes.
The Jivanmukta has not a bit of selfish interest in him and is absolutely
free from worries, difficulties, troubles, tribulations, sorrows, and
anxieties under all circumstances. Even when pains and the rest attaching
themselves to his body exhibit themselves on his face, his mind never
writhes under them and their antithesis. He is not a slave of his moods; he
is ever cheerful and peaceful. His higher excellences have been perfectly
unfolded; all divine attributes are fully awakened in him. Every one of his
weaknesses and limitations is burnt in toto. He shines in his own pristine
glory, in his own essential nature of divine consciousness. He radiates
peace and joy everywhere.
The true greatness of a realised Yogi is indescribable. His eyes are serene
and steady, his actions perfect and holy, his speech sweet and short,
inspiring and impressive. His gait is magnanimous, his touch purifying; his
looks are merciful, gestures illuminating. He is omniscient; he has
intuitive transcendental knowledge and clear insight into the very heart of
all things and beings. You will experience a deep sense of peace and
harmony, great elevation and inspiration, in his presence.
*SIGNS OF A JIVANMUKTA*
The 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.
The Jivanmukta has perfect contentment, unruffled peace of mind, deep
abiding joy and bliss, possession of supersensual spiritual knowledge, and
ability to clear any kind of doubt of aspirants. Doubts vanish when one
remains in his company.
The Jivanmukta does not care even for the wants of the body. He is not
afraid of death. He has no longing to live also. Maya or Prakriti (Mother
Nature) is his obedient and sweet nurse. She attends upon him carefully.
Bodily wants come by themselves. Prakriti arranges everything for him
beforehand. This is her look-out.
Balanced mind, equal vision, indifference to pairs of opposites like
pleasure and pain, censure and praise, heat and cold, success and
failure-these are the marks of a Jivanmukta. Jivanmuktas 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. The Jivanmukta is not perturbed under any condition.
He is undistracted amidst distractions.
*THE DOUBLE-CONSCIOUSNESS OF A JIVANMUKTA*
A man who stands in water up to his neck has a twofold experience. His head
is exposed to the sun. He experiences both heat and cold. Such is the
experience of a Jivanmukta. He has double consciousness. He enjoys the bliss
of Brahman (God). He also has the experience of this world. He is like a man
who knows two languages.
Just as the pot in which asafoetida or onion is kept emits a certain amount
of smell even when it is cleaned several times, so also, a small trace of
ignorance still remains in the mind of a Jnani even. The Jivanmukta has a
consciousness of the body in the form of a Samskara (impression in the
subconscious mind). That is the reason why he eats and drinks. Though the
instinctive mind with low desires is destroyed, the Sattvic (pure) mind does
not perish in the Jivanmukta. How will he be able to do Vyavahara or worldly
dealings without an instrument, viz., the mind?
*DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WORLDLY MAN AND A LIBERATED SAGE*
The phenomenal universe does not vanish from the vision of the Jivanmukta.
The Jivanmukta sees the world as a dream within himself. Just as the mirage
appears even after the illusory nature of the water is understood, so also,
the world appears for the Jivanmukta even after he has attained Self-
realisation, even after he has clearly understood the illusory nature of the
world. But, just as the man who has understood the nature of the mirage will
not run after the mirage for drinking water, so also, the Jivanmukta will
not run after sensual objects like the worldly-minded people, though the
world appears to him. That is the difference between a worldly man and a
When he is absorbed in Brahman, the Glory of glories, the Soul of souls, the
Jivanmukta will not be able to work. But, when he comes down from his full
Brahmic consciousness owing to the force of Prarabdha (destiny) and Vikshepa
Sakti (tossing of the mind), 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
The Jivanmukta beholds the one Reality or God everywhere and in all things.
For him there is no distinction between a rogue and a saint, gold and stone,
honour and dishonour. He actually feels that all is himself only, that
snakes, scorpions, tigers, bears, and lions are as much part of himself as
his own eyes, nose, ears, hands, and feet. He is one with the flower, ether,
sun, ocean, mountain, and sky. He has cosmic vision and cosmic feelings.
*SAMADHI JNANI AND VYAVAHARA JNANI*
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. 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 a busy crowded city. He plunges himself in
service. He talks with the people. He delivers lectures, holds religious
classes, writes books, etc. Sri
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. The Jnani who has desire for worldly activities or
Vyavahara and works in the world is a Vyavahara Jnani. The Jnani who
withdraws himself completely from the universe is a Samadhi Jnani.
Knowledge is the same in these two types of Jnanis. But the Samadhi Jnani
enjoys more Ananda (Bliss) than the Vyavahara Jnani. The Samadhi Jnani is
one who is ever absorbed in Brahman. He does not see names and forms. The
world has entirely vanished for him. He is quite unable to work. He is a
Muzub (a silent sage of the highest category). He is a Paramahamsa. Food has
to be thrust forcibly in the case of a Samadhi Jnani.
A Vyavahara Jnani will experience pain when his finger is cut, but a Samadhi
Jnani will not experience pain even a bit even if his leg is amputated. The
case of Shams Tabriez of Multan would serve as an example to justify the
truth of the above statement. When he was skinned out, he laughed and
uttered *Analhaq, Analhaq*. 'Analhaq' means ‘I am He’, and corresponds to
the Hindu 'Soham'.
A Vyavahara Jnani sees names and forms. A Vyavahara Jnani knows that this is
Vishta (faeces), this is Chandana (sandal paste); this is a fool, this is an
intelligent man; this is an Adhikari (a qualified person), this is a rogue,
this is an honest man. But, he is not affected in his feelings. He is
neither exalted when he gets success nor depressed when he fails. He neither
loves an honest man nor hates the rogue. In this sense, he has Sama Drishti
or equal vision.
The desire for work in the case of the Vyavahara Jnani is due to his
Prarabdha. He uses his body and mind as his instruments just as a carpenter
uses his tools. While working, he has not lost his Brahmic consciousness
even for a second. He is settled always in the Chaitanya Svarupa or pure
The Vyavahara jnani sees the whole world within himigelf. He sees nothing
outside, just as you do. He sees through his Divya Drishti (divine
perception) or Jnana Chakshus (divine vision), and not through the physical
eyes. A Jnani, with the help of the powerful lens, the eye of Atman (the
Self, God), sees the whole world with all the details of creation. He sees
the astral body, the causal body with its Samskaras, the Pranic aura,
psychic aura, magnetic aura, etc., of a man. It is very difficult for a
worldly man with practical Buddhi (intellect) to mentally visualise how a
Jnani sees the physical universe while he is working.
*HOW THE JIVANMUKTA LIVES AND WORKS*
A Jivanmukta is not a whimsical man. He is not bound by the rules of Sastra
(scripture) or society. And yet, he will not deviate from Dharma (righteous
conduct). All that he does will be in strict accordance with the scriptures
or sacred books. He spontaneously does only what is good. An expert dancer
never makes a false step. So is a Jivanmukta when he works.
The sage works without effort, without agency, without egoism, attachment
and desire. Like a child, his conduct is neither good nor evil.
The Jivanmukta acts only like a child. The sense of right and wrong will be
natural in him independently of scriptural teachings. He has destroyed all
egoism. He is above Karma, and Karmas cannot touch him. He may, for the
instruction of the world, perform works or refrain from forbidden acts.
The Jivanmukta does not care for public criticism. He keeps a cool mind even
when he is assaulted. He blesses those who persecute him. He beholds only
his own Self everywhere.
His mark or characteristic is an internal mental state. It cannot be
perceived or detected by others. The Lord uses him for His divine work.
*PHYSICAL NUDITY AND MENTAL NUDITY*
A Brahma Jnani or Jivanmukta need not be a genius. He need not be an
eloquent speaker, orator, lecturer, or professor. But he is calm, serene,
and tranquil. He is taciturn and silent. His silence is superior eloquence.
He has divine wisdom and intuitive knowledge. In his presence, all doubts
Householders make wrong judgments in deciding the nature of a Jivanmukta.
They take into considerate only the external conditions of a Jivanmukta.
Even educated people commit mistakes in this regard.
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 (money) 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 (gentalem). He may
wear fashionable dress. He may cat dainties. Yet he may not have the least
attachment and craving for anything. Sri Ramanauja lived amidst luxuries.
There had been instances of realised persons who had elephants, horses, all
royal paraphernalia without being affected in the least by these external
objects. They had always Jnana Nishtha (one who is established in the
Knowledge of Brahman) and Svarupa Sthiti (the natural state) amidst
multifarious activities. This is integral development. This is the gist of
the Bhagavad-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.
The ways of a Jnani are mysterious. Only a Jivammukta can know a Jivanmukta.
The description given of a Jnani in the Bhagavad-Gita and various other
books is quite inadequate, incomplete, and imperfect. His state can never be
imagined by the limited mind and can never be described by the finite
speech. He shines in his own pristine glory.
He will sometimes appear like a Sarvajna, all-knower. He will sometimes
appear like an Ajnani, ignorant man. He knows when to act like a
Brahmanishtha (one who is established in the Knowledge of Brahman), and when
to behave like a fool. Do not judge him. If you approach him with the proper
Bhava (feeling), with faith, devotion, and spiritual thirst, he will impart
the highest knowledge to you. If you approach him with a bad motive, he will
behave like a mad man, and you will be deceived. Great will be your loss
*A BLESSING TO THE WORLD*
A Jivanmukta is a sustainer of the world. He is a source of perpetual
inspiration. He is an embodiment through which divine grace is transmitted
to the unregenerated men.
Like flowers that bloom to scent and purify the air around, great souls like
Sadasiva Brahman, Yajnavalkya, spring up in the world to gladden men's heart
and to lead them to immortality and perfection.
The Jivanmukta is a power-house of spiritual energy. He radiates his
spiritual currents to the different comers 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.
The Jivanmukta, like unto holy waters, purifies others by mere sight, touch,
and the utterance of his name. Sometimes he remains unnoticed. Sometimes he
becomes known to those who desire welfare. He eats food offered to him by
pious devotees and burns up their past and future evils or impurities.
A Jivanmukta or a saint is the ultimate source of Knowledge of the soul.
Satsang with a Jivanmukta even for a minute is much better than rulership of
a kingdom. His very presence is thrilling and inspiring. Seek his company
and evolve. Serve him with faith and devotion.
*THE SAGE LIVES FOR EVER*
The sage lives for ever. He has attained life everlasting. Cravings torture
him not. Sins stain him not. Birth and death touch him not. Pains and
tribulations torment him not.
A Jivanmukta may give up his body in any place, at any time. Just as the
falling leaves and fruits of a tree will not affect the tree itself, so
also, the dropping of the body will not affect the Atman, which survives
like the tree. His Pranas do not depart elsewhere for transmigration. They
are absorbed in Brahman after the exhaustion of his Prarabdha, the results
of past actions that have already begun to bear fruit. He is freed from
The Jivanmukta is freed from the trammels of mind and matter. He is
absolutely free, perfect, independent. He is absolutely free from hatred,
lust, cares, worries, and anxieties. Everybody will surely like this state
of beatitude or final emancipation. It is the final goal of life. It is the
end of all human aspirations.
The state of Jivanmukti is the be-all and end-all of existence. There is
fullness in this state. All desires are burnt. It is a state of plenum of
absolute satisfaction. There is no gain greater than this, no bliss greater
than this, no wisdom greater than this.
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 Nididhyasana or meditation. He spent sleepless
nights. He kept long vigils on several halting stages. He persevered with
patience and diligence. He has 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
(the round of births and death), like yourself