Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Mukti Mimamsa in the Svaminarayana School (Introduction)’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.

4. Mukti Mimāṃsā in the Svāminārāyaṇa School (Introduction)

The ultimate aim of human life is to transcend māyā and attain mukti-freedom from the cycle of births and deaths. By leading a spiritually pure life based on the path revealed by Svāminārāyaṇa, such mukti or mokṣa is attained. Within the Akṣara-Puruṣottama Darśana, devotees have a relationship with Akṣara and Puruṣottama in the sādhanadaśā and also after attaining mukti. Mukti is defined as becoming akṣararūpa and offering bhakti to Puruṣottama with dāsabhāva. Thus, even in the state of mukti, one, upon becoming brahmarūpa, continuously offers upāsanā to Puruṣottama with dāsabhāva. To become akṣararūpa or brahmarūpa is to attain brahmabhāva or qualitative oneness with Brahman. By attaining brahmabhāva, one acquires all of the attributes necessary for liberation. When a devotee achieves brahmabhāva, they are redeemed from māyā, become gunātita (rise beyond the three māyic attributes), and become faultless.

This brahmarūpa devotee is then forever engrossed in unhindered bhakti towards Puruṣottama and experiences Parabrahman’s supreme bliss. Svāminārāyaṇa acknowledges in the Vacanāmṛta:

“After abandoning their association, the jīva realizes, ‘My self is Brahman, which is transcendental and uncontrolled by māyā.’ If one associates with Brahman through incessant contemplation in this manner, the jīva acquires the virtues of that Brahman.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/31, p.460)

Svāminārāyaṇa goes further:

“Only when one incessantly acquaintances with one’s inspirer, Brahman, through contemplation -as previously described -is that attachment broken.”

Thus, he clearly mentions the unique procedure of mukti in the Svāminārāyaṇa School. Mukti Mimāṃsā refers to deep reflection on or inquiry into liberation. This usually involves deep reflection on the forms of bondage and liberation and the means to liberation. The concept of liberation presupposes someone's state of bondage and anticipates the possibility of his or her release into a state of freedom. From the Svāminārāyaṇa philosophical perspective, bondage marks the term saṃsāra or māyā and understood as a beginningless process of life of beings who are born, die, and are continually reborn. This process is governed by the eternal law of Parabrahman.

Of the five eternal tattvas (Parabrahman, Akṣarabrahman, īśvara, jīva, and māyā) accepted by Svāminārāyaṇa, Parabrahman and Akṣarabrahman are always beyond māyā. They have been, are and forever will be beyond any type of bondage. Māyā is not able to influence or bind them. In fact, even the attachment that the jīvas and īśvaras have to māyā, perish due to their association with them (Akṣarabrahman and Parabrahman). Since māyā is jaḍa and the binding factor, the question of its bondage or liberation does not arise; consequently, the remaining two entities, jīvas and īśvaras are subject to bound by māyā. There may be hardly any questions that arise regarding the jīvas bondage. However, īśvaras bondage is a unique feature of the Svāminārāyaṇa School: Svāminārāyaṇa elucidates that it is when Virāt-Puruṣa worships Vāsudeva Bhagavān, who is nirguṇa, that he forsakes māyā and becomes brahmarūpa and attains liberation.

Svāminārāyaṇa explains:

“This is because his father, Puruṣa is mighty and cares for him properly. So, because Virāt-Puruṣa is attached to māyā, he is again produced from māyā at the end of dissolution. Moreover, just as the jīva is bound and powerless, in the same way, its father is also bound and powerless. How, then, can the father help his son?”

Let us understand it thoroughly. We have studied in the previous chapters that Virāt-Puruṣa is in the īśvara category. Svāminārāyaṇa, after applying the analogy for jīva and īśvara as son and father, argues that they both are in the clutch of māyā and they have to trend the path of spiritual endeavor in order to get liberation.

Bhadreśadāsa also confirms the fact:

jīvānāmīśvarāṇāṃ ca hyanādibandhanaṃ dṛḍham ||
janimṛtipravāhāntaḥpātitvamādiśūnyakam ||
Svāminārāyaṇa Siddhāntasudhā Kārikā 431 ||

Jīvas and īśvaras are in the firm bondage of māyā since time immemorial; this causes them to involve in the beginning less cycle of birth and death.”

The Īśa-upaniṣad states the bondage of these two entities; while explaining the verse:

ye ke cātmahano janāḥ” Bhadreśadāsa expresses:

jāyante janimṛtipravāhe saṃsaranti te janā baddhā jīveśvarāḥ |” (Īśa-upaniṣad 3, p.11)

Jīvas and īśvaras are bound by māyā; therefore, are subject to fall in the cycle of death and birth.”

In terms of their fundamental nature, these two tattvas are pure, knowledgeable, liberated, and characterized by eternal existence, consciousness, and bliss. Yet despite this, they are having been bound to ignorance in the form of māyā since time eternal. As long as they have this captivity, they do not experience the purity of their form and remain a part of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the world. This is their very attachment. The bondage of both these tattvas in this manner is a reality. Albeit this attachment in the form of ignorance is real, it is unable to bring about any defects in their essentially pure form. When both of these tattvas become liberated from this bondage, they experience their pure brāhmic form, as well as the form of Parabrahman residing within them. Ultimately, there is a permanent end to their various forms of suffering and misery; they attain mukti (liberation) from the cycles of birth and death and a permanent place in the presence of Parabrahman in his Akṣaradhāma, amongst the Akṣara-muktas.

The Bhāṣyakāra elaborates this fact while commenting on the Kena-upaniṣad verse: “amṛtā bhavanti” (Kena-upaniṣad 1/2). Here, the Upaniṣad commences the subject of Parabrahman’s all doership, and mukti is also asserted as the result of knowing Parabrahman as the all doer.

Bhadreśadāsa provokes:

brahmarūpeṇa svātmanā sarvatra sākṣātparamānadānubhavarūpāṃ mokṣasthitimanubhavati |” (Kena-upaniṣad 1/2, p.35)

“By acquiring this brāhmīsthiti (brahmabhāva) one attains liberation and experiences Parabrahman’s bliss directly.”

The SSS defines mukti as:

muktirhi svātmabrahmaikya-pūrvakaṃ dāsabhāvataḥ |
bhajanopāsanaṃ prītya svāminārāyaṇaprabhoḥ ||
Svāminārāyaṇa Siddhāntasudhā Kārikā 427 ||

Mukti is identifying one’s ātman with Akṣarabrahman and humbly and lovingly worshipping Bhagavān Svāminārāyaṇa.”

Bhadreśadāsa gives the definition of mukti in which he includes every aspect of the Svāminārāyaṇa Darśana as far as mukti or śreya is concerned.

He defines:

māyāgandhavivarjitatvād divyavastuprāpakatvācca nirdoṣo divyaścātmano hyātyantikaduḥkhanivṛttipūrvakaṃ paramātmasahajānandaparamasukha pradatvena atyantahitakaratvāt praśastaḥ sākṣādbrahmasvarūpaguruhariprasaṃgamātrajanyo hyakṣarapuruṣottamasiddhāntalakṣaṇo brahmavidyādhyātmavidyāparavidyādisamārthaśabdaiḥ śrutismṛtyadisupratiṣṭhitaḥ saṃdarśitśca paramaniḥśreyasapathaḥ eva śreyaḥ |” (Katha-upaniṣad 2/1, p.85)

Mukti or liberation or śreya can be attained only by the association of the Brahmasvarūpa Guru. This state is faultless and divine. In that śreya, the ultimate sorrow (cycle of death and birth) is uprooted, Parabrahman’s bliss is granted and no trace of māyā remains there. Moreover, it is the very essence of Akṣara Puruṣottama principle, which is well established in the śrutis and smṛtis by the name as brahmavidyā, adhyātmavidyā, and parāvidyā, etc.”

The Brahmasūtra also elaborates:

evaṃ jagato nirvedaṃ prāpya brahmasvarūpagurumāśritya tatprasaṅgena svātmānaṃ māyāmalahīnaṃ pariśuddhaṃ kṛtvā tameva svātmānaṃ punastadakṣarabrahmabhāvena saṃskṛtya gurāreva pratyakṣanārāyanasvarūpabhāvanayākṣarādhipatisahajānanda-paramopāsanena tatparamānandadivyānubhuti lakṣaṇaṃ mokṣaṃ saṃpādayeta iti |” (Brahmasūtra 1/1/4, p.28)

Here, the Bhāṣyakāra explains the method and state of liberation a seeker achieves through the Akṣarabrahman Guru.

“After attaining detachment towards the worldly affairs, one associates with the brahmasvarūpa Guru by seeking his firm refuge, acquires pure ātma-realization. Thereafter he adds brahmabhāva in that ātma-realization. In this way, he further indulges in upāsanā of the manifest form of Parabrahman; as a result, he procures liberation in which he experiences the bliss of Parabrahman.”

The Bhagavad-Gītā shows the way to eradicate the internal desire which emerges due to māyā.

viṣayā vinivartante nirāhārasya dehinaḥ |
rasavarjaṃ raso'pyasya paraṃ dṛṣṭvā nivartate ||

“The pleasurable objects stay away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the thirst for sense enjoyment remains in subtle form. The thirst also disappears from the one who has known the Supreme Parabrahman.”

Bhadreśadāsa explains the very sense of this verse:

akṣarapuruṣottamasākṣātkārasya brahmavidyātmakasya brahmasthitirūpatvāllabdhākṣarabrahmaguṇasādharmyasya puruṣottamaparabrahmopāsakasya dhruvāpunarāvṛttiśīlā māyāmohanivṛttirabhijāyata |” (Brahmasūtra 2/59, p.61)

“One who has attained qualitative oneness with Akṣarabrahman, has acquired brahmavidyā and has attained the realization of Akṣara Puruṣottama, for such a devotee māyā and infatuation are removed permanently.”

Having understood the bondage and liberation of the jīvas and īśvaras in its simplest form, we shall now primarily focus on the attachment and liberation of the jīva. 341

Footnotes and references:

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