Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘The Body of a Mukta in Aksharadhama’ 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.

7.3. The Body of a Mukta in Akṣaradhāma

However, upon death, having shed its material body, the self does not forever remain formless in Akṣaradhāma. Svāminārāyaṇa explains in Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/7 that like Parabrahman, who possesses a definite form there, the liberated devotees in his service also possess a form. What is this form of the liberated self in Akṣaradhāma?

This is the question posed to Svāminārāyaṇa in Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/66. He replies:

“When the jīva’s ignorance is dispelled, its association with the three māyic bodies is broken. Thereafter, the jīva remains as pure consciousness and existence. Then, by Parabrahman's will, the jīva receives a body composed of sentiency (caitanya prakṛti), which is distinct from the eight inert elements (jada prakṛti) of Parabrahman, i.e. earth, water, etc. With that body, then, it resides in Parabrahman's Akṣaradhāma.”

In answer to a similar question in Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/1—

“What type of body does a devotee of Parabrahman attain when he leaves his physical body, which is composed of the five material elements and goes to the abode of Parabrahman?”

Svāminārāyaṇa replies that such a devotee receives, ‘by the will of Parabrahman', a brāhmic body, what he calls here a ‘brahmamāyā tanu’.

Bhadreśadāsa corroborates:

prāpya navāṃ tanuṃ brāhmīṃ parātmā''kārasaṃnibhām |
nityadvibhujapādādidivyakaraṇasaṃyutām ||
Svāminārāyaṇa Siddhāntasudhā Kārikā 438 ||

“In videhamukti, the released self resides in Akṣaradhāma, having attained a new body that is made of brahmatattva. This new body looks just like that of Paramātmā, meaning that it eternally possesses two arms, feet other divine instruments of action.”

The Brahmasūtras brings forth a critical argument regarding whether the mukta attains a new divine body in the abode of Parabrahman or not?

The Bhāṣyakāra gives a fine solution by applying sūtra’s own words:

sampadyāvirbhāvaḥ svena śabdāt ||BC 4/4/1 ||

“Through the words of the Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII, it is proved that there is an emergence of a divine body to the jīva in the abode of Parabrahman.”

The Bhāṣyakāra comments:

brahmarūpasya paropākasya videhamuktau brāhma vapurlakṣaṇaṃ navataraṃ divyarūpamabhiniṣpadyate” (Brahmasūtra 4/4/1, p.416)

“One who is brahmarūpa and offers upāsanā to Parabrahman attains new divine brāhmika body in the videhamukti state.”

In this way, a seeker attains this brāhmic body. Now we will analyze the form of this body. Well, there is no possibility, nor any need for any other kind of body-form other than similar to Parabrahman in the state of liberation. Every mukta is given the body composed of divine material of the substance of consciousness-bliss and this body is exactly analogous to teen-aged form (sadā-kiśora-murti-rūpa) of Parabrahman because this is the original form of Parabrahman and the Śruti says 'Svena rupeṇa' abhiniṣpadyate'[1] and 'mama bhavamāgatā.[2] So, whatever original (mūla) form (rūpa) of Parabrahman is there, the similar equally divine, glorious form every mukta gets through His grace. Parabrahman Himself comes to receive the liberated self to His abode, and en-route Akṣaradhāma. He invests the freed self with a divine-effulgent body of brahma tattva (the stuff of consciousness-bliss).

This he, (a mukta) gets from Parabrahman on the perish of the subtle physical body only after acquiring brahmanhood. Of course, in the highest abode of Parabrahman (parama dhāma/ Akṣaradhāma) there is no scope for any other form (or any other type of body), because it alone exists eternally also after final destruction (mahāpralaya / ātyantikapralaya); and in mahāpralaya (final dissolution) all other names and forms except that of Parabrahman, Akṣarabrahman, and muktas are doomed through destruction.[3] This makes one more thing clear logically and spiritually that only divine form-personality (Brahman-Parabrahman) alone is beyond the limitations of space and time (prakṛti-names and forms); and as the muktas are dowered with Parabrahman-like divine body-form, they exist imperishably.

Although the muktas are similar to Parabrahman in possession of body-form and characteristics, there is an important difference. The unique differentia of Parabrahman is-He is the inner ruler of all, He is the controller, creator-sustainer-destroyer of an infinite number of universes, He alone is exclusively independent, and supreme controller and supporter of all. His perfection, divinity, glory, and power are infinite, unconditional, independent, and causa Sui. This is not the case with muktas, because theirs is everything conditional, dependent and derived from Parabrahman. This retains the master-servant, worshipped-worshipper relationship intact between Parabrahman and muktas. This further implies that the shine, luster, and effulgence of Parabrahman are exceedingly superior and marvelous to that of the muktas.[4] Consequently, the transcendence and the supreme majesty of Parabrahman remains unmatched and unexcelled.

Bhadreśadāsa expresses this view in the Brahmasūtras by quoting the sūtra: ataḥ eva ca ananyādhipatiḥ[5] It reads that there is the only controller of mukta is Parabrahman. Thus muktas become free from kāla, kārma, and māyā but remain independent to Parabrahman forever. The oft-emphasized illustration says that a worm is converted into a honey-bee by a bee, which implies that the ksetrajña jīvātman remains the same while the body of the honey-bee is acquired. On the same analogy, the atomic ātman remains the same while discarding the kārma-born material body; it acquires a new divine body composed of parā-prakṛti, i.e. effulgent aprakṛtas ubstance of the nature of consciousness-bliss.

It cannot be held that in the state of mokṣa jīvātman undergoes transformation and gets into the shape of a divine body, because when the jīvātman did not undergo any change or transformation in the state of bondage, how can it ever undergo change and become body shaped with parts and limbs in the state of liberation? Therefore, on this issue, Svāminārāyaṇa says: “After leaving this physical body, when ātman goes to the abode of Parabrahman on achieving mokṣa, it acquires a new body of the nature of brahman (consciousness-light) by the will and grace of Parabrahman.[6] At the loss of the physical body, an emancipated jīvātman with the body composed of effulgent-consciousness attains the service of Parabrahman in His abode. Moreover, the words 'caitanya-ni-murti'[7] is interpreted in the commentary as the body of the nature of Brahman. It is the extremely effulgent being-consciousness bliss (sat-cit-ānanda tattva/ dravyam). It is called ‘sat-cit-ānanda’ also because the word ‘sat’ here means eternal-indestructible (nitya) ‘cit’ means of the nature of effulgence (jyotirupa) and ananda because the body is pleasantly agreeable.

As explicated in the Vacanāmṛta that when the jīva, becomes brahmrupa and departs from this worldly body, by the will and resolve of Parabrahman, it acquires Brahman-like celestial divine body through the parā prakṛti. On this issue, Vacanāmṛta explicitly says that when the jīva gets rid of its attachment with threefold (gross, subtle, causal) bodies, and the ātman exists as conscious principle per se, it is invested with a body composed of Brahman distinct from the material prakṛti of 24 elements. Through the immense grace of Parabrahman, the jīva acquires this brahmic body and enjoys the bliss of Parabrahman.[8] Bhadreśadāsa also confirms while commenting on the Bhagavad-Gītā

The verse reads:

apareyamitastvanyāṃ prakṛtiṃ viddhi me parām |
jīvabhūtāṃ mahābāho yayedaṃ dhāryate jagat ||
Bhagavad-Gītā 7/5 ||

“My other higher entity is the Para Prakṛti, which is different from the insentient prakṛti and by which this entire universe is sustained, O Arjuna.”

The Bhāṣyakāra provides the explicit reason that:

evaṃ videhamuktāvakṣarabrahmākhyaparaprakṛtereva muktānāṃ divyabrāhmadehasya nirmāṇatvāt” (Bhagavad-Gītā 7/5, p.158)

Aparaprakriti here implies Akṣarabrahman because, in videhmukti, only Akṣarabrahman can compose the brāhmic body for muktas.”

Here, the meaning of ' parā prakṛti' is explained as ‘akṣarabrahmātmaka-parāprakṛti’ and the meaning of the word ‘deha’ is given as ‘brahmamāyā taṇuh’, and the meaning of ‘samyujyate’ is brought forward as ‘tadabhisamayukto bhavati’. This explication in the commentary makes one more point clear: the jivātman (with ‘I-sense’ of ahamartha) and the body (brahmamāyā tanu), it possesses, are two different things, so the body-self distinction of a different kind still prevails. So, the possessor-possessed relation remains between the two.

Caitanya prakṛti is not jīva rūpa prakṛti but it is parā prakṛti known as aksarabrahmätka prakṛti out of which the bodies of muktas are composed.

Vach. Sar.14 says:

“Casting the physical body on earth, when jivātman becomes free from it. Parabrahman dowers him a new body called ‘Bhāgavati-taṇu’ with which the mukta-jīva resides in the abode of Parabrahman. This once again spells out the ‘body-self’ relation which persists at the level of parama pāda. When the mukta-jīva acquires a divine body of the nature of light-consciousness, he then becomes capable to distinguish between himself, other muktas, Akṣarabrahman and Parabrahman.”

Thus, each mukta is a knower and enjoyer with uncontaminated pure ‘I-sense’, by his own divine body. The forms-personalities of Parabrahman, Akṣarabrahman, and the released selves (muktas i.e. pārṣadas) are true (real), divine, and extremely effulgent. All of them have a body form like that of ‘Puruṣa’ (Parabrahman Himself) endowed with two hands.[9]

The Bhāṣyakāra elaborates:

evameveṣa samprasādo dehātmavivekī prāguktāpahatapāpmatvādiguṇaviśiṣṭo brahmarūpaḥ parabrahmopāsako muktātmā asmāccharīrāt prārabdhalabdhānnaśvarād dehāt samutthāya niṣkramyā'cirādidivyamārgeṇa paraṃ jyotiḥ divyaprabhāsamānā'kṣaradhāmasthitaparamadivyatejasvinaṃ paramātmānam upasampadya prāpya svena rūpeṇā'bhiniṣpadyate svena brāhmaṇa divyavigraharūpeṇa niṣpanno bhavati | brāhmatanuyuktaḥ san sadaiva paramātmaparamadivyasukhaṃ divyā'kṣaradhāmnyanubhavatītyarthaḥ |” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 8/12/2, pp.386-387)

“A brahmarūpa devotee with the divine qualities who can discern between the body and the ātman offers upāsanā to Parabrahman. After leaving his physical mortal body, he trends on the divine Arcirādi path and attains Parabrahman in His abode. At this moment, this liberated self enriches with the divine brāhmika body and continuously experiences the bliss of Parabrahman.”

A mukta worships and serves Parabrahman clothed in a divine body that has non-material, senses, mind, vital breath etc. It is the body composed of the substance of the nature of effulgent consciousness-bliss. Brahmasūtras 4/4/10, (abhāvam bādarirõh hyevam) raises a doubt whether released selves acquire the vivid pleasures in the abode or not? But the Bhāṣyakāra strongly refutes this position, that there is any possibility of such pleasure items. In other words, the mukta becomes devoid of kārma born prakrta material body (aśariri); and acquires kārma free non-material (aprāksta) body (śarīra). This is the view of Bādarāyaṇa in Brahmasūtras 4/4/12. This divine body is eternal, (sarge'pi nopajāyante pralaye vyathanti ca), devoid of production and destruction even at every periodical creation and dissolution.[10]

There is one more way in which the problem of mukta’ s divya-śarīra is viewed. When the jivātman departs from its mortal-physical body, rises above, it receives a new divine body from Parabrahman. Thus, Parabrahman gives him a new divine body which is of the nature-&-stuff of lustrous-consciousness. Here, the words ‘gets’ and ‘gives’ are not used in the conventional sense of getting or giving a visible-tangible material object from one hand into another. Here, the words ‘gets’ or ‘gives’ is used to imply that a divine body comes forth (āvirbhavati) from the personality of Parabrahman by His will. That is why, it is termed to suggest-‘just as the Guru gives knowledge (jñāna) to a śiṣya (i.e. unveils truth). Similarly, the bhāgavati taṇu is given. The Antaryāmī Paramātmā (may also), by His extraordinary divine power, can make bhāgavati tanu become manifest (avirbhāva) from inside for the mukta-jīva. It is called ‘bhāgavati tanu’, because the body resembles the form (vigraha) of Brahman, and also because it is dowered (or endowed) by Parabrahman out of His sweet will graciously. (Bhagavat eva bhāgavati murti, Bhagavān-murtisamāna-murti, bhagavadecchaya-prāpta-tatsam-murti.) In this way, for a jivātman who now has become pure-consciousness, a permanent-unchanging (dhruva/ kutastha) divine body (divya-deha) is formulated (made manifest) by the will of Parabrahman.

The body of the nature of Puruṣottama manifests for jivātman, having a form similar to Parabrahman, and it is everlasting and identical; and yet the knower and enjoyer of Lord and His bliss, it is a perfectly symmetrical beautiful body endowed with all abilities fully consummated. It is the body in which as if the knower, the known, and the knowledge are fused together like a single entity! The premākarṣaṇa (Love-Attraction) of the Puruṣottama is supreme, infinite, and indescribable. In such a most lustrous satcidānandamāyā murti of Parabrahman, the jivātman is attracted and lost totally in Him out of highest love and devotion for Him. As a response to his psychological (merger) union with Paramātman, from Him out of overflowing grace and will, the jivātman receives (has a manifestation of) the Parabrahman-like divine lustrous body. He makes him acquire it. As a mother confers a similar form to a baby, so does Parabrahman bestow on him a divine form (body) similar to His own.

It is a ‘guṇa-dravyam-caitanya-ākrti’ i.e. a body of nature and effulgent consciousness. This ‘lustrous-consciousness’ out of which the body is made, pervades perfectly within the confines of the body-shape wholly and does not flow out or exceed it, nor does it leave any point or portion of body unpervaded within it. Here, an illustration given as a pointer (and not for literal application) is -just as water turns into the shape of an ice-cube, and thus acquires the features-properties of ice. Similarly, all the characteristics and features of Parabrahman’s personality are acquired by the released self (with the exception of the qualities and powers of His supreme exclusive transcendence, as stated in Svetā Up. 6/16). In short, the mukta acquires a perfect-permanent body resembling Parabrahman Himself. 397

When the supreme Puruṣottama makes a divine body manifest (for a liberated jivātman) out of Brahman, does it indicate any change (vikārah) and loss or diminution (kṣayah/hrāsah) in His personality? The answer is no. Parabrahman's form-personality is of the nature of consciousness-bliss, which is eternal and unique. Uniform, unchanging, undiminishing, infinite, and perfect. So, despite the attainment of perfection from Him by innumerable released selves, His perfection remains unique, infinite, and undiminished. The devotee endowed with upāsanā, self-knowledge, Parabrahman-knowledge, the strength of Parabrahman's divine nature and the state of likeness with Akṣarabrahman is blessed by a divine Parabrahman-like body (Bhāgavati-taṇu) at the loss of his physical body and reaches the highest abode called Brahmadhāma (parama dhāma).

Bhadreśadāsa draws upon this when commenting on the Upaniṣads. He explains that when the self leaves the body and reaches the supremely glorious form of Parabrahman in the divinely luminous Akṣaradhāma, it receives a divine, Brāhmika body { divyabrāhmavigraha; brāhmatanu} in which it continuously experiences the divine bliss of Parabrahman.

This is analogously and even more explicitly stated in Brhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 4/4/4:[11]

tadyathā peśaskārī peśaso mātrāmapādāyānyannavataraṃ kalyāṇataraṃ
rūpaṃ tanuta evamevāyamātmedaṃ śarīraṃ nihatyavidyāṃ
gamayitvā'nyannavataraṃ kalyāṇataraṃ rūpaṃ kurute pitryaṃ
gāndharvaṃdaivaṃprājāpatyaṃbrāhmaṃ vā'nyeṣāṃ vā bhūtānām ||
(Brhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 4/4/4)

“As a goldsmith takes a piece of gold and turns it into another, newer, more beautiful form, in the same way, this self, having discarded this body and dispelled its ignorance, receives another, newer, more beautiful... brāhmi form.”

Elaborating upon this new form in Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/38, Svāminārāyaṇa speaks of it alongside Parabrahman's form in the following way:

“The form of Parabrahman in Akṣaradhāma and the form of the muktas -the attendants of Parabrahman -are all real, divine, and extremely luminous. Also, the form of that Parabrahman and those muktas is two-armed like that of a human being, and it is characterized by eternal existence, consciousness, and bliss.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/38)

Going even further in likening the muktas form with Parabrahman’s human-shaped form, Svāminārāyaṇa calls theirs a ‘Parabrahmanly body’, or ‘bhāgavati tanu’ (Vacanāmṛta Sārangpur 14). The climax of this similarity is found in Vacanāmṛta Kāriyānī 1, where Svāminārāyaṇa states that the liberated selves, due to their knowledge of Parabrahman, assume a form like Parabrahman's form. That is, he explains, ‘they become divine'.

Being divine and composed solely of consciousness means that the liberated selves are without any of the distinctions of name and form possible only with māyic materiality. In other words, the forms in Akṣaradhāma of Parabrahman, Akṣarabrahman, and all liberated selves are virtually identical, with the muktas themselves being visually indistinguishable from one another (even while retaining their ontological individuality). Another reason for this is that the forms of the muktas are genderless, just as the selves themselves are (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/22).

In a sermon recorded in Svāmīnī Vāto 7/2, Svāminārāyaṇa explains:

“The form of a mukta is different from the two genders of the world. It is neither female in shape nor male in shape. It has a wholly brāhmic body, which is neither feminine nor masculine.”

This also helps explain that, even while having a human-shaped form -complete with senses, inner faculties, etc. -the fact that it is divine, Brāhmika, and composed entirely of consciousness, the liberated selves are devoid of any human functions and urges. Having transcended māyā, they are beyond hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc., and free of all forms of mundane passions.[12]

Footnotes and references:


Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 8/12/2


Bhagavad-Gītā 4/10


Mundaka-upaniṣad 3/2/8


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/13; 3/31, 38


Brahmasūtras 4/4/9, with Parabrahman Aksharbrahman is also controller of muktas. Here is the context of Parabrahman.


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/1


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/37


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/66


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/38


Brahmasūtra 4/4/10-4/4/12, pp.422-424


See Brhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad-Svāminārāyaṇa-bhāṣya 4.4.4, pp.268-269 for a fuller explanation of this verse, where it relates the brahmarūpa mukta receiving a brāhmasarira for enjoying Parabrahman in Akṣaradhāma, whereas other, less elevated selfs will receive other types of bodies as they enjoy the pleasures of lesser abodes. Despite these similarities, the liberated selfs remain ontologically distinct from Parabrahman and Akṣarabrahman.


abhāvaṃ bādarirāha hyevamBrahmasūtra 4/4/10, pp.422-423

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