What does Jivanmukta-Jnani Understand? – Atman is like Space & Light (148)


Lesson 148 demonstrates direct understanding of a self-realized one (jivanmukta / jnani). What kind of understanding does moksha have?

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34


    • VERSE 1-24: 6 words answered.
      • Kshetra/Prakriti: Matter.
      • Jnanam: Values to adopt (deliberately choose) and adapt (make day compatible to welcome in a new value).
      • Ksetrajna: Consciousness principle (purusha) from standpoint of body-mind. Ātmā.
      • Purusha: All pervading Consciousness principle (Brahman). When purusha obtains in body as kṣetrajña (knower), it seems to be the kartā/bhoktā.
    • VERSE 24-26: General discussion about Jnana-Yoga.
      • 5 stages:
        • Karma-Yoga: Spiritualizing your every-day actions by proper action &  proper attitude.
        • Upasana: Meditation (steps mentioned in CH6).
        • Jnana-Yoga: Knowledge of Self (real “I”).
          1. Shravanam: Listening with curiosity and open-mind to Upanishads.
          2. Mananam: Aligning your contrary notions with those stated in Upanishads.
          3. Nididhyasanam: Continuing to be occasionally involved in topic of Self-Knowledge through various texts.
            • Because old habits will return. Gloomy perspective returns. Common human emotions of discouragement and feeling of smallness returns.
            • However throughout those feelings, there’s a different relationship with them, as they belong to incidental anatma.
    • VERSE 27-34: Benefits of assimilated self-knowledge. Or features of a jivanmukta.
  • VERSE 27: Benefit #1: Balanced perspective because one’s inner eye acknowledges: prakṛti & puruṣa.
    • Knowing about prakṛti only leads to creative pursuits of happiness.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 28:

samaṃ paśyan hi sarvatra samavasthitam īśvaram ।
na hinasti ātmanā ātmānam tataḥ yāti parām gatim ॥ 13-28 ॥
Because of seeing the Lord as the same, as the one who obtains in the same form everywhere, he does not destroy himself by himself. Therefore, he reaches the ultimate end.


  • SECOND BENEFIT: Freedom from mortality. (parām gatim).
    • It actualizes the popular Pavamāna Mantra (from Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.3.28):
      • asato mā sadgamaya, tamaso mā jyotirgamaya, mṛtyormā amṛtaṃ gamaya: Take me from untruth to truth. From darkness to light. From mortality to immortality.
  • How does ajñāni destroy himself? Adi Shankara gives 2 meanings:
    1. Body wears-out because of my insistent efforts to do and enjoy (because can’t stand smallness). Thus my sustained ignorance wears-out/destroys the body (in whom the “I” is placed into).
      • Although “official cause” is: cancer, brain hemorrhage, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer, etc. Universal cause: “My prārabdha has exhausted”.
    2. Every minute of not knowing my ātmā-svārupa, I am, as though, destroying ātmā, because it’s constantly denied/disowned… due to unwillingness to pursue the hard path (śreya) of discover it, but resort to easy-lazy path (preya) of instant gratification.
  • Whereas, na hinasti ātmanā ātmānam tataḥ yāti parām gatim: Jñāni does not ruin herself because she has taken time to discover the indweller (that which is most attractive, most beautiful, most wanted)… being ānanda (limitlessness).
  • NEXT VERSE: 3rd benefit of actualized jñāna-yoga: I am free of actions and results of actions.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 29:

prakṛtyā eva ca karmāṇi kriyamāṇāni sarvaśaḥ ।
yaḥ paśyati tathā ātmānam akartāram saḥ paśyati ॥ 13-29 ॥
He who sees all actions as being done by Prakṛti alone in all means, and so too, (he who sees) the self as a non-doer, he alone sees.

  • THIRD BENEFIT: Jnani is akartā. I was never the doer of any sins/virtues. Hence I am free of them. Actions and their results belong to the doing instrument (body), which has zero connection to myself.
    • In short: All actions belong to kṣetram/prakṛti. Because it’s prakṛti’s nature to engage in actions (because of universal laws). While in kṣetrajña’s presence, all actions are known to take place.
    • Meaning:
      • There’s no need to ask God for forgiveness for past mistakes, because nobody chose to be ignorant (which generated the mistakes). Ignorance is universal.
        • CAUTION: Above statement only applies to one who has gone through earlier 5 stages as discussed last session. Telling this to one who hasn’t come to jnana-yoga is dangerous.
      • AFTERLIFE: Knowing “I am akartā”, even afterlife review process becomes irrelevant, because only a ignorant person (kartā) considers the review worthwhile/meaningful.
  • Connection between kartā/bhoktā (Doer/enjoyer):
    • To be born is to act (kartā). To act is to produce consequences.   Consequences are either enjoyed/suffered (bhoktā) > produces rebirth. For this reason, no action can stop rebirth, because action produces more consequences.
      • Adi Shankara says: If one is convinced you are kartā, then immediately one becomes accountable for all actions… accumulates puṇya-pāpa… undergo sukha-duḥkha saṃsāra.
    • PROBLEM: “I” is identified with kartā. Accordingly, “I am forced to be a bhoktā (enjoyer/sufferer)”.
      • SOLUTION: Solution is not to STOP doing actions or CHANGE quality of actions… but understand that kartā is not Self. Moment buddhi accepts and understands why this is so, that shifts identity to akartā.
    • Why shifting identity to akartā stops rebirth?
      • Because akartā never did any action, hence it has no consequences to experience.
      • Because akartā was never born, hence it can’t die.
    • What makes akartā a non-doer?
      • Akartā nature: niguṇa (formless), nirvikāra (changeless), satyam (obtains everywhere).
    • Consequently, Jīvanmukta doesn’t say, “I am doing”, but “In My presence, prakṛti does everything”.
  • CAUTION: Knowing Self as akartā, should never lead to thoughts/acts of adharma. If there is adharma, that’s an instant giveaway that akartā knowledge isn’t actualized, but a close ally of ahamkāra.
    • We can prove this, because person who does adharma and claims to be akartā… still fears being caught. Meaning, he fears imprisonment of body (meaning identity placed in kartā-body).
  • NEXT VERSE: 4th benefit of actualized jñāna-yoga: I am the cause of the universe, and not an effect.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 30:

yadā bhūta-pṛthak-bhāvam ekastham anupaśyati ।
tataḥ eva ca vistāram brahma sampadyate tadā ॥ 13-30 ॥
When one sees clearly, the condition of distinction in the beings, as having its existence in one (ātman), and from that alone is its projection (distinctions), then he gains Brahman.

  • FORTH BENEFIT: Self is jagat kāraṇam/adhiṣṭhāna (substratum/base).
    • Also mentioned in Verse 19 of Kaivalya Upanishad, “In me alone is everything born, in me does everything rest,  and in me is everything dissolved.  I am that One Alone, without a second.”
  • How to grasp above statement?
      • Microscomic Aspect: Kṣetram-Dream is product of Wakers mind. Within the dream, objects are born out-of, sustained-by and resolved-into the Waker alone.
        • While the Awareness of the contents of the dream is because of Kṣetrajña. That very same Awareness continues Aware-ing the contents of the Waking-state.
      • Macrocosmic Aspect: All 3 states of experience (Waking, Dream, Sleep)… are product of prakriti. And in Puruṣa’s presence, there is knowledge of 3 states. Hence puruṣa is the base of the 3 states.
    2. Self-inquiry:
      • (1) What about THIS EXPERIENCE RIGHT NOW is purusha (Awareness), and…
      • (2) What about THIS EXPERIENCE RIGHT NOW is prakriti?
    3. SPACE-CONSCIOUSNESS EXAMPLE: To understand yourself as Cause of creation (jagat kāraṇam)…
      1. SPACE:
        • We start out with statement of fact: “Entire universe arises out of space”. EG: Even black hole is within space; it can suck everything except space itself”
        • Q: How to understand space when it’s invisible/intangible? Also space is not “nothing”, but an actual substance. Space to humans, is what water is to fish.
        • Steps:
          • STEP 1: Two realities exist in this room. The room and the space inside it.
          • STEP 2: Space is not only in one room, but in all enclosures, like: Stomach, lungs, cups, caves.
          • STEP 3: Space is not only IN every enclosure, but outside enclosures.
          • STEP 4: There is only One space in which all enclosures exist.
          • STEP 5: According to śāstra, all things in creation are born out of attributeless space alone. So all things come out-of, are sustained-by, and resolve-into space.
            • EG: (1) Electron spinning in space-orbit around atomic nucleus. (2) First atoms (hydrogen/helium: which are of course product of smaller units) arose 300,000 years after big-bang.
          • CONCLUSION: Space is the ultimate cause from standpoint of perceptual/inferential (prakṛti) universe.
        • Extending above example to Consciousness. First know, space is not equated to Consciousness, but it’s closest mithyā analogy for Consciousness.
        • STEP 1: Within my body, there is Consciousness.
        • STEP 2: Consciousness is not only within my body, but all bodies.
        • STEP 3: Even though bodies are different, consciousness is the same.
        • STEP 4: Consciousness is not only in bodies, but outside bodies also.
        • STEP 5: Actually, all bodies are resting-in, are sustained-by and resolve-into Consciousness. And that very Consciousness, I am.
  • bhūta-pṛthak-bhāvam ekastham anupaśyati: Jīvanmukta recognizes manifold things (bhūta) are resting in Me (ekastham, the non-dual Self).  Meaning, I am the cause of creation, and not the effect. Any attempt to study the universe, is only studying myself.
  • For this reason, sampadyate brahma: Assimilating this, in time, one’s “I” shifts to Brahman
  • NEXT VERSE: Jnani doesn’t have karma-phalams.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 31:

anāditvāt nirguṇatvāt paramātmā ayam avyayaḥ ।
śarīrasthaḥ api kaunteya na karoti na lipyate ॥ 13-31 ॥
Being birthless and attributeless, this supreme Self is imperishable (changeless). Though obtaining in the body, it does not perform action, and is not affected (by results of actions), Oh! Arjuna.

  • FIFTH BENEFIT: Jñāni is untouched by anything.
  • Śarīrasthaḥ api: Even after waking up (claiming one’s svarūpa), the jivanmukta continues being in the body assigned at birth, however…
  • na karoti, na lipyateJnani neither acts, nor is affected.
  • Waking up from Dream VS. Waking up from Ignorance:
    1. When wake up from dream, the dream-creation totally disappears from experience.
    2. Whereas upon wake of knowledge (aham brahman asmi), world continues to appear like before.
      • All the while, jñāni’s reality is, “My worn incidental body is like that of a dream. Whereas I AM the Waker… lending it existence. Whatever gain/loss happens to the body, makes no difference to Self (Waker).”
  • Accordingly, ayam paramātmā avyayaḥ: Paramātmā (puruṣa) is avyayaḥ (not changed). Just as waker is not wet by dream rain, or burnt by dream fire, or quenched by dream thirst (desire).
    • IE: Waker is unchanged by dream / Atman is unchanged by body-mind. In both cases Waker/dreamer and atma/body are two different orders of reality.
  • What else is nature of paramatma (purusha / atman)?
    • Nirguṇatvāt: Attributeless. Even though everything is made out of Existence (paramātmā)… Existence still remains Existence. It never becomes something… just as gold doesn’t become bangle/ring.
    • Anāditvāt: Paramātmā is without beginning, hence it can never be anything but itself (sat-cit), which is infinitively big, absolutely complete.
  • NEXT VERSE: Metaphor how Self (paramatma) is never affected by anything.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 32:

yathā sarvagatam saukṣmyāt ākāśam na upalipyate ।
sarvatra-avasthitaḥ dehe tathā ātmā na upalipyate ॥ 13-32 ॥
Just as all pervasive space, because it is subtle, is not affected, so too, the self, abiding in all states in the body is not affected.

  • Krishna says: Even though Atman is associated with everything… is not affected.
  • Example 1: Atman is compared to Space (ākāśa) because Space is closest metaphor for Ātman.
    • NOTE: Space is not emptiness/nothingness. It’s actually subtle matter.
  • Space/Atma contrasted:
    • Both are One of a kind. EG: Space over there is no different from space over here.
    • Neither have opposites.
    • Both, All-pervading. Hence neither move.
    • Neither get older/younger/out of shape. Nirvikāra.
    • Both are part-less.
    • Associated with everything, yet never polluted by the associated.
    • Both accommodate everything else.
    • Both are difficult to intellectually comprehend.
  • Accordingly, sarvagatām ākāśam na upalipyate: All pervading space is unaffected by anything because of it’s more subtle then everything else in creation. Similarly, ātmā is like space.
  • NEXT VERSE: Krishna compares Ātman to light.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 33:

yathā prakāśayati ekaḥ kṛtsnam lokam imam raviḥ ।
kṣetram kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnam prakāśayati bhārata ॥ 13-33 ॥
Just as one Sun illumines the entire world, so also does the Kshetrajñā (one who obtains in the kṣetra), illumines the entire kṣētraṁ, O Arjuna.

  • Verse 33 is from Katha Upanishad, Part 2, CH2, Verse 11.
  • Example 2: Atman is compared to light of the sun.
  • Light/Atma contrasted:
    • Neither get sullied by what they brighten. Light equally brightens presence of the good, bad, ugly.
    • Both “make known” the object they shine upon.
    • Neither can be tasted/smelled/felt/heard. Else they’re being objectified.
      • Both are understood by help of a reflecting medium. EG: Light/hand, Consciousness-thought.
  • OBJECTION: Light doesn’t change in presence of objects. But how to show Atman doesn’t change in presence of thoughts?
    • METHOD 1:
      • To report that state has changed from A to B, there must be existence of C which remained same throughout A and B, in order to report the change.
      • If Atman was a thought, then couldn’t say “I was grumpy in morning and alert in afternoon”, because there would be NO RELATION to past differences. This very microsecond would be the only reality in your awareness.
  • Converting Verse 32/33 into self-inquiry / Meditations:
    1. I am like space and light.
    2. Atman obtains in all states. Giving way to all states. Letting all states be. Rests as the non-interfering witness. Gently whispers, “It is so!” to every experience.
    3. With open eyes, look at any object. Notice 2 factors are involved: (1) Object’s qualities like shape, size, color (2) You, in whose presence, the object is confirmed to Exist.
  • HOMEWORK: Demonstrate 3 ways…
    1. Demonstrate 3 ways that Consciousness is not physical neurological-activity.
    2. Prove in 3 ways that Subtle-body is not Consciousness.
  • NEXT VERSE: Final benefit is moksha / self-realization / enlightenment.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 34:

kṣetra-kṣetrajñayoḥ evam antaram jñāna-cakṣuṣā ।
bhūta-prakṛti-mokṣam ca ye viduḥ yānti te param ॥ 13-34 ॥
With the eye of wisdom, those who know the distinction between the kṣetram and kṣetrajña, and (know) the freedom from prakṛti, the cause of the beings, they attain the ultimate end.

  • Final benefit: Devotee has fulfilled the ultimate purpose of birth. End without return.
    • Why no return? Because jivamukta’s assimilated: I am Existence, the content of all names-forms. Everything is borrowed from Me alone.
  • According to verse a jivanmukta is one who:
    • kṣetra-kṣetrajñayoḥ antaram, recognizes distinction of kshetrajna-kshetra (Consciousness-matter / purusha-prakriti).
    • bhūta-prakṛti-mokṣam, who knows with conviction, that one’s nature is free of prakṛti.
  • Such person has discovered jñāna-cakṣuḥ: A discerning eye of wisdom.
    • What is this wisdom? Can’t see electricity in a fan, but it must be there because fan is spinning. So discernment is by understanding.
      • Same with Subject/Object. I can’t be an Object because there must be a Subject to know the Object.
  • How is jñāna-cakṣuḥ attained? 4 factors: Śāstra, teacher, yourself and Īśvara. All come together.

— This ends Bhagavad Gita CH13, Distinction between the Kshetrajna (Purusha in reference to the body-mind, who then becomes the Knower) and Kshetra (the known body-mind, 5 elements). And Purusha (Brahman) and Prakriti (5 elements / time-space-object). —


Keywords: jnana-cakshu, ajnani vs jnani, jivamukta

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 19 Oct, 2021


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