Some Jeevanmuktas

( A ) Sri Shuka Maharshi

A lofty king among mountains called Himalaya stretching from East to West adorns our land of glory in the North like a yardstick meant to measure it.  At the foot of the mountain lies a place of divinity called Badarikashram.  Once it was at this place that Veda Vyasa Maharshi, author of 18 puranas, author of Vedic division and also of the Science of Brahma Mimamsa was once performing thapas besides initiating his disciples into the ancient lore.

Shuka was born to Vyasa as an Ayonija, i.e., outside the physical barriers of the womb.

Devendra gave a kamandalu for Shuka, the brahmachari.  The Devatas gave him the saintly robe. The great Shuka lived there alone observing celibacy. What was great was the moment he was born, all the Vedas and the secret lore of knowledge sprang within himself.  In spite of this, he chose to study everything systematically under Guru Brihaspathi and mastered all the sciences, epics and the Vedas accordingly.  He duly paid the “Kanika” to the Guru at the end of his studies.  Then he went over to Meru mountain to perform thapas as a devout brahmachari.  There he meditated in such a way as to win the admiration of the Devatas and Rishis alike.  His mind did not dwell even for a moment in Grihastashrama.

Shuka received the blessings of Raja-rishi Janaka and proceeded towards the Himalayas.  As he reached the Himalayas, he heard his father’s voice imparting Vedic knowledge to disciples like Paila.  Bowing to Vyasa, Shuka narrated all that transpired at Mithila.  The overjoyed father embraced Shuka.  While the other students left for their studies, Shuka chose to concentrate on Vyasa’s teachings. Vyasa’s accentuation on Vedic recitation and exercise for Shuka was of a very high order as he took his son to the secret lore of creation, protection and destruction.  Once, however, the teaching process was disturbed by a tempestuous wave – a parenthetical one unrecommended for Vedic studies.  Vyasa brought this to Shuka’s knowledge, stopped the discourse and left for a bath.  As the violence of the wind disappeared, Shuka resumed the study of Vedas.  Sanatkumara then came to him and described to him in detail the great horizons of knowledge.

Shuka’s detachment to family and material environment became total.  As soon as Sanatkumara left after meta-physical disquisitions, Shuka sat facing the East and meditated on the manifestations of the Brahman.  His sensory perceptions and the very life force  (Prana) assumed upward motion. His mind was completely occupied with the Parabrahman.  Nothing except the form of Sat-Chit-Ananda was visible to him.  Immersed as he was in dhyanayoga, he found himself moving over from Saguna samadhi to Nirguna samadhi.  In that state, he rose to the upper worlds, leaving Bhu-loka behind.  He attained a divine thejasic (fiery) form, went over to his father, offered prostration to him and moved further upwards.  Vyasa first did not seem to know what was happening to his son.  But in a minute he realized that Shuka was leaving him for the higher lokas, seeking the Parabrahman.  Unable to bear the pangs of separation from his son, Vyasa asked him to stay for a moment but found Shuka steadily rising.  Every time Vyasa called him, Shuka replied through the medium of matter (Prithvi), water (Aa), fire (Thejas), air (Vayu) and ether (Akash) and even through the trees and plants.  “I am coming father’, he said, “I shall return and meet you after darshan of the Parabrahman.” Shuka had permeated the Pancha-bhutas (i.e. the five elemental structure) and his reply seemed to bring manifold reverberations through the elements. Like the celestial bird Garuda, he was moving up and the Devatas profusely showered flowers son him. Addressing the Rishis and Devatas on the way, He said, “If my father happens to come this way and call me, I would like you to mimic my voice and say, “I am coming father,’ and make him feel delighted.

As Shuka proceeded further, there were two mountain peaks and there was virtually no space in between for him to pass through; but there was a sudden cleavage and the two gave way.  As he was passing by a secret edge of the Ganga, some celestial damsels were bathing there.  When they beheld Shuka bereft of any consciousness of their nudity, they continued to bathe undisturbed by his nearness. But when Vyasa came near the place in search of his son, they put on their clothes in embarrassment.

“How is it,” Vyasa asked bathers, “then when my son passed by this side, you did not put on your robes while the moment you saw me, you covered yourselves in embarrassment?’

“Your son,” said the damsels, “has permeated the structure of all elements and without perceiving  the difference between male and female forms has been seeing the form of Brahman in everything.  But you seem to be perceiving that difference.  That is why we were not mindful of Shuka when we saw him but we became sensitive and embarrassed when we saw you.” Vyasa was wonder struck by Shuka’s great influence.  It made him very happy.  Mountains, rivers, trees, plants, Rishis, earth, water, fire, air and ether were echoing Vyasa’s call “Father, I am here.” Vyasa’s joy knew no bounds.

However, he was depressed with the feeling that he would not have the pleasure of seeing his son’s divine frame and effulgent face.  He sat near Ganga for some time.  Shiva came to him and pacified him with showers of praise for Shuka’s steadfastness as to identification with the Brahman.  Vyasa returned to his ashram and he resumed his thapas.  The pangs of parting from Shuka, however, pestered his mind.  He went over to Nara-narayana ashram for thapas, looking for Shuka’s visit.

Shuka Rishi paid a visit to Sweta-dweepa and had darshan of Narayana.  When he visited Vaikunta, there also he saw the Narayana ashram and offered his praise for the presiding deity. “Shuka Maharshi”, said Narayana, “You are a siddhi and have achieved everything. You are a liberated person (Jeevanmukta). There is nothing left over that you have to acquire.  However, it is better you go to Bhu-loka and stay with Veda Vyasa.  You may study his Bhagavatha Sastra.  Also you have to author a unique work on Nadi astrological literature which will render yeoman service to people at large by enabling them to know their past, present and future.  This will render your name as immortal as the Parabrahman.  To meet your father now, you should go to Gandhamadana mountain.

Although Shuka had merged with the Parabrahman, in accordance with the direction of Narayana, he retraced his steps to Gandhamadana.  There he met his father, studied Bhagavatha which focuses light on the tenets of renunciation and visualization of Parabrahman in everything with a universality of outlook.  He also wrote the Nadi jyotishya granthas and taught the science of it to many Rishis.  With a complete sense of detachment, he travelled in all the lokas.  As he was a liberated soul, he had no  problems of hunger or desire for food.  In consonance with the disciplinary routine of one who had renounced the world, he would seek bhiksha on rare occasions from grihastas.

 

Liberation in 7 days:

Once the grandson of Pandavas, King Parikshit lost his way in a hunting expedition and got into the ashram of Shamika Rishi.  When he elicited opinion on the way he had missed from the Rishi, there was no response from the latter as he was in deep samadhi.  Angered by his taciturnity, the king took a dead snake that was lying there, put it round the Rishi’s neck and left.  The Rishi’s son Shrungi, who came on the scene a litter later, got angry with the insult meted out to him and cursed that whoever was responsible for the heinous act would die within 7 days bitten by Takshaka (the snake).  Parikshit learnt the curse with great sorrow, developed total detachment from the world and constructed an impregnable place amidst a pool of water to ward off the danger in store.  He was initiated into the secret lore of liberation by Shuka who chanced to pass that way.  Within 7 days he drank the quintessence of the nectar of Bhagawatha.  By Shuka’s grace, Parikshit attained liberation.

 

Shuka – an ocean of kindness:

Thus from those days of antiquity to the present day, Shuka Maharshi has been unique. In spite of the fact he transcends the limitations of family bondage, as one who is an ocean of kindness, as one who is immersed in the Parabrahman, as one who is bereft of any attachments to the material world and totally resigned, as one who travels inside the universe in thejasic form and as an immortal, he shines as a glorified soul.  His Nadi astrological works bring bliss and inner happiness like the ducts which carry nectarine energy.  It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that we remember Shuka Rishi everyday for the immense service rendered by him to humanity.  The following sloka by Kashyapa Rishi in praise of Shuka is on the lips of millions of devotees all over the world:

Sarvalokopakaaraartham Nadinirmaanakaarinam,
Jeevanmuktam sadaa shaantam Paaraasharya sutam bhaje,
Upadishte paretatwe Brahmanaananda saagare,
Plavamaanam mahaabuddhim Vyasaputram Shukam bhaje

 

(B) Jyoti Ramalingaswamy (Vallalar)

Jyoti Ramalingaswamy – of “Vallalar” fame—exemplifies the life a very rare Jeevanmukta.  He concentrated on the light divine, knowing well that sound, matter and light are interchangeable forms of divine energy.  Not only he realized by personal experience the supreme light within himself, he wrote extensively on the ramifications of the supreme light – Arut Perum Jothi – during the jeevanmukta-avastha, for the benefit of posterity. A monumental literary masterpiece of meaningful verses, his magnum opus has seen the light of day in both Tamil and English, thanks to the prodigious and painstaking publication of the work by Sri T.R. Thulasiram of the Aurobindo Ashram.  The book is published by University of Madras at the behest of Dr N. Mahalingam of M/s Chamundeshwari Sugars Ltd., Bangalore.

Lord Vinayaka, described as a ”Surya-koti-sama-prabha” (radiant like a crore of suns) advises all aspirants after truth to meditate on the blemishless light (Nirmala Jyoti) in order to experience and attain the Supreme light within. He says that the Self is supreme and attainable with the prayer:

Akhanda koti prakaasham
Ananda nirmala swarupam
Sachidananda rupena mama
Atma jyotim pranamamyaham

( I offer my salutations to the celestial light of illimitable glory and pure, blissful form, which my Self is made up of.)

The Saptha Rishis and Shuka Maharshi also emphasize the greatness of the path of light divine called Brahmakalpataru Jyotish-chakra yoga – for carving out a yogic path to the discovery of the light within.

As a symbol of purity, Jyoti Ramalingaswamy wore a white cloth around his physical frame, to merit the respectful appellation of “Vallalar”.  What is more important about his attainment is the unique Brahma Vidya called Agni Vidya or Vyswanara-agni Vidya or Naachiketa-agni Vidya enshrined in Kathopanishad.  When his Jeevanmukti state yielded place to Videhamukti, the mortal coil was not found but every cell, particle or atom of the body or bodily particle was consumed by the light or fire within, leaving no trace of even the carbon dust.  The body will not be available for preservation or disposal (as in the case of other Jeevanmuktas) as it disintegrates into minute particles of the fiery light; instead, the mystic consumption of body by the consummation of light phenomenon, a unique process which is the secret doctrine of particle physics enshrined in “Soundarya Lahari” of Adi Shankara, leaves us proof of the Jeevanmukta’s mastery of Agni Vidya, a diagram of two inverted triangles that adorn the core of Sri Yantra. This diagram symbolic of Sri Yantra and the supreme Shiva-Shakti order seated in the self can be seen in Avani Sringeri Temple in Avani village, Mulbagal Taluk,  Kolar District, Karnataka (100 kms from Bangalore).  The place is unique, sacred and notable as one of the earlier pontiffs of Avani Sringeri mutt attained the highest state; what is amazing is that the diagram of inverted triangles is on a piece of stone and apparently imperishable.  Unless the place where Vallalar attained this state is renovated or rebuilt, a similar diagram must be adorning the place on the floor where the body disappeared.

 

(C) Brahmi–bhuta Jnanananda (The Author’s Ancestor)

About 350 years ago, a Sanyasi in saffron robe delivered Vedantic lectures in three different corners of India on a single day at the same time! His Yoga siddhi was attributable to the powers of initiation by the Peetadhipathi of Sri Avani Sringeri Mutt near a village called Yelagondahalli (3 miles from Devarayasamudram in Kolar District, Karnataka) to which he belonged. The Peetadhipathi himself got his dandam, kamandalam and kaashaaya vastram (the robe) from the upper world and when he himself embraced the order of renunciation; these three attributes went back to the original source when he attained Brahma Samadhi.  The great one who delivered the said lectures was none other than Brahmi-bhuta Guru Jnanananda.  The author’s sixth paternal ancestor.  He had the good fortune to receive his initiation from the unique Sadguru whose spiritual glory drew aspirants from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to the settlements around Avani.  These settlements are now called Ashtagram villages.  The author’s Brahmi-bhuta Guru was one hailing from a family of settlers.

The author came to know about his great ancestor Sri Jnanananda for the first time on July 26, 1970 at Kutadri (Kurudumale near Mulbagal) Ganapathi temple from the revelations of Shuka nadi readings.  Later Sadguru Sri Seshadri Swamigal confirmed the attainments of Sri Jnanananda whom he called a “Baala-Sanyasi”.  Both Shuka Nadi and Sri Seshadri Swamigal not only said a lot about my ancestor’s Sajeeva-Samadhi near Hanuman Ghat (in Kinaram Baba Astar) Varanasi, but also prompted him to pay a visit to the place to seek the Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s blessings.

The readings from Shuka Nadi about Sadguru Jnanananda’s brief biography were as exciting as they were intensely satisfying:

Sri Shuka said:

“Your sixth paternal ancestor was a Brahmi-bhuta.  Even before his birth, the earlier ancestors had performed yagnas and yagas.  But gradually with the effluxion of time attributable to ignorance of the subsequent generations in the mid-order, these sacrificial performances were on the decline.”

“Your Kula devata is Lord Subramanya.  Your Brahmi-bhuta Guru Jnanananda’s poorva-ashram name was also Subramanya.  He took to Sanyasa in the 40th year after the death of the spouse. He got the ashram from a Sadguru and became a Jeevanmukta.  Eventually he had Videha-mukti and became one with the Paramatman.  You have been born in this line.”

“The (Avani) Sadguru who initiated Brahmi-bhuta Guru Jnanananda had also experienced Sakshatkara.  The former lived for 99 years and at the time the latter took to sannyasa from him, he (the former) was 80 years of age.  He had attained jnanasiddhi and had knowledge of past and future, of material and the spiritual.  His mind was fixed in truth and divine thoughts.  The Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s renunciation was total. He was practicing yoga. His prana-vayu (life force) went past the hole in the head Brahma-randhra.  His greatness is responsible for your being able to know all this in such a sacred place (Kurudumale temple) and auspicious time.  Again as a result of his grace, you have been pursuing in this life in a big way the sadhanas of japa, Rishi anushtana, samskara from the moment of birth, shraddha, bhakti and the opportunity to follow the divine path.  What is more, by virtue of listening to these revelations about Brahmi-bhuta Guru, you will have sakshatkara in this janma; will have devata darshan.  The Brahmi-bhuta Guru had been following the Vedic path which he had known well; his scholarship in Vedic scriptures was full.  In the Vedantic field, he was thorough in vichara and jnana.  All these were attributable to the initiations from the greatness of the Acharya of Avani Peeta.”

The Brahmi-bhuta Guru used to take his food with his bare hands.  He used to help himself to limited food. His vastra did not go beyond his bare necessities. His danda was up to the level of the nasal base (between the eyes). It was uniform thickness, with equal measurements of length from knot to knot.  He had adhered to the rules of the Sanyasa-ashram strictly.  Sanyasis should not live in the place of house-holders or family members, but in a temple or hermitage.”

“The Brahmi-bhuta Guru can travel in all the lokas now.  There is a lot to mention about his greatness. He had rendered yeoman service to many people.  He had helped them in a divine way.  He was a scholar.  A remarkable facet of his achievement was that for a continuous period of 5 years, he had observed silence (Mauna vratam) – and for 2 years again before the last days.  He used to enter samadhi now and then in between he used to take only as much food as was necessary to sustain himself.”

Guru’s grace:

“You have been born in this family and by virtue of the Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s grace and you will not be born again.  The Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s samadhi is not in the place of his birth.  Jnanananda was always a contented man. His joyfulness and peace knew no bounds or barriers.  He was a theist and was performing Iswara Pooja.  His mind was always preoccupied with thoughts Sat-chit-ananda form.”

“All those who became Jeevanmuktas, their prana-vayu passes through the Brahma-randra (at the apex of the head).  In the previous janmas, you had Shankaracharya’s grace.  In this, there will be no yogabrashtattva.  The grace of LakshmiN arayana will also be there.  In Kali yuga, according to Sage Parashara, if one performs Agni Karya (daily offering in fire) for a period of one year, one will have mantra siddhi and phala-siddhi.”

“Your 10th ancestor was a Devi Upasaka.  The Kula devata then was Subramanya.  After the ancestral family migrated to this region, Lord Venkateswara became the Kula-devata.  As a result of their prowess in anushtana, they had acquired the title of “Mantra-murti.” They had acquired this fame by virtue of the benefit the shishyas got from application of mantras (mantraviniyoga). The powers of their upasana continue even today in the family.  They are all in the state of Moksha.  The tenth ancestor had an unusual end: On the last day, he offered prostration to the Lord in the puja place, he spread the darbhasana himself and cast off his body thereon.  This unique feat was well-known to all in the family for two generations thereafter.  He also merged with Paramatman.  Their full blessings are there on the family tree and Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s ‘amsa’ will stay in the family.”

“Alokyaa dharma Kaamaasyuhu”

“The Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s passion was dharma itself.”

It would be interesting to recall what Sri Seshadri Swamigal has said in similar fashion: “The jnani is also a passionate fellow; but his passion is jnana!”

“The Brahmi-bhuta Guru”, continued Sri Shuka, “like the nirguna-brahma swarupa, merged with the Parabrahman in the end, just as the earthly waters merge in the oceanic waters, the merger consummated by transcending or forsaking the guna-thrayas.  The Brahmi-bhuta Guru attained a unique state.  His anushtanana consisted of Pranavopasana and Brahmopasana.  His smarana was ever of Narayana (Narayanaaya iti). He had practiced in an orderly way first the karma kanda, then upasana kanda and finally the jnana kanda.  Karma kanda purifies the mind.  Upasana is necessary for rise of jnana.  From the very beginnings of creation, karma, upasana and jnana kandas have been essential to and responsible for Moksha – attainment of salvation.

Sakshatkara of Gayathri

“Devata karma kanda is necessary for success in Pravritti.  The Brahmibhuta Guru completed the upasana kanda and eventually had Sakshatkara.  He had jnana siddhi the moment he had full darshan of the upasana-murti. In his upasana, he was ever offering prayers for jana-siddhi.”

Viswamitra’s grace

“His upasana-murti was Gayatri Devata.  He had equally divided his upasana time between Gayatri and Viswamitra Rishi.  On account of Viswamitra’s grace, he had Gayatri mantra siddhi.  Without Viswamitra Rishi’s grace, there is no question of Gayatri’s grace.  During the time of upasana-murthi sakshatkara, he had carried on conversation too.  Ever joyful, cheerful and blissful he used to have Sat-chit-ananda swarupa darshan.  Only after jnana-siddhi, the jnanis used to experience Sat-chit-ananda state.  When the jnanis themselves met one another, they used to see the Sat-chit-ananda swarupa among themselves.”

Shishyas of Brahmi-bhuta Guru Jnanananda

Jnanananda had taken two shishyas Atmananda and Satyananda from his native place when he left on foot to Varanasi.  Another joined them at the destination.

“The Sajeeva Samadhis of Brahmi-bhuta Guru and his three disciples are all on the banks of river Ganga near Hanuman Ghat.  That of the Guru is finished decoratively and those of the shishyas are constructed in a simple way. Although the Guru-shishya relationship existed between them, in attainment they were all equal.  They were passing through the period of Jeevanmukti and they had come to an understanding that they should cast off their individual mortal coil in a close proximity to one another.  Thus you will find the line of samadhis from East to West in a row in a fairly big enclosure.  The Guru’s is in a prominent place in front of a huge tree and to its West are located the samadhis of shishyas in a line.  The Guru’s samadhi has a Krishna (black) linga while those of others have Sweta (white) lingas.  The black stone linga on the Guru’s samadhi has the design of a cobra engraved (suggestive of the Kula devata Subramanya).  The Guru used to postpone his entry into Sajeeva Samadhi as he was keen the shishyas should pick up and perfect the art of entry.  The shishyas, however, had mastered the art and wanted to enter samadhi only after fulfilling their last duty of erecting the samadhi after the Guru’s physical frame fell.  The darshan of the samadhis brings lot of luck and fortune.

“The four” said Sri Shuka were all Vedic Scholars.  They had initiated a number of people into the Vedantic lore.  In the Brahmi-bhuta Guru’s family line, the upasana Devata was Devi.  Being “Mantramurtis” they were using the mantras for alleviation of human suffering with total self-abnegation.  You will be rendering the same service in course of time during your Jeevanmukti state.”

What was remarkable, according to Sri Shuka, was that on the eve of his entry to Sajeeva Samadhi, he invited a bunch of 108 devotees to witness the entry; all those attained salvation by virtue of their presence in Varanasi on the unique occasion.

 

(D) Sri Seshadri Swamigal – The Jeevanmukta sui generis

Once Srimad Shankarabhagawadpadacharya brought from certain kshetras on the banks of river Narmada, a group of thirty scholars who were Sri Vidya Upasakas to Kanchi kshetra for the exalted purpose of perfecting the quality of puja to and worship of Sri Kamakshi Devi.  This was sometime during his wide travels from Kodachadri Sarvajna peeta to Kashmir and Kashmir to Kanyakumari.  Among those who settled in Kanchi accordingly, only two families appeared to survive up to the first half of the nineteenth century.  One belonged to Sri Poura-kutsa Rishi gotram of Angirasa ganam and the other to Sri Koundinya Rishi of Vaasishta-Mairtravruna Rishi ganam.  Hailing from the former was one Sri Varadaraja and from the latter was on Sri Maragatam.  They got married.  As a result of Sri Kamakshi’s sankalpa and as her vara-prasadi Sri Seshadri Swamigal was the one born to them.

Jeevanmukta

Even seven years before Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi settled in the jyotirlinga Arunachala kshetra of Thiruvannamalai, Sri Seshadri Swamigal had migrated to the mountainous region of invincible power and sanctity and spent a long period of 40 years as a Jeevanmukta and did not choose to step out of Thiruvannamalai accounting for a life of incomparable kindness towards those in need and completing a story of divine glory.  Sri Ramana Swami and Sri Seshadri Swamiji, both Jeevanmuktas, were contemporaries for about thirty years.

No amount of writing can be adequate to do justice to the complete description or assessment of Sri Seshadri Swamigal’s yogic attainment, Devi’s grace and insuperable greatness and as a symbol of total renunciation although he did not wear the saffron robe.  The Saptha Rishis and Sri Shuka Rishi have called him in glowing terms as a unique Yativarya who preferred to be in spotless white and more than anything as all his contemporaries knew he merited the description of being in an unmadaavasthaa – in constant contemplation of the Brahman; the Rishis have called him a Brahmi-bhuta after his Videhamukti.  During his Jeevanmukti state he was ever in a state of bliss – enjoying the nectar of Brahmananda.

There have been many who have had direct experiences of Sri Seshadri Swamigal’s colourful life as a Jeevanmukta absolutely un-classifiable by others or many who have heard directly from those who have walked with him or talked to him.  Many were those who were bathed by showers of his divine grace.  Lucky and fortunate were those who received his golden touch.  In fact even from his boyhood, he had been known as a Yogi possessed of golden hands.  His touch would bring about miracle cure of chronic diseases.  It would be appropriate here to remember the significance of the Rigvedic hymn, “Ayam me hasto bhagavanayam me bhagavattaraha, ayam me vishwabheshajoyam Shivaabhimarshanaha” which means that “this hand is a fortunate one; my other hand is even more fortunate; this one is so mystifying as to resuscitate a dead person by virtue of the sacred touch like Shiva’s!”

The “Sesha Theory”: Sree Seshadri Swamigal himself has come out with a unique theory of our philosophy, based on his bewitching name of “Sesha” which means “remainder”.  If the body falls, according to him, the “Sesha” or what remains is the Atman! This is the easiest way for all people to know the difference between “Atma” (soul) and “Anatma” (body).  If man proceeds on the spiritual path with this knowledge of the vital distinction and identity, he will become immortal, as the secret of immortality consists in our identification not with the body but with the soul.  The vast amount of Vedic literature in fact lays stress on this fundamental truth.

What is Jnana? Jnana means knowledge and the concept proclaims that if a person has acquired the knowledge of everything and that there is nothing left to be known, then the product of knowledge is perfect and complete.  What is really to be known is the Atman and knowledge of all but the Atman is not tantamount to full knowledge. The same idea is further amplified to declare that one should pursue only “that by which everything else is known! Jnana is one which leads to liberation or Moksha.  Knowledge is indeed Brahman; the self-luminous thing should be seen through the medium of self-effulgent light!

The Swarupa of a Jeevanmukta:

The Swarupa is the Swarupa of the Jnani himself.  How do animate and inanimate things appear in general?  Sree Seshadri Swamigal explains such subtle questions in a remarkably easy way:

“Even the immobile blades of grass on which the drops and droplets of dew shine and glitter like gems under the spell of light rays appear to be moving; the long line of ants emerging one behind the other from an ant-hill has characteristics of constant movement; the amphibians moving into and away from the lake of river waters on the banks are good examples of perennial movement; even if the invisible wind blows rapidly, the motionless but ripe fruits shake off from the tree and fall to the ground; waters of flood or inundation from rivers covering untenanted areas are examples of sudden and violent movement; if water stagnates on marshy land and forms a pond, a lotus plant may take birth and flowers may spring from it; movement is thus a characteristic features of the world we live in; but the mind of Jeevanmukta does not move! It is always at rest and peaceful!”

“Passion” of a jnani:

The Jeevanmukta is a jnani. The Jnani knows that Brahman is one and is bereft of a second! Merely because mental frames in different jeevans are different, the difference does not bring about a difference in knowledge.  Jnana is an indivisible entity.  There may be different entities among cows, but not in milk.  There may be external variations among jeevans but their Atman is one and common to all.  The jnani has only one passion; the object of his passion is Atman.  All his intellectual pursuits are dedicated to this passion.  The jnani, therefore, is superior to the karmi.  What is common to the karmi, jand ajnani is the Atman but displaying an equality of outlook and uniform vision is the paramount quality of a jnani.”

Sree Seshadri Swamigal sounds lyrical on Brahman in a cryptic way:

Brahman is installed in Reality
In Unreality lies secret of divinity
Pursue in Nada the wave of bhakti
Mahavishnu is for thy mukti
With Shakti is Sabda-brahman
Know it to be so now, O Man!

Sree Seshadri Swamigal was ushered into this existence just for humanitarian service.  The Sadguru has been a source of succour to many not only in his long period of Jeevanmukti state but also Videha-Kaivalya state.  The aim of Jeevanmuktas is to bring as many aspirants as possible to the state of liberation during lifetime and enable them to share the joys of Jeevanmukti state.

 

(E) Sri Ramana Maharshi

Skanda Purana has devoted an entire volume on the most sacred kshetra on earth Arunachala (known as Thiruvannamalai) in Tamil Nadu, located on the Bangalore – Pondicherry Road.  “There is no place greater than Arunachala and no God greater than Arunachaleswara” says the Purana.  Arunachaleswara settled in the form of a mountain there and at the foot of it, there is the jyotirlinga temple of Arunachaleswara with his consort Apeethakuchamba.  No wonder that Sree Seshadri Swamigal and Sree Ramana Maharshi were attracted by the supreme sanctity of the kshetra.  They made it their spiritual home.

Sri Shuka has gone on record that the kshetra has produced many Jeevanmuktas and twenty-four among them being very great; Sree Seshadri Swamigal was the 23rd and Sree Ramana Maharshi was the 24th of the illustrious line.  Both were contemporaries.

Sri Ramana brought originality and simplicity to spiritual enquiries and spread the message and understanding of the Atman by the well-known doctrine of self-interrogation “Who am I?” while Sree Seshadri Swamigal threw the enigmatic question of “Where do we go?” to all aspirants.

Sri Ramana Maharshi attracted devotees from all corners of the globe, some of whom have virtually settled in the contiguous ashrams.  Sree Ramana Maharshi brought enlightenment to a large numbers of seekers of truth by explaining in lucid terms the Vedic doctrine of “Aham Brahmasmi” bereft of unwanted distinctions and denominations as to race, sex, language or religion as he laid stress on the Atma in contradistinction to Anatma; he made the tough secret doctrine easily intelligible to all.

Sree Ramana Maharshi enjoyed bliss as a Jeevanmukta for a long time till the date of Videhamukti, having attained self-realization early in boyhood.

Sree Ramana’s principles, teachings and traditions are well preserved by the ashram management headed by the present Swamiji who has been a popular figure in and outside Thiruvannamalai, in maintaining the Ramana tradition.

 

(F) Maitreyi 

Maitreyi is the spiritual consort of the great Upanishadic Sage Yajnavalkya.  Hers is ‘mukti’ by Self-enquiry or Atma Vichara and nidhidhyasana or self-reflection so characteristic of jnanamarga the resonance of which can be heard in Adi Sankara’s “Aparokshanubhuti”.

When Maitreyi sought from her consort Yajnavalkya the unity of the self the latter bequeathed to the aspirants of truth the more basic knowledge of the self.  Thus, Yajnavalkya emphasized self-realization would alone lead to liberation or Jeevanmukti and Maitreyi is the shining exemplar of Jeevanmukti through self-realization.   Herein is established the all-important truth that Atmasakshatkara is Brahma Sakshatkara and Atman is verily the Brahman “Atmaavai Brahma.” Furthermore, Yajnavalkya unfolded to Maitreyi the whole gamut of Brahmic experience (Brahmabhava) through self-experience.

Maitreyi was instructed that Brahmanubhava or Brahmic experience consummates into Brahmabhava or abidance in Brahman.  Thus Jeevanmukti is the continuous translation of anubhava into bhava and this interregnum continues till the extinction of the prarabdhas of the Jeevanmukta’s upadhi, i.e., until the dawn of Videhamukti, wherein the upadhis are dropped off.

In the Jeevanmukti of Maitreyi, the source of all life, of all cognition, of all awareness and abidance was seen rising from the locus of her own self (Antarasmin ime lokaaha antarviswamidan jagat” (Toittirya Aranyaka).  In this plenum experience, she rediscovered the Sutra-atman uniting all the individual selves and the Pratyagatman as the Parabrahman.  She discovered further that consciousness was localized in the self and cognition was a category of the mind externalizing to all subjects and objects. Herein she intuited that all subjects and objects were the modifications of the primary consciousness which alone was real.  That loci of consciousness and luminosity are in the self, is marvelously brought out by Chitsukhaaracharya.

To Maitreyi alone was imparted the knowledge of the self and the knowledge of the sense objects and knowledge of non-dualism. Hence by implication Advaita is the experience of non-dualism and is the nature of mukti and is the very Atman.  This is Atma darshana.  And this is Brahmanishta.

Here Maitreyi rediscovered the supreme liberation by a total awareness of purity, non-pollution, unity transcendence of upadhis and effacement of the self characterizing itself in its freedom, deliverance and liberation.

Maitreyi learnt from Yagnavalkya the immortality of the self was not attainable by material paraphernalia but attainable by creative approach consuming notions of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ – Nasti Vittena Amrutattvam, as the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad declares, and “Ahamkara mamakara thyagaeva sannyasam prachakshate” as the commentator on Manu Smriti Medhatithi promulgates.  Thus Maitreyi is ever immortal by knowing that immortal self.

Maitreyi is thus the embodiment of Jeevanmukti characterized by Brahmabhava that arose with the “strength” of the scriptures (Brahmabhavaha Srutherbalaath) into which she was initiated by the great sage Yagnavalkya.

 

(G) Uma Devi Amma (The living legend of Thiruvannamalai)

For all the disciples of Sree Seshadri Swamigal, Iha-para-Sowbhagyavati, Sesha-nada-rupini Brahmarshi Umadevi Amma, is a divine mother and a living saint; beyond all shadow of doubt, she is a source of succour to all the devout visitors whose material and spiritual problems are deftly handled by her; thanks to Mahan Seshadri, it is obviously her writ that runs – rather of the Inner Voice.  Wife of an advocate and an ex-public prosecutor, Sri R. Muthukumara Swamy, the Executive Secretary of the ashram, she has brought name and glory to the ashram.  The best way to describe her thapasya, or the correct appellation to be given for the spiritual and cultural service undertaken by her to propagate the immemorial message of Abhaya of Sadguru Sri Seshadri Swamigal, or the way to highlight the salient features of a life full of attainments, marvels and miracles, or the appropriate epithet to be given to one who has known the Brahman, or to muster proper vocabulary to size one who radiates peace and tranquility – is the description of her as a Kala-jnani ever in peace.  Even if the condition of the physical does not warrant, she sports an agreeable smile.  The living legend of Thiruvannamalai epitomizes the qualities of “a Jeevanmuktam sadaa shantam.”

It is easy to write a voluminous book or a series of monographs to do justice to her biography but difficult to condense the charms of her personality into a brevity of a page or two! She is humility and simplicity personified; she is enlightenment and wisdom rolled into one.

Those who visit Thiruvannamalai (the legendary kshetra of Arunachala) get the grace of Arunachaleswara; those who visit Mahan Seshadri ashram are blessed by an invincible Guru; and those who are lucky to meet Umadevi Amma may comprehend the sublime life of a Jeevanmukta!

Sri Muthukumara Swamy an ardent devotee of Swamigal himself, has transformed a neglected ashram into a heaven on earth, in less than two decades.  At the foot of Arunachala, the ashram in Thiruvannamalai breathes the ampler air of the fullness of God, the grace of Sadguru Seshadri Swamigal and the spirit and joy of Jeevanmuktittva sweeping the atmosphere.

May the tribe of Jeevanmuktas increase!

 

Appendix

Sadguru Sree Seshadri Swamigal, in his prefatory observation on the joys of a Jeevanmukta, has emphasized that a Jeevanmukta, by grace of the repository of wisdom Dakshinamurthi, would imbibe the nature and qualities of the Adi Guru Himself in great measure. What are the qualities of the great Guru?

  • Personification of wisdom
  • Observance of silence and radiation of transcendental knowledge to dispel doubts
  • Installation in the Brahman
  • Sporting a serene smile at all times
  • Preoccupation with the Inner Self (Swa-atma-ramam)
  • Embodiment of peace and tranquillity
  • Shedding light on Vedic declarations of “Tat Twam Asi” and other Maha Vakyas
  • Capacity to usher in Jeevanmuktittva and Videha-kaivalya among eligible seekers

One who worships Dakshinamurthi becomes a Trikaalajnani, is bereft of enemies, devoid of diseases and is ever in a state of bliss, bliss and bliss!!

Om Tat Sat

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