Friday, October 31, 2008

Jivanmukta: Selected Characteristics

Individuals who have attained freedom from the cycle of rebirths while being physically present on earth are termed as jivanmukta. From what we learn about them from books on jnana yoga such as the Yogavasistha, unexpectedly meeting a group of jivanmukta human beings can be rather frustrating to many of us due to their unusual way of life. Given below are a few features of such beings.

  1. They never recognize you by your name, for it is not important to them.
  2. No matter how much hospitability you show them, they do not show any sign of happiness.
  3. Even if you show disrespect or try to hurt them, they do not express anger because they do not possess any.
  4. They may not form your ideal social group. With their mind firmly fixed in the Supreme Soul, the jivanmukta do not seem to care about their environment.
  5. Though they may know nothing about your areas of expertise, they do not display any curiosity or doubts. In fact, they have nothing left to learn.
  6. They have no hopes to excel in their profession, for their livelihood is provided only by prarabdha karma. As for new karma, they do not generate any.
  7. They may watch your activities, but they never participate in what you do.
  8. Though they may be walking, sitting, or talking to you, they are said to be simply resting – permanently resting in the Supreme Soul.
  9. They continuously experience bliss and that too without any cause.
  10. No matter how hard you try, you cannot bring them back to the apparent world again. Everything is Brahman for them.

But in our times, we do not have to be so worried about them. Our chance of encountering even a single jivanmukta is minimal.

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