Living Liberation In Hindu Thought

Item Code: IDI684
Author: Andrew O. Fort And Patricia Y. Mumme
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8170307686
Pages: 278
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.0" X 5.3
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description


The genesis for this book was Andrew Fort's interest in tracing the development of the concept of jivanmukti in Advaita Vedanta, and his concomitant desire to understand better how other thinkers and schools of thought looked at living liberation. He organized a panel on living liberation in Hindu thought for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) meetings in 1989, where Christopher Chapple, Paul Muller-Ortega, Lance Nelson, Kim Skoog, and he presented earlier versions of their essays, to which patricia Mumme responded. The chapters from Mackenzie Brown, Daniel Sheridan, and Chacko Valiaveetil resulted from discussions with Fort and Mumme at those and other AAR meetings. Both Fort and Mumme have read the evolving drafts of all the chapters and deeply appreciate all the work and reworking our authors put into their essays, even if the editing sometimes seemed like "textual harassment." Both editors have learned a great deal in this process. We would like to thank Mackenzie Brown and Lance Nelson for reading and commenting on drafts of some of these chapters. Fort would also like to thank both the Religion department at Texas Christain University and his family for supportive environments at work and at home. He like many contributors, remains in awe of Trish Mumme's editorial efforts and prowess.

We have used standard transliteration for Sanskrit and Tamil. Translations of original texts are those of each author, unless otherwise indicated.

Back of The Book

This book is about the state of embodied perfection often called enlightenment, self-realization, liberation, or jivanmukti. It examines the types, degrees, and stages of liberation that are possible, with and without a body.

"In asking 'what is the nature of jivanmukti,' with all the ramifications that this entails (how does it occur, when does it occur, where does it occur, what part does karma play, and so on,) the authors not only provide the reader with a clear conceptual handle of each school's position but also their strengths and weaknesses."_John Grimes

"This is a challenging and informative collection of essays that addresses a fundamental problem in the history of South Asian religions: granted the possibility of some kind of ultimate perfection or liberation, is it also possible to achieve this final state while embodied? If one can achieve transcendence, what then happens to the body and situation of the liberated one? In answering these questions the authors also raise numerous fascinating issues pertaining to soteriology, cosmology, ethics, theology, and philosophy."_Glen Hayes.

Andrew O. Fort is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Texas Christian University. Patricia Y. Mumme is Assistant Professor of Religion at Capital University.



Questions concerning the attainment of human perfection, or libera- tion, have animated religious thinkers across many cultures, past and present. All religious traditions address the urge to realize one's true na- ture, to gain identity or communion with the highest reality, and simulta- neously to end finitude and become free from sin and evil, ignorance and desire. Hindu thinkers have made significant contributions to this conver- sation.

In the Hindu tradition, liberation (moksa, mukti) from the cycle of suffering and rebirth (samsara) is the supreme goal of human existence, , and much has been written about the path to and nature of release. A question that regularly arises in this context is whether liberation is possi- ble while living-that is, embodied. Unlike religious thinkers in many other cultures, who generally focus on salvation after death, Hindu au- thors and schools of thought frequently claim that embodied liberation, often called jivanmukti, is possible, though there is no consensus about - exactly what one is liberated from or to. Other thinkers hold that one is inevitably still bound while embodied, and that no ultimate state is achiev- able while living. In addition to disputes about the possibility of embodied liberation, there are differing views on the types, degrees, or stages of liberation, some attainable in the body and some not.

Despite the range and vigor of these disputes, no existing book ap- proaches recording the full variety of questions asked, much less the myr- iad answers given, about the nature of living liberation in Hindu thought. Individual authors such as A. G. Krishna Warrier A. K. Lad, L. K. L.Srivastava, and Chacko Valiaveeti1 have produced studies describing the views of several Hindu schools on living liberation. However, no one to date has published a collection like this one, in which each chapter is authored by a scholar specializing in the thinker, philosophical school, or texts the chapter addresses.

Let us further clarify what this book does and does not cover: the essays collected here look at living liberation according to major thinkers living during the era of classical Indian civilization or texts written during that period. Each chapter, based on close readings of selected texts, will show how one or more specific schools or thinkers define liberation and, where applicable, characterize one liberated while living. In addition, each of the authors shows how one teaching on jivanmukti is distinguished from the views of other schools or thinkers, and what problems appear (and possibly remain unresolved) within that teaching. The editors have striven to ensure that each chapter is both philosophically accurate, as well as accessible to those who are not familiar with the broad sweep of Hindu thought.

While the chapters include some literary, historical, and exegetical analysis, they focus on philosophical and/or theological issues. Such issues reflect our focus on classical texts and the schools or traditions .that follow them, rather than on popular images of living liberation. However, it is certainly the case (as some of our chapters suggest) that the jivanmukti ideal has had broad appeal beyond Sanskrit texts or formal philosophical schools. One might well expect this when the option to gain release in this very body, not only after the cessation of life, is claimed to be possible. The plausibility of living liberation to many Hindus can be seen in the long tradition of sages, saints, and siddhas worshipped throughout the subcon- tinent, from ancient times to the present. These figures and their followers deserve study, but would require methods and expertises beyond the scope of this book.

Readers will also note that we have not included modern Indian inter- pretations of living liberation in this volume. Indian thinkers from the era of British influence have been affected by a wide diversity of new ideas, often Quite foreign to classical Indian thought. To do justice to the views of jivanmukti seen in the writings of figures like Swami Vivekananda, Sar- vepalli Radhakrishnan, Sri Aurobindo, or Ramana Maharshi would and should demand a separate volume.

Our focus on classical Hindu thought allows us to begin with certain shared assumptions. All thinkers discussed here accept the pervasiveness of suffering and ignorance experienced by embodied beings within the cy- cle of birth and death (samsara). All further agree that embodied beings possess some form of self or soul apart from the body and mind. Finally, all accept that life's goal is to end desire-filled action (karma) that leads to bondage and rebirth. This is accomplished through liberating insight into the true Self and/or devotion to a personal Lord. Despite these common- alities, one finds no consensus in Hindu thought about the nature of ei- ther living or final liberation. Given the enormous variety of religious and philosophical traditions which make up "Hinduism," this diversity is hardly surprising. The following chapters reveal final liberation conceived in various ways: as the cessation of ignorance about the non-dual nature of Self (atman) and ultimate reality (Brahman) which brings serenity and bliss; as release from suffering brought on by compulsive mental activity into perfect solitude (kaivalya); or as a soul's joyous communion with a personal loving Lord. These conceptions will shape the respective school's visions of living liberation.

Figure xi
Preface xiii
Introduction: Living Liberation in Hindu Thought Andrew 0. Fort 1
Chapter Summaries 4
Notes 12
Part I: Living Liberation in Vedanta Traditions
Chapter 1: Living Liberation in Sankara and Classical Advaita: Sharing the Holy Waiting of God 17
Lance E. Nelson  
Introduction 17
Liberation in Sankara's Thought 19
Living Liberation 19
Jivanmukti: Difficult to Justify but Necessary for Salvation 24
Sankara's Justifications of Living Liberation 25
Is Jivanmukti Complete Liberation? 27
Justifications of Jivanmukti in Post-Sankara Advaita 31
Reservations about Jivanmukti in Post-Sankara Advaita 34
Isvara as a Paradigm for Living Liberation 38
Even Isvara Suffers Limitation 42
Conclusion 44
Abbreviations 47
Notes 50
Chapter 2. Is the Jivanmukti State Possible? 63
Ramanuja's Perspective  
Kim Skoog  
Introduction: Ramanuja's Three Arguments 63
Ramanuja's First Argument 64
Ramanuja's Second Argument 65
Ramanuja's Third Argument 66
Analysis of the First Argument: Jivanmukti as Self-Contradiction 68
Analysis of the Second Argument: The Jivanmukti-Videhamukti Dispute Is Verbal in Nature 70
Analysis of the Third Argument: False Analogy in the Two-Moons Analogy 71
Basis for the Jivanmukti and Videhamukti-Only Positions 74
Scriptural Basis for Jivanmukti 74
Empirical Evidence for Jivanmukti 75
Doctrinal Considerations Regarding the Videhamukti and Jivanmukti-Positions 76
View of the Self 76
Metaphysics 78
Performance of Actions 78
Fructifying Karma 80
Theological Considerations 80
Conclusion 84
Abbreviations 84
Notes 85
Chapter 3. Direct Knowledge of God and Living Liberation in the Religious Thought of Madhva 91
Daniel P. Sheridan  
Introduction 91
Madhva in the Context of Thirteenth-and Fourteenth-Century Advaita 95
Bondage and Liberation in Madhva's Teaching 98
The Practical Means to Liberation According to Madhva 101
The Direct Knowledge of God While Living 103
Conclusion 106
Abbreviations 108
Notes 109
Part II: Yoga and Renunciation in Living Liberation
Chapter 4. Living Liberation in Samkhya and Yoga 115
Christopher Key Chapple  
Introduction 115
Samkhya 116
Knowledge and Non-Attachment in Samkhya 118
Later Vedantic Interpretations of Samkhya 120
Yoga 121
Distinctions between Samkhya and Yoga 123
Yogic Liberation as the End of afflicted Action 124
A Comparative Analysis of Living Liberation in Samkhya and Yoga 126
Possible Jaina Elements in the Yoga System 127
Conclusion 131
Notes 132
Chapter 5. Liberation While Living in the Jivanmuktiviveka: Vidyaranya's "Yogic Advaita" 135
Andrew O. Fort  
Introduction 135
The Nature of Jivanmukti 136
The Jivanmukta as One with Firm Wisdom (Sthita-Prajna) 138
The Threefold means to Obtain Jivanmukti 139
Jivanmukti and Videhamukti in the Jivanmuktiviveka 142
The Purposes of Attaining Liberation While Living 144
Renunciation and Jivanmukti 146
Conclusion 149
Abbreviations 151
Notes 151
Chapter 6. Modes of Perfected Living in the Mahabharata and the Puranas: The Different Faces of Suka the Renouncer 157
C. Mackenzie Brown  
Introduction 157
The "Empty Form" of Suka in the Mahabharata:  
The Revelation of Inscrutable Indifference 160
Suka and His Models in the Bhagavata Purana:  
Enlightened Idiots of Dazzle and Dirt 164
Suka in the Devi-Bhagavata Purana: The Reluctant Householder 170
Conclusion 174
Abbreviations 176
Notes 176
Part III: Living Liberation in Saiva Traditions
Part 7. Aspects of Jivanmukti in the Tantric Saivism of Kashmir 187
Paul E. Muller-Ortega  
Introduction: Placing the Tradition 187
The Problem of Jivanmukti 190
Jivanmukti in Early Texts 193
Kashmiri Constructions of Bondage and Liberation 195
The Seven Experiencers 200
Embodied Enlightenment 204
Conclusion 206
Abbreviations 207
Notes 208
Chapter 8. Living Liberation in Saiva Siddhanta 219
Chacko Valiaveetil, S. J.  
Introduction 219
Chacko Valiaveetil. S. J.  
Introduction 219
Saiva Siddhanta Literature 220
The Advaita of Saiva Siddhanta and the Jivanmukti Ideal 221
Toward Jivanmukti 223
The Odyssey of the Soul 223
Continuity of Bondage (Samsara) and Liberation (Moksa) 224
God's Quest for the Soul 224
The Spiritual Sadhana 225
The Descent of Divine Grace (Saktinipata) 225
Growth in the State of Jivanmukti 226
Freedom from the Bonds (Pasavitu) 227
Removal of the Root Impurity (Anavamala) 227
Removal of Karma and Maya 228
Attaining the Feet of the Lord 230
Union in Knowledge 230
Union in Love 231
Means to Persevere and Grow in God-Experience 232
The Conduct of the Jivanmukta 234
Detachment from Creatures 234
Life of Service of the Jivanmukta 235
Is the Jivanmukta Beyond Ethical Norms? 235
Love as the Ultimate Criterion 236
Injunctions for the Jivanmukta 237
Respect for the Sacred Emblems 238
Worship of God in the Temple 238
Conclusion 238
Abbreviations 239
Notes 240
Conclusion Living Liberation in Comparative Perspective 247
Paricia Y. Mumme  
Jivanmukti: The Concept and the Term 247
Strong, Medium, and Weak Positions on Living Liberation 248
Jivanmukti and Scholastic Metaphysics 254
The Lord and Liberation 255
Karma and Conscious Experience in the Penultimate State 256
The Need for Enlightened Teachers 263
The Behaviour of the Jivanmukta: Dharma, Karma, and Freedom 264
Conclusion: Prospects for Future Study 267
Notes 268
Contributors 271
Index 273


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